Skip to Content

86 Brilliant Things to do in London You Really Shouldn’t Miss

86 Brilliant Things to do in London You Really Shouldn’t Miss

Love This? Save and Share!

From the classics to the downright quirky. Discover 86 of the best things you should not miss in London with this handy guide. 

First of all, let’s start this feature by acknowledging the cold, hard truth: It’s pretty tough to pick the best things to do in London. 

Even as a team of avid London chroniclers, our calendar is full of new spots that are opening, obscure gems and places we love so much they warrant going time and time again. 

In other words, there are so many places to see in London that you could write an encyclopaedia on it and barely even scratch the surface. 

That said, there are some landmarks, locations and activities that are so iconic or straight-up awesome that you simply have to give them a try. 

First time in London? Grab an eyeful of Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge and the London Eye. Live in London but not made time to see the exuberant Changing of the Guard ceremony or Roman worship at the Mithraeum? Shame on you. 

These places and activities are the things that we recommend everyone do in London. No matter how many times you’ve been or how long you’ve lived here, you’d be surprised by the things that fall through the cracks. 

You won’t find all of these destinations in the guidebooks – some are secret gems, others are some of the city’s biggest icons – they all offer a unique view of London that you have to experience.  

Ready to explore? Let’s roll. 

Unmissable Things to Do in London 

Snap Pics at Buckingham Palace 

Facts About London
Buckingham Palace

If you don’t snap a picture out the front of Buckingham Palace, have you really even visited London?

The chances of actually seeing royalty are pretty low, but it’s definitely a London must-see. 

Those iconic gates also make quite the backdrop for your snapping spree, but did you know that you can actually step inside and explore parts of the palace yourself if the season is right

How to go? When they open the State Rooms during summer check availability and book your ticket.

Ride The London Eye

London Eye

The London Eye has long cast off its rather dated name The Millennium Wheel – but it still has the great views and wow factor it did when it opened in the year 2000. 

Let’s face it – you can’t not feature The London Eye in a guide to the top places to you ought to see in London. 

Glide serenely around the 25-minute circuit and take in the views. You can see the entire city unfolding beneath you, even as far away as Windsor on a clear day. 

How to Go: Book your tickets in advance

Visit Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey

You may recognise Westminster Abbey as the backdrop for several elaborate royal weddings that were beamed around the world. You know, like Charles & Diana, and Kate and Wills.

If it’s fit for a royal wedding then you just know it’s going to be pretty spectacular – and it sure is. 

It’s also the final resting place of some of Britain’s most famous folk. That list is too long to recreate here but includes a slew of kings and queens, eight prime ministers, Charles Dickens, Geoffrey Chaucer, Henry Purcell, William Wilberforce and Laurence Olivier, among others. 

No wonder it’s one of the main things to do in the capital.

How to Go: Buy skip-the-line tickets with an audio guide

Visit the Kyoto Garden

Kyoto Garden

We doubt you expected to find a Japanese Garden in London, but then again why should you be surprised? This is one of the most multicultural places in the world after all. 

The Kyoto Garden was given as a gift by the people of Japan with a very special sentiment in mind – to honour the friendship between our two nations. 

Its a delightful place for a stroll and has some truly stunning features, a many-tiered waterfall and a collection of Japanese stone lamps just the tip of the iceberg. 

How to go: Visit Holland Park. Opening times can be found here

See Immersive Art at Frameless

London has some of the world’s finest art galleries but if you’d like something new you should pop down to Frameless. 

They take what you’ll find on the walls of The Tate and The National Gallery and blow it up to lager than life sizes, warping it and animating it so that it seems like you’re actually walking through the masterworks of art history. 

Let us tell you, it’s impressive. It will also look excellent on your Instagram. 

How to go: Book a ticket right here.

Try the Duelling Bagels of Brick Lane

Beigel Bake Brick Lane

For many years there’s been a divide among Londoners. It involves two famed bagel houses on Brick Lane. They’ve become so entrenched in our collective imagination that you need only refer to them as “The Yellow One” and “The White One”. 

Beigel Bake (the white one) has the perks of running 24/7, while The Bagel Shop (the yellow one) offers the charm of history – it’s the first and oldest bagel shop in London having been founded in 1855.

How to go: If you want to join the debate, grab a pastrami from both and choose your side. 

Catch Views at Sky Garden 

Sky Garden
Sky Garden

There are a few impressive gardens in London, but perhaps the most unique is the Sky Garden.

As the name suggests, it’s a green space that sits near the top of the “Walkie Talkie” building. Extra pluses? It’s England’s highest public garden, and it’s totally free. Win.

How to Go: Book a free visit here or pop in for breakfast when there are zero queues. 

It’s also worth noting that they throw some pretty wild parties up here for the big nights of the year (New Year’s Eve, Halloween etc.) – if you fancy yourself a very fancy party animal, check on their site nearer the time.  

Take a CityDays London Treasure Hunt

City Days

When it comes to London landmarks, there’s no better way to explore than via an immersive scavenger hunt. And that’s where City Days comes in.

They’ve curated an epic selection of hunts that see you follow clues around the city. Captivating stories challenge you to experience London’s coolest spots and hidden locations – and there are discounts in numerous pubs along the way so that you can decipher the clues over a pint or two.

Whether you like the sound of fleeing from witches in Greenwich, twisting your way through Kensington’s mysterious mews, or even taking on mediaeval south London, there’s certain to be a London scavenger hunt that tickles your fancy.Better yet, tickets start at just £15 per person – so get the gang together for an immersive afternoon in London and get ready to discover the city we love so much.

Book Your Tickets for CityDays Here

Witness Roman Worship at the London Mithraeum

Temple of Mithras Installation

London has had a long and storied past. We can trace this city all the way back to the Romans. In fact, some of the roman rituals are still happening today. 

That’s right. At The London Mithraeum, they recreate an ancient Roman ritual for all to see. It’s in honour of the god Mithras who was once worshipped on this very site many thousands of years ago. 

The museum also holds some interesting artefacts that were found on the dig site – one that was only discovered in the 50s. 

How to go: Check the times on their website here and visit accordingly.

Hear the PM Speak at The Houses of Parliament and See Big Ben 

Big Ben

Say what you like about politicians, you’ve got to admit they’ve got a pretty incredible home base in London. The intricate Gothic architecture is seriously top-notch. 

You can tour the insides when they’re not busy you know, running the country. You can also attend the famed shouting match that is Prime Minister’s Questions or PMQs, as well as other debates taking place – so long as there’s space, they’ll let you in. 

You’ll also be able to snap pics in front of Big Ben (top marks if you can tell us what it’s real name is). 

How to Go: Get a behind-the-scenes tour of the Houses and Westminster

Look Around the London Transport Museum 

London Transport Legacies

Not all of London’s museums hold items that date back across the millenniums. In fact one we think you really should see while in London covers a few hundred years of groundbreaking innovation in London’s transport. 

At the London Transport Museum, you’ll see vintage vehicles from the days when busses were just hitting the road, tube posters from the days when the tube only ran one line and heaps of other weird and wonderful things you didn’t know you wanted to see until you stumbled across them here. 

Walk Across Tower Bridge 

Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge

Pretty close to the list of top things to see in London is Tower Bridge (not be confused with the far less pretty London Bridge further upriver).

Impressive. Majestic. Imposing. We could think of lots of superlatives to use here – but we recommend you just check it out for yourself.

Don’t miss out on the chance to walk across the glass platform on the top deck and watch the ant people crossing beneath you, if you dare that is…

How to Go: Buy an advanced ticket for a discount online

Take a Gin Distillery Tour 

Graveney Gin

In recent years London has undergone a bit of a gin revolution. The botanical spirit has gone from being the gut-rot drunk during the Victorian ages to the drink of yummy mummies and, now, a spirit of noble standing among hipster distilleries that are pushing the drink to entirely new levels. 

You can tour many of these distilleries and sample their finest liquor as you go. Many of them will also offer masterclasses on things like how to mix the correct flavours of gin with the correct tonics so you can take your G&T game to a whole new level. 

How to go: Here’s a guide to the best gin distillery tours in the capital.

Get into London’s Grizzly History at The Tower of London 

Tower of London

The clearest example of London’s dramatic and sometimes devilish history is the Tower of London. Centuries ago, it was the place for notorious prisoners (generally of the political variety).

Today, it’s a kind of grim attraction – with the added bonus of being home to the impressive Crown Jewels and a tradition that has happened daily for the past 700 years

How to Go: Get a skip-the-line ticket

Take a High-Speed Tour of the Thames 

You could, should you choose, to cruise the Thames on a Thames Clipper, putting along at a stable and comfortable speed, idly waiting for the next big landmark to pop up. Then again you could whiz down the river at break-neck speeds on the back of a speedboat. 

Just imagine how Big Ben looks as you zip by it at high speed, or the adrenaline you’ll feel at narrowly missing one of the struts holding up Tower Bridge. You can find a couple of companies that offer this sort of service, if you’re bold enough to give it a try. We’d recommend the Thames Tigers or the Thames Rockets

How to go: book in advance on one of the above links

Dine at The Shard 

The Shard

If you’re looking for the best things to see in London, you won’t need to work hard to spot The Shard.

Europe’s tallest building is immediately recognisable as the most glittering part of the London skyline.

There’s a super impressive observation deck, as well as several bars and restaurants (including one of our favourites – Aqua Shard) if you want to get inside.

How to Go: Free just to look, or book a table at one of the restaurants, but prepare to spend big bucks to eat here – imagining the tableside views might give you some sense of why.

Get Lost in the Lights of Piccadilly Circus

Piccadilly Circus

Piccadilly Circus is one of those totally overwhelming and totally awesome places that remind you that you’re standing in one of the world’s great cities.

A road junction in London’s West End, it’s a central point for shopping, nightlife and dining – as well as a bright attraction in its own right. There’s no doubt it’s one of the places you really can’t miss visiting when you’re in the capital.

Don’t just look at the big screens though. Make sure to look out for the Eros Statue for a good slice of an older side of London. 

Be Wowed by St Paul’s Cathedral 

St Paul's Cathedral
St Paul’s Cathedral

Wondering what to see in London? St Paul’s Cathedral should go straight to the top of your list. Arguably Sir Christopher Wren’s most beautiful work (and he had a fair few beautiful works), St Paul’s Cathedral is an utter delight.

The Baroque beauty is free to enter if you are worshipping, or grab yourself a ticket so you can explore it all – including the Dome.

Don’t forget to descend into the crypt where you can find the graves of some truly fascinating people including Sir Alexander Fleming (the man who discovered penicillin), Lord Nelson and the greatest British painter to have lived, Turner. 

How to Go: Get a discounted skip-the-line ticket in advance

Spend Time on Trafalgar Square 

Trafalgar Square

London’s most famous public square was originally named to commemorate Britain’s victory over France in the Napoleonic Wars.

Today, it’s a bustling hub in central London. As well as lots and lots of people, you can also expect to see various art installations and buskers as well.

There’s also the Fourth Plinth, an art installation that changes every few years and the faces of the bizarre-looking lions to take a good look at – trust us, when you know what we mean you really can’t unsee it

Just don’t feed the pigeons. It’s against the rules. 

Check out the Waxworkds at Madame Tussauds London

Beyonce Madame Tussauds

If you ask us, there’s nothing quite as fun as pulling silly poses next to your favourite celebrity, and Madame Tussauds is the global attraction that allows you to do just that.

We might be biased, but we think London has the best Madame Tussauds. From your favourite Marvel heroes and singers (we always head straight for Queen Bey) to Star Wars characters and even a couple of Royal faces, these wax figures are as close as you’re going to get to the real thing.

How to go: Book your tickets in advance

Shop in Covent Garden 

Covent Garden Market

Exploring one of the city’s most iconic and bustling neighbourhoods is definitely one of the things you have to do in London.

We’re talking about Covent Garden, with its plethora of fabulous shopping, dining and nightlife options. Prepare your credit card for a rinsing if you do go shopping, otherwise just gawk at the talented (and not-so-talented) performers that throng around the market. 

The area is also full of great pubs and more than its fair share of great restaurants if you should need somewhere to recharge after your shopping spree. 

See The Smallest Listed Buildings in London

K2 Telephone Boxes

With history in such abundance as we have it here, London boasts hundreds of protected buildings. It’s two of the smallest that are among our faves – and guess what, they’re not even buildings. 

They’re actually phone boxes. The prototypes that went on to be the K2 phone boxes (the really iconic ones). They stand in the entrance to the Royal Academy and are well worth a little poke around and a snap of. 

How to go: visit during the RA’s opening hours. You can see the boxes in the grand gateway. They’re bright red, you can’t miss them. 

Have a Wild Night in Soho


Long associated with the more salacious side of life, Soho has been London’s nightlife hotspot for decades thanks to its proximity to the city’s theatres

It’s also been a hangout for London’s famous artists and writers, Bacon, Burroughs and Freud all spent their time milling about the cafes and bars of Soho’s seedy streets. 

While it’s cleaned up its act a little in the present day, it’s still got that decadent vibe. The naughty neon signage certainly helps with that. It’s also another part of what makes the area a pretty stunning place for a night out – well that and the awesome spread of bars on offer. 

Watch a Football Game

Football is a way of life in The UK and London is home to some of the world’s most famous clubs. We’ll let you into a secret though. We’re not even massive footie fans. What we will say is, though, that seeing a game is an experience you will never forget. 

The energy is electric, the passion unrivalled. London on match day is something else. In that respect, we think its one of those things you sort of have to do in this city, up there with the London Eye and drinking pints in a famous boozer. 

How to go: best to pick a team you want to see play and book tickets via their website. You’ll have to book in advance though

Get an eye for Archaeology at The British Museum 

British Museum

If you could only visit one museum in your entire life, The British Museum would be a pretty good shout.

The history under its roof is truly astonishing – particularly its Egyptian collection, one that includes the famed Rosetta Stone and some stunning sculptures. Though if its sculpture you want, The Greek Section will also have you covered. 

Our favourite item in the collection isn’t in either of these areas though. It’s found upstairs and it’s the Sutton Hoo Mask. A stunning Anglo-Saxon helmet found while excavating a ship burial, and a stunning modern replica. 

Best of all? Entrance to the permanent exhibitions is free.

How to Go: Entry is free, so just turn up. You can also book a guided tour.

See the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace (Or Horse Guards Parade)

Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace
Changing of the Guard

Us Brits love a bit of pomp and pageantry, especially if it involves the Royal Family. And it doesn’t get more pageant-y or pompous (in a good way) than the Changing of the Guard.

That’s the well-known ceremony where the Palace Guards do an elaborate handover ceremony between the Old Guard and the New Guard. Can’t get enough? You can also see the parade at Horse Guards Parade too.

How to Go: It’s free to watch (be sure to get there early) or get a tour guide, or read our guide on the best places see it and times to visit

Explore Chinatown 


Walking around Chinatown is probably our second favourite thing to do in this city after eating our way around Chinatown. 

The area can be overlooked for the heaving crowds of tourists and abundance of choice in restaurants but if you know where to look you’ll find some seriously good places to eat. Beijing Dumpling is one of those spots, and the ever-fantastic Four Seasons is another. 

When you step back out into the street, belly full and the area’s lanterns hanging above, you kind of can’t help but feel the magic. 

Be a Culture Vulture on the South Bank 

London Eye

The South Bank is one of London’s most bustling spots and a real must-do in London. The name might give you a clue, but it’s a stretch along the south bank of the Thames – and one of London’s most important cultural hubs to boot. 

The South Bank Centre, BFI South Bank, Royal Festival Hall, The National Theatre – let’s just say that if you’re looking for musical performances, art exhibitions, theatre and film shows – it’s a great place to start.  

Add to that a pretty fab second-hand book market, street food market and some brilliant restaurants and you’re onto a winner.

How to Go: See what’s on at the South Bank Centre website.
Read Next: The South Bank Area Guide

See Churchill’s War Rooms

You can actually go and visit the very rooms where Winston Churchill conducted the Second World War. The Churchill War Rooms are a spin through some of this city’s most recent major history and one that will provide plenty of visceral insight into the running of the world’s greatest conflict. 

They’ve kept the rooms much as they were back in the 40s, but have added bits of information for context. Its a real hands-on experience, as much about feeling the threat of the day as learning about it. 

How to go: turn up, book a ticket online or take this tour that comes with entry into the war rooms

Drink at London’s Old Pubs 

Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese

If there’s one thing both local Londoners and visitors love equally, it’s visiting London’s old pubs. They’re definitely contenders for London’s most important cultural icons.

London’s pubs range from kooky and quirky through to modern foodie haunts (with plenty of crossover).

There’s even a few that are said to be haunted, so be sure to keep your wits about you as you sip a pint (of ale, of course).

If you only hit one, make it the Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese on Fleet Street. The place might just be the oldest of the bunch, is said to have been haunted and was once the watering hole of Mark Twain and Charles Dickens. Can you get much cooler than that? 

How to Go: Try one of many pub tours or explore solo.

See the Pelicans and Relax on the Lawn at St James’s Park 

St James's Park
St James’s Park

Ah, to be the Queen. Adoring subjects (well, some at least). Adorable corgis. And one seriously epic front lawn.

We’re talking about St James’s Park, the 23-hectare green space that sits out the front of Buckingham Palace. There’s ample green space for a picnic, a gorgeous lake as well as playground equipment for the kids. 

On top of that you’ll find lots of squirrels and some pretty spectacular birds. Did you ever expect you’d catch pelican feeding time at a park in London

How to Go: Get more information at the Royal Parks website.

See Great Art and Soak in the History at Somerset House 

Somerset House
Somerset House

Somerset House is one of central London’s most vibrant spots. An old historic mansion – the last of the Thameside palaces that used to line this part of the river, it’s been transformed into a cultural hotspot. 

These days it doubles up as an art gallery, event space, cafe, restaurant as well as entrepreneurial hub – there’s always plenty to explore. 

That art gallery, The Courtauld, is a goodun too, boasting some excellent renaissance and modern art, including none other than Van Gough’s Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear. 

How to Go: See what’s on at the Somerset House website 

Find London’s Harry Potter Filming Locations 

St Pancras' - A Harry Potter Filming Location
St Pancras – A Harry Potter Filming Location

There is something about stepping foot in London that makes you suddenly go a little bit (or maybe a lot) Potter mad. No, really – it happens to everyone.

Luckily, there are plenty of ways to get your HP fix. There are many Harry Potter filming locations in London, making it easy to do a DIY whip around a few spots. Alternatively make a day of it with our very own Harry Potter self-guided walking tour, as curated by a team of London experts and major Potter heads. 

Plus, the places you’ll visit are scattered between many of the must-see things in London, so it’s a good way to take in the sights.

How to Go: Do it yourself or join a walking tour like this one

Go Indoor Skydiving

Sky Diving Wind Tunnel iFly London

Adrenaline junkies gather around. London recently gained an activity that you really don’t want to miss. It’s an indoor skydiving tunnel where you can go and simulate the effects of falling from the sky at extreme speed. 

We’ve been down there and can confirm that it’s hella good fun. You’ll also be amazed by the skill of the people who operate the thing. Oh, and just so you know, you can take your jump in VR and watch a simulated skyline pass you by as you simulate your jump. 

How to go: Book tickets here, and make sure you do it in advance

Live the Life Aquatic at the Sea Life London Aquarium 

Did you have a fish tank as a kid? Now imagine that times by about fifty thousand – and you’ve come some of the way to imagining the Sea Life London Aquarium.

As well as one giant tank with all sorts of cool sea creatures, there are also numerous other exhibits with marine animals including penguins and sea turtles.

Our favourite part? The shark tunnel and the section at the beginning where you can actually walk over the top of the tank and see what’s going on below. The jellyfish are nothing short of amazing either…

How to Go: Get your ticket in advance

Enjoy an Afternoon Tea 

Afternoon Tea

If there’s one must-try signature dish in London, it’s an afternoon tea. Complete with scones, sandwiches and – most importantly – tea. 

The city presents plenty of options. You can just stop off for a simple, quick one – or, as we suggest, head for somewhere a little more fancy and enjoy the whole experience in style. 

We’ve got a guide to all the best ones here. We’ve even got a guide to places you can go for a vegan afternoon tea. 

How to Go: Book one of the city’s famous afternoon teas (The Ritz, Claridge’s, The Dorchester and The Goring are classics) or try afternoon tea on the Thames

Discover The History of The Knights Templar at Temple Church 

Temple Church, London

This peculiar church located just off Fleet Street is one of the oldest buildings in London. The experts can date it all the way back to the reign of King John (1199–1216). 

Why does it have the name Temple? Because it was originally owned by the Knights Templar – that’s how old this place is. 

You can have a good look around. Much of what you’ll see in the church has been renovated over the centuries, but there are some truly ancient bits to see. You can read all about the history in our article here

How to go: Check the opening times for any given day here (they do vary slightly) and head down when they’re open.

Walk Millennium Bridge (If You Dare)

Millennium Bridge
Millennium Bridge

One of the most interesting things about London is the juxtaposition of historic old buildings and brand-spanking new ones.

Take for instance the Millennium Bridge: a glitzy and new (well, as much as 2000 is new) bridge spanning the Thames. 

It seems everyone in London has an opinion on it (love it or hate it, very few people are ambivalent about it), so why not add yours?

Oh, but beware: it has been known to wobble…

Climb the O2 Arena 

Up at The O2

We used to call it the Millennium Dome, now it’s known as the O2 Arena. Either way its one of London’s most iconic buildings. 

But did you know that you can actually climb up to the top of it in a daring afternoon of fun? That’s right, Up at the O2, you’ll strap in and ascend to one of the best viewing points in the city. 

You’ll be harnessed in and with a professional at all times so there’s nothing to worry about. Just wear a jacket because it gets cold up there. 

How to go: make sure you book ahead, you can do that here.

Soak Up the Finest in Modern Art at The Tate Modern 

Tate Modern

The Tate Modern is the younger and more rebellious sister of the stately Tate Britain.

Devoted to modern art, it’s the best place to go in London if you’ve got any interest in contemporary art. The collection is a who’s who of Modern Art. Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst, Roy Lichtenstein, Pablo Picasso – you name it, the Tate Modern has got it. 

How to Go: Plan your visit on the Tate Modern’s website. You can even cross Millennium Bridge to get there, ticking off two of these entries in one. 

Or Soak Up some Art History at The National Gallery & National Portrait Gallery 

The National Gallery
The National Gallery

Sitting side by side, the National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery house two of Europe’s most important art collections.

The National Gallery features works by many of the world’s great artists, from the 12th to 20th Century.

On the other hand, works in the National Portrait Gallery are selected due to the significance of the subject.

How to Go: Entrance to both museums is free. Alternatively, you can take a guided tour of the National Gallery. The National Gallery also offers late-night art classes from time to time. Making art among the greatest collection of art in London? Yes please.  

Visit Dickens’ House

Charles Dickens museum in Bloomsbury, London

Few people have impacted the English language like Dickens. And few people have captured the London they lived in like him either. 

Whether you’re an avid reader or just curious as to what Dickensian London was really like, you’ll get a kick out of the Dickens Museum

It’s based out of his old house and the people behind the museum have preserved it well. You can see the desk he wrote some of his finest works from, and see the podium where he gave his renowned readings. 

Naturally the staff there are the highest of Dickens fans and happy to talk your ear off about the man and his work. 

Stroll in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

Sure London’s got some very old parks to explore, but there’s also a pretty special new one. Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park boasts some lovely waterside walks and heaps of nature to be seen along the way. 

You’ll also be able to check out the Olympic Stadium and art trails while you explore. Our favourite part of the day? Finishing off the walk with a pint in one of Hackney Wick’s fantastic craft breweries. There’s nothing like a well-deserved beer…

How to go: Check the park’s website for the latest opening times.

See The Monument 

Fire of London Monument

It’s hard to understate the impact that the Great Fire of London had on the city back in 1666. Not only did several Londoners lose their lives, but it razed much of the city to the ground.

There’s no starker reminder of this than The Monument, an impressive column that was erected to memorialise this tragic and dramatic event.

How to Go: You walk right up and around The Monument but to go inside and climb to the top you’ll need to buy advance tickets from The Monument’s website

Eat Your way Around Borough Market 

Borough Market
Borough Market

Borough Market is a food lover’s dream come true. Located under a railway line not far from London Bridge, it’s totally enticing.

There’s food from all over the world, from British scotch eggs to Argentinian street food and so much in between. Prepare to be amazed (and to leave very full).

If you fancy yourself a foodie then you don’t want to miss this spot. But what should you be eating when you’re there? We’ve got you covered on that one

How to Go: Find out more information and opening hours on Borough Market’s site

Ride The Thames Clipper

Don’t just take in the Thames from the riverside – get on it with the Thames Clipper.

The Thames Clipper is one of those London secrets that is hidden in plain sight –  a public transport service that plies its way along the river. What’s more, a jaunt along the Thames that won’t break the bank. It’s a great way to take in another view of London.

How to Go: Get tickets from the Thames Clipper website or just tap in with a contactless card at the pier.

Check out The Barbican Centre

The Barbican Conservatory
The Barbican Conservatory

The Barbican is one of the capital’s most controversial buildings (it was built in the Brutalist style – think lots and lots and lots of concrete and clean lines) – so much so that it was once voted the ugliest building in London. 

We strongly disagree – it’s one of the city’s most striking examples of 20th-century architecture  – and that’s before you get inside. Sure, it’s a bit of a maze, but there’s a theatre, cinema, concert hall – not to mention a large-scale conservatory that’s filled with all kinds of flora from around the world. 

And for all the above reasons, it totally gets our pick as one of the most interesting places you can see in this fine city.

How to Go: Visit the Barbican’s website to see what’s on

Learn About This City’s History at The Museum of London 

So, London has a lot of great museums – but what about one that is totally devoted to the capital itself?

Enter: The Museum of London

As proud Londoners, we totally love this museum. The exhibitions span the major eras of London from the Romans to the present day. It’s a great way to learn about the fascinating and often dramatic history of the English capital.

How to Go: It’s free to visit but check the Museum of London’s website for opening times.

Note: The Museum of London will be closed until 2026. 

See a Play at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre 

Shakespeare's Globe
Shakespeare’s Globe

Sadly, the original Shakespeare’s famous Globe Theatre is no longer with us – however, we do have this very sympathetic replica to enjoy. It’s not too far from where the original would have stood, and full of interesting history. 

The program, of course, includes plenty of Shakespeare as well as some other shows. Best of all, tickets can be very affordable, especially if you book last minute and aren’t too picky.

Another top tip of ours: book standing tickets. If you can handle watching a play on your feet they’re a great way to save money. That’s also how most people would have taken in Shakespeare back in the day. 

How to Go: Book a guided tour to get a closer look or book online at The Globe’s website to see a play

Or See a West End Play or National Theatre 

National Theatre

There’s no doubt that one of the top things to do in London is to catch a show. You can head for the bright lights of the West End, or perhaps the more high-brow National Theatre.

Whichever you choose, you’re in for a treat. London attracts many of the world’s best shows, and there’s always something cool happening. We keep an up-to-date guide of everything on the stage right here. 

And of course, a night in the West End is nothing without a bit of dinner. 

How to Go: There are a few ways to book tickets – either directly with the individual theatres or using a booking portal such as London Theatre.

Relax in Hyde Park

Hyde Park

Arguably the world’s most famous park (take that, New York), a visit to Hyde Park is definitely one of the main things to do in London.

Covering 142 hectares, it’s the largest of London’s Royal Parks and the perfect place to escape London’s sprawling concrete jungle.

There’s no end of life to see and plenty to keep you entertained for a day, from riding pedalos on the Serpentine Lake to perusing art at the Serpentine Galleries, or just chilling on the grass with a good book of course.   

How to Go: Visit the Royal Parks’ Website 

Get Your Detective On at The Sherlock Holmes Museum 

Sherlock Holmes Museum
(c) Shutterstock

More than a century after the original book was penned, the Sherlock Holmes  detective stories (and their various screen adaptations) still delight audiences around the world.  

The Sherlock Holmes Museum takes you on a jaunt through the world of Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous detective as well as giving you insight into the author and what inspired him to create the most famous detective stories of all time. 

How to Go: Purchase tickets on arrival (check the museum’s website for more info)

Stroll in Regent’s Park 

Regent's Park
Regent’s Park

Another Royal Park – Regent’s Park is tucked between Baker Street and Camden – offering a gloriously green escape from the hustle and bustle just north of the centre of London. 

Sure, London has a lot of parks, but there’s a lot to love here. For starters, the Isabella Plantation – a gorgeous woodland full of shady copses and pretty azaleas, not to mention Queen Mary’s Rose Garden which bursts into bloom each summer. 

Have more time? Head to ZSL London Zoo (below) which is also in the park.  

How to Go: Check the Royal Parks website for info and opening times

Check out Animals at ZSL London Zoo

London Zoo 

ZSL London Zoo is one of the oldest in the world. More importantly than that, it is also at the forefront of animal welfare and conservation work.

It’s pretty amazing to see so many animals from all over the world. You might even forget you’re right in the middle of London!

Although everyone can enjoy the zoo, it’s one of our picks for the best things to do in the capital if you’re with kids. Adults – keep an eye open for the cool Zoo Lates that take place throughout the year. 

How to Go: Book skip-the-line tickets

Shop in Camden Market 

Camden Market
Camden Market (Shutterstock)

There’s no denying that London is seriously cool. Fashion, art, theatre – we’re at the forefront of it all.

If you’re looking to replicate it and up your own style stakes, head on over to Camden Market and pick up some very chic souvenirs.

The several markets that together make up Camden Market are some of London’s most iconic shopping spots. While the shopping scene isn’t quite as cool as it used to be, it’s still a must-see spot – there are still plenty of quirky and rather brilliant pieces to take home with you. 

How to Go: Check the website for more information and opening hours 

Visit the Grave of Marx in Highgate Cemetery

Karl Marx's Grave
Karl Marx’s Grave

If you end up buried in Highgate Cemetery, then you just know you’ve made it. Possibly not for a great reason, but made it nonetheless.

It may be a bit of an unusual choice but we do highly recommend going for a stroll amongst the graves. The overgrown cemetery is really quite something. Not least because it’s the final resting place of many notable people. 

Make sure you pick up a map so you can find the most famous ones like Karl Marx.

How to Go: Check Highgate Cemetery’s site for opening times 

Take a Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus Tour and See All the Sights in a Day

Red Bus Tour in London

If you want to see all the London sights and you’re feeling impatient about getting it done, let us introduce you to a novel idea: the hop-on-hop-off bus tour. 

The concept is simple. You get on a bus that whips you around all the must-see places in London and you listen to a guide as you go. You can then jump off the bus at the most interesting points and hop back on when you’re ready. 

How to go: Book yourself onto a tour here

Swim on Hampstead Heath 

A sprawling green space, Hampstead Heath is one of London’s largest and oldest public parks. It’s perfect for a walk or a picnic.

Perhaps the most popular and unique attraction, however, are the three outdoor swimming pools on offer. They’re especially perfect for a warm summer’s day, although the chills don’t deter plucky Londoners in the colder months either.

Walk the Canals of Little Venice

Little Venice
Little Venice (Wikicommons)

Tucked away in a quiet but beautiful part of London, Little Venice feels like an escape to a different city. 

No, there aren’t as many canals as in Venice but the combination of colourful boats (some of which are home to cafes, restaurants and even a theatre) and pretty canals is a winning one. 

You can even take a ride on a gondola if you like, or hire out your own boat and make a day of it. 

Eat Curry and Shop Vintage on Brick Lane 

Brick Lane Market

Everyone’s heard of Brick Lane. Carving its way from Shoreditch to Whitechapel, Brick Lane is just as cool as it ever was thanks to an energetic vibe and appealing mix of markets, restaurants, vintage shops, street art and more. 

Famous for the curry houses that once lined large parts of it, there are still a few gems still standing – where better to go for a curry and some BYO drinks on a Friday night? And where better to pick up some vintage threads if you’re a fashionista? 

Ride The Famous Cable Cars

Emirates Air Line

How does a cable car ride over the Thames sound? Great, but it’s going to be hella expensive right? Wrong. These badboys are not only one of the most unique ways to catch a glimpse of the city from above, it’s also one of the most affordable too. 

The route runs between North Greenwich and Excel, but we wouldn’t blame you if you took a return and just hopped on it for the ride. 

How to Go: Combine your ticket with the Thames Clipper

Discover Some Great Street Art in Shoreditch 

Shoreditch Street Art
Street Art in Shoreditch

Shoreditch was covered in street art way before it was cool. Today, it’s one of the world’s best street art locations. Fact.

Pieces range from the politically charged to the world-renowned (including a piece by THE Banksy). The scene is ever-changing and no two visits will ever be the same. We go back time and time again and we’re never anything less than buzzed by what we see. 

If you like street art then you have to add this to your list of best stuff to do in London.

How to Go: Do a DIY tour or join a guided walking tour like this one

Take a Jack The Ripper Tour of the East End

The Story of Jack the Ripper, with his spate of violent and gruesome murders of women in the East End is one of the most gripping cold cases in history – and still continues to intrigue. 

Much of the area he stalked is still about, and still hung with the dark past he left behind. 

You can delve into the grisly world of Jack the Ripper’s London on a tour of the East End. Who were the victims? Where were they killed and who, who could have been the culprit? 

Maybe not ideal for young children.

How to Go: Do it yourself or join a guided walking tour like this one

Witness Geezers Flogging Flowers at Columbia Road Flower Market 

Columbia Road Flower Market
Columbia Road Flower Market

Onto far more lighthearted things but still staying in London’s East End – we just love the gorgeous Columbia Road Flower Market.

Visiting Columbia Road is definitely one of our favourite things to do around this city – here’s why. 

Every Sunday, this market springs to life with an amazingly colourful selection of cut and potted flowers. Many are sold by vendors who’ve been at it for decades, and it has a great atmosphere.

How to go: Turn up on a Sunday morning when the market is running. Our top tip? If you arrive at around 1-2pm when the market is closing you can snag some killer deals on the plants. 

Be Stunned by God’s Own Junkyard 

God's Own Junkyard
God’s Own Junkyard\

If there’s one thing this quirky art store-come-gallery has never said it is ‘I think that might be too much neon.’

This kaleidoscope of colour is stacked full of it, thanks to the effort of the late collector and neon artist Chris Bracey with very memorable and colourful results. If you’re looking for a seriously cool souvenir of your time in London – this is a good shout.

You might also be interested to know that celebrities and people hunting out props for the movie industry are not uncommon sightings here too.

How to Go: No booking necessary. For more information visit the website.

Learn About the Cutty Sark

Once at the cutting edge of engineering, today the old ship, the Cutty Sark, is an artefact of the maritime past.

It’s seriously cool to look around and imagine the days it would have spent sailing the high seas in the late 19th century.

And sail it did. It was one of the fastest ships of its time, used for getting tea around the empire as quickly as possible. 

How to Go: Book advance tickets 

Rollerskate at Flippers


Flippers is a new hangout in London. It came here by way of New York, and to New York by way of 1980s Hollywood

Its basically a giant roller skating disco where you can glide to your heart’s content listening to vintage bangers and the best of the recent decades. 

They have an American diner there that turns out some pretty banging food which means you can really make a trip of it if you want, something we advise you do – this place at its best can be a real good laugh. 

How to go: Book yourself a slot here.

Stand on the Meridian Line at The Royal Observatory & Greenwich Meridian 

View of Greenwich
View from the Observatory

Greenwich is home to many of the capital’s most interesting attractions – few more so than the Royal Observatory and the Greenwich Meridian. 

It’s pretty incredible to stand on the Greenwich Meridian – the point where time is measured from, aka longitude 0 degrees.

It’s tucked inside the grounds of the Royal Observatory, which has been at the forefront of astronomy and physics for centuries. You can even visit the planetarium and learn about the night sky. 

How to Go: Book tickets with a free audio guide tour 

Embrace Your Inner Kid at a Ball Pit Cocktail Bar London


This new addition to the London bar scene is a curious one but we love it for a chance to blast your way down memory lane. It’s essentially a bar with a bunch of ball pits (and no small amount of puns about their balls)

You get sloshed. You jump around. It’s all a whole load of fun. Simple. 

How to go: Book yourself in here.

Be Moved by The Painted Hall 

The Painted Hall in Greenwich

The Painted Hall is another case of Sir Christopher Wren totally smashing it out of the park. The architect (who also designed St Paul’s Cathedral), designed this incredible Baroque hall alongside Nicholas Hawksmoor. 

To give you an idea of what we’re talking about, we should probably tell you that The Painted Hall is often nicknamed “London’s Sistine Chapel” and no, that’s not overhyping it at all. 

How to Go: Book your ticket online to secure entry

Watch a Candlelight Concert 

Fever Candlelight Concerts

In recent years London has undergone a candlelit concert craze. There’s not a weekend that goes by in this city anymore without some kind of candlelit event to attend. 

How does it work? Well, you basically see a concert that can range to anything from orchestral versions of your favourite pop music or film scores to renditions of grand classical suites. 

They perform it all in stunning locations like churches and town halls that are lit by thousands of candles. It. Is. Stunning. 

How to go: You can find a list of upcoming concerts here

Dig into Military History at The Imperial War Museum 

Imperial War Museum

The Painted Hall is another case of Sir Christopher Wren totally smashing it out of the park. The architect (who also designed St Paul’s Cathedral), designed this incredible Baroque hall alongside Nicholas Hawksmoor. 

To give you an idea of what we’re talking about, we should probably tell you that The Painted Hall is often nicknamed “London’s Sistine Chapel” and no, that’s not overhyping it at all. 

How to Go: Book your ticket online to secure entry

Watch a Candlelight Concert 

In recent years London has undergone a candlelit concert craze. There’s not a weekend that goes by in this city anymore without some kind of candlelit event to attend. 

How does it work? Well, you basically see a concert that can range to anything from orchestral versions of your favourite pop music or film scores to renditions of grand classical suites. 

They perform it all in stunning locations like churches and town halls that are lit by thousands of candles. It. Is. Stunning. 

How to go: You can find a list of upcoming concerts here

Dig into Military History at The Imperial War Museum 

Horniman Museum

The Horniman Museum rarely makes it onto visitors’ lists of must-see museums in London – more’s the shame as this kooky museum is one of our favourites. 

It was started by a collector who, let’s be honest, seemed like a bit of an oddball. The end result is a truly unique museum that’s unlike any other in London. 

From taxidermy to hands-on exhibits, and temporary shows that pop-up on an ad-hoc basis there’s plenty to keep you entertained. You’ll also find some great historic artefacts on display. 

You should also note that The Horniman Museum was also the first to break rank and start sending Benin Bronzes back to Nigeria. We think that’s very admirable.  

How to Go: No booking required and free entry. 

Go on an Immersive Cocktail Experience 

Avora Bar

Immersive is a buzzword we’ve been hearing a little bit too much of over recent years, but when it comes to the cocktail experiences this city does so well, we’re willing to give it a pass. 

So what are these experiences? Well, basically places you go to get dressed up and take part in a little immersive theatre, with cocktails along the way. 

You can visit the salons of the Wild West, smuggle booze into Alcatraz and take a trip into a mock Avatar world

It’s never anything less than a good laugh, and quite unlike anything else you can experience in London.

How to go: Follow the links in above to book tickets.

Expand Your Waistline at Brixton Village 

Brixton Village

Brixton Village is one of the earliest spots to put Brixton firmly on London’s hipster map. What was a sad market, full of empty shops and more than a little run down, it was transformed into a haven of pop-ups, cool restaurants and independent boutiques around a decade ago and has been blazing strong ever since. 

Don’t fret – many of the old market and shop traders are still there, but they sit alongside some of Brixton’s best-known restaurants and bars – including the original (and we’d still argue the best) locations of Franco Manca’s and Honest Burgers. 

How to Go: Just turn up, but bring an appetite.

See Dinos at Crystal Palace Park

Things weren’t all grim and glum in Victorian London – we sometimes forget that a number of “pleasure parks” were opened up throughout the capital in the period.

One of these was Crystal Palace Park – a lovely park that is the perfect spot for a summer picnic. Find the weird Victorian dinosaur installations dotted around the park (the beady-eyed will notice that they’re horribly inaccurate but pretty cool nonetheless) or head down for one of the many cultural events that appear on the park’s event calendar. 

How to Go: Chack the Crystal Palace Park website for the latest opening times.

Go to Outer Space at The Science Museum 

Science Museum
Science Museum

Learning is cool, okay?

No, seriously, it is at The Science Museum in South Kensington’s Museum Mile. With tons of fun and interactive exhibits, it’s always on our list of great places for an inspiring afternoon.

The museum’s exhibits are as fascinating as they are diverse. One minute you’re learning about the Space Race, the next – what really makes our brains work. It’s mind-boggling and very entertaining stuff. 

How to Go: Entry is free and bookings are not required. Find out more at the website

Dive into High Culture at the Victoria & Albert Museum 

The Victoria & Albert Museum

A cultured day out in London doesn’t come much better than a visit to the opulent Victoria & Albert Museum. 

The subject of this excellent collection? Anything really… It’s a museum of applied design (which might sound a little dull but don’t be fooled). 

You’ll be perusing everything from large-scale Greek and Roman statues alongside decadent interiors, Asian ceramics and persian rugs. There’s also and the chance to take a jaunt through the history of fashion. In other words, it’s weird, it’s wonderful and you should wear some comfortable shoes.

How to Go: Entry is free, bookings not required. Check the Victoria & Albert Museum’s site for more info.  

Shop on Portobello Road

Portobello Road is one of London’s most famous shopping areas. It’s not all about the malls and high street brands like you might find on Oxford Street. 

What you’ll find are collections of antique shops and vintage stores selling everything from vintage fashion that the city’s clothing-obsessed come early to snap up, to trinkets from every corner of the world. 

You can also swing by some of Notting Hill’s pastel-coloured houses – easily one of the most photogenic parts of the city. 

Learn About Our Animals of the Past at the Natural History Museum 

Natural History Museum

Walking a fine line between kind of creepy and utterly awesome, the Natural History Museum is one of the most iconic places you can visit in the capital.

There’s a truly incredible amount of taxidermy here, as the museum once acted as a kind of encyclopaedia of living creatures.

However, there’s way more to it, including exhibitions devoted to our solar system and a giant animatronic T-Rex that’s been scaring the life out of little kids since our first visit many many years ago.  

How to Go: Entry is free, bookings not required. Visit the website for more info

Take a Ride on The Mail Rail

Mail Rail
© The Postal Museum, Miles Willis

London’s underground is world famous but there’s another subterranean railway you ought not to miss. It’s The Mail Rail – an old (and cutesy small) train that they used to use to transport mail around the city. 

These days it’s open for people who don’t deliver mail to have a spin on and riding it provides no end of curiosity. You’ll be passing right under the heart of London in a tiny, capsule-like carriage while you hear all about the history behind the train. 

How to go: Book tickets here

Spot Royals at Kensington Palace & Gardens 

Kensington Palace
Kensington Palace

If you’re hoping to spot a young royal (and let’s be honest, aren’t we all), then your best bet is Kensington Palace & Gardens.

It’s been the London home of certain branches of British royalty since the 17th century and has plenty of history to go with it. 

Even if you don’t spot Kate, Wills and their brood of adorable offspring, the palace and gardens are still pretty spectacular.

How to Go: Book your ticket and tour in advance to secure entry

Stroll the Stunning Kew Gardens 

Kew Gardens

Calling Kew a “garden” kind of seems like a mammoth understatement but its full name – The Royal Botanic Gardens of Kew is a bit of a mouthful. It’s the largest botanical garden in the world, and it’s seriously sprawling.

It’s divided up into various subsections, including the Diana Memorial Garden. It’s also worth checking the website to see if there are any special events happening as Kew never shy away from a chance to lay on an interesting evening or two. 

How to Go: Book your ticket to Kew Gardens online

Visit the Home of Henry VIII at Hampton Court Palace 

Hampton Court Palace 

We’ve all heard the tales of Henry VIII, England’s most infamous king (and rather dreadful husband) – why not visit one of his favourite palaces? 

Beautiful in an imposing way, Hampton Court’s elaborate Baroque and Tudor architecture is half-fortress, half OTT palace.

It’s also home to a surprisingly beautiful garden, tennis courts, the world’s largest grapevine and a rather intriguing maze that is 100% more difficult than it looks. If you go in the winter you can also take a spin on their ice rink, one of the biggest in London. 

How to Go: Book your tickets and skip the line

See Deer at Richmond Park 

Richmond Park
Richmond Park

London has lots of parks, but this one has a special place in our hearts. 

The main reason that it’s one of the best places to go in London is its abundance of rather adorable deer (don’t get too close though – they are wild animals).

Even without the deer, Richmond Park is one of the most striking parks in London. It’s (you’ve guessed it) a Royal Park – the deer a throwback to the days when Henry VIII used to go hunting here. 

There’s even a rather complex history to the hunting ground, and a certain location within it. You can read all about that here. 

Unmissable Places in London: Map

Richmond Park
12 Amazing Things to Do in London on New Year’s Day 2024
Notting Hill Guide
The 23 Best Things to do in Notting Hill
Comments are closed.