19 places you had no idea existed in outer London

Explore the outer limits of London and discover a whole new world beyond Zone 2

Yep, we know there's loads of things to do in central London, but it's time to get out of your comfort zone. Jump on a tube, venture past Zone 2 and discover another side to the city - one of historic palaces, outdoor London pursuits and golf courses stalked by dinosaurs. Check out our handy London area guides if you're heading into unknown territory and go get exploring. The world beyond Zone 2 is your oyster (card).
RECOMMENDED: Secret things to do in London

AT_Nattrust_NTPL Stephen Robson.jpg
© NTPL/Stuart Cox
Attractions, Historic buildings and sites
Trot along to Ham House
There's certainly something a bit foreboding about Ham House in Richmond, and the more spiritually attuned might pick up on the ghosts said to roam the halls of this stately home. Don't let that put you off, or you'll be missing out on one of Europe's finest houses and best collections of seventeenth-century art, textiles and furniture, not to mention one of the capital's prettiest picnic spots. 

HOW TO GET THERE: Get the District line to Richmond (Zone 4), then the 371 bus.
icon-location-pin Ham
New_Eel Pie Island005.jpg
© Rob Greig
Attractions, Ships and boats
Get some peace and love on Eel Pie Island
Eel Pie Island is a crumb of land in the middle of the Thames just outside Twickenham. In the 1970s, it was the UK's biggest hippie commune and it has a rich musical history. These days the island is home to working artists (and a lot of boats).

HOW TO GET THERE: Take the train from Waterloo to Twickenham (Zone 5), then it's a short walk.
icon-location-pin Twickenham
Wetlands Centre
Attractions, Rivers, lakes and ponds
Get twitchy at London Wetland Centre
The vast wetlands of Barnes are an ornithologist's wonderland: these flooded plains of west London play host to a variety of birds and other wildlife for those times when you tire of urban foxes, tube mice and pesky pigeons. Probably no alligators to contend with, although we can't guarantee it... 

HOW TO GET THERE: Hammersmith station (Zone 2), then the 33 or 72 bus.
icon-location-pin Barnes
© Dave Art Gordon
Things to do
Escape the suburbs at Hollow Pond
The lush Hollow Pond is in Snaresbrook, on the edge of Epping Forest. Hire a five-seater rowing boat for around a tenner and breathe in some decent air for a change, while composing an ode or two.

HOW TO GET THERE:  Take the Central line to Leytonstone or the Victoria line to Walthamstow Central (both Zone 3), then the 257 bus.
icon-location-pin Upper Walthamstow
Angels Costumes Warehouse
Dress up at Angels the Costumiers
Angels the Costumiers isn't in Hollywood, it's in the significantly less glamorous Hendon, but having provided outfits for blockbusters like 'Hugo' and 'Robin Hood Prince of Thieves', its costume stock is no less impressive for that. Its behind-the-scenes tours give you a glimpse into the inner workings of the business, with the two-hour excursion taking in famous film and stage creations and the everyday fancy dress you can buy and hire from the company's shop on Shaftesbury Avenue. 

HOW TO GET THERE: The Northern line to Hendon Central (Zone 3), then a quick jaunt on the number 83.
icon-location-pin West Hendon
Restaurants, Contemporary European
Dine a la mode at Petersham Nurseries
If you're feeling flush and peckish and fancy pretending you're in the Dordogne for an afternoon, take a turn around Petersham Nurseries in Richmond. It's a garden centre whose upmarket restaurant inspires cries of 'rustic!' and 'shabby chic!' as well as 'how much?!'. 

HOW TO GET THERE: Train from Waterloo to Richmond (Zone 4) then the 65 bus.
icon-location-pin Petersham
Eltham Palace's entrance Hall
© Jonathan Bailey
Attractions, Historic buildings and sites
Make like Jay Gatsby at Eltham Palace
Once the boyhood home of Henry VIII, Eltham Palace got a shot of Jazz Age glam when the Courtauld family built an art deco mansion on the site in the 1920s. These days, English Heritage is probably less keen on wild parties than Gatsby was, but it was refurbed to the tune of £1.7m, with some nifty new additions like replica '30s frocks that you can try on and touchscreen guides.

HOW TO GET THERE: Train from Charing Cross to Eltham (Zone 4).
icon-location-pin Eltham
Wimbledon Windmill Museum
Museums, Childhood
Sail down to Wimbledon Windmill
Did you know Wimbledon has its own windmill? It may not have ground anything since 1864, but its sails are in working order and it's host to a museum about windmills of all types. Sited on Wimbledon Common, it's worth factoring into a stroll.

HOW TO GET THERE: Take the District line or train to Putney Bridge (Zone 2), then the 93 bus.
icon-location-pin Wimbledon Village
Jurassic Encounter
Things to do, Games and hobbies
Get putting at Jurassic Encounter
You know what they say: life finds a way. In this case, it found a way to New Malden, where someone decided that what mini-golf courses lacked were near-life-size sculptures of dinosaurs. Prehistoric animatronic beasts watch over golfers as they putt their way around a fiendish, floodlit 18-hole course. And people say the suburbs are just boring...

HOW TO GET THERE: Train from Waterloo to Raynes Park (Zone 4), then the 152 bus
icon-location-pin West Barnes
Ruislip Lido
Attractions, Rivers, lakes and ponds
Bask on the sands at Ruislip Lido
Out in the Mediterranean climate of Zone 6, Ruislip is home to a picturesque sandy beach, the likes of which you wouldn't have dreamed existed within the reach of your Oyster. At its peak in the '70s, the 60-acre reservoir rivalled Margate as a sunny-day destination for Londoners, before it fell into neglect. Now it's the subject of a renewal programme to get the boaters and swimmers back. You can take a trip on the narrow-gauge railway that runs around the reservoir, or just laze on the sand as the resident geese honk at you from the water. 

HOW TO GET THERE: Take the Metropolitan or Piccadilly line to Ruislip (Zone 6), then the H13 or 331 bus.
icon-location-pin Ruislip Common
Syon Park
© Simon Hadleigh-Sparks
Attractions, Historic buildings and sites
See how the other half lived at Syon Park
The Great Conservatory at Syon House brings neoclassical splendour to Brentford. Your mum's greenhouse it ain't. It used to be filled with exotic plants from far-flung locations, but today you're more likely to find a film shoot here (it was used in scenes in 2013's 'Belleí).

HOW TO GET THERE: Take the Central line to Ealing Broadway (Zone 3), then the E2 bus.
icon-location-pin Brentford End
Go Ape
Things to do, Sport events
Go Ape at Trent Park
Kids and adults alike can swap monkey-barring it down the tube carriage for monkeying about through the treetops of north London. Amid the beautiful woods and lakes of Enfieldís Trent Park are elevated walkways, zip wires and Tarzan swings. Don't worry, you get a full safety briefing before you're let loose on the course, and if you're bad with heights, spectators are welcome to watch from the forest floor. Just don't be surprised if you end up with a crick in your neck. 

The Piccadilly line to Cockfosters (Zone 5).
icon-location-pin Cockfosters
Flock to Walthamstow Wetlands
Walthamstow Wetlands are a lush haven for wildlife. They’re London’s newest and biggest wetlands, after opening to the public for the first time in 150 years in autumn 2017. Eagle-eyed ornithologists can spot all kinds of wetland bird species, including rare sightings of garganey, kingfisher and green sandpiper. There are peaceful walking routes and the Engine House Cafe for refuelling. Since it’s a nature reserve, there’s also a focus on conservation - such as their programme to support the swift (the urban birds, not Taylor).
The Victoria line to Tottenham Hale (Zone 3), then a short walk.
icon-location-pin Tottenham Hale
Chislehurst Caves
Attractions, Historic buildings and sites
Explore the depths at Chislehurst Caves
Didn’t realise London had caves? As you descend into the depths of this man-made wonder, the Chislehurst caverns aren’t as eerie as you might imagine. Originally chalk and flint mines, the tunnels stretch on (and on and on) for an astonishing 22 miles and are also home to some impressively ornate carvings. But what is creepy, are the slightly dilapidated mannequins that linger about the place, which you wouldn’t want to run into down a dark alley. Wait a minute...
National Rail to Chislehurst (Zone 5).

icon-location-pin Chislehurst
Strawberry Hill House
© Lisa Payne
Things to do, Literary events
Live out a fairytale at Strawberry Hill House
Strawberry Hill House is proof that Gothic Georgian architecture is alive and well in London. The all-white castle, built by Horace Walpole in the 1700s, is in the heart of Twickenham. From exhibitions of ancient treasures to a garden with a sweeping ‘serpentine wood’ and a shell seat, it’s a dream for history buffs with a penchant for art and ol’ mother nature. Visit in the Summer to enjoy the Strawb’s full fairytale splendor.
The Victoria Line to Vauxhall, then National Rail to Strawberry Hill (Zone 5)

icon-location-pin Strawberry Hill
Osterley - house exterior (3).jpg
Attractions, Historic buildings and sites
Feel regal at Osterley Park and House
Over the hills and far away (in Hounslow), this neoclassical Georgian country estate is a peaceful interlude from the hubbub of central London. Some of the historic vistas are still in restoration mode, but that doesn’t really detract from the striking scenes. The National Trust looks after the grand house, gardens and parkland, putting on exhibitions, tours, yoga classes, outdoor film screenings, after-hours tours and more. If you’re visiting in daylight, take a picnic and make a day of it.
The Piccadilly Line to Osterley (Zone 5), then a 15-minute walk.

icon-location-pin Osterley
Golders Hill Park, Hampstead Heath
© Garry Knight
Find the wild things at Golders Hill Park Zoo
Golders Hill Park Zoo is one of the city’s lesser-known spots to get up close with cute critters. It’s actually nestled away in the far reaches of Hampstead Heath, the wild mane of north London. Visitors can see deer and rare and exotic birds and mammals like kookaburras and ring-tailed lemurs, all for free. Stick around and there’s also a butterfly house, bandstand, cafe and bunch of cool sculptures dotted around in the greenery.
The Northern Line to Golders Green (Zone 5), then a 10 minute walk. 

icon-location-pin Child's Hill
William Morris Gallery
Art, Public art
Get inspired at the William Morris Gallery
London is home to the only public museum created in homage to famed Arts and Crafts designer William Morris. You’ll find a load of internationally-renowned collections and a whole world of awe-inspiring tapestries in the craftsman’s former family home. Fun fact: some of Morris’s wallpaper has been found to contain arsenic, so it’s technically toxic. We don’t think you’ll encounter much of that here, but don’t lick anything, yeah? Check the website for talks and workshops ahead of your visit.
The Victoria Line or Overground to Blackhorse Road (Zone 3), then the BE bus.

icon-location-pin Walthamstow
Crystal Palace Subway - Open House
James Balston
Go underground at Crystal Palace Subway
You’ve probably heard about those Grade I listed dinosaurs in Crystal Palace Park, but this rather impressive south-London subway is a better-kept secret. According to the friends of Crystal Palace, the orange-tinted tunnel is a “beautiful relic of Victorian construction” and nowadays, it’s also a pretty neat home to the odd craft market. Oh and it’s Grade II listed, so take that dinos.
The Overground to Crystal Palace (Zone 5), then the 
157, 358 or 410 bus.
icon-location-pin Gipsy Hill