Top 30 Hidden Gems in London (2023)
You may think that you know all the hidden gems in London, but England’s capital is a big city packed with history, culture and diversity. It’s hard to know every nook and cranny, and many places don’t feature on the main tourist maps. These secret places in London are usually off the beaten track but just as fascinating as all the big tourist attractions. Visiting these hidden gems will undoubtedly add to your overall London experience.
Here we’ve rounded up the top 30 hidden gems in London that you may not have heard of.
Secret Places in London
1. Pop Brixton
If you are looking for secret cool places in London, Pop Brixton is where you’ll find some of London’s most exciting start-ups. Everything from hipster cocktail bars and tasty food stands to unusual exercise classes, art galleries, pop-up vintage clothing stores, and even a co-working space. Pop Brixton supports up-and-coming and small businesses, and the area is always buzzing with creatives milling around. There are often special events like urban gardening, wine tasting or photography exhibitions taking place.
- 49 Brixton Station Road, London, SW9 8PQ.
- Open Sunday to Wednesday 9am-11pm, Thursday to Saturday 9am-midnight.
Image courtesy: secretldn.com
2. Little Venice
Little Venice is London’s version of the famous Italian city. One of the most charming hidden places in London, it’s where you’ll find a great selection of pubs, restaurants and waterside cafes. Little Venice comes into its own during the summer when you can walk along the river to Regent’s Park or Camden or cruise along on one of the colourful canal boats.
- Junction of the Paddington Arm of the Grand Union Canal, the Regent’s Canal and the entrance to Paddington Basin.
Image courtesy: londonxlondon.com
3. Stephen Wright’s House of Dreams
Of all the secret places to visit in London, there’s nothing quite like Stephen Wright’s House of Dreams. It’s a terraced house in East Dulwich that’s been transformed over the years into the museum of textile designer and art director Stephen Wright. Having lived in the house since 1982, Stephen Wright began turning it into something more decorative in 1998. Now, every corner of the house is adorned with art and quirky collectables, including false teeth, wigs and doll heads.
- 45 Melbourne Grove, East Dulwich, London SE22 8RG.
- Check out the Stephen Wright website for open days.
Image courtesy: secretldn.com
4. Mercato Metropolitano
Mercato Metropolitano is London’s first sustainable community market. Here you’ll find various food stalls that sell vegan dishes, Venezuelan cuisine and classic Italian favourites like risotto and pizza. Within the two courtyards, there’s lots of seating where you can relax and enjoy your delicious purchases.
- Mercato Metropolitano, 42 Newington Causeway, London SE1 6DR.
- Open Friday and Saturday 12pm-1am, Sunday to Wednesday 12pm-11pm, Thursday 12pm-12am.
Image courtesy: bighospitality.co.uk
5. Highgate Cemetery
Cemeteries aren’t often on most tourists’ agendas which is probably what makes Highgate Cemetery one of London’s best hidden gems. There are many beautiful areas of the cemetery to explore, such as Eqyptian Avenue, Lebanon Circle and Terrace Catacombs. There are around 170,000 people buried here, perhaps the most famous is German philosopher and socialist revolutionary Karl Marx.
- Swain’s Lane, London N6 6PJ.
- Open every day, 10am-5pm.
Image courtesy: uk.arteliagroup.com
Hidden gems in London: Top gardens and parks
6. Kyoto Garden
Possibly one of the most beautiful secret spots in London is Kyoto Garden. Spread across 55 acres, it’s a Japanese-style garden home to an array of colourful plants, shrubbery, koi carp and tiered waterfalls. It will make you feel like you’ve suddenly taken a trip to Japan. It’s the ideal place to visit if you want to escape the chaos of the city.
- Holland Park, Holland Park, Holland Park Ave, Kensington, London W11 4UA.
- Open every day, 7.30am-8.30pm.
Image courtesy: spottedbylocals.com
7. Saint Dunstan in the East
Of all the hidden places in London, Saint Dunstan in the East stands out as one of the most beautiful and tranquil. The church sits as bombed-out ruins, having been seriously damaged by the Great Fire of London and then wiped out by a German bomb in 1941. Today, it is a green oasis with a fountain and benches where you can relax away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
- St Dunstan’s Hill, London EC3R 5DD.
- Open every day, 8am-7pm/dusk (whichever is earlier).
Image courtesy: cktravels.com
8. Barbican Conservatory
The second largest conservatory in London, Barbican Conservatory, is a glass-roofed rainforest in the heart of the capital. It’s a leafy sanctuary of trees, tropical plants, exotic fish and birds. You can take a guided tour of the conservatory to learn about the different species or just enjoy a relaxing wander over the wooden bridges for casual exploration. Stroll by the ferocious terrapins once guilty of terrorising the wildlife on Hampstead Heath before venturing into the cactus house. Visiting the Barbican Conservatory is free, so there’s no reason not to discover this London gem for yourself.
- Silk Street, London, EC2Y 8DS
- Open on selected days every week, from 12pm. Visit the Barbican website for more details
Image courtesy: barbican.org.uk
9. Chelsea Physic Garden
Just off Cheyne Walk is Chelsea Physic Garden, London’s oldest botanical garden. It was established in 1673 by Apothecaries, medical professionals of the time who grew medicinal plants. Today, Chelsea Physic Garden is home to more than 5,000 edible and medicinal plants. Tucked off the beaten track, this tranquil green space is a great example of a hidden London gem.
- 66 Royal Hospital Road, Chelsea, London SW3 4HS.
- Sunday to Friday, 11am-5pm.
Image courtesy: daysoutguide.co.uk
10. Primrose Hill
Primrose Hill is a lovely area of North London and one of the popular, secret places to visit in London for some celebrity spotting. Upmarket eateries, charming boutique shops and colourful little Victorian houses line the streets. It’s a bit of a climb to the top of Primrose Hill, but you won’t regret it once you see the incredible views over London, including some famous landmarks such as the BT Tower, the Shard and the London Eye.
Hidden gems in London: top markets
11. Maltby Street
Maltby Market is situated under railway arches, close to London Bridge, and its low-key vibe makes it popular with Londoners. It may not be the largest market, but it certainly makes up for its small size with delicious food. It’s one of London’s top foodie markets with some of the city’s best street food vendors and start-ups.
- 42 Newington Causeway, London SE1 6DR.
- Saturdays 10am-5pm, Sundays 11am-4pm.
12. Leadenhall Market
If you are a Harry Potter fan, you may recognise Leadenhall Market, as it was a filming location for the blockbuster film. Situated near Bank and Monument underground stations, Leadenhall Market is a Victorian-era covered market that’s been in use since the 14th century. It’s a great place to visit for a stroll and explore the gift shops and clothing stores.
- Gracechurch Street, London EC3V 1LT.
- The market is open 24/7, but restaurant and shop opening times vary.
13. Columbia Road Flower Market
While it might be one of the top secret cool places in London, Columbia Road Flower Market is by far the nicest looking market in the city. Each Sunday, the street becomes overflowing with the most beautiful flowers and foliage. You’ll find everything from bedding plants and herbs to houseplants and 10-foot banana trees. Once you’ve bought all your blooms, wander down the side streets, and you’ll find independent restaurants, delis, vintage stalls, antique shops and galleries.
- Columbia Road, London E2 7RG.
- Sundays, 8am-3pm.
14. Greenwich Market
Often referred to as one of London’s best markets, Greenwich Market is a fun, vibrant and colourful indoor market with around 120 stalls. You’ll find delicious street food from around the world, including gluten-free and vegan options. The market is surrounded by a great selection of cafes, bars and independent shops, so you can really make a day of it.
- 5B Greenwich Market, London SE10 9HZ.
- Monday to Sunday 10am-5.30pm.
15. Broadway Market
Perhaps London’s trendiest market, Hackney’s Broadway Market, is a popular weekend hotspot for East End creative and Hackney hipsters to snap up some delicious street food, fresh produce, books, flowers and vintage clothes.
- London Fields, London E8 4PH.
- Saturdays 9am-5pm.
Hidden gems in London: top museums
16. Jack The Ripper Museum
A must-visit secret spot in London has to be the Jack the Ripper Museum in Whitechapel. Spread across six floors of a Victorian house, the museum tells the dark story of the capital’s infamous killer. It’s packed with artefacts and exhibits relating to the Ripper crime scenes that have never been shown to the public before. The museum also runs a daily Jack the Ripper Museum Walk, taking visitors on a guided tour of the key locations connected to the case.
- 12 Cable St, Whitechapel, London E1 8JG.
- Open every day, 9.30am-6.30pm.
17. The Horniman Museum
Opened in 1901, the Horniman Museum and Gardens is located in Forest Hill and displays various natural history, anthropology and musical instruments. It’s particularly known for its extensive collection of taxidermy. The museum’s 16-acre gardens, the aquarium and the butterfly house are beautiful and well worth a visit.
- 100 London Road, Forest Hill, London SE23 3PQ.
- Open daily, 10am-5.30pm.
18. Sir John Soane’s Museum
One of the top hidden places in London that’s well worth a visit is the Sir John Soane’s Museum. Soane (1753-1837) established the museum before he died, purchasing and redesigning three adjacent Georgina townhouses, which remain pretty much as he left it. It displays over 20,000 architectural drawings and antiquities, such as the Egyptian Sarcophagus of Seti.
- 13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, Holborn, London WC2A 3BP.
- Wednesday to Sunday 10am-5pm.
19. The Postal Museum
Perhaps one of London’s more surprising secret cool places is The Postal Museum. This family-friendly museum reveals just how the postal system has transformed our lives over the years. The museum also has many interactive displays and a post-themed play area. You can even ride on the Mail Rail through the tunnels and stations of the capital’s 100-year postal railway.
- 15-20 Phoenix Place, London WC1X ODA.
- Wednesday to Sunday 10am-5pm.
20. Leighton House Museum
Leighton House was once the residence of the Victorian artist Frederic Lord Leighton (1830-1896). The only purpose-built studio house in the UK that’s open to the public, this hidden London gem is filled with paintings and sculptures. But the real highlight of Leighton House is the Arab Hall and its gold dome and stunning blue mosaics.
Hidden gem restaurants in London
21. The Little Blue Door
When it comes to hidden gem restaurants London has to offer, The Little Blue Door should certainly be on the list. It’s a quirky and colourful bar and restaurant that mimics a house share, with the staff acting as your housemates. The Little Blue Door serves up weekly Sunday Roasts, bottomless brunches and supper clubs. It’s the place to go for killer cocktails, top-notch international food and great entertainment, including DJ-hosted parties and live music.
- 871-873, Fulham Rd, Fulham, London SW6 5HP.
- Wednesday and Thursday 5pm-12am, Friday 5pm-1pm, Saturday 11.30am-6pm/7pm-1am.
22. The Schoolhouse
Famous for its constantly changing cocktail menu, Sunday roasts and weekend brunches, The Schoolhouse offers a casual dining experience with great food, craft beers, cocktails and an extensive wine list. The Schoolhouse provides vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free menu options and is a great place to catch up with friends over a game of Battleships or party in the library.
- 139 St. John’s Hill, Battersea London SW11 1TD.
- Wednesday and Thursday 4pm-midnight, Friday 12pm-midnight, Saturday 10am-midnight, Sunday 10am-4pm.
If you are looking for a spot of casual dining in a unique, quirky setting, look no further than WC (Wine & Charcuterie) in Clapham and Bloomsbury. Cured meats and cheeses are the stars of the menu, complemented by an eclectic wine list and signature cocktails. WC’s sharing boards are ideal for grazing, and you’ll find several dairy-free, gluten-free and plant-based options too.
- Clapham: Clapham Common South Side, London, SW4 7AA.Bloomsbury: Guilford Place, Lamb’s Conduit Street, London, WC1N 1EH.
- Monday to Wednesday 5pm-11pm, Thursday to Saturday 5pm-midnight, Sunday 5pm-10pm.
When it comes to secret cool places in London, Redemption Bar would be on the list. It’s London’s only 100% vegan, alcohol-free, wheat-free and sugar-free restaurant. Redemption Bar is known for sourcing local quality ingredients, with a preference for organic.
- 6 Chepstow Rd (Westbourne Grove), London W2 5BH.
- Monday to Friday noon-10.30pm, Saturday 10am-10.30pm, Sunday 10am-9.30pm.
25. Viet Hoa Mess
Viet Hoa Mess is a Vietnamese café that combines Vietnam’s rich traditions with the upmarket, urban vibe of its Shoreditch surroundings. On their menu, you’ll find Vietnamese dishes, including light and fresh dishes and flavoursome heartwarming broths. Choose between traditional service, or cooking your own food on an infrared grill.
- 70-72 Kingsland Rd, Greater, Bethnal Green, London E2 8DP.
- Monday to Thursday 12.30pm-10pm, Friday and Saturday 12.30pm-11pm.
Hidden gem pubs & bars in London
26. The Churchill Arms
The Churchill Arms in Kensington is one of the best-hidden gems in London bars. The Churchill Arms serves a delicious menu of authentic Thai cuisine accompanied by the best real ales. Built in 1750 and named after WWII, the bar and restaurant was a regular haunt of Churchill’s grandparents. Today it attracts drinkers and diners with its cove-like, cosy interiors, random old trinkets and vintage signs.
- 119 Kensington Church St, Kensington London W8 7LN.
- Sunday Noon-10.30pm, Monday to Saturday 11am-11pm.
27. The Dickens Inn
The Dickens Inn pub by the Thames is a real gem in London’s pub crown. It has a long, interesting history entwined with East London heritage and the author Charles Dickens. At The Dickens Inn, you can enjoy delicious BBQ food or book out one of the two beer gardens for a private summer party. The pub’s interior is adorned with antique furniture and classic décor. Despite its proud heritage, the pub isn’t afraid to embrace the modern age and has five large flat-screen TVs for sports fans wanting to catch the big games.
- Marble Quay, St Katharine’s Way, Tower Hill, London E1W 1UH.
- Monday to Saturday noon-11pm, Sunday noon-10.30pm.
Cahoots is one of those secret cool places in London that the scoundrel in you will want to keep returning to. It’s a 1940s-themed bar situated inside an abandoned train station. With jolly-good rations, 1940s black market liquor, spiffing cocktails, afternoon teas and live entertainment, Cahoots is a bar like no other. With three bar areas for rabble-rousers and scallywags to explore, it’s the ideal place for a good old knees up.
- 5 Kingly Street, Carnaby, London WIB 5PF.
- Monday 4pm-10pm, Tuesday 3pm-midnight, Wednesday and Thursday 3pm-1am, Friday 2pm-2am, Saturday 1pm-2am, Sunday 2pm-midnight.
29. The Little Yellow Door
The Little Yellow Door is a cosy bohemian drinking spot and one of Notting Hill’s most popular bars and restaurants. You’ll find delicious food across two floors, including bottomless weekend brunches and incredible cocktails. There’s a DJ three nights a week, plus a great selection of British, European, Asian and French cuisine alongside a fantastic choice of cocktails.
- 6-8 All Saints Road, London W11 1HH.
- Wednesday 5pm-midnight, Thursday 5pm-1am, Friday 5pm-2am, Saturday noon-5pm and 6pm-2am.
30. The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town
The unusual entrance is just one thing that makes The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town a hidden gem in London bars. This dimly lit basement bar is hidden behind a fridge door in a restaurant and requires you to ask for entry at the Breakfast Club bar. Awaiting you is a candlelit speakeasy with delicious cocktails, an intriguing menu of food and plenty of atmosphere.
- Beneath The Breakfast Club, 12-16 Artillery Lane, E1 7LS.
- Monday to Thursday, 5pm-midnight, Friday, 3pm–midnight, Saturday, noon-midnight, Sunday noon-10:30pm.
To sum up
While London is bursting with world-famous monuments, bars and restaurants, plenty of lesser-known places are just as wonderful, perhaps even more so. Many of them will take you off the beaten track and give you the chance to explore the more eclectic side of London.
If you are planning to spend a few days in London, why not stay at a Clink261 Budget Hostel or Clink78 backpackers youth hostel in King’s Cross, ideally located for exploring the capital. Going to London with a bunch of friends? Check out our round of cheap group accommodation in London.