London’s Hidden Treasures: 7 Must-Visit Underground Spots (2024)
Planning to explore the fascinating world below London’s Street?
Have you ever had a chat with someone who’s never been to London? They’ll likely mention Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, and the River Thames, the OG Classic landmarks. But brace yourself; let us tell you, there’s a whole different world below the streets of London awaiting your visit.
London’s Underground is a legitimate thing, and you need to check it out. Imagine a London local, someone who’s walked these streets and ridden those iconic red buses, sharing their take. That’s what we are trying to do here. From the quirky character of each Tube station to the art that paints the hidden corners, it’s like discovering a secret layer. And trust it, the historic pubs, the wartime bunkers, the music venues, it’s all part of this underground tapestry.
London’s Hidden Treasures: 7 Must-Visit Underground Spots
So buckle up as we list down:
1. London’s Tube Stations
When talking about “What’s beneath the streets of London”? What instantly comes to mind are the Tube Stations. These landmarks not only operate as a mode of transportation but also offer fascinating insights into London’s culture and history.
Some of the iconic Tube Stations locals suggest checking out include:
- Baker Street: Known for its association with Sherlock Holmes, Baker Street Station has a bronze statue of the detective on the platform. In fact, recreating the fictional detective’s living quarters, the Sherlock Holmes Museum is also nearby.
- Covent Garden: This iconic tube station reflects the theatrical history of its neighborhood through its design. It is nestled in the heart of the vibrant Covent Garden area. The area is popular for shopping, dining, and street performances.
- Canary Wharf: Located in the modern business district, Canary Wharf Station boasts sleek and contemporary architecture. Exploring this tube system offers a journey through London’s diverse past and present.
2. The Underground Hidden Rivers
London has a few rivers hidden underground rivers, and the River Fleet is one of them. This river offers a lesser-known yet very fascinating history of London. One of the lost rivers of London, the River Fleet has a rich history intertwined with the development of the city. The river flows underground but was once a prominent river in London. Over time, being covered and converted into an underground sewer system added pollution to it. The river’s original course stretched from Hampstead Heath down to the Thames River, passing through various neighborhoods in London. It played a crucial role in transportation routes and as a water source in the city.
Presently, the River Fleet is known for guided tours that allow enthusiasts to explore the underground tunnels and archways that once held the River Fleet. Such tours are ideal for individuals interested in the architecture and history of London. The tours unfold remnants of the old riverbed, its’ impact on London’s growth, and more. Participating in an underground tour is like a chance to step into the past and experience evolution over the centuries.
3. The Iconic Churchill’s War Rooms
Another fascinating way of exploring London’s Underground is through the secret tunnels and bunkers. The prime examples of the same are Churchill’s War Rooms, which is a fascinating way to delve into wartime history, and Churchill’s War Rooms in London, which is a prime example. The war rooms are located at Clive Steps, King Charles Street. It was during World War II when Cabinet War Rooms here served as the underground nerve center of Britain’s government and military operations. It’s where Prime Minister Winston Churchill and his cabinet directed the war effort.
Churchill’s War Rooms includes a series of rooms. These rooms were historically used for planning, strategizing, and making critical decisions. Do check out the Map Room for real-time information on decision-making. The War Rooms have been preserved almost exactly as they were during the war, offering visitors an authentic glimpse into the past. There’s also an interactive museum that provides insights into life during wartime and the individuals who worked in the War Rooms. Since the site is accessible for mobility impairments, guided tours are truly worth being.
4. The Unconventional Theatre Scene
London may have multiple theatre opportunities, but the unconventional underground ones’ are truly captivating. One standout example is the Vault Festival. They even get organized in the atmospheric underground tunnels near Waterloo Station. It hosts multiple unconventional performances, from live comedy to music shows, theatre, and more. The Vault Festival is organized annually from January to March over several weeks. It exhibits emerging artists and experimental works. However, what adds to the overall ambiance is the unique underground setting.
Attending the Vault Festival at Londons’ Underground allows individuals to witness creative and boundary-pushing shows. Such shows may not fit the traditional theatre mold and thus add uniqueness to one’s experience. The festival’s lineup, however, can vary from year to year. Also, every year, there are different thought-provoking dramas, interactive installations, and unexpected collaborations.
5. London’s Historic Churches
London’s historic churches often hold hidden gems beneath their floors in the form of crypts. Crypts are those underground room or vault beneath a church that holds fascination beyond one’s imagination. The crypts in the churches of London have seen the history of centuries and thus offer a peek into the city’s past.
St. Martin-in-the-Fields Crypt is one of those renowned churches located at Trafalgar Square. The crypt here is a unique cultural space now rebuilt into a vibrant area. It is home to a café spot for locals and visitors alike to enjoy food, drinks, and live music in a historic setting. Not only that, but it also hosts musical performances like classical concerts, jazz, and folk music. The crypt here occasionally features art exhibitions and displays that highlight aspects of London’s history and culture.
Or at St. Bride’s Church, Crypt, aka Journalists’ Church, has a crypt worth visiting. The crypt here has been transformed into a fascinating museum. It features a replica of an early printing press. The press pays tribute to St.Bride’s age-old historical association with the newspaper and printing industry. A visit to this landmark not only offers a peek into London’s past but also displays how creatively the spaces have been repurposed.
6. Mail Rail Museum
For an underground tour in London, look no beyond the Mail Rail Museum. This fascinating museum space offers a glimpse of London’s underground railway system. It once played an important role in London’s logistical history. Back in time, the Mail Rail was an underground railway system that operated from 1927 to 2003. The rail was originally designed to transport mail across London. It connected sorting offices and thus offered a fast and efficient way to handle mail.
Today, the Mail Rail Museum is open for tours and exhibition visits. The museum allows visitors to experience a guided tour of the original Mail Rail tunnels. It is an exciting way to learn about the technical aspects of the place, along with innovations and challenges. The museum is home to interactive displays that showcase the history of the Postal Railway and the people who worked on it. Visitors get a chance to get familiar with daily operations, technology and landmark’s role during wartime. The museum displays restored Mail Rail carriages that were used to transport mail.
7. Chislehurst Caves
Last but not least of London’s Underground gems are the Chislehurst Caves. These caves are nestled a bit outside central London, offering a glimpse into the history of man-made tunnels. The series of interconnected tunnels and chambers were originally built for mining purposes. During the Roman and medieval periods, they were used for mining flint and chalk. Later during World War II, the caves were repurposed as air raid shelters for offering a safe space to local residents while the outdoors had air raids and bombings.
What adds to the charm of visiting here is the historical significance of these caves. Today, Chislehurst Caves offers guided tours that take visitors through the labyrinthine tunnels. The tour includes a visit all around with multiple stories and tales explaining the sight. In addition, the caves also take advantage of their unique acoustics and atmospheric surroundings and thus host music events and performances.