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10 Incredible Local Gems In London You Won’t Find In The Travel Guides

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Amira Rahmat  •  Sep 07, 2018

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Updated 13 Oct. 2019 Ahhh.. That London trip that you have always been dreaming about is finally coming! London’s iconic sights are admired all over the globe: from Buckingham Palace and Borough Market to London Bridge and Brick Lane. Credit: Giphy If you thought you knew all there is to the gorgeous city, fancy exploring off the beaten path at some of London’s hidden gems instead? 😉 In fact, those willing to go for the road less travelled will be rewarded with much more unique experiences worth sharing with your family and friends! For a glimpse of hidden London, here are 10 places that you shouldn’t miss.
1. Little Venice
Credit: @samanthanovva on Instagram Just as the name suggests, this picturesque area is London’s take of the Italian city. This is where you can find gorgeous waterside cafes, quirky restaurants, canal boat rides and even some theatre venues!
Credit: Armin Weisheit on Facebook Escape from the hustle and bustle of London city and retreat at this laid-back place just minutes from the city centre. You will feel like you are actually in the countryside with the decorative houseboats, park and the canal! This place comes alive especially during the summer, where you can hop on a gondola or have a leisurely stroll along the river, and even stay in a houseboat. How cool is that? Address: Blomfield Road, London, W9 2PF Closest Tube Station: Warwick Avenue #HHWT Tip: For halal food to fill your tummy, head to Melur Restaurant. Remember to order the popular Air Batu Campur (ABC) dessert to complete your meal before continuing your day!
Credit: @melur_bypakawie on Instagram  Address: 175A Edgware Rd, London W2 1ET, UK Opening Hours: Daily, 12.00pm to 11.00pm.
2. The ArcelorMittal Orbit
Credit: ArcelorMittal Orbit on Facebook Skip the London Eye and opt for the ArcelorMittal Orbit instead. Journey more than a hundred metres into the clouds and experience the capital’s iconic sights like no other on a stunning observation walkway. This attraction is also home to the world’s longest and tallest tunnel slide – yes, in the world!
Credit: ArcelorMittal Orbit on Facebook Listen up adrenaline junkies! ArcelorMittal Orbit also boasts UK’s highest freefall abseil. Imagine taking in the views of London’s skyline while waiting for your turn to make the 80m exhilarating journey to the ground. This underrated attraction which combines three extraordinary experiences should not be missed during your stay in London! Address: ArcelorMittal Orbit, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Stratford, London, United Kingdom E20 2SS Closest Tube Station: Stratford Opening Hours: Monday – Friday 11AM-5PM, Saturday – Sunday 10AM-6PM #HHWT Tip: To complete your Zohor or Asar prayers, there is a prayer space nearby this attraction located in Westfield Stratford City Mall. Called the InSpiration room, the multi-faith prayer room can be found at the second floor. Best part is it is only a quick 10 minutes’ walk from ArcelorMittal Orbit, with plenty of halal options in the shopping mall’s food court!
3. Camden Passage in Islington
Credit: @thatgirl.joie on Instagram Tucked behind a street in a suburb, Camden Passage, not to be confused with Camden Market, is a picturesque cobbled car-free London street that is usually not in a typical itinerary. What people don’t know is this place is a real treasure trove with an eclectic mix of retro and antique items, adorable boutiques and worthy spot for brunch (and worthy IG photo spots)!
Credit: maejim on Instagram Perfect for a weekend stroll, you will definitely be occupied for hours where you can find exquisite treasures and interesting bric-a-brac at every corner and turn. Skip the way touristy Brick Lane and go to this road less travelled – you’ll be amazed at what you can find! Address: 1 Camden Passage, London N1 8EA, UK Closest Tube Station: Angel
4. Old Spitalfields Market
Credit: Old Spitalfields Market on Facebook With so many bustling markets all around London, it’s pretty easy for Spitalfields Market to slip off the tourists’ radar. If you are looking for a change, drop by this market which has been operating since the 17thcentury!
Credit: Old Spitalfields Market on Facebook No London market is complete without good food and this less-known market has more than its fair share of exciting street food and quirky shopping stalls! Take your time to browse through the stalls while soaking up the atmosphere and don’t leave without getting some handcrafted products or some knick-knacks as souvenirs. What's so special about this market is that they change the array of products sold throughout the week. From Mondays to Wednesdays, you can expect to find clothes, shoes and gifts. On Thursdays, it is an antiques fair, while on Sunday it is all about fashion! From time to time, the market also hosts concerts and art exhibitions. Time to add this to your list of London markets to visit! Address: 16 Horner Square, London E1 6EW, United Kingdom Opening Hours: Monday – Friday 10AM-8PM, Saturday 10AM-6PM, Sunday 10AM-5PM. Closest Tube Station: Liverpool Street, Shoreditch High Street and Aldgate East Do drop by the London Muslim Centre at Whitechapel, situated a pleasant 12 minutes’ walk away from the market. Also called the East London Mosque, there are ablution facilities with separated buildings for brothers and sisters. And if your tummy is still not full yet after your visit to the market, take a walk surrounding the mosque and you will find a variety of halal restaurants!
Credit: East London Mosque on Facebook Address: 46-92 Whitechapel Road, London, United Kingdom
5. House of Dreams
Credit: @ericansummers on Instagram If you enjoy looking through the windows of artistic and fantastical art spaces, a visit to the House of Dreams will leave you amazed. Situated in South East London, this place is a technicolour spot with all sorts of thoughtful and melancholic phrases plastered on the walls as you enter the house.
Credit: @donnar3000 on Instagram Every spot of the space is also adorned with discarded everyday artefacts – from doll heads to ceramic fragments, and even false teeth! This ground floor of the House of Dreams actually depicts the personal life story of the artist Stephen Wright. The eccentric aesthetics makes the House of Dreams one of the capital’s most incredible artistic spaces that you should visit. #HHWT Tip: The museum is open by appointment throughout the year, so don’t forget to book your tickets before coming down ;) Address: 45 Melbourne Grove, East Dulwich, London SE22 8RG Closest Tube Station: East Dulwich
6. Benjamin Franklin House
Credit: @kirmosgramming on Instagram Fancy visiting the world’s only remaining Benjamin Franklin’s home? Built circa 1730, this museum is often overlooked compared to Sherlock Homes’ house. The museum was once home to one of the founding fathers of the United States for nearly 16 years. Only opened to public in 2006, this gorgeous Georgian terrace is interestingly largely unfurnished, apart from some of its original features.
Credit: Benjamin Franklin House on Facebook For history lovers looking to venture off the beaten track, be sure to take a trip here where you can find all sorts of interesting artefacts and treasures. An engaging calendar of events are also held throughout the year, such as "Museums at Night" where you will be able to explore the darker side of this Georgian building! For other unique and interesting museums to visit, take a look at  these to add to your itinerary! #HHWT Tip: If you are up for a unique and immersive experience to complement your visit, check out timings for their Historical Experience show and architectural tours! Address: 36 Craven St, London WC2N 5NF, UK Opening Hours: Wednesday – Monday 10.30AM-5PM Closed on Tuesdays Closest Tube Station: Charring Cross Station #HHWT Tip: If you are craving for some Indian food, Dishoom Restaurant offers tasty naan and delicious curries. The best part about it is Dishoom has halal options! Although they do serve pork, there is a separate kitchen and the staff makes sure that there will be no cross-contamination between halal and non-halal food.
Credit: Dishoom on Facebook Address: 12 Upper St Martin's Ln, London WC2H 9FB, UK
7. Gods Own Junkyard
Credit: God’s Own Junkyard on Facebook Located in an unsuspecting space in north-east London, this neon-lit junkyard is packed with lots of vintage signs and showcases the work of the late artist, Chris Bracey. The moment you step inside the art space, you will be dazzled with a luminous display of vibrant lights and artwork. We bet you’ve never stepped into such an astonishing place before! 
Credit: God’s Own Junkyard on Facebook After exploring this hidden gem, continue your journey and take a look at the garden complete with mismatched furniture and greenery. Perhaps it could come with a health warning for minimalists, but even they could probably marvel at the fantastical artistic space! Address: Unit 12 Ravenswood Industrial Estate, Shernhall Street, Walthamstow, London, United Kingdom Opening Hours: Friday – Saturday 11AM-9PM, Sunday 11AM-6PM Closest Tube Station: Walthamstow Central
8. Mudchute Park and Farm
Credit: @giuseppib on Instagram If you are bringing your little ones along for your British adventure, Mudchute Park and Farm is not to be missed. With 13 acres of green space, children’s centre, café and shop, the farm houses a collection of British rare breeds and over 200 animals! Where else can you find a piece of countryside in the middle of the city? It is in fact the largest urban farm in the country and one of the largest in Europe.
Credit: @vanesajmnez on Instagram There is also ‘Animal Encounter’ sessions and horse riding lessons for the kids, plus a petting zoo! It is overall a unique experience for all ages where you can even encounter some animals just wandering about in the fields. Take a look at these tips to exploring London with your little ones before your British adventure! For your daily prayers, the nearest mosque would be the East London Mosque! Catch bus 135 from Pier Street to the Islamic centre. Address: Pier St, London E14 3HP, UK Opening Hours: 9AM-5PM Daily Closest Train Station: Mudchute Train Station
9. Davenports Magic
Credit: @naomi.paxton on Instagram Channel your inner Harry Potter at a secret “magic” shop in London! Founded in 1898, this shop is worth a visit under the tunnel at Charing Cross underground station. Selling playing cards and games which play tricks with the mind, it is a different London experience.
Credit: Davenports Magic on Facebook It is a little hard to find, you could walk around the subway that links Charring Cross and Trafalgar Square but not be able to find it easily. Well, what can you expect from such a hidden little gem? If you’re still looking for more, you should also check out 4 other magical places in this capital, especially if you are a true Harry Potter fan! Address : 7 Charing Cross Underground Arcade, The Strand, London Opening Hours: Monday- Friday 9.30 AM-5.30 PM, Saturday 10.30 AM-4.30 PM Closest Tube Station: Charring Cross #HHWT Tip: There is a Muslim prayer room located at St Thomas’ Hospital, not far from the shop. You could either commute with train which takes less than 10 minutes, or a leisure 20 minutes’ walk to the hospital. Ablution facilities are provided there, but do take note that it is the same prayer space for brothers and sisters.   Address: Westminster Bridge Rd, Lambeth, London SE1 7EH, UK
10. Saint Dunstan in the East
Credit: @rociomartinezrios on Instagram  Take yourself back in time at Saint Dunstan in the East, a medieval church built in the 11-12th century. Although it was partially destroyed in WWII, this hidden site has preserved its beauty with a secret garden that will mesmerize you with its lush greens and rustic structure. Located just between the Tower of London and London Bridge, carve out some time to wander around the Church of Saint Dunstan.
Credit: @pollzable on Instagram Visitors who stumble across this Insta-worthy church can marvel at its architecture and the visual history behind it. Whether you're looking for a unique wedding photoshoot location or just a spot to enjoy peace and quiet, it is the perfect place for anyone who wants to add something special to their London trip. Address: St Dunstan's Hill, London EC3R 5DD, United Kingdom Closest Tube Station: Tower Hill
11. Cecil Court
Credit: @milly_on_air_london on Instagram You're in for a treat at this hidden gem especially if you're a Potterhead! Claimed as the real Diagon Alley, Cecil Court is a pedestrian street that holds a row of unique shops ranging from art, books, culture and antiques (just like in the films!). As one of the quieter parts of London, you can comfortably explore the area and immerse yourself in the specialty stores only found at Cecil Court.
Credit: @achilleauris on Instagram A place where your curiosity will get the best of you, Cecil Court has so many fun things to offer like Alice Through The Looking Glass, Daniel Bexfield Antiques and Travis & Emery Music Bookshop. You'll be surprised at how the time flies as you spend your day going through rare and unusual finds. Address: Covent Garden, London Closest Tube Station: Covent Garden 12. Daunt Books
Credit: @forever.fernweh on Instagram Anyone who’s a book lover will fall head-over-heels with this gem of a bookstore. Get lost in the Marylebone branch of Daunt Books and let the charming wooden interior entice you. Sitting on Marylebone High St., the rows of books are enough to capture anyone's attention. What's even more special is that the store holds an extensive collection of travel books (yay!). So, make sure to stop by this dreamy bookstore and dive into the world of literary. Address: 84 Marylebone High St, Marylebone, London Opening hours: Mon-Sat; 9AM-7.30PM, Sun; 11AM-6PM Closest Tube Station: Baker Street
13. Kayaking on River Thames
Credit: Kayaking London on Facebook For a unique way to end off your British adventure in the capital, why not kayak along River Thames? Sounds exciting, yes? It is definitely an adventurous way to take in the views of the iconic sights such as the London Eye and you will even have the opportunity to paddle past the royal home of the Queen at Windsor Castle.
Credit: London Kayak Company on Facebook River Thames provides the perfect location for kayaking which is suitable for all ages ad levels of fitness. For an even more exciting experience, you could opt for the kayak tours at night. As the day turns into night, the more beautiful the riverscape will be!  Believe us, London is such a friendly city and it has so much more to offer than the usual overcrowded attractions! If you have any other spots off the beaten path to share with us, do drop us a comment.