London has a crazy amount of cool things to do. You could live in London for years and not even scratch the surface of what the city has to offer. If you’re visiting London for the first time you might want to go sightseeing to Buckingham Palace, Madame Tussauds, and Covent Garden. They’re all lovely. BUT you also might want to check out some non-touristy things to do in London, things that only Londoners could tell you about.
Find out about some surprisingly cool things to do in London which you may never have heard of before…
Cool Things To Do In London
God’s Own Junkyard
Perhaps one of the most instagrammable places in London, God’s Own Junkyard is home to a collection of hundreds of neon signs. Located in Walthamstow, the neon light ‘museum’ is just a short journey to the end of the Victoria tube line.
God’s Own Junkyard is completely free to enter. And it even has the coolest loo in London- a Doctor Who Tardis! There’s also a cute little café where you can sit and marvel at the lights. The more you look around you, the more you see.
Leadenhall Market is tucked away in the centre of London, and you may recognise it from a popular film series- Harry Potter! Leadenhall Market is partially used in Diagon Alley scenes. The entrance to the Leaky Cauldron is actually an opticians in Bull’s Head Passage in the market.
Leadenhall Market also has an iconic Christmas tree displayed during the holidays. It’s a must-see if you’re in the area in December.
Emirates Air Line
You can travel by cable car over the Thames- and use contactless payment to pay! Just like you would on the tube. For £4.50 the Emirates Air Line will take you between Royal Victoria (Emirates Royal Docks) and North Greenwich (Emirates Greenwich Peninsula) stations.
The cable car is a brilliant way to get a new view of the city. At 90 metres above ground level, you’ll spot the 02 area from a great height, and see a huge stretch of the city from above.
You can also use your oyster card to get on the Thames Clipper– a river bus service which gives you another interesting new view of the city.
There are 6 river bus routes which run from 22 piers between Putney and Woolwich and boats depart every 20 minutes or so. The boats are accessible and you can even buy a snack on board if you wish to.
Sky Garden Yoga
Believe it or not, London is home to several rooftop yoga spots. One of the most stunning being the sky garden yoga at the top of the Walkie Talkie. You can do a sunrise yoga session here and marvel at the views below you!
Speakeasy Cocktail Bars
London is full of cool speakeasy style cocktail bars. But where can you find them? Most speakeasies are hidden in plain sight!
One of the best speakeasy bars in London is Cahoots– located in Kingly Court, Soho. It’s like stepping back in time as you head down the stairs (a repurposed wooden escalator!) into a converted abandoned tube station.
The theme of Cahoots is 1940’s. Expect war-time cocktails and snacks, and even a vintage train carriage inside the bar.
London is also a brilliant place for cocktail masterclasses, if you fancy doing something a little different and learning something new!
Check Out Graffiti In Brick Lane
Brick Lane is probably your best spot to see London’s finest graffiti art. You might even be lucky enough to see an artist in action!
Go Vintage Shopping At Portobello Market
Portobello Market is just as magical as you might expect. Head to Notting Hill to find vintage shops galore, and find something special to take home with you.
The market is open from Monday-Saturday, but go there on a weekday if you can to avoid the crowds.
Bounce Ping Pong
Bounce is a fun ‘ping-pong social club’ where you can meet friends, have a drink, and play ping pong! There are several locations in London including venues in Farringdon and Old Street.
Prices are super reasonable when shared with a group of friends and it makes for an alternative afternoon.
View From The Shard
A top Thrifty Londoner tip is to book in advance to go to The Shard. You could save up to 40% on your booking if you book in advance through a deals site such as Living Social.
You can get some awe-inducing views from The Shard, and although it’s a fairly touristy activity, it’s a must to see London skyline views.
Columbia Road Flower Market
Each Sunday morning, Columbia Road turns into a flower market. Locals and tourists go there in their droves in search of beautiful bunches of flowers, and bargain indoor plants.
As well as looking at the flowers, you can also browse the cute independent shops and cafes that line this street in Bethnal Green.
Neal’s Yard, Covent Garden
Neal’s Yard is tucked away in Covent Garden, and if you’re not paying attention, you could easily miss the entrance! Once inside, Neal’s Yard is a colourful, bustling courtyard with tiny shops and cafes to browse.
This is a unique, fun way to spend some time in London. Ballie Ballerson has over 1 million balls! It’s essentially an adults-only ball pit, with locations in Soho and Shoreditch.
As well as the ball pits, there is also the option to have bottomless brunch- with unlimited prosecco and pizza.
As you may already know, Brick Lane is famed for its bagels. There are a couple of particularly well known bagel shops- one of which is simply called Beigel Shop. Beigel Shop made headlines when they introduced the rainbow bagel into every Londoner’s life.
Although the rainbow bagel tastes pretty similar to a standard one, it’s a brilliant London Instagram opportunity that shouldn’t be missed! Find Beigel Shop at 155 Brick Ln, Shoreditch, London E1 6SB.
Cereal Killer Café
With locations in Camden and Brick Lane, the Cereal Killer Café is for everyone who loves a bowl of the good stuff. From retro cereals, to modern classics- there is a cereal to suit every taste.
This café was the first British cereal-only café, which almost has a ring to it? So if you’re visiting London, you may as well grab the chance to go with both hands!
Quirky Things To Do In London
Grant Museum Of Zoology
There are jars with everything you could possibly think of. From animal skeletons, to brains and a jar of moles. If you’re after something alternative to do in London, this could be for you.
Quirky Free Walking Tours
London has dozens of free walking tours, some of which are as quirky as the tour leaders themselves! The concept of a free walking tour is that you tip your tour guide for their time instead of paying a fixed price for the tour.
Visit A City Farm
There are several quirky London city farms which you can visit- many of which are free of charge. Head to Vauxhall City Farm where you can see cute alpacas, goats, donkeys and rabbits. It’s certainly a relief from city living!
Another option is Mudchute Farm which is located in East London. Pigs, goats and sheep call Mudchute Farm their home. You can even feed them yourself.
The Seven Noses Of Soho
The Seven Noses Of Soho is a curious art installation that can be found all over London. However, not all of the noses are strictly within Soho. You can find noses in the following locations- Admiralty Arch, Bateman Street, Dean Street, Meard Street, Endell Street, Great Windmill Street and D’Arbly Street.
Soho is a brilliantly cool area to spend an afternoon in London- so why not search for some of the seven noses while you’re at it?
London is brimming with quirky and interesting charity shops- also known as thrift shops. Wherever you find yourself in London, search ‘charity shops near me’ or ‘thrift shops near me’ on your smartphone and several shops are bound to pop up nearby.
Charity shops are second hand stores where you can find clothing, accessories, furniture, books and more. If you love a flea market or thrift shop, you’ll love charity shopping in London.
Non-Touristy Things To Do In London
I can speak for many Londoners when I say that we enjoy meeting friends for brunch at the weekend. This is a brilliant non-touristy thing to do when you’re visiting the capital. Munch on some overpriced avocado on toast and you’re pretty much living the London life!
Check out Groupon, Living Social, and Wowcher to find some amazing brunch deals.
London has a huge number of markets which are popular with both tourists and locals alike. Borough Market is perhaps one of the most touristy food markets due to its location next to London Bridge. But if you take a walk for half an hour or so you will get to Maltby Street Market.
Maltby Street Market is a stone’s throw from Bermondsey tube station and has a large variety of food and drink stalls. Open on Saturdays, it’s a must-see if you’re visiting London at the weekend.
Visit The Parks
London locals are very proud of the parks- and visit them often. On a sunny summer day you will find Londoners flocking in their thousands to their local parks.
Some particularly cool parks are Hampstead Heath where you can go wild swimming in their natural pools, Richmond Park where you can spot wild deer, and Primrose Hill where you will see one of the most brilliant views of London.
Go To The Pub
Going to the pub to meet friends is perhaps one of the most British things you could do when you’re in London. The pub is a place to go in winter for a roast dinner, or a place to go in the summer to hang out in a beer garden all afternoon.
No matter which pub you choose, you can almost guarantee that it will be full of locals especially if there is a sports match on.
Free Things To Do In London
If you’re spending a budget weekend in London, you will certainly find a wealth of cool things to do for cheap, or even for free.
In fact, if you are visiting London for a few days (or even a week), you could tailor your itinerary to only include free things to do in London- the options really are that brilliant. Cool things to do in London don’t have to cost money!
Check out the Thrifty Londoner guide to 100 Free Things To Do In London and you are sure to find something cool to do that piques your interest.
A huge number of galleries and museums in London are free to enter, many of which might already be on your list to visit. The Natural History Museum, Tate Modern, and the V&A are all very popular free museums in London which you can visit completely free of charge.
And if you want to stay up to date with the coolest, budget-friendly things to do in London? Follow @thriftylondoner on Instagram for fresh updates.