London is a go-to destination for travelers from all over the world. We’re drawn to historic buildings like Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, and St. Paul’s Cathedral. And why not? This cosmopolitan city is alive with history and grandeur.
But if you’re a frequent visitor to London, you may want to dive deeper into the city to discover its quirkier side. With a Santander rental bike on nearly every corner, there’s no easier – or more relaxing – way to get an intimate glimpse of the “other” London than on a self-guided bike tour.
Download the Transport for London (TFL) app to your mobile phone and choose Quirky London. You’ll find a unique self-guided tour for yourself or a group of family or friends.
Cross Bones Graveyard
Up first is Cross Bones Graveyard, the resting place of London’s historical misfits, outcasts, and paupers – including medieval licenced sex workers. There were approximately 15,000 souls resting here by the graveyard’s 1853 closing.
Today, it is a refurbished sacred memorial dedicated to the imperfect lives of all of London’s downtrodden over the centuries. The Southwark Mysteries are literary lore based on the famous Cross Bones Graveyard with performances at The Globe.
St. Bart’s is London’s oldest continuously operating church, founded in 1123. The church offers an oasis of calm in fast-paced 21st-century London. This living church was inspired by a dream of Rahere, a courtier of King Henry I, where St. Bartholomew came to him and told him where to build it.
The church welcomes everyone to admire its architectural beauty regardless of faith (or no particular faith). It’s also popular for frequent choral performances including lunchtime concerts.
The Golden Boy of Pye Corner
The iconic statue of the Golden Boy marks the end point of the 1666 Great Fire of London. The fire was said to start in a small bakery and burned for four days destroying 13,000 homes, 90 churches, 44 livery companies, the Royal Exchange, and the original St Paul’s Cathedral. The statue was built as a cautionary reminder to Londoner’s to avoid gluttony, thought by Christians 350 years ago to be the reason God allowed the fire.
The next stop on the Quirky London bike route is the Hunterian Museum. It is situated inside the Royal College of Surgeons. Here you’ll find strange collections of both non-human and human pathological and anatomical specimens, historical medical instruments and models, and sculptures and paintings. It spans four centuries of medicine, surgery, and natural history, as well as the arts. The museum hosts regular educational programs for London school children and is open to the public Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The last, and possibly most fun stop is Neal’s Yard. It’s a quirky little street of colorful shops and cafés with plenty to explore. You’ll want to photograph this tiny courtyard surrounded by brightly colored shops. You’ll find loads of interesting things from raw chocolates and British cheeses to divine skincare products and vegan-friendly cafés.