In a study conducted by Euromonitor, it revealed that London was the fourth most visited city in the world, boasting a whopping 16.8 million tourists in 2013. No explanation is necessary for London’s popularity as a travel destination, as attractions such as Big Ben, the London Eye, and the River Thames will consistently draw in tourists.
From the looks of it, the number of travelers per year will only grow from here on in. With two of Europe’s busiest airports located on the outskirts of London, with Heathrow being the busiest in the UK and the third in the world according to Parking4Less, London’s tourism industry has never been healthier. With London now being labeled the business capital of the world, it’s no wonder that the aforementioned airports are so busy each day – catering for millions of travelers each year that come to enjoy London and all it has to offer.
But when visitors tour London, they tend to focus on the main landmarks and miss out on activities that only the residents are familiar with. For an authentic London experience, you should explore the city like a local, visiting places that are tucked away and not necessarily in blogged about by the most mainstream of travel blogs.
A good place to start are the Chislehurst Caves. Though technically they aren’t caves since they’re man made, the 22-mile structure is an attraction that one would least expect in a city, or underneath one. In WWII, the caves were built as a bomb shelter. Decades later, musical legends such as the Rolling Stones and David Bowie took advantage of the acoustics and used Chislehurst Caves as a concert venue.
The Pet Cemetery of Hyde Park is concealed by the bushes in Victoria Gate Lodge’s garden, just off of Bayswater Road. During the Victorian era, wealthy pet owners buried their beloved animals in this cemetery when they passed away. The gates make it difficult for anyone passing by to have a closer look at the graves, but they’re not impossible to get to an marvel at.
Nestled between the alleys of Chinatown is a hidden bar with the most creative of mixologists that concoct exquisite cocktails for anyone that’s looking to wind down after a long day. The Experimental Cocktail Club is an old townhouse turned bar that is one of London’s prized hidden gems, until now at least. A popular place for after-work drinkers, you’ll find a great mix of people from all over the city that you can mingle with after a busy day of unearthing London’s hidden delights.
*This is a guest contribution.