Caving in style: What are the best caves in London? 

Ever wondered about the hidden marvels beneath London’s bustling streets? Believe it or not, there’s a subterranean world waiting to be discovered if you’re based in our city. 

Of course, not all of these can be technically labelled as within London’s city limits. Still, they’re easily accessible via public transport. 

So, buckle up for an underground escapade as we explore these captivating caves both in and around London. Trust me, you won’t want to miss the allure that lies beneath the city’s surface. 

Chislehurst Caves

Media from chislehurstcaveskent

Location: Caveside Cl, Old Hill, Chislehurst BR7 5NL, United Kingdom

Contact: [email protected]

Opening hours:

  • Wednesday to Sunday – 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM

To get here: Ride a train from London Bridge to Chislehurst (30 minutes travel)

Website

The tale of Chislehurst Caves unfolds like a well-kept secret from the past. Over a century ago, these subterranean wonders were hewn into existence, not merely as an underground spectacle but as a source of chalk for lime burning and brick-making.

Fast forward to the present: this cave has emerged as a thrilling destination for modern-day explorers. You can embark on a guided tour, where the soft glow of lamps reveals the mysteries hidden within the winding passages. 

What’s also great about this cave is that they have a charming gift shop and welcoming cafe. You can buy some souvenirs for your friends and family! 

Crystal Grotto

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Location: Painshill Park, Cobham KT11 1JE, United Kingdom

Contact: You may contact them here

Opening hours:

  • Tuesday to Sunday – 10:30 AM to 3:30 PM

To get here: Travel by South Western Railway from Waterloo to Weybridge and then take the C1 bus to the fire station

Website

Nestled within Painshill in Surrey, the aptly named Crystal Grotto is not just a mere cave but a masterpiece envisioned by Charles Hamilton in 1738. He dreamed of crafting a garden and lake resembling a living painting. 

The result is a mesmerising spectacle of large, captivating crystals hanging from the grotto. Here, you can wander through the scenic landscape surrounding the beautiful lake at Painshill Park. 

After a delightful stroll, you can even treat yourself to a moment of relaxation at the cafe.

The Grotto Leeds Castle

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Location: Leeds Castle, Broomfield, Maidstone ME17 1PL, United Kingdom

Contact: [email protected]

Opening hours:

  • Monday to Sunday – 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

To get here: Board a train from Victoria to Maidstone, and then transfer to to the X10 bus heading towards the Great Danes Hotel

Website

With a history that echoes through time, Leeds Castle has served as the private abode of six medieval Queens of England and witnessed the footsteps of historical figures like Henry VIII and Catherine Aragon. Today, it stands as the most visited historic building in Britain.

You can embark on a journey to its grotto by navigating through a maze, a labyrinth of 2,400 yew trees. Upon reaching the maze’s heart, the grotto awaits. And fear not for the darkness, since the underworld grotto unveils mystical displays.

Expect to see mythical beasts intricately crafted from shells, minerals and woods seamlessly embedded into the walls. 

Pope’s Grotto

Media credit to popesgrottopreservationtrust

Location: Radnor House Independent School, 21 Cross Deep, Twickenham TW1 4QG, United Kingdom

Contact: You may contact them here

To get here: Explore the website to find information about monthly open days and schedule your visit – it’s a short 40-minute trip from Waterloo.

Website

Pope’s Grotto is a hidden gem nestled in the grounds of Radnor House School in Twickenham, courtesy of the 18th-century wordsmith Alexander Pope. 

The craftsmanship of this cave is a testament to the dedication poured into this masterpiece. Although the grotto remained unfinished, it still became a poignant detail in its storied history. 

Fast forward to 2015, restoration efforts fueled by the Heritage Lottery Fund breathed new life into Pope’s Grotto, preserving its poetic allure for future generations. 

Shell Grotto

Media credit to shellgrotto

Location: 33 Grotto Hill, Cliftonville, Margate CT9 2BU, United Kingdom

Contact: +44 1843 220008

Opening hours:

  • Thursday to Sunday – 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM

To get here: Catch the Southeastern fast train from Victoria to Margate, and be sure to book your tickets online in advance.

Website

Discovered by chance in 1835, the cave’s origins and purpose remain shrouded in uncertainty. But the allure of Shell Grotto lies not only in its mysterious history but also in its mystical appearance. 

Imagine a cave adorned from floor to ceiling with a staggering 4.6 million shells – mostly cockles, oysters, mussels, whelks, limpets and razor shells indigenous to the British Isle. 

And let’s be honest, with its mystique and Instagram-worthy charm, Shell Grotto is an underground gem that beckons the curious adventurer in us all.

Hellfire Caves

Media credit to hellfirecaves

Location: Church Lane, West Wycombe, High Wycombe HP14 3AH, United Kingdom

Contact: +44 1494 533739

Opening hours:

  • Saturday – 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM

To get here: Hop on a train from Paddington to Slough, and then head to High Wycombe, where a brief bus ride will take you to your destination

Website

Built by the notorious Hellfire Club in the 1700s, these man-made tunnels witnessed more than your typical underground shenanigans. From sacrificial rites to bacchanals, these caves hosted it all. 

Picture a banquet hall, a main hall and the chilling inner temple, where the Hellfire Club orchestrated mysterious meetings involving unknown criminal acts and even pagan rituals. Spooky right?

Fast forward to today and these caves have transformed into a magnet for curious tourists, complete with a gift shop and cafe. 

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