9 Non-Touristy Things To Do in London: A Local’s Secrets

Jackie is an American expat living in London. She runs the travel blog Jou Jou Travels which combines her passion for solo travel and hidden gems. She loves to find undiscovered places with pretty architecture and pops of color! Find out more

London is one of the most iconic places in the world. Full of so many famous landmarks like Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, and more. But it’s home to beautiful corners that are off the beaten track too. Next time you visit, be sure to try out some of these hidden gems and see a different side of London, away from the tourists. 

Here are 9 non touristy things to do in London that only a local or more seasoned traveler would know. 

Table of Contents

Eat at Maltby Street Market

London has a vibrant market scene

Maltby Street Market in South East London is one of the least touristy weekend markets. It’s been in business since 2010 and is the perfect place for a tasty meal at the weekend. It is located just 10 minutes from the better-known Borough Market, but many tourists don’t know to visit this wonderful low-key street market. This is what makes it so special and it is definitely a local favorite, set in the middle of the cool cafes and coffee shops of Bermondsey. 

There are many tasty food stalls to choose from, with a diverse range of cuisines including Ethiopian, Venezuelan, Asian, and much much more. As you stroll through the market, your mouth will water after seeing the melting cheese toasties, flavorful gyoza, and selection of baked goods and treats.

Be sure to try The Beefsteaks for the most amazing steak and chips. Follow it up with an iced latte from the artisan coffee stand, Craft Coffee Cart. 

This is a great place to hang out with friends or visit solo without feeling out of place. It’s lively, colorful and gives you a taste of the non-touristy things to do in London, away from the crowds of some of the better-known markets. 

Visit Little Venice

Canal boats in Little Venice

Little Venice is located in a pretty, residential area of London, just north of Paddiington. It features canals and waterways, which gave it the name Little Venice. There are many chic and quirky cafes along the water, where you can relax and admire the surroundings. For views of the canal and delicious seafood, the Summerhouse is a great option. Or if a local pub with a down-to-earth atmosphere is more your scene, try The Bridge House.

Part of the adventure in Little Venice is walking along the canal. You can start in the streets of the Maida Vale neighborhood and continue all the way to Regent’s Park, Camden and Limehouse.

Or, you can enjoy a guided boat trip from Little Venice to Camden Town by booking the Regent’s Canal Waterbus tour, which is the perfect way to see all this area has to offer. 

See the view from Primrose Hill

View from Primrose Hill

Primrose Hill is a chic, affluent neighborhood in North West London, near Camden Town. It’s home to a large outdoor park where you can take in amazing views of London. So if you’d like a free alternative to the ever-popular Shard or London Eye and non-touristy thing to do in London, why not have a picnic at this park and enjoy spectacular views of the city?

The easiest way to reach the park is by taking the tube to Chalk Farm and making your way towards the footbridge. Wander through the neighborhood and pick up some picnic supplies from the many cafes and shops. Tucked away around a corner is Chalcot Square where you’ll find a private residential garden lined by picture-perfect pastel houses. 

If you’re hoping to grab some sweets or a coffee, be sure to head to Sweet Things Cakery, Primrose Bakery, or Reenie’s Ice Cream Bar. You can enjoy your cupcake, ice cream, and other sweet treats in Primrose Hill Park as you admire the views. 

If you’re hoping to discover even more, you can explore Primrose Hill with a local guide who will tailor the experience to your interests. 

Wander around St Dunstan’s in the East: one of the best non-touristy things to do in London

St Dunstan’s in the East

This magical, peaceful park is tucked away in central London. It is actually a ruined church that was burned in 1666 during the Great Fire of London. 

The name St Dunstan came from a 10th-century monk. Today, it has been transformed into a beautiful public park. It is a quiet spot to relax and feel a sense of peaceful seclusion away from the hubbub of central London as you take in the views of its vine-covered archways and greenery. 

To visit St Dunstan’s in the East, the nearest underground station is either Monument or Tower Hill. 

Admire Hampstead Hill Gardens and Pergola

Hampstead Hill Garden and Pergola

Hampstead is one of the prettiest neighborhoods in London. It’s located in central Zone 2, but closely resembles a village tucked far away from the bustling city. 

One of the most underrated things to do is visit the Hill Gardens and Pergola. Many don’t know about this hidden gem, which is full of overgrown vines and flowers. It was created between 1910 and 1925 by Thomas Mawson for Lord Leverhulme, a wealthy philanthropist. You will find great views of London from this secret little hideaway. The perfect time to visit is during the early evening in the summer but it remains beautiful all year long. 

Next to the Hill Gardens and Pergola you’ll find the 792 acre park, Hampstead Heath. It is a wonderful place to take a quiet walk, or try a swim in the natural ponds. 

There are many other pretty pathways to explore in Hampstead. In fact, if you want to spend the perfect day in this neighborhood, read this guide from a local. 

Try vintage shopping at Brick Lane Market

Brick Lane is great for vintage shopping

Brick Lane Market is located in the edgy neighborhood of Shoreditch in East London. It can be found in the Truman Brewery, a former brewing plant which has been transformed into an antique market hall. It operates every day, but Sunday is the best time to visit the street food market next door – Upmarket. 

You’ll find great bargains and unique finds at Brick Lane Market. It’s full of a wide range of vintage items. Think fur coats, jewelry, old books, feather capes, accessories, and more.

If you wander the streets around the market you’ll also find amazing street art. Shoreditch is full of graffiti and street art. If you want to discover the best spots and learn a bit about the vibrant area you can take a 2 hour street art tour

Stroll through London’s prettiest streets, known as mews

St Lukes Mews in Notting Hill

London has many mews, which are quaint streets you will find tucked behind busier roads. They are actually old horse stables and are often home to cobbled streets, plenty of flowers, and pretty architecture. 

St Luke’s Mews, located in Notting Hill, is one of the prettiest hidden streets, and is the spot for some of the filming in “Love Actually”. 

Kynance Mews is another must see. It’s tucked away in the South Kensington neighborhood. In the autumn the archway that marks the beginning of the mews is covered in beautiful orange and red leaves, and in April you will find the street full of wisteria. 

Shop at Columbia Road Flower Market

Columbia Road Flower Market happens every Sunday

The Columbia Road Flower Market takes place every Sunday between 8:00 AM and 2:00 PM, in East London. It can get pretty busy because it’s popular among locals, but most tourists don’t venture this far. You will find beautiful flowers and plants to shop for, as well as many cute boutiques and pubs surrounding the streets. It is the perfect place to pick up some pretty flowers and explore. 

Find exotic plants at Kew Gardens

Palm House in Kew Gardens

Kew Gardens is a royal botanical garden located in Richmond, South West London, and is the city’s largest UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s also one of the best non-touristy things to do in London. You can reach it by underground train in just 30 minutes from central London. 

The gardens date back to the 18th century and were founded by Princess Augusta, stretching over 330-acres and showcasing a large variety of stunningly beautiful plants and flowers.

Don’t miss the Palm House, which is a Victorian glasshouse with a rainforest climate. It has a unique collection of tropical plants and historic ornate spiral staircases wrapped with greenery. 

Spend the rest of the day in Richmond, exploring charming cafes, shops and restaurants, and spotting deer in the famous park.

Tickets to Kew Gardens can be purchased in advance.

London is full of beautiful architecture and there’s plenty to explore beyond these 9 non touristy things to do in London from a local. If you’re itching for more be sure to check out this Secrets of London walking tour. 

Jackie is an American expat living in London. She runs the travel blog Jou Jou Travels which combines her passion for solo travel and hidden gems. She loves to find undiscovered places with pretty architecture and pops of color! Jackie’s goal is to inspire her audience to travel solo. Learn more directly from her Website or Instagram.

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