12 Best Things to Do in London
London is one of my favorite cities in the world. It is a cultural melting pot with iconic landmarks, top restaurants, and charming parks and streets. There are so many sights to see and activities to take part in. Here are the 12 greatest things to do in London.
Buckingham Palace and St. James Park
No trip to London would be complete without a stop at Buckingham Palace. For 10 weeks during the summer, you can explore the royal palace’s elaborately furnished rooms. If you can’t make it during that time, you can still catch the Changing of the Guard or marvel at the structure’s gorgeous exterior.
After a stop at Buckingham Palace, take a stroll through St. James Park. Hyde Park may be the most famous park in London, but St. James is my favorite. It’s also right next to the palace. St. James Park features a stunning, blue lake, which is a wildlife sanctuary for a wide variety of birds and animals. In my opinion, it’s the best place to walk in London.
The Tower of London
The Tower of London is a famous palace, fortress, and prison all in one. Here you can see the famed Royal Jewels, gawk at some ravens, and explore the tower’s torture chambers. Many of the exhibits at the Tower of London are interactive … no. Not the torture chambers.
Not far from the Tower of London is the Tower Bridge. This is actually the best place to take pictures of the bridge. So once you’re done with the Royal Jewels, head on out to snap a few pictures.
One of the most popular things to do in London is see Westminster. This is the political center of London. Here you will find Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, and Westminster Abbey. London’s most iconic shots will be right here, so get your camera ready.
A small note: Big Ben (as of June 2022) is currently under construction. The beloved clock tower is getting some upgrades such as a lift, better lighting, and repaired roof tiles. But hopefully by the time you get to London, Big Ben will be complete.
Covent Garden is a hub for shopping, entertainment, and great food. The area is a great place to find outdoor entertainment and luxury fashion. You can also find several award-winning restaurants.
If you’re looking to get fancy, head to Frenchie for scrumptious French cuisine. Their stunning and flavorful dishes were awarded a Michelin star for a reason. If you don’t want to burn a hole in your wallet, head to Blacklock. It’s a traditional London Chophouse serving up mouth-watering meat at a fair price. I also like to stop for gelato at La Gelatiera. No matter how your day starts, artisan gelato is a great way to end it.
Camden is a unique neighborhood of London that was once home to Amy Winehouse. It was also my home while I got my master’s degree from UCL. Camden is known for its alternative scene. You’ll find lots of goths and punks with piercings and tattoo shops galore. But you’ll also find the Camden Market, which is an eclectic mix of street food, vintage clothing racks, and stalls with all sorts of trinkets.
Once you’re done shopping, you can head to Camden Lock. It’s a beautiful area set on Regent’s Canal. If you’re looking for something sweet to eat while you walk around, go to Chin Chin Labs. They serve up wild flavors of ice cream like Burnt Butter Caramel and Strawberry Shiso. Indulge yourself. You won’t regret it.
If you’re curious where I used to hang out, check out the Living Room Club. It’s a cozy café with tasty soups, salads, and snacks. They also have a gallery and classes for the community, such as Portuguese Conversation or Baking. Moreover, the people are so friendly and welcoming.
Speaking of food, you should definitely head to Chinatown for a bite … or several. Sandwiched between Soho and Leicester Square, Chinatown is the best place to get authentic Asian cuisine. From pho to steamed buns, you can find it here.
Chinatown also has some wonderful bars in the area. Check out Opium. It calls itself a cocktail bar and dim sum parlour. But in fact, there are three bars in Opium. On the top floor is the Academy Bar, where you can relax in the lounge or chill at the Bartender’s Table. On the second floor is the Apothecary Bar, named after the medicinal bottles that decorate the bar. Also on this floor is the intimate Peony Bar hidden behind some red curtains. Each bar offers unique cocktails that are guaranteed to make your night.
Historically speaking, Soho was the hub of London’s sex industry. Although you’ll still find some sex shops there, Soho has become the city’s go-to spot for nightlife. There are plenty of bars and nightclubs to keep you satisfied. Not to mention, the area now has a vibrant LGBTQ community. So you will find plenty of gay and lesbian bars. If you’re young and looking for fun, Soho is the place to be.
One of the best things to do in London is go shopping. And there is no better place for it than on Oxford Street. With over 300 shops and 500,000 visitors every day, Oxford Street is the busiest shopping street in Europe. If you can’t find what you’re looking for here, then you can’t find it anywhere.
I personally don’t like shopping, but I still love Oxford Street for its hip cafes and charming architecture. It’s a great place to people watch.
London is an amazing location for art of all centuries and styles. The National Gallery is the first place you want to stop for art. Situated on the famous Trafalgar Square, the gallery features works from many of the greats. Da Vinci, Van Gogh, Rembrandt. They’re all there.
For lovers of contemporary art, you must go to the Tate Modern. The building itself is a work of modern art. But inside you’ll find a vast collection of exhibits. Some pieces are permanent, such as those by Picasso and Delauney. Other exhibits are temporary. So what you’ll find depends on when you go.
The British Museum
Another great thing to do in London is visit the British Museum. This place is an archaeologist’s dream. You can see all the historical artifacts and treasures the British have stolen – ahem! I mean collected. There are pieces of the Parthenon, mummified pharaohs, and even the Rosetta Stone. You’ll find interesting history from every century of every corner of the globe. So, if you’re looking for an educational trip, the British Museum is your place.
The London Eye
The London Eye is an iconic part of the London skyline. It’s an absolutely massive ferris wheel that gives breathtaking views of the city. At night, the Eye is lit up in seasonal colors. During the holiday season, you will also find a Christmas market nearby. So take a walk along the Thames. Night or day, summer or winter, it’s a lovely spot for a stroll.
Afternoon tea is a tradition that started in 19th century England and persists even today. It’s also one of my favorite things to do in London. Finger sandwiches, hot tea, sweet pastries, and maybe a bit of champagne. What’s not to love?
There are several hotels and restaurants that offer afternoon tea. The Ritz London is a popular destination for the stereotypical, glitzy afternoon tea experience. But you can find equally enjoyable experiences for nearly half the price somewhere else. May Fair Kitchen will give you the classic Mayfair tea treatment for £35. But you can throw in some cocktails and champagne for a bit more. Treat yourself. Go for it!
Speaking of going for it, why not go for a day trip? I happen to know the best day trip from London. So if you need a break from the city, take it. There are fun adventures waiting for you in England.