One of the world’s great capital cities, London is packed full of fantastic things to see and do, including a number of immersive experiences that deliver a serious jolt to the senses.
Whether it’s interactive shows, guided walking tours, or physical feats of daring-do, there’s something in London for everyone. Each of the ten activities and experiences that we’ve picked below share one common characteristic – they thrust participants into a deep and immersive state of absorption. More than anything, we hope our selection inspires you to come and try some of them for yourselves.
The London Dungeon
Every city has a dark underbelly and London is no exception. One of the most thrilling ways to experience the big scares of the Big Smoke is by entering the eerie environs of the London Dungeon. On entry, you’ll be thrust onto the dangerous streets of the capital’s distant past. Hear, touch, and smell 1,000 years of hair-raising history with funny storytelling by over 20 live actors and 14 interactive shows; step inside Sweeney Todd’s infamous barber shop on Fleet Street and let him give your life a short back and sides; tread cautiously through the streets of Whitechapel with Jack the Ripper (possibly) lurking around any corner, and end your visit by being sentenced for your crimes and sent to Newgate Prison. Visits last around 1.5 hours. From £29 per person.
Harry Potter Guided Walking Tour
Walk in the footsteps of your favourite wizards (and witches) around Muggle London on this Harry Potter-themed walking tour. Over 2.5 hours, your guide will accompany you and your group around Central London, stopping to see some of the sites that inspired Potter’s creator, J.K. Rowling. Along the way, there’ll be fun activities including interactive quizzes and you’ll also be allocated your own Hogwarts House. Other highlights include passing by The Leaky Cauldron, the secret wizarding inn; ambling down the real Diagon Alley, where Harry buys his first wand; and seeing the bridge destroyed by the Death Eaters in “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”. For part of the tour, guests can also choose to either take the London Underground or a short boat trip down the Thames. From £20 per person.
The London Abseil
See London from a unique perspective by abseiling down the UK’s largest sculpture. Located within the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, east London, the ArcelorMittal Orbit delivers the ultimate London adventure for those who like a physical challenge – and don’t mind heights! After being greeted by the abseil team, you’ll be kitted-up before being taken up in the lift to the top of the sculpture – some 80 metres from the ground. Two at a time, you’ll be attached to the rigging system before stepping onto the abseil platform. From here, instructors will guide you through the abseiling technique, coaxing you over the edge as you lean back and start your descent. As you lower yourself towards the ground, don’t forget to take in the stunning views across the city. With your feet back on firm ground, you’ll depart with memories to last a lifetime. From £65 per person.
DreamWorks Shrek’s Adventure Tour
First released over two decades ago, Shrek remains one of the most cherished animation characters in history. This 70-minute tour invites fans of the loveable green ogre to star in your very own hilarious, madcap adventure complete with live actors, captivating storytelling, special effects and extraordinary animation. Taking place at DreamWorks Tours in Westminster, the journey begins when you board a magical flying 4D bus to Far Far Away, the fictional enchanted kingdom from the movies. There, you’ll visit Cinderella in Shrek’s swamp, bump into Puss in Boots, rescue Pinocchio from the wheel of torture and cook up a magic spell with the Muffin Man as you take part in a dozen laugh-out-loud fairytale-themed live shows. From £35 per person.
River Thames Fast RIB-Speedboat Experience
Thunder along the River Thames with the wind in your hair on this enthralling 1-hour fast boat tour. See London’s most famous sights and landmarks from the water, with your captain cruising gently as you pass by attractions such as Tower Bridge, the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye – giving you a chance to take some snaps without them coming out fuzzy or at a wonky angle! Then, once you navigate beneath the famous Tower Bridge, you’re officially in the ‘fast zone’, and it’s ready to brace yourselves as you accelerate to a super high speed and really feel the power and force of your state-of-the-art RIB. As you zip along, lively music is blared out from the onboard sound system. Catch your breath before being returned to the dock, where the tour comes to a close. From £39 per person.
Climb The Roof of The O2 Arena
Completed in 2007 under the Millennium Dome, the 02 Arena is best known for hosting shows by internationally-acclaimed names from the world of entertainment. But the arena also offers intrepid types the chance to discover a different side of London by climbing all the way up and over its distinctive roof. Taking around 90 minutes, the experience starts with participants being kitted out with high-tech climbing equipment, including suit, boots, and harness. After being briefed by your guide, you’ll embark on your urban mountaineering adventure, ascending the landmark and crossing the walkway suspended 52 metres in the air. At the top, take in panoramic views over Greenwich, the Olympic Park, Canary Wharf and The Shard before making your descent. From £35 per person.
The London Tombs
Comprising a two-part interactive show, this 40-minute experience brings together history and horror, and education and fun, in equal measure. Guests laugh, scream and cheer their way through 2,000 years of history as they meet characters from London’s bloody and murky past, from Scottish knight William Wallace to the notorious East End murderer Jack the Ripper. Next, it’s time to enter the infamous vaults of London Bridge – if you dare – known as London Tombs, where you’re thrust into a psychological scare-maze that will test your mettle to the very maximum. A kid-friendly alternative version of the experience is also available for families. From £22.50 per person.
Bond for a Day
Live the life of fiction’s favourite spy, guided by a bone fide espionage expert. Taking place in a secretive Whitehall venue, you’ll start the day with a full breakfast in ‘Great Scotland Yard’ in true Bond style before trying some of the activities that for the dapper but deadly secret agent are par for the course, including mastering your target skills at a shooting range using 300 rounds with a variety of firearms. There’ll also be the chance to walk in the footsteps of Bond’s creator in Mayfair, try his favourite cocktail, the Vesper (vodka martini), and sample his preferred fragrance, Floris 89, perfumers to royalty and nobility. The experience also includes a light lunch. From £359 per person.
Let the little ones loose at one of London’s most popular family-friendly attractions. Created to allow kids the chance to role-play by performing many of the jobs and tasks usually reserved for adults, the fun-packed indoor centre in Westfield shopping mall, Shepherd’s Bush, caters to everyone from babies through to tweenagers. Among the favourite zones are a fire and rescue unit where children can play at putting out flames with their own hose, an airline section where they can don a pilot’s uniform and pretend to fly a plane, and a disco offering the chance to spin some discs with your own DJ set. Admission gives you access to a four-hour time slot, with activities taking anywhere between five and fifty minutes. From £31 per person.
Psychopath’s Den Escape Room Game
In recent years, Escape Rooms have sky-rocketed in popularity in a large number of cities around the world. This London-based game in historic Whitechapel sets participants the challenge of escaping a dreadful fate, or becoming just another grim statistic. Amid the gore-caked instruments of torture, hemmed in by the blood-spattered walls you’ll need to keep your wits as sharp as the resident psychopath’s scalpels to avoid his clutches – he is very close, somewhere in the shadows. Only by solving his fiendish puzzles can you, quite literally, save your skin. Games last for around one hour and are open to anyone aged 16 or over. From £35 per person.