Welcome to one of the most exciting cities in Europe! London is the ultimate holiday destination with more attractions than we’d like to count and endless things to do!
I lived here for a while and loved it! Since I got to be a tourist as well as a local, I discovered all the top places that no visitor should miss, so I wanted to assist you in your planning by making this carefully curated list of the best things to do in London!
I know in a city like this one you’ll want to try it all, and most people are likely to fall for at least a couple of tourist traps. But you can rest assured that in this post you’ll find all the major and valuable attractions in London plus some practical information on where to stay and how to get around, after the main section.
But before we get started, remember that London is a major tourist hub (and also pretty expensive). That’s why I recommend booking hotels, ticket attractions and plane tickets in advance. Trust me when I tell you that the prices increase day by day!
I can already hear London calling so let’s go!
- If you are in a hurry
- 1. Explore all the parks in London
- 2. See the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace
- 3. Go shopping on Oxford Street
- 4. Admire the architecture of St. Paul’s Cathedral
- 5. Eat yummy street food in Camden
- 6. Attend the famous Portobello Road Market
- 7. Hear spooky stories at the Tower of London
- 8. Learn new things at the free London museums
- 9. Ride the London Eye
- 10. Catch a street show in Trafalgar Square
- 11. Party all night in Soho
- 12. Go vintage shopping in Brick Lane
- 13. See Lady Diana’s favorite spots at Kensington Palace
- 14. Admire the views on a River Thames cruise
- 15. Take pics from the Viewing Gallery at the Shard
- 16. Visit the famous Westminster Abbey
- 17. Spend your Sunday at Columbia Road Flower Market
- 18. Catch a sunset at Hampstead Heath
- 19. Prepare your polyjuice potion in Harry Potter’s world
- 20. Check out the city jungle at Barbican Conservatory
- 21. Snap a picture of Big Ben & visit the Houses of Parliament
- 22. Celebrate Christmas at Winter Wonderland
- 23. Watch a movie in Leicester Square cinemas
- 24. Stand on the Prime Meridian Line in Greenwich Park
- 25. Take a creepy Jack the Ripper walking tour
- 26. See the Churchill War Rooms
- 27. Catch a play at one of the theaters in London
- 28. Ride a double decker bus
- BONUS: Things to do in London with kids
- Practical information about London
- Frequently asked questions about London
If you are in a hurry
Here are the main things to book in advance:
- Visit the Viewing Gallery at the Shard
- Join a River Thames Cruise
- See Harry Potter World at Warner Bros. Studio
1. Explore all the parks in London
No matter the season, London’s parks look so dreamy (although I’ve got to confess I prefer them in the fall). Most of them are huge and filled with many trees older than all of us, friendly squirrels who won’t shy away from making new friends and other cute animals like ducks and swans who absolutely love the admiration from all the humans.
Oh yes, there’s nothing like a walk in one of these parks, but since there are quite many I’ve decided to make a list so you can pick your favorite, or even hit all of them if you’ve got the time.
1.1 Hyde Park
Set in Central London, this is one of the most famous royal parks! Hyde Park is pretty huge, which explains why although I’ve been here numerous times, it always feels different. Plus it also includes the Kensington Gardens, but the 2 are separated by the famous Serpentine River.
Hyde Park is perfect for an afternoon walk or just sitting on the bench and admiring the surroundings!
But there are other things you can try as well like renting a bike and seeing much more of the grounds. You can find the bike rental stations on Green Street, Park Lane, Hyde Park Corner, Albert Gate and Queen’s Gate) and it usually costs around £1.65 for 30 minutes.
1.2 Richmond Park
Who wants to see some cute deer? Richmond Park in South-West London used to be a hunting place in the 17th- century, but now it serves as one of the city’s top parks!
Don’t be surprised if you spot tons of birds, deers and other animals! The park is such an oasis of tranquility where you can walk or cycle for hours. Yep you can rent bikes here as well but only from one location. Prices differ depending on the season and bike you’re borrowing, but usually 1h costs around £12. You can check the other prices on the website.
PRO TIP: You can pre-book your bikes at least 24h in advance of your visit from their website and get a 10% discount
1.3 Holland Park
Set in the Kensington area, not too far from the Kensington Palace, Holland Park is one of London’s greatest green areas where you can escape the city noise and even see a traditional Japanese Garden.
1.4 Regent’s Park
I’m sure you’ll pass through North London while you stay in this amazing city because there are many attractions there! Including Regent’s Park, which is not only one of the best things to do in London but also Camden!
The park was named after King George IV, who was nicknamed the “playboy prince” before he ascended the throne.
Home also to the London Zoo, the park is so abundant in wildlife, a beautiful rose garden and lots of trees. Just the perfect spot to relax after a busy day of visiting the London attractions.
2. See the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace
Home to the British Royal family since the 1800s when Queen Victoria moved here, this historical landmark has become more and more popular with tourists wanting to see where the Monarch lives.
Buckingham Palace has 775 rooms and is the largest private garden in London.
It’s one of the most fascinating places in the city and although its view from outside is amazing, you’ve got to get inside to get the real juice!
Of course only a part of the Palace is open to visitors, but it’s definitely worth seeing even just a snippet of how the royals live their lives here!
NOTE: The Palace is open for visitors only a few months a year, usually between July and October, but that may change so double check the website. Sometimes they also offer guided tours during the other months but this can also change.
Still, if the palace is closed when you visit London and you don’t really want to pay a fortune to see it, make sure you at least catch the world famous changing of the guard ceremony.
This is one of the best free things to do in London! But it also holds great significance as it represents the time when the King’s guards basically hand over the responsibility of protecting the Palace from harm’s way to the New Guard.
Usually the ceremony starts at 11:00 AM everyday but times may change so I’d recommend checking this website if you want to attend.
If you’re looking for the best spot to catch the ceremony then it may be a bit difficult since it takes place in 3 locations (Buckingham Palace, St James’s Palace and Wellington Barrack) but you can always go on a guided tour with a local guide that will take you to the best spots!
3. Go shopping on Oxford Street
I hope you’ve prepared your wallets for a major shopping spree on one of London’s most famous streets. Oxford Street is one of the biggest attractions in London, and one of the busiest shopping streets in Europe!
From gift shops, to many sweet shops, high-end fashion stores and restaurants, Oxford Street is a place that you’ll always remember.
There are around 300 shops on Oxford Street, including some important department stores like Selfridges and House of Fraser.
NOTE: If you’re coming around Christmas time you’re in for a treat! Not only will you find so many cute gifts for your dear ones, but you’ll also get to enjoy all the Christmas decorations!
4. Admire the architecture of St. Paul’s Cathedral
Exploring London on foot will give you a chance to see and admire its beautiful buildings without having to pay a penny, but I’d definitely spare a few bucks in order to see those iconic landmarks from the inside as well.
That would go for St. Paul’s Cathedral which has one of the biggest Domes in the world and the second-largest one in Europe! We have an entire post on how you can buy your tickets easily.
This stunning site was featured in many movies like Lawrence of Arabia, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Sherlock Holmes, and Thor: The Dark World!
While you’re here make sure you see all its parts like the Cathedral Floor, Crypt and the Dome Galleries.
PRO TIP: You can visit the Cathedral for free during the Sunday service but you won’t be allowed to walk around or visit the Dome and other attractions inside, you’ll only stay in the main hall.
PRICE: £18 (US$21)
5. Eat yummy street food in Camden
I would definitely take at least half a day to explore this area in North London!
Camden is a popular tourist destination in the city and there are so many things to do here from eating delicious food, shopping for hidden gems in the vintage shops and of course checking out the street art scene.
These are just the highlights though, I’ve got a whole post with all the best things to do in Camden, where I talk about all the details.
But I guess the first and main stop here would be at Camden Market. One of the many markets in the neighborhood, where you find food stalls and souvenir shops.
Then I’d just recommend walking around the area, since it’s pretty compact and you’ll stumble across most attractions as you’re exploring it.
Did you know that there were so many celebrities who lived in Camden? Late singer Amy Winehouse (who’s statue you can see on Chalk Farm Road), Kate Moss, and Jude Law used to call this area their home.
If you stay until the end of the day I’d also make sure to catch a live music show. Jazz, indie and folk music are so big in Camden and there are lots of cool places where you can enjoy a drink and a nice live music show like the Jazz Cafe, Dublin Castle Pub and the Electric Ballroom.
6. Attend the famous Portobello Road Market
If Oxford Street is the spot to buy fancy clothes and expensive gifts, then Portobello Road Market is the place to buy quirky vintage souvenirs that you won’t find anywhere else!
Hands-down one of the best things to do in Notting Hill (and one of my favorites), the Portobello Road Market is a perfect spot for hunting unique clothes, jewelry and eating yummy street food (I’ve found some amazing rings here)!
Although you’ll find most of the shops open throughout the week, if you want to find all the food vendors, clothing stalls and basically experience the market as a whole, then I recommend coming on Saturday, as that’s kind of the official day when the market is open!
7. Hear spooky stories at the Tower of London
This ancient castle is a UNESCO World Heritage site and was built a long time ago by William the Conqueror to protect his beloved land.
The Tower has had many purposes over the years including a prison were offenders were taken to be questioned (sometimes even tortured or arrestend). But it was also used as an armory, treasury and presently as the home of the Crown Jewels of England.
Fun Fact: Many important historical figures were executed here, including Henry VIII’s famous wife Anney Boleyn.
Nowadays the Tower is one of the biggest London landmarks and although it’s not dangerous to be here anymore, you still get the chills while exploring all the rooms!
NOTE: There are lots of things to see inside the Tower of London and we’ve got a whole post for you to check out where I talk about all this and how to buy the most convenient tickets.
But while you’re here I’ll definitely make sure to see the following:
- The Crown Jewels
- Yeoman Warder tours
- The White Tower
- The Line of Kings
- Tower Green and Scaffold Site
- The Bloody Tower
- Torture at the Tower Exhibition
- Medieval Palace
PRICE: £30 (US$35)
8. Learn new things at the free London museums
Visiting London is such a thrilling experience, especially if this is your first time!
And trust me, the trip wouldn’t be complete without exploring the city’s major (and free) museums. I’m such a fan that I even saw some of them twice, it’s never the same experience!
Since there are so many I’ve decided to make a list of the main ones (and my personal favorites) so you can easily decided which one to hit first:
8.1 Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum is located in South Kensington, near London’s Science Museum and it is an absolute paradise for anyone who’s into fossils, crystals and animal specimens!
NOTE: Although it’s free to enter the Natural History Museum you still need a ticket to enter which you can get on site. There’s usually a line but it moves pretty quickly.
PRO TIP: If you don’t want to wait at all you can book your free tickets online and enter the museums the minute you get there!
When I visited the National History Museum I spent most of my time in the crystal room (it’s absolutely amazing) but I did also have a look at the other sites, and was particularly attracted by all the dinosaur skeletons and the giant sequoia tree.
But if you know you want an in-depth description of all the cool things here, I’d definitely recommend going on a tour of the Natural History Museum with a professional guide who can tell you much more about each specimen and rock!
8.2 British Museum
One of the country’s most prestigious museums and a lovely place to visit, especially for those interested in culture and arts.
The British Museum is home to important sculptures, paintings and the famous Rosetta Stone, an Egyptian stone which is apparently an important key to understanding Egyptian hieroglyphs.
That sounds pretty cool! And I bet a tour guide would know more about that so if you’re interested I’d definitely book a guided tour of the museum!
8.3 Victoria and Albert Museum
Founded back in 1852 and named after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, this museum in South Kensington is one of my favorite ones!
Holding extensive collections of sculptures, Indian religious statues, fashion and design and many others, this museum is one of London’s top attractions!
The Victoria and Albert Museum also holds temporary exhibitions and has a wonderful outdoor courtyard which is the perfect place to relax after your visit!
8.4 Tate Modern & Tate Britain
London’s 2 Tate museums are not too far from one another so if you decide to visit both, you won’t waste a lot of time, nor will you have to see the same things twice.
Tate Modern is showcasing more modern and contemporary art although it also hosts some classics, while Tate Britain which is set in a more vintage building, features collections from British art history.
Both are pretty amazing, and it kind of depends on your preference which one you visit. But I’d personally go with Tate Modern since it also has such an amazing gift shop filled with unique books.
8.5 The National Gallery
Who’s ready to spend a couple of hours in one of London’s most amazing museums?
The National Gallery is absolutely packed with unique paintings and contemporary art. I’ve been here twice and I still feel like I want to go again. Maybe next time I’ll join a guided tour like this one, I think a professional guide could give so much cool information!
Last time I was at the National Gallery they even had Leonardo Da Vinci’s famous “Virgin on the Rocks”!
But that’s not it, you can expect to see works from Vincent van Gogh, Diego Velázquez, Botticelli, and Monet!
PRO TIP: Since the National Gallery is set in Trafalgar Square I’d definitely stick around after the visit to see some street performers in the square!
9. Ride the London Eye
Want to get some panoramic views over London’s skyline? Then I think a ride on the famous London Eye will satisfy your curiosity!
PRO TIP: I’d definitely buy the tickets in advance because the lines are huge here. We’ve got a whole post on how to buy the cheapest ones plus other super useful tips to help you out!
Riding the London Eye ferris wheel is such a unique experience as you’ll get 360° moving views over the whole city from your pod (which you’ll share with around 25 people)! The whole ride lasts around 30 min from the moment your time slot starts.
But I recommend coming a bit earlier as you’ll have to wait a bit on the line to get in a pod, or actually buy your London Eye ticket if you didn’t do it online.
PRICE: £36 (US$43)
10. Catch a street show in Trafalgar Square
Remember what I said earlier when I talked about the National Gallery? That you should stay after you finish your visit to catch a show in Trafalgar Square!
It’s the perfect place to experience that authentic London vibe!
Lots of street performers come to Trafalgar Square to sing, dance, or do all sorts of cool stuff usually throughout the day, as there’s no specific time when they gather around.
Buskers actually have to audition and get a license to be allowed to busk in London, and legally they can only busk in 4 spots: Trafalgar Square, Covent Garden, Camden and the South Bank. So that means you know you’re in for a good show!
If you stay, you’ll see how all of the sudden you’ll feel this cool vibe! Kids will start dancing, people will sing and it’ll be like you’re enjoying a big show performed by some of London’s best new-comer artists!
Definitely one of my favorite free things to do in London!
11. Party all night in Soho
Now that you’ve seen some museums, you’ve eaten the street food and you’ve done some free activities, I think it’s time you get acquainted with London’s night scene!
And what better place to do that than Soho! Filled with pubs where you can drink with your friends, listen to some live music and dance, this Central London area (also known as the West End) will definitely become your favorite spot in the city!
The last time I was here I had such a blast with my friends going from pub to pub! Most of them were full as it was Saturday night but we tried our luck at some that looked really cool like Shakespeares Head, The Ganton Arms and Jon Snow (which wasn’t named after the famous Game of Thrones character but after a doctor who traced the London cholera outbreak).
But hey, if you’re not up to looking for the best pubs around yourself, I’d definitely recommend going on a pub crawl with someone who knows the area and other tourists (lots of opportunities to make new friends!
12. Go vintage shopping in Brick Lane
While I lived in London I had a mini-episode of vintage shopping addiction and when I found Brick Lane, that addiction became full force! I’m joking, it was nothing serious but I simply fell in love with this area in East London!
I first came here over the weekend when the Brick Lane Market was happening. It’s usually over the weekend on Saturday (11 AM – 6 PM) and Sunday (10 AM – 5 PM), which makes the experience 10x times more magical!
Trust me you won’t leave here empty handed!
But if you’re not that much into shopping there are still ways to enjoy this area which is super unique. There is so much street art in Brick Lane and you can either discover it on your own or take a guided tour and have a local guide telling you all about the street art here.
13. See Lady Diana’s favorite spots at Kensington Palace
Don’t worry if Buckingham Palace is closed when you’re visiting because you can still see other palaces in the city which are just as famous!
Kensington Palace is one of London’s most famous palaces! Home to the British Royal Family the palace has attracted more and more visitors every year!
Fun Fact: It was announced that Queen Victoria would become the Queen of England right in this palace!
Of course only a part of the palace is opened to the public and during your visit you’ll get to see the King’s State Apartments, the King’s Staircase, the Queen’s State Apartments, the Jewel Room, the Palace Gardens, and the Sunken Garden (which apparently was Princess Diana’s favorite spot).
If you want to visit Kensington I’d definitely buy my tickets in advance. We’ve got a whole post on where you can find the most convenient tickets for you, plus lots of useful tips.
PRICE: £20 (US$24)
14. Admire the views on a River Thames cruise
Get a lovely view of London during a cruise on the famous Thames River!
During this 1h tour which starts from Westminster Pier, you’ll get to see places like the Houses of Parliament, Tower Bridge, London Bridge, and the Tate Modern! And of course you’ll be accompanied by your tour guide who will fill you in all the cool facts about each place!
With this tour you can pick between a one-way (with a stop to Greenwich Pier) or round-trip journey, with skip-the-line entry, so you can board the boat immediately!
This is one of the best ways to see all the famous London attractions in one go as the whole city is built around this famous river!
PRICE: from £14 (US$17)
15. Take pics from the Viewing Gallery at the Shard
I know I’ve said the views from the London Eye are breathtaking but wait until you go up to the Viewing Gallery at the Shard!
Say hello to the tallest building in the United Kingdom, the fourth-tallest building in Europe, and the 105th-tallest building in the world!
Yep, the Shard became one of the city’s most important buildings and besides its Viewing Gallery which is open to the public, it also has office buildings, a fabulous hotel called Shangri (which is pretty amazing), and a few restaurants.
If you’re thinking of visiting the Viewing Gallery then I recommend reading our post so you can learn how to buy the cheapest tickets for the Shard plus many other tips which will definitely improve your visit!
PRICE: £28 / £32 (US$33 / US$37)
16. Visit the famous Westminster Abbey
Welcome to one of the most important religious buildings in the country and a place that has hosted many important events throughout the centuries!
That includes coronations, royal weddings including that of the late Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip and many other events.
Fun Fact: Westminster Abbey is home to Britain’s oldest door which dates back to 1050.
Exploring the Cathedral is such a thrilling experience and you could spend hours admiring all the sculptures, mosaics and the ceilings.
NOTE: I recommend buying your tickets for Westminster Abbey in advance for this attraction especially if you’re coming during high season (July, August), since the lines are pretty long during that time.
PRICE: £27 (US$32)
17. Spend your Sunday at Columbia Road Flower Market
Want to spend your Sunday admiring colorful flowers and drinking some good coffee? Me too! And there’s a perfect spot to do that in London: Columbia Road Flower Market!
Located in East London, this famous market takes place only on Sundays on Columbia Road which is not only filled with pretty flowers but also lots of boutique vintage stores, homeware shops and cafes.
The market usually opens around 8AM – 2PM which gives you plenty of time to browse around and get some coffee. This is for sure one of my favourite free things to do in London!
18. Catch a sunset at Hampstead Heath
I know when you’re visiting a new city you want to see everything! And let’s face it, there are so many attractions in London that it’s pretty hard to see them all just in one trip.
My point is, don’t get too caught up in checking everything on the list that you overlook the little things and slowing down!
So if you happen to be in North London after a day of exploring Camden or something else, drop everything before the sun goes down and head over to Hampstead Heath to admire a stunning sunset.
This large green and hillside area offers incredible panoramic views over the city plus it has some cute ponds, and so much wildlife!
So grab some tea, or coffee and enjoy the London vibe at Hampstead Heath!
19. Prepare your polyjuice potion in Harry Potter’s world
Make your children and inner children super happy with a Warner Bros. Studio Tour!
Located in Watford just outside of London, the Warner Bros. Studio is home to the set where the Harry Potter movies were filmed! So get ready to hang out in the Gryffindor common room with your friends and visit the headmaster’s office!
In this all day tour you also get a ride from London Victoria to the studio location and back, plus the entry ticket.
I hope you’re ready to take lots of pics and spend the most wicked time ever!
PRICE: from £94 (US$111)
20. Check out the city jungle at Barbican Conservatory
Ever wanted to see a vast concrete estate absolutely covered in plants, trees and greenery?
Well, now you’ve got the chance! The Barbican Conservatory is a true icon of brutalist London architecture however it’s also the second-biggest conservatory in the city.
Sounds like a real union of opposites right? Concrete buildings and palm trees don’t usually go together!
Which is why you need to visit this place ASAP! The Conservatory is home to 2000 plant species but that’s not the only surprising thing about it. They also hold lots of exhibitions and art performances which yes look pretty amazing given the surroundings.
The Barbican is definitely one of the best free attractions in London. Plus with all these plants you may even escape the outside pollution and enjoy some fresh air!
21. Snap a picture of Big Ben & visit the Houses of Parliament
I mean, I couldn’t leave old Big Ben out of this list! This famous London landmark is a must-see and a must-place to take your typical tourist pictures in the city.
Many people think that Big Ben is the famous clock tower, however Big Ben is actually the name of the bell inside!
The 16-storey Gothic clock tower is located at the Eastern end of the Houses of Parliament, which will give you the perfect opportunity to admire these iconic buildings and even visit them during a tour.
Usually the areas open to the public are the House of Commons Chamber, the House of Lords Chamber and Westminster Hall.
NOTE: I would recommend buying your tickets in advance (at least 1 month early) as they don’t offer tours every day.
PRICE: £29 (US$24)
22. Celebrate Christmas at Winter Wonderland
The one thing you shouldn’t miss if you’re traveling to London in mid-November – January, is the famous Winter Wonderland festival in Hyde Park!
Oh my! This festival is one of my favorite free things to do in London! I mean the entry is free but of course you’ll have to pay to go on the rides, play games, ice skate or to attend any workshops.
But trust me, even if you’re traveling on a budget or you want to save money (as I was when I came here) then you’ll still have the best time ever! The vibe is so Christmasy, there’s music, good food, mulled wine and everyone is just looking to have a good time!
23. Watch a movie in Leicester Square cinemas
This buzzing square is always packed with people! Tourists, locals, you name it, everyone passes through here as there are so many cool pubs, shops, London’s ChinaTown with its bilingual street signs, and lots of cinemas where you can catch the latest movies and theaters.
In Leicester Square you’ll also find the Odeon Cinema where they have all the big movie premieres, and the Prince of Wales Cinema.
I’d definitely try to catch a movie at the Prince of Wales Cinema, in Leicester Square. It is one of the coolest movie houses in the city. They’ve got the whole vintage look going on and lots of cool screenings.
24. Stand on the Prime Meridian Line in Greenwich Park
If you’re looking for some free things to do in London, then definitely check out all the parks around! Just like this one which is located in South London.
Not only does it offer panoramic views over London but it is also home to a few attractions like the National Maritime Museum, the Royal Observatory and the Prime Meridian. Plus many other gardens, ponds and ruins of a Roman Temple.
I would definitely come here to put my feet in the iconic Meridian Line and snap a pic!
25. Take a creepy Jack the Ripper walking tour
For those of you who are into spooky and pretty intense experiences, then I’d definitely think a Jack the Ripper walking tour will intrigue you and leave you wanting to join others like this one!
Back in the 1800s London was a serial killer who terrified the London people and killed many!
During this walking tour you can learn all about the legends, myths and murders of this iconic character from a professional guide tour who will take you around the London streets!
But that’s not it! This tour will actually recreate the atmosphere of Victorian London with the help of some hand-held projections!
You will trace his footsteps, learn what he was thinking and the methods he used! Yikes, I’m already getting goosebumps! But it definitely sounds like something pretty fun!
And if you’re looking for that extra shot of adrenaline (in case this wasn’t enough) there are many other spine-chilling experiences that you can try while you’re in London. Like this tour of the haunted vaults of London Bridge, which also has a section dedicated to our famous character Jack the Ripper! This one is definitely not for the light-hearted!
26. See the Churchill War Rooms
If you want to dive deep into the history of World War II and Churchill’s effort to save Britain from the hands of the Nazis, then I’d definitely recommend visiting this attraction!
At these underground war rooms you’ll see the improvised Radio Studio where Winston Churchill recorded his unforgettable speech during war time, plus you’ll get to hear many other war stories, see exhibitions, and even play some games!
You can visit the museum for free and have your own individual experience but I would make sure to try this walking tour of the city that will also take you to the Churchill War Rooms. It will definitely help you understand the history and how WWII affected this city!
27. Catch a play at one of the theaters in London
I’m sure some of you heard that London was named the theater capital in the world! Oh yes, this city has the largest theater audience than any other city on the planet (beating even some other places like New York).
If you’re coming here and you’re up for it I would recommend catching a show at some of the super iconic places like the Prince of Wales Theatre, a popular spot where they hold Broadway shows or the Shakespeare Globe Theater, which is a reconstruction of the former theater that Shakespeared worked in many centuries ago.
Shakespeare’s Globe is such a stunning place, and they don’t only showcase plays (including many of the late writer) but also offer lots of guided tours that will give you some insight into the history and significance of this place!
PRO TIP: If you are looking for discounted tickets to any of the major shows in West End, head to the discount ticket seller windows in Leicester Square. Here you can get super cheap tickets with reduced view or last minute.
28. Ride a double decker bus
I saved the best at the end!
Now, this is something you can’t miss while you’re visiting London! The double decker bus is such an important emblem of this country and whether you want to use it just to get from one place to the other or go on a proper sightseeing hop-on hop-off tour, I’m sure you’ll love the experience!
If you’re on a budget, the cheapest way to ride a double decker bus is simply to take public transport. While not all of them are the classic red color, if you wait at a central bus stop for long enough, I’m sure a red one will turn up!
But for those of you with a little more time, I recommend you buy a ticket for the hop-on hop-off bus tour as it can help you see much more of the city than you’d see just by walking around. Plus this bus is a bit more special and it has outdoor seating and running commentary as well, so you can get much better views!
During the tour you’ll also get much more flexibility. You can hop off at any of the attractions included and explore at your own pace!
|💯 Top Museum:||British Museum|
|🌇 Best free activity:||Hampstead Heath|
|🌳 Top park:||Hyde Park|
|🐅 Family friendly activity:||London Zoo|
|🥡 Best market:||Camden Market|
|🌆 Unique attraction:||The Shard|
|🚶♀️ Top Street:||Oxford Street|
BONUS: Things to do in London with kids
Now that you have made it through the main list of things to do in London, I decided to add a dedicated section for those families traveling with children. Here is a quick list of some of the best activities for you and your little ones to enjoy together!
- London Zoo – Located inside Regent’s Park, the London Zoo is the world’s oldest scientific zoo, and it was initially founded in the 1820s! Home to over 750 species including some beautiful giraffes, lemurs and zebras the zoo also offers lots of interactive activities. £33 (US$38)
- London Dungeon – Learn about London’s history in a unique way by participating in a guided walk through of the London Dungeons. This is one of the most interactive ways to learn about important historical events with your in character guide and there’s even a fun ride at the end! £28 (US$34)
- Madame Tussauds – See the wax figures of some of the most important celebrities and people in the world! You’ll get to take pictures with your celebrity crushes like Beyonce and Freddie Mercury! £34 (US$40)
- Sea Life – Take the little ones on a journey where they’ll meet some incredible creatures like penguins, sharks, seahorses and green turtles! £29 (US$35)
- London Transport Museum – Who wants to know everything about London’s transport system? At this museum in South London you can see historic vehicles and enjoy interactive exhibits like a tube driver training simulator! £21 (US$25)
- DreamWorks Shrek’s Adventure Tour – Dive deep into the magical world of Shrek at this cool attraction that offers lots of interactive experiences like 4D bus tours with Donkey as your guide and many others! £24 (US$29)
- ArcelorMittal Orbit – Get the most amazing view of the city from the observation platform of the UK’s tallest sculpture! Then end your adventure with a ride down the 178-meter slide! £12 (US$15)
- Cutty Sark – Find out what life was like on board one of the most historic sailing ships! This ship was celebrated for her record-breaking trips around the globe and during this experience you jump on the wheel and stand on the main deck. £16 (US$19)
- See the Jurassic World exhibition at ExCel – Get ready for a one-of-a-kind experience as you explore the Jurassic World exhibition and see how the film franchise is brought to life with the most amazing dinosaur figures! £22 (US$25)
Practical information about London
Now that we’ve seen the many, many things to do in London, I think we’re ready to move on to the next section! There are lots of things to consider when traveling to London, like where you’re going to stay, how to get around the city and other things.
In this section I’ll answer all those questions and give you some tips so you can make the most out of your trip!
Where to stay in London
I’ve looked through many hotel lists and I’ve found a couple of amazing hotels to stay in London which have the best reviews! I’ve also added them from most to least expensive so you can easily pick your favorite.
Luxury (£200 and up)
- Covent Garden Hotel – Offering beautiful decor, and the best location in Central London just minutes away from Leicester Square, this cool hotel offers spa services, and a restaurant where you can enjoy your afternoon tea!
- The Soho Hotel – One of the coolest hotels in London! This place has the most amazing wallpapers and furnishings! The accommodation has a restaurant, a gym and a treatment room where you can enjoy a relaxing massage.
Mid Range (from £170 to £220)
- Z Hotel Covent Garden – Located in the heart of London’s West End, near Leicester Square, this modern hotel has everything you need for your stay including family rooms, free wi-fi and a bar.
- Soho House – Such a cute apartment! This place has such unique decor and it’s super well-equipped. During your stay you’ll have a kitchen, a balcony and free wi-fi.
Budget (up to £170)
- Z Hotel Holborn – If you’re looking for something a bit more affordable then check out this hotel. The rooms are pretty simple but they come with a modern decor, a private bathroom and a flat-screen tv.
- Marlyn Lodge – These apartments are perfect for a group of friends. They’ve got lots of space and all the necessary facilities you need including a kitchen, free wi-fi and even a garden.
How to get around London
If you’re wondering how you’re going to get to all these attractions, well here is where I come to your rescue! There are few ways that you can get around the city, some a bit more costly than others but hey it’s definitely worth riding the double decker bus (especially if this is your first time in the city).
So let’s check out which are the best ways to get around London:
- Public Transport: A 1 day travelcard that lets you use all public transport in London costs £20 (for zones 1 to 6) and a 1 week travelcard used for the same purposes costs £70
- Hop-on Hop-off Tour: A 24h hop-on hop-off tour that will take you around the main attractions in the city costs £37
- Renting a Car – The car rental service in London starts from £125 per day but I would definitely not recommend this as London is super busy and you’ll waste a lot of time in traffic and also pay extra fees for entering certain zones
- Uber/taxi – A 10 min ride with an Uber costs around £10 but I also don’t recommend this as it’s the same as the car rental service (you’ll waste a lot of time in traffic)
- City Bikes – This could really work for someone who likes riding a bike. You can rent one from £1.7 per 30 minutes
I think public transport is definitely the most convenient choice, especially considering the unpredictable weather in London (you could get soaking wet while riding your bike). Plus, this is the cheapest way to ride a typical red double decker bus.
But if you’re all about convenience, then I recommend the hop-on hop-off bus as it will take you directly to all the best attractions and give you some commentary at the same time, all while riding a double decker!
London City Pass – Is it worth it?
If you’re planning to see as many attractions as possible while you’re in London then you might consider buying the London City Pass which is basically one big ticket that offers access to the main attractions in the city.
Usually city passes are designed to help you save money. However that’s not always the case and sometimes they just use really good marketing campaigns that will convince you to buy it. So it’s super important to do your own calculations before buying the pass so you can decide on your own if it’s worth buying it or not, depending on how many days you’re in the city.
Today I’ll spare you from the math class and help you find out if the London pass is worth it or not, so let’s begin!
Depending on how long you’re in town you can buy different passes from 1 – 10 days of validity:
Check out all the adult prices below:
- 1 Day Pass: £76
- 2 Days Pass: £99
- 3 Days Pass: £115
- 4 Days Pass: £134
- 5 Days Pass: £144
- 6 Days Pass: £154
- 7 Days Pass: £159
- 10 Days Pass: £169
There are a total of 86 attractions in this pass! That’s a lot even for the bravest of us who want to see everything. So I’ve decided to narrow down the list and give you the really important attractions that I think you shouldn’t miss plus their usual entrance price to see how much you’d pay if you bought them individually:
- Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour – £34
- Tower of London – £29
- Kensington Palace – £20
- St Paul’s Cathedral – £18
- Westminster Abbey – £25
- Buckingham Palace – £30
- Tower Bridge – £12
- Royal Botanic Gardens – £20
- The Shard – £28
- Windsor Castle – £27
- London Zoo – £36
- Royal Albert Hall Tour – £16
Now the most important question: How many attractions can you visit and in how many days?
After doing all the calculations, I’d recommend buying the 5 day pass. That’s how much you’ll need to visit all the attractions I mentioned above without having to hurry too much. Below I’ve added all the calculations so check it out:
Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour (£34) + Tower of London (£30) + Kensington Palace (£20) + St Paul’s Cathedral (£18) + Westminster Abbey (£25) + Buckingham Palace (£30) + Royal Botanic Gardens (£20) + Tower Bridge (£12) + The Shard (£28) + London Zoo (£36) + Windsor Castle (£27) + Royal Albert Hall Tour (£16)
34 + 30 + 20 + 18 + 25 + 30 + 20 + 12 + 28 +36 + 27 +16 = 296£
You Save £152 (296 – 144 = 152)
As I said earlier the 5 day pass costs £144, which means that you’ll have to see 6+ attractions while you’re in London for the pass to be worth your money but that is pretty easy with all that time!
Frequently asked questions about London
💸 Which are the best things to do in London for free?
Some of the best free things to do in London are exploring the parks, visiting the free museums, admiring the street art, and catching a sunset on Hampstead Heath.
👪 Which are the best things to do in London with kids?
🖼️ What should you not miss when visiting London?
I would definitely not miss all the parks, museums, the palaces, and some of its most important areas like Westminster and Notting Hill.
📅 What should I do in London for a day?
I would start with breakfast at one of the London cafes, then I spend my day in Central London, shopping on Oxford Street, going for a walk in Hyde Park, exploring the Westminster area, and finishing with drinks in Soho.
Wow! All this talk of London made me miss this city so much! You’re so lucky to visit this amazing place and I’m sure you feel a bit better now that you’ve found out which are the top attractions in the city!
Since we’ve talked about so many things today I think a recap is definitely in store for us.
So the post has a list of the best things to do in London! Everything from the royal parks, museums and famous squares. Plus a section at the end with practical information on the city.
I know the list is pretty long but hey it’s better to have a wide range of activities that will suit everyone you’re traveling with.
Still, sometimes I may miss some things, so if you know an attraction or activity that I haven’t included and the others should definitely know of, just leave me a comment below and I’ll make sure to answer ASAP!
Oh, and before I forget! Make sure you book your hotels and attraction tickets in advance (especially for the popular ones). Otherwise you’ll risk paying higher prices or not even finding a good place to stay.
Well, have fun exploring London and falling in love with it! I’m sure you’ll come back here sooner than later. It usually has that effect on people!
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