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Your Favorite London Sites Beyond The Top 5

Hi Everyone-
We're starting to plan our third trip to London, for this winter. We absolutely love the city, and visited once as part of the Rick Steve's Best of England and then again for a week on our own. So we've done the vast majority of the "three triangle attractions," plus most of the next tier. On this trip, we're going to get to catch some more amazing West End shows, and we're leaving time for some more London Walks, which we've loved, but we're very much looking for recommendations on your favorite London sites that don't make it onto the list for someone's first go-around. We love great art and great history. We've ben to Westminster Abbey but are seriously considering a second visit to fill in the blanks. Here's a list of what we've already done in London; what would you insist that we simply must see this time?
Best,
Peggy

Been There:
Westminster Abbey
Big Ben
Tate Modern
National Gallery
St. Paul's
British Museum
Tower of London
Sir John Soane's
Victoria & Albert
Windsor
British Library
Courtauld Gallery

Posted by
48 posts

Highgate Cemetery (http://highgatecemetery.org).

Final resting place for Karl Marx, Christina Rosetti, George Elliot and Douglas Adams among others.
Wonderful statuary and a beautiful and peaceful place.

Frank

Posted by
2790 posts

I've been to the British Museum 5 times and only now feel that I've seen it somewhat adequately! It has more important stuff than my brain could absorb on a single visit, or two, or three! I like the Museum of London near St. Paul's-have been there twice. The Wallace Collection is on my bucket list for the future and maybe the Tate Britain. Everyone raves about the Churchill War Rooms but they didn't do much for me. The Imperial War Museum would have interested me more if I hadn't felt it was better on my first visit, before the redo. If you have any interest in science, the Natural History Museum is really good.

Posted by
12210 posts

We spent a week in London in September 2015 and three weeks there this past May. We love London.

Things not on your "have seen" list that we really like are the Science Museum (we went three times) and the HMS Belfast. Tours of the National Theatre are really great too ---need to book in advance on their website. The City of London museum is also worth a visit.

Posted by
324 posts

The Geffrye Museum. You can also visit the almshouses one day a week.

Posted by
7124 posts

Tate Britain is wonderful for the Turners.
I don't see Hampton Court, Kew Gardens or Greenwich on your list.

Posted by
7921 posts

As djp_syd mentioned... Hampton Court Palace.

Posted by
3318 posts

Hatfield House - a bit out of London near St. Albans but not further than getting to Hampton Court.
Walk around Shoreditch and check out the amazing graffiti art.

Posted by
2353 posts

Spend an afternoon wandering Harrods - pick up a goody or two!

Posted by
2880 posts

I'm not sure I'd recommend such outdoor areas like Hampton Court Palace and Kew Gardens for a first time winter visit. I really enjoy these two locations when something more than the hedges are green.

Posted by
9780 posts

We love it too: 3 trips of a week each between Dec 2015 and April this year!

Greenwich, certainly, on a sunny day even if cold.

Attend an event at the Royal Albert Hall (we attended a Christmas concert - lovely)

Cabinet War Rooms - went twice in two trips as there is so much to see

Imperial War Museum

Tower Bridge -- the glass walk is quite fun

Posted by
206 posts

You've been to the National Gallery, but have you been to the National Portrait Gallery next door? In particular, the Tudor gallery has some very famous paintings!

My other favourite in the area is the Banqueting House. It's just down Whitehall from Trafalgar Square and contains the magnificent Reubens ceiling (the only one in its original site anywhere in the world.) They have beanbags to sit and enjoy the view. The BH is the last remaining building of the lost Palace of Whitehall, and is the site of the execution of King Charles 1.

If you have any interest in medical history, I also recommend the Old Operating Theatre. It really makes you appreciate how far we've advanced!

The Dennis Severs house is also good fun. Each floor is set up as a different time period and as the fictional family's fortunes change you can see their standards of living change too.

Posted by
4755 posts

Columbia Road flower market - sundays only
Wallace Collection
Greenwich Observatory
Lunch or afternoon tea at RIBA's art deco HQ on Portland Place
St Dunstan's in the East church ruins and garden in the city (church destroyed by a bomb in WW2)
Wilton's Music Hall
London Transport Museum in Covent Garden
The Old Operating Theatre
Kensington Roof Gardens (flamingoes on a roof top? Free entry)

Posted by
561 posts

We enjoyed the Museum of London. My husband spent most of the time in the Roman section, and I enjoyed going through to more modern times.

Posted by
3 posts

My husband & I have only been to London once (this past June for 8 days), and your message & all of the replies is making me itch to book another flight right now! :)

So although you've been to all the places my hubs & I visited, I wanted to say that if you're interested in walking tours, look for a site called Fun London Tours. We did the Changing of the Guard tour with a fellow named Phill, who was fabulous, and another tour (The Unmissable London) a few days later with a young lady named Augusta, who was wonderful as well. Really, really, smart & engaging people who enjoyed showing us the sites & answering all questions. We actually did 2 tours in the same day with Phill (coincidentally), as we did the Changing of the Guard in the morning and booked another for the afternoon (The Essential London), and the guide turned out to be Phill. It also happened that we were the only people who turned up for the afternoon tour, so it was essentially a private walking tour and we had him all to ourselves. Same for Sunday afternoon with Augusta.

I can't recommend Fun London Tours enough, or Phill & Augusta in particular. We loved them both!

Posted by
8248 posts

I vote for another visit to Westminster Abbey and to take one of the verger tours if you can.

I also enjoy the Churchill War Rooms. I did the Imperial War Museum last year and did not like it as much as the War Rooms...there is just something about being where Churchill stayed and made decisions that is powerful to me, but as you can see from differing opinions YMMV!

Posted by
8 posts

I liked the Cartoon Museum, cartoonmuseum.org near the British Museum and the Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising www.museumofbrands.com near Portobello Road. Both small, but very interesting. The Brand museum was especially fun as i lived in England in the 70's and they had products I recognized. Really shows how household were during the years.

Posted by
911 posts

The Globe Theatre
St. Martin in the Fields
Southwark Cathedral
Churchill War Rooms

Posted by
5634 posts

Leadenhall Market, The Treasure Room at the British Library, Wilton's Music Hall, Brick Lane, a Tour of Parliament, Liberty Department store (I'm not a shopper, simply love the unique interior), checking out what's happening at Alexandria Palace, St Brides for evensong and a train trip to Hampton Court is so worth it. Don't be discouraged by Winter weather unless it's pouring rain. I visited Hampton Court last Fall and had the palace and gardens virtually to myself. Bliss. Was there for over four hours.

Depending on what type of art you enjoy the Crypt Gallery may or may not be worth a visit. http://cryptgallery.org

Lastly, nothing pleases me more on my London excursions than walking in the Hampstead Heath and having a pint or a meal after.

Enjoy your next London Adventure!

Posted by
11450 posts

Imperial War Museum, been twice and I would go again.

Greenwich on a nice day.

Portrait Gallery, I really enjoyed it.

Hampton Court

Posted by
169 posts

I would like to add St Albans Cathedral and market. We were flying in and out of Luton and decided to check it out and were surprised at the history and story there. If you have done all the other London sites then this is an alternative for a few hours.
.

Posted by
823 posts

The Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew are conspicuously missing from you list. If you are traveling during any part of a "growing season", I would whole-heartedly recommend. BTW - entrance also included another palace.

Kensington Palace was interesting and worth a visit.

Although it's always missed the cut on my trips, I always intend to get to the RAF museum in London.

Have fun. I could spend MONTHS in London...

Posted by
8248 posts

I meant to suggest the church of St Clement Danes on the Strand. It is the RAF church and interesting to see if you are in the area.

Also, I enjoyed a visit to the Guards Museum at the Wellington Barracks along Birdcage Walk. There is a charge to enter. The docents there are ex-guardsmen and the day I was there were quite entertaining.

Posted by
12210 posts

Oh, yes---I forgot about the ( Horse) Guards Museum. Well worth a visit, even if you are not particularly interested in the horses ( but we are). The entry charge is very small. They have actual uniforms you can don for a photo---complete with fancy hat. Lots of history there as well.

Posted by
351 posts

Seconding both Museum of London and the Transport Museum.

Both are top-notch interesting museums (assuming you're interested in the subject matter). They're very well done, informative and enjoyable.

Posted by
400 posts

I enjoyed wandering around Charing Cross Road and all the used bookshops.

Posted by
49 posts

Hi Peggy, you've got some wonderful suggestions here. I would add if you're in London in winter, Kew Gardens puts on a light show (pre-booking recommended, you'll get a timed ticket). It was one of the most amazing experiences and puts you in the holiday spirit. Also seconding performance at Albert Hall. If you're really into music, Wigmore Hall will also have some good stuff. Like Claudia, I also love Liberty at Christmas and I'm not a shopper either. Go see the window displays on Oxford Street at night too. As an American, it is also fun to jaunt out to the Mayflower pub in Rotherhithe which is supposedly made out of the Mayflower ship when it returned to England. Don't miss Hampton Court and enjoy your time!

Posted by
1583 posts

I think it's worth checking the museums that you've already visited to see if there are special exhibits. We saw the terra cotta warriors at the British Museum one year and an exhibit on Princess Grace at the V & A. We'd already seen the regular collections, but it was worth another visit.

This last trip, I walked Little Venice for the first time. What a special area.

Posted by
63 posts

We just got back from our 4th family trip to London two days ago!

So, a picnic in the park is always on our list and St. James or Green Park are our favourites. Borough market in Southwark was excellent and we had some delicious food there. We downloaded Rick's walking tour for the City of London and did that- very good. The Museum of London and Churchill's War Rooms were superb. The Imperial War Museum was quite good although I think I liked it better before the renovation.

We did Bletchley Park and the Museum of Computing (on the grounds of Bletchely) as a day trip. Amazing. Where the codes for the Lorenz and the Enigma were broken. If you are in any way of the geek-ish persuasion it is well worth the trip. Winter hours are quite different so make sure to look them up. The Museum of Computing was my son's favourite. We got to see the Colossus working and he was given a vaccum tube from 1945. If either of those things mean anything at all to you you should go!

Good luck and have fun planning!

Posted by
100 posts

Some of these have been suggested, but worth repeating: Royal Mews (haven't seen anyone mention, been there twice), Museum of London, Churchill War Rooms, Imperial War Museum (I saw it before the renovation a few years ago; reviews seem worse now..??).

If nice enough, day trip to Greenwich via boat, gondola ride to Camden Market, day trip to Hampton Court, day trip to Windsor/Castle.

Enjoy!

Posted by
4546 posts

Spencer House on Green Park is only open on Sundays by guided tour and it is worth a visit.

Yesterday, I went to two excellent special exhibits at the V&A. I loved "So you say you want a revolution? Records and rebels 1966 - 1970". You can rock out to the Stones, Beatles, The Who, etc. in an exhibit which shows the intersection of the music of the time with fashion, politics, etc. It is there through February. I also went to "Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear", which was a small exhibit on undergarments through the ages.

Posted by
327 posts

A few "secondary" ideas:
- Whether or not you attend an event at Royal Albert Hall, they offer some fascinating guided tours behind the scenes - check their website

- Lunch or afternoon tea at Kensington Palace "The Orangery" (gift shop is interesting too)
- Even if you're not a shopper, historic Liberty Department Store and Selfridges department store "museum" on one of the upper floors (if you're a fan of the PBS TV show)
- One New Change for the roof-top view of St. Paul's
- London Silver Vaults
- London Transport Museum at Covent Garden
- Savoy Hotel or other historic hotels - just to pop in when you're walking

Posted by
88 posts

If you haven't been to Hampton Court Palace yet you should check it out. Allot at least half a day. You get your money's worth. There are two palaces to tour, a hedge maze and formal and informal gardens to tour. It would be best in Spring or Summer but I think it would still be nice in Winter.

Posted by
84 posts

Kenwood House on Hampstead Heath has a good art collection and fits in nicely with a walk on the Heath. It was free, had lots of friendly guides, a nice coffee/lunch shop, and, best of all for London, was not crowded.
I agree with Fuller Brewery. After the tour you could stroll along the Thames or visit Chiswick House to work off the beer you have sampled. One of the best brewery tours I have been on in the oldest brewery in London.

Posted by
11450 posts

dgnagle.. we loved loved loved the Imperial War museum.. saw it just after it was renovated.. loved it so much we dragged our kids ( aged 19-26) back there the next year.. I cant imagine someone even slightly interested in history not enjoying parts of it at least.. but then some folks rush through museums like they are being punished.. I loved reading all the exhibit cards in the "How we lived in WWII " section and the "Holocaust" section( watch the little films.. I learned so much. Looking at Ration cards,, seeing a bomb shelter etc.

However I admit seeing the planes and tanks etc bored me.. so I did push through them quickly.. to get to the good stuff, lol

Posted by
11450 posts

dgnagle.. we loved loved loved the Imperial War museum.. saw it just after it was renovated.. loved it so much we dragged our kids ( aged 19-26) back there the next year.. I cant imagine someone even slightly interested in history not enjoying parts of it at least.. but then some folks rush through museums like they are being punished.. I loved reading all the exhibit cards in the "How we lived in WWII " section and the "Holocaust" section( watch the little films.. I learned so much. Looking at Ration cards,, seeing a bomb shelter etc.

However I admit seeing the planes and tanks etc bored me.. so I did push through them quickly.. to get to the good stuff, lol

Posted by
646 posts

I second David's recommendation to see the Turners at the Tate British. Swing by the PreRaphealites while you are there.

It's a short stop, but The Banqueting House is a new must. It's really just one spectacular ceiling, but beanbag chairs are provided for viewing it in comfort.

If you have any interest in WWII at all, see The Churchill War Rooms. It's one one the very best history museums I've ever been to. If you are interested in either World War, visit The British War Museum.

What about The London Eye?

Hampstead Court is worth the trip if you are at all interested in the Tutors. Read up on Henry the VIII before you go.

Posted by
3533 posts

Sir John Soane's mansion: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sir_John_Soane%27s_Museum
The architect designed London landmarks. His own house became a teaching tool for his students, jammed with European paintings and sculpture reproductions. The Victorians decidedly did not believe that "less is more" in their building and decoration. Ask to see the intriguing collection of work by William Hogarth, angry chronicler of Gin Lane.

The monarchs of England possessed art, whether they cared for it or not. https://www.royalcollection.org.uk/visit/the-queens-gallery-buckingham-palace shows a few kings with good taste and others who must have preferred hunting.

Posted by
134 posts

I was going to say Wallace Collection and Borough Market on Saturday, but take a train out to St Alban's (20 mins. by train from St Pancras) on Market Day (Wednesday & Saturday), very real and the cathedral is excellent then walk through the park to a Roman Ruin of a town complete with theatre and temples.
Also top of the Shard is a great view on a clear day. Also check out Original London Walks www.walks.com as they also do nice 2 hour walks and some days out at reasonable prices. They do a nightly pub walk (not a crawl) and a night morning in Hampstead walk.

Posted by
4666 posts

Don't go to the Borough Market on Saturday, it is unbearably crowded then and you won't even be able to see what's being sold properly.

Posted by
7 posts

See Southwark Cathedral and Borough Market on the same day, preferably not Saturday.
You can take a guided tour of the Albert Memorial, in the park across from the Royal Albert Hall. Find info online. It cost five pounds when I was there in 2009. So much more to it than you might think. Fun to get inside the barrier and see the details of the sculptures.
Temple CHurch and the Inns of COurt, see on the same day. DON'T MISS. Also, Prince Henry's Room is nearby. Lunch/dinner at nearby Cheshire Cheese, one of the oldest pubs.
Tour the City churches. Will take a full afternoon, at least. Include the Guildhall.
I try to visit London every five years and am now overdue! very jealous of you.