Greetings Internet Stranger and welcome to some of the most unusual things to do on London. As an American, every time I travel to London, I feel myself growing classier by the second.
I can practically hear the eyes of every Brit reading this blog post roll. “We’re a real country!” they might murmur in their adorable accents. “We’re not a theme park for American tourists who want to imagine that they live in Downton Abbey. Pip pip toodle ooh and all that tommyrot. Also, not all Brits are classy. Haven’t you ever seen Footballers’ Wives?”
Want to cut right to the chase, Internet Stranger? The best activity in London is this Indian food tour with tons of five star reviews.
Or if you want to explore all tours in London, check this search engine right here to find the best deals!
I know all these remarks to be true. But that’s not going to stop me from creating this amazing day of unusual things to do on London teaching you to shop like the queen, eat chocolates made of roses, shop like Rihanna, and class it up in the National Gallery. And it shouldn’t stop you either!
unusual things to do on London
Where to Stay?
London’s a massive city, so there’s a gajillion choices available for hotels. I can recommend my favorite choice for the budget-conscious traveler. (London’s gobstoppingly expensive, so we might all be a little budget conscious when we visit here, unless we are the King.) I’ve stayed at and enjoyed the oddly named 72QT.
72QT is right on Hyde Park, on the other side of the park from Buckingham Palace, near Paddington Station. So you can go say hello to Paddington Bear’s statue in Paddington Station if you stay here. You can even leave him a jar of marmalade. Click here if that sounds appealing to you and you like saving money.
If you’d rather explore other hotel options in London, you can find about a billion and three excellent deals for every budget by clicking here. This search engine will help you find the perfect place to stay during your day of the most unusual things to do on London. With plenty of options to choose from, I’m sure you’ll find something for your schedule and budget.
Most unusual things to do on London
Morning: Dessert Themed Self Guided Walking Tour
Nothing says England like a cup of tea, unless it’s a cup of tea that’s been approved by the Queen herself. That’s why I was eager to start this day of the most unusual things to do on London with an amazing sweets tour. The British have (unfairly!) taken many knocks for their cuisine over the course of history, but one thing they excel at is sweets.
This walking tour will take us all over some of the poshest areas in London, show us the bookstore with the Queen’s seal of approval (Hatchards, pictured above), and definitely provide the Best of British when it comes to the sugary stuff.
I can’t let you taste the goods through your computer, but I can give you…
approximately top 5: Most unusual things to do on London (Sweets Edition)
Our first stop is at Laduree, which is actually a French pastry company and technically not one of the most unusual things to do on London. (They have stores all over the world now, including in my hometown of New York.)
However, we’re stopping here because it’s on the way to our other destinations. As you can see, all the pastries are stunners, but Laduree is most famous for their macarons. Not to be confused with the giant coconut macaroons, macarons are a light sandwich cookie made from meringue.
Thanks in part to Laduree, these treats have become disturbingly trendy, and you can find macarons in just about any flavor from raspberry to princess-rainbow-unicorn.
I suggest just getting the most popular flavor, which is salted caramel. You’ll definitely feel like a classy lady as you savor its complex and sophisticated flavor.
Some of my gentlemen readers may be saying that they don’t want to feel like a classy lady. I say, get in touch with your Lady Mary from Downton Abbey! Live a little. Sometimes I want to feel like Cary Grant or Humphrey Bogart, after all.
If you’re worried Laduree isn’t British enough, don’t worry! There’s a real working London red phone booth nearby and you can stop and have your picture taken inside. Visiting this phone booth is definitely one of the most unusual things to do on London. I’ve been dreaming of this since I was a kid and used to watch the British cartoon show Danger Mouse.
On this show, the hero’s secret hideout is underneath a red phone booth. (If you’ve never seen Danger Mouse, I feel very sorry for you. Please stop reading this blog and watch it immediately.)
2) Fortnum and Mason
Perhaps you’ve been staying up at night worrying that your chocolate hasn’t been approved by the King of England. Well, worry no more, Internet Stranger! I’m going to kick up this day of the most unusual things to do on London a notch and take you to the King’s personal grocer, Fortnum and Mason.
The store was actually started by a footman in the court of Queen Anne who made enough money to start his own store by stealing from the castle. That is hardcore! Hats off to you, Queen Anne’s Shady Footman! (Queen Anne’s Shady Footman would be a great band name.)
Head to the chocolate shop in the back to get your treat on. You can select as many chocolates as you like, but I stuck to three. I picked a gin and lime truffle because that sounds really English, a passionfruit ganache because that doesn’t sound English at all, and the late Queen’s favorite, which is a rose cream.
I loved them all, but be warned that the rose cream tastes very, very classy, which means a little like soap if you don’t like the taste of rose.
As I was taking this picture of my chocolate, the chocolate lady warned me that putting my hand so close to the chocolate was dangerous because I might melt it. At first this made me feel gauche. But then I said that my hands were simply too cold to melt chocolate, which made me feel like Lady Mary again.
I like to think Lady Mary and I have a lot in common because we both have dark hair, pale skin, and enjoy making cutting remarks.
3) Burlington Arcade
The classy shopping continues apace! Our next stop on our tour of the most unusual things to do on London is at the Burlington Arcade, which is the oldest covered shopping arcade in the world. Leave it to a country as wet as England to invent this.
It was so posh in this arcade, prams used to be forbidden. I think prams should still be forbidden because nothing is less classy than a baby. Stop throwing your food on the floor, babies! Lady Mary is never going to invite you to her Christmas party if you keep that up.
Even though prams are now allowed, Burlington Arcade remains a favorite for the rich and famous. Rihanna has even been seen there buying perfume there. I’m sure Rihanna smells excellent all the time, but I would have been more excited to find out where she buys her umbrella-ella-ella.
4) Crumbs and Doilies
Ever since The Great British Bake Off came into our lives, the world has fallen in love with British pastries. So let’s stop at a bakery called Crumbs and Doilies. Apparently this store had been started by a couple but that they had gone through a cupcake divorce. (I presume cupcake divorces are legal in the UK.)
I got two mini cupcakes: a salted caramel pretzel and a key lime. I was especially impressed with the moist, fresh filling in each of these cupcakes. Usually I’m not a cupcake person because the cake is often limp and sad, but these were so soft and flavorful. Maybe my baking would improve if I got a cupcake divorce too!
In this part of London you can find amazing store after amazing store. Shopping here is definitely one of the most unusual things to do on London. There was the chocolate shop that had been overrun by giant dogs…
Chocolate is bad for you, little doggies! Leave before you get sick!
And here we have Liberty of London, which is also one of the most unusual things to do on London. This Shakespearean-esque beauty is made from repurposed parts of an old pirate ship. I recommend dressing like a pirate before going inside and demanding that the store give you your ship back. That will get you excellent service.
Liberty of London is famous for its floral print scarves, but I am not a French girl and I have never figured out how to tie a scarf without strangling myself to death. So I suggest getting something like a makeup bag in their floral print instead. (You don’t have to buy anything, obvs.)
6) Secret Tea
Of course, it’s not an English dessert tour or a London Trip Planner without tea and scones. And fortunately Liberty of London has a great tea shop hidden inside!
The tea was English Breakfast, naturally, and the scone was served with rich clotted cream and strawberry jam. Truly tea and scones is one of civilization’s great inventions. I forgive England for One Direction in appreciation for giving the world clotted cream and jam!
What to Do in London for a Day
Afternoon: National Portrait Gallery
No guide to what to do in London for a day is complete without a trip to a free museum! London is crawling with free museums! And the National Portrait Gallery is a museum entirely dedicated to portraits of famous British men and women. Obviously, this was a nationalist project of the Victorian era. You can practically hear “Rule Brittania” play as you step through the doors.
Note: The National Portrait Gallery is temporarily closed for renovations, so you might want to visit the nearby National Gallery instead until it reopens. But when the National Portrait Gallery reopens, do not hesitate to visit!
Anyway, every Brit who’s any Brit, from Richard II to Kate Middleton, has a painted doppleganger in this collection. British History Nerds will plotz when they see all the beloved and familiar faces. But you know I wouldn’t leave you hanging without suggesting…
Approximately Top 5: National Portrait Gallery
1) Richard III By Anon
King Richard III is one of the most controversial British monarchs ever. Some people think that he murdered his nephews, the Princes in the Tower, in order to solidify his power, and some people think he was framed…DUN DUN DUN!
Similarly, when some people look at this portrait, they see evil, as in the very fruits of the devil. Others see a poor, misunderstood monarch. Which do you think is right?
I personally think he’s evil because where I come from, only mobsters have pinkie rings that fancy. However, I kept whispering in his ear, asking him to tell me if he murdered the princes in the tower, and he never answered. We’ll have to head to the Tower of London another day to learn more!
2) Henry IV by Anon
This Anon guy sure gets around, doesn’t he? You’d think he’d willing to tell us his last name by now. Before Richard III was going around deposing and maybe murdering his nephews, Henry IV was in the king-overthrowing business.
He took over the throne of England from the World’s First Emo King, Richard II, and then Shakespeare wrote a play about the whole thing. Henry IV’s son was the famous Henry V of the St. Crispian’s Day Speech.
I don’t want Henry IV to throw me in the tower or anything, but that red hat he’s wearing is a Glamour Don’t.
3) Billy Shakes by (Maybe) John Taylor
This is probably the most famous portrait in the National Portrait Gallery because it is the only portrait of William Shakespeare that might have actually been painted from life. As you can see, he was a dude who wasn’t afraid to rock a bald patch and an earring.
The NPG says that it was probably painted by a guy named John Taylor, but I don’t really see how that’s possible because I’m pretty sure John Taylor is the bass guitarist from Duran Duran.
4) The Bronte Sisters By Their Crazy Brother Branwell
This is a portrait of all three Bronte sisters/writers: Charlotte, who wrote Jane Eyre, Emily, who wrote Wuthering Heights, and Anne, who wrote The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, which is actually really good, even though it’s not as famous as her sisters’ books. (But avoid people who tell you that Anne is the best just because she’s the least famous. These people are pretentious.)
Branwell Bronte was the only Bronte Brother and the only one of the siblings who didn’t end up being a famous writer. He apparently originally painted himself into this portrait and then painted over himself, probably in a sad drunken stupor. Life is very hard when you have the dramatic temperament of a great writer but you don’t actually write anything great.
5) Henry VIII and Henry VII By Hans Holbein the Younger
If you know only one name in Tudor portraiture, let it be Hans Holbein. If you know only two names in Tudor portraiture…I can’t even think of who the second would be.
Because so many of Holbein’s works have been lost to the ages, many of his portraits that we see today of his today are actually copies because the originals were lost in a fire or a plague or whatnot. This is one of the few that was actually created by HH himself.
24 Hour Tip
Don’t forget to take a moment to enjoy the view of Trafalgar Square after you leave the National Portrait Gallery. Pikachu is waiting there for you. He wants to tell you what to do in London for a day as well.
Most unusual things to do on London
Evening: Brick Lane Indian Food Tour
It’s time on our day of the most unusual things to do on London to leave the National Gallery and head for dinner! Long gone are the days when the only food you could get in London was a blood sausage with a side of mushy peas and wains!
That’s why I am excited to bring you on this Indian Food Tour of Brick Lane. Our local guide, Shay, brought us on a delicious tour of curry, naan, and other Indian treats in this fascinating and historic neighborhood.
Check rates and availability by clicking here.
Whether or not you love spice, you’ll be sure to love…
approximately top 5: Brick Lane
Our first stop was at a snack shop called Arzu. Shay said it used to only sell sweets, but they expanded into savory dishes recently. You can see their impressive collection of samosas above.
We had, as our appetizer, these fried balls called choori. They reminded me of hush puppies a little bit, as they are also made with fried dough. I was already excited because I had never seen or heard of choori before, and I love going to Indian restaurants back home in New York. So I could tell that we were going to sample some exciting things on this food tour.
2) Brick Lane’s History
As you could probably tell, Brick Lane is now famous for being home to many Indian restaurants. Shay said that many of the families in Brick Lane actually come from Bangladesh. But the area has been home to many different immigrant communities over time. As an illustration, this building above has been turned from a church into a synagogue into a mosque.
Of course with tasty restaurants come hipsters and with hipsters come street art. This “Say No to Fox Hunting” piece is probably the most British piece of street art I have ever seen. It’s certainly not a message that people feel passionately about in New York City.
3) Eastern Eye Balti House
After the history lesson, we turned into Eastern Eye Balti House for a sampler of different curries. There was dal, lamb, and chicken with a side of naan. They were much spicier than the curries we usually get in New York City, which made me happy, as I want my food so spicy that you need to keep a bucket nearby to douse the smoke that will inevitably come out your ears.
Keep in mind that there were no vegetarians on our tour, so we weren’t presented with vegetarian options. But if you are veggie, they will definitely make accommodations for you.
As this was our first sit down stop, Shay took the opportunity to present us with the staple of Indian cuisine, the spice box. (I saw quite a few of these when I was in India.) You can see cumin, cardamom, turmeric, and a few others. I’m going to make you guess because I want to stretch your brain and definitely not because I didn’t remember to write down everything Shay said.
Before our last stop, we got to pick up some dessert at an Indian sweet shop. Shay suggested burfi, which is a kind of Indian milk fudge. It’s incredibly sweet, so you only need small pieces. The burfi comes in different flavors, hence the different colors, so we chose mango and pistachio.
The strength of the flavors is one thing I really enjoy about Indian food. When it’s spicy, you feel like the chili powder has smacked you in the face with flavor. When it’s sweet, it’s so sweet your dentist will shake his head in frustration if he sees you eating it.
One of the ladies on the tour insisted on trying some jalebi, which is fried dough slathered with sugar syrup. She had seen the pastry in the movie Lion and wanted to try it for herself.
I don’t recommend getting the jalebi on this tour because you won’t be able to eat it for an hour and by that time it will be cold. If there’s one thing you shouldn’t eat cold, it’s fried dough with sugar syrup.
5) Lahore Kebab House
Our final stop was for a different sampler plate at Lahore Kebab House. Here we were able to try lamb kebab, paneer, which is a kind of white cheese, and cassava, which is a root vegetable. I had eaten cassava in the Caribbean before, but I didn’t know it was part of Indian cuisine.
Everyone in my tour group agreed that the best thing at this restaurant was the naan. That’s not surprising because they make it fresh in their tandoor ovens all day. We were able to go back and tour the kitchen while they were preparing our food and see them baking the naan.
If you look into my photo, you can see it glowing in the tandoor oven like two evil bread eye. They are hypnotizing me into eating more carbs, and I will obey their siren call! It was the perfect end to our day of the most unusual things to do on London
24 Hour Tip
Those are all the secrets I can share with you for now. You’ll have to go ahead and book the tour for yourself if you want to find out more!
Check rates and availability right here!
unusual things to do on London
Tools for Travel
- A cell charger so that you’ll be able to keep taking photos all during your day of the most unusual things to do on London
- The best international travel adapter because if you’re American like I am, or European like I am not, you’ll need one to be able to plug in electronics in the UK during your day of the most unusual things to do on London
- My favorite travel guide to London.
- The most reliable travel umbrella that is small enough to fit in my purse, but strong enough to stand up to powerful winds.
- These great TSA approved clear toiletries bags, so I can always keep spare toothpaste and travel sized toiletries in any carry-on.
- My book Get Lost, that I wrote myself with all my best travel tips. This book will show you how travel can take you on a journey of self-discovery.
Most unusual things to do on London
How to Get There
Now, I wish I knew where you lived, Internet Stranger, because I could send you a bushel of the finest teas. But sadly, I do not, and so I can’t tell you exactly how to get from your home to your day of the most unusual things to do on London
But I can tell you that you can use an airplane to get to London, and since it’s such a big city, there are many direct flights that will take you straight here in a jiffy. I recommend Expedia for the best way to find the cheapest flight to London.
Just click here to start looking for the best possible deals on your flight, so you can head out on your 24 hours of the most unusual things to do on London
That’s the Most unusual things to do on London
What do you think are the most unusual things to do on London? Are you ready to start booking your hotel in London right now? Did I ever use the word wain correctly? And is it possible to have a more British political issue than fox hunting? Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know!
Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that while each article is about how to spend 24 hours in a place, that doesn’t mean you should ONLY see 24 hours of the most unique things to do in London.
If you want to add a day of the most unusual things to do on London that includes the Museum of London, try this one. If you want another 24 hours of the most unusual things to do on London, it’s all yours. And if you have seen all the most unusual things to do on London and want to add on other destinations in the United Kingdom, I’ve got you covered too, right here.
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