Things You Might Not Have Done In The City Of London

Laura Reynolds
By Laura Reynolds Last edited 20 months ago
Things You Might Not Have Done In The City Of London

The City of London has its fair share of tourist attractions — St Paul's Cathedral, Monument, Museum of London, Sky Garden, Barbican Centre to name five. If you've done all of these and want something different to do, read on.

The Square Mile in 2013, before the Walkie Talkie or Cheesegrater were complete. Photo: tonybill

Take a tour

The City of London Tour Guides offer insightful tours of the Square Mile, with plenty to choose from. We'd also recommend Dr Matthew Green's coffeehouse tours, which bring to life the City's forgotten Georgian hangouts, with actors and coffee samples. He also does medieval wine tours (which, when we went, involved lashings of booze and semi-nudity). The Museum of London often runs guided walks too — some in the City, others further afield.

Visit the Roman baths

Photo: Andrea Vail

Below a drab building on Lower Thames Street lies one of the City's best kept secrets; the remains of a Roman house and baths, rediscovered in 1848. The Museum of London runs 45 minute tours of the underground archaeological site most weekends — you'll want to book ahead for this one.

Have lunch in Postman's Park

If you're looking for somewhere to grab a bit of peace and quiet, or eat your lunch, Postman's Park is a green spot between St Paul's Cathedral and the Museum of London.

It's home to the Watts Memorial which celebrates 'heroism in every-day life' and is littered with benches for those looking for somewhere to tuck into their sarnies, as well as paved paths and flower beds.

Alternatively, head for the better-known St Dunstan in the East, a church garden towards Tower Hill.

Postman's Park. The piano's not usually there. Photo: Stephanie Sadler

Get your fix at Daunt Books

Most City-based bookworms head to Waterstones in Leadenhall Market or on London Wall to get their fix. But Marylebone emporium Daunt Books also has an outpost in the City.

The Cheapside branch isn't as large as the original Daunt Books, but it's still got enough tomes to stock you up for a while.

Go for a dip

To the best of our knowledge, the only swimming pool in the City of London where the public can just turn up and take a swim is Golden Lane Sports Centre — and it's only just within the City boundaries. Residents and non-residents can pay-per-session for a dip in the pool, whether you want to do serious lengths, or just have a splash around. The also have scuba classes.

St Bride's Theatre

The 'wedding cake' spire of St Bride's Church. Photo: markdbaynham

The Square Mile isn't as blessed with theatres as other parts of London. But the Bridewell Theatre is the place to head for all things thespian. It's not a big venue, with shows tending to run for a maximum of a week, but that means there's always something new to watch. Plus, the lunchtime shows are worth taking your sarnies to.

The theatre is close to St Bride's Church, rumoured to have been the inspiration behind the traditional tiered wedding cake. It's open to the public with regular guided tours, including visits to the crypt.

Go ballroom dancing

... in the Victorian Great Hall at Bishopsgate Institute. Better known for its library and short courses, the City venue holds monthly ballroom dancing sessions, beginning with a taster lesson followed by a social dance. Ballroom not your thing? Try swing dancing instead.

Dutch Centre

If you're just looking to kill a bit of time, check out what's on at the Dutch Centre in Austin Friars. An irregular programme of talks, lectures, film screenings, debates, live music and performances all focus on Dutch culture.

Spend (lots of) money

Inside the Royal Exchange. Photo: Raphaël Chekroun

For retail therapy, most people head straight to One New Change, but the City of London has another shopping centre; The Royal Exchange. Admittedly it's not a venue for the empty-of-pocket, with the likes of Omega, Tiffany & Co., and Links of London setting up stall there, but even if you're not looking to buy, it's worth popping in to take stock of the building. Otherwise, go and ogle on murals along the balcony.

Bank of England Museum

Not just an impenetrable fortress of wealth, the Bank of England also has a museum which is open to the public. Located on Bartholomew Lane, it tells the story of Bank's history, as well as what actually goes on there today, and you can get your hands (temporarily) on a real gold bar. Best of all it's free to visit — although it only opens Monday-Friday.

Play golf

No, there's not a inner city golf course you didn't know about, and no, we haven't lost it. Urban Golf in Smithfield — which optimistically refers to itself as Royal Smithfield Golf Club — combines music and beer with a virtual golf course.

Spend a night in the King's Wardrobe

Cheeky. Here's how to do it.

See also: what to do in the City of London at the weekend.

Last Updated 09 February 2017