Most of us have ticked off must see sights like Big Ben and the British Museum. But there are lesser-known gems that you might have missed during your previous trips to London. In this guide, we’ll highlight six of the best attractions so that during your next stay in the capital, you’ll be tempted to pay them a visit. Many are just a few tube stops away.
Tickets: Adult ticket £6, Senior ticket £4 and Child ticket £4.
Why not spend a morning or afternoon when the weather isn’t great exploring the Chislehurst Caves in south east London? The Chislehurst caves are manmade, covering 22 miles and were dug out in the mid 13th – 19th century for mining flint and lime. They have been used as an air raid shelter, ammunitions store and jazz club.
There are guided tours every hour on Wednesdays – Sundays, from 10am – 4pm. You don’t need to book, just turn up. During the school holidays the tours run every day. Each family is given an oil lamp to help them see as they explore the labyrinth, so there’s no need for torches.
The caves floors are uneven, so this isn’t an attraction for wheelchair users or those pushing prams. Children must be accompanied by an adult who is 21+ and very young children might find the caves and tunnels scary.
Warner Bros. Studio Tour
Tickets: Adult ticket from £39 and Child ticket from £31.
It takes less than half an hour to leave London behind and arrive at Warner Bros. Studios in Leavesden, Hertfordshire. If you’re a fan of Harry Potter this is somewhere you simply must visit, just make sure you book well in advance or you’ll be left disappointed.
During the tour you’ll be able to walk down Diagon Alley, step into the Great Hall, see the costumes and props and learn about the special effects used in each of the Harry Potter films. You’ll also see how sets were created in the art department and find out how they designed and made the magical creatures.
ZSL Whipsnade Zoo
Tickets: Adult ticket £28, Senior ticket £25.20 and Child ticket £20.35. You can save 10% by booking online.
Your whole family will enjoy a visit to the UK’s biggest zoo which is set in 600 acres of beautiful countryside in Whipsnade, near Dunstable in Bedfordshire. There are lions, tigers, rhinos, cheetahs, hippos… the list could go on and on as there are over 2,500 animals. There are fantastic live demonstrations and talks, plus if you’ve always wanted to be a zookeeper, they offer a Zookeeper for a Day experience.
Lee Valley White Water Centre
Tickets: Activity tickets start at £6
Forty minutes from London by train is Lee Valley White Water Centre, the Olympic canoe shalom venue. If you’re an experienced rafter you can try the course for yourself with a group of friends. If you have no experience, you can have a go at kayaking on the lake or learn how to canoe. For families, there is a Family Rafting Charter (costing £150 per raft), Water Wipeout Splash (£15 per person), Canoeing (£6 per person – minimum age 8 years) and Paddle boarding (£6 per person). You can also take a scroll through River Lee Country Park and see the animals at the Lee Valley Park Farm (separate charges apply).
Go Ape! Trent Park
Tickets: Adult ticket £31, Child ticket from £18.
For adventure, head to Go Ape! Trent Park by getting the tube to Cockfosters. You’ll be able to see for miles as you complete the treetop rope course. There are twin courses at this site so even during holidays, you should still be able to get tickets. To participate, children need to be at least six years old and over 3ft 4in (1m) tall.
Tickets: (For Castle and Gardens) Adult ticket £17.25, Senior ticket £15, Child ticket £9.75. You can save 10% by booking online.
Take the train from London Bridge and it’ll only take forty minutes to reach Hever in Kent. The historic Hever Castle used to be the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s second wife. It was built in the 13th century and you’ll feel like you’re stepping back in time as you explore the castle and its stunning gardens. There’s a children’s playground, Water Maze and the Yew Maze which is a hundred years old, so you can easily spend a whole day here.
We hope you’ve enjoyed finding out about six hidden gems a stone’s throw from Central London. Which will you decide to visit first?