Last Updated on October 6, 2023
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42 Best Things To Do In London
London is an amazing city that attracts millions of tourists each year. From the beautiful architecture to the rich history and culture, there is so much to see and do in this bustling metropolis. One thing that many people don’t realize about London is how diverse it truly is. With over 300 languages spoken in the city, it’s one of the most linguistically diverse places in the world. This is evident in the variety of cuisines and cultures that can be experienced throughout London. Whether you’re a foodie, history buff, or just looking for a new adventure, London has something for everyone.
Spending a couple of days or more in London? Consider getting a city pass to save money on the attractions so that you can see more for less!
If you’re planning a trip to London, here are some of the best things you should do during your stay:
1. Visit Buckingham Palace
The official residence of the British monarch, Buckingham Palace is a must-see for its grand architecture and historical significance. Take a tour of the state rooms during the summer months, or catch the Changing of the Guard ceremony. If you’re lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of the royal family on the balcony during a special event. Experience the enchantment of royal living.
2. The Changing Of The Guard Ceremony
One of the most iconic ceremonies in London is the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. This daily event draws crowds of tourists to witness the traditional marching and music performed by the royal guards. Make sure to arrive early for a good viewing spot as this popular attraction can get quite crowded. The Changing of the Guard spans three locations: Buckingham Palace, St James’ Palace and Wellington Barracks.
The Changing of the Guard takes place every other day at 11 a.m., typically on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. During the summer, it may happen daily. Please note that this schedule is subject to change, and the ceremony will not take place in bad weather conditions. For the most current schedule, please visit this link.
3. Take A Walk Along The River Thames
The River Thames is not only a beautiful sight but also an important part of London’s history and culture. Stroll along its banks and take in the stunning views of famous landmarks such as the Tower Bridge, Big Ben, and the Houses of Parliament. You can also hop on a river cruise.
4. Explore The British Museum
As one of the largest and most comprehensive museums in the world, the British Museum is a must-see for history buffs and art enthusiasts. It houses a vast collection of artifacts from around the world, including iconic pieces like the Rosetta Stone and Parthenon sculptures.
5. Visit The Houses Of Parliament
The Houses of Parliament, also known as the Palace of Westminster, is another must-visit attraction in London. Take a tour of the iconic building and learn about its rich history and role in British politics. Don’t forget to catch a glimpse of Big Ben (officially known as Elizabeth Tower), one of the most recognizable landmarks in London.
6. Catch A Show At The West End
No visit to London would be complete without catching a show in the West End. With over 40 theaters showcasing a variety of performances, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
From classic musicals like Les Misérables and The Phantom of the Opera to newer productions such as Hamilton and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the West End offers a range of world-class entertainment. Be sure to book tickets in advance to secure your spot at one of these must-see shows.
7. Indulge In Traditional English Afternoon Tea
Indulge in the timeless English tradition of afternoon tea, a truly unmissable experience that embodies quintessential elegance and charm. Treat yourself to a selection of finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, and a variety of pastries and cakes.
There are plenty of places to enjoy afternoon tea in London, from luxurious hotels to quaint cafes. Some popular options include The Ritz London, Sketch, and The Sanderson. Many hotels and restaurants offer this experience, so be sure to make reservations beforehand.
But for a unique twist on afternoon tea, consider visiting the Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea at the Sanderson Hotel. Inspired by Alice in Wonderland, this immersive experience includes quirky treats such as Queen of Hearts rose and strawberry jammy dodgers, Tweedle Dee lemon curd financiers, and White Rabbit passion fruit pocket watches.
8. Shop At World-Renowned Department Stores
London is a shopper’s paradise, with famous department stores such as Harrods, Selfridges, and Liberty offering a luxurious retail experience. From high-end fashion to luxury goods and fine dining, these stores have it all.
But, don’t forget to also explore the boutique shops in trendy neighborhoods like Notting Hill and Shoreditch.
9. Hop-On And Hop-Off Tour
One of the best ways to see all that London has to offer is through a hop-on and hop-off bus tour. These tours allow you to explore the city at your own pace, hopping on and off at various stops throughout the day.
With routes covering popular landmarks like Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and Trafalgar Square, it’s an easy and convenient way to see the sights. Plus, many tours offer live commentary and even include a Thames River cruise in the price of your ticket too.
10. Take A Stroll Across Westminster Bridge
Take in one of the best views of London’s iconic landmarks by walking across Westminster Bridge. From here you can see Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, and the London Eye all in one breathtaking panorama. This is also a great spot for taking photos.
11. Visit Trafalgar Square
Located in central London, Trafalgar Square is a popular tourist spot for its impressive architecture and historical significance. Admire the famous Nelson’s Column and take in the view of the National Gallery, or catch one of the many street performers that often entertain visitors.
12. Indulge In Traditional English Cuisine
No trip to London is complete without trying some classic British dishes such as fish and chips, bangers and mash, and a full English breakfast. Head to a traditional pub or visit one of the city’s many trendy restaurants for a taste of the local cuisine.
A traditional English breakfast usually includes eggs, bacon, sausages, mushrooms, tomatoes, and toast. For an authentic experience, head to a local cafe or pub for a full English breakfast. Some popular spots include Terry’s Cafe, The Breakfast Club, Regency Cafe, and Duck & Waffle.
13. Take A Day Trip Out Of London
Although there is plenty to see and do in London, don’t miss the opportunity to explore other nearby cities and towns. Popular day trips include visiting historic Oxford or Cambridge, the charming seaside town of Brighton, or the picturesque Cotswolds countryside. These excursions offer a different perspective on England and are well worth the trip.
14. Take A Ride On The London Eye
Standing tall on the banks of the River Thames, the London Eye is a must-visit attraction for all visitors to the city. This giant ferris wheel offers breathtaking views of London’s famous landmarks, including Big Ben, St Paul’s Cathedral, and Buckingham Palace.
Each rotation on the London Eye takes about 30 minutes, giving you plenty of time to soak in the stunning views and take some incredible photos. For an extra special experience, book a private capsule with champagne or opt for the Fast Track tickets to skip the long lines.
15. Take A Thrilling Speedboat Ride Along The River Thames
For a more exhilarating experience on the River Thames, hop on a speedboat for a thrilling ride. You’ll zoom past London’s most iconic landmarks, including Tower Bridge, Big Ben, and the Houses of Parliament. Along the way, your guide will share fascinating stories about each landmark.
Various companies offer these speedboat tours, and some even offer themed experiences, such as James Bond or Harry Potter. Whichever tour you choose, it’s sure to be an exciting and memorable experience.
We had our speedboat experience with Thames Rockets.
16. Take A Yeoman Warder Tour At The Tower Of London
Learn about the Tower of London’s rich history on a tour led by one of the famous Yeoman Warders, also known as Beefeaters. These tours are included in the admission price and offer an entertaining and informative experience.
The Yeoman Warders will regale you with tales of royal executions, ravens, and ghost stories while showing you around this historic fortress. Don’t forget to snap a photo with them in their traditional Tudor uniforms.
The Tower of London has served as a royal palace, prison, armory, and even a zoo throughout its over 900-year history. Today, it is one of the most visited tourist attractions in London.
Explore the various towers and exhibitions within the Tower of London to learn about its dark and fascinating past. See the Crown Jewels, the world’s most famous diamond collection, and marvel at the intricate and priceless pieces on display.
Don’t miss out on witnessing the traditional Ceremony of the Keys, a nightly ritual that has taken place at the Tower every evening for over 700 years. It is a truly unique experience that should not be missed during your visit.
17. Tower Bridge
While walking across the bridge is free, access to the tower and the glass walkway requires a ticket. Tickets can be conveniently purchased in advance online or at Tower Bridge itself.
Take the elevator up to the pinnacle of the North Tower. Then, wander along the East Walkway and West Walkway, where you’ll encounter glass floors that offer captivating views of the bustling streets below. Descend the South Tower until you reach ground level. A brief stroll will lead you to the Engine Rooms, where you can delve into the fascinating history of how the drawbridge was powered before the advent of modern technology.
18. Thames River Cruise
A visit to London wouldn’t be complete without experiencing the city from its famous river, the Thames. Hop aboard a Thames River cruise and take in all of the iconic landmarks from a unique perspective.
Cruise past Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, and Westminster Abbey. Admire the grandeur of St Paul’s Cathedral and the modern architecture of the Tate Modern. Glide under London’s many bridges, including the majestic Tower Bridge.
Choose from a variety of cruises, including sightseeing tours and dining experiences. This is a fantastic way to see London’s top attractions while enjoying a relaxing boat ride along the Thames.
19. Borough Market
No visit to London is complete without a stop at Borough Market, one of the city’s oldest and largest food markets. Wander through the bustling stalls and indulge in delicious offerings from local vendors.
Sample artisanal breads, cheeses, meats, and pastries. Savor international dishes from all corners of the globe. Don’t forget to grab a cup of freshly brewed coffee or a pint of local craft beer while you’re there.
Borough Market is also known for its fresh produce, making it the perfect place to pick up ingredients for a picnic in one of London’s beautiful parks. Don’t miss out on this vibrant and delicious culinary experience.
20. Sky Garden
Experience London from a unique perspective at the Sky Garden, located on the 35th floor of the Walkie-Talkie building. This stunning indoor garden offers panoramic views of the city, along with restaurants and bars for a truly unforgettable experience. Dubbed the “Walkie-Talkie,” this building is renowned for its unique shape, often compared to that of a two-way radio handset.
Marvel at the city’s iconic skyline while enjoying a delicious meal or sipping on a cocktail. If you want to avoid the crowds, visit during off-peak hours and times of year. You must book (free) tickets in advance online.
Don’t miss out on this opportunity to see London from above and enjoy a peaceful escape from the bustling city below. The Sky Garden is truly a one-of-a-kind attraction.
Make sure to book your free tickets in advance to avoid disappointment, especially during summertime.
21. Natural History Museum
Another must-visit museum in London is the Natural History Museum. With a jaw-dropping collection of over 80 million specimens, this museum offers a unique and fascinating insight into our planet’s history.
From dinosaur skeletons to rare gemstones, the exhibits at the Natural History Museum will leave you in awe. The interactive displays make learning about science and nature fun for all ages.
Apart from the main exhibits, the museum also has special exhibitions and events throughout the year. Check their website for current and upcoming exhibitions, and make sure to plan your visit accordingly.
Don’t forget to take a stroll through the museum’s stunning architecture, including the impressive Hintze Hall with its iconic blue whale skeleton suspended from the ceiling. And if you’re feeling peckish, there are several cafes and restaurants on-site to refuel during your visit.
The Natural History Museum is not only a great place for learning and discovery but also a perfect spot for taking Instagram-worthy photos. With its grandeur and beauty, this museum is truly a must-visit attraction in London.
Make sure to add it to your itinerary and explore the wonders of the natural world at this incredible museum. And just like most of London’s museums, admission to the Natural History Museum is free, making it accessible for everyone. Additional charges for special exhibits.
22. Eat At An Unusual Cafe
London is full of unique and quirky cafes that are worth checking out. From themed cafes to hidden gems, there are plenty of options to satisfy your caffeine cravings while immersing yourself in the local culture.
One of the most popular unusual cafes in London is the Cereal Killer Cafe. This nostalgic cafe offers over 120 types of cereals from around the world, along with a variety of toppings and milk choices. With retro decor and colorful cereal boxes lining the walls, this cafe is a must-visit for any cereal lover.
Another unique cafe to visit is The Attendant. This cafe is located in a former underground public toilet and has been transformed into a cozy spot for coffee and brunch. It’s an Instagram-worthy location with its original Victorian features still intact.
23. Harry Potter 9 3/4 Photo Op
For Harry Potter fans, make sure to visit the iconic Platform 9 ¾ at King’s Cross Station. Here, you can have your photo taken while pushing a trolley through the magical wall to Hogwarts.
The photo prop is only available for photos when the Harry Potter store is open. Expect a big line.
24. Camden Market
For a unique shopping experience, visit Camden Market in North London. This bustling market is home to hundreds of stalls selling everything from vintage clothing and handmade jewelry to international street food.
Take your time wandering through the maze of stalls and be sure to try some of the delicious cuisine on offer, such as Thai noodles, loaded fries, and artisanal chocolates. The market also hosts live music and events, making it a fun and lively destination for all.
25. Imperial War Museum
For history and military enthusiasts, the Imperial War Museum is a must-visit attraction in London. This museum showcases the impact of war on people’s lives through powerful exhibitions and interactive displays.
Some highlights include the Holocaust Exhibition, which explores the Nazi persecution of Jews during World War II, and the First World War Galleries, which display artifacts and personal stories from those who lived through the war.
Admission to the museum is free, making it an accessible and educational experience for all visitors.
26. Harry Potter Studio Tour
Fans of the beloved Harry Potter series can step into the wizarding world with a visit to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter.
Located just outside of London, this attraction allows you to explore sets, costumes, and props from the movies, including the iconic Great Hall and Diagon Alley. You can also try your hand at “riding a broomstick (green screen enhanced)” or sipping on Butterbeer in the backlot cafe. It’s a magical experience that shouldn’t be missed by any Potterhead.
27. Harry Potter Walking Tour
For all the Harry Potter fans out there, a walking tour through London is a must-do. This guided tour takes you to many of the iconic locations featured in the books and films.
The tour also includes behind-the-scenes information and trivia about the making of the movies, making it a fun and informative experience for Potterheads of all ages.
Along the way, you’ll also learn about the inspiration behind some of these famous locations, and how they were transformed into the magical world of Harry Potter. Don’t forget to bring your camera for some great photo opportunities along the way!
28. Find Surviving Fragments Of The Roman City Wall
London has a rich history dating back to the Roman era, and one of the ways to experience this history is by finding surviving fragments of the Roman City Wall. This ancient wall was built in the 2nd century AD and surrounded the city for over 1,600 years.
Today, you can find remnants of the wall at various locations throughout London, such as Tower Hill, St. Giles Church and the Museum of London. Take a stroll along these historic sites and imagine what life was like during Roman times.
You can also join a guided tour to learn more about the wall’s history and significance, as well as its role in shaping modern-day London. Don’t miss this chance to step back in time and discover a part of ancient London that still exists in the present day.
29. Red Telephone Booth Photos
Another iconic sight in London is the red telephone booth, which can be found on almost every street corner. These phone booths may not be as commonly used nowadays due to the rise of cell phones, but they still make for a great photo opportunity.
Take a walk around the city and try to find the most unique or picturesque phone booth to capture in your photos. You can also venture out to the countryside and find these charming phone booths scattered throughout small villages.
But did you know that the red telephone booth was not always red? In fact, before 1924, they were painted green. It wasn’t until the General Post Office decided to standardize their color that they became the iconic red we know today.
30. Monument To The Great Fire Of London
If you’re interested in learning more about London’s rich history, make sure to visit the Monument to the Great Fire of London. This 202-foot-tall stone column was built between 1671 and 1677 to commemorate the Great Fire that ravaged the city in 1666.
31. St. Paul’s Cathedral
Located near the Monument, St. Paul’s Cathedral is another must-visit historical site in London. This stunning cathedral was built after the Great Fire and has become one of the city’s most iconic landmarks.
Visitors can climb up to the top of the dome for breathtaking views of the city skyline, or explore the lavish interior and learn about its role in British history. St. Paul’s Cathedral has hosted numerous events, including royal weddings and funerals, making it an important piece of London’s cultural heritage.
32. Covent Garden
For a taste of London’s vibrant culture and entertainment scene, head to Covent Garden. This bustling district is filled with street performers, quaint shops, and delicious food stalls.
Stop by the iconic Royal Opera House for a world-class performance or take a stroll through the charming streets lined with historic buildings and unique boutiques. No trip to London is complete without experiencing the lively atmosphere of Covent Garden.
33. Use The UNDERGROUND To Explore London
To truly immerse yourself in the city, use the Underground transportation system. Commonly known as the “tube,” this vast network of trains allows you to easily navigate your way around London.
Not only is it convenient and efficient, but it also gives you a glimpse into the daily lives of Londoners. You’ll see people from all walks of life using the Underground, making it a true representation of the diverse and dynamic city of London. Plus, you’ll save time and money by avoiding traffic and expensive taxis.
34. The Gardens At 120
For a quiet escape from the bustling city, head to The Garden at 120. Located on the rooftop of the Fenchurch Street skyscraper, this hidden gem offers stunning views of London’s skyline and a peaceful atmosphere.
Take a break from sightseeing and enjoy a picnic lunch surrounded by beautiful plants and flowers in this urban oasis. You can also grab a refreshing drink at the bar and relax in one of the sun loungers while taking in the breathtaking views.
35. Sherlock Holmes Pub and Museum
Fans of the iconic detective will not want to miss a visit to the Sherlock Holmes Pub and Museum. Located near Trafalgar Square, this pub is dedicated to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous character.
Inside, you’ll find memorabilia and artifacts from the series, including Dr. Watson’s service revolver and Sherlock’s deerstalker hat. You can also enjoy traditional English pub food and a pint of ale while surrounded by the cozy atmosphere of the Victorian-era pub. The meat pie is delicious!
Afterward, head to the Sherlock Holmes Museum, located just a few doors down from the pub. Step back in time and explore the famous detective’s home on Baker Street, complete with his study and living quarters filled with Victorian-era furnishings.
36. Leadenhall Market
For a taste of old London, visit Leadenhall Market. This covered market dates back to the 14th century and is filled with charming shops, cafes, and pubs. It’s also been used as a filming location for several popular movies, including Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
Take a stroll through the narrow alleys and admire the stunning architecture while browsing unique souvenirs and gifts. And don’t forget to stop by The Lamb Tavern, a traditional English pub located within the market, for a classic pint of beer or some hearty British fare.
37. Notting Hill
Known for its colorful houses, quaint cafes and bustling market, Notting Hill is a must-visit neighborhood in London. Stroll down Portobello Road and browse the eclectic mix of antiques, vintage clothing, and fresh produce at the famous Portobello Market.
Notting Hill also boasts beautiful parks like Holland Park and Kensington Gardens, perfect for a picnic or a relaxing walk. And for some delicious food, head to Farm Girl Cafe for their famous rose latte and avocado toast.
38. Search For Fun Statues
London is home to many unique and quirky statues that are worth seeking out. From the iconic Peter Pan statue in Kensington Gardens to the hidden Paddington Bear near Paddington Station, there’s something for everyone.
Take a walk around the city and see if you can find some of these fun and interesting sculptures. Some other notable statues include Mr. Bean, Harry Potter and Mary Poppins.
39. Visit Westminster Abbey
For a glimpse into English history and architecture, visit Westminster Abbey. This stunning Gothic church is over 1,000 years old and has been the site of coronations, weddings, and funerals for British monarchs.
Take a tour inside to explore the grand hallways and intricate stained-glass windows. You can also see the final resting places of famous figures such as Charles Dickens, Charles Darwin, and Sir Isaac Newton.
Westminster Abbey is not only a beautiful and historic landmark, but it also holds significant cultural and religious importance. It has been the site for coronations of British monarchs since 1066, with the most recent being King Charles III in May of 2023.
40. Take A Walking Tour Of London
Experience the best of London’s iconic tourist attractions up close with a captivating walking tour. Explore the city’s hidden gems and must-see sights with ease by joining a guided excursion on foot. Discover the charm and beauty of London as you stroll through its vibrant streets and immerse yourself in its rich history and culture. Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to uncover the wonders of the city on a memorable walking adventure.
41. Go Sightseeing On An Iconic London Red Double-Decker Bus
For a classic and traditional way to see the city, hop on an iconic London red double-decker bus. Enjoy views from the upper deck. Take a double-decker bus tour, or ride public transit where a single bus fare costs only £1.65. Riding on the top of a red double-decker bus offers an unparalleled view.
42. Hyde Park Peadlo Or Rowboat
Experience the charm of Hyde Park’s renowned Serpentine Lake by renting a pedalo or rowboat. Available from April to October, this delightful activity promises a memorable outing amidst picturesque surroundings. While you’re in Hyde Park, do not miss the opportunity to take a stroll through the park’s beautiful gardens and enjoy a picnic on a sunny day.
London is a city steeped in history, culture, and charm. From its iconic landmarks to hidden gems, there’s always something new to discover in this bustling metropolis. So make sure to include these must-see attractions and experiences in your itinerary for an unforgettable trip to London. And remember, the best way to truly experience this vibrant city is by immersing yourself in its unique culture and exploring it like a local. Hop on the Underground, wander through the streets of Covent Garden, and take in the breathtaking views from St. Paul’s Cathedral.
You’ll leave London wanting to come back for more.
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