Sure, Big Ben is great, but don’t you want to stumble across something everyone else hasn’t already posted about during your trip to London? Forge your own unique adventure by making your itinerary all about off-the-beaten-path curiosities! Backpack the road less traveled with these five must-see hidden gems of London.
As the name fondly suggests, Little Venice is London’s resident slice of Italy. Located around the outskirts of Paddington and Maida Vale in the City of Westminster, this neighborhood reflects not only the stuccoed, terraced houses iconic of classic Italian architecture, but also features its very own navigable canal system! This charming nook is a short walk from the Tube, and more conveniently, is accessible via a regularly-scheduled waterbus that connects Little Venice with transportation to and from Regents Park and Camden Town. Visitors can enjoy entertainment at the Canal Cafe Theatre or the Puppet Theatre Barge. You can also dig into delicious and photo-worthy helpings of succulent burrata and divine beef carpaccio waterside.
The Luggage Room
Shh, don’t tell anyone– but London is full of secret bars! One of the most mesmerizing of these speakeasy-inspired haunts is The Luggage Room, tucked away amidst dozens of other flashy bars in Grosvenor Square. Sipping gin punch and literary-inspired cocktails while reclining on luxurious Gatsby-esque couches is not only the perfect way to unwind on your trip, but a must-try experience.
If you’ve been looking for a souvenir your friends back home will like, look no further than Camden Passage. This pedestrian passage, located off Upper Street in the London borough of Islington, was constructed along the backsides of houses as an alleyway in 1767. It now serves as a perfectly quirky destination for a Saturday spent browsing various bric-a-brac. Antique stores, restaurants, and independent coffee shops line the cobblestone walkway. Pierrepont Arcade offers a book market on Thursday and Friday, while Paul A Young serves up irresistible confectioneries on the daily…chocolate lovers won’t be able to resist! Cap off an evening of perusing by supporting a local comedy act at one of its several theatrical venues.
While impressive from the outside, the Leighton House (located in Kensington, London) truly inspires on the inside. Journey inward and take in the opulent and breathtaking intricacy of Arab mosaics. Striking blue tile and shimmering gold detail work will leave you speechless with beauty. Don’t forget to look up! Its dome-shaped ceiling offers more wonder for the eyes. Bonus: once you’ve finished being awestruck at the Leighton House, jump across the street to browse the Design Museum for more contemporary visual masterpieces.
The Thames Path
Much of the 40-mile long Thames Path is no secret to tourists and locals alike. However, there are plenty of nooks and hidden gems located along this scenic riverside walkway just waiting to be treasured! This is an adventure best experiencing by renting a bike and cycling along its many marshes, parks, public beaches, and wharfs. Feeling famished? Stop into The Prospect of Witby –one of Charles Dickens’ favorite pubs– for a pick-me-up!
Now you’ve got a full itinerary and a backpackers guide to 5 off the radar hotspots in London! What are you waiting for? Start packing!