Traveling to the energetic and colorful British capital? From world-famous tourist staples to hidden treasures, this is your ultimate checklist of the best as well as most fun and awesome things to do in London. Whether you’re a history buff, foodie, shopaholic or an art connoisseur, you will find something delightful in this London travel guide.
London is truly a treasure trove of intriguing diversions and spectacular wonders. To be honest, you are totally spoil for choice with things to do in London. Multicultural and zesty, England’s capital is, after all, a diverse hodgepodge of theaters, five-star hotels, street markets, Michelin-star restaurants, world-class attractions. What’s more, it is a global city and international capital of culture, education, music, trade and fashion.
1. Swing by Westminster Abbey
Sitting wonderfully at the back of Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey is a stunning gothic church and a UNESCO World Heritage site that should be on your list of things to do in London. From aristocrats to scientists and poets, there have been quite a lot of notable names that have been a part of this historic landmark in London, England. As a matter of fact, it was the church where Kate Middleton and Prince William got married in 2011.
2. Marvel at the admirable works of art at Tate Modern
Tate Modern is, without a shadow of a doubt, a majestic exhibition area that should be on every art lover’s bucket list. Not only is it a sought-after London attraction, but it also lauded as one the finest contemporary art galleries on the face of the earth. As you step inside this gallery, you’ll be utterly amazed by its vast collection of more than 50,000 incredible works of art from many famous artists, such as Warhol, Matisse, Pollock and Rodin. As an added bonus, the gallery is housed inside a striking building, and boasts a café with great vistas of the Thames.
3. Look for cheap finds at Camden Market
For bargain hunters, make sure to include Camden Market to your route planner as well as list of things to do in London. Open every day from 9:30 am to 6 pm, this market sprawls with over 150 stalls selling almost everything, from food and furniture to plenty of fashionable items. Whether you are looking for vintage home décor, ethic foods or cheap graphic shirts, the market has an assortment of items to fill your needs and appease your shopping itch.
4. Visit the British Museum
Looking for super amazing free things to do in London? Then, make sure to pay a visit the British Museum! One of the best free London attractions, and considered the city’s top museum, British Museum is indeed an architectural beauty as well as a home to some of the most noteworthy antiquities in the world, such as the Lindow Man, Elgin Marbles and Rosetta Stone.
5. Experience the Tower of London
Don’t let its grim and slightly unimpressive façade fool you! Though its exterior isn’t spectacular, the interior of Tower of London is always whirling with fun and activity. As you step inside this building, you’ll get a chance to stake a seflie with a uniformed guard, enjoy a striking view of the Tower Bridge, and gaze at the mesmerizing Crown Jewels exhibit.
6. Have a laugh at the city’s longest running comedy night for free
Comics Mondays – the longest running gratis comedy night – is, as far as I’m concerned, a sure-fire way to catch upcoming talents in the world of stand-up comedy. Held at the Theatre Royal Stratford East’s bar, sessions for this free show start at 8 pm, with an assemblage of stand-up comedians on a mission to make you laugh. And, if the comics fail to stimulate your funny bone, you still can enjoy your visit there by enjoying a few drinks.
7. Experience The London Eye
The London Eye – the gigantic Ferris wheel found in a lot of London panoramas – was not meant to deliver a thrilling ride, but to offer great views of the city. It slowly circles around, offering an irresistible bird’s eye perspective of South Bank in London. But, those who are afraid of heights must beware. When you are over 400 feet high, the wheel’s 360-degree vistas can be a little bit disconcerting.
8. Wander around Portobello Road Market
Both tourists and locals tend to admire Portobello Road Market. Situated in the classy Notting Hill neighborhood, this well-known market extends down the length Portobello, which is revered as the high and main street of Nothing Hill. This beloved market is literally filled with merchants (over 1,000) of all sorts, selling an array of common flea market things such as food, clothing, and jewelry. But, what really makes this market stand out, apart from its colorful and adorable location, is its fine collection of quintessential English items and antiques.
9. Visit the Buckingham Palace
No London trip, to me, is complete without a stopover at Queen Elizabeth’s residence in London – the Buckingham Palace. Except for the private quarters of the queen, the place is open for tours that will take you to the 19 State Rooms, from which the queen as well as the resort of the royal family will host guests for ceremonial, official and state affairs. Accented opulently with candelabra, exquisite French and English furniture, chandeliers, and paintings by Rubens, these rooms showcase some of the Royal Collection’s most fabulous pieces.
10. See the Changing of the Guard Ceremony
Speaking of Buckingham Palace, don’t forget to witness the manor’s globally renowned military spectacle – the Changing of the Guard. Deemed as one of the must-try things to do in London, this royal military ceremony is a wondrous show, and the epitome of British pageantry. Gaze in awe as the remarkable Royal Guards – all decked in their dazzling uniforms – execute the switch in flawless sync.
And by the way, did I mention that it is one of the coolest things to do in London?
11. Explore Hyde Park
Visiting London on a tight budget? One of the best things to do in London, for budget-conscious travelers, is to visit and explore Hyde Park. A former stomping and recreational ground of King Henry VII, this lovely stretch of green has a host of marvelous attractions, including the Serpentine, the Speakers Corner, and the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain. Not to mention, it is rather serene and easygoing, making it a soothing respite for those who want to get away from the city’s unflagging energy.
12. Admire the grand masterpieces at the National Gallery
For everyone’s favorite price of zero dollars, National Gallery will give a glimpse of some of the world’s grandest paintings and most elaborate masterpieces, such as the “Sunflowers” of Van Gogh, and “Venus and Mars” of Botticelli. The way I see it, visiting the National Gallery is a can’t-miss and must-include entry to your list of things to do in London.
13. Stroll around Piccadilly Circus
Piccadilly Circus, often compared to NYC’s Times Square, is a buzzing place best known for its nightlife spots, shops and restaurants. Exuding excitement and energy, the place is best experienced at night, when the bright neon lights of its billboards reflect off the Eos statue and Edwardian-era buildings.
14. Catch a show at West End Theatre District
Watching at play at the West End theater district in London is just as necessary as catching a show on Broadway during your NYC trip. Its shows are nothing short of amazing, and the constant blend of classic and modern products with world-renowned (think Benedict Cumberbatch and Andrew Lloyd Weber) and local tale excites locals and foreign visitors alike. Even if you are not a theater devotee, the atmosphere of district, especially near the zesty Leicester Square, is definitely worth a late night visit.
15. Cross the Tower Bridge
Want to experience a free tour that will hit some of the notable London sights and landmarks? I suggest that you walk across the must-see architectural marvel, Tower Bridge. Crossing the bridge lets you take in iconic sights for free, such as the Big Ben, London Eye, Saint Paul’s Cathedral, Houses of Parliament, the Gherkin, and Tower of London.
16. Tour the Houses of Parliament
The Houses of Parliament, made up of the House of Commons and House of Lords, fill the sprawling Palace of Westminster. Self-guided and guided tours are highly recommended, as they will take you through a multitude of areas on the building, including the Royal Gallery, the House of Commons Chamber and Westminster Hall. If, however, you are not interested in visiting the halls make up the governing body of the United Kingdom, you may simply admire the impressive exterior of the structure.
17. Pay homage to Saint Paul’s Cathedral
Saint Paul’s Cathedral – one of the must-visit churches in London – wows its patrons with its imposing dome and intricate interior. To make the most of your stopover, make sure to climb to the top of the legendary dome, to the Golden Gallery. You have to take a steep hike (528 steps), but after catching your breath, you will enjoy far-reaching views of the Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, Tate Modern and River Thames.
18. Watch live street performances for free at Covent Garden Market
Covent Garden Market’s West Piazza, every afternoon, transforms into a convivial entertainment hub that bursts with bewitching performers and entertainers. Here, you may catch a series of thrilling acts and performances from jugglers, uni-cyclists, acrobats, ropewalkers, magicians, sword swallowers and escapologists. To make things even more exciting and fun, you are going to find a glut of artists and comedians who will amuse you with their talents, wits and charms.
19. Enjoy the outstanding views at Walkie-Talkie Sky Garden
Walkie-Talkie Sky Garden, although it is relatively new, is fast becoming a major attraction in London, and for good reason. Deemed as one of the best free things to do in London, Walkie-Talkie Sky Garden will give breathtaking views of London and its nearby areas from 155 meters up.
20. Spot a celebrity at the most celebrated cemetery in London
Most folks come to Highgate Cemetery – the most celebrated cemetery in London, England – to pay their respects to Karl Marx. But, make no mistake about – there’s a whole display of world-famous names entombed here, including pop star Patrick Caulfield, impresario and Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren, Issachar Zacharie and Douglas Adams.
21. Visit one of the best bookstores in the world
For bookworms who are looking for the best things to do in London, don’t forget to visit the London Review Bookshop, which is often labeled as one the world’s finest bookstores. Stocking a wonderfully curated selection of over 20,000 titles, the bookstore not only offers best-sellers, but also some magazines, rare imports, and small-press imprints. Plus, the bookstore has an ace coffee shop, regular signings and readings and a scholarly-yet-friendly staff, making it a worthy entry to each bibliophile’s bucket list.
22. See London from the sky with Emirates Air Line
With Emirates Air Line, you’ll get to see the city of London like you have never seen before. While it’s not a practical option for a typical London commute, this cable car ride will nonetheless give you awe-inspiring overlooking views of the marinas and towers of Dockland, the Olympic Park, and the Greenwich peninsula.
23. Get a sweet taste of China
Grand gold and red gates, lion statues, colorful pagodas and bilingual street signs welcome you to London’s Chinatown – the area between Shaftesbury Avenue and Leicester Square that is packed with shops and restaurants devoted to Asian culture. Here, you can browse the wonderful and weird products in supermarkets like See Woo. Likewise, you may pop into Chinatown Bakery for a tasty and cheap lunch, or cap off your exciting night out in London with a hearty meal in Four Seasons.
24. Snap photos of the eye-catching flowers at Kew Gardens
The lovely colors at Kew Gardens change throughout the year, from the awe-inspiring sea of white and purple crocuses in February t the red poppies from flourish in August. Check out the official Kew Gardens website, to know what’s blooming during your London visit.
25. See London from River Thames
The Thames is by far London’s lifeblood, bringing a whole slew industries to the metropolis for hundreds of years. It is the longest river in England, leading at its end into the North Sea. It has been a base and hub for settlements since ancient times, and was a strategic importance to the English Kings and Romans, as well as during the two World Wars.
There are a lot of companies in the city that offer cruise rides across Thames. River cruises run as often as every half an hour, from many different key locations. These cruises pass by a ton of familiar sightseeing spots, such as the London Eye, Houses of Parliament and Tower Bridge. Some cruise rides operate at night, allowing you see some of the best London sights all lit up, while others are served with an afternoon tea or a meal.
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