Most of what you read about unusual things to do in London include activities that are…well, normal. That, or they’re all things you’ve done before.
Not this time. We’ve gathered 22 of the weirdest things to do in London; ranging from the slightly atypical to the downright bizarre. So if you’re here for unique experiences in London that you probably haven’t thought of before - the following list is for you!
Quirky Things to Do in London
Starting fairly tame and moving towards pushing the boundaries of 'quirky' and unusual things to do in London...
1 See Deer and Terrapins in Clissold Park
Clissold Park opened in 1889 and is widely-agreed to be one of the best green spaces in England.
But what makes Clissold Park truly unique in London is that it’s home to some pretty spectacular wildlife. Fallow deer have roamed the park since the 19th century, and there’s still a small herd to this day.
You'll also find Terrapins in the lake (though they aren’t supposed to be there, they’re considered an invasive species).
2 Explore Southwark’s Secrets in Style
Did you know that the first mention of ‘Londoners’ (or ‘Londiniensi’ as the Romans put it) was found on a Roman plaque in 2004 in Tabard Street, Southwark?
London is jam-packed with curios and tiny nooks that give away the city’s long history. The only trouble is, they’re hard to find.
Thankfully, help is at hand. All Gone South is one of the best-value unique experiences in London. Part treasure hunt, part outdoor exploration game, this trail takes you through south London’s oldest neighbourhood by tying together stunning riverside views and historical trivia - with a twist.
Answer clues, solve puzzles and get hand-picked recommendations for café and pub stops!
Seen all of Southwark? Check out more exploration games and treasure hunts in London
3 Go For a Pub Quiz At Ian McKellan’s Pub
Where? Canary Wharf
There’s something quintessentially British about a pub quiz - and if you’re going to do one, you might as well pick one with a decent prize and notable proprietor.
Enter The Grapes in Limehouse. Partially owned by Ian McKellan (you know, real-life Gandalf), The Grapes host a weekly quiz night on Mondays where attendees can battle to win a £50 bar tab and smaller prizes besides.
The pub also serves food and is known for its friendly atmosphere.
4 Try A New Cuisine at Maltby St Market
Sometimes, the only adventure you need is one for your palate.
One of the best unique experiences in London is Maltby Street Market, situated right next to the Bermondsey Beer Mile (which is exactly what it sounds like) and its food stalls are packed with delicious cuisines from all over the world.
Stick to what you know and love or give something new a try: cuisines on offer include Ethiopian, Persian, Venezuelan, Japanese, British, Spanish and more!
5 Get Booze-Savvy at a Bermondsey Brewery
Did you know that tea and coffee only became a typical British breakfast drink in the late 19th century?
Before that, the vast majority of Britons (including kids!) started their day with a beer - albeit a beer that had very little alcohol in (under 2.8% ABV). This type of beer “small beer” is making a comeback - and one brewery in Bermondsey is leading the way!
The Small Beer Brewery offers visitors a one hour tour which includes a welcome drink and a sample session.
6 Play Pétanque at Prince of Wales Pub
Where? Cleaver Square, Kennington
Looking for unusual things to do in London that pretty much anyone can enjoy?
The Prince of Wales pub in Kennington has been around since the 18th century and its decor is everything you’d expect from an establishment with a Regal name.
But what’s really special about the pub is what’s on offer to patrons: a game of pétanque (or boules, whichever name you prefer).
Pétanque is a great outdoor game that pretty much anyone can enjoy. There are two ways to win: try to get your boules closest to the target ball (the “cochonnet”) and or knock your opponents’ boules away from the target ball.
7 Be in The Audience of a Live Podcast
Going to a show in London doesn’t have to mean theatre at the West End.
Podcasters are finding that they still have to scratch that itch their audiences have of wanting to see them live. And the great thing about London is that the venues are sometimes bigger (more tickets) and even occasionally more interesting.
Take part in your favourite podcasts by sitting in an audience of like-minded people - or go along to something you’ve never heard of before. Subjects range from food to parenting, the etymology of words to video game music reviews…you’ve just gotta find your crowd.
8 Take a Sushi-Making Class in Shoreditch
As they say, you learn something new every day - why not make today’s ‘something’ edible?
The concept of sushi goes back to the 5th and 3rd centuries BC in China and has only become more popular over time. However, sushi can be expensive (if you want the good stuff) so it’s worth figuring out how to do it yourself at home.
Unusual and Unique Experiences in London
Unusual things to do in London that you can only do in and around the UK capital.
Psst: Looking for unusual birthday celebration ideas? Check out our article 22 Wild Birthday Ideas in London You Won't Find Anywhere Else!
9 Reinvestigate The Mystery of Jack the Ripper
Back in the day, Whitehall was definitely a place to find unusual things to do in London…if you were a criminal, that is.
The legacy of this fascinating neighbourhood is scarred by the terrible happenings that occurred there during the Victoria era and, more specifically, during Jack the Ripper’s peak killing spree.
Unleash your morbid curiosity and apply your quizzical mind to a conundrum that has plagued historians and criminologists for 134 years by playing Return of The Ripper - CityDays’ latest murder-mystery outdoor exploration game.
10 Check out King George III’s Bathtub at Kew Palace
In 2012, a tin bathtub stuffed in a kitchen fireplace at Kew Palace opened up a whole new discussion surrounding the character and reputation of one of Britain’s most famous monarchs, King George III.
King George III (1738-1820) was a beloved monarch before he showed signs of illness. ‘Cures’ for his symptoms included a variety of horrific treatments (including bloodletting and blistering).
One of the nicer forms of treatment included taking hot baths - which the King insisted on being near the kitchen, so that the servants wouldn’t have to carry heavy buckets of hot water too far.
The bathtub is still there, in the kitchens of Kew Palace, and the rare insight into Georgian living the Palace offers is unmatched.
11 Go For a Day Trip to Oxford
Yes, you asked for unusual things to do in London but you might actually thank us for getting you out of the capital, just this once.
Oxford’s toffee-coloured buildings and slower pace of life are a welcome break from London’s hubbub. It takes just under an hour to get there by train and you’ll quickly discover there’s more to Oxford than its university and fresh country air.
Get a gang of friends or your family together and discover Oxford the best way: by solving clues and cracking cryptic riddles on an Oxford treasure and scavenger hunt!
12 Look at Renaissance Portraits of Dogs
Where? The Wallace Collection, temporary exhibition
Dog lovers who want unusual things to do in London - there’s only one place to go: The Wallace Collection Museum.
This latest exhibition is dedicated to preserving the image of canine pets both past and present. Fifty portraits of dogs are on display and the museum has collated fascinating information about the artworks to accompany them.
The collection can be viewed until 15th October (2023) and while you’re there, you can even pick up a pair of Cockapoo salt and pepper shakers to commemorate your unusual day out.
13 Swing a Medieval Sword with London Longsword Academy
Where? Old Street (EC2A 4SH) or Crystal Palace (SE19 2RX)
For those drawn to martial arts, there’s only one answer: take a class with London Longsword Academy.
The academy offers group classes where you can study medieval and Renaissance weapon styles up close and whether you’re a beginner or martial arts master, you’re bound to have a great time.
There are 11 classes to choose from across two venues (see above).
Weirdest Things to Do in London
You want weird? We'll give you weird...
14 Find Out Why White Dog Poo ‘Cured’ Throat Ailments
Not something you really need to know but hey, you wanted unusual things to do in London.
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society Museum is home to a plethora of bizarre, revolting and intriguing remedies that paved the way for modern medicine. And yes, that includes white dog poo.
Once you’ve satisfied your animal excrement curiosity, visitors can also view (among other things) fragments of human skulls, a sample of bear fur grease, a pair of mummified hands and, last but not least, cocaine and morphine pastilles.
London is a city where there’s always something going on, even if you don’t know about it (yet).
People, businesses and individuals host events pretty much every day of the year around the capital - the hardest part is tracking them down.
EventBrite is a great resource for finding unusual things to do in London that pique your interest. If you want to celebrate Halloween in July, go to a Caribbean food and drink festival or go for a guided tour of the Old Bailey, you can - just find out when it is and sign up!
16 Eat at a Real Prison Restaurant
Relive the best scene from Paddington 2 (marmalade, anyone?) by eating in a restaurant where the staff are real-life felons.
Opened in 2014, The Clink in Brixton is a charity-run restaurant that aims to rehabilitate prisoners of HMP Brixton. Inmates are given training and accredited NVQs in food preparation, food service, cleaning and horticulture.
Sure to be unlike anything you’ve experienced before (there is no metal cutlery inside), a visit to The Clink is one to check off your to-do list in London and it helps provide a second chance to the staff.
17 Visit Jamrach’s Tiger & Boy Statue
Where? E1, Pennington Street, Tobacco Dock
On any given day in London you’re bound to see some pretty bizarre things, but nothing compares to the day a Bengal tiger escaped from a London pet shop and dragged a nine-year-old boy down the street.
That day occurred in 1857 near Ratcliffe Highway, east London, home to the-then world’s biggest pet shop called Jamrach’s Emporium.
The tiger caught the attention of a nine-year-old boy called John Wade, who tried to pat the giant cat. It’s said that the tiger walloped poor John over the head, thereby knocking him out, and dragged him off up the road. It took the owner of the shop, Charles Jamrach, a few other men and a crowbar to dislodge the boy from the tiger’s jaws who, miraculously, was unhurt.
You can visit the bronze statue depicting this unbelievable event in Wapping.
Unusual Places to Visit in London
Places you wouldn't think to go, but definitely should...
18 Become a Fan of Salvador Dalí’s Fanboy Fan
Proving that finding unusual things to do in London can get very niche (but also very interesting) is The Fan Museum.
The Fan Museum in Greenwich opened in 1991 and is truly unique in its collection and dedication to an accessory that has been somewhat lost to history.
And in case you think there’s nothing interesting about fans, get this: one of the fans was made and designed by Salvador Dalí himself; it depicts a scene from the world-famous Spanish novel Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes.
19 Step Back in Time at Sambourne House
Tucked just around the corner from Kensington High Street is a little-known hidden gem that will almost make you believe in time travel.
Sambourne house is a museum in the former home of the Punch cartoonist Edward Linley Sambourne. The house is stuffed with Victorian furniture and trinkets, offering visitors a chance to explore a London home as it would have looked in the 19th century.
Immaculately preserved, Sambourne House is a veritable time capsule that will transport you back to a simpler, more cluttered time.
20 Find Something You Lost at The House of Dreams
Where? East Dulwich
Speaking of clutter, do you wonder what happens to the thousands of random objects you find lying around on the streets?
A misplaced glove, a rain-soaked teddy bear, a jumper belonging to someone’s ex…they all have to end up somewhere. Well, there’s a good chance they ended up in East Dulwich, at artist Stephen Wright’s house.
Every inch of the House of Dreams is covered in a bizarre assortment of objects; dolls, bottle caps, fragments of bowls. Each room (and the outside and garden) is packed to the rafters with odd finds from all over the world (including France, Mexico and Britain).
So, on the off-chance that something you once lost ended up in the House of Dreams, it’s worth taking a dive into this miraculous Maison D’Arte.
21 Make a Splash at Covent Garden Lido
Where? Endell Street, Covent Garden
The aptly-named Oasis Sports Centre in Covent Garden is your very own secret cure for unbearably hot summer days in London (yes, they do happen!).
With a 27.5 metre pool and a sauna, patrons of the pool can enjoy a refreshing soak and relax their muscles in Central London. The pool is heated so it can be enjoyed all year round and it has a pretty interesting history - it’s built on top of a WWII bomb site!
And if swimming isn’t your thing - don’t despair. The sports venue also includes squash courts, a gym and two studios where you can do yoga, pilates, group cycle and Power Pump.
22 Research Your Family History at The National Archives
In a city like London, it can be overwhelming to keep up with just how much change the city has been through.
Luckily, some very clever people thought ahead and made records of just about everything that happened up and down the country; and if an event was documented, you’ll probably find it at The National Archives.
Free to enter and handily-situated in Richmond, The National Archives gives visitors free access to the 1921 census (which is currently only available otherwise behind a paywall) and thousands of other records besides.
Look up what your favourite London haunts looked like a hundred years ago or find out what your great-great-great-great grandad did for work - you never know what you might discover.
More Unusual Things to Do in London
Whatever your interests are, there’s always something new for you to discover in London.
In fact, you don’t have to go out of your way at all to find them - you just have to know where to look.
You’ll find curated trails and hunts all over London, including Central London, Mayfair, Shoreditch, Kensington and Southwark.
All you have to do is team up with your friends, family or whoever to solve riddles, complete challenges and answer trivia to lead you on an unforgettable journey around London’s most intriguing streets.
The best part? We’ll recommend top-rated pubs, cafés and restaurants and give your team the chance to earn rewards by competing on our leaderboard.
CityDays gives you total freedom to start and finish whenever you like, take extra breaks if you want or need them, and it’s suitable for people of all ages.
You’re also guaranteed your money back if you don’t have an amazing time - although our previous reviews speak for themselves: we’re rated 5/5 on TripAdvisor and 4.95/5 on Google Reviews!