Back in 2013, I moved from New York to London. Since then, I’ve spent so much time exploring the nooks and crannies of this city, beyond the typical attractions most travel guides talk about. So much, that it became my job (as explained in this video), and I’m now considered a London expert.
I love sharing my favourite local gems with my followers, so that you can experience the side of the city that you’ll never see if you stick with the most touristy attractions and characterless areas.
So in this article, I’m telling you the local, hidden gem spots that I love and I think you’d love too if you’re visiting for three or more days in London.
I won’t lie, it was really hard to narrow this list down to just ten… but luckily all of these gems, plus tons more, are part of the 3-Day London Itinerary, so you can easily hit them all in just three days.
If you prefer to watch instead of read, you can see each spot mentioned in this article in the below Youtube video. Otherwise, keep scrolling to read.
1. Leake Street Tunnel
Leake Street runs under Waterloo station and used to be where the Eurostar taxi rank was, back when Eurostar trains left from Waterloo. When the service moved to St. Pancras station in Kings Cross, the tunnel was left disused.
Then in 2008, world-famous street artist Banksy proposed to revitalise the tunnel with a street art festival. Since then, it’s been an authorised area for street art, and is constantly changing.
The tunnel is managed by The Vaults, a group that promotes art, culture and revitalisation in the area. This is done via the tunnel project as well as theatre shows, live music and events, all held within the tunnel and railway arches. Just check their website to see what’s on when you’re in town.
Mr. Lyan, world-famous mixologist, together with his team has developed a menu of cocktails designed around seven signature ingredients, like vegan honey, infinite banana and onyx. If you like unique, special cocktails made by some of the best bartenders in the city, Lyaness is a must-visit.
They also do a boozy “fancy tea” that’s centered around those special house ingredients, and they also have small plates to eat while enjoying your drink and looking out onto the River Thames with a view of St. Paul’s Cathedral.
When you visit Lyaness, make a reservation if you can– even just calling ahead a couple of hours before could help. However you should be fine to walk in during the week before dinner time.
For other unique and local-gem bars to drink at, watch this video…
3. Flea at Vinegar Yard
On Saturdays and Sundays, Vinegar Yard hosts Flea, a pop-up flea market, where you can find almost anything your vintage-loving heart desires. Londoners set up shop here to sell homemade jewelry, vintage brooches, recycled glass jars, handmade jackets made with leftover fabrics, and much more.
During the week, Flea is still at Vinegar Yard with a reduced market, so you can pop by and do a little shopping even if you can’t make it on a weekend.
For anyone not into shopping, still stop by for something to eat or drink at Vinegar Yard. It’s a very cool spot for food and a tipple, made complete with crazy art installations from artist Joe Rush of Mutoid Waste fame. A favourite vendor of mine is the Prosecco truck that offers bubbles with (optional) CBD drops.
There are both outdoor and indoor areas at Vinegar Yard, so you can visit all year round. The vibe is the best around meal times and on the weekends, but it also gets very busy on lovely summer evenings as Londoners love to eat and drink here once work lets out.
4. Royal Opera House Piazza Terrace Bar
If you find yourself in Covent Garden before the shops open– or heck, even if they are open– pop into the Royal Opera House. It’s free to walk around, and the building itself is absolutely stunning. You’ll see models of how the Opera House has looked over the centuries, costumes on display from historic performances over the years like Swan Lake, and more.
Here’s something most Londoners don’t even know– if you head to the top floor, there’s a stunning restaurant, cafe, and a terrace that looks out over Covent Garden Piazza. The terrace is completely free to use, you don’t have to buy anything, but of course, purchases made at the cafe bar support the arts and the maintenance of the building.
There are a few tours that the Opera House offers throughout the day. You can sometimes get a last-minute spot on the day, but try to XXbook ahead onlineXX if you can, especially during the busy summer months.
5. Handel and Hendrix Museum
It’s a somewhat funny coincidence that two incredibly famous musicians lived in the same building right here in London, separated only by a couple hundred years. The Handel and Hendrix Museum shows you what their homes were like (they’re replicas of course, but with some originals intact), while also giving you a history lesson on the artists and their lives in Londontown.
Check out more museums you should visit in London but haven’t heard of…
6. Atika London
Atika London, located in Shoreditch, is Europe’s largest vintage shop, so if you want a one-stop shop for all things vintage, this is a great place to go. There are two floors of clothing and accessories for both men and women. Despite being so large, the selection is super neat and organised, making your shopping experience less overwhelming than other vintage shops in London.
For more tips for where to go vintage shopping in the area, watch this video…
7. Broadway Market
Broadway Market is the name of this road in east London’s London Fields area. But on Saturdays, an actual market does pop up here too, with a huge and varied range of vendors selling fruit and veg, specialty meats, vintage clothing, handmade accessories, chocolate, vegan cheese, and a lot more.
Even if you end up in London Fields NOT on a Saturday, Broadway Market is a lovely little street lined with cafes, restaurants, book shops, boutique clothing stores, and more. The street and its vendors are moving towards being completely zero-waste as quickly as possible.
For more local markets to visit, watch this video…
8. Regent’s Canal
The lifeline of this area in East London, from Hackney to Haggerston, is Regent’s Canal. If you find yourself with decent weather, I’d recommend heading south on Broadway Market (mentioned above) until you hit the canal, and then head down the steps to the waterside and make a right (west), towards Haggerston.
You’ll see lots of Londoners cycling, running, and walking along the canal, admiring the houseboats and just enjoying the journey. It’s really lovely!
You can also go the opposite direction (east) and hit Victoria Park, which has been voted the best park in London for many years. Watch our guide for Victoria Park below…
9. The Bike Shed
The Bike Shed is a motorcycle shop, restaurant, cafe, and barbershop all rolled into one venue under four Victorian railway arches. The food at the restaurant is really good (try the vegan burger!) and it’s a pretty unique experience seeing bikers ride up to the shop for repairs while you’re chowing down and having a pint.
10. Fashion and Textile Museum
Founded in 2003 by fashion designer Zandra Rhodes, anyone even just slightly interested in fashion or art will enjoy a visit to the Fashion and Textile Museum. There are no permanent displays, but rather, the entire museum is made up of one temporary exhibition at a time that changes every few months, so no matter how often you go to London, you can also go back and see a completely new museum.
All of my top spots mentioned in this article are in my 3-Day London Itinerary, so if you have it, you’ll hit all of these spots in a really cohesive itinerary, plus many more, without having to do tons of research and planning. A local has done it for you.
For more tips for what to do when in London, read these articles…
- How To Do London While You Can’t Visit London
- 5 Reasons Not To Use A Free London Itinerary
- Top Things To Do With Three Days In London
Pin this to your London board…