20 alternative London attractions
Already done Buckingham Palace and Trafalgar Square, or do you just fancy something that reveals London away from the picture-postcard scenery? Here’s our pick of the quirky, the weird, the cool and the countrified; interesting places that will get you exploring other corners of London before you know it.
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London's hidden attractions
London's biggest attractions
Originally constructed to mark the Millennium, the slowly circling wheel that looms over the Thames continues to be one of the city’s most-loved icons and a firm favourite with snap-happy tourists. From the 32 glass-walled pods (said to represent each of the 32 London boroughs) everyone (with a head for heights) can drink in those expansive views to the north, south, east and west, making this a brilliant way to get the measure of London. And each visit now starts with a fun, 4D short film before you board.
Up at The O2
Have you ever been curious as to what London looks like from more than 50 metres up above North Greenwich? If you're hardy enough to get kitted out in safety gear and traipse your way up the dome's roof for 90 minutes, you can find out. Whatever ticket you choose, it’s the ultimate AAA pass, offering 360-degree views of the city. From there you’ll be able to see across the capital, spotting famous sites like the Olympic Park, Thames Barrier, The Shard and Canary Wharf. Plus you can climb your way up at sunset, at twilight or during the day, with each offering a different take on the capital's skyline.
ArcelorMittal Orbit and slide
The curly-wurly red scaffolding tower lords it over the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park from its position right alongside the Olympic Stadium. Designed by the artist Anish Kapoor and structural engineer Cecil Balmond, it stands 114.5m (376ft) tall and has lifts (and a 455-step staircase) up to two platforms from which you take in the spectacular view. The fun bit is getting down – you can whoosh down the 12-loop slide, designed by Belgian-born German artist Carsten Höller or abseil down – both require a head for heights and a strong stomach.
The Queen’s pad sure lives up to its pretty picture-postcard image. All year round you‘re welcome to take a gander at the stunning Royal Collection of artworks, which are housed in The Queen’s Gallery. From February to November the Royal Mews throws open its doors to anyone wishing to eyeball the Queen’s horses and elegant carriages, and the State Rooms are open throughout August and September (as well as for one-off tours during the year when the Queen isn’t home).
Hampton Court Palace
Hampton Court’s resplendent palace and plush grounds will pomp up any trip to London. From the Tudor indoor tennis court to the Royal Maze, from the King’s private loo to the brand new Magic Garden adventure playground, there’s something here for all ages. History buffs and art enthusiasts should purchase the ticket for the Palace and the Gardens, or those with little ones in tow will appreciate the Magic Garden and Maze ticket.
To see Gothic grandeur at its most glorious hop across the road to this royally-approved abbey. Westminster Abbey has been home to elaborate 16 royal weddings, a lot of funerals and every coronation since 1066. However, as Westminster Abbey is still a fully functioning church, the visiting times often vary. Looking for some spiritual respite after a long day sightseeing? Check out a Wednesday Late, where you dine like a monk in the ancient cellars.