Top 10 unusual ways to see London

1 ADMIRE FROM ABOVE

The London Helicopter gives the city's most famous fixtures a new twist by looking down on them from above. The 18-minute "London sights" route takes in St Paul's Cathedral, the Tower of London, the Battersea Power Station and other, less visited sites such as the Oval Cricket Ground and the Wetland Centre at Barnes. See www.thelondonhelicopter.com  

2 RUN THROUGH THE PARKS

There is no shortage of walking tours in London, but City Jogging Tours picks the pace up somewhat. Its tours – some aimed at gentle joggers, some at recreational runners – are part work-out, part sightseeing expedition. The seven-kilometre run through the royal parks, and past the royal palaces, is arguably the most fun. See www.cityjoggingtours.co.uk  

3 GO UNDERGROUND

London was the first city to develop an underground train network, and the Tube has picked up all manner of quirks since. Insider London offers tours around some of the oddities, pointing out often ignored architectural and design features along the way. See www.insider-london.co.uk  

4 TAKE A CLIPPER

Of course, some people prefer to avoid the underground altogether, and by far the most enjoyable of London's commutes are along the Thames. The Thames Clipper fleet connects popular spots such as the Tower of London, Greenwich, the London Eye and the Houses of Parliament. And you're paying public transport, rather than boat cruise, prices. See www.thamesclippers.com  

5 KAYAK THE THAMES

A slightly slower, self-powered way of exploring London's waterways is paddling along in a kayak. London Kayak Tours runs tours along a range of routes, including the massively underrated Regent's Canal. For more showy grandeur, opt for the 90-minute tour past Hampton Court Palace – Henry VIII's lavish hang-out. See www.londonkayaktours.co.uk  

6 DELVE INTO THE DUNNIES​

If the thrones of Hampton Court and Buckingham Palace don't do it for you, try a very different type of throne. Loo Tours runs trips around the British capital's most interesting public conveniences. Starting at Waterloo station's toilets, it goes into the history of the public lavatory, and visits a fair few quirky ones on the way. See www.lootours.com  

7 GO GRAVE HOPPING

Graveyard atmospherics are pumped up to the max at the ever-beautiful Highgate Cemetery. Divided into two parts, the eastern section is most renowned for hosting the remains of Karl Marx. The western section – which can be visited by guided tour only – may not have the big names, but it is packed with impressive ivy-strewn monuments and catacombs. See www.highgatecemetery.org  

8 TAKE THE MAGIC ROUTE

London Walks runs a massive variety of walking tours, but fans of a certain boy wizard should beeline it for the Harry Potter tour. A theatrical guide takes fans through a series of locations with links to the books and films. These include the filming locations for the Leaky Cauldron and the Third Hand Book Emporium in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, plus 9 Leadenhall Market – which doubled as Diagon Alley. But, even for non-Potter fans dragged along, many of the city's top buildings are taken in too. See www.walks.com  

9 SPICE THINGS UP

Immigrant communities from the Indian subcontinent have long made the area around Brick Lane the go-to destination for a curry. And East End Tours likes to show off the best curry houses, while talking about the area's history. The tours end at the Sheraz​ Bangla​ lounge, where visitors suddenly turn into chefs for a spiced-up cooking lesson. See www.eastendtours.com 

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10 SEE THE STREET ART

The other thing the East End is famous for is its street art scene. Banksy cut his teeth here, and East End Tours' jaunt around the top murals and paste-ups takes in a few of his older works, plus a series of much more impressive efforts from Roa, Invader and C215. Unlike many other tours, this one changes all the time as new works appear. See www.eastendtours.com 

David Whitley travelled at his own expense.

See also: 10 London highlights that most visitors miss

See also: 20 things that will shock first-time visitors to the UK 

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