A rich history and bucket-list attractions: the best things to do in London
London – where does one even begin?
With a history stretching back to Roman times, the UK capital attracts millions of visitors every year with exquisite art, entertainment, iconic structures, and a long list of must-do experiences.
You’ll probably struggle to squeeze everything into just the one trip, but our pick of the 22 best things to do in London might just help get you started.
Walk around Hyde Park
First up on the best things to do in London is the most famous of the beautiful green London parks, a walk around Hyde Park is pretty much non-negotiable on your trip.
If slow isn’t your style, plenty of people enjoy this area to jog, cycle, or boat on the Serpentine. Or if you’re simply content to just unwind, find a spot and watch the world go by among the scenery.
Explore the Tower of London
Used as both a prison and royal residence over the years, it’s now home to the crown jewels and has cemented itself as a major tourist attraction with educational tours and plenty to see and do.
Encounter dark secrets under the London Bridge
Another one of the best things to do in London is not one for the faint of heart, this is a tour that will leave your knuckles white and your knees wobbling.
It’s an experience of London’s gruesome history in terrifying fashion on an interactive educational walk-through complete with live actors and a whole lotta jump scares. Think you’ve got what it takes?
See more at thelondonbridgeexperience.com
Take in a different scene at Camden
Camden is essentially the colourful, quirky side of London.
This is a must if you want to be absorbed in some alternative culture, with a crowd made of punks, goths, rock ‘n rollers, and a side of tourists. It’s famed for its market, street food, and trinket-filled stalls lining streets, with plenty of tattoo and piercing shops dotted about.
Soar to new heights on the London Eye
It’s probably a no-brainer, but did you really even go to London if you didn’t get on the London Eye?
This iconic ferris wheel structure sits on the South Bank of the River Thames and offers unbeatable views across the entire city from a spacious enclosed glass pod.
Take in Big Ben
Another iconic stop, and another no-brainer.
If you’re a first-timer in the big smoke, you’ll really get all those London trip feels as you stare up at the world-famous clock tower. If you’re a regular visitor, the sight really never does get old.
Shop ‘til you drop at Oxford Street
Europe’s busiest shopping street, here you’ll find everything from top of the pop designer stores to internationally famous department stores among 300 different shops.
It’s a sophisticated shopping lover’s paradise, and once your arms are sore from holding up all the bags you can stop in at one of the equally as impressive pubs and restaurants for a bite.
Experience nightlife in Soho
If you want to do nights right in London, mark Soho down as a stop on your itinerary.
The messy zig-zag of streets and crowded alleyways come alive after dark in equal parts swanky, grubby and frisky. Theatre-goers can head to Shaftesbury Avenue, food lovers can pull up a chair at a restaurant and the more risqué can explore the remnants of London’s red-light district.
Cruise along the Thames
A river as old as the history of London itself, the Thames has been a base for settlements since prehistoric times and continues to serve as the life force of the city.
There is a whole number of companies that offer cruises across the Thames running from different locations at all different hours of the day, with all offering unique views of the city while you sit back and relax.
Dine at the Sky Garden
Among the sea of stunning architecture, there’s a top-floor restaurant that truly stands out from the crowd.
Sky Garden is a skyscraper that contains three stories of lush green public gardens among some of the city’s most exclusive social spaces. Book your afternoon at one of the restaurants and enjoy some sips as you marvel at the view.
See more at skygarden.london
Catch a show at The O2
The O2 has hosted quite the number of stars in its time and continues to host some of the biggest names in entertainment and sport on a regular basis.
Live your Harry Potter dreams
Extreme Potterheads will be on cloud nine in London.
Fans can head to King’s Cross station and visit the real-life Platform 9 ¾ (although, we wouldn’t recommend trying to run through the wall), or make a day of it at The Making of Harry Potter to discover all the magic behind the wizarding world.
Walk across Millenium Bridge
Speaking of Harry Potter, fans will also want to go check out Millenium Bridge.
It was featured in the Half-Blood Prince during the death eater attack on the muggle world, and if that’s not reason enough to visit and take a snap then just go for the city views over the Thame.
Brush up on your history skills
Given its rich history, it comes as no surprise that London is home to an abundance of museums.
The best place to head is Exhibition Road in South Kensington, where you can start with the Natural History Museum, head next door to the Science Museum, take a short stroll to the Victoria and Albert Museum, and finish off at the famous British Museum.
Take the tube
Become a true Londoner and get around tube style.
The London Underground finds its origins in the Metropolitan Railway, the world’s first underground passenger railway, and connects all of greater London and some parts of adjacent areas like Buckinghamshire, Essex, and Hertfordshire in England.
See more at tfl.gov.uk
Rummage through vintage treasures in Brick Lane
Brick Lane is a spot for foodies, bargain hunters, and thrift fashion seekers.
The cobbled streets hold the heart of the Bangladeshi community, making it an incredibly diverse neighbourhood filled with the mouthwatering smell of curry houses and plenty of spicy stops for lunch. You’ll also find trendy bars, plenty of market stalls, and colourful street art.
Marvel at incredible art
Being full of history of course one of the best things to do in London for an art lover is to take in some of the best art galleries in the world.
Among some of the best, the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square boasts work from names like da Vinci, van Gogh, and Turner, or you can find pieces from Picasso, Klee and Delauney at Tate Modern on Southbank.
Eat at Borough Market
Calories don’t count when you’re on holiday right?
Borough Market will make all your wildest foodie dreams come true with sensational dishes from all around the world living up to its largely hyped name. Just make sure you visit on an empty stomach.
See more at boroughmarket.org.uk
Get up close with the stars at Madame Tussauds
If you dream of snapping a selfie with The Rock or Captain America, this is probably as close as you’re going to get.
For a little bit of fun and something slightly different, visit Madame Tussauds and be amazed at the extreme likeness of their famous wax figures to your favourite celebs.
Catch a glimpse of Buckingham Palace
A trip to Buckingham Palace is likely number one on every tourist’s best things to do in London list.
Stroll the surrounding Green Park and catch a glimpse of the royal headquarters, or catch the world-famous Changing of the Guard at 11 am every other day.
Discover the Churchill War Rooms
Head down below and relive the history of WWII in Churchill’s historic bunker.
A visit allows you to walk the same top-secret corridors as Prime Minister Winston Churchill while he plotted the allied route to victory with a glimpse into what life would have been like and heaps of interesting information around every corner.
See more at iwm.org.uk.
Snap a red telephone box pic for the gram
Finishing off our list of the best things to do in London is to add something that is ‘So London’ to your Instagram feed.
Will your Insta followers really know you visited London without an iconic red telephone box pic on the feed?
As cheesy as it is, we still think it’s totally necessary to scout one out and get your picture in front of it for memories.
Feature Image: @jackofallstreets
Discover more of London at SoWhereNext.com.au