20 Offbeat Instagram Photography Spots in London

London is among the most beautiful and diverse cities on the planet. Yet, for some reason, all we ever see of it online is Big Ben and Tower Bridge! Here, in no particular order, are 20 of the city's lesser-known but equally Instagram-ready locations that you can visit for absolutely free.

Text and photographs by Tau Nell 

1. The Garden at 120

Ever since The Garden at 120 opened its doors in early 2019, it has been a huge success with locals, city workers, and tourists alike. Zip to the 15th floor of the Fen Court building to enjoy its peaceful landscaped gardens and jaw-dropping vistas of London.

Nearest Underground: Monument

 

2. Holborn Bars

The whimsical terracotta turrets of Holborn Bars are the perfect stand-in for Harry Potter's Ministry of Magic. Take a moment to explore its quaint cloisters, intricate architecture, and atmospheric alleyways. The inner courtyard is not always open to the public, but the building's exterior is still well worth a look.

Nearest Underground: Chancery Lane

 

3. Covent Garden Market

Dating back to the 1650's, Covent Garden Market is among London's oldest market halls. It's a beautiful maze of produce-packed hallways (pictured is Central Avenue) that guarantee striking shots, as well as serving up the finest gourmet snacks in the city. 

Nearest Underground: Covent Garden

 

4. St. Dunstan in the East

Sadly damaged by bombs in the Second World War, St Dunstan in the East has risen from the ashes and flourished as a tranquil public garden in the bustling financial district. Enjoy a moment of quiet reflection in its peaceful grounds and be sure to take in this surreal space with your eyes before your lens.

Nearest Underground: Monument

 

5. The viewing level at the Tate Modern

Enjoy free 360º views of London from the 10th storey of the Tate Modern's Blavatnik Building. Look north to St Paul's Cathedral and its historic neighbours, south to the looming highrises, east to the busy financial district, and West to the leafy parks and distant hills - see if you can spot Buckingham Palace!

Nearest Underground: St. Paul's

 

6. St. Helen's Place

Norman Foster's 30 St Mary Axe, lovingly referred to as 'The Gherkin', stands testament to London's openness to the new and unusual despite its ancient roots. St. Helen's Place, with its grand old mansions, perfectly frames this modern masterpiece.

Nearest Underground: Liverpool Street

 

7. The Wallace Collection

 

The Wallace Collection is a Baroque gallery brimming with 18th Century gems including plush furnishings, elaborate clothing, and world-renowned oil paintings such as 'The Swing'. Come and unleash your inner Lord or Lady and add a touch of class to your Instagram feed!

Nearest Underground: Bond Street

 

8. The Tate Britain

The Tate Britain is less popular with tourists than its sister gallery across the river, making for an intimate experience among famous works of art and perfect people-free shots! The gallery is stocked with powerful modern pieces as well as timeless beauties such as Millais's 'Ophelia'.

Nearest Underground: Pimlico

 

9. Shad Thames

 

Back when the trendy London Docks were hectic working harbours, these bridges gave labourers quick access between the vast warehouses. Today, they're breezy balconies for lucky inhabitants and a stunning backdrop for aspiring Instagram models! Stroll this kooky street and discover its old-London charm.

Nearest Underground: Tower Hill

 

10. The Victoria and Albert Museum

 

Although thousands of visitors wander through the V&A every day to marvel at its diverse range of artefacts, few stop to admire the museum itself. The elegant white marble halls and statue-lined corridors make for dreamy pictures that'll make your Instagram shine.

Nearest Underground: South Kensington

 

11. Chalcot Crescent

 

Chalcot Crescent is found in the elegant Primrose Hill neighbourhood, which looks prim and proper whatever the weather; pose with your umbrella Mary-Poppins-style if you arrive in a drizzle! Film buffs may recognise this cheerful street from the Paddington Bear movies.

Nearest Underground: Chalk Farm

 

12. Queen's Head Passage

No trip to London could be complete without a quick visit to the iconic St. Paul's Cathedral, but the building is just so enormous that it can be tricky to photograph. Try out this angle for a change; it's hard not to get a perfect shot when the cathedral is already framed for you!

Nearest Underground: St. Paul's

 

13. Word on the Water

Word on the Water is no ordinary bookshop. Find everything from children's classics to modern bestsellers on this quaint, flower-adorned barge on Regent's Canal. Head inside for an even cozier shopping, reading, or photography experience!

Nearest Underground: King's Cross St. Pancras

 

14. Little Venice

 

Although it may look a little more like Amsterdam than Venice, this leafy riverside neighbourhood is always pretty as a picture and begging to be photographed. Admire the boat-lined Regent's Canal from a bridge, walk along the water, or duck into a quirky café to take in the area's easy-going atmosphere.

Nearest Underground: Warwick Avenue

 

15. The Kyoto Garden, Holland Park

 

Holland Park's Kyoto Garden has to be one of London's best-kept secrets. This Japanese-style garden is a tranquil oasis complete with a rushing waterfall, stepping stones across a glassy pond, and free-roaming peacocks. The garden's meticulous landscaping and vivid colours make it an absolute dream for any photographer!

Nearest Underground: Holland Park

 

16. The St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel

A spellbinding example of Gothic Revival architecture, the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel is one of London's most lavish lodgings. Come and appreciate the hotel's ornate exterior, impressive lobby, or its famous staircase in all its flamboyant glory.

Nearest Underground: King's Cross St. Pancras

 

17. Neal's Yard

Hidden among the Victorian backstreets of Covent Garden can be found this colour-riot courtyard. Neal's Yard is a global leader in the natural remedy market, and also dishes out some of the best organic treats in London. Any picture you snap of this little square is bound to wow your followers - no filter needed!

Nearest Underground: Covent Garden

 

18. Leadenhall Market

 

First established in 1445, the beautiful Leadenhall Market shopping arcade has you covered for all your boutique retail, fine dining, and jealousy-inducing needs. This grand complex was used to film the 'Diagon Alley' scenes in the Harry Potter movies - see if you can spot the Hagrid cutout lurking in the aisles!

Nearest Underground: Bank

 

19. Carreras Cigarette Factory

Carreras, an immense former cigarette factory, couldn't be more out of place among the traditional Georgian townhouses that surround it. Your camera will love the imposing Egyptian Art Deco pillars and colossal black cat statues - talk about a unique photo opportunity!

Nearest Underground: Mornington Crescent

 

20. Portobello Road

 

Notting Hill is famous for its antiques, oddities, and charming bohemian shops. Portobello road is the beating heart of this playful part of town, and its eclectic market is open every day except Sunday, with Saturday's Fashion Market being the main event. The neighbourhood is filled with rainbow-hued streets - come and find your favourite!

Nearest Underground: Notting Hill Gate

 

Some top Instagram photography tips:

  • Avoid shaky pictures by holding your camera close to your body with both hands, this is a simple step that'll make for much more stable shots
  • Make your photos pop by increasing contrast and saturation as appropriate - Instagram's 'Lux' tool is perfect for this
  • Let your subject shine by avoiding the use of your flash unless absolutely necessary; flashes can produce harsh, unflattering shadows, a distracting glare, and drain colours
  • Capture moving objects by following them with your camera as you take your picture, this will create a blurred background and a crystal clear subject
  • Perfectly align your photos using a grid - this handy tool can be activated on smartphones and digital cameras to help you check you aren't shooting at jaunty angles
  • Catch all the colours by using the HDR feature found in most smartphones. This allows you to capture high-contrast scenes (e.g. sunsets) without losing or distorting colours
  • Expect the unexpected and keep your eyes peeled! London is full of surprises - staying alert and watching your surroundings might let you discover a hidden gem of your own. So put your phone away and do your editing later; the city reveals its secrets to those who are willing to listen!

 

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