LONDON, JULY 2017 - View of Westminster Parliament, Big Ben and London Eye with Thames and tourist ship in foreground on a sunny summer afternoon

5 Hidden Gems in London

5 Hidden Gems in London That You Shouldn’t Skip

Locals may love to complain about the house prices and weather in London, but it’s a fantastic place to explore. The city isn’t just where people go to stare at the guards at Buckingham Palace and hope for a chance to get a peek at the royal family, either.

Everyone that’s ever visited London can probably list a number of highlights, including Big Ben, the Tower of London, and Trafalgar Square. But this historic city holds many secrets, and anyone who’s willing to explore a bit can discover some true gems.

Obviously, the places listed here aren’t the only cool treasures this city has to offer – there are plenty of big attractions you’ll want to add to your list. But they are a bit off the beaten path for the average tourist, making them a great place to start exploring. Well, when the world gets back to normal, and traveling is permitted again, that is.

Tip: You’ll want to upload plenty of pics to your social media accounts when you visit these hidden gems, so make sure you’re protected against cyber attacks when connecting to public WiFi networks. Using a VPN while in the UK will do the trick.

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1. Leake Street Graffiti Tunnel

Part of the Waterloo Vaults, these underground tunnels travel under the famous Waterloo Station. They can be accessed from Leake Street at the back of the station and feel surprisingly welcoming. Much of that might have to do with all of the colourful graffiti that decorate the walls. 

The graffiti tunnel on Leake Street is free and open to the public. It changes continually as the walls get painted over by artists and pedestrians alike. Even tourists are welcome to bring some paint and add their mark. Whether sightseeing or creating a new masterpiece, there’s no doubt the Vaults leave an imprint of their own on anyone who visits.

Tip: There are also theatres and performance spaces in the tunnels that are well worth a visit if you’ve got some spare cash for a unique entertainment experience.

2. Neals Yard

Just a short walk from Covent Garden Underground Station is this incredibly vibrant alley filled with cafes, shops, and a multicoloured facade. Despite being tucked away in a bustling area of London, this street doesn’t get many tourists. It might be because it’s a little hard to get to if you don’t know where you’re going.

Even so, there’s a lot to discover (and get snapshots of, for the gram). Many of the shops and restaurants here also focus on providing organic and sustainable products – at fairly good prices too. 

Tip: Anyone who wants to visit the courtyard can find it via two small alleyways. Either take a short walk down Short’s Gardens or head in from the other side through Monmouth Street.

3. Little Venice

Most people don’t think of quaint little canals when they plan their trip to London. Those are best left to places like Amsterdam, right? But Little Venice in London is a pretty treat squeezed in around Warwick Avenue.

While the Thames is an attraction all on its own, these canals provide a small reprieve from the busy city – and right in its heart. The multicoloured cafe boats make for a memorable lunch or afternoon tea on the water.

Tip: You can also take a trip along the canals themselves with the London Waterbus Company, which operates canal boat trips on Regents Canal between Camden and Little Venice via Regents Park.

4. The Churchill Arms Pub

Nestled in the ritzy Notting Hill area in West London, this pub boasts a striking display of flowers on the outside of the building. It’s an Instagrammer’s visual dream, which is probably why it’s one of the most photographed pubs in London – yet it’s still a hidden gem.

It can be found between Notting Hill Gate and Kensington High Street. This floral hangout was regularly frequented by Winston Churchill’s grandparents – hence the name. However, there’s no way to be sure if the man himself ever made an appearance.

Tip: For anyone who wants to make the most of it, Spring is the best time to visit when all those colourful flowers are in full bloom. 

5. The Tulip Stairs at Queen’s House

Architecture buffs won’t want to miss the Queen’s House in Greenwich, because this former royal residence hosts one of the most picturesque spiral staircases in the world. More than that, they’re also the first centrally unsupported stairs built in England. 

The name “Tulip Stairs” is derived from the flowers on the blue wrought iron, although these flowers are now believed to be lilies and not tulips like everyone originally thought. They’re beautiful to behold and worth the quick detour.

Tip: You don’t even need to pay to see this attraction, as entrance into the Queen’s House is free – a rare thing for any tourist attraction in the city these days.

Take a step off the beaten path and seek out the captivating pubs, bakeries, gardens, and eccentric neighbourhoods London has to offer. There’s always something new to discover in this vibrant city that marries the charm of historic England with the wonder of modern development.

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