London is often considered one of the best known cities in the world. It can be tempting to think in a city this well known that there is nothing new to discover, no secrets left to find out, but at least in the case of London this simply isn’t true. As this list shows there are always hidden gems, tucked away in the most surprising of places, even to those who have lived there all their life. So what are “The Top 10 Unusual Things to do in London?” View London in Miniature
One of biggest problems for anyone visiting London is the size of the city. It can sometimes be difficult to appreciate the city as a whole because you can only see a little part of it at a time before you head back underground on the Tube to head for the next tourist attraction. One way to gain a better appreciation for London to to take a look at the scale model of London which is on display at the offices of New London Architecture. The offices of New London Architecture are located near Goodge street and the model which is 1:1500 scale can be viewed free of charge.
The Seven Noses of Soho
Visitors to Soho have often been surprised to see noses, apparently randomly displayed in seven different locations in the area. This two hour walking tour of Soho will help you to spot all seven of these famous noses, and learn the story behind their creation before you head back to your hotel, or out for something to eat at one of the local restaurants
See the Traffic Light Tree
Situated on a roundabout located by the renowned Billingsgate fish market this unusual sculpture is the work of Pierre Vivant. It is eight metres high and features 75 fully functional traffic lights arrayed on metal branches. You really have wait until the evening to get the best view of the sculpture, lit up in the traditional green, red, and amber colours, but it is well worth the wait and truly one of the most unique tourist attractions in London.
Barbican Tropical Gardens
Almost every visitor to London has heard of the famous botanical gardens at Kew, but did you know there is another tropical oasis in the heart of the Southbank? The Barbican is something of an icon of 1960’s concrete architecture and is known for housing an arts and conference centre, as well as a school and museum. What is not so well known is that it is also home to the second largest conservatory in the city featuring tropical plants, fish and birds. The gardens are not always open for public viewing so it is advisable to check before you travel.
The Skateboard Graveyard
Have you ever wondered what happens to all the broken skateboards in the world? No? I hadn’t either until I came across the Skateboard graveyard. Next time you are near Hungerford bridge take a look at the southern support pier.
Since 2009 this has been home to a growing collection of discarded skateboards. There has even been a website established to allow for obituaries to be posted for these much loved boards.
The Smallest Cathedral In London
St Paul’s Cathedral is on almost everyone’s list of top places to see in London, but did you know there is a second St Paul’s on a miniature scale on the side of Vauxhall bridge. This replica is held in the hand of one of the eight statues that line the side of the bridge. You will have to lean over the side to spot it, but it’s worth it to get a glimpse of this unique miniature cathedral.
Climb the Tower at St Mary’s Church
There are many places in London where you can get a view over the city. You could choose the Monument, that reminder of the Great Fire of London, which was once the tallest building the city but is now dwarfed by the skyscrapers. You could opt for the view from the Shard, but for something a little different why not head over to South West London and enjoy the view from St Mary the Virgin church in Mortlake. The tower of this church is open to the public on the second Saturday of every month. The top is reached by climbing 85 steps so you will need to be fairly fit, but once at the top you are greeted by views across this part of London, including the Thames, local hotels, and restaurants, and the Budweiser brewery.
This may not be for everyone but for those who enjoy the chance to get up close to some of the big beasts of the world then a visit to ‘Get Stuffed’ a taxidermy shop on the Essex road in Islington could be the ideal way to spend an hour. Visits are by appointment only so you will need to call in advance, but if you find yourself in the area then looking through their shop window can pass the time quite effectively, there is often a crowd just standing and looking at the exhibits which have included a lion, a giraffes head, and some foxes.
The Old Operating Theatre
How often do you find a Victorian operating theatre abandoned in the roof of a church? This is what happened to Raymond Russell in 1956. In 1962 this discovery was opened to the public as one of the more unusual, and often overlooked of the London tourist attractions reminding us all of the time when surgery was performed before antibiotics and anaesthetics.
The Smallest Police Station in London
Did you know that Trafalgar square has it’s very own police station? Look carefully or you might miss this tiny cubby built into a lamp post in the corner of the square. It is only just big enough for one (small) policeman, and was designed to help police monitor any demonstrations taking place in the square.