London is one of the world’s great cities. The history, theatre, shopping and nightlife lure an endless stream of wide-eyed tourists to the streets of England’s capital. Any good guidebook is jam packed with more exciting things to do and sites to see than anyone could wedge into their vacation. It’s unsurprising therefore that some gems of fascination get lost in the glittering treasure trove of London attractions.
For those of you with an adventurous soul looking for something different, there is a wealth of lesser known attractions that have the potential to excite and amaze. Here are five things to do in London that take you off the beaten track and inspire you to explore the city behind the travel guide…
1. Hunterian Museum – This incredible exhibition at The London College of Surgeons is certainly not to everybody’s taste. Like a scientific freak show, the museum features a series of anatomical specimens (yes, that’s body parts in jars) that chart the history of medicine. Browse through an incomparable collection of surgical artefacts that tell a sometimes gruesome story of man’s journey to modern anatomical medicine.
2. BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir – A traditional Hindu Temple, the first of its kind in Europe, is a stunning, gleaming white tribute to Indian craftsmanship. The temple’s 26,300 carved pieces of limestone, brought in from Bulgaria, and Italian Carrara marble brought in by boat from India, were assembled in London over three years. The Temple offers a unique opportunity to learn about Indian culture as well as basking in the shadow of this incredible building.
3. ICEBAR – After the heat of India, why not cool off surrounded by Swedish river ice. At a chilling -5˚C everything in the bar is made from ice, harvested from the Jukkasjärvi region of Northern Sweden. A unique and unforgettable experience, the ICEBAR is a great place to go for food, cocktails or just a chilled beverage in your own ice glass.
4. Chislehurst Caves – OK, so this one is a little bit away from the city centre but it is well worth a day-trip if you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the capital. Located on the edges of Kent, take this opportunity to explore 22 miles of subterranean intrigue. Entirely man-made, the tunnels were dug for flint and chalk mining as far back as 1250 AD. More recently, in the 1960’s, a host of musicians including the Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix performed gigs in the caves.
5. Old Spitalfields Market – Dating back to 1638, this vibrant covered market is London’s oldest. Boasting up to 110 stalls, there is endless potential to lose yourself in a sea of cutting edge fashion, original artworks and great food. Old Spitalfield Market is the perfect place to get a taste of the real London.
This is just a starting point that will hopefully inspire you to explore London’s lesser known delights. The West End theatres, Palaces and monuments should certainly not be missed, but why not squeeze in something a little different and amaze your friends when you get home.
Post submitted by Luke Glassford on behalf of TheatrePeople, an online seller of West End theatre tickets.