For many people, taking a vacation is an integral part of self-growth. When you learn how others live and visit different locations, your mind will be opened to new universes. Sometimes this involves ignoring the tourist traps and opting to see hidden places of interest instead.

If you're planning a trip to London soon, you've probably already discovered the popular sites that you can't miss. If you're looking for other places off the beaten track that are treasures to visit, add these 5 hidden gems to your itinerary.

1. The Thames Barrier

This fantastic portrayal of engineering work spans the River Thames for an incredible 520m in greater London. It is a defense system built for floods and is a tourist attraction that will leave you speechless. You may have seen it on some TV shows such as Dr. Who or Spooks. Be sure to visit the information center on the south side and make your way to the North Shore to visit the Thames Barrier Park, which features a playground, fountains, and sunken gardens.

You can drive to the area or take a river cruise to see the massive structure. Most of the cruises available for the Thames River stop in Greenwich, so make sure that you book a more extended cruise that takes you to Woolwich Reach to get a close-up view.

2. The Painted Hall

This hall is located at the Greenwich Naval College, and you'll be able to take all the photos you want when you visit. The Painted Hall was hand-painted entirely with the project completed in 1726 and is a forgotten secret in London. It's a masterpiece that will leave you enthralled, and you won’t regret adding it to your list of things to do while in London. You may have seen this hall on the Crown TV show since it was used as the filming location for a birthday party by Princess Margaret.

3. Little Venice

When traveling to London, you won't want to miss Little Venice, located in Maida Vale. Here you'll find a treasure trove of waterfront cafés where you can sit outside and watch the houseboats travel along the canal in tranquil bliss. When you're there, you won't even feel like you're in London and may think that you have taken a quick trip over to Italy to see the remarkable sites of Venice.

4. Sir John Soane’s Museum

This is a museum like you've never seen before. It's pretty close to Covent Garden, and it's easy to pass a couple of hours at this venue. Sir John Soane was an art collector, and he decorated his home to impress his clients and guests. When you first arrive, you may think that you are at the wrong place since it is an unimposing house in Holborn. Once you step inside, however, you'll be amazed at the display of artifacts, antiquities, and art.

5. The Royal Arcade

If you're in the mood for some high-end shopping, you'll want to visit The Royal Arcade in Mayfair. This is the oldest shopping arcade in London that dates back to 1879. The building has retained its Victorian features and is home to various luxury retail stores. Even if the prices are out of your league, you can still enjoy some window shopping while enjoying the fantastic design and architecture. It's a place to dream, and you'll feel like you've stepped into a brand-new world once you arrive.

If you're heading to London alone and are looking for some company, there are expensive escorts available that you can take as companions to visit these memorable sites.

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Author, freelance writer