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In this post, we’ll cover some of the best things to do in London, if you’re planning a trip, this is a good place to start!
Being one of the top destinations in the world, the top London tourist attractions draw more than 15 million visitors every year. Britain’s Capital is one of the most vibrant and diverse cities in the world with unlimited entertainment and leisure.
Not only London is famous for its taste in music but it also is such a colorful mix of different cultures and ethnicities. Today, the City is England’s financial focus and considered as the base camp of vast numbers of the world’s biggest banks. It is also the perfect capital to find a last-minute break!
The western part of the City is also home to numerous intriguing attractions. In case you’re wondering, don’t rush yourself through this part of the region – you may miss some excellent places in London.
If you are still unsure of what to do in London, think no more. From royal castles to the parliament, from art galleries to the exotic Ferris wheel, you could never have enough days for unique things to see and do. Another quick fact you should know about is that most places are free to visit and so you’ll find many cheap things to do in London.
Why should you visit London?
Not only it is the home of the Beatles, Your Majesty the Queen, and the ever-so-famous and iconic structures such as the Big Ben and the London Tower, but it is also a unique capital to visit as it offers so much more than what you can see.
Go wander around and taste its famous fish and chips or get lost in its vast streets, you’ll certainly find so many things that will interest you immensely.
That said, London is indeed a big city thus it is easy to feel overwhelmed with all the top attractions you’ll see so plan your trip ahead of time and make sure to see some of the top things to see in London in this list.
Table of Contents
- 1 Experiences and top things to do in London
- 2 Top Landmarks and attractions in London
- 2.1 Buckingham Palace and the Changing of the Guard
- 2.2 The Tower of London along the Tower Bridge
- 2.3 The British Museum
- 2.4 Where to go in London? Check out Big Ben and The Parliament (Classic!)
- 2.5 London’s National Gallery
- 2.6 What to do in London? Check out Victoria and Albert Museum
- 2.7 Piccadilly Circus and the Trafalgar square
- 2.8 The Two Tates
- 2.9 Westminster Abbey
- 2.10 Churchill’s War Rooms
- 2.11 Hyde Park
- 2.12 St. Paul’s Cathedral
- 2.13 Covent Garden
- 2.14 Hampton Court Palace
- 2.15 Greenwich and Docklands
- 3 What to eat and restaurants in London to try
- 4 Have extra time? Look at these day trips from London!
- 5 Where to stay in London?
- 6 When is the best time to visit London?
- 7 How to save money sightseeing in London?
- 8 Check out these activities in London
- 9 Are you on Pinterest? Pin these for later read!
Experiences and top things to do in London
Go on a themed tour and do some London sightseeing
Are you a fan of Harry Potter, The Beatles, or heard the interesting tale of Jack the Reaper? Well, guess what – you can tour London and explore its magical streets following a themed itinerary of either one of these legendary icons.
Just make sure you book the right one to enjoy the themed tour, one of the unique things to do in London (scroll up to see our recommended themed tours!).
Feel like royalty while you sip on tea at The Orangery in Kensington Palace
Ever wondered how royals used to spend their afternoon tea? Why not experience this yourself and head over to Kensington Palace and have a lovely afternoon session at The Orangery with the whole shebang (beautiful views included!).
This is certainly one of those activities to do in London that will certainly leave a rather posh experience for you!
Explore Camden’s eccentric culture
A cultural hub located in the north of the city, Camden’s way of life is indeed for those with a colorful soul and one of the must-see places in London.
Known for its eccentric mix of styles (think rock, punk, and goth all in one place) and bold personalities, you’ll find great market finds, funky cafes, and streets lined with music shops and tattoo parlor all side-by-side.
This is one of the cool things to do in London, so don’t miss out on it! Plus, Camden has some of the prettiest streets in London!
Discover Soho’s unique charm
Are you interested in going out and experiencing the nightlife in London? Soho is your spot! A former red-light district, Soho has indeed evolved into something that breaks the norms and grows into something that you’ll consider the wild child of London.
Streets lined with numerous themed and cool bars and nightclubs, theatres, cafes, and tempting restaurants will catch your eye so make sure to put Soho in your things to do in London bucket list and at least spend one night exploring this district!
Top Landmarks and attractions in London
Buckingham Palace and the Changing of the Guard
One of the top London landmarks, Buckingham Palace is not only famous for its classical building, but the Changing of the Guard offers a striking display to the visitors.
Built in 1837, the building has been the residence of the Royal Family since Queen Victoria’s succession.
You can also be lucky to have a glimpse of her if the Royal Standard is up at the flagpole that means she’s in there.
The Tower of London along the Tower Bridge
The splendid Tower of London has played many different roles during the past years. Don’t be amazed because this tower has transformed itself into a palace from prison and a private zoo from a treasure vault through the ages.
This glorious building holds the country’s rich history and heritage and offers visitors hours of interest. This famous tower was built in 1078 by William the conqueror and preserves the royal jewels and armaments showcasing the unique history.
The British Museum
One of the top London tourist attractions includes the giant British museum that has more than 13 million artifacts from all over the world.
Exquisite objects and jewels from China, different countries of Europe and Babylonia are showcased in this museum. Elgin Marbles and The Rosetta stone are the most famous yet controversial exhibits you can get to see in this exemplary museum.
Where to go in London? Check out Big Ben and The Parliament (Classic!)
One of the London landmarks, the iconic Tower Bridge is compelling as it sounds with a 318ft tower surrounding the huge clock and the emphatic bell known as Big Ben.
The Houses of Parliaments for the British government stretch along the Thames. They were once the site of the royal Westminster Palace.
Visitors are often offered tours of Parliament to get enchanted by the lively political debates and discussions. Yes, many places to go in London. But don’t miss this one of the most popular iconic London landmarks to explore.
London’s National Gallery
Well, London’s National Gallery is ranked as one of the top Art Galleries all around the world today is one of the most beautiful attractions of the city.
They exhibit the unique European paintings gathered from 1260 to 1920. The collections of Dutch and Italian artists take this gallery to another level of interest.
The animated sketch of Madonna and Child by Leonardo da Vinci is something you don’t want to miss out here.
What to do in London? Check out Victoria and Albert Museum
The Victoria and Albert Museum was founded in 1852 containing almost about 145 galleries. These galleries exhibit around 5000 old pieces of art and artifacts such as glass, ceramics sculptures, and ironwork spread over an area of 13 acres.
This museum is a part of the South Kensington group of museums that also include the famous Natural History Museum.
Piccadilly Circus and the Trafalgar square
Close to London’s eye-catching theatre Soho, there are two well-famous squares known as Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square.
Trafalgar Square was built in 1805 to honor the victory of Lord Horatio Nelson over the French and Spanish. While some busy and irregular streets of London like Piccadilly, Regent and Haymarket run into Piccadilly Square.
The Two Tates
When in doubt what to see in London – The Two Tate Galleries: Tate Britain and Tate Modern are one of the most exotic London’s tourist attractions having some serene art collections in them.
Initially opened in 1897 as the basis of the collection of Britain’s National Art, it ended up as Tate Britain in Millbank and Tate Modern on the Bankside.
Westminster Abbey gives a new turn to the London sightseeing attractions because of its association with British Royalty and Christianity since the early 7th century. Westminster Abbey was found in 1065 by Edward The Confessor as a place of his burial.
Almost after 700 years, this place had become a landmark of interment when George ll was buried here. Recently, it’s becoming popular for Royal Weddings.
Churchill’s War Rooms
Ever wondered where the intense battles during the World War ll were operated? Well if you have, in all of the places in London, you need to visit Churchill’s War Rooms. Winston Churchill directed the military campaigns and the defense of Britain through these perfectly preserved nerve-centers.
The acute conditions highlighted in these rooms spotlight on the nerve-reckoning conditions in England during the war. The famous Wartime speeches that Churchill made during the war were improvised through the Radio Station in these war rooms.
Known as one of the best attractions in London and the most significant open space, Hyde Park is covering almost 350 acres with blissful sights that were made in 1635.
There’s a famous lake known as Serpentine built in the 18th century specifically for boating and swimming and adds to the beauty of this park.
There are a Speaker Corners in this park representing the Freedom Of Speech in the country. Apsley House that houses some of the magnificent collections of Wellington is also present in this park.
St. Paul’s Cathedral
St. Paul’s Cathedral sits on top of the Roman Temple and is without a doubt one of the most spectacular Churches and must-visit London landmarks today.
The Great fire of 1666 had previously burnt the structure of this church, but the efforts of Sir Christopher Wren helped this building to become one of the masterpieces of English architecture.
What to visit in London? Why not go to the famous Covent garden of London encompasses a wide range of streets such as Neal’s Yard and Seven Dials having all kinds of shops, restaurants and market halls.
The street performers are a real delight here. The market in Covent Garden has various shops having all types of finely made hand-crafted objects. London Transport Museum has all the historic trolleys, buses and trams for the visitors to get enchanted.
Hampton Court Palace
One of the top London attractions, Hampton Court is one of the great historical sites of Europe. The great halls of this Palace revise the ages back till Henry VIII’s time. Elizabeth I came to know about the defeat of the Spanish Armada in this Palace.
The Clock Court is an exciting feature here with an astronomical dial and dates back to 1540. The lush and blooming gardens here, especially in mid of May, are worth visiting.
Greenwich and Docklands
The Greenwich visitor center exhibits the history of British Marine and Naval power dating almost 500 years back. Queen’s House and the National Maritime Museum perfectly illustrate the accomplishments of the British Royal Navy.
If you are thinking to do something unusual, you can be in two hemispheres at a time by putting each foot across the Meridian Line in the Royal Observatory.
The transformed Docklands is now the hub for many business and recreational parties. The Museum of London Docklands refreshes the memory of the Roman times by bringing the ancient artifacts to life.
What to eat and restaurants in London to try
Fish and Chips
Hear this out: you can’t leave London or the UK without having at least one meal with Fish and Chips! I’m serious, you can’t have better Fish and Chips elsewhere than from its origin.
Where to get it? Most pubs have Fish and Chips and every English person you ask will tell you their favorite spot but if you’re heading to Camden or Shoreditch – you’ll find some good ones over there!
What makes English Breakfast different than other breakfasts in the world? It will fuel you till dinner. No kidding, this meal is so calorie-dense from all the fat, carbs, and more fat and carbs that you’ll have enough food energy to last your 10-20km walkathon around London.
What is a classic English Breakfast? It has bacon, eggs, beans, black pudding, sausages, toast, tomatoes, and mushrooms all in one plate! It is a nice breakfast to wake up to, to be honest. I’ll have an English Breakfast every day if not only I care about my poor heart.
Where to get it? First off, try the hotel you’re staying at or cafes and restaurants near your hostel – you can find this type of brekkie almost everywhere in London but of course, if you really want to be extra specific then read this list and you make your choice!
I’m going to pour my heart yet again in this one, do not leave London without trying an Afternoon Tea! If you hate tea, ask for coffee. If you hate coffee, have water. We had ours in The Orangery in Kensington Palace as it is known as one of the best places to visit in London for an Afternoon Tea. I must say, despite it being pricey, it is totally worth the experience!
So, what is an Afternoon Tea, anyways? It is basically a tea-ritual where you’ll also get finger foods such as mini sandwiches, scones with jam and clotted cream, and small pastries. It is normally served mid-day to stall the hunger as back in the days, Brits eat their dinner quite late (8 PM).
Have extra time? Look at these day trips from London!
A prehistoric monument located in Wiltshire and one of the archeological wonders of the world, you can visit Stonehenge from London easily either by tour or by heading wit Wiltshire via public transport.
It will take you roughly about an hour and a half and the whole day to explore the area. So make sure to reserve a day for this excursion!
A student city located in the central south of England, Oxford is a fantastic day trip from London if you’re interested to see more fine architecture and feel the university vibe. It will take you only roughly about an hour to get to Oxford from London.
Known for its natural hot springs, Bath is best known for its (ironic enough) – its Roman Bath Houses. For only about an hour and a half away from London, you’ll transport yourself to the countryside whilst surrounded by undeniably beautiful architecture in Bath.
Where to stay in London?
Let’s face it, London is not a cheap country to visit but it doesn’t mean you can’t stay at nice hotels! We have compiled the best design hotels in London that will be a pleasure to stay at but in a nutshell, here are the top three that we recommended: Nobu Hotel Shoreditch, Number Sixteen Firmdale Hotels, and Boundary Hotel. These hotels are priced under €200 per night which is a bargain for a design luxury hotel located near awesome attractions and not to mention, the services they offer.
However, not all can just simply spend 200 bucks a night, especially if you’re traveling alone. So, we recommend staying at hostels if you rather spend most of your money on experiences. Here are our top recommendations: Cabot Inn, Generator Hostel London, and Clink78 Hostel. Hostels in London can be as low as €15 per night for a bunk bed and as high as €30 per night, depending on the season and as well as the hostel location.
When is the best time to visit London?
London is one of the cities in the world with astonishing architecture and it is best explored by foot. But, how is the weather in London? Well, it sure does rain more often than it should but as long as you come prepared, that shouldn’t stop you from visiting this beautiful city!
The best time to visit London is in Summer (June-August) but expect larger crowds in its touristic areas but I personally came in the middle of Winter (December-February) and find it pleasant if you don’t mind the cold that much. Just make sure to come well prepared for the cold if you decide to come in Winter and bring warmer clothes with you!
That said, it is also great to come during Spring (March-May) and Autumn (September-November) and witness nature perform its magic and be amazed at how colors change during your stay!
How to save money sightseeing in London?
Depending on how long you’re staying in London, it is best to utilize your visit effectively and wisely! London is a huge city and although some attractions are separated by a walkable distance, you still wouldn’t want to spend most of your visit locating these places and on top of that – waiting in line!
The best way, and cheapest way, to navigate around is by purchasing an Oyster card (travel card) that will help you to take many places to see in London using public transport.
That said, if you’re interested in most of the places to visit in London then make sure to purchase a London Pass (€163 for a 3-day pass plus 3-days topped up Oyster Card) and this enables you to see about 60 attractions for free and saves you time with fast-track entry to some of the popular attractions.
Check out these activities in London
Are you on Pinterest? Pin these for later read!
Founder of Pretty Wild World and one of the leading experts in Europe travel, the Nordics, and Scandinavia Destinations.
Evan Kristine has been mentioned in big publications such as The Huffington Post and the Thought Catalog has been sharing her useful travel tips and hacks to the world for more than five years now.
Nowadays, she is a full-time traveler exploring and documenting her journey around the world providing you the next best travel idea for your great next adventure.