We are all aware of London’s incredible diversity and creativity and yet there are some places in London (some of which you may know, others which you may not) that look absolutely nothing like they’re in London. Of course our beloved city isn’t all concrete, traffic and tube, but a TEMPLE?! Freely roaming deers?! Well, well, well…London, you never fail to surprise us with your beauty, that’s for sure.
Uh huuuhhh, you can take your jaw up off the floor now. We know, we know. This is in London. Can you believe it? Probably not until you see it for yourselves, so you’ll just have to take our word for it. Built entirely using traditional methods and materials, Shri Swaminarayan Mandir is one of the biggest Hindu temples outside India, and most beautiful by the looks of it. Made with 2,828 tonnes of Bulgarian limestone and 2,000 tonnes of Italian marble (all of which was hand carved in India before being assembled here), it is a truly awe-inspiring place that will leave you feeling instantly transported.
105-119 Brentfield Rd, NW10 8LD
2. Crystal Palace Park
Sphinx statues, a fishing hole and Victorian dinosaur sculptures, this is unique park is almost other-worldly. There isn’t much more to say except be sure to bring your camera phone…you could easily fool people into believe you’re in Egypt…or Jurassic Park?…
Thicket Road, SE19 2GA
3. Painshill Park
The crystal Grotto, dating back to 1760, is the most recent folly to be restored in the park and it looks pretty magical. You will feel like you’re in another world (and then remember you’re just outside of London (but Surrey’s border is close enough – and love life).
Portsmouth Rd, Cobham, Surrey KT11 1JE
4. Highgate Cemetery
There are approximately 170,000 people buried in around 53,000 graves at Highgate Cemetery, one of London’s great Victorian graveyards. It might seem like a pretty spooky place to loiter but the cemetery boasts stunning architecture, including Victorian chapels, the Lebanon Circle and Egyptian Avenue – doesn’t
sound very ‘London’ does it? Especially as it has a reputation for vampire spotting…Transylvania, eat your heart out.
Swain’s Ln, N6 6PJ
5. St Dunstan-in-the-East
A secret garden situated in the bombed out shell of the former Church of St Dunstan, first built around 1100. It is a Grade I listed building that was severely damaged in the Blitz of 1941. Instead of having been rebuilt, the remains are now a public, yet very secluded garden in the heart of London. We’re talking Tower Hill, heart of London. Wowza.
Dunstan’s Hill, EC3R 5DD
Where East meets West. Leighton House Museum is the former home of the Pre-Raphaelite artist Frederic Leighton (1830-1896) – that’s Lord Leighton to you. From modest beginnings it grew into a ‘private palace of art’ featuring the extraordinary Arab Hall with its golden dome, intricate mosaics and walls lined with beautiful Islamic tiles. You’ll soon forget which continent you’re standing on. (See more London museums.)
12 Holland Park Road, W14 8LZ
7. Kyoto Garden
This Japanese oasis is breathtakingly beautiful. Filled with colourful plants, shrubs and water features, the meditative Kyoto Garden is an evocative part of the Far East in the West of London.
100 Holland Park Ave,W11 4UA