Top 9 Non Touristy Things to Do in London (Updated 2021)

September 30, 2020

We all know that London is a massively touristy city, with many great attractions and historical sites. But if you’re me, you can only handle so many tourist hot spots full of people, queues, and costs. Don’t get me wrong, there is a huge value in seeing sites like these, but I l don’t need to view Buckingham Palace 12 different ways during my trip.

If you would like an in-depth guide to the city full of travel tips and resources, I have an Ultimate London Travel Guide, which I highly recommend you check out.

So without further ado…here’s my list of the Top 9 Non Touristy Things to Do in London:

1. Hit Portobello Market

London has many a market around the city, but i’m partial to Portobello Market. Located in Notting Hill, Portobello Market has been in many famous scenes and pictures. The market is a good mix of street food, antique shopping, and trendy restaurants along the road. There is so much ethnic food available, but keep an eye out for a Cuban sandwich or Jamaican jerk chicken. Additionally, you can score some beautiful artwork of the city for not too bad of a price.

2. Brew a Potion at the Harry Potter Bar

Okay Harry Potter fans…how amazing is this? Although not officially associated with J.K. Rowling or the Harry Potter Franchise, this is the place to go to get your potter on. The experience features a potions class that lets you brew your own cocktail. I’d recommend booking online as walk-in availability is limited. Tickets cost £29.99 ($40 USD) a ticket, which is a bit pricy, but makes up for that with 3 included drinks.

3. Have a Cuppa at High Tea

Ok so yes, afternoon tea is definitely a mix of locals and tourists…but, there are quite a few good places to go. Harrods, The Ritz, and The Brown’s Hotel are your traditional English afternoon tea go-to’s. B Bakery also has a good bus attraction that will give you a tour of London, which features an afternoon tea theme. Plan on budgeting around £40 quid ($53 USD) for a decent tea.

4. Hit a Hole in One at Swingers

Whatever you can do, London can do it better- aka mini golf. Swingers is an upscale mini golfing experience that features 2 courses, fun cocktails, and street food. This is a great outing for a small group or for pre-drinks. This venue is located in Shoreditch, which boasts trendy bars and clubs. Grab yourself a G+T and get swinging. This can run a bit pricey, but you can get tickets at £26 ($30 USD).

5. Take a Stroll Through Brick Lane

Three words: best vintage market! At Brick Lane, you’re going to find a great market that has great vintage finds, street food, and colorful street art. There’s also some really unique bars tucked in there, check out Apples and Pears and Beach Baby Babylon. In terms of scoring a good vintage find, check out Brick Lane Vintage or Rokit. As always for markets, try to check out Brick Lane during the weekdays, as crowds tend to increase on Saturdays and Sundays.

6. Have a round at Bounce

Bounce is a neat little ping pong (or table tennis…as the locals say) bar, located in Shoreditch. I love a good activity while having a drink, so this is right up my alley. Bounce is a great small group outing or date option, and although you definitely can book ahead, you don’t necessarily need to. Price per person varies around the year at £4-£6 ($5-$8 USD), making this a good budget option.

7. Grab a Bite at Chinatown

If you’re looking to switch it up a bit, head over to Chinatown. Not only is there delicious food, but unique little shops, bars, and desserts. My mouth is watering just thinking of Chinatown dumplings. If you can, try to visit during the Chinese New year, as the celebration is so amazing to see- and lasts for days. You can get to Chinatown via tube at Leicester Square station or Piccadilly Circus station.

For more in-depth information on Chinatown, check out Visit London.

8. Watch the Sunset at Primrose Hill

Primrose Hill is located on the northern end of Regent’s Park. This is a top place to have a picnic and view of the city. When the weather’s nice (or when it’s not, whatever you feel) grab blanket, a bottle of wine, and a good snack with some friends and catch the sunset. To get to Primrose Hill, take a tube to Chalk Farm station or Swiss Cottage station.

9. Take a Ghost Bus Tour

Fashioned out of an old school transportation bus, the Necrobus will take you on a fascinating tour of the city and all of its haunted sites. This funny and spooky tour lasts a bit over an hour and is only first come first serve. The bus departs from the Grand Hotel and the Sherlock Holmes Pub, and you can check out their times here.

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