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25 Fabulous Things to do Alone in London

25 Fabulous Things to do Alone in London

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Whether you’re a visitor in town for a few days or a resident just looking for some inspiration, London has no shortage of options for solo experiences. Looking for the best things to do alone in London? Start with these.

In many ways, London is the perfect solo city. Over 8 million inhabitants and a pretty easy-going attitude means that exploring London on your own isn’t a difficult task.

In fact, it’s simply a matter of walking out of your door and getting caught up in the buzz of the city. 

London’s our hometown, and we love our own company, so rest assured that we have spent a lot of time flying solo doing all kinds of activities- here’s our pick of the very best… 

Things to do Alone in London

See all the Street Art in Shoreditch

whitby st

London’s street art scene is banging. We don’t mean to brag but our city is a street art lover’s dream come true.

You can find street art scattered all over the city, but Shoreditch is a real street art hub. You can book onto a tour or venture around on your own. It’s not a huge area but there’s so much to see that we recommend setting aside at least a whole morning or afternoon to explore. Get ready to be wowed.

Read more: Shoreditch Street Art – Self-Guided Tour and Map

Treat Yourself to a Film in a Seriously Plush Cinema

Like a trip to the theatre, visiting cinemas alone should really be the norm, not the exception. Of course you can go to your local cinema but there are several luxury London cinema options if you want to push things up a notch or two. 

The Everyman cinema chain excels in cosy screenings – complete with sofas, wine coolers and waiter service. No complaints here – totally one of our favourite solo activities. 

Head to the Barbican Conservatory

Lush jungle in the Barbican Conservatory

We can’t tell you how much we love The Barbican’s cool conservatory. Even better – nowhere near as many people know about it as the one at Kew so we think it’s a much nicer experience.

This is one of London’s most unusual spots – where Brutalist architecture meets lush jungle. The effect is slightly insane and absolutely loveable. Vibrant palm trees and tropical flowers wind their way through the clean lines of the concrete structure, tempting you to wander through slack-jawed and eyes popping.

The Barbican Conservatory only used to be open on Sundays but at the moment, it’s opening every day (you need to register for tickets before you go) – don’t miss it.

Visit One of London’s Many Museums

Narcissus Hall Leighton House
The Narcissus Hall ©Leighton House Museum, RBKC. Image courtesy of Will Pryce

Nice as it is to visit a museum or an art gallery with someone, if we’re completely honest, it never quite works does it?

You know the situation, you’re totally enraptured with the ancient Egyptian artifacts on display at the British Museum and all your companion wants to do is scope out the Chinese ceramics. Yawn.

Both of you end up not spending quite enough time in the part that you really wanted to see and you come out of the whole experience feeling a little disgruntled.

All of a sudden, you can start to see why a visit to a museum or gallery at your own pace is such an attractive vibe.

When it comes to museums, of course, there are the big ones – The National Gallery, The V&A in Kensington, The Tate Modern, The Tate Britain etc, but we recommend spending some time in a few of London’s smaller museums like the cool little Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology or Leighton House (pictured above) to see a different side of the city.

Read More: The Best Free Museums in London

Browse Through Mayfair’s Opulent Shopping Arcades

Mayfair Arcade

Swanky Mayfair might be home to some of the city’s fanciest hotels and restaurants, but there’s something else that’s much more interesting if you’re strolling around the monopoly board’s most expensive area: Mayfair’s opulent shopping arcades.

Now if you’re thinking of arcades as in the video game kind, frequented by teenage kids and losers, think again. These shopping arcades are mini-shopping centres… but filled with luxury shops and in some of the city’s most Instagrammable buildings.

Kick things off with Burlington Arcade, then head to the Royal Arcade and pop into the Princes Arcade after that. Don’t worry if you haven’t got the cash to splash (they are hella spenny), lots of the pleasure is just in browsing the pretty ass buildings. You’ll thank us when you see them.

Take a Tour of the National Theatre

See a Play at the National Theatre London

This is one of our recently discovered London activities. The National Theatre is the place to go to see some of the city’s most exciting and innovative productions.

But the real excitement lies behind the scenes – book yourself onto a tour of the National to learn about how a play really gets onto the stage.

From how a set is made to who picks out the costumes – the National’s tours are an interesting insight into the thespian world. Plus, the ever-changing rotation of plays means that no two tours are ever the same.

Read more: Eccentric Things to do in London

Have a Spa Day at a Plush Spa

K Spa

Treat yo’self. Who doesn’t love that mantra?

We can get so caught up in the constant list of things we need to do or places we need to see that we can forget to spend some quality time on self-care (or self-indulgence, however you want to look at it).

We can’t think of many better things to do than splashing out and treating yourself to a spa day.

Whether you want to drop some serious money on a day at one of the capital’s five-star spas (ESPA at The Corinthia is our personal favourite but eye-wateringly expensive, as is the K Spa in Shepherd’s Bush – with the added bonus of being less expensive).

Alternatively, you can plump for one of the more affordable options like Spa Experience, which has outposts in Wimbledon, Bethnal Green, Kensington and Old Street.

Learn a New Skill at the Institute of Making

Sometimes it’s good to get out of your comfort zone. Trying your hand at something completely different is a great way to challenge yourself – who knows… it might be the beginning of a life-long passion.

There are several workspaces dedicated to teaching you a new skill, but we like the Institute of Making as it focuses on one-off workshops rather than longer courses.

Some of their workshops are for members only but many are open to the public. Subjects vary widely, from circuitry to microwave steam bending.

Go to a Matinee Showing at the Theatre

National Theatre

We know that some people might baulk at going to the theatre on their own, but really it’s the perfect solo expedition! It’s not as if you’re supposed to be talking to anyone while the play is on anyway.

Matinee showings are a nice compromise if you’re at a loose end in London and want to see a play. They’re generally less busy and it somehow doesn’t feel like a big deal to rock up and just go and watch a play solo in the middle of the day.

If you’re only booking for one, there’s a much greater chance that you can snaffle a ticket, even for the most popular shows. You might even get bumped up a couple of grades of seat category if you’re lucky.

Buy Yourself a New Book at One of London’s Indie Bookshops

Word on the Water

If ever there is an activity that really lends itself to being done alone, it’s shopping for books. We don’t know about you but it takes us ages to buy books because we love the experience so much.

First you choose your section, then you browse the covers looking for something or someone who catches your eye. Then you have to do the mandatory flick through to get a sense of the author’s style and skill.

All in all, it’s a long process – one that should be savoured and definitely conducted without someone anxiously peering over your shoulder and providing a running commentary.

Even in the days where Amazon is king, London still boasts a diverse array of cool and quirky bookshops that deserve your attention. Daunt Books is a good place to start, but don’t be afraid to delve a little deeper and head to smaller alternatives like Arthur Probsthain, Gay’s The Word and Persephone Books. These are our favourite second-hand bookshops in London.

Walk Through Leake Street Graffiti Tunnel

Leake Street Tunnel

We mentioned Shoreditch as a cool street art hotspot above, but if you’re looking for something on a much smaller scale, head to Leake Street Graffiti Tunnel.

The tunnel runs underneath Waterloo Station and is London’s largest legal graffiti wall. You can see pieces going up at any given time and no two visits are the same. It’s dynamic, exciting and a cool place to go alone in London.

Gorge on Street Food at one of London’s Cool Street Food Markets

The Gyoza Guys

Food, glorious food. If you’re not completely sold on the idea of winging it alone in a restaurant (though to be honest, a good meal accompanied by a good book is a thing of true beauty), then why not head to one of the city’s bustling street food market to sate your appetite?

There are street food markets in every part of the city – the Southbank Centre, Maltby Street Market, Mercato Metropolitano and Borough Market in the centre, Greenwich and Peckham to the South, Brick Lane and Dalston in the East – you get the point.

Take your pick, some money and a hungry stomach and feast to your heart’s content.

Read More: 35 Best Food Markets in London

Grab a Picnic to Eat in a Royal Park

Regent's Park

Going on a picnic on your own? Whyever not? Lying on a comfortable blanket, snacking on some tasty treats and spending some quality solo time in the sun is nothing to be sniffed at.

Take your pick of central London’s numerous parks – St James’s is our personal favourite, although Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens are perfectly picturesque too.

Book onto a Weird and Wonderful Walking Tour

hyde park pet cemetery

There’s so much beneath the surface of London – always something new to find and explore. The city is ingrained with layer after layer of history, weird tales and unbelievable events. 

What better way to dig down into secret London than on a walking tour. Tours cover almost every subject imaginable from The Beatles to the ominously-named Dark Secrets, Torture and Executions Tour. Intriguing.

Read more: Self-Guided London Walking Tours

Attend a Free Lecture at Gresham College

Gresham College

Gresham College has been providing free lectures in the City of London since the 16th century. They host 130 free lectures every year – each one given by a distinguished professional in their respective field.

Attending a lecture is the chance to learn about something new, or to delve into the detail of difficult concepts and theories.

The lectures are split into one of 11 categories, which range from Arts & Literature to the rather curiously-named “Unusual” category.

Even if you can’t make it in person, you can watch Gresham College’s back catalogue both on their website and on Youtube.

Read Next: Awesome Things to do in London That Won’t Cost You a Penny

Watch the BFI’s Archives in the Mediatheque

BFI Mediatheque

The BFI (British Film Institute) and its cool Mediatheque should be right at the top of things to do in London on a quiet, solitary afternoon. Never heard of it? Let us explain.

The Mediatheque is a space within the BFI’s Southbank hub where you can settle down with a film or TV programme from the institute’s expansive archives and watch to your heart’s content. Booths come with comfortable seats and speakers on either side.

If you’re lucky, you can nab one of the private booths, but even the smaller compartments are like a trip to your very own private cinema.

Want to know more? Read my guide to visiting the BFI Mediatheque

Check out the Free Lunchtime Concerts at St Martin in the Fields

St Martin-in-the-Fields

St Martin in the Fields has a long history of showcasing classical music talent in its popular concerts. You should look at what’s on if you’re a music aficionado.

Much less formal but no less popular, St Martin’s free lunchtime concerts are the perfect way to take some time out to listen to classical music from names big and small.

Each concert lasts around 45 minutes and they’re held pretty much every day – check out the upcoming concerts here.

Shop on Carnaby Street

Carnaby Street

What better way to spend an afternoon in the capital solo than with a bumper shopping trip? Head to Carnaby Street – a.k.a one of the best places to shop in the capital – for a mix of big brands such as Monki and Dr Martens, alongside indie boutiques for you to peruse.

Once you’ve spent a pretty penny, drop by Kingsly Court for a spot of lunch. We adore the butter chicken offering at Curry on Naanstop, followed with a soft serve in Cucumber Alley.

Immerse Yourself in the World of Harry Potter

It’s no secret that we really love Harry Potter. We’ve written about following in the footsteps of Harry Potter filming locations in London.

Harry Potter fans will want to start at the Harry Potter Studio Tour – but you shouldn’t miss filming locations such as Leadenhall Market and Lambeth Bridge. 

The quirky House of Minalima in Soho is another cool spot.Created by the graphic designers who worked on the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts films, the house is a step into the fantasy worlds of J.K Rowling. You can even buy a poster or prop to bring home.

Read More: The House of Minalima – Soho’s Secret Harry Potter Shop

Explore the (Totally Free) Sky Garden

It’s no secret that we love the Sky Garden – a little slice of botanical heaven hidden away in the walkie talkie building in the City. It’s also no secret that it’s one of the best spots for quietly exploring the extensive London skyline.

Head up to the 34th – 37th floor of 20 Fenchurch Street and you’ll be blessed with incredible views of the capital. There’s also a whole host of impressive cafes and restaurants up there, should you fancy a bite to eat.

Find Out How to Visit the Sky Garden Here

Indulge in Vintage Shopping

Vintage Shopping

If you like to consider yourself a little bit of a bargain hunter, look no further than London’s vintage shopping scene.

Top areas to head to are Brick Lane and Camden, though you’ll find little pockets of coolness dotted throughout the city.

Walk the Thames Path

Millennium Bridge
Millennium Bridge from Thames Path

The Thames Path stretches along both banks of the famous Thames, beginning at Teddington Lock on the South Bank to the River Darent just north of Dartford, and from Hampton Court Palace on the North Bank to East India Docks in the heart of the Docklands.

Joining the path at any point along the route is a great way to explore London’s evolving skyline, helping you chart the city’s rich and illustrious history and can be done at your own pace with an audiobook or favourite playlist in your ears. Best of all, you’re never that far from a bus route, or station to take you back near home when you get a little tired.

Apart from the obvious sights of the Tower of London, Houses of Parliament, various famous bridges spanning the Thames, look out for the natural beauty of Barnes Wetland Centre, Kew Gardens and Erith Marshes.

Explore London by Bus, Train and Boat for less than a tenner

Red Bus Tour in London

London is massive. And there’s no better way to explore new parts than taking a few hours to just take buses, trains, or even the Thames Clipper to take in the sights and sounds of our great city. To get the best, unfiltered experience, we suggest steering clear of the London sightseeing buses and letting good old London transport do the hard work.

Understand how the city fits together above ground, jump off if something takes your fancy on a whim and go at your own pace.

And, best of all, you can explore Zones 1 and 2 with unlimited travel on TfL services for just £8.10 per day. That takes you from Stratford and Shoreditch in the East, to Hammersmith and Shepherd’s Bush in the West; from Archway and Hampstead Heath in the North to Dulwich and Brixton in the South and all the thousands of treats in between.

Spot London’s Blue Plaques

Van Gogh Plaque

We’re suckers for history and one of our favourite ways of learning about the city is by getting our geek on and spotting blue plaques dotted around the city.

For instance, head to St James’ and within a few minutes walk, take in plaques commemorating former dwellings belonging to as diverse a cast of historical figures as Napoleon III (nephew of that Napoleon), Ada Lovelace (Byron’s only legitimate child), Pitt the Elder, the Earl of Derby, and William Gladstone, who all lived in the same house at different times. 

After that, set your sights on finding the plaques for Nancy Astor, Lord Palmerston, Charles de Gaulle, Gainsborough, Chopin, Lord Kitchener and Robert Walpole.

Now administered by English Heritage, there are more than 1000 to find across the city.

Go for an Al Fresco Swim 

Hampstead Ponds

We’re not talking about going to your local leisure centre, although if you’re at the Olympic Park, taking a dip at the London 2012 aquatic centre isn’t to be sniffed at. No, believe it or not London is stacked with awesome outdoor swimming spots.

From lidos in London Fields, Hyde Park, Herne Hill, to wild swimming at Hampstead Heath, Hackney, and Luxborough Lake, heading out for a swim is one of the best ways to spend a solitary few hours.

Refreshing, restorative, relaxing and great exercise, if you love to swim at your own pace, you’ll be spoilt for choice. 

Solo London: Map

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