Thanks to Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, The National Gallery and the Houses of Parliament, there’s no doubt that London is home to some of the finest sites in the world. But what do you do once you’ve ticked these attractions off your to-see list? To help you swerve the swarms of tourists and discover some lesser-known corners of London, I’ve listed four of the finest under-the-radar things to do in the city, from a retro cinema to a green inner-city paradise.
Been to? The Tate Modern
Then check out: The Wallace Collection
With permanent works by the likes of Mark Rothko, and with the capacity to host exhibitions such as ‘Wolfgang Tillman’s: 2017’, it’s easy to understand why the Tate Modern has attracted over 6.4 million visitors in the past year. And sure, seeing one of the UK’s finest art houses is a must-do in London, but every once in a while you need a respite from the bustling crowds. To that end, make sure to check out the Wallace Collection, one of the country’s finest smaller galleries. Once the home of the Marquesses of Hertford, this Italianate mansion gives visitors the chance to dive into the history of aristocratic Europe. On offer in the 25 galleries are 17th and 18th century porcelain, paintings and furniture, while the museum’s Great Gallery (which features works such as “The Laughing Cavalier” by Frans Hals) has frequently been dubbed as the greatest picture gallery on the continent.
Been to? The Odeon at Leicester Square
Then check out: Screen on the Green
If you want to experience the golden age of cinema, then look no further than Islington’s Screen on the Green. Opened in 1913, this single-screen cinema is kitted out with barrel-vaulted ceilings, premier seats (sofas with footrests) and a bar at the back. But more importantly for those that wish to take a break from blockbuster films and Oscar-bait flicks, a fine selection of alternative films is always on offer here. Just getting a glimpse of the cinema’s iconic red and green neon façade is worth the trip alone.
Been to? The Sky Garden
Then check out: The Barbican Conservatory
London is a hectic and vibrant metropolis, so if you’re seeking some escapism from the capital’s fast-pace of life, you’ll be sure to find it at the Barbican Conservatory. Despite its huge stature, this vast indoor oasis may well be one of the city’s best-kept secrets. Inside are over 2000 species of tropical plants (both gargantuan and petit) as well as various types of birds and exotic fish, all of which make for a stark contrast to the Brutalist architecture of the surrounding Barbican Centre. For an afternoon of tranquillity, zen and photo-taking, this is the place to be.
Been to? The Natural History Museum
Then check out: Grant Museum of Zoology
Once you step inside the Grant Museum of Zoology (the only remaining zoological museum in London), it’ll feel as though you’ve entered a classroom from the Harry Potter series. On one side of the room you’ll find a colossal elephant skull, on the other you’ll encounter an anaconda twisted around a branch, while the room’s undulating avenues of windows – which exhibit an assortment of skeletons, taxidermy and creatures that have been preserved in fluid – will force your eyes to dart from object to object at a rapid pace. Due to this eclectic mix of biological goods, visiting the Grant Museum is a unique and overwhelming experience that any student in London must do.
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