You don’t have to travel far from civilization to discover hidden gems throughout the UK – our cities have plenty of less visited places well worth a trip, too. And when we’re speaking of UK cities there’s no getting away from the sprawling metropolis that is London.
As the capital and largest city in the UK, many of us will have visited at one time or another and seen highlights such as the London Eye, Big Ben, Tower Bridge, and Buckingham Palace. But campervan owners are a quirky bunch who like to do things their own way. So, if you’re looking for a more unique and local experience away from the usual tourist traps, then read our countdown of 15 hidden London locations worth exploring next time you visit.
Whether it’s for a short city break during the summer holidays or a longer tour of the capital, be sure to check your campervan insurance is up to date before your trip to the Big Smoke!
St Dunstan in the East, St Dunstan’s Hill
As beautiful as it is tranquil, the Grade I listed bombed-out ruins of this former 12th Century church are now the home of a stunningly quiet city oasis. Found between the attractions of the Tower of London and London Bridge, it’s a perfect place to rest and escape the hustle and bustle.
Little Venice, West London
Looking around Little Venice in West London you could be forgiven for thinking you’re in Amsterdam! But in fact, you’re looking at one of the sleepier parts of this great city. In Little Venice you’ll find tree-lined canals, colourful barges and lots of quirky cafes. Take a leisurely stroll along the towpath from the stunning Rembrandt Gardens near Paddington, through Hyde Park and London Zoo and on to charmingly hip Camden.
If you want to find out more then go to the Canal & River Trust welcome station at Little Venice. Here you can chat to their friendly volunteers and find out all you need to know about this great little area.
The Painted Hall, Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich
Following an £8.5 million restoration project to clean and conserve Sir James Thornhill’s magnificent 17th Century paintings, The Painted Hall is a must-visit for any art aficionado – particularly fans of English Baroque art. It’s easy to see why it’s known as Britain’s Sistine Chapel; it’s truly stunning both in its conception and execution.
If you’re visiting Greenwich then it’s well worth taking the time to visit one of the most aesthetically pleasing sights in London. Found in the 17th Century Inigo Jones-designed Queen’s House, the sweeping Tulip Stairs are regarded as one of the most beautiful spiral staircases in the world. But remember to take your camera! It’s not only a picture worthy of the ‘Gram but it’s also the location of a legendary ghost photograph showing two or three mysterious shrouded figures climbing up the stairs!
With the deliciously exotic smells emanating from the famous Brick Lane curry houses, world famous street art and eclectic vintage stores, you’ll spend many happy hours in this vibrant part of town. If you’re looking for some hand crafted and hard-to-find objects to jazz up your campervan then head to the brilliant Spitalfields Market for a browse.
For those who like their history dark and gruesome, this area is also famous as Jack the Ripper territory. There are loads of fascinating walking tours taking place in and around this neck of the woods that are worth checking out.
Columbia Road Flower Market, Bethnal Green, East London
If you’re looking to brighten up your campervan during your trip then make time to visit one of the best-looking markets in London, Columbia Road Flower Market. Just a 10-minute walk from Brick Lane, it’s all too easy to miss this incredible spot tucked away behind a housing estate.
Packed with friendly flower sellers and bucket loads of plants and flowers from around the world, it’s the perfect place for a Sunday expedition. When you’ve picked your flowers, Columbia Road itself is home to 60 independent shops including art galleries, cupcake shops, vintage clothing stores, Italian and English delis, garden and antique shops.
Neal’s Yard, Covent Garden
Home to the original Neal’s Yard natural remedies store, this quiet alley and courtyard is just a few minutes’ walk from Covent Garden tube station and is a gem worth discovering. It’s a beautifully colourful place and home to a variety of independent, ethical retailers. Have a coffee, lunch or snack and look through your purchases of organic soaps, delicious cheeses and eco-friendly gifts. When you need a break from some of the big commercial retailers in the West End, it’s heavenly indeed!
The Vaults, Waterloo
Wow! If you’re looking for something hidden and a huge amount of fun then look no further than this dark maze of underground tunnels beneath Waterloo Station. Here you’ll find cutting-edge theatre, up-and-coming comedians and all kinds of immersive events.
Located on the wonderfully graffitied Leake Street, this is the place to come if you’re looking for something wacky, weird and wonderful. If you fancy a pint and a riotously fun pub quiz then head over to the nearby Vaulty Towers pub on a Monday evening. You won’t leave disappointed!
Sky Garden, 20 Fenchurch Street, City of London
Known as London’s highest public park and offering some of the best views in London a visit to the Sky Garden has to be on anyone’s secret must-visit list. Found at the top of the famous Walkie Talkie skyscraper in the City of London, it’s a great place for dinner, a drink or just a wander. While entrance is free it is strictly ticketed and you’ll need to be quick to grab one to this popular hangout.
Sir John Soane’s Museum, Lincoln’s Inn Fields
Housing more than 45,000 objects from all over the world including sculptures, books, paintings, and curiosities of all shapes and sizes, this museum is a hub for eccentric treasure seekers. The museum was the home of neoclassical architect Sir John Soane who stipulated in his will that his house and collection should be preserved exactly as he left it when he died in 1837.
While the crowds flock to the British Museum in nearby Bloomsbury those in the know head to this perfectly preserved gem on Lincoln’s Inn Fields. Highlights include the sarcophagus of the Egyptian King Seti I, which is kept in the basement. In 1825, he bought it for £2,000 and held a sumptuous three-day party to unveil it. Cool, crazy, extravagant and offering free entry – what a bargain!
While you’re here, a short hop and a skip will bring you to Lincoln’s Inn, the largest of the four Inns of Court where barristers have hidden themselves away for hundreds of years. Take a tour and explore the old hall, chapel, library and great hall. If you want to see the law in action then there are few better places than the nearby Royal Courts of Justice. Here anyone can walk in and watch some of the biggest legal cases of the day – and hear some of the juiciest secrets! From sports and movie stars to princes and politicians many have walked these halls looking for answers to their tricky legal problems.
London Silver Vaults, Chancery Lane
The great thing about London is that when leaving one hidden gem you can easily stumble on another quite by accident. First opened in 1885 beneath Chancery Lane in the heart of legal London, the London Silver Vaults are a veritable Aladdin’s cave. Previously a storage place for valuables, it’s now home to nearly 30 specialist shops selling all kinds of finely crafted silver objet d’art, jewellery, curios and valuables. It’s a truly unique place to wander around and you might even spot a browsing film star or two – although the prices can be a bit steep!
Be aware if you do make an expensive purchase then your campervan insurance might not cover it! Give us a call and find out what your coverage for contents is before handing over your cash.
The Grenadier, Wilton Row, Belgravia
You can’t visit London without frequenting at least one of the quite incredible array of pubs in the city. Just around the corner from the grandiose Belgrave Square, the Grenadier is hidden away at the end of an exclusive West London mews. With a red sentry box outside and an array of military prints and memorabilia on the walls, it’s not hard to work out the pub has a fine military history.
Originally a mess for the Duke of Wellington’s soldiers, the Iron Duke himself had his last drink here before the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. If you keep your eyes peeled then you might even spot the ghost of an officer who was caught cheating at cards and died after a flogging. Don’t forget to treat yourself to one of their award-winning Bloody Marys. Made to a secret recipe they really are quite delicious!
Primrose Hill, Regents Park
If you’re looking for stunning views and a bit of celeb spotting then head to Primrose Hill next to Regents Park. It’s a compact, villagelike area of splendid Victorian terraces and pastel-coloured townhouses. Known for its resident celebs it’s also full of upmarket delis, chic eateries, and boutique fashion stores. From the summit of Primrose Hill park itself you can see the entire city laid out before you. Indeed, it’s one of the six protected viewpoints in London. Have fun spotting landmarks and enjoying a picnic in one of London’s most fashionable areas.
MI6 Building, Vauxhall
Secret agent headquarters don’t come much less secret than the MI6 Building in Vauxhall. Featured in several James Bond films and popular with secret service types and tour groups alike, the building isn’t the best looking but it’s well worth a selfie or two. The best views are either from the water or from the Tate Britain on the opposite side of the river. It’s not exactly a secret but at least you can get a good dose of culture while looking for hidden entrances!
Thames Barrier Park, Royal Docks
For centuries, flooding of the River Thames was a big problem for the city. To solve this the iconic Thames Barrier was constructed in the 1980s to control the waters. While you can visit the barrier itself and an interesting visitor centre, it’s also worth having a stroll around the carefully landscaped 7-hectare Thames Barrier Park. Designed as the perfect frame through which to view the imposing structure of the movable dam, it makes a lovely spot for a waterfront promenade. It’s incredible to hear that the state-of-the-art park was created on a contaminated site that once housed petrochemical and acid works! One of the most eye-catching features of the park is the so-called 'Green Dock'. This is a 130-foot-long sunken garden running through the site as a reminder of its dockland past.
Protect your camper in the capital with campervan insurance
While there’s so much to consider when plotting a London escape in your camper, never forget to arrange campervan insurance first. Arranging the right coverage for you and your trusty van means you can get on with your metropolitan adventure safe in the knowledge you're well protected from any mishaps.
Speak to the experienced team at Motorhome Protect for a range of quotes on specialist campervan insurance with the following benefits:
- Cover for up to 365 days a year which can include foreign use
- Unlimited EU cover
- Up to £3,500 of cover for your camping personal effects
- Up to six months cover to complete a self-build conversion
- Quotes available for customers with claims and convictions
Get a quick quote for insurance for a campervan today.
Policy benefits and features offered may very between insurance schemes or cover selected and are subject to underwriting criteria. Information contained within this article is accurate at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.