Planning a trip to London and want to explore the city beyond the famous attractions? Keep scrolling for my list of the best hidden gems in London worth adding to your itinerary!
This list of the best hidden gems of London was written by family travel expert Marcie Cheung and contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.
London is a city full of important highlights and attractions.
Of course, a trip to the capital of England and the UK entails checking out its world-famous historical and cultural spots such as Buckingham Palace, London Bridge, Westminster Abbey, and Trafalgar Square, especially first-timers.
However, the city of London has a huge array of hidden gems and treasures which are not so famous and deserve to be included in your itinerary. This is especially true if you’re the type of traveler who likes to venture off the beaten path.
If you’re planning a getaway in London and want to see some hidden spots missed by the tourist crowds, you’re definitely in the right place.
Whether you’re visiting for the first time or you are repeating the London experience and want to get a deeper insight into the city, there are tons of London hidden gems worth checking out.
The best part? You can easily weave them into your top-spot itinerary and craft a unique combination that will make your visit richer and absolutely unforgettable!
Don’t have time to read a bunch of London blog posts and reviews? Here are some of our top picks for visiting London with kids.
Popular London Tours/Activities
- London Eye (this is a relaxing adventure where you can see a birdseye view of London)
- Double-Decker Bus Tour (this one has a 2-hour guided tour option)
- Harry Potter Walking Tour (this one is especially for families)
- WB Studios in London (this is a MUST-DO for any Harry Potter fan)
- Afternoon Tea (this one takes place on a vintage double-decker bus)
- Flytographer Photo Shoot (this is an easy and affordable London photography option)
Kid-Friendly London Hotels
Best Hidden Gems In London Worth a Stop
1. Neal’s Yard
Nestled in a small corner of Covent Garden, Neal’s Yard is a pretty little street full of colorful shops and eateries that lead to a lovely courtyard.
Take a stroll along the quaint enclave, sit at a cafe or pub, and take a peek at one of the many boutiques and sustainable shops on offer.
The story behind Neal’s Yard is that the place used to belong to Thomas Neale. He received this piece of land from William III in 1690 and turned it into the Seven Dials area.
However, by the mid-1970s, Neal’s Yard had deteriorated into a gloomy, derelict yard housing a few warehouses.
Fortunately, in 1979 Randolph Hodgson, the owner of Neal’s Yard Dairy, took on the revamping of this now-popular dining and shopping little district.
Other iconic spots here are Neal’s Yard Remedies and the popular Wild Food Cafe. Every nook and cranny here is very Instagrammable, by the way!
2. Little Venice
Have you ever heard of Little Venice in London, of all places? Well, it does exist. This is a canal-side area located in a charming and somewhat quirky neighborhood at the juncture where Regent’s Canal meets the Grand Union Canal in North London.
Besides colorful houseboats, you’ll find restaurants, pubs, and theaters like the Canal Cafe Theatre, the Puppet Theatre Barge, the Waterside Café, and the Summerhouse Restaurant by the Rembrandt Gardens.
A stroll along the canal-side walk will take you from Little Venice to Camden Town. There are plenty of attractions to explore on your way.
Regent’s Park, the London Zoo, and Rembrandt’s Gardens are some of the spots you’ll encounter. From April to November, you can also take a boat tour down the canals.
3. Rembrandt Gardens
Tucked in the heart of Little Venice, Rembrandt Gardens is the perfect spot for taking a break from the hustle and bustle of London.
Well-tended greenery, benches, picnic tables, and cafes overlooking Regent’s Canal will almost make you forget you’re actually in London. This is great when the crowds get to be a bit overwhelming.
Originally named Warwick Gardens, this wonderful park in Little Venice is perfect for a picnic, a relaxing stroll, or simply enjoying the views of Regent’s Canal and Robert Browning’s Island.
Book a Family Photo Shoot
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4. Leadenhall Market
Entering Leadenhall Market in London’s financial district is like stepping back in time. This stunning covered market goes way back to Roman London in the 14th century.
Even though today’s market is different from those days, as is the merchandise on offer, there are lots of reminders left from those times.
Where people formerly sold meat, poultry, fish, cereal, butter, and leather items, you’ll find apparel stores, jewelry, wine, perfumes, and flowers.
The Victorian-built arches of today’s Leadenhall Market encompass a gorgeous, bustling market that also boasts a unique selection of pubs, restaurants, and bars.
This spot is can be seen in several films, most notably Diagon Alley in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
5. Sky Garden
If you’re looking for unbelievable views of London from a cool spot, Sky Garden is one of the best hidden gems in London for that.
This incredible public space consists of the three top floors of the 20 Fenchurch Street skyscraper. Here, you can catch fantastic 360 views of the city.
You’ll find beautiful botanical gardens on all floors, as well as restaurants and bars for you to relax and grab a pint and something to eat.
Be aware that while entrance to the lookout and gardens is free, you do have to book tickets online beforehand.
Sky Garden is popular with locals and not many tourists even know it exists. So it is a great spot to mingle with Londoners or relax while people watching.
6. Eltham Palace
Located in Greenwich in South East London, Eltham Palace is an unforgettable place that combines a medieval and Tudor Palace with a 1930s eccentric millionaire’s mansion.
It was built in the early 14th century as a royal residence. It was visited frequently because it was large enough to accommodate and feed the 800 people that made up the Tudor court.
The home of Henry VIII when he was growing up, Etham Palace deteriorated over the centuries until it was leased by the Courtaulds. This was the millionaire couple who renovated it. They added Avant-garde art deco touches that resulted in a unique piece of architecture, to say the least.
A walk through the house will allow you to get a good idea of the luxurious lifestyle of Stephen and Virginia Courtauld, as well as those that inhabited its walls long before their time.
Afterward, you can explore the perfectly manicured gardens that span over nineteen acres complete with London’s oldest working bridge!
7. The Painted Hall
Set in the Old Royal Naval College in the Greenwich area, the Painted Hall is a magnificent cultural landmark boasting a baroque interior with gorgeous ceiling and wall decorations.
Painted by Lord Nelson from 1707 to 1726, it is dubbed “Britain’s Sistine Chapel”. And it’s one of the hidden places in London most tourists don’t talk about.
The best way to appreciate the wonderful art at the Painted Hall is by lying flat on your back on one of the carved oak day beds available. This is how Lord Nelson enjoyed viewing his work!
Once you’ve had your fill of admiring the 40,000 of art, you can roam around the well-tended garden. Or take a peek at the Chapel, enjoy some refreshments at the Café, relax in the pub, or have a picnic on the grounds.
8. The Greenwich Foot Tunnel
If you’re into quirky attractions, you’ll enjoy the Greenwich Foot Tunnel. This is a spot where you can walk under the Thames River for a truly unique London experience.
The tunnel was built as a means to transport workers to their jobs. But these days, the entrances on both sides of the tunnel are more accessible.
There are glass domes and spiral staircases making them easier to enter than they were back then. Still, it is a strange and somewhat spooky experience. And it’s definitely one of the most secret places in London.
9. Kyoto Garden
Set inside Holland Park, Kyoto Garden is a wonderful place to escape the London mayhem for a breather. It’s also a great opportunity to get a dose of nature within the city.
This garden is made up of 22 acres of lush plants, tiered waterfalls, stone lanterns, koi carp swimming in a pond. Plus it has everything else you expect to find in a Japanese landscape.
Donated as a special gift from the Kyoto Chamber of Commerce as part of the Japan Festival held in London in 1992, Kyoto Garden is great for relaxing in a Zen atmosphere.
If you pay attention, you might even get to see some peacocks and squirrels wandering around. Entrance is free and you do not need to book online to enjoy the open garden on a sudden whim.
While there, you can get something to eat and drink at the cafe or restaurant. Then explore the rest of Holland Park’s gardens.
10. God’s Own Junkyard
If you’re looking for a funky spot in London, head to God’s Own Junkyard.
This psychedelic attraction will blow your mind and brighten up your London stay! Tucked inside a discreet warehouse in Walthamstow, this unique shop is literally filled with colorful neon signs and lights.
Wondering how in the world so much neon got crammed in one place? Late owner Chris Bracey opened shop by crafting signs for Soho’s brothels and strip clubs.
Then, his creations were spotted by someone from Hollywood. This led to him being hired by prop directors for Tim Burton, Stanley Kubrick, and the like.
Best of all, you are welcome to simply ogle at the bright mishmash, snap a few pics (with your phone only, no cameras allowed), or you can buy or rent a sign! You’ll also find the Rolling Scone cafe on-site, and a pub right across the street.
Hidden Gems in London FAQs
Yes! The Sir John Soane’s Museum is a hidden gem that houses an eclectic collection of art, antiquities, and architecture. Another unique museum is the Grant Museum of Zoology, which has an extensive collection of animal specimens.
Definitely. The Kyoto Garden in Holland Park is a peaceful Japanese-style garden, which is a perfect escape from the city. Another spot is the Chelsea Physic Garden, one of the oldest botanical gardens in London.
Yes, check out Gordon’s Wine Bar near Embankment – it’s London’s oldest wine bar and has an atmospheric cellar with vaulted ceilings. Also, Maltby Street Market is a lesser-known food market that offers a range of delectable foods.
Daunt Books in Marylebone is an Edwardian bookstore with an extensive selection of books and a beautiful interior with oak galleries.
Visit the Charterhouse, a historic complex that has served as a monastery, mansion, school, and almshouse over the centuries. It’s relatively unknown to tourists.
One New Change’s rooftop terrace near St. Paul’s Cathedral offers stunning views and is less crowded compared to places like The Shard.
Yes, the Camden Passage in Islington is a hidden alley filled with vintage shops, antique stalls, and quirky boutiques, offering a more unique shopping experience compared to the usual high street stores.
The Finborough Theatre in Earl’s Court is a small venue known for thought-provoking plays and new writing.
The Leighton House Museum is an underrated gem. It’s the former home and studio of painter Lord Leighton and is adorned with stunning art and decorations.
The Columbia Road Flower Market is a vibrant and fragrant market that’s perfect for a Sunday stroll. It’s tucked away in East London and offers a beautiful selection of plants and flowers.
London Hidden Gems Wrap Up
Have you ever ventured into these or other London’s hidden gems? There are so many secret places of London that you’ll always find something new on each trip to London!
Looking for more London content? Check out my kid-friendly London itinerary, how to book a London photographer, day trips from London, where to stay in London with kids, Instagrammable places in London, things to do in London at night, things to do in London with kids, London vs Paris, best London tours for families, 1 day in London, and my top London travel tips!