The London you may not know



Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace and the London Eye: we’ve all heard of these iconic British landmarks. But if you’re seeking memorable experiences off the beaten path, check out these underrated sights in the Greater London region and beyond. These nature, culture and entertainment spots are worth venturing beyond the city for, and better yet – they’re all easily reached from Gatwick Airport.

1. Explore the sprawling greens of Surrey Hills

Hiking, biking, paddle boarding or forest bathing? The choice is all yours in Surrey Hills, a protected national landscape just half an hour’s drive northwest of Gatwick Airport. Spread across a lavish 422km², this is a great place to enjoy the British outdoors during your London getaway.

The breathtaking landscape of Surrey Hills. Photo: Shutterstock

Its most famous landmark is Box Hill, where you’ll experience sweeping views of the surrounding countryside. Other highlights include Leith Hill, the highest point in Southeast England, where you can see as far as London. Visit the 13th-century Frensham Ponds – named Little Pond and Great Pond, the larger of the two has its own sandy beach.

2. Indulge your inner shopaholic, then admire London from above at Battersea Power Station

A working power station up until the 1980s, Battersea Power Station is now a trendy South London landmark that houses over 140 shops, bars, restaurants and entertainment venues. Visiting in the summer? Enjoy lunch at the sun terrace before or after your shopping tour or sink into a deck chair at their open-air cinema at night. In winter, check out the skating rink and the Light Festival, a free, family-friendly trail of glowing installations by British and international artists.

For those who enjoy panoramic views, book your ticket for Lift 109 to marvel at London’s most famous sights from 109m above ground level.

Since its revamp, Battersea Power Station has become a shopping and entertainment destination. Photo: Shutterstock

3. Stand on the Prime Meridian, the line that divides the Eastern and Western hemisphere

Greenwich Park south of the Thames River is one of London’s eight Royal Parks – and a great place to take in the skyline from the famous One Tree Hill. Once you’ve had your fill of the view, head to the Greenwich Conservatory where the Greenwich Prime Meridian begins. This line represents the historic Prime Meridian of the world – the line from which every place on Earth has measured its distance east or west. Get your picture taken standing with one foot in the Eastern and one in the Western hemisphere, and bask in the thrill of being in two places at once.

An imaginary line made real. Photo: Shutterstock

For a full-day adventure in Greenwich, add the nearby National Maritime Museum and the Cutty Sark – a historic sailing ship – to your itinerary. Along the way, Greenwich Market will satisfy your street food cravings and souvenir shopping needs.

4. Catch a performance at South London’s Old Vic Theatre

While the West End is London’s most famous theatre district, the independently run Old Vic Theatre is a historic space with programming that’s just as star-studded and high quality. You’ll find an eclectic mix here, from musicals (Bob Geldof’s Live Aid musical Just For One Day is on until the end of March) to theatre classics, modern plays and the popular Christmas play A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

The theatre is located south of the Thames River – near Waterloo station and connected to Gatwick by a 45-minute train ride.

Catch a range of performances here at the historic Old Vic. Photo: Shutterstock

5. Admire the Old Masters at Dulwich Picture Gallery

If you’re an art enthusiast, you’ll want to stop by Dulwich Picture Gallery between South London’s Brixton and Peckham districts. Not only does it house a permanent collection of over 600 works by 17th and 18th century European masters such as Rembrandt, Canaletto and Poussin, it was also the world’s first purpose-built public art gallery when it opened back in 1811.

Aside from its permanent collection of Old Masters, Dulwich Picture Gallery also has temporary exhibitions featuring other styles of art. Photo: Dulwich Picture Gallery

If you prefer to get more hands-on, there is also a range of fun workshops where you can learn how to create beaded embroidery, cyanotypes and textural collages. Nature lovers take note: the gallery is surrounded by 1.2 hectares of beautiful gardens with over 25 species of trees, including Japanese Maple and Kentucky Coffee trees.

6. Sample fine British wines at Denbies Wine Estate

London’s pub scene is legendary, but did you know that some of the UK’s finest vineyards can be found just beyond the capital’s borders? Denbies Wine Estate in Surrey Hills, conveniently located between Gatwick and the capital, has been around for almost 40 years and is one of England’s largest single estate vineyards.

Visitors can tour the whole estate in a mini-train and explore a vineyard trail with a guide or opt for a classic wine tasting (with an optional lunch). Always wanted to wake up on a vineyard? They also have a charming 17-room hotel right on site.

7. Spot wild deer and other animals in Richmond Park

Richmond Park on the southwestern outskirts of London is the city’s largest park. About 45 minutes away by car from Gatwick Airport, this is where you can spot wild deer (over 600 call the park their permanent home!), foxes, voles, bats and 144 species of birds in their natural habitat.

Wild deer are fun to photograph, but remember not to get too close. Photo: Shutterstock

Explore Tamsin Trail, a scenic 12km-walk peppered with the odd café or ice cream van, or wander around Pembroke Lodge, a picturesque Georgian mansion at the highest point of the park.

8. Peek into the extravagant Eltham Palace

Located in South London, a little over an hour from Gatwick by train, Eltham Palace is a historic building with a varied past. Originally a medieval palace and then a favourite royal residence of the Tudors, it was turned into an extravagant mansion by millionaires Stephen and Virginia Courtauld in the 1930s. Today, visitors can walk through their lavish home and explore all the quirky details, including the heated sleeping quarters of the couple’s pet lemur.

Eltham Palace is full of quirkily designed spaces that give a glimpse into the Courtauld’s lives. Photo: Shutterstock

Eltham Palace is surrounded by 7.6 hectares of gardens that are just as stunning as the Art Deco-styled mansion. Schedule in some extra time to have a look around, then sip a coffee (or some British tea) at the beautiful adjoining glasshouse café.

Singapore Airlines’ flights to Gatwick will commence from 21 June 2024. For more information, visit the official website



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