London is full of cool things to do.
Of course it is.
But sadly too many of the cool things to do in London are smack at the top of everyone else’s London bucket list so are cram full of tourist crowds.
However, there are actually loads of cool things to do in London that are unusual and quirky and off the beaten track but still either super fun and adventurous for thrill seeking daredevils or real hidden gems for culture vultures.
So whether you’re a Londoner – like me – looking for new cool things to do or a visitor wanting something a bit different do bookmark or save this big list of the very best cool things to do in London.
Table of Contents
Cool Thrill Seeking Adventures In London
If you love dare devil adventures or being seriously spooked check out these cool things to do in London which are guaranteed to give you a thrill …
- Explore London’s caves : explore London’s very own labyrinth of underground caves.
- Nuclear bunker laser tag : play laser tag in a Cold War nuclear bunker by the Thames Barrier.
- Climb a Victorian pumping station : one of London’s coolest climbing walls is a Victorian pumping station.
- Discover London’s ghost stations : explore underneath Euston station and visit forgotten tube stations closed up since the 60s.
- Ride the Orbit slide : ride the orbit slide if you dare at the Olympic Park or abseil down it.
- Swing through the trees : on London’s coolest zip wires.
- Vintage car racing : race a vintage car round the old race track at Brooklands Museum.
- Ride Colossus : ride Colossus and more at Thorpe Park.
- Ride a steam train : or for little kids there are a whole host of opportunities to ride steam trains in London.
Do also check out the Postal Museum and the RAF Museum in the quirky museums section below both of which have cool rides.
Cool Things To Do On The Water In London
The Thames is the very lifeblood of London and there are loads of brilliantly cool things to do on the river and London’s other waterways …
- Kayak to Hampton Court : you can kayak down the Thames to Henry VIII’s palace at Hampton Court on both supervised trips or with open hire kayaks.
- Canoe around Canary Wharf : at the other end of the river you can canoe around Limehouse and canary wharf.
- Learn to sail : sailing is a massive part of London’s history and you can learn to sail today all along the Thames from Richmond to Greenwich and also on lakes like Colne Valley Park.
- Power boat down the Thames : if you really want some speed you can power boat down the river on a Thames Rocket.
- Gravesend Ferry : or to get a real feel for the old river take the Gravesend Ferry past the freight liners still coming into Tilbury and then explore the brilliant Tilbury Fort.
- Paddle the Regent’s Canal : see north London in a whole new light from a paddle board or canoe on the Regents Canal.
- Whitewater the Olympic course : or for real thrills whitewater the Olympic course and more at Lee Valley Park.
Cool Things To Do At Night In London
London’s obviously awash with cool bars, restaurants and clubs for night time adventures but there are also some seriously cool things to do at night in London you won’t have heard of …
- Climb the O2 : go on a night time starlit hike over the roof of the O2.
- Camp in the wild : camp out in the woodland by the river Lee.
- Sleep with lions : or at least in the Gir Lion Lodge at London Zoo and get after dark access to the animals.
- John Soanes : set in in Lincoln’s Inn Field John Soanes wonderfully quirky house is as he left it 200 year ago and is open once a month for wonderfully atmospheric candlelit tours.
- Meet the ghosts at the Tower : with a night time ghost tour of the Tower of London after the crowds have gone.
There are all seriously things to do at night in London for kids to including brilliant sleepovers …
Cool Things To Do Outdoors In London
Some of the coolest ways to enjoy London are just to get out and adventure in the great outdoors …
- Cycle in Epping Forest : ancient Epping Forest is over 8 miles long so brilliant for long cycle rides through stunning woodland.
- Swim in the Serpentine : swimming in the Serpentine in Hyde Park has to be the ultimate outdoor swim in London but it’s just one of London’s lidos & outdoor pools.
- Go wild in the woods : London has an amazing 50,000 acres of woodland you can visit. Check out this guide to the best wxoods in London to plan your own totally free outdoor adventures.
- Spot wild harriers : see wild harriers, owls and more at the RSPB enormous riverside reserve at Rainham Marsh.
- Pick your own fruit : there are still a good number of pick your own farms in London open from the first strawberries in June to the pumpkins at Halloween.
- Ride horses in Richmond Park : there are riding schools all over London but Richmond Park is perhaps the most beautiful.
- Olympic mountain biking : enjoy London’s ultimate mountain bike track at the Olympic Velo Park.
- Olympic track racing : or head down to south London for track racing at Herne Hill Velodrome the track for the 1908 Olympics.
Cool & Quirky Museums In London
London’s big museums are brilliant but if you’re looking for something quirky and cooler check out these …
- Postal Museum : the Postal Museum is a fun hands on museum for kids but the main attraction is the mail rail London’s 100 year old underground mail train reborn as a cool ride.
- RAF Museum : away from the main beat of central London museums the RAF Museum is free but has cool extras including the 4D Theatre and the Spitfire Experience.
- Grant Museum : the Grant Museum is a tiny but uber cool museum of natural history barely changed since first founded.
- Hunterian Museum : the Hunterian Museum is the weird and wonderful collection of the Royal College of Surgeons. (Closed til 2023).
- Clink Museum : not everyone’s cup of tea but if you fancy a gruesome visit to one of London’s first prisons check out the Clink Museum.
Historic Houses In London That Are Hidden Gems
London is full of beautiful historic houses you can visit but these hidden gems are some of the coolest and right off the main tourist trail :
- Dennis Severs House : the Dennis Severs House in Spitafields is a breathtaking time capsule that captures the lives of 18th century Huguenot refugees and silk weavers.
- Two Temple Place : William Waldorf Astor commissioned the stunning neo-gothic Two Temple Place in the late 19th Century. You need to join their mailing list to find out about visits.
- Emery Walker House : the Emery Walker House is a beautiful Arts & Crafts decorated terrace by the river in Hammersmith.
- Stafford Terrace : near Holland Park Stafford Terrace is a lovely family home unchanged since Victorian times.
- Leighton House : just five minutes from Stafford Terrace is Leighton House the fabulous house of artist Frederick Leighton which is home to over 70 of his paintings.
- Carlyle House : near the Albert Bridge in Chelsea Carlyle’s House was home to Thomas Carlyle and was a salon to many of the great writers of the early 19th century.
- Hogarth House : another hidden gem in west London the Hogarth House tucked away by beautiful Chiswick Park was home to artist William Hogarth.
For more ideas check out this big guide to London’s historic houses with gorgeous gardens.
Cool London Places For History Buffs
If you love history but have done London’s big historic sites check out these cool historic sites in London that are off the beaten track …
- Track down King Harold : if you’ve got into everything Anglo Saxon track down King Harold’s resting place at Waltham Abbey.
- Tilbury Fort : a Thames side fort where Queen Elizabeth roused her troops before the Armada, Tilbury Fort saw continued service defending the Thames right up to WW2. Cool for history buffs and kids – plenty of space to run round – and is best visited by the very cool Gravesend Ferry.
- Lesnes Abbey ruins : sitting in the shadow of bluebell and fossil filled Abbey Woods – see unusual things above – the ruins of 12th Century Lesnes Abbey are a lovely stop on the Greenchain walk to Oxleas Wood.
- Copped Hall : only just over the M25 beautiful Copped Hall was the setting for the first performance Midsummer’s Night Dream and is home to one of London’s coolest archeological digs.
- Live like a Roman : live like a Roman at Lullingstone Villa in the beautiful Darent Valley.
Unusual Things To Do For Free In London
Some of the cool things to do in London are undoubtedly expensive but some of the coolest things to do in London are actually free. There’s a massive list here of 101 free things to do in London but check out some of these gems as starters :
- Dig for fossils : unbelievably there is an open access fossil bed in Abbey Wood where you can very easily find 50 million year old fossils including Angel Shark teeth.
- Mudlark by the Thames : you can easily uncover old china, clay pipes, rather gory bones and more lost in the river in centuries past at Blackfriars in front of the Tate Modern and at Greenwich by the Trafalgar Arms.
- See London from a sky garden : the sky garden at Fenchurch Street has some of the most beautiful views of London and can be visited free.
- Climb a windmill : climb Brixton Windmill and mill some flour.
So there you go, loads of super cool things to do in London for all ages. I do hope you enjoy …
And for even more brilliant things to do in London follow me on Pinterest and check out these lists …