If you’re looking for top things to do in London, this guide will take you through 32 of the best things to do in London.
When it comes to planet Earth’s mecca-cities, London, rightfully, takes its place in that elusive club. There’s so much history, and to see and do, in the high-energy capital of the United Kingdom.
With five major international airports in Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton, and London City, getting to the heart of this world-famous capital has never been easier.
Whatever type of experience you’re looking for, the chances are it can be found, somewhere, in London. You could arguably spend a lifetime there, and still not see everything. But to make it easier for you, we’ve compiled our diverse list of top things to see and do in London, so that you don’t have to waste time mulling over all the options.
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Arguably London’s most iconic landmark, the Tower of London plays host to over 1000 years of history. Built by William the Conqueror in 1806, the tower has been a feared fortress, royal palace, and notorious prison.
The jewel in the crown, excuse the pun, is without question the Crown Jewels. A symbol of the British Monarchy, the Imperial State Crown, in particular, is a dazzling sight to behold. In addition to seeing the jewels, you can also join in on one of the highly regarded Yeoman Warders tours. Full of insight and enthusiasm, they’ll tell you all about the grizzlier side of the tower, from Henry VIII’s wife executions to many of the infamous prisoners that ended up in the dungeons.
Be sure to get to the tower early, as queues are common.
Tip: Enjoy Access to 80+ London attractions, including the Tower of London, with the London Pass.
Unless you’ve spent the last twenty-five years in a silo, no doubt you’ve heard of everyone’s favorite bolt-scarred wizard. The Warner Brothers Studio tour is a must-do for Potter-fanatics, film-enthusiasts, and anyone who’s looking for a fun day out.
The tours always provide transfer to and from the center of London. Once you’re at the studio, gear up for several hours of magic and adventure. You’ll be able to set foot on the actual sets the movies were filmed, including Diagon Alley and Platform 9 3/4. There’s plenty of passionate tour guides more than willing to guide you through the sets, props, and costumes, and you’ll be able to eat and drink much of the magical food and drink featured in the films.
One of the world’s tallest observation wheels, the London Eye gives you some truly breathtaking views of the city skyline.
The capsules are comfortable and offer a unique panoramic view of the city. Over 40 minutes, you’ll soar as high as 135 meters. If you’re looking for a special experience, the London Eye offers a range of luxury experiences on the wheel. Champagne dinners, 4D experiences, and private bookings are all available to book.
Get your London Eye Tickets from their official website here.
Big Ben overlooking the Houses of Parliament, its famous bongs echoing through the air, is one of London’s most iconic images.
Tours of U.K. Parliament and Big Ben are available all year round. At the hands of a well-versed expert, you’ll learn all about the history of these globally recognized buildings, and have the opportunity to marvel at their grand architecture as part of a walking tour.
Be sure to double-check availability, as tour times vary according to refurbishment work on the structures, and parliamentary recesses.
Undoubtedly one of the hallmark’s of London’s architectural feats, Westminster Abbey is the final resting place of no fewer than 17 British monarchs.
Inside, your jaw will drop at the exquisite Gothic architecture, and intricate stained glass windows. Highlights include the Coronation Chair, and memorials lining the Poets’ Corner., where you can pay your respects.
You have the choice of either a guided tour or an audio tour, based on your preferences. If only for its magnificence, it’s a must-see landmark of London.
A true feat of British engineering, Tower Bridge has been the gateway for boats and cargo to sail to and from the docks, via the Thames.
At night, it’s somewhat of a dazzling spectacle. Lights line its exterior and reflect beautifully into the waters below. However, if you want to get a real feel of the awe of the structure, you should take one of the daytime tours through its Victorian engine rooms.
The cherry on top of an informative, insightful tour, is the view of London from the walkway. Cameras at the ready, as this is an Instagram opportunity not to be overlooked.
Since the 13th century, Southwark’s famous Borough Market has been dousing the lips and filling the stomachs of punters, journeymen, opportunists, and tourists, from all over the world.
If you enjoy soaking up the atmosphere and energy of a market in full swing, be sure to stop by for lunch or on the weekend. If you prefer a little more room and time to explore, the markets are open until 5 pm Monday to Thursday, and Saturday, and 6 pm on Friday.
Whatever your palette, or desired tastes, the market has something for everyone.
This exquisite glass dome, situated on Fenchurch Street, is the perfect place to spend your evening. Order yourself a drink, sit back, and enjoy the view.
The public gardens surrounding the building are beautifully landscaped, and the sunset on most evenings is to die for. There are plenty of observation decks, and an open-air terrace, for you to enjoy the view from.
If you’re feeling hungry, there’s plenty of house restaurants that will serve you up a plate of something delicious. Plus, it’s free to enter.
The home of English football, Wembley has played host to an incredible list of music concerts, exhibitions, sports, and football finals, over the decades.
The brand new state-of-the-art stadium, officially reopened in 2007, has everything you could ever want from a stadium, and more.
The guided tours, around 75-90 minutes long, will take you through the stadium’s history and its defining moments. You’ll also visit the players tunnel, press room, Royal Box, and witness a whole host of iconic memorabilia, from World Cup finals to Olympic Games.
The view of the empty stadium, from high up in the stands, is guaranteed to take your breath away.
The official home of the British Monarchy, the palace is a unique and gorgeously designed building, that never fails to amaze come rain or shine.
If you book a tour, you’ll have access to the inside of the palace. This includes seeing the 19 State Rooms, that host a range of ceremonial and entertainment events. The Changing of the Guard is also an intriguing ceremony to watch from the grounds.
If you don’t book a tour, you can still see the palace and grounds from behind the gate, and watch the ceremonies from afar.
The tallest building in the E.U., The Shard is a stunning piece of engineering. Consisting of an impressive ninety-five floors, the building’s unique, glass-panel design make it one of the most recognizable in Europe.
Ascend to the summit, and you’ll be treated to a glorious, 360-degree view of London. See how many famous landmarks you can spot, all while sipping a glass of champagne or a cold beer from the stylish bar on the top floor.
Meandering its way through the heart of London is the River Thames. This sprawling, vast river that feeds into the English Channel, is the perfect backdrop to enjoy a cruise along the water.
Many tours, boats, and cruises operate along the river. Some cater to tourists, keen to take you to the sights that line the banks, and surrounding areas, of the river. Others other more luxurious services, such as boat parties, afternoon tea, and live music. Whatever your tastes, motoring along those famous waters, the London skyline for company, is always more than worth the money.
To book online, check out this list of cruises.
Some cities never go to sleep, and London is very much in that exclusive pack. Once the sun sets and darkness descends, a whole different side of the city gloriously emerges.
A guided tour of the city by night is a spectacle you’ll never forget. See some of London’s most iconic landmarks, including Big Ben and the Tower of London, lit up against a velvet backdrop. Trafalgar Square, with its neon screens and dancing fountains, will instantly capture your imagination. And if you manage to tour during December, the light shows will blow your mind to places far and beyond!
Dubbed the city’s most highly acclaimed gin experience, No. 171 Portobello Road is where a small distillery, with a big history, awaits your craftsmanship.
The tour, which lasts several hours, will take you through the entire gin-making process. You’ll get to sample plenty of gin, learn all about the distilling process, and mix and distill your very own gin, labeled and sealed, ready for you to take home with you. There’s also plenty of free cocktails along the way, and a bottle of the Ginstitute’s finest to take home. A fantastic experience for lovers of Britain’s favorite alcoholic drink.
Ever wanted to get up and personal with your favorite celebrities? Well, at Madame Tussauds, now you can…
…well, maybe they’re not quite the real thing, but they most certainly look it! The museum is home to over 250 lifelike waxwork models of some of the world’s most famous people. From monarchs to rockstars, presidents to sporting icons, the models are incredibly lifelike. A fun, entertainment afternoon awaits.
Expertly orchestrated, the London Dungeon experience is one that’ll have you laughing out loud, then jumping out of your skin!
Take a trip through impressive replicas of some of London’s areas with notoriously harrowed pasts, such as Sweeny Todd’s barbershop on Fleet Street, or Whitechapel in 1888, home of Jack the Ripper.
All the while, actors and actresses dressed as London’s most infamous criminals and murderers, will entertain and shock you, while your tour guide will recount their gruesome stories. Tongue-in-cheek, well organized, and a lot of laughs, yelps, and fun.
An intricately stunning structure, the dome of the cathedral has been apart of the iconic London skyline for centuries.
Courtesy of your own guide, or the audio tour, you can explore the immaculately decorated floor and crypt, at your own leisure. Then, when you’re ready to get stepping, the stairwell that passes three galleries to the top of the dome awaits you.
The dome’s ceiling, itself, is a marvelous structure. But venture outside, and you’ll be treated to some beautiful panoramic views of London.
The place to see some of the most spectacular theatre and musicals in the world, London’s West End has a wide range of performances to pick from.
There’s a long list of grand theatres that line the streets, including London Palladium, Dominion, and the Apollo. All regularly show a wide range of world-class plays, musicals, comedies, operas, and dance shows.
Most recently, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has added itself to the list of sought after performances, which include Les Miserables, The Phantom of the Opera, and Mamma Mia!, to name but a few. If you’re certain about what you’d like to see, be sure to book online well in advance. If you want to take a chance on the day, head to Leicester Square’s TKTS booth and see what tickets they have left, usually at a huge discount.
Just a few meters down from 10 Downing Street, home of the U.K. prime minister, a small arrangement of rooms, with huge significance, await your keen eyes and intrigue.
The rooms were used during WWII to form military strategies to stifle the German invasion and, ultimately, win the war. Since the end of WWII in 1945, the rooms have remained in pristine condition, and now pay homage to the man who is widely regarded as the most important U.K. prime minister of all time: Winston Churchill.
Courtesy of an expert guide, you’ll explore the tunnels important members of government used during bombings. The rooms are filled with artifacts, letters, and multimedia about Churchill and his life. Re-enactments of his war speeches, in particular, will line your limbs with goosebumps.
At the turn of the century, there were just two micro-breweries in London. Now, there are over 1000 and counting!
London has been at the forefront of the craft beer and ale movement in the U.K. Many pubs across the city, rich in Victorian history, have been transformed into lively, energetic watering holes serving London’s richest, wildest, and wackiest beverages.
Plenty of beer-enthused locals run pub tours and crawls across the city, all with their unique spin and vibrant flavors. The south of the city, in particular, Brixton, is awash with craft beer and breweries.
Cycling is a huge part of London life for many locals. With the cost of parking, the congestion charge, and efficient public transport, many have ditched owning motorized four wheels in favor of pedaling two.
Seeing London by bike is a great way to see not only the landmark sights but also plenty of hidden gems off the beaten track. Cycle tours are in abundance and are a great way to spend 3-5 hours of your time. If you need to ease the hangover from all those ales on the pub crawl, go don your helmet!
Housed between the walls of a building with breathtaking architecture, lies the world-famous exhibits of the National History Museum.
There’s so much to see and do inside. Dinosaur skeletons and taxidermist animals fill one floor. Another is filled with precious minerals and gemstones. There’s even a section dedicated to outer space and our solar system.
You could spend hours in here, and still not see everything — a cheap, inspiring, and insightful way to spend an afternoon.
World-famous for its energy and variety, Camden Market in full swing is a spectacle not to be missed.
Search hard enough, and you can find absolutely anything amid the rows and rows of stalls. Nepalese capes, Turkish crockery, retro suede boots: this place has it all, and then some! It feels like the market goes on for miles, and there’s also plenty of food stalls and live entertainment to enjoy.
Just be sure to prepare yourself for the crowds, if you go at peak times. After all, the market is famous for a reason.
The famous WWII warship is now a museum, paying tribute to all those who fought in the war. The tours are known for their detail, and they leave no stone unturned. You’ll visit all parts of the ship, from the boiler room to the artillery depot, and learn so much about life at sea during wartime Britain.
’ It’s an intimate experience, that really does put you in the shoes of those who spent years of their lives living aboard a ship.
Seen by many as the world’s greatest museum of art and design, and for good reason. Each floor is absolutely packed with art, sculpture, artifacts, furniture, multimedia, and design, covering a diverse spread of cultures and countries, across a timeline covering centuries.
The standard exhibits are free to enjoy, and they always have a guest exhibition you can pay a little extra to see, often focussing on a particularly important person or movement.
From Trajan’s Column in the Roman room to costumes from famous films, there’s something for everyone to enjoy at the V&A.
Arguably London’s most famous park, it consists of 350 acres of relaxing greenery, with plenty of famous features for good measure. These include Speakers’ Corner, where random people come to speak what’s on their mind, and Rotton Row, where you can ride horses.
Serpentine Lake is tranquil to sit by and watch time go by, and you can spend hours wandering around the park, enjoying the scenery and people watching. Bring a blanket and plenty of party food, and you’ve got yourself one splendid afternoon!
The British Museum’s ultimate aim is to tell the story of our world’s history. It is full to the brim of exhibitions showcasing artifacts, sculptures, and items of significance, dating back to early man through a long line of historically significant civilizations.
Although awe-inducing, it can be overwhelming. That’s why a tour guide, with expert knowledge in the history of man’s progression, can help piece all the exhibitions together. Together, you’ll learn all about man’s progression from hunting and gathering, through to building empires, with expert insight and historical context.
A truly one-of-a-kind little shop, God’s Own Junkyard can be found on Ravenswood Industrial Estate on Shernhall Street. They also have a pop-up shop on the 4th floor of Selfridges during Christmas.
The store is packed to the rafters with an eccentric collection of neon signage, from all over the world. Chris Bracey, the man behind the magnificence, has been salvaging and restoring anything neon-lit for four decades. From Las Vegas signs to fairground rides, there’s a treasure trove of color, jazz, and character, waiting to be explored and enjoyed.
London has been the birth home, or adopted home, for people of huge significance, both real and fictional, over many centuries.
Rather than trying to cover the famous landmarks, which is impossible on foot in a day, many of the city’s walking tours put a theme, or person of interest, at the focus of their tour.
Eccentric detective Sherlock Holmes, JK Rowling’s boy wizard Harry Potter, and beloved time lord Doctor Who are all characters with walking tours. If you’re keen to see the film locations, and learn more about their universes, while seeing plenty of the city, they’re a great way to do it.
A colorful, vibrant area, Covent Garden is a popular place for Londoners from all walks of life to shop, eat, and be entertained.
The street shows are fascinating, and from fire breathing to break dancing, there’s always something entertaining happening. Actors Church is well worth a visit, and the wide range of markets and restaurants means there’s something for everyone. Embrace the energy, and you can spend many hours here.
With plenty of herbal medicines and remedies to choose from, a relaxing afternoon at Rupert Jade could be just what’s needed after all the shopping and sightseeing in London. Enjoy traditional Thai massage, and plenty of other therapies, at this highly regarded parlor.
Finally, it’s more than worth mentioning the incredible diversity of the city’s nightlife. From the pulsing beats of the Ministry of Sound club in Elephant and Castle to the wacky ska bands at the Jamm in Brixton, there really is something for everyone.
Leicester Square, Soho, and Shoreditch are all popular places to drink the night away. And if live music is more your jam, be sure to check out Camden and Brixton.
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