124 unusual things to do in London

There are a thousand things to do in London, but sometimes when it comes to narrowing one down – perhaps to impress that special someone/complete randomer off the internet – it can be hard to choose. Here’s a list of fun ideas that might not have occurred to you before. Some of these have links to reviews on the main blog; many I haven’t yet been arsed to do properly. I hope you find some inspiration!

Many of these suggestions are also perfect for stags, hens and corporate events. I’m all about making life as easy as possible, so I’ve tagged these to make them easier. Just use Ctrl and F (Windows) or Cmd and F (Mac) and type ‘GOOD FOR GROUPS’ to search through the document. These are ideas that either work well for larger groups of people, or whose organisers can arrange private sessions.

If you’ve done something rad and want to see it on the list, tweet me at @CuriouslyEmily.


FREE THINGS

Bag a bargain
Hackney Walk is a new designer outlet centre in East London. It’s not quite Bicester Village, but you also don’t have to compete with millions of day-tripping tourists or spend two hours on a bus to get there. You’ll find Burberry, Anya Hindmarch and Nike outlet stores, plus pop-up shops showcasing fresh new homegrown talent. 

Take yourself on a self-guided tour
Walkster London is a free smartphone app that offers a range of self-guided walking tours around different bits of London, including Hammersmith Bridge, the South Bank and the East End.

Explore the flower market
Columbia Road is home to probably London’s most famous flower market, and it’s a great spot for amateur photographers (or budding flower-arrangers!) Fresh blooms can be picked up for a fraction of the florist or supermarket price – last weekend I picked up a huge pot of stargazer lilies for just £4.

Columbia Road Flower Market

Light up your life
Located, ironically, on a street jam-packed with neon lights, Lights of Soho is London’s first and only light art gallery, featuring iconic works from Tracey Emin and Chris Bracey . You can just wander in before 6pm any day of the week, but access is restricted to members only afterwards.

Visit the Wellcome Collection
‘The free destination for the incurably curious’, the Wellcome Collection is my favourite museum in all of London. It’s full of oddities and the best possible place to take someone with an insatiable love for trivia and weird facts. Also it’s freeeeeee. Find out what’s on here.

Go to the Bank of England museum
It’s almost like they don’t want visitors. The Bank of England museum is only open 9-5pm on weekdays, but if you’re pulling a sicky having a day off, it’s an interesting (albeit fairly serious) afternoon.

Explore a city farm
London is home to a handful of city farms that are home to rare breeds, petting zoos and – if you’re lucky – tractor rides. There’s a full list on Time Out.

Holmes and Watson at Spitalfields city farm

Holmes and Watson at Spitalfields City Farm.

Watch Kit Lovelace’s Romantic Misadventures
Kit Lovelace, tweeter, organises readings in pubs where writers both amateur and professional tell funny stories about their misadventures in romance. There’s no official website or cover charge, and the venue changes depending on whichever pub Kit can find that’ll lend him a microphone, but every single one I’ve been to has been heart-warming and hilarious. You can even sign up to read something of your own.

Learn to play the ukelele at the Queen of Hoxton
It’ll be the most hipstery thing you’ll ever do, but the Hoxton Ukulele Hootenanny at the Queen of Hoxton takes place every Monday for “regular Ukers, beginners or anyone who is just Uke curious.” It’s free, and ukes can be hired for a £20 refundable deposit. If you’re really serious about it, try Learn to Uke, which runs taster classes and longer courses for budding ukelings.

Ukelele Queen of Hoxton

Wander along the South Bank
An oldie, but a goodie. The South Bank is home to dozens of street performers, the National Theatre, outdoor food markets, second-hand book stalls and God knows what else. Sometimes there’s a giant purple upside-down inflatable cow called the Udderbelly. See what’s on here.

Spend the day at Ally Pally
Alexandra Palace offers every outdoorsy pursuit from pedalos to pitch ‘n’ putt. If you’re feeling especially energetic you can go on a Segway rally, swing through the trees or visit the ice rink, or, if you’re feeling sluggish, just grab a jug of Pimm’s and enjoy the view.

Visit the Sky Garden
The Shard costs £25 per person to visit the top but the Sky Garden at 20 Fenchurch Street is free, though advance booking is recommended. Plus, there are some great restaurants at the top. Review here.

Skygarden2

Visit Big Ben
Not many people know that you can book tours to the top of Elizabeth Tower with their MP, but now you do. Waiting times are long – usually a few months – and the hours are weird, but if you’ve got some spare annual leave rolling around it’d be a great day out. The tour is open to UK residents only (sorry, tourists). Find out how to apply here.


CHEAP THINGS (< £20)

Tour a brewery
A must for beer fans (and quite interesting for non-beer drinkers, like me), a trip to the Camden Town Brewery not only includes a tour of the facilities but many, many cans of beer fresh off the production line. Tours last 90-120 minutes and run on Thursdays and Saturdays. They tend to sell out a couple of weeks beforehand so reserve your spot in advance here. Tickets cost £12pp. GOOD FOR GROUPS.

London Transport Museum
The surprisingly un-dreary London Transport Museum is a treasure trove for design-lovers, with exhibitions focusing on iconic London transportation, including the Tube, black cabs and double-decker buses. Entry costs a whopping £17.00/adult but you can get 241 tickets with National Rail’s Day’s Out promotion (which requires two valid train tickets). 

Attend a Gin Social
Once a month Soho’s Graphic Bar throws open its doors to gin-lovers and producers alike, hosting a bargain evening in which a lowly fiver will get you a G&T, a tasting of the gin of the month and a specially created gin cocktail. The event is held on the first Monday of every month, and tickets can be purchased in advance from EventBrite.

Drink This, Make That
Indie drink ‘n do collective Drink This, Make That runs quirky masterclasses with cocktails and crafting. Keep an eye on its Facebook page for upcoming events, but previous workshops have included pinata-making and notebook embroidery, and tickets usually cost around £15pp.

Go for £10 steak
There are a few places to go in London now for a cheap steak dinner, most notably Flat Iron, whose three West End locations can attract queues of up to two hours. Fortunately, they work the queue with a mobile app, so you can bugger off to the pub while you’re waiting for your table. If you’re in West London, newly opened Hanger SW6 is serving up the same deal.

Visit Soho’s Murder Mile
Snooze. Jack the Ripper is so 1888. Instead, try a tour with Murder Mile Walks, which offers you more bludgeonings for your buck, featuring over 18 murderers in just two hours. Plus, it starts at Tottenham Court Road, and Soho has better bars than Whitechapel, so you can make a day of it. Places cost £15pp.

Learn to swing dance
Swing Patrol is London’s biggest swing school, popping up in dozens of locations all over town. Classes cost £10 a person, and additional classes on the same night cost just a fiver. There are lessons for total beginners, improvers and experienced dancers, and time is set aside at the end of the evening for extra practice.

Explore Medicine, Monks & Murder (for a good cause)
Barts Cancer Institute is now running historical walking tours of the Barts area (near Barbican), including the university’s private grounds and an exclusive opportunity to visit state-of-the-art laboratory facilities, with explanations and demonstrations from a lab manager – a glimpse of the future of cancer research. 100% of the £5 ticket charge goes to fund BCI and its life-saving research.

Go on a Highgate Cemetery Tour
Probably not best cracked out on a first date as it’s a bit morbid, but fascinating nonetheless. The guides are almost obscenely knowledgeable about the cemetery’s 170,000 residents, and you can see the final resting places of Douglas Adams, George Eliot and Malcolm McLaren. You can book tickets in advance for weekdays online.

Visit a gin distillery
There are a few gin distilleries in London now, but Sipsmith is one of our favourites. Tours cost £15 and include a G&T, but must be booked a few weeks in advance. Reserve your place online. The East London Liquor Co, which makes not only its on gin but vodka and whisky too, is also a good bet. (Review here.)

Sipsmith

…Or just drink a lot of it
Don’t be fooled by the crap website, The London Gin Club is a hidden gem amidst Tottenham Court Road’s never-ending construction work. It runs formal tasting sessions from £32pp but also offers tasting menus from £25-55.

Watch a film outdoors…
Obviously a seasonal option, but in the summertime you can barely move in London for outdoor screens. There’s the Rooftop Cinema that pops up in Shoreditch, Stratford and Peckham; Backyard Cinema in Camden and the Luna Cinema that projects its classic movies wherever it can. There’s also a little one under the Westway at Portobello Road which has the added bonus of being positioned right next to Boom Burger (review here).

Backyard Cinema Camden

…Or in an awesome independent cinema
Alternatively, if it’s winter or you’d rather see a new release in something a little less faceless than a Cineworld, there are some amazing little cinemas all over London. They’ve got leather sofas and an in-screen bar, although most of them are a little more expensive than your standard multiplex. Try the Electric Cinema on Portobello Road, Aubin Cinema in Shoreditch, Everyman cinemas (I like Screen on the Green, Upper Street), the Phoenix in Finsbury or the Ritzy Picturehouse in Brixton. If your budget is tight, try Genesis cinema. Tickets to its luxury Studio 5 screenings cost just £8. (A full list of Indy cinemas can be found here.)

Play an urban wide game
Fire Hazard Games organise urban wide games with cryptic clues and real life guards including the ever-popular City Dash. Tickets are cheaper the further you book in advance, and start from £10. Review hereGOOD FOR GROUPS.

City-Dash-2

Catch some comedy at the Pleasance Theatre
I only discovered this place recently, even though it’s just up the road from me. It’s a tiny, tiny theatre close to Caledonian Road station, and it’s especially good for Edinburgh Fringe previews. It draws the occasional big name – although you have to get in quick – but you can usually go and see some undiscovered talent for under a tenner. Listings online.

Get crafty at Drink, Shop & Do
By day a quirky cafe hosting all sorts of weird and wonderful workshops, by night a bar and dance club. Drink, Shop & Do really does have it all, from dance lessons and coffee tasting to screen printing and clay classes. They also host afternoon teas at weekends, comedy nights and musical bingo. Find out what’s on onlineGOOD FOR GROUPS.

Go to a mid-week dance club
Get over hump day while wildly flailing your limbs in approximate time to music at POP Brixton’s Weeknight Dance Club. Designed with weekday workers in mind, you don’t have to get smashed or stay out late to enjoy a weekend dance party on a Wednesday, from 7-11pm. it’s a good way to let off some mid-week steam and costs just £6.95.

Go undercover
The makers of urban wide game City Dash are back with a new game that requires stealth, subtlety and, quite possibly, false moustaches. Become a covert operative for 90 minutes with Undercover London from £15. GOOD FOR GROUPS.

undercover-london

Discover your perfect brew
You’re worth more than the ancient box of Tetley grotbags at the back of your cupboard. Instead, make a beeline to Amanzi’s new Soho store, aptly situated on Brewer Street. You’ll find 150 types of tea – including cinnamon spice and roasted almond – and London’s first matcha bar. (They also do tea-based cocktails, too, if you fancy something stronger.)

Visit London Cru winery
London’s only city winery runs 60-90 minute tours at £15pp and includes some tastings, too. GOOD FOR GROUPS.

Go on a London Loo Tour
Sounds interesting, but of course could be total crap. Tickets are £12 a person and available in advance online.

Loo tours

Go rock climbing
Quite a few opportunities to make a tit of yourself here, but rock climbing at one of the city’s many climbing walls is a fun way to spend the afternoon. I reviewed the Arch in Bermondsey, but there’s also the Mile End Climbing Wall and the Castle at Archway.

Play board games
Yes, it’s on the nerdy side, but for a relaxed night of cocktails and Cluedo try Draughts, London’s first and only board game cafe (£5 cover charge). If Haggerston is a bit of a mission, you can check out London on Board to find your nearest board game meet-up instead.

Draughts board game cafe

Watch naked boys read
Probably not great for a date unless you both enjoy a) naked men and b) literature, but Naked Boys Reading is a bi-monthly literary salon hosted by men in the buff. There’s dancing afterwards, and tickets are only £7 on the door (or £5 in advance). Review here. (Pro tip: NBR tends to be held in very expensive bars, so be prepared for a hefty bar tab if you want to get smashed!)

Gorge yourself senseless at Street Feast
Food out of a van: it’s come a long way since my mates and I spent the arse-end of our nights out crowded round Papa Simon’s decrepit old kebab-mobile outside Loughborough Students’ Union in 2009. Nowadays in London the street food scene is massive, and there’s no better place than to drink (and eat) it all in than Street Feast London, a night-time food market with an ever-turning carousel of nomadic eateries. There are bars too, so you can make a night of it. It’s free to enter before 7pm (£3 thereafter).

Visit the Butterfly House at the Natural History Museum (April-September)
No points for originality at the Natural History Museum, but its summertime butterfly house is home to thousands of rare and beautiful butterflies, caterpillars and moths. Tickets cost £5.50pp.

Rise and shine for an early morning rave
Get the workday off to a jolly start by raving it up in (of course) East London with a pre-work bop with Morning Gloryville, a new global concept now found in eleven countries across the world. It’s almost certainly better for you that the regular kind of late-night dance-a-thon; Gloryville ravers spend their time not snorting coke off each other’s arseholes in the bogs, but indulging in superfood smoothies and early morning massages. More information and tickets (from £10 in advance) can be found online.

Morning Gloryville

Play laser tag
Bunker 51’s runs a ‘Star Command’ themed laser tag in Whitechapel, allowing you to relive your childhood years Barney Stinston-style for as little as £7.50 per 20 minute session. GOOD FOR GROUPS.

Meet minds with Thinking Bob
Even in this bustling city, it can be hard to meet new people. If you’re seeking like-minded souls, check out Thinking Bob’s ever-expanding roster of themed meet-ups and kooky socials. Many of their events take place in pubs, so there’ll be plenty of social lubricant (i.e. beer) if you’re not a natural natterer.

Go to a Roller Derby
Roller derby is a full-contact women’s sport played on roller skates; it’s like lady Gladiators on wheels, and completely brutal. Keep an eye on London Rollergirls’ and London Rockin’ Rollers’ events pages for matches and (if you’re not a wuss, bloke or child) training sessions.

Make a great escape
Escape adventure rooms are massive in London at the moment, and a LOT of fun. I recently took some amateur cryptographer friends to Lockd, a new venture in South London with puzzles dreamed up by two Russian physicists. Games cost from £20pp based on a team of five. Review hereGOOD FOR GROUPS.

Turn the city into your gym
If you’re bored of pounding the treadmill in some windowless sweatbox, air out those muscles with a free-running lesson from Parkour Generations. Classes cost £10pp.

Cat-Balance

Explore Viktor Wynd’s Cabinet of Wonders
The Last Tuesday Society’s basement museum is tightly packed with oddments and curiosities. Saturday tours (4:30pm) are free with £4 admission; Thursday tours (6:30pm) are £5 and include a Hendrick’s G&T.

Improve your handwriting
Give the ancient art of Chinese calligraphy a whirl at SOAS’ Friday drop-in sessions. Stop by for £15/session all in, or book a block of five for £60.

Draw on your dark side
Art Macabre hold quirky drawing salons on all things weird, wonderful, camp, creepy and odd. At the time of writing they’ve got ‘adult Alice’, Marie Antoinette and ‘bare and bearded’ coming up. GOOD FOR GROUPS.

Learn something new
China Exchange is a Chinatown based charity that holds talks with influential speakers for just £5 a ticket. Past speakers include Lord Coe, Tom Parker-Bowles and Tracey Emin.

Slurp on London’s best hot chocolate
Paul A. Young is a master chocolatier, and his Aztec hot chocolate is the stuff of legend. Pop in to one of his stores in Angel, Soho or Bank to try a thick, creamy cupful of molten chocolate laced with fragrant winter spices. At £3.95 it’ll be one of the posher hot chocolates you’ll ever drink, but on a cold day it’s absolutely worth it. (In summer, try his homemade ice cream with melted chocolate sauce.)

PaulAYoung

Visit the Ginger Pig
The Ginger Pig is the fabled supplier of all of London’s best steakhouses, including Hawksmoor, but it’s also home to the city’s best sausage rolls. Drop in to the Marylebone, Hackney or Borough Market outposts for £3.50 worth of hot, flavoursome meat swathed in layers of delicate flaky pastry.

Jump around
Acton is home to London’s first and only trampoline park, Oxygen Freejumping. Many of the sessions are geared towards kids, but 16+ beginners sessions run every Tuesday at 7pm (£10pp), and there are loads of freerunning sessions open to grown-ups (£20pp) once you nail the fundamentals.

Take a dip
The King’s Cross Pond Club is technically an art installation, but in practice it’s a 40m wide public bathing pond complete with self-cleaning algae. Prices range from £3.50 to £6.50, and non-swimmers can visit the pond at a discounted rate. Tickets can be booked up to two weeks in advance.

King's Cross Pond Club

King’s Cross Pond Club

Climb the Monument
The Monument to the Great Fire of London is 202ft tall (and 202ft away from the start of the Great Fire). You can climb its 311 steps for just £4.

Cross Tower Bridge’s glass floor
The highlight of the Tower Bridge Exhibition is its glass floor, allowing visitors to watch the bridge lifting from above. Adult tickets cost £9, but they’re cheaper bought in advance online or with a Monument ticket. Keep an eye out for other events in the space too, including literary salons, engineering tours and sky-high yoga sessions.

See the city through new eyes
Unseen Tours is an award-winning London tour company with a difference: all the guides are homeless, ex-homeless or vulnerably housed Londoners. Tickets cost just £10pp and tours cover half a dozen different neighbourhoods and run every day of the week.


MIDDLY-PRICED THINGS

Go scavenging 
Especially perfect for hen dos, stag dos and corporate events, The Big Smoke Events arranges scavenger hunts that encourage participants to explore the city while making memories (and taking lots of comedy photographs!) A hunt costs around £25pp. GOOD FOR GROUPS.

The Big Smoke Events scavenger hunt hen do

Sign up for a masterclass
The City Literary Institute offers an ever-changing carousel of evening classes and short courses – over 5,000 of them! There are lectures from £9.00, academic walking tours from £19.00 and a smorgasbord of other classes, which vary from the standard literacy and numeracy stuff to the weird and wonderful. Our top picks? A vintage dance masterclass (£19.00), Gesturing In Italian (£29.00) and a workshop on Dream Sequences in Cinema (£29.00).

Go white water rafting

Hiding away in Waltham Cross is the massive Lea Valley watersports facility that was initially built for the 2012 Olympics. These days, it earns its keep with all kinds of aquatic activities for adventurous types, including white water rafting, hydroboarding, canoeing and kayaking. Prices from £25pp. GOOD FOR GROUPS.

Explore the Enigma
Okay, it’ll require a bit of a schlepp, but Bletchley Park is only 30 minutes from Euston and is home to the legendary Enigma machine, used to crack codes in WWII and the subject of the recent movie The Imitation Game. Entry costs £17.25, plus a train ticket from London Midland – about £15 without a railcard. (Bletchley Park is just around the corner from the train station, so no crazy non-London bus routes necessary.)

Become an ice cream dream
Ice cream parlour Blu Top runs gelato-making classes from just £38.50pp, unlocking the secrets of three different flavours and ending in a tasting session.

Get crafty
Tea & Crafting is a cave of crafting wonder tucked away in Camden Market, and offers casual classes on knitting, crochet, millinery, jewellery-making, paper-cutting and more. GOOD FOR GROUPS.

Try some tea
Lovers of the leaf will appreciate Tea Studio’s vast range of speciality teas, but anyone can enjoy its range of quirky tea-themed events. Try tea and cake pairing, tea and cheese tasting and brewing masterclasses, all £20-35pp.

Tea

Visit the Indytute
Shoreditch’s Indytute is a hub of all kinds of weird and wonderful workshops, including hula-hooping, playing the harmonica, aerial silks and more.

Eat at The Clink
Prison charity The Clink offers unique dining experiences to support the rehabilitation of prisoners through hospitality training, and you can find one of their restaurants at HMP Brixton. Your entire meal will be cooked and served by prisoners, and all proceeds go to charity.

Play ping pong
Ping pong bars are becoming increasingly popular in the city, and are a great venue for a date or (smallish) birthday gathering. Bounce in Holborn has recently opened a new location in Shoreditch, and ‘urban pub’ The Bat & Ball in Westfield Stratford offers top-class ping pong alongside hot wings, pizzas and craft beer. GOOD FOR GROUPS.

Bowl at All Star Lanes
Continuing the theme of non-athletic semi-competitive games, All Star Lanes gives you the opportunity to casually rub your friends’ noses in the poo impress your mates with your awesome ball control. GOOD FOR GROUPS.

All Star Lanes

Go to a museum at night
Museums are the most obvious things in the world, but it’s worth checking out the special grown-up times where you can enjoy the wonders of science/nature/history with a beer in hand and no screaming kids in sight.

Science Museum: Last Wednesday of every month. Listings here.
Natural History Museum: Last Friday of every month. Listings here.

Visit London Zoo
Similarly, in the summer London Zoo puts on adults-only events every Friday night. And there’s a bar. Tickets are cheaper in advance.

Dress up for Blitz Party
Blitz Party is a monthly(ish) event that recreates the glamour of 1930s Blighty. Fancy dress is essential. Book tickets online from £25pp. GOOD FOR GROUPS.

Blitz party

Listen to live piano music 
Piano is close to my work so we go there a lot. Invariably we all get accidentally trashed and waltz around the place as though it’s a banging nightclub, not a classy joint with fantastic live music. The pianists change all the time, but most of them can do a decent rendition of Single Ladies as well as all the classics. You can even sit at the glass-topped baby grand and make requests (although, of course, it’s polite to tip if you do!) They also have a branch in South Kensington. GOOD FOR GROUPS.

Board an amphibious vehicle
Okay, so this has just reopened after one caught fire last year and everyone had to be rescued by the river police, but it’s back up and running again! It’s a tour bus that turns into a boat; it’s a bit of a silly one but my fellow adventurer @CarlaJuniper took an out-of-towner on it and had a blast. Tickets are available online. (Occasionally they crop up on Groupon-type websites too.)

Stuff some animals
Not for the squeamish. Tonja Grung of the Last Tuesday Society teaches half-day taxidermy workshops that’ll teach you how to stuff a dead rodent and turn it into a delightful objet d’art. All creatures are ethically sourced, and you can even take your furry friend home with you at the end. It’s unusual, you have to admit. Buy tickets here, from £35pp (based on two people). I reviewed a class hereGOOD FOR GROUPS.

Taxidermy

Buy some affordable art
Art aficionados looking to adorn their abodes with affordable, original pieces can visit the Affordable Art Fair, which pops up periodically in Battersea and Hampstead. Prices start from £20, but even if you’re not in the market for something pretty, it’s nice to window shop.

Kayak down the Thames
Touring the Thames from a passenger boat is so passé (unless you’re in a speedboat, of course), but London Kayak Tours give you the opportunity to paddle your way past the Palace of Westminster, Big Ben and all of London’s other top landmarks under your own steam. GOOD FOR GROUPS.

London Kayak Tours review Regent's Canal London things to do

Learn to knit
Why not knot your own knit with the needle-wielding duo from I Make Knots? Their workshops run all over town in knitting and crochet, and they’re currently running classes in collaboration with luxury NYC knitwear designer Manoush.

Attend a graffiti art class
The Alternative London people do fantastic walking tours of Shoreditch’s street art scene (review here), but they also do graffiti workshops for people who fancy having a go at wielding a spraycan themselves. It costs £25 for a four hour class and you can book your place onlineGOOD FOR GROUPS.

Street art workshop

Visit the London Cocktail Club
If you’re going to drink cocktails, make sure you do it right. The London Cocktail Club is an underground bar (aren’t they all?) off Goodge Street where  flamboyant bartenders leap around the place setting fire to things and serving up elaborate cocktails served in teapots and fuck knows what else. It is loud in there, so don’t go if you’re planning on some deep and meaningful conversation. They also have branches in Covent Garden, Oxford Circus, Shoreditch and Shaftesbury Avenue, and run cocktail classes if you want to learn how to DIY. Cocktails are an expensive way to drink, but they have 241 happy hour promotions all day Monday and 4:30pm-7pm the rest of the week.

Listen to live jazz at Nightjar
This is a favourite bar of the trendiest guy in our office. It’s classy as fuck – cool, intimate and table service only, with live jazz most evenings. Advance booking – weeks in advance – is essential. Listings online.

Nightjar

Bring your own booze at BYOC
You bring the booze (and £20); they bring every mixer under the sun and the expertise of pro mixologists. Bookings are in two hour slots and can be made onlineGOOD FOR GROUPS.

Visit Cellardoor
It used to be a public toilet, now it’s the world’s weeniest cabaret club. There’s no cover charge, but drinks are a little more expensive than average. If you’re super organised you can nab one of few reservable seats, but otherwise it’s standing room only. Listings online.

Go in fancy dress
The Last Tuesday Society always hold the most insane events. I went to their Valentine’s Day Animal Ball once dressed as a zebra. They had a ball pit, tarantulas and lots of live music. Weird but fun. GOOD FOR GROUPS.

Fancy dress for the Animal Party!

Fancy dress for the Animal Party!

Attend a Intelligence Squared debate
Intelligence Squared organises highbrow debates about history, economics, politics and sociology. Tickets to watch are generally £30 (half price to students) and available online.

Visit the Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town
It’s barely a secret any more, but it’ll impress out-of-towners and people who’ve been living under a rock. It’s behind a Smeg fridge at the Breakfast Club, Artillery Lane; all you have to do is tell the waitress you’re looking for the Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town and in you go.

Shoot clay pigeons
I always thought it was such a waste how they made pigeons out of clay before shooting them to smithereens, but then I discovered (aged, er,  22) that in fact they’re just clay discs, not model pigeons. Embarrassing. Either way, you can do in North London from £30pp at English ShootingGOOD FOR GROUPS.

Run from zombies
For people who get off on running around like a maniac from zombies/paintballers, there’s Escape From A Room With Zombies, an undead-themed escape game (£30pp), or Bunker 51 near London Bridge. Off-peak prices start at £25, but remember you’ll always need to factor in more paintballs than you think. GOOD FOR GROUPS.

Trapped-Puzzle

Indulge in a bottomless boozy brunch
Spend an indulgent weekend feasting on some of the best brunches the city has to offer alongside unlimited bubbles and breakfast cocktails. Here’s my list (of over fifty!) boozy brunch optionsGOOD FOR GROUPS.

Learn the flying trapeze
This probably isn’t one to spring on someone, but if you’ve ever fancied learning the flying trapeze, Gorilla Circus runs classes in parks all over the city. Prices from £24pp for two hours. Review hereGOOD FOR GROUPS.

Gorilla Circus flying trapeze London Hyde Park

RSVP to a Curious Invitation
A Curious Invitation was set up by Suzette from the Last Tuesday Society and organises all sorts of quirky events; from masquerade balls to butterfly preservation classes. What’s on changes all the time, so check out the website here.

Discover London through a lens
Put that fancy camera to good use and explore the rich landscape of East London, overflowing with ephemeral art and quirky characters. Foto Ruta, originally from Buenos Aires, offers photography tours and treasure hunts to help you make the most of the incredible scenery on our doorsteps, and at the end everyone compares pictures over a glass of wine. Tickets are available online and cost from £25 per person.

Get up close and personal with magic
The Magic Hour is an intimate close-up magic show that sells out almost as quickly as tickets go on sale. Ranked at #15 on TripAdvisor, it’s pretty much considered the best magic gig in London, with its star Tony Middleton, alias Sonic, renowned worldwide for his incredible sleight of hand. Tickets range from £25-40pp plus booking fee, and including a complimentary glass of wine. Review hereGOOD FOR GROUPS.

8. Grub Club

Sing along to your favourite films
The Prince Charles cinema regularly screens sing-a-long classics, including Grease, Dirty Dancing, the Rocky Horror Picture Show, Moulin Rouge, Spice World and, most recently, Pitch Perfect and Disney’s Frozen. They’re also known for their movie marathons and quote-alongs (including Anchorman and Mean Girls). Full listings are available onlineGOOD FOR GROUPS.

Dine somewhere different
Grub Club is an online platform that sells tickets to pop-up dining experiences hosted by enthusiastic foodies and professional chefs alike. I’ve been to a few and the food is top notch, plus many venues are BYOB. Get £5 with code CURIOUSLONDON10. GOOD FOR GROUPS.

Skate the night away
Vauxhall’s infamous roller disco is now sadly closed, but outdoor alternatives include Easy Peasy Skate and London Friday Night Skate for marshaled free sessions (bring your own kit), or SkateFresh for lessons from £45.

Fridaynightskate

Get into bingo
Unconventional bingo halls are popping up all over London. It’s cheap, sociable and doesn’t require much concentration, which means it’s an excellent excuse to drink mid-week. The Breakfast club runs bingo in Battersea and Angel (review here) every Tuesday night, and other bingo organisers pop up all over town, including Rebel Bingo and Musical Bingo. The Royal Vauxhall Tavern also stages ‘bingo-cabaret-mayhem’ every Monday night, complete with drag acts and ball jokes aplenty. GOOD FOR GROUPS.

Gamble and gorge at the Hippodrome
Easily mistaken for a dreadful night out waiting to happen, the London Hippodrome’s Heliot streak house is a gem hiding in plain sight, and often does fantastic offers via Bookatable. Read my review hereGOOD FOR GROUPS.

A close shave
Gentlemen wishing to indulge in some olde-worlde grooming may want to check out Murdoch’s London branches or Ted’s Grooming Room, a small chain of traditional men’s barbers by Ted Baker.

Ted-Baker-Ottoman-Lounge

Wake up at the Docklands
There’s lots of watery fun to be had at WakeUp Docklands. Ride their wakeboarding cables from just £28pp including kit hire. Or, if you fancy something a little gentler, they do stand-up paddleboarding classes too from £30pp. GOOD FOR GROUPS.


FANCY THINGS (> £50)

Knock yourself out
This one requires a bit of forward planning and a few adventurous mates, but if bouncing around on giant inflatables and wearing comedy costumes sounds like a Saturday afternoon well spent, check out It’s A Knockout London, featuring props from the original TV show and ready to rock summer weekend. Places from £45pp. GOOD FOR GROUPS.

Take the Harry Potter studio tour
Explore the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in, er, Watford with the Warner Bros Studio Tour. Tickets cost around £35pp and must be booked in advance.

Pick up some life skills
If cooking isn’t your thing and you’d rather turn your hand to something more practical than flower-arranging, The Goodlife Centre can help you with some new skills in upholstery, furniture restoration, curtain making, carpentry, plumbing and much more. Workshops last anything from an evening to several weeks. Prices vary.

Write some letters
Explore the ancient art of pretty letter-writing with Quill London’s calligraphy masterclasses, which cater for beginners, intermediates, experts and those looking to digitalise their designs. You’ll also find origami, watercolour and paper flower-making workshops, though everything seems to get booked up a couple of months in advance. All ~£50pp.

Learn how to wear a kimono
London’s first and only kimono and Japanese accessories retailer can be found in Notting Hill. The kimonos themselves are eye-wateringly expensive, but Wasokan is also running “kitsuke” experiences, where you can learn how to wear and style a kimono for £50. There are also “Kimono de odekake” sessions, where you can wear a kimono out and about for a day. You’ll also find an on-site Japanese tearoom and, if the £500+ kimonos are a little out of your price range, there’s a range of accessories and homewares from just £5. 

Scale The Wall
Literally the coolest possible thing, especially now we’ve all seen the Wildlings going over the top in Game of Thrones. It’s steep (haha) at £50/hour per person, but that includes tuition and all your kit. More information online at Vertical Chill.

Go to the theatre
So obvious, but there’s so much amazing theatre in London it can’t be left off. I’ve seen pretty much everything on the West End, and Phantom of the OperaMatilda and The Book of Mormon (review here) are the best (although there’s always tonnes of quality theatre outside the West End too). For tickets, I like Theatremonkey, but Lastminute and Lovetheatre do great deals too.

Learn to appreciate chocolate…
Everyone loves chocolate, but think how much MORE you could love it if you learned how to taste it properly. Hotel Chocolat’s School of Chocolate on Monmouth Street offers tasting courses and ‘Bean to Bar’ chocolate-making courses from £50pp, and posh homegrown chocolatier Paul A. Young does premium classes for £175pp. He also does chocolate and champagne pairing evenings with French Bubbles, from £60pp. GOOD FOR GROUPS.

…Or champagne and cheese
Speaking of French Bubbles, they also do champagne and cheese tasting from £50pp. GOOD FOR GROUPS.

Take afternoon tea
A bit standard, but always a nice experience. The Goring is supposedly the best (and it had better be for the eye-watering £42.50 price tag), but if you want something more unusual try the Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea at the Sanderson (from £38pp), Moroccan-style afternoon tea at Momo (from £22pp), or the extravagantly wacky afternoon tea experience at Sketch London (from £39pp).

Afternoon tea Momo

Go to the opera
The marketing people at the London Coliseum, home of the English National Opera, are painfully aware that its key demographic is, er, dying out a bit. In an attempt to recruit more young ‘uns, they run a scheme where under-thirties can buy heavily discounted tickets to all its productions. Top price seats are £30/person, but cheaper ones are available for £10 and £20. You need to apply to join Access All Arias three weeks in advance. (NB: You can buy two tickets for a time, using one for a more aged friend or relative.)

Mince like a pro
The perfect experience for the savage, blood-thirsty carnivore in your life, top meatery the Ginger Pig runs hands-on butchery classes from its fancy Marylebone shop. Choose from beef, lamb, pork or sausage-making and spend three and half hours slicing, dicing, cleaving and mincing, followed by the hearty two-course supper you just prepared. Places cost £135pp so it’s definitely a special one, but for meat-lovers it’s a (rib-)cracking way to spend the afternoon.

Hear movies like never before
Awhile ago I went to see the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra’s Film Gala, which was one of the best things I’ve heard in a long time (I wrote a full review here). Until you’ve seen one of these shows, you haven’t truly appreciated the genius of Danny Elfman, Hans Zimmer, John Williams and the other composers whose work has brought so many incredible movies to life. The Film Gala is only on once a year, but there are dozens of other concerts focusing on movie scores, as well as special screenings where you can watch whole movies to a live musical accompaniment (think Lord of the Rings, The Matrix and Titanic..!) The best resource to find out what’s on in London (and elsewhere) is the Movies in Concert website.

Immerse yourself in ‘4D’ theatre
Immersive theatre is all the rage, and always popping up in one guise or another. Punchdrunk Theatre often comes to London, and Secret Cinema is selling tickets by the thousand.

…Or take it outside at Regent’s Park.
For those who prefer their theatre with a jug of Pimms and a blanky, Regent’s park is home to London’s Open Air Theatre, which puts on four productions every summer. Find out what’s on online.

Regents-Park-Open-Air-Theatre.-Photo-by-David-Jensen_010910_033

Discover Russian spa
Banya No. 1 is London’s first and only Russian spa, and therefore the only place to experience an authentic parenie treatment, where huge bundles of fragrant foliage are used to cleanse the body. Read all about my experience here.

Build your own bouquets
Budding florists (aha) can learn the delicate art of floral design and Judith Blacklock’s Flower School, which offers everything from day courses to professional qualifications.

Judith Blacklock Flower School

Take a ride on the Ginger Line 
The Ginger Line is a nomadic restaurant experience that pops up from time to time in secret locations along the London Overground. They’re immense fun and cost about £60pp…but they sell out quick, so sign up to their mailing list for first dibs.

Try some pie in the sky
I can’t wait for this year’s tickets to go on sale, because this is top of my bucket list. London in the Sky hoists diners into the air for sky-high breakfasts, dinners and champagne receptions. It’s expensive – £50-250 – but, come on, you’ll never do anything else like it. Tickets go fast, so register your interest for this year’s batch now. GOOD FOR GROUPS.

Take a macaron masterclass
Those with a sweet tooth and an eye for value may be interested in Oh La La Macarons’ masterclasses, which come with unlimited vodka martinis. Tickets cost £65, and you’ll have a box of macarons to take home with you too. Review hereGOOD FOR GROUPS.

Ooh La La Macarons

Abseil at Olympic Park
The Orbit at Olympic Park may well be London’s ugliest sculpture, but at 262 feet it’s a pretty badass abseiling venue. Tickets cost £85pp and can be booked online.

Go flyboarding
Three words: WATER JET PACK. It’s called flyboarding and you can do it in the Thames from just £95pp with Flyboarding ExperiencesGOOD FOR GROUPS.

Design some jewellery
Kat&Bee
is one of my favourite indie jewellery bands, specialising in wire-wrapped pieces with skull and flower motifs. I recently discovered they do workshops out of their East London workshop, which includes a piece to take home for yourself. Workshops last two hours and cost £100pp, but there are discounts if you book more than one spot. GOOD FOR GROUPS.

Kat&Bee jewellery workshop London

Explore London’s food scene
Eating through a neighbourhood is one of the best ways to explore it, in my opinion, and food tour specialists Eating London promise a whirlwind experience through the city’s most vibrant pockets of gastronomic brilliance. Explore the East End and its melting pot of Jewish, Bangladeshi and French cultures or try the Twilight Soho Food Tour to sample Peruvian, Italian and Lebanese cuisines. Tickets cost £50-75pp. GOOD FOR GROUPS.

Become a wok star
Turns out Green Thai curry paste isn’t supposed to come from a jar. Who knew? Learn how to make that and more at School of Wok, Covent Garden’s Asian cookery school for professionals and enthusiastic amateurs alike. Three hour courses start from £95pp – choose from traditional Thai cookery, wok skills, dim sum and more. GOOD FOR GROUPS.

Spend a night at the Museum
Wannabe palaeontologists can stay the night at the Natural History Museum beneath the benevolent gaze of Dippy, the museum’s resident diplodocus skeleton. Included is three activities – which could include stand-up comedy or drinks-tasting, a three-course dinner and hot breakfast, overnight access to all galleries and temporary exhibitions, live music, edible insect-tasting, an all-night monster movie marathon and a cash bar. Tickets are £180pp (or £162 for members). Places sell out far in advance, so keep an eye out on the Events page – it’s called ‘Dino Snores for Grown-ups’.

78 Comments

  1. nubwaxer
    31st August 2014 @ 6:36 am

    is the london dungeon still open?

    Reply

    • CuriousEmily
      31st August 2014 @ 9:31 am

      It is but it’s moved to the South Bank from London Bridge. But of a tourist trap IMO.

      Reply

    • Tee
      17th November 2015 @ 3:09 am

      What fab ideas! thank you – it’s given me great ideas for things to do and cool activities in London with my bf!

      Reply

  2. Emma@GreenGlobalTravel
    31st August 2014 @ 10:48 pm

    Wish I had this amazing list when I went in December. Love the city and the culture and this list just amplifies it.

    Reply

    • CuriousEmily
      31st August 2014 @ 10:52 pm

      Ah, bummer! I add new things all the time, I’ll try and get it up to 100 before you come again. 🙂

      Reply

  3. rukayacesar
    27th September 2014 @ 7:43 pm

    Love this list! I’ve visited the Cellar Door on a Thursday night after seeing Mamma Mia which is practically next door and managed to just walk right in and get a table, so if you happen to be seeing a show nearby that could be the best time to pop in without a reservation 🙂

    Reply

    • CuriousEmily
      29th September 2014 @ 4:54 pm

      Ah, good to know! I find there’s a sort of watershed moment when everyone just piles in, so the key is to get in then. 🙂 I love the free popcorn too!

      On 27 September 2014 19:43, Curious London wrote:

      >

      Reply

  4. Celebrating Día de Muertos at London’s most authentic Mexican restaurant | Curious London
    1st November 2014 @ 3:27 pm

    […] Bucket List […]

    Reply

  5. simonmharding
    27th January 2015 @ 8:42 am

    What a brilliant briliant list. In my job we just sell the main tourist attractions and, whilst they are all very well and good, that corporate side of London can’t even begin to compare to the diversity and richness of what London has to offer if you just take a moment to dig a little deeper. Thanks!

    Reply

    • CuriousEmily
      27th January 2015 @ 9:04 am

      Thanks Simon! It’s true that London has some amazing things to do, but there is SO much more: one-of-a-kind restaurants, blink-and-you’ll-miss-’em pop-ups, incredible, unique experiences that you can’t find replicated in every tourist hub on earth. Let me know if you stumble across any more to add to my list!

      Reply

  6. travellousworld
    7th March 2015 @ 5:51 pm

    This list is incredible! I’ve done a lot of things that are on there, but I haven’t done a London Loo Tour. That just reserved a number one spot on my personal London-bucket-list hehe!

    Reply

  7. yas
    26th May 2015 @ 5:03 pm

    http://www.luchabritannia.com/
    Circus style faux-wrestling acrobatics. It’s a good night out and there’s a tequila bar!

    Reply

  8. Sander
    3rd June 2015 @ 12:43 pm

    Great list! Will do a few of the mentioned things, but I am also very keen on experiencing the “underground/hidden” London. Do you have any recommendations? If it is a DIY kinda thing I’m also up for it ! 🙂

    Thnx a lot!

    Reply

  9. marika
    4th July 2015 @ 11:30 pm

    Thanks for sharing! 🙂 great list! Made out two birthday presents from it!

    Reply

    • CuriousEmily
      5th July 2015 @ 4:50 pm

      Ah! I like to give experiences as birthday presents too, I hope your lucky recipients enjoy them. 🙂 x

      Reply

    • CuriousEmily
      9th July 2015 @ 12:11 am

      So pleased to hear it! 🙂 I’ve got a bunch more things to add soon so do check back occasionally!

      Reply

  10. Anthoulla
    20th July 2015 @ 8:50 pm

    this list is awesome! looking forward to seeing what you add to it =)

    Reply

  11. nora
    25th July 2015 @ 3:18 pm

    this looks like a really fun list! i’ll be visiting london soon you gave me lots of ideas (wish i lived here it sounds like such a fun city!) thanks so much… keep exploring 🙂

    Reply

  12. james weston
    19th August 2015 @ 4:19 pm

    this list is phenomenal! thank you. out of interest i am trying to organise something fun/team building for 80-90 people, quite a tight budget, has to be able to host a 15-20 minute presentation so t.v and data cable necessary. i saw the lock’d post but they can’t accommodate that amount of people. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated

    Reply

    • CuriousEmily
      19th August 2015 @ 4:46 pm

      Hi James,

      The thing that comes immediately to mind is City Dash! It fits perfectly in your price range and can accommodate that number of people. They always use a pub as a base so maybe ask them for their recommendations – most will give you the area for free as you’ll be bringing so many people in for a pint afterwards! I’m sure you could hook a laptop up to a TV. Here’s the link: https://fire-hazard.net/corporate_games

      On 19 August 2015 at 16:19, Curious London wrote:

      >

      Reply

  13. james weston
    19th August 2015 @ 4:49 pm

    Hi Emily, that is amazing, exactly what I was looking for. thank you and I am going to work my way through those other things too.

    Reply

  14. pomegranatepoppies
    20th August 2015 @ 3:51 pm

    i agree… amazing list full of quirky things all in one place. just what i was looking for 🙂

    Reply

  15. Jackie
    14th September 2015 @ 11:03 pm

    Totally amazing, job well done!!

    This could keep anyone entertained for a long time. Interests for any type. I just with I could add this to my Pinterest board!

    Reply

  16. Milli Abrams
    3rd October 2015 @ 5:07 pm

    What a fantastic list, and an entertaining read! I visit London from time to time (live in the BVI), so very much looking forward to trying most of your recommendations. Thank you!!!

    Reply

    • CuriousEmily
      3rd October 2015 @ 11:43 pm

      Thanks Milli! I’m always adding to it so do check back. 🙂

      Reply

  17. kimcornell
    6th October 2015 @ 5:23 pm

    Fantastic list! I’ll be ‘pinning’ it and keeping it in mind for my next trip to London.

    Reply

    • CuriousEmily
      7th October 2015 @ 10:01 am

      ​Hi Kim, I’m glad you found it useful. 🙂 x​

      On 6 October 2015 at 17:23, Curious London wrote:

      >

      Reply

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    24th October 2015 @ 5:43 pm

    […] out this amazing post by Curious London which features loads more oddities to do in […]

    Reply

  19. Mark O'Donovan
    2nd November 2015 @ 8:48 pm

    Hi Emily, this is brilliant, we’re visiting 1–3 Dec, booked in at Belgo centraal early doors then off to miss Saigon, then cahoots bar, the second night all we have for the moment is steak at the hippodrome, we’re looking for something not too different, on the second day and we come home early evening on the wed, was thinking afternoon tea maybe on the last day, old school or vintage would be good…..any help appreciated

    Reply

    • CuriousEmily
      2nd November 2015 @ 10:16 pm

      Hi Mark! Sounds like you’ve got a great weekend planned. 🙂 Where are you coming from? Cahoots is a great bar, though very popular, so I hope you’ve got a reservation! 🙂 I’d also recommend The Blind Pig for cocktails if you fancy a tipple in Soho at any point. (And if you pass Paul. A Young’s chocolate shop, grab an Aztec Hot Chocolate or one of his famous brownies!)

      Heliot Steakhouse is good fun; I hear the shows are good too but I’ve never been to one myself. Have you booked yourself in with the Bookatable deal? (http://www.bookatable.co.uk/heliot-steakhouse-leicester-square-london) It’s AMAZING value, though if you fancy ordering something else when you’re there you absolutely can.

      Afternoon tea is a great shout – how many of you are there? I visited the Hotel Cafe Royal last year and have bought people afternoon tea there a few times now as a gift – it’s VERY opulent and if you’re an even number there’s a great deal running on the Afternoon Tea website (http://afternoontea.co.uk/uk/london/mayfair/hotel-caf%C3%A9-royal/offers/champagne-london-royal-tea-for-two-%C2%A365/), though they don’t seem to released dates for December, so I’d keep an eye on it. If not, it’s a great resource for finding great deals and reviews. 🙂 If you guys are big drinkers there are TONNES of ‘bottomless’ prosecco brunches in London that are very good fun, I have a huge list here: http://curious-london.co.uk/2015/07/09/the-ultimate-london-bottomless-brunch-bucket-list/

      Alternatively, if you are not from the UK you could try a traditional English Sunday roast? Actually, screw it, even if you are used to this glorious tradition, try Hawksmoor. It’s famous for its steak but its roast dinners are legendary. They’re about £20 each so not the cheapest, but definitely worth it if you’re in a splurging mood. Not suitable for vegetarians!

      I’d also recommend taking a trip up the Sky Garden if you have time…you also have to book this. Try and get a slot at sunset!

      Finally, I don’t know if you have Uber where you live but if not, it’s worth downloading! It’s easy to use and about 40% cheaper than black cabs if you need a taxi at any point. You should also download CityMapper – it’s the best app for working out the best ways to get around, including buses.

      Let me know if there’s anything else I can help you with. 🙂

      Emily

      Reply

  20. Peter
    30th November 2015 @ 7:56 am

    Hi Emily,
    Browsing through your list for some ideas for my wife’s birthday and found some great inspiration, thank you!
    Peter

    Reply

  21. Luke McCormick
    15th December 2015 @ 6:51 pm

    Emily, thank you, this is a great list!

    It’s hard to find a comprehensive list of alternative activities so you’ve done a brilliant job (and saved us a lot of search time!). I’m glad I stumbled across your blog; you’ve given me so many potential experiences (that seem like they’ll be far more rewarding than the standard listed ones) to share with my partner and friends.

    I probably would’ve been ignorant to most of these for quite some time…! Keep up the awesome work 🙂

    Luke

    Reply

  22. Justin
    30th December 2015 @ 4:32 am

    Emily – this list is amazing! A unique perspective and plenty of outside-the-box ideas. Planning a trip from NYC for March ’16…have most of the days filled in. Any ideas for something unique @ night? Perhaps a spooky/underground tour? Anyway, thanks again for your 100+ suggestions! 🙂

    Reply

    • CuriousEmily
      30th December 2015 @ 9:56 pm

      Hi Justin, thanks for your comment! 🙂 And welcome to London for three months from now.

      I guess you’re looking for things to do in the evening that don’t necessarily involve eating or drinking? The London Eye has nice views but is quite expensive and isn’t especially good value for money, but perhaps book a (free) slot for the Sky Garden around sunset? It’s the best-value view of the city.

      As far as tours go, there’s the Jack the Ripper tour of East London (link here: http://www.thejacktherippertour.com/ – give me a shout if you want any other recommendations for the area!) There’s also a list of other evening tours here (http://www.freetoursbyfoot.com/which-are-the-best-london-night-tours/) but I’ve heard the Ghost Bus one isn’t all that.

      There are also late nights at some museums, specifically Natural History and Science, which are adults only and great fun! There are plenty of shows too, which are great evening activities, and there are loads of good comedy clubs in Central too. The ones around Leicester Square are all upstairs in grotty pubs but cheap with a good atmosphere. You probably want to give musicals a miss as you’re from NYC, but there are always lots of quality fringe productions on…if you like slapstick British humour (think Fawlty Towers) then try The Play That Goes Wrong. I appreciate Brits and Americans don’t always see eye-to-eye when it comes to jokes though, so make sure it’s your cup of tea first. 😉

      Sadler’s Wells is a renowned performing arts theatre if you like dance.

      That’s all for now! If you like jazz then make a performance reservation for Nightjar near Old Street, or its new bar, Oriole.

      I’m currently working on a list of ‘City Hacks’ aimed mostly at visitors, so do bookmark my site too. 🙂

      Hope that’s helpful!

      Emily

      Reply

      • Justin
        10th January 2016 @ 1:41 am

        Thanks so much for all these ideas!

        The sky garden will definitely be on the list and we’re trying to figure out which shows to see. Considering “The Play That Goes Wrong” for sure. Totally hear you on the Brits/American comedy differences…gotta vote for the American “Office” every time 🙂

        Reply

  23. Shayne Zalameda
    10th January 2016 @ 10:13 am

    outdoor film watching, yes!!! thanks for this list! xx

    Reply

  24. Dawn
    13th January 2016 @ 8:30 pm

    Hi Emily
    What a refreshing read! Who knew there was so much to do in london! So hoping you can help me out, I’m organising a celebration for my friend that’s getting married. There will be 18-20 ladies aged 35-40. We are thinking of staying overnight in shoreditch and hit the bars in the evening but we are struggling to find a fun activity to do during the day that will appeal to most of the group. Can you point me in the right direction? They are an open minded fun bunch!
    Best wishes, Dawn

    Reply

  25. Brus
    18th January 2016 @ 12:50 pm

    Nice

    Reply

  26. Catherine Julianne
    21st January 2016 @ 12:50 pm

    Yes, incredible list Emily, all so eclectic and such a wide-ranging knowledge of London!

    Reply

    • CuriousEmily
      21st January 2016 @ 1:09 pm

      Thanks Catherine, that’s made my day! 🙂

      On 21 January 2016 at 12:50, Curious London wrote:

      >

      Reply

  27. wine guide
    29th January 2016 @ 6:42 am

    I’ve been surfing on-line greatter than 3 hour today, but
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  28. Her Idea Blog
    9th February 2016 @ 2:11 pm

    This list is perfect! I have been to London a few times, but I’m taking my husband (his first time) in March and I’ve been searching for a list of unique things to see as opposed to the typical touristy stuff. Thank you for all the wonderful ideas!

    Reply

    • CuriousEmily
      9th February 2016 @ 2:16 pm

      Aah, that means a lot! I hope your husband has a lovely time…you never forget your first! 😉 Let me know if you find anything else awesome on your travels. x

      On 9 February 2016 at 14:11, Curious London wrote:

      >

      Reply

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  30. olivia osmond
    16th February 2016 @ 6:16 pm

    Hi

    This is such a great list! I live in the UK and have been to London many times but am planning a family trip (myself and my boyfriend (21yrs), my father, and my 70+ grandparents). Do you have any ideas on activities etc?

    My grandparents aren’t as mobile so finding things to do- thats not just museums or a show- is proving difficult! We are planning on going to a show, dinner at sketch or sexy fish, sky garden, and pedicures at Selfridges for myself and my grandmother. But want some FUN, unstuffy things to do. We are going for 3 days at the end of April 2016, any help would be really appreciated!

    Olivia

    Reply

    • Emily Gibson
      19th March 2016 @ 2:23 pm

      Hi Olivia,

      Sorry, I totally missed this!

      Sketch is massively overpriced and I’ve heard similar things about Sexy Fish (it’s very much a place to see and be seen). For the money I’d recommend Hakkasan (my favourite!) or Yauatcha,Gymkhana, Roka Charlotte Street, Social Eating House (or, indeed, any of Jason Atherton’s restaurants) or even Bob Bob Ricard (famous for its ‘Push for Champagne’ buttons. Yes, you have to pay for the champagne). As you are going to be here during the day (possibly during the week?) it’s worth looking at this list of Michelin star restaurants that do awesome lunch deals: http://www.cntraveller.com/recommended/food/michelin-starred-set-lunches-london.

      Sky Garden is great (and free!) but there are better restaurants for the money.

      Other activities: a quirky afternoon tea (there’s an Alice and Wonderland themed one at the Sanderson, an AMAZINGLY decadent one at the Hotel Cafe Royal or a great one for anyone with a sweet tooth at Cutter & Squidge, Soho).

      Or a chocolate making/tasting class? Try the Hotel Chocolat School of Chocolate or Paul A. Young (literally the world’s best chocolate). Or champagne and cheese tasting? http://www.champagneplusfromage.co.uk/#events Or if you’re gin fans, visit a distillery? Sipsmith is a good one, or the East London Liquor Co if you’re out east. The London Gin Club is near Tottenham Court Road station and is an adorable bar where you can try different gins – very nice!

      Reply

  31. biyi
    18th February 2016 @ 10:18 pm

    Hi Emily! Great list. Where can I find a sexy place for two to wine and dine and listen to cool jazz music in the Southbank tomorrow? I’ve got this first date I wanna impress.

    Reply

    • CuriousEmily
      18th February 2016 @ 11:30 pm

      It isn’t on the South Bank, but the sexiest jazz bars are Night Jar on Old Street and Oriole near Farringdon. Can you make a little trip? 🙂

      Reply

  32. Bakedtoimperfection
    9th March 2016 @ 12:07 pm

    Just wanted to say what a great post this is, must have taken a long time but it was really helpful and listed loads of fun and unusual things that places like Timeout miss. Thank you!

    Reply

    • Curious Emily
      9th March 2016 @ 12:11 pm

      Thank you! It was only 60 when it started but yeah, it’s taken a lot of hours! I do add new things when I hear about them so do bookmark the page. 🙂

      Reply

  33. Ferwerda
    10th March 2016 @ 11:31 am

    Hi Emily, what a great list. I would like to tell you about a tour group that I went to in London, http://www.sharedcity.co.uk
    It was a great introduction into multicultural London and with the guide we were able to go to places that we were hesitant or unaware about. Great fun.

    Reply

  34. cici
    10th March 2016 @ 9:04 pm

    I had recently been thinking how I don’t get out enough, stuck on the hamster wheel of work, eat, sleep and repeat during the week and found your list through the google search.
    I love dancing and the swing patrol caught my attention, I went a class after work and I loved it. I am now going to try other things you have listed.
    Now i have a reason to forward to weekdays as well as weekends.
    Thanks a bundle.

    Reply

    • Curious Emily
      10th March 2016 @ 10:12 pm

      This comment has made my day! 🙂 I’m glad I helped you find something fun.

      Reply

  35. suezuk
    19th March 2016 @ 1:21 pm

    Dear Emily: Thanks for these great ideas. We’re traveling from Philadelphia to Edinburgh and London tomorrow for a week. Husband, 16 year old daughter and me. Any ideas for a mid-March visit that includes a teen? Thanks!

    Reply

    • Emily Gibson
      19th March 2016 @ 2:10 pm

      Hello! Thanks for your comment, I’m glad it’s helpful! 🙂 A few ideas for you:

      – If it’s your first time in the UK, you should definitely try an Afternoon Tea..! If you’ve got a sweet tooth I recommend Cutter and Squidge in Soho, which is very cool, or for something more formal try Hotel Cafe Royal. (Afternoontea.co.uk is the best for finding deals on these!)
      – If you’re into history, the Imperial War Museum is just the best museum I’ve ever visited. And it’s free!
      – If you’re into street art, East London has a fascinating street art scene, and there are some fantastic tours. Try The Alternative London Street Art Tour (if you go at a weekend, there’s a chance to create some street art yourself!) I took my own mother and she loved it.
      – Street food is big here, but try to avoid Borough Market unless your hotel is very close. It’s absolutely packed and you’ll need to watch your back. There are tonnes of street food markets – where is your hotel based?
      – It’s very cliche and quite expensive, but you should see a show! I recently saw Kinky Boots, which is set in Northampton, England, and it was fantastic! Alternatively, try The Woman in Black or The Mousetrap if you’d rather see a play. Theatre Monkey is the best site for sniffing out the deals.
      – Don’t get black cabs if you can help it – they’re very expensive! If you have a data plan, use Uber for fares 50% off.
      – CityMapper is also an essential app for London visitors.
      – If your daughter likes shopping, she’ll like Carnaby Street. It’s quite touristy but there are some cool British brands around there. If you’re in the area, try Pizza Pilgrims, Dishoom or Flat Iron for great (and not too expensive) food. The latter two can have queues of up to two hours, so try and go for very early or very late lunches or dinners.

      Do you have any special interests? Happy to make recommendations! 🙂 Otherwise, have a safe flight!

      Reply

  36. suezuk
    19th March 2016 @ 2:25 pm

    All great, Emily. Thanks so much for this. I’m downloading the app now and will follow all of your suggestions. We’re staying near Paddington Station, but we’re easy travelers and will go anywhere in the city. Our daughter’s a rower so we’ll be sure to go to The Boat Race next weekend. Madness, I’m sure. We’ll be on the lookout for a good vantage point for watching the race. Thanks for your quick response and for your terrific website.

    Reply

  37. Penny
    30th March 2016 @ 4:47 pm

    Emily you are a star and your list is brilliant. I agree with others’ comments, if all blogs and opinion sites published content this informative and original we’d all be so much richer for it. Thank you.

    Reply

    • Emily Gibson
      5th April 2016 @ 1:16 am

      Thanks Penny! 🙂 I do my best.

      Reply

  38. James
    5th April 2016 @ 12:36 am

    Hi Emily, what a fantastic list – kudos on putting it together!! Fascinating stuff in there and amazing to read just how much experience you have of the city. Anyhoo, I wondered if you would be able to help a best man in need?! Basically I have a party of 12 coming down on the 14th May for one night arriving via train at St Pancras around 10am (late notice I now realise as most activities are booked!) and I’m looking to organise some different activities in the day and some unique bar visits in the evening. Don’t want to do the usual stag like activities and ideally I don’t want to be travelling across the city all day from one venue to another. We’re staying in Euston and I’m trying to organise a barbers visit at some point in the day but other than that I’ve drawn a blank when trying to book anywhere else! (tried a number of canal cruises) Can you recommend an area to stick to in the day/evening, I was thinking either soho, camden or shoreditch but obvs need to get back to Euston at some point without too much difficulty! Open to ideas!!

    Reply

    • Emily Gibson
      5th April 2016 @ 1:14 am

      Hey James! Glad you’re finding the list useful, sounds like you’ve got a tall order ahead! Camden is very close to Euston though it is, in my view, an absolute shithole and I avoid nights out there like the plague. The last time I went my phone was stolen from my pocket, and it’s also very crowded and can get a bit…fighty. Soho is great and is easily reached from Euston via the Northern Line (Leicester Square). Shoreditch is edgier and slightly more out of the way, but you can get to it by getting the Northern Line to Old Street, that’ll get you to the edge. Either way, make sure everyone has Uber downloaded on their phone while you’re on the journey down. Get them to add the code ghl9f to get their first ride free – that should take care of any issues getting back to the hotel!

      So, activities. The grooming idea is really nice: Murdocks, Ted’s Grooming Room and Ruffians are all good. Aside from that, how about:

      1. City Dash. It’s like a wide game for grown-ups in the city. You’ll want a shower afterwards. There’s a game running on 14th May in Greenwich – 30 mins by tube from Euston but combine it with lunch and a pint and then head back for showers before a night out and you’ll be fine. I’ve done a few of these games and they’re great fun – you’d probably compete as three teams of four, so there’s a competitive element there too. Plus tickets are £20pp.
      2. If you’re an artistic lot, the guys behind the Alternative London Street Art tours can set you up with a graffit art masterclass. This is based in East London.
      3. There are loads of great distilleries and breweries in London – happy to recommend a few if that’s your jam! Maybe kick off the evening with some sort of tasting/mixology sesh before the serious drinking begins?
      4. If you go for Shoreditch in the evening, Bounce ping pong bar might be a cool place to start.
      5. There are some cool water-based activities to do on the river, though it may be a gamble with the weather! You could do a wakeboarding sesh at Wake Up London, or flyboarding would be super fun!
      6. Or a flying trapeze class? 🙂 I did it myself with a couple of blokes and they actually quite enjoyed it. Also a few people will shit themselves most comically. They’ll have the outdoor rig up in time for your dates but if you fancy it I’d email them quickly as booking will open soon and it’s very popular. Review here: http://www.curious-london.co.uk/2015/06/26/flying-trapeze-with-gorilla-circus-renegadeswanted/
      7. If your group is quite fit, you could try a Parkour lesson? There’s a link in the article, I’m on my phone but it’s in there somewhere.
      8. The London Fight Factory near London would probably be pleased to so a bad-ass MMA or Muay-Tai lesson for your group. Again, only if you’re generally into your fitness!
      9. If eating is more your thing, there’s loads of places to so wine and cheese tasting.
      10. The Ginger Pig in Marylebone, not far from Euston, does butchery courses with a nice meal at the end, but they’re quite expensive. Probably not for the faint-hearted!

      Reply

    • Emily Gibson
      5th April 2016 @ 1:15 am

      Oh, also try CRATE Hackney’s Alfred LeRoy floating bar. It’s just launched so there may be some availability!

      Reply

  39. James
    5th April 2016 @ 1:26 am

    Wow that’s so nice of you to put all of that together at 1am on a Monday for me!! Thanks very much! I’ll look into those options, def crate, distilleries (rum preferably), wine and cheese tasting and the water activities. I’ve tried to book into pretty much all the escape rooms going too but all fully booked which is proving a common theme!

    Where’s ruffians? Not come across that one yet? Duly noted re: Camden, perhaps Shoreditch would be the best choice as it seems to have a huge range of nightlife options!

    Reply

  40. James
    5th April 2016 @ 1:32 am

    Oh and I don’t suppose you could recommend any salsa clubs/bars that do an evening/night class by any chance? Think that could be a winner.

    Reply

    • Emily Gibson
      5th April 2016 @ 1:20 pm

      No problem James, I am organising a hen do at the moment in another city so I can totally empathise. Re escape rooms, have you tried Lady Chastity’s Reserve (the Shoreditch one, Battersea is too far for you), or Enigma Escape? Those two are relatively new on the scene.

      Re dancing, I don’t know any salsa bars, I’m afraid, but Swing Patrol does loads of events with tutoring?

      The only distillery to do gin is the East London Liquor Company. I’d recommend emailing them and seeing what they can do for you as a package, they’re really nice. I met them at an event last year. 🙂 http://eastlondonliquorcompany.com/east-london-liquor-company.html

      Wine and cheese tasting, try Champagne & Fromage and see if they do private events. Vivat Bacchus might also be worth a try.

      Also, would you consider an all-you-can-drink brunch? There are tonnes listed on the Bottomless Brunch page.

      There are also some cool food tours knocking around. I’ve not done one myself but the Eat London Tours sound really good, though they start quite early. Not sure if you could get a private tour or perhaps do it on Sunday AM. 🙂

      Ruffians is in Covent Garden, but if you’re heading East there are loads of places with real Turkish communities where you can get a proper Turkish bath. Or there’s Jack the Clipper in Shoreditch.

      Reply

  41. James
    5th April 2016 @ 11:45 pm

    Thanks again Emily!! What a star! Have been in touch with lady chastity’s reserve near bethnall green and that sounds promising (finally some good news!!!). Have dropped Jack the Clipper a line too, fingers crossed there. Not looked into the boozy brunches before no, will investigate for sure now though! All of your suggestions are top notch so will look into all of them further.

    Think i’ve settled on Shoreditch-ish as being the main area for the day/night – thanks for the heads up re: camden 🙂

    You’ve been a huge help, can’t thank you enough – if you’d ever consider being our tour guide for the evening (paid of course) we’d be honoured!!!

    Best of luck with your hen do, they certainly aren’t easy things to pull together!!

    Reply

    • Emily Gibson
      6th April 2016 @ 12:15 am

      Aha, thanks James! Sadly I know less about Brighton, where the hen do I’m organising is, than London – I need to find a Brighton blogger to help me out!

      Let me know you get on and if you need any recommendations for bars. (You will be tempted to go to Bar Kick because it has football tables, but you shouldn’t. It’s shit. In fact, there are loads of shit bars mixed in with the good ones – make sure you plan those too!) I’m not sure what kind of things you like, but there are lots of great cocktail bars in Shoreditch: Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town, Cocktail Trading Co (I think these guys do classes as well actually) and Callooh Callay are all fun. There are loads of places that do great local beer too, especially around Bethnal Green, if you fancy a pint after the game. Great news if Lady Chastity’s Reserve can fit you in! Tell them I sent you. 🙂

      Ha, tour guiding is my fallback retirement plan! 😉 Though sadly that weekend I am on the other side of town for a friend’s birthday. I’m sure you’ll have a fabulous time though!

      Reply

  42. James
    6th April 2016 @ 12:45 am

    I’m sure you’ll have a great time though, meant to be an awesome night out.

    Yeah have read about Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town, will probably visit there, Blues Kitchen, Bavarian Beerhaus and I like the look of Nightjar.

    Big on real ale personally so I’ll take a look at pubs around bethnall green, cheers.

    Thanks again for all of your help – will let you know how we get on 🙂

    Reply

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    18th April 2016 @ 6:12 pm

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  44. Sallie Cross
    19th April 2016 @ 6:22 pm

    Hi Emily this is a fantastic collection of idea, really well done! I’m looking for some ideas for my partners 60th and would love to go to a good Burlesque show but they all appear to be hen party haunts! Can you recommend anywhere that might be a bit more elite??

    Reply

    • Emily Gibson
      19th April 2016 @ 10:44 pm

      Hi Sallie! Thanks for your comment, glad you’ve found it useful! Burlesque shows are all the rage for hen parties now – I’m organising one in Brighton at Proud Cabaret, in fact! – but I agree they’re not the place for a special birthday. You could try the Rosewood Hotel’s Sunday evening cabaret, the surroundings are beautiful and it’s much more refined, though the show is more of a cabaret with burlesque, magic, singing, etc., rather than just pure burlesque. I went myself and reviewed it here.

      Cafe de Paris is actually very good – you do get hen parties there but it seems to be the classier ones (i.e. not the feather boa brigade). It’s also worth keeping an eye on The Candlelight Club though no dates are listed at the moment. You could also try Circus – I haven’t been there myself so you may want to delve on TripAdvisor. Finally, it’s not really what you asked for, but worth mentioning: Nightjar is a fabulous jazz bar near Old Street station.

      Reply

      • Sallie Cross
        20th April 2016 @ 7:23 am

        3 Great suggestions! Many thanks

        Reply

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    19th April 2016 @ 9:47 pm

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  46. How to inspire creativity | Away with words
    19th April 2016 @ 9:54 pm

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  47. josh
    27th April 2016 @ 1:15 pm

    hiya emily,2 of us coming down london from the lake district (big difference) 6th-8th may. what is there todo on the friday from 11am-7pm (anything) also saturday between 8am-1pm? thnks in advance

    Reply

    • Emily Gibson
      10th May 2016 @ 11:53 pm

      Hi Josh – so sorry to have missed this! Your message got caught in the spam filter. I hope you had a lovely time in London at the weekend; you certainly caught the good weather! To be honest for very time/date specific things you may be better off looking at Londonist, LondOnTheInside, The Nudge, Time Out and DesignMyNight. 🙂 Or, of course, there’s the Curious London Bucket List!

      Reply

  48. Ciara W
    30th June 2016 @ 8:59 pm

    Emily this list is amazing! I’ve been living here for a month now and my Mum is coming to visit for the weekend so trying to think of some fun girly things for us to get up to! Your list has been fabulous – if you happen to have any new suggestions that would be great but thank you so much for posting this!

    Reply

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