London is filled to the brim with some of the most famous sights, landmarks and tourist attractions in the world, but sometimes, you just want to get away from the crowds. Luckily, we’ve shared four hidden gems in London that are still very much off the beaten track, so they’ll be much less crowded. Whether you’re a seasoned Londoner looking for something a little different to do this weekend, or you’re just passing through and want to avoid the usual tourist hotspots, any of these secret spots is well worth your time. Plus, they’re all completely free!
You may not be able to jet off to Venice this weekend, but you can pay a visit to London’s very own version of the famous Italian city. Located just north of Paddington along the Regent’s Canal, this tranquil neighbourhood is the perfect location for a lazy afternoon stroll. Complete with flower-filled canal boats, quaint bridges, and inviting waterside cafes and bars, Little Venice is so much like its Italian counterpart that it’s easy to forget you’re still in the middle of London. We recommend starting at the Rembrandt Gardens and following the canal upstream towards Camden to really see the best the area has to offer.
A buried Victorian street
Charing Cross Road in one the busiest roads in London, with commuters and tourists jostling for space as they rush across the city. But while most people pass over the ordinary-looking traffic island on the junction between Charing Cross and Old Compton Street, it harbours a secret: it’s built right on top of an old Victorian street, the remains of which can still be glimpsed through a metal grate. In fact, if you take a moment to stop and look down, you can still see two well preserved street signs beneath your feet — a reminder of London’s past.
St. Dunstan in the East
Featuring arching gothic windows and a tower by famed architect Christopher Wren, this bombed-out church is one of the few remaining places you can still see the damage left by the Blitz. But, while it may be a ruin, St. Dunstan in the East still has plenty to offer: in recent years the shell of the church has been landscaped and turned into a beautiful urban garden, giving it a poignant serenity and haunting beauty quite unlike any other park in the city. If you want to visit when it’s quiet, we recommend visiting St. Dunstan’s on a weekend, when the City workers have headed home.
Find the London Noses dotted around Soho
If you’ve got keen eyes and a few hours to spare, why not go on a hunt for the London Noses? These small plaster casts can be found dotted all over Soho, each poking out of a different wall or building in the area. The noses were originally — and illegally — installed by artist Rick Buckley in the late nineties as an act of protest against CCTV cameras, and curious Londoners have been trying to sniff them out ever since.
The noses have been the subject of several famous urban legends over the years, including one rumour that anyone who can find all seven will be rewarded with great fortune — but we’d take that one with a pinch of salt! At any rate, hunting for the noses is certainly a quirky way to explore the lively streets of Soho.
If you’re looking for a new way to explore some of our capital’s best kept secrets, a Foxtrail London treasure trail will be right up your street. You’ll need to think on your feet to solve the tricky clues our cunning Fox has left all over the city, discovering all sorts of secrets along the way, many of which are hiding in plain sight. Best of all, you can bring your friends and family or workmates along for the ride!
Looking for more hidden gems in London? Don’t forget to check out the Foxtrail blog, where you’ll find all sorts of fun things to do for both tourists and city-dwellers alike.