While London is built for tourists, if you want to stray off the beaten path, then consider visiting one of these spots. There are quite a few unexpected things for you to do in the second largest city in Europe.
1. Experience The Mail Rail
After you have squished into the Tube, the last thing you want to have to do is pay to go back underground.
However, what you may not realize is that the Mail Rail isn’t the same type of tube experience. Between the years of 1927 and up until 2003, this was the Post Office’s micro-railway that ran underground, which was responsible for carrying millions of letters each day on a path of 6.5 miles beneath the streets of London.
While the tracks remained unused for more than 10 years, in September of 2017 the Mail Rail was reopened to the public and now allows visitors to get on board replica rail cars and see the city from a new perspective.
2. The Skeleton Of Jeremy Bentham
Yes — a real-life skeleton. You can visit the South Cloisters of the primary building of University College in London and here, you will find a cabinet that contains the skeleton (which is fully clothed) of the reformer and well-known philosopher Jeremy Bentham. The head that you will see is actually Bentham’s skeleton, which has been covered in wax.
While the cabinet used to contain the entire mummified corpse of Bentham, it wound up decaying. Don’t worry: his body was preserved in this strange manner at his own request!
3. Visit The House Of Dreams
Here are three words that best describe this location: eccentric, multicolored, and Kitsch. When you visit the House of Dreams, it will be an experience unlike any other you have ever had in London.
Stephen Wright is the man behind this work of art, which features an overwhelming collection of bleach bottles, plastic dolls, vinyl records and Christmas decorations. In fact, these items take up every single inch of his home in East Dulwich.
Keep in mind, the House of Dreams will only be open during certain days and you have to have an appointment. Make sure to check into this before your visit.
4. An Air Raid Shelter
When you think of London, you likely imagine landmarks like Big Ben and other similar, well-known attractions. But what about a visit to the Eisenhower Centre/Goodge Street shelter?
This is one of the protective deep level air-raid shelters from the WWII era, and it’s complete with kitchens, bathrooms, bunks, and a medical facility for up to 8,000 people. This is an interesting location and one that many tourists to this area are not aware of.
5. See The Very Last ‘Fart-Powered’ Lamp
Tucked behind the Savoy Hotel on Carting Lane is the very last of the Webb Patent Sewer Gas Lamps. It was invented in the latter part of the 19th century and the lamps were spread throughout the capital city. This was a means to light the streets without having to spend a large amount of money. This was also a way to clear the noxious smells that came out of the sewers of London. Today, there is only one remaining and while it is a cool sight to behold, it is only a replica.
6. Sleep With The Lions
Starting in 2016, visitors to the London Zoo can take their zoological obsessions to another level.
Today, there are nine cabins that make up the Gir Lion Lodge. This allows visitors to spend the night at the London Zoo, just a few meters from an entire pack of Asiatic lions. Don’t settle for the hustle and bustle of a busy central London street when you can have a unique adventure — a huge cat waking you up in the morning.
7. The Beadles Of Burlington Arcade
You have likely heard of the posh shops found off of Piccadilly called the Burlington Arcade; however, what you may not know is that this area has its very own, rather unique, legal jurisdiction.
Rather than seeing security guards, you will encounter “Beadles.” These individuals will be in Edwardian dress and politely ask you to vacate the area if you are caught opening an umbrella, humming, running, or trying to flaunt your scofflaw nature.
8. The Sky Garden
Way over the hustle and bustle of the nearby London Tower Bridge, Sky Garden a man-made oasis of evergreen shrubs, fruit trees, rose bushes, lavender, oaks, and more. This attraction is free, although you must reserve tickets in advance. Visitors can wander around the exquisitely landscaped gardens, observation decks, and an open air terrace of what is London’s highest public garden.
If you are planning a trip to London, make sure to put a few of these destinations on your must-visit list. You will find out that there are quite a few adventures you can have that you won’t soon forget!