Things To Do In London
Mention London and the first few things that pops up in everyone’s mind are Big Ben, Tower Bridge & rain. All vital experiences a tourist should definitely undergo while in the city. If you’re looking for different things to do in London, Woke has it got covered for you!
For easier reading, we’ve separated this London guide into 3 categories: districts, museums and a lil cheeky (and possibly dirty) addition.
Starting off with a district in London, Shoreditch is the epitome of gentrification at its finest. Previously much less polished & grittier, Shoreditch was a neighbourhood you’d duck your head down with your wallet clutched to your chest.
A stark contrast today where hundreds of people roam the streets of this current hipster mecca of fancy cafes of overpriced coffee and boutiques of even more overpriced clothing it is now.
i. Street Art
When we think of art & culture in London, we immediately think of art galleries or museums. But in Shoreditch, on the streets, is where you’ll find creative inspiration. Every corner of this district is peppered with murals, stickers & paintings for you to marvel at.
ii. Vintage Shopping
As it is hipster central, Shoreditch is the centerpoint of all things vintage. With dozens of independent thrift stores & vintage boutiques to scour through every block, you’ll definitely find something one-of-a-kind to show to your friends back home that is NOT a souvenir or from Primark.
Our recommendations would be the uber-cool but slightly pricier Rokit (that has multiple outlets around London) & Beyond Retro, a vintage store that has outlets in Sweden too! Obviously these are just recommendations and the best tip to give you is just walk around Shoreditch and enter every store you see until you hit the jackpot!
iii. Street food
As London has seen more & more immigrants from all parts of the world come in the city, this means a wider variety of street food available for you to munch on!
How about trying delicious Jamaican delicacy? Jerk chicken is a staple Jamaican food and after trying it, you’ll see why! So jerk is a style of cooking that consists of grilling meat that has been marinated in a hot spice mixture for hours.
Let’s be honest here, British food is pretty bland & we know a few days (or even hours) into your London trip, you’ll be dreaming of food back home. But that’s when White Men Can’t Jerk comes to save the day!
Located in Dinerama, a global street food market in Shoreditch, White Men Can’t Jerk is a food vendor that specializes in jerk chicken that is so flavourful & spicy, you’ll feel like you’re right back in Malaysia. And it’s even served with a side of rice so yay, Asian tastebuds activated! If that’s not your thing, Dinerama has other food vendors to offer so look around first but trust us, you won’t regret going with the White Men.
Address: 19 Great Eastern St, Hackney, London EC2A 3EJ
Opening hours: Wednesday – Saturday: 5pm – 12am
Price to enter: Free before 7pm, £3 after.
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ii. Spitalfields Market
Moving along, another Shoreditch market to satiate any British or multiracial street food craving is Spitalfields Market! With over 41 food vendors, there’s definitely something for your tastebuds to enjoy.
Have some delicious falafel served in toasted pita bread with houmous at Pilpel, whose family recipe of these fried chickpeas has been crafted & perfected for 60 years.
How about vegan Ethiopian cuisine? Dine at Merkamo Ethiopian which fuses traditional Ethiopian dishes with a unique blend of herbs & spices. Definitely destroying the stereotype of vegan food as bland & boring.
That’s just the tip of the multicultural cuisines available at Spitalfields. Not forgetting, the market also has 53 shops & stalls for you to peruse. The majority of the stalls are independently owned while the shops are on the higher end. Still a nice contrast to the busy & tourist heavy shopping experience that is Oxford Street.
Address: 56 Brushfield St, Spitalfields, London E1 6AA
Opening hours: Monday – Friday: 8am – 11pm, Saturday & Sunday: 9am – 11pm
Price to enter: Free (not including all the things you’ll end up buying)
Phone: +44 20 7377 1496
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#2: Camden Town
Now onto a more eccentric part of London. Camden is one of the quirkiest neighbourhoods you’ll chance upon, a huge contrast to the posh & chic city centre that every tourist guide will lead you to.
Almost like Shoreditch, it’s a place buzzing with cool indie markets, street art, savoury street food but with a more punk vibe to it.
It IS the home of many music venues that have legendary musical artists graced each walls such as punk bands like The Clash & The Sex Pistols (hence the punk vibe) to classic rock acts like David Bowie, Joy Division & The Rolling Stones to modern musical legends like Coldplay, Arctic Monkeys & Foo Fighters and of course, jazz singer phenomenon, Amy Winehouse (R.I.P) who even has her own memorial statue located in Camden. Ok sorry, music geeking out over.
So with such a rich history of music & culture, Camden Town will definitely show you another side of London you’ve never seen before.
Oh yeah, it’s located nearby ZSL London Zoo too so if you’re free after all that animal watching, why not do some people watching too?
i. Camden Market
Not just a single market, Camden Market actually consists of multiple markets. Camden Lock Village, Camden Lock Market, The Stables Market and Buck Street Village are all different in what they have to offer and are all within walking distance from each other.
Perfect for the indecisive who must look around before deciding on a purchase. Although what they offer might be different but it’s basically in the same gene of quirky clothing & accessories, quirkier memorabilia and of course with Camden’s music history, lots of music shops to get CDs & vinyl records for cheap.
And if shopping’s not your thing, the markets also offer up a sweet array of street food. We even saw a Malaysian food stall designed almost like a typical chap fan shop with rows & rows of metal trays overflowing with local recipes. We were tempted to try but with the many other ethnic cuisines on offer and the pound conversion rate, yeah we made the rational decision to try something a little more “British”.
Address: Camden Market, Camden Lock Place, London, NW1 8AF
Opening hours: Monday – Sunday: 10am – Late (Varies for every business)
Price to enter: Free
ii. Street Art
Again, just the previously mentioned Shoreditch, Camden’s walls are littered with street art.
We suggest the best way to chance upon these masterpieces is to constantly keep your eyes out while you walk & explore Camden Town. However if dilly-dallying isn’t an item on your itinerary, read this informative guide on Camden Street Art.
The rave culture is HUGE in the UK so it’s no surprise that there’s a retail store exclusively selling clothes & accessories catered to that scene. From the entrance itself, you can already guess that you’ll be entering a new type of world. A world filled with booming EDM, flashing lights & fluorescent clothing.
The products are pretty overpriced if you’re on a budget but just go in for the experience. But maybe you’ll come out with a pair of sci-fi sunglasses that forms words via LED lights on it?
There’s also an 18+ section where sex toys & costumes are sold, all still keeping in the rave theme, of course.
Address: 842 Chalk Farm Rd, Camden Town, London NW1 8AH
Opening hours: Monday – Thursday: 11am – 7:30pm, Friday – Sunday: 11am – 8pm
Price to enter: Free
Phone: +44 20 7482 2842
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iv. Regent’s Canal
If you feel worn out from all the shopping, eating & trance music, thankfully Camden Town has just the spot for you to chill at. A canal located towards Little Venice, Regent’s Canal is a hidden gem for peace & quiet.
Okay, realistically, this is still in London so it won’t be that quiet but it’ll just be other people walking around, joggers, cyclists and people aboard rowboats so still better than the streets.
Showcasing a different side of Camden, why not bring a mat and some food (from the vendors) and have a picnic by the small river?
London is filled with world class (mostly free!) museums that are definitely a must visit when you’re in town. However, we want you to experience the lesser-known & more unique museums in London that range from an old operating theatre to an old Roman Temple! This is especially a must-do for those who hate the stuffy, pretentiousness of the typical recommended art galleries.
#1: Wellcome Collection
Describing itself as “The free destination for incurably curious”, this museum definitely lives up to that by exhibiting the weirdest & out-there selections! Wellcome Collection was founded by Sir Henry Wellcome, a pioneering 19th-century pharmacist who amassed a massive collection of contraptions & trinkets relating to all things medicine.
Perfect for the individual interested in the medical world or even just a history junkie.
From Napoleon’s toothbrush, Charles Darwin’s walking stick to a Peruvian mummified body, their permanent exhibition aptly named Medicine Men will definitely keep you occupied for a few hours.
But that’s not all Wellcome has to offer as they also hold temporary exhibitions that are on-par with its odd & weird medical theme.
Address: 183 Euston Rd, London NW1 2BE
Opening hours: Monday closed, Thursday: 10am – 9pm, Tuesday – Sunday: 10am – 6pm
Price to enter: Free
#2: London Mithraeum
We weren’t kidding about an old Roman temple. The even more absurd part? It’s situated right in the business district of London.
This archaeological wonder can be found underneath the Bloomberg European Headquarters, to be more specific.
We’re not going to go into the history of the temple (it is VERY long & detailed) but read this Guardian article to know more OR just go to the temple itself and have firsthand experience.
Do note it’s just a restoration of a temple that was once there but still, it’s pretty impressive & realistic. As the name suggests, Mithraeum refers to a temple built for cult worship of the Roman god, Mithras.
To join the Mithraic cult, members had to go through 7 stages of initiation. Fortunately for you, no rituals, sacrifices or money will be needed to enter this temple. However, booking beforehand is recommended.
Address: 12 Walbrook, London EC4N 8AA
Opening hours: Monday closed, Tuesday – Saturdays: 10am – 6pm, Sundays: 12pm – 5pm
Price to enter: Free
Phone: +44 20 7330 7500
#3: Grant Museum of Zoology
Are animals your thing? Aww, us too!
How about taxidermied animals? Aww, us three!
Literally down the road from renowned British Museum, lies a secret haven for the inspiring zoologist, history buff or just anyone with the curiosity of the weird & dead.
Don’t let its small interior fool you as this museum is jam-packed filled with taxidermied animals, animal skeletons & a huge collection of microscopic creatures.
With rows of wooden cabinets for you to peek in each one & see what creature awaits you, it becomes a sort of game of finding the weirdest & grossest one.
Each of the cabinets contains skeletons from a wide range of species, some extinct. Other parts of this museum have animals preserved in fluid-filled jars (There’s one very well known mole jar) or as mentioned, taxidermied animals forever frozen in time.
For the microscopic creatures, it’s displayed in a very Instagram-worthy (I’m sorry… It’s true. The truth hurts, what can you do?) way. But that’s not the main point, the deal is you’ll be face-to-face (okay separated by glass) with 2,323 tiny specimens.
Although the Grant Museum is also a research centre for UCL students for zoology & animal studies, don’t expect a long inscription by the side detailing all the facts & details of each animal remains. Instead expect one line descriptions & maybe a fun fact.
Because sometimes you just wanna look at stuff and not turn it into a learning experience.
Address: Rockefeller Building, 21 University St, Bloomsbury, London WC1E 6DE
Opening hours: Monday – Saturday: 1pm – 5pm
Price to enter: Free
Phone: +44 20 3108 9000
#4: The Old Operating Theatre Museum & Herb Garret
Medicine during the olden days was a scary feat. Can you imagine going for surgery without any form of anesthetic? Or imagine going to the local doctor about a headache and his solution? Removing a small amount of blood from your body.
How about stepping in the shoes of your ancestors (or at least the individuals that enslaved yours) and step into a REAL operating theatre & fill goosebumps cover your whole body.
Okay, it’s actually not that creepy, the theatre is well-lit & has been reconstructed back into its original state.
The building where the museum is currently located in, was previously the attic (garett) of St. John’s hospital hence why an operating theatre was rediscovered.
What about the ‘Herb Garret’ in the name? Well, that’s actually the first section of the museum you’ll see upon entering. The garret (attic) acted as the hospital apothecary of the hospital. Look around & you’ll see hundreds of spices & herbs that were used in treating patients.
Definitely a must visit for history buffs & medical enthusiasts alike.
Address: 9a St Thomas St, London SE1 9RY
Opening hours: Monday: 2pm – 5pm, Tuesday – Friday: 10:30am – 5pm, Saturday & Sunday: 12pm – 4pm
Price to enter: Adult: £6.50
Phone: +44 20 7188 2679
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#5: London Loo Tours
If you’ve been to London or are in London at the moment, you’ll realize one shortcoming of this city.
The lack of public toilets.
If you’re ever in the city and find yourself needing to do a number one (or if you’re unlucky, a number two), the only places to head to is a cafe or restaurant. But even some of them are customers only or require a donation.
So why not get educated on the (very limited) available public toilets in London the next time you find yourself with needs to fill? Or just to experience a very different tour of London.
With 4 types of tours to choose from, you can either explore the toilets of Waterloo, Bloomsbury, Kensington and Soho for 1.5 hours.
Definitely won’t be throwing your cash down the toilet, that’s for sure.
We hope this guide of unusual & unique things to do in London was helpful!
There are many things to do in London but we hope this list will give you a rough idea of what the city has to offer!
Wanna read more travel guides? How about a guide to Seoul? Or if you’re not looking to travel far, a local’s guide to a coastal town 3 hours away from KL?