With more than 2,000 years of history and a vibrant, diverse culture, it’s safe to say there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to London. For many tourists, visiting London and only stopping at the main attractions - think London Eye or Buckingham Palace - means missing all the best bits of this dynamic and intriguing place.
There’s more than your fair share of oddities and obscurities in the big city. From coffee in a Victorian public toilet, to a sleepover with lions, discover the many unique and unusual activities of London.
Get blinded by the lights in God’s Own Junkyard
East London’s crazy, psychedelic light maze - God’s Own Junkyard - is for any among us who love neon signs, or simply want a good Insta picture. The gallery showcases everything from old Soho sex-shop signs to vintage props used in 1960s movies, and is worth an exploration. If all that neon glory gets you hungry, you can snack out at the onsite cafe, Rolling Scones. P.S Entrance is free and it’s only open from Friday to Saturday.
Drink coffee in a Victorian toilet
The Fitzrovia cafe shop has an unusual setting: an old, Victorian public toilet. In fact, the original urinals are still the focal point of the establishment (although more for looking than using these days). Apparently, it’s so authentic, the barristers often have to turn people away who are searching for a toilet. There’s actually an abundance of toilets come cafe/restaurant/bar in London. If you’re thinking cocktail, not coffee, you could always check out Ladies and Gentlemen in Kentish Town where you can sip your drink in an underground toilet block.
Have a sleepover with lions at London Zoo
Experience another side to the iconic London Zoo by staying overnight and bedding down with its wild inhabitants. Guests get an after-dark tour, dinner and drinks, and some exclusive experiences reserved for the daring. If you survive til morning, there’s even a zoo fry up on offer.
Swim outside in a pond
When you think of things to do in London, swimming is probably not the first thing that springs to mind. Nonetheless, there are a number of swimming pools and watering holes where you can splash in, come summer (or winter if you’re feeling risky). Up there with our favourites is the outdoor lido and bathing pond on Hampstead Heath. Forget the stresses of city life and float on your back in the sun, or jump in for an invigorating morning swim.
Visit one of London’s quirkier museums
No, that doesn’t mean the Tate. London is known for its abundance of museums, and it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say you could spend an entire trip museum-hopping. With the Tate reported as London’s most visited attraction, we thought we’d shine some light on London’s quirkier and lesser known museums. Enter Horniman Museums & Gardens, Leighton House and the Old Operating Theatre.
Play in a real-life Quidditch match
So, incase you didn’t already know, London has a Quidditch Premier League - and it’s a serious sport. There’s even a British Quidditch Cup. Even better, you can get a taste of the magic yourself and book a day where you’ll get trained in all things Quidditch - training, drills, tactics - and then take part in a match. Just don’t forget your broom…
Reach new heights at The O2’s bungee jump
For the adventure hungry, want to see London from a new perspective? Specifically, upside down? A meagre 160 ft jump, the brave can choose to either plunge over the water or over an airbag. Either way, you’re sure to experience the city from dizzying new heights…
Get befuddled at the House of Dreams museum/toy shop/fantasium
We’re not quite sure what to call the colourful and curious creation of Stephen Wright, but it certainly provides a feast for the eyes. The artist has spent the last 20+ years transforming the bottom of his house into a labyrinthine maze of bizarre objects and artefacts - which cover every inch of space, from floor to ceiling. Doll’s heads, false teeth and photographs are just a few of the intriguing things to be found here. Stephen still lives in the house but opens it to visitors a couple of days a year.
Get a taste of the Wild West
Fancy yourself a bit of a cowboy? Introducing Moonshine Saloon: an immersive bar in Fulham where you can spend the night in Wild West style, dressing up in cowboy attire and spending the evening playing card and dice games and sharing outlaw-ish stories.
Get all your eerie goodies at the Hoxton Street Monster Supplies
Feel like a monster sometimes? Who doesn’t. From tears made of sorrow, to jars of daylight, there’s something to picque everyone's interest in Hoxton’s Street Monster shop. Even better? Money goes to a good cause. Run by the Ministry of Stories, which encourages children to write, explore your wildest imaginings in this quirky shop.
Follow Banksy’s trail around London’s streets
If we’re talking quirky, cool London, we’ve got to mention Banksy, right? East London is home to an abundance of street art, and many of Banksy's most iconic pieces. Wander the streets and grab a coffee in buzzing Shoreditch. If you don’t know where to start, or are new to all things London, you can book one of the street art tours.
Be a kid again - but with a drink in hand
Who hasn’t wondered why the fun and games stop when you reach adulthood? Don’t we need play time too?! Well, thankfully someone’s come along and solved that. Ballie Balerson, a ball pit come cocktail bar, is any fun adult’s dream. The ultimate adult playground, lose yourself in the music, the balls and the drinks.
All this and we’ve only scratched the surface of weird and unusual things to do in London - this really is the city that keeps on giving (and puzzling).
If you are out and about exploring the city - why not come check us out at our ACE-FX branch in London Bridge or Canary Wharf? Summer’s on the way, and if you’re one of the lucky ones, you’ll be needing some holiday cash. Come and snag the best currency exchange rates in the UK at one of our branches. You won’t regret it.