Are you planning a trip to London soon? It can be hard finding out the best places to eat and where to stay during your trip. Well, this London bucket list has got you covered, with over 60 of the best things to do in London! Plus, a lot of these are some of the most Instagrammable spots in the city.
I teamed up with a lot of amazing bloggers to bring you this list. It’ll help you immensely when planning your next trip to this beautiful city!
Table of Contents
Wandering around present-day Shoreditch, it’s hard to imagine this hipster London neighbourhood used to be a notorious slum area. Fortunately, it’s a much safer place today. Although some may find the hipster beards and moustaches rather criminal. But at the same time, the extravagant grooming and clothing styles you can spot here, are characteristic of the creative bubble that is Shoreditch.
Home to artists, musicians, designers and filmmakers, the streets of Shoreditch are literally covered in art. The phenomenal amount of high-quality street art in Shoreditch actually inspired me to become a street art blogger when I moved to the area a few years ago. But besides street art, trendy Shoreditch is also famous for its independent shops, cafés and buzzing nightlife.
Coming from Liverpool Street Station, the nearest Tube station, you’ll find the iconic Old Spitalfields Market. Besides a foodie hotspot, this cosy Victorian covered market is a real treasure trove for anyone in search of handmade crafts and original London souvenirs. On Sunday, the former Truman Brewery, one of the must-see Shoreditch landmarks, is transformed into the fabulous Sunday Upmarket. Also, the bustling Sunday Brick Lane street market is a sight not to be missed.
For a taste of local cuisine, pop into one of the countless curry restaurants multi-cultural Shoreditch is famous for. And don’t forget to explore the side streets and uncover the area’s long and fascinating history. You’ll soon fall in love with this unique London neighbourhood.
Recommended by Zarina from Dutch Girl in London
There are many things to do in Notting Hill which makes it a great neighbourhood to tick off your London bucket list. Easily accessible by public transport, this small area in west London is filled with charming streets, great restaurants and amazing shopping. You’ll probably recognise many sights from your Instagram feed such as the colourful houses of Portobello Road and the hipster hangouts of Farm Girl Café and The Biscuiteers. If you are a rom-com fan then you can seek out some movie filming locations here such as the famous bookshop from the film Notting Hill, and St Lukes Mews – a cute street from Love Actually.
During the week, the main street Portobello Road is an eclectic mix of independent gift and clothing stores, but come the weekend it comes alive with the world’s largest antiques street market with over 1,000 dealers selling every kind of antique and collectible. If you are looking for more upmarket boutique shopping then head over to nearby Westbourne Grove – a street filled with fashionable retailers.
Notting Hill is also home to some of west London’s best bars and pubs – don’t miss the gorgeous Churchill Arms pub which is adorned with multiple hanging baskets and serves cheap and delicious Thai food, whilst The Ginstitute run regular gin making and gin tasting classes.
Recommended by Caroline from CK Travels
Brixton is a must see when visiting London, but unfortunately many people overlook it. This part of London is full of history, culture and art. The streets of Brixton are teeming with street art of all kinds, including many famous pieces from London-based Dreph and Australian street artist Jimmy C.
If you want authentic African or Caribbean food, this is the best place in London to get it. Many Windrush generation immigrants wound up in Brixton, and this culture has carried over through the generations. Not only can you find some of the best restaurants, but spices and hard to find foods are also available at the Brixton Market. But the Brixton food scene goes beyond Afro-Caribbean, and along Brixton Village and Market Row, unbeatable Asian, Pakistani, British and Italian food can be found. Brixton is also home to the now famous London chain Franco Manca.
While in Brixton make sure to learn more about the Windrush Generation by heading to Windrush Square and paying your respects at the African and Caribbean War Memorial.
You can get to Brixton by taking the Victoria Line Tube to Brixton (end of the line). Jimmy C’s David Bowie Tribute awaits you just outside the station, as does Electric Avenue, the first commercial street to get electricity.
The best way to discover Brixton is to take a London street art tour of Brixton and then explore further yourself. Definitely save space for lunch!
Recommended by Dagney from Cultura Obscura
Visit a Day Festival
London is a vibrant hub of music and culture and with its plethora of beautiful parks and green spaces, the summer months are home to a busy calendar of day festivals. There’s something for everyone, no matter what kind of music you’re into, and visiting a day festival is one of the best ways to soak up that authentic London vibe, so add one of these to your bucket list right now!
You could go dance to a whole spectrum of electronic music at Field Day Festival or head to Mighty Hoopla for an LGBTQ+ celebration and an unashamedly poppy soundtrack. Techno lovers should try out Junction 2 whilst if you’re into the new London Jazz sound you should get over to Cross the Tracks festival. If rock and indie are more your thing, then check out Camden Rocks or the family-friendly Community Festival.
That’s only a small selection of what’s on offer across the city, festival ticket prices vary from £25-£100 and are cheaper the earlier you get your tickets. Day festivals in cities are great even if you’re an unexperienced festival-goer as there’s no camping and you can just hop on the tube home straight afterwards!
Recommended by Dulcie from That Festival Life
“He’s behind you!”
The cult rituals of Pantomime theatre might seem a little bizarre to the uninitiated, but watching a “panto” is a firm part of British Christmastime tradition. Booking a ticket to a panto is a secret shortcut into experiencing Christmas like a Londoner.
Each panto retells a traditional tale (Dick Whittington, Cinderella, and Jack in the Beanstalk are all favourite examples) with stock characters such as the Dame (in drag) and Villain usually played by the same actors returning to the theatre year after year. You can expect slapstick comedy routines galore, and current affairs and recent hit songs are incorporated into the story.
Most Brits grew up attending the panto, and you’ll find rowdy kids of all ages in the audience. Interacting with the show is not only encouraged, it’s practically a requirement, so this is an outing for the whole family. (The evening performances tend to be somewhat racier than the matinees so be sure to book a daytime show if this is a concern for you.)
The best Pantos can be found in the surviving music halls that dot the outskirts of central London. Try the Lyric in Hammersmith, the Empire in Hackney, or the New Wimbledon Theatre.
Recommended by Rachel from London and Leap
If you are looking for a great family attraction, then you need to visit Shrek’s Adventure, situated across from the London Eye, and next to Sealife and The Dungeons, this area alone could keep the entire family occupied for a couple of days.
Online price tickets start at £21, but there are various offers, including Merlin Passes and joint passes with other attractions, so it’s definitely worth shopping round to find the best deals.
So as you may have already guessed the attraction features the friendly Green Ogre, princess Fiona and the land of Far Far Away, along with lots of other recognisable characters, you start the journey on a bus that transports you to the magical land, and the journey takes you through various lands and you meet lots of fairtyale creatures, some friendly, others not so, it is quite an interactive attraction, so if you don’t want to be picked on, stand towards the back of the crowd!
Its perfect for every Shrek fan, but even if you are not too intrigued by the green one, I can see the appeal for people to visit, purely for the scenery and the effects, my daughter is studying set design and she loved getting a closer glimpse and a kind of behind the scenes look at props and scenery you might not usually get to see.
Once you help to complete the mission there is a large area with lots of Dreamworks characters and makes for some great photo opportunities.
Recommended by Mandy from Great Yarmouth Family Fun
God’s Own Junkyard
In the heart of Walthamstow lies a psychedelic paradise, where neon lights and vintage signs dance in harmonious unison. Hidden inside an unassuming warehouse, God’s Own Junkyard was founded by the extraordinary Chris Bracey who made neon art made from salvaged signs, reclaimed neon lights and retro displays. While Chris sadly passed in 2014, his legacy still lives on, in a self-proclaimed ‘junkyard’ where neon never dies. Known as the ‘Vegas’ of Walthamstow, celebrities such as Dynamo have dared to journey upon God’s Own Junkyard’s neon path, while Chris’s signs have been used in a plethora of films such as Charlie and The Chocolate Factory (Johnny Depp) and Eyes Wide Shut (Tom Cruise).
Chris, Aka ‘The Neon Man’ as he was affectionately known, wanted God’s Own Junkyard to be a treasure cove for art enthusiasts. Luckily for him, the neon signs, memorabilia, and neon lights aren’t just on display sitting pretty, but they are also available to purchase, albeit at an eye watering sum. Still, if you would rather just submerge yourself in the neon experience, you can spend hours getting lost in a neon wonderland. If you are hungry, prepare to feast at Gods Own Junkyard’s on-site café, called The Rolling Scones, with surrealist Alice in Wonderland influences. For drinks why not head down to Wild Card Brewery’s on-site bar, which is just across the yard! A visual treat for the senses, God’s Own Junkyard is a must-see underrated attraction in London.
Cost: Free (unless you purchase anything of course!)
Recommended by Ana De Jesus from Faded Spring
Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre
If you enjoy history, art, and culture you need to add Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre to your list of things to do in London! Located along the Thames River in the borough of Southwark, the theatre is located across the river, and within walking distance, from St. Paul’s cathedral and also Tower Bridge and the Tower of London. The closest train and underground station is Blackfriars – a 10-minute walk. You can also take the 45, 63, or 100 bus route to Blackfriars Bridge.
I highly recommend seeing a Shakespearian play at the theatre to take in the full experience. The cheapest way is to watch the play standing in the ‘Yard’ for £5.00. This ticket is said to offer the best view of the play, but you must stand for the entire duration and if it rains, you will get wet. You can also pay more for seats in one of the boxes. Prices vary from year to year and depending on which play you want to see and where you will be sitting. The season runs from April to October each year.
A 30-40 minute tour of the theatre is £17 for adults. If you purchase tickets for a play, you will receive a £2 discount. It includes guided access inside of the theatre, complimentary audio guide, and access to the permanent exhibition that showcases some of the costumes, props, and documents used over the years.
There is an onsite restaurant, the Swan Bar & Restaurant, and a gift shop to visit before or after the tour and performance.
Recommended by Nicole from Wellbeing Wherever
West End Musicals
One of the top experiences to add to your London bucket list is seeing a show in the West End, London’s equivalent to Broadway in New York City. The West End is home to 39 theatres showing a variety of shows, including long-running musicals like Wicked and The Phantom of the Opera to famous plays like Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. You can even catch a performance of Hamilton in the West End!
While visiting London, my friend and I attended a performance of Wicked at the Apollo Victoria Theatre. If you’re looking for affordable tickets to Wicked or any of the other shows playing in the West End, you can purchase discounted tickets at the TKTS booth in Leicester Square. My friend and I bought our tickets here the day of our performance – tickets are sold based on current availability, so it is possible to get same-day tickets. Keep in mind that popular shows like Hamilton often sell out and must be booked in advance.
Tickets for West End shows can be as low as £25, making this a fun and relatively affordable activity for a fun night in London. Treat yourself to dinner before the show at a restaurant with a pre-theatre menu and then head to the bars in Soho afterward for an exciting night out. If you want to save a bit more money, consider attending a weekday matinee showing for cheaper tickets!
Recommended by Sydney from A World in Reach
Here’s How to See A Musical For Cheap
London is one of the best cities in the world to see a musical! You can bet if there is a popular musical, it will have made a stop in London-town. Les Miserables, The Book of Mormon Musical, Mamma Mia, Wicked… all incredible musicals that can be the perfect experience to add on to your London Bucket List! However, just showing up in London and buying a ticket can set you back a few hundred dollars, if not more…
If you’re not looking for an up-close view of the show, then I have the perfect cheap-ticket hack for you! On the website Seat Plan, you can choose your seat according to the price AND the view that the seat has. Each seat has a photo of the view of the stage so you know that when you’re buying a cheap ticket, you aren’t getting ripped off!
You can find tickets as cheap as $20 to see an award-winning musical right in London! Or you can choose to spend a little extra and sit a bit closer. For most of the seats, you can also see if a past ticket-buyer has reviewed the seat for comfort and the view. Make sure to book your tickets in advance and check “See a Musical in London” off your dream bucket list! While you’re at it, make sure you don’t make this costly mistake while traveling Europe!
Recommended by Dayna Brockbank from Happily Ever Travels
Ritz Hotel London Afternoon Tea
Afternoon tea at the Palm Court Restaurant of the Ritz Hotel London was something I had wanted to do for many years. Despite that I was a little intimidated as I entered the hotel. But I didn’t need to worry about being intimidated…….
There are three afternoon teas available at the Ritz Hotel London: Traditional Afternoon Tea, Champagne Afternoon Tea (Traditional Afternoon Tea with Champagne), and the Celebration Afternoon Tea, which is Traditional Afternoon Tea served with a cake in keeping with your celebration. The afternoon tea menu is quite straightforward with scones served with Cornish clotted cream and strawberry jam, sandwiches, pastries and a choice of cake from the cake trolley. Tea connoisseurs are treated to a choice of eighteen teas.
Arriving at the Ritz Hotel London afternoon tea, my fears of being intimidated disappeared immediately. The service was friendly, charming, and not at all stuffy. As a solo diner my table had a good view of the restaurant and I felt very well looked after. The food was good, and the orchestra playing added to the sense of occasion and tradition.
The Ritz London afternoon tea is very popular, so if you want to book for a particular time, do make sure you book well in advance. There is a dress code, like many traditional English establishments: jacket and tie for men and smart casual for women. But then, it is the sort of place you want to dress up for anyway. Afternoon tea at the Ritz Hotel starts at £53.50.
Recommended by Jo from Frugal First Class Travel
Brigit’s Bakery Afternoon Tea Bus
https://www.londoncitycalling.com/2020/08/17/unique-unusual-quirky-restaurants-london/There are plenty of unique and unusual places to eat in London, but one of my top recommendations for both tourists and locals alike is BBakery’s Afternoon Tea Bus.
Starting in Victoria, the 90-minute journey takes place onboard a classic red London bus. The tour takes you around many of London’s most famous sites and landmarks, including Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, Big Ben, the Tower of London and Tower Bridge, while enjoying a feast of finger sandwiches, tasty sweet cakes, classic scones and a glass of prosecco.
As well as the classic afternoon tea, BBakery also offers fun themed afternoon teas, such as special Halloween and Christmas tours. In the past, they even hosted a Paddington themed afternoon tea to celebrate the release of the new London-based movie! Prices start at £45 per adult, but keep an eye out for special deals throughout the year for this ultimate London experience.
Recommended by Emily from London City Calling
La Crêperie de Hampstead
I’ve read about La Crêperie de Hampstead on many a foodie blog over the years and had to pay a visit when exploring the village of Hampstead. La Crêperie is a landmark in Hampstead that has been serving sweet and savory crepes for 36 years.
It’s a small food truck sat beside a pub in the middle of Hampstead Village and the line ups are legendary. The truck opens at around noon depending on the day and folks start lining up well in advance to order.
There is no seating so when you get your crepe you grab a nearby bench or curb and sit down to enjoy one of the best crepes you will ever try. Choosing which one you want can be a dilemma but since the line-up is so long you will have plenty of time to figure it out.
The crepes themselves range from the savory chock full of cheese, mushrooms, garlic, asparagus, spinach, and ham or pretty much whatever combination you prefer. The sweet variety ranges from a simple pure lemon and sugar or apple compote to a spectacular La Surprise des Caraibes. This heaven in a cone is packed full of bananas, chocolate, coconut and real rum – decadent beyond imagination.
Each handmade crepe is rolled into a cone shape and placed in a paper holder that makes it easy to eat and is clearly environment friendly. There is a range of prices from a few pounds up so it is very affordable. La Crêperie de Hampstead is on the corner of Hampstead High Street and Perrin’s Court a two-minute walk from Hampstead tube station.
Recommended by Faith from The World’s Kitchens
Borough market is a must on any London bucket list – but if you’re a foodie, this is a one of your bucket list items for anywhere in the world!
London’s best food market is easy to reach, and is one of the best things to do in the fascinating London Bridge area. Simply take an overground or Underground train to London Bridge; you’ll find Borough Market simply by crossing the road by the Barrowboy & Banker pub, and heading down a flight of steps.
It’s also completely free of charge to enter! Having said that, you’ll want to take enough money to buy whichever foods take your fancy – and you’ll be spoiled for choice!
The market is filled with permanent stalls, each offering something completely different to the next, with every kind of cuisine imaginable represented on site. Want something traditionally English? There’s a fine fish and chips shop right in the middle of the market, as well as stalls offering the best (and most unusual!) cheeses, fish, and venison. Want to make the most of London’s underrated international food scene? It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for Italian or Indian, Lebanese or Laotian – you’ll find some delicious street food for you to take away! Not to mention loads of free samples…
Saving your budget by not eating out in restaurants? Head here and get a quality loaf of fresh bread, local cheese, tomatoes picked that morning, and Spanish ham off the bone – you can’t go wrong!
Recommended by Nicky from That Anxious Traveller
The Hot Whiskey Truck
What can I say? We covered every bucket list item possible during our seven day Spring Break in London, from Westminster Abbey to Churchill War Rooms, Changing of the Guards, the original Hard Rock Cafe, and Kensington Palace. We experienced afternoon tea, crossed London Bridge, and stood in awe in the Crown Jewels’ presence in The Tower of London. Of course, we toured London on an open-top bus and took a boat ride down the River Thames. We even visited the London Dungeon and loved it.
What could make a day any more fulfilling?
We stumbled upon a treasure on our way back to our Southbank hotel after a long day exploring. It is cold and rainy in London, just like the pictures, and the kids wanted hot chocolate. Sounded good to me.
They spotted the sign first, it said, “single origin hot chocolate.”—Beltane and Pop, now fondly known as The Hot Whiskey Truck in our family.
Hot dark or milk chocolate, cider, and hot mulled wine. The first night, I sipped on hot mulled wine, delicious, warm, and the perfect way to end a day full of history, culture, and family time in one of the world’s most famous cities.
The second night, they wanted hot chocolate again. I wasn’t going to argue; I am all about that hot mulled wine. But, they were out of hot mulled wine, so I ordered the hot whiskey—instant super fan for life. Not sure if it’s the cold weather or just the romance of it all, but that whiskey made my day. And then every day after that.
Recommended by Jenny from Traveling Party of 4
Brick Lane Curry
For me, having a curry at one of the stretches of restaurants on Brick Lane in East London is a must. London’s ‘Curry Mile’ begins in Shoreditch, passes through Spitalfields, and ends in Whitechapel. Curry restaurants are not only found on Brick Lane itself but also on other nearby East End streets.
Even the street sign features ‘Brick Lane’ in Bengali beneath the English name. Being here feels like you’re entering an exotic new world, the irresistible scent of spices heavy on the air.
Begin your day at Dishoom on Boundary Street in Shoreditch and you can sample a signature bacon naan roll. From small plates to large feasts, followed by cocktail hour, Dishoom excels at all day dining.
Back on Brick Lane itself, City Spice bills itself as the ‘best Indian restaurant’ in the area – and has indeed won various accolades. City Spice specialises in modern, Michelin-style Bengali dishes, and has an extensive vegan menu.
For an intimate, authentic Indian dining experience, grab one of the twenty-something seats at Gunpowder on White’s Row in Spitalfields, who serve up some unusual and delectable dishes. Meanwhile, at Umberston Street in Whitechapel, Lahore Kebab House is much loved for its no-nonsense halal Punjabi food.
The joy of Brick Lane, though, can be discovering your own hidden gem. Wander along the lane, taking in the sights and smells, and pick somewhere that looks appealing. With such fierce competition, you’re bound to enjoy a fabulous fiery feast.
Recommended by Tracy from Let’s Travel UK
Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea
If you are looking for an exciting bucket list activity to add to your list; The Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea at the Sanderson in London is just the thing! Why? The UK is known for their love of tea, experience the local love in a charming setting! As soon as you step into the hotel, you feel as though you are in an enchanting garden.
The decor is my favorite part of the Afternoon Tea. Starting with the menu, it is designed into a classic Alice in Wonderland book. Choose from their Alice inspired teas: Cheshire Cat – a delicious marmalade orange oolong and Mad Hatter – a green tea infused with passion fruit, to name a few.
Once your tea is served, start on the delightful treats. Starting on the bottom tier, I loved the White Rabbit cucumber and cream cheese sandwich. The next tier was filled with heavenly sweets. I could not get enough of the Queen of Hearts rose and strawberry Jammy Dodger. To top it off there was the cutest chocolate and raspberry Blue Caterpillar and even Alice’s exotic fruits ‘Drink Me’ potion. Total cost for two $150.
This is an experience you will not forget. Do not be late for this very important date!
Recommended by Emily Dalton from Dalton’s Destinations
Afternoon Tea at the Potion Room
For any Harry Potter fans visiting London, afternoon tea at the Potion Room is an unmissable experience. When you first enter Cutter and Squidge, it looks just like any other bakery. But head down the stairs to the basement, and suddenly you’ll be transported to the potions classroom at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Even though, for copyright reasons, there are no specific references to the wizarding world created by J.K. Rowling, the folks behind the Potion Room do an amazing job of recreating the Hogwarts ambiance. On the day I participated, our class was led by Professor Imperial, who stayed in character the whole time and really added a lot to the experience.
If you’ve been to an afternoon tea before, you’ll know that normally you don’t have to do much other than sit and wait for teas, cakes and sandwiches to be served to you. But this one is more interactive than usual, so be prepared to do some work. You’re in class, after all! Some of the food and drinks you’ll actually prepare yourself – with the help of your magic wand and a few spells, of course.
The Potion Room is located in Soho and is easily reached by underground. Tickets start at £49.50 for adults and £39.50 for children, and there’s also a more expensive VIP option. Vegan options are available, and they can also accommodate other dietary requirements.
Recommended by Wendy from The Nomadic Vegan
High Tea at the Kensington Palace Pavilion
Enjoying afternoon tea is a typical London bucket list item. But have you ever considered enjoying high tea on the grounds of a royal palace?
When my husband and I visited London on our honeymoon, one of our favorite experiences from our trip was The Kensington Palace Pavilion Afternoon Tea. The Kensington Palace Pavillon is the only place in London to experience a traditional afternoon tea on royal palace grounds.
Enjoy a cup of tea while overlooking the gorgeous royal palace and gardens. The afternoon tea includes a selection of tea sandwiches, scones with cream and jam, tea cakes, and of course, a pot of tea.
After dining at The Kensington Palace Pavillion, I recommend touring Kensington Palace, the birthplace of Queen Victoria, for the full royal experience. Tickets to enter the palace are £17 per person.
Location: The Kensington Palace Pavilion is located on the grounds of Kensington Palace in Hyde Park.
The address is The Kensington Palace Pavilion, Kensington Palace, Kensington Gardens, London, W8 4PX
Cost: The cost of The Kensington Palace Pavilion Afternoon Tea is £34 per person. We agreed that this was an excellent value for the unique experience, elegant setting, and delicious assortment of treats provided during the dining experience.
Reservations: I recommend making a reservation through OpenTable on the website to avoid waiting for an available table during busier times of the day.
Recommended by Brittany from Travel By Brit
Camden Market is a collection of adjoining market stalls based in the London district of Camden Town. There is an abundance of market stalls selling all sorts of things ranging from clothing, jewelry, handmade treasures, and food. It is a popular area among tourists and locals alike, famous for its unique shopping outlets and artistic creativity and trading. Be sure to check out Cyberdog, it is the craziest shopping experience I’ve had in a while.
There are so many amazing food stalls to eat at, you can enjoy classic British dishes like fish and chips, or worldwide cuisine from Indonesia, South Africa and more! As well as this, Camden Market is a great place to support local people! It is filled with stalls, selling handmade bits and bobs. It is a very artistic area of the city, and full of great photo ops, you’ll definitely find a snap for the ‘gram.
The best days of the week to visit are Friday, Saturday and Sunday. This is when the most stalls are open, and they are the busiest days so you can experience the hustle and bustle of Camen Lock (an alternative name for the market.) The closest transport options are for you to get off at the underground stations Camden Town or Chalk Farm. Or, you can get off at the overground station Camden Road and then walk to the market.
Camden Market is a great addition to your London itinerary for a nice walk or to stop here for lunch, definitely add it to your list.
Recommended by Poppy from Poppy Mae Higgins
East Side & Brick Lane
If you are hungry and looking for a fun spot for some amazing food, go visit the East Side and Brick Lane. Long considered the venue for mostly Indian and Asian flavors, the street now has an international food vibe with pop ups, food courts and other food venues offering an international flavor from around the world and at affordable prices.
You’ll love exploring Brick Lane for all the amazing food venues, hang out spots and open-seating venues, pop up shop areas of local crafters and local artisans and also public marketplaces that are fun to explore.
Brick Lane is really an exciting place to visit especially during the weekends has a wonderful vibe to experience the best of London’s best lifestyle and eating experiences.
For more inspiration, check out my post on visiting London’s East End and Brick Lane here for the best of what to see, do and eat in this vibrant and fun district.
Recommended by Noel from Travel Photo Discovery
Museums & History
Looking for an interesting and beautiful hidden gem in London? Say no more! Highgate Cemetery is your place.
This cemetery is divided in two parts, West and East.
Both of them are worth a visit, although the West Cemetery is maybe most scenic and photogenic. Over there you can see very old graves covered by trees and grass, catacombs, mausoleums, and places like the Circle of Lebanon and the Egyptian Avenue that are simply extraordinary!
You can only visit the cemetery with a guided tour. They are around 70 minutes long and they cost 14 Pounds.
The East Cemetery is more modern, and it is the side where you can see the tomb of Karl Marx, the most famous one in the whole graveyard. You can visit this side of the cemetery by yourself, with the same ticket you buy for the West Cemetery.
The best way to get to Highgate Cemetery is by public transport, as there is no off street parking. The closest tube stations are Highgate and Archway (Northern Line, zone 3). From any of them you will have to walk around 20 minutes to get to the Cemetery.
Not far from Highgate Cemetery you will find Hampstead Heath, a huge park with stunning views of the London skyline. Right on the other side of the park you can have a walk around the neighbourhood of Hampstead, one of the most beautiful in London, where high end houses mix with cute alleys and lovely restaurants.
Recommended by Paula & Andrea from Viajar y otras Pasiones
Londinium London Wall
London is a mega metropolitan city today which has a very ancient, historic past. It was one of the ancient Roman cities built in 43 CE. It was then called Londinium from which its today’s name London came into being. There are a few places in London where some ruins of the historic Roman Londinium can still be seen.
One is called the London Wall, opposite to the Tower of London. This is a small length of the historic fortification wall, the city wall built in 200 CE. This wall was in use till the middle ages and currently only this bit survives. Very close to it is the All Hallows Church, the oldest church of London built in 675 CE. The museum & crypt of the church has architectural elements, and products excavated at this site, including keys, lamps, tiles and more.
Romans are known for their magnificent amphitheatres, with the Colosseum being a major example. They built one wherever they formed a new city and London is no exception. The Roman Amphitheatre in London is located under the Guild Hall Art Gallery. This was also built around 200 CE. Very few portions of the original amphitheatre still exist. There are recreations with light & projections to give the look & feel of its complete architecture.
Recommended by Bhushavali from My Travelogue by Bhushavali
the British Museum
This museum houses some of the world’s greatest treasures and will take more than a day to explore. However, along with many museums and art galleries in London and the broader U.K., the British Museum is free to enter so you can go multiple times if you want!
If time is limited I suggest focusing on the Egyptian, Greek and Roman treasure on the ground floor.
As you enter through the gates, you go through the bag check and up the stairs into a lobby followed by the museum’s spectacular Central hub. The central hub is your go-to place for shops, toilets, directions, and light refreshments. Head left and go and see the incredible Egyptian exhibition, taking special care to have a peek at the Rosetta Stone which allowed linguists to read hieroglyphs and so to unlock Egyptian history. You’ll also want to venture into Ancient Greece to see the archeological sculptures of the Parthenon straight ahead from the stone – the Greeks want these back (and with good reason) but while they remain in the British Museum they are a must see!
The British Museum is walking distance from Covent Garden, Oxford Street, and Soho – so pick a favourite and when you have had your fill of beautiful relics from the past, head out for lunch or a spot of shopping. I recommend a visit to Covent Garden for some live music and a glass of wine.
Recommended by Nancy Moore from Around the World at the Weekend
Mail Rail, The Postal Museum
Mail Rail at the Postal Museum is one of London’s most unusual attractions – and one of the most unusual heritage railways in the UK. The Mail Rail lets visitors take a ride on the London Post Office Railway, a miniature underground railway which transported letters and parcels underneath central London’s busy streets for over 70 years.
The Post Office Railway carried its last letter in 2003, but a short section underneath the Mount Pleasant sorting office was restored and reopened in 2017. It’s now reopened as part of the Postal Museum, just across the street.
Taking a ride on the Mail Rail is a bit like a trip on a very tiny version of the Tube. Each carriage carries just two people and the doors have to open gull-wing style to allow you to get in – there’s no room to stand up once you’re inside. The trip takes around 15 minutes and is narrated throughout. At a couple of points the train stops at one of the old post office stations so you can watch a film about the operation of the railway.
A trip on Mail Rail costs £17 for adults and includes entry to the Postal Museum. It’s best to book in advance for your Mail Rail trip as capacity is limited.
Recommended by Helen from Helen on her Holidays
Westminster Abbey is one of the most famous buildings in London, and one of the most history-packed churches you will ever visit. It’s the church where queens and kings of England are crowned, sometimes married and often buried.
The church itself was originally built by King Edward the Confessor (who happens to be one of those buried there) in the 11th century, and much of what you see today is from the Gothic period of the Middle Ages, with an 18th century restoration.
The list of monarchs buried there is staggering, with the likes of Elizabeth I, Edward I and Henry VII interred there. Many notable Britons are also buried there, including the likes of Charles Darwin, Isaac Newton and Stephen Hawking. The Poets Corner also houses the memorials of many of the greatest British writers, including Geoffrey Chaucer and Charles Dickens.
Much of the architecture of the Abbey is spellbinding, especially the Choir and Lady Chapel, decorated with exquisite late Gothic fan vaulting.
All of this comes at a fairly substantial price – £23 for general admission, which includes access to most of the church and precincts, including the cloister.
Westminster Abbey is easy to reach by public transport. Two of the main London bus routes, the 11 and 24, stop across the street. Otherwise, the District and Circle Lines stop at Westminster Tube, five minutes’ walk away on the other side of the Square.
Recommended by David Angel from Delve Into Europe
With so many amazing things to see in London, there is one place everyone has to visit while exploring the capital city – Trafalgar Square!
Trafalgar Square is the central square of London. Its creation commemorates the victory of the British Navy at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. It is a traditional place of meetings and gatherings both for political and New Year’s Eve. The beautiful square is also famous for classical music concerts.
In the middle of the square, there is a 46-meter-high column crowned with a 5.5-meter statue of Admiral Lord Nelson. It is surrounded by four statues of lions made of metal from melted French cannons. In the past, tourists notoriously climbed lions in order to take a photo and there were many more or less serious accidents. This behaviour has been prohibited for some time and may result in a fine.
On the north side of the square is the National Gallery, showcasing pre-20th century art that can be visited for free. As a fun fact – you should know that Trafalgar Square is also home to the UK’s smallest police station!
Due to its location, Trafalgar Square and other nearby landmarks are just perfect to visit on a one day trip to London.
So, is Trafalgar Square on your London bucket list?
Recommended by Darek from darekandgosia.com
Imperial War Museum
The Imperial War Museum makes for a great London bucket list item, especially during those rainy days. It’s located in the Southwark district and the best part is, it’s a free attraction.
If you are travelling by tube, two options for stops are Lambeth North or Elephant & Castle.
There are entire floors dedicated to WW1 and WW2 – and some of these exhibits will leave you speechless. Two that stood out to me was the D-Day exhibit and the Holocause exhibit – both harrowing experiences.
The D-Day exhibit was temporary for the 75th anniversary, but the display of 10 images were the only remaining photos taken by Robert Capa of Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944.
To see the Holocaust exhibit was a surreal experience. Personal belongings are displayed in glass cases, videos of survivors describing their time in the camps are playing in the various rooms, and there is a full-size replica of one of the train cars used as transport to the death camps. There is even a model replica of Auschwitz.
This museum is a bucket list item for anyone looking to gain further understanding of the history and gain a deeper understanding of the horrors faced during WW2. If you are looking for more reading material, there is a fabulous gift shop with an extensive collection of books (and tons of other gifts to bring the history aficionado back home!).
Spending 24 hours in London? Consider the Southwark area – it’s a great central location to many attractions!
Recommended by Sarah from In Search of Sarah
Hampton Court Palace
I have always been fascinated by Henry VIII. He single-handedly changed the course of England for his own personal whims. If you are in London and have a free day then you must feast your eyes on this Tudor wonder he inspired called Hampton Court Palace.
Our first stop was the royal kitchen. Of course, to feed 800 courtiers, you needed tens of cauldrons, spits and ovens! Next, we saw the breath-taking Great Hall with its wooden ceiling and beautiful 500-year old wall tapestries. You can only imagine what sort of banquets took place here.
On our way to visit the apartments, we passed by the Chapel Royal with its richly painted ceiling resembling a starry sky. My favourite part was the Processional Route which is where Henry VIII would walk from his private chambers to the chapel on Sundays and special occasions.
After an afternoon of walking around the palace, we went outside for some fresh air and were not disappointed. The palace gardens are not to be missed with its gorgeous formal gardens and parkland surrounded by the River Thames. Personally, I was not even aware that the gardens housed the world’s largest grape vine!
There are no tube stations nearby but there are buses from Kingston and Richmond, and trains from Waterloo. The train station is a brisk 5-minute walk from the palace. Tickets are £24.50 for adults and £12.20 for children and the palace is open every day starting 10 am.
Recommended by Miriam from Miro From Cairo
One place that might not make everyone’s London bucket list, but should, is HMS Belfast. This decommissioned Royal Navy ship is now permanently docked at the Queen’s Walk in the Southwark area of London, not far from the Shard. She is also conveniently located opposite the Tower of London and beside Tower Bridge, making her an ideal attraction to visit if you are visiting any of the aforementioned iconic London sites.
Built in the late 1930’s she served during World War II, including the D-Day landings, and while patrolling in the Far East she also served during the Korean War. She was decommissioned in the 1960’s and in the 1970’s was taken under the wing of the Imperial War Museums where she remains today.
HMS Belfast is a fascinating place to visit. There are several decks open to the public including the Admiral’s Bridge, the sleeping quarters where you can get a feel for life on board the ship for the crew, the radio deck and even the Shell Room, complete with shells that you can imagine being fired during war-time. The Operation’s Room has an interactive mission which will be a hit if you are visiting HMS Belfast with kids. There are so many nooks and crannies to explore that you’ll easily spend a few hours on board.
Tickets cost £18 per adult and £9 per child, with children under 5 getting free entry. To reach HMS Belfast, you can get the London underground to Tower Bridge, or to Tower Hill and walk across the famous Tower Bridge. Make sure you put HMS Belfast on your London bucket list!
Recommended by Cath from Passports and Adventures
If you love art, the National Gallery must be on top of your London bucket list. This is one place that will satisfy your visual senses to the fullest. Greatest works from the world masters will feast your eyes. And the best of all, it’s completely free.
National Gallery houses one of the greatest collections of paintings from the United Kingdom and Western Europe. The collection contains over 2,300 paintings from the 13th to mid-20th centuries. Masterpieces from Leonardo da Vinci, Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Monet, Van Dyck, Titian, Turner and many others are on display.
Admission to the gallery is free of charge, but donations are encouraged. Free guided tours are also available. National Gallery also hosts special exhibits, lectures and workshops. Admission to special exhibits is charged.
Located right in Trafalgar Square, the National Gallery is easily reachable by the Tube. The building itself is iconic with street artists performing outside.
Keep at least half a day aside to explore the National Gallery. It can easily take 4-5 hours to explore the entire gallery. Photography is allowed, so feel free to take pictures inside as well. There is also a cafe and restaurant inside. If you get tired from gazing at the canvases, take a break to grab a coffee or a bite to eat.
Recommended by Thirumal from Visa Traveler
One of the highlights of Greenwich has to be the iconic Cutty Sark ship that sits on the banks of the River Thames. The Cutty Sark was the fastest clipper of its time and was initially built to last 30 years and transport tea from China to London. However, 150 years later it is still standing strong and is open to visitors all year round. General Admission is £15 for adults, and £7.50 for children, this includes entry and audio guides. However, there are plenty of events that take place throughout the year from concerts to comedy shows that are part of the ‘Cutty Sark Lates’ programme.
Other than the view from the top deck, there is also an amazing glass section beneath the hull which is a great photo spot. It is also where the cafe is found, which serves a delicious afternoon tea if you want to tick something else off your London Bucket list, whilst exploring this slice of Maritime history.
The Cutty Sark ship can be reached by DLR from Bank in 20 minutes and has its own dedicated DLR stop, or it can be reached by boat on the Thames Clipper which has some pretty epic views of London.
Recommended by Roshni from The Wanderlust Within
Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace
Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace should be on everyone’s London Bucket List – it’s an incredible experience and absolutely iconic. It reflects all the beautiful pomp and circumstance that the world has come to expect from Britain, and with a little extra flair and some wonderful music. The band is often mixing in contemporary or filmatic scores into their repertoire.
The best place to watch the event is at Buckingham Palace as this is where the band plays. If you want a quieter experience to watch the ceremony and pomp then you can choose to watch it from St James Palace, or you can start at St James Palace and work your way to Buckingham as the Guards are on the move. Beware, you won’t find a spot to watch from though.
And it’s free! But that also makes it super popular, so you should aim to arrive at least an hour before it’s set to start if you want a good spot. If you wait until just before you will be staring at someone’s back.
Tip: A friend of mine who is in the band always told me the best place to watch the Changing of the Guard is from atop the “birthday cake” (the Queen Victoria Fountain), as it gives a good vantage point and you’ll not have anyone’s head directly in front of you.
Recommended by Jamie from Travel Addict
St. Dunstan in the East
St. Dunstan in the East is one of London’s best-kept secrets, but its ideal central location and the fact that it’s completely free to visit, makes it worthy of a place on your London bucket list.
Once a parish church, St Dunstan was bombed during the Second World War and the ruins have become a much treasured public garden, it really is a hidden oasis among the towering skyscrapers that surround it! In fact, St Dunstan is just a 3-minute walk from the Sky Garden building and located just a short way from the Tower of London and the iconic Tower Bridge. The Tower Hill and Monument Tube stations are just minutes away, making it an easy addition to any London itinerary.
While most people are hurrying past the street leading to St Dunstan, completely oblivious to its existence, take the time to step inside and take a seat in the garden or wander around and admire how nature has reclaimed this church. With ivy crawling through the paneless church windows and benches tucked where alters once stood.
Whether you’re a local Londoner or a tourist visiting for a short time, St Dunstan in the East is the ideal place to take a book and enjoy some peace and tranquility away from the bustling streets of the capital. Or snap some beautiful photos of a place that no one will ever believe is in the heart of the City of London!
Recommended by Helena from Helena Bradbury
Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum is one of my favourite places in London to visit and I’m not alone! Pre-Covid, over five million people visited the museum annually and it’s easy to see why: located in an impressive and beautiful terracotta building that was opened on opened in 1881, the Natural History Museum displays around 80 million specimens spanning billions of years! It has a huge variety of exhibits ranging from dinosaur fossils and the blue whale model to exhibits on volcanoes and gemstones. For people visiting at certain times of the year, there are often other attractions such as a butterfly house or an outdoor ice-rink.
Entry to London’s Natural History Museum, like in many UK museums, free of charge however, donations are welcomed to help support its ongoing running costs. There are also annual and corporate membership options available.
The Natural History Museum can be found in South West London. The nearest tube station is South Kensington (on the District, Piccadilly and Circle lines) and several bus routes also pass by the museum. There are two open entrances: one is at Cromwell Road (access at the corner of Exhibition Road) and the other on Exhibition Road. Both entrances are open and have step-free access. The closest Tube with step-free access is Gloucester Road (South Kensington is not step-free).
Recommended by Emma from Wanderlust and Wet Wipes
Tate Modern is a gallery located in the former Bankside Power Station in Southwark. It is Britain’s national gallery of international modern art and one of the largest museums of modern and contemporary art in the world.
The Tater Modern features work from some of the best-known modern artists such as Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali, which means it should be on the bucket list of any art lover.
However, the Tate Modern has a lot to offer even for those who are not art fanatics. The Gallery has an open viewing platform at the top of the Blavatnik Building which provides spectacular views of the London skyline including St Pauls Cathedral and Canary Wharf.
In addition to this, due to its prime location on the banks of the River Thames, it is a perfect spot to stop and have stroll along the Thames before or after your visit.
The Tate Modern is open Monday to Sunday from 10:00 until 18:00. Entry to the gallery is free, however, there are some exhibitions which require you to purchase a ticket and you should check these on the website before visiting.
Located at ‘Bankside London SE1 9TG’, the gallery is easily reached by tube; the closest stations are Southwark (Jubilee Line), Blackfriars (District and Circle line) and St Pauls (Central Line).
Recommended by Carly-Jo from Twos Company
Monument to the Great Fire of London
Compared to some more well-known London sightseeing spots, the Monument to the Great Fire of London is seemingly off the beaten path. However that’s only because the majority of visitors to London don’t know about the amazing city views of London at the top!
Also known as The Monument, this large Doric column is located near the northern side of the London Bridge at Monument Street and Fish Hill Street. It commemorates the Great Fire of London, only 202 feet away from the spot on Pudding Lane where the fire began on September 2, 1666.
The column is 202 feet tall and has a viewing platform at the top where you can catch those bird’s eye views of London. Keep in mind to get to the viewing area, you will have to take 311 stairs to get there. Be sure you are in the proper physical shape to do so as there are no elevators within the tower. The stairs are old and narrow so they can also feel a bit claustrophobic.
Admission to The Monument costs £4.50 for adults and £2.30 for children between the ages of 5 and 15. You can also opt to combine it with admission for the Tower Bridge Exhibition for £11.00 for adults and £5.00 for children (ages 5-15).
Recommended by Constance from The Adventures of Panda Bear
Tower of London
To me, one of the most iconic places to visit is the Tower of London. It is one of the most intact castles in the UK and walking around it you get a real sense of how the buildings were used back when it was inhabited. The Tower has been used as a prison but more of a ‘posh’ prison, so to speak. For example, when Sir Walter Raleigh was imprisoned
with his family they had a whole wing of the castle to themselves which you can see today set up how it would have looked when they lived there.
Henry VIII even used the tower as a place to behead his wives, there is a lovely tribute to Anne Boleyn on the spot where she was executed. There is plenty to see at the Tower of London including the crown jewels and the famous ravens which live at the tower. If you’re lucky you may spot a Yeoman Warder running a guided tour or talk.
They often have family-friendly trails including an app called Time Explorers. You can also walk the battlements, along the route you will come across the Great Beasts exhibition. This is fascinating and tells the story of all the exotic animals that used to live at the Tower of London. People used to pay money to come and see them until a series of unfortunate events led to them having to stop displaying the wild animals. They even had elephants, polar bears, lions, alligators and monkeys!
There are plenty of places to eat and drink. The Tower of London is situated next to Tower Bridge which is also worth a visit. There is an underground station called Tower Hill right outside. Tickets are on the more expensive side at around £25 for an adult and around £12 for 5-15 year olds. Childre under 4 are free.
Recommended by Suzy from Our Bucket List Lives
Churchill War Rooms
Did you know that you can follow in the footsteps of the English who planned winning strategies of World War II? The rooms that served as the nerve center for Allied strategy lie just below street level in Westminster. They opened to the public in the 1980s, and they are fascinating to tour.
This warren of hallways and offices under the Treasury building lay vacant at the start of the war. The government chose this as the place to house Prime Minister Winston Churchill and his team. Here everyone would be safe from the frequent bombing raids the city endured. The abandoned site soon transformed into the bustling headquarters of high-level meetings and gathering of crucial information.
The Map Room was the heart of the operations, with stick pins and string marking campaigns and troop movements. The Cabinet War Room hosted more than 100 meetings during the war. Telephones, pencils, paper, and even ashtrays are still in place from those historic years.
Next to the War Rooms, an underground museum on the life of Churchill has been added. You can learn about his life, his quirks, and his writings.
A visit to the War Rooms is a must for your London Bucket List. The War Rooms are open every day from 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Recommended by Sharon from Exploring Our World
Victoria & Albert Museum
Perhaps my favorite of all the art museums in London is the Victoria and Albert Museum or the V&A. Named for the British monarch, Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert, this museum gives visitors a visual tour of world history through sculptures, antiquities, fashion, and more. They also have a great fashion and decorative arts collection – one of the best in the world. In total, the museum has over 2.3 million objects in their collection.
Originally built in 1852, the building that houses the V&A collection is a work of art itself! Before you go in, make sure to take a walk around the block and check everything out.
Pro Tip- During World War II, bombs were dropped in the road near the museum and to this day you can still see where the museum was damaged.
After touring the museum, make sure to check out the outdoor courtyard and museum shop. The V&A has one of the best gallery shops I have ever been to so if you are looking to pick up an artsy souvenir this is the place to do it. Check it out online HERE!
- Address: Cromwell Road, South Kensington, London, SW7 2HB, United Kingdom
- Phone: +442079422000
- Website: https://www.vam.ac.uk/
- Entry fee: FREE
Looking to visit some other art museums in London- Check out WanderMoore’s List here!
Recommended by Sara from WanderMoore
Parks & Gardens
One of my favorite parts of London is Richmond and its 2360-acre Richmond Park. The grounds are free to enter, and feature vast open spaces where you might catch a glimpse of resident herds of deer.
Walking trails criss-cross the park, but the best walk for a first-time visitor is the trail to Pembroke Lodge. Head to your right after you enter Richmond Gate and follow the rustic wooden signs.
You’ll pass through Poet’s Corner with its butterfly garden, then under the picturesque Laburnum Walk. This tunnel of greenery is best seen in early May when the yellow laburnum is in bloom, but it’s gorgeous year-round.
King Henry’s Mound offers stunning views of the Thames Valley below, all the way to Windsor Castle. Be sure to turn around and use the telescope to peer through the keyhole in the hedges. On a clear day, you can see St. Paul’s Cathedral, ten miles away!
Then wander through the classic English cottage garden, abloom with wildflowers and arbors dripping with roses.
At the end of the path sits Pembroke Lodge, a Grade II-listed Georgian mansion that had its start as a humble mole-catcher’s cottage. If there’s not a wedding going on when you visit, pop inside to the Butler’s Pantry for a quick snack.
Richmond is an easy trip from Central London on the Tube. Just take a District train marked Richmond, and it’s the last stop. From Richmond Station, enjoy the beautiful mile-long walk to the top of Richmond Hill and the park’s entrance.
Recommended by Carrie Ann from Should Be Cruising
The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew is a must visit if you’re going to London. Located close to Richmond upon Thames, this popular tourist site spans over 120 hectares and contains many attractions. As well as the different gardens and wide variety of plants that you can see as you wander around (amongst these there’s a Mediterranean garden, rose garden and grass garden and its arboretum has some 14,000 trees), there are wonderful walks to be had and monuments and temples to see.
My favourite is the 19th century Palm House. Described on the website as an “indoor rainforest”, you can see a diverse array of tropical plants. It’s also a perfect winter attraction: escape from the cold into tropical heat in this massive glass greenhouse. A short walk from here is the 18thcentury Great Pagoda that stands 163 foot high looking out over the gardens (you can climb to the top, if you’re brave enough). There is also an 18 metre treetop walkway.
If you’d like to make a day of it, there are cafes and restaurants dotted around. But if the weather is fine, I’d suggest taking a rug and some food and finding a secluded spot in the garden to picnic in.
You can enter Kew Gardens through several gates. Depending which you choose, you can reach each by train (from London Waterloo to Richmond station or Kew Bridge station, a journey time of around 20 and 30 minutes, respectively). You can also take the London Underground to Kew Gardens station on the District Line. Alternatively, you could drive, although parking spaces may be limited at peak times.
Recommended by Emma from Travel On A Time Budget
A trip to London isn’t complete without visiting Kensington Gardens. Once a private royal hunting ground, the 265-acre Kensington Gardens became the place to be seen for wealthy Londoners who used it as a promenade in the 18th century.
The gardens became a focal point of the community when they were opened free of charge to the public in the 19th century. Adjacent and connected to Hyde Park, the Kensington Gardens are a place where the public can relax or go for a stroll along and enjoy the scenery. The gardens are situated just outside of Queen Victoria’s childhood home, Kensington Palace, which acts as a grand backdrop to the gardens.
Within the park there are a number of noteworthy features, including the Princess Diana Memorial Playground and Fountain, which contains a play pirate ship, tee-pees, and wading pool for children to enjoy; the play area was inspired by Peter Pan, who is said to have frequented the garden. The park also includes a number of other memorials and statues, such as the Albert Memorial, which was built to commemorate Prince Albert and the Peter Pan statue, which was commissioned by the famed author of Peter Pan and Wendy, James Barrie.
Other features that should not be missed are the Italian garden, walkways throughout the park, and the lush, grassy lawn along the Long Water. This makes for the perfect spot for a picnic on a beautiful day.
Recommended by Wendy Pennell from Wendy in the Wind
What some have even referred to it as the “Central Park of Britain”, no visit to London is complete with biking or walking through the scenic Hyde Park. Home to many different events throughout the year, Hyde Park is a sprawling destination filled with historical monuments and beautiful greenery.
It’s well-maintained with tons of paved pathways, park benches, and massive trees. It’s the largest park in central London, and easily accessible with many different entrance points. While it’s amazing to visit year-round, if you happen to be in London during winter, you simply have to experience Hyde Park’s magical Winter Wonderland Christmas!
It’s one of the best free things to do in London, but you could also pay to join a fun bike tour where you’ll learn all about the park’s history. My recommendation would be to book an Airbnb in London that’s located within walking distance to the park, so you can start each day with a quick relaxing stroll to get your day started! Trust me – you’ll love it.
Recommended by Dave from Jones Around the World
London is famous for its many parks. There are so many to choose from, and they all have something different to offer. One park that is sure to become a favourite for any visitor to London is Holland Park.
Centrally located, this park is a stones throw from famous Portobello Road and Kensington Palace. Holland Park has expansive green space, perfect for picnics or outdoor activities. There is also the annual Holland Park Opera, and a beautiful Dutch tulip garden. However, the real highlight are the peacocks in Holland park which roam freely.
Take a trip to Holland Park and you will be sure to hear the tell tale squawks of a nearby peacock. They can be spotted all around the park but tend to congregate in the Kyoto Garden. Here, in this stunning Japanese garden, you will see the peacocks with a backdrop of a quaint waterfall and a pond full of Koi fish. You may also spot a heron or woodpecker!
Holland Park is easiest to reach by taking the tube to either High Street Kensington or Holland Park station. You can also walk from Kensington Park or the Notting Hill area as it is not too far. It is completely free to enter all areas of the park.
Recommended by Demi from Around the World With Her
Sky Garden is one of the best places to visit in London. This unique place in the heart of the City will show you the best of London in one go.
It’s a unique green oasis in a very unusual location. The three-floor glass construction of Sky Garden is located on top of one of the tallest buildings in London, the 20 Fenchurch Street. The building is 160 meters high, making Sky Garden the highest public garden in London.
At the 35th to 37th floor, Sky Garden offers amazing panoramic views of London. There are a bar and a restaurant up there as well, but just enjoying the views and walking around the gardens is a treat as well. It’s an amazing place to enjoy the sunset, but beware that the Sky Garden closes at 6 PM from Monday to Friday. Only at weekends and on bank holidays, the garden is open until 9 PM.
As it’s a public garden, entrance is free and Sky Garden is one of the best things to do in London on a budget. Make sure to book your free ticket ahead though – at least three days in advance – as you can rarely get a hold of them on short notice.
Recommended by Maartje from The Orange Backpack
Tower of London Beefeater Tour
Do you fancy tales of murder, intrigue, executions….and romance?! Prepare to be swept away in the ultimate Tower of London history experience!
Come along on this free half-hour walking tour of the Tower of London, where charismatic, colorfully costumed Beefeaters guide you through not only the grounds of the tower, but also the more gruesome and sordid details of its past. From William the Conqueror’s adventures to famous prisoners executed on the Tower Green, you’ll find yourself gasping in horror one moment, and then laughing uproariously the next in this highly humorous, yet informative tour that is great fun for all ages.
I had such a fun time on this tour! Even if you’re not a huge fan of history, the antics of the Beefeaters will make it feel like you’re listening to an over-the-top soap opera. I would recommend coming in the morning as the afternoon crowd tends to be much larger with longer wait lines. A word of warning -if you’re French, be prepared to get picked on by them repeatedly in jolly fashion!
*The Tower of London Yeoman Warder (Beefeater) Tour is free with the purchase of an admission ticket to the tower:
- Adults (18-64): £24.70
- Children (5-15): £19.30
- Youths (16-17) and students: £19.30
- Seniors (65+): £19.30
- Also available on various discount tourist passes
*Note that the Beefeater tours are not currently operating due to Covid-19 social distancing rules. Until further notice, the Beefeaters will instead be en route around the Tower waiting to regale you with their knowledge and wit.
Recommended by Steph from Living Between the Lines
Jack the Ripper Tour
A visit to London wouldn’t be complete without taking part in the epitome of tourist activities and experiencing a Jack the Ripper Tour.
Walking through the back streets of London’s East End at night immediately transports you back in time to the year 1888. It’s easy to imagine the narrow cobblestoned streets blanketed in a thick layer of fog with just a flicker of light from the gas lamps to help guide your way. It would have been a daunting place for a lone woman to walk, though clearly the perfect hunting ground for Jack the Ripper.
The tour takes you past sites like the white stone facade of Christ Church which at the time, thanks to its tower and spire, was the tallest building in Spitalfields. The tower and spire of Christ Church is said to have been one of the last things the women gazed their eyes upon in the final moments before their death! You will also venture down Brick Lane, the last place one of the murdered women was seen alive, as well as the Ten Bells pub where all the victims used to drink.
The tour doesn’t just talk about the gory details of a serial killer (although you will certainly hear plenty of details), you will also learn the history of the local area and what it would have been like to live in Queen Victoria’s London.
There are numerous tour companies offering Jack the Ripper tours, most will cost about £12 per person and last for approximately two hours.
A Jack the Ripper Tour is a fun night out and a great way to explore the back streets of London.
Recommended by Susan Gan from Thrifty After 50
Tour of Wimbledon
For the avid tennis fans out there a fabulous thing to do in London is head out to the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis facility to take a guided tour. I am a tennis lover and watched the Championships as they are known on tv ever since I was a small child so the excitement of getting a guided tour through the courts and back-stage areas is something to tick off a bucket list.
Wimbledon Lawn Grass organisation runs 90-minute tours throughout the day and include behind-the-scenes access to all the interesting nooks and crannies. You will visit Centre Court and find out all the interesting facts of how much work goes into preparing the grass surface and maintaining it during the tournament.
Walking through the Players Entrance and the media centres including the BBC Studio are also really cool. Your tour guide attempts to bring to life the event with anecdotal stories and a stroll along Henman Hill with views over greater London.
Recommended by Karen from Big Adventures for Little Feet
Shopping in London
Portobello Road Market
There are two big reasons to explore Portobello Road in Notting Hill. The first is to admire the colorful rows of houses. And the second is SHOPPING! Portobello Road hosts one of London’s oldest markets that literally has it all – from antiques to jewelry, vintage clothing to furniture and food – if you love shopping, you’ll be in heaven.
The best day to visit the market is Saturday when all the vendors are open. But it’s also the busiest, so be prepared for crowds. Or visit on a Friday, when it is slightly less crowded. It’s also open Monday – Thursday, but not all stalls may be open. Insider tip: Plan to have breakfast in the area so you’ll be fueled and ready to start shopping early to avoid the crowds and get the best selection. I loved the avocado toast Lowry & Baker.
Antiques are the main attraction and you’ll find hundreds of antique shops and stalls lining the road for a half mile. I loved admiring the pretty tea sets at Alice’s.
Next, the Food Market has everything your heart (and stomach) desire, from fresh fruits and veggies to baked cakes and crepes. The paella was delicious and perfect for a quick lunch on the go. Keep going and you’ll run into the Fashion Market. Whether you are looking for vintage clothes or modern trends you will find it here.
It’s easy to spend the entire day wandering, shopping, and eating. Portobello Road is easy to reach from anywhere in London. Take the tube to Notting Hill and follow the crowds. It’s about a 20-minute walk but well worth it.
Recommended by Lynne Sarao from Well-Caffeinated Traveller
Covent Garden is a must see when visiting London, especially if you want to do a bit of shopping! Covent Garden is a market located in central London with independent vendors as well as cute shops to see. You can even find high end retailers in this area too.
You can easily spend a few hours walking around this area of London window shopping, grabbing a cup of tea, and listening to live music, or even watching street performers. Covent Garden is an ideal place for any budget, you can spend as much or as little as you want here.
Famous for cute spots such as Neal’s Yard, Covent Garden is a great place to go in London if getting some fun photos is a priority for your trip.
Covent Garden is also a haven for foodies visiting London. There are so many great places to check out for a good meal, or even just for picking up a tasty snack on the go.
Fun fact, Covent Garden is also pretty dog friendly! You can take your dog for a walk through the market buildings and the piazza. Some of the independent store fronts are also dog friendly.
Getting here is really easy, just take the London Tube on the Piccadilly Line to the Covent Garden stop.
Recommended by Amber from She’s Catching Flights
While most people visiting London head to Camden Market or to Portobello Market in hordes, locals much prefer Old Spitalfields Market – thought to still be one of London hidden gems. Open daily from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm (weekdays) and 5:00 or 6:00 pm (weekends), it’s a fun place to explore especially on Sundays, when after a night out you’ll be able to spend hours wandering its nooks and alleys.
You will be able to browse the multitude of stalls that sell anything from vintage and used clothing, as well as London’s up and coming designer shops; to art galleries and exhibits; leather goods and antiques – I once stumbled upon a vintage cameras and typewriter’s stall!
There is no such thing as going hungry at Spitalfields Market. You will find a fantastic selection of international street food stalls at the food hall, but there are food carts spread around the market in case you need to get a quick bite.
The market is located at a stone’s throw from London Liverpool Street Station, which is easily reached via the Central Line as well as the Hammersmith and City and Circle Line. It’s a quick 5 minutes walk from there.
Recommended by Claudia Tavani from My Adventures Across the World
Columbia Road Flower Market
One of the best things to do whilst in London is to visit Columbia Road Flower Market. Located in Bethnal Green, the flower market is a road of Victorian shops and market stalls off Hackney Road in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. The market is only open on Sundays and you should get there early to avoid overcrowding.
Columbia Road Market is London’s principal flower market devoted to selling plants, flowers, garden fittings and gardening equipment at reasonable prices and is the best flower market I’ve ever been to so it’s a must-visit if you are visiting London.
The market has been happening, on and off since 1869 and for the past 50 years, and traders have regularly been selling seasonal flowers and plants at bargain prices. In recent years, as the nearby Brick Lane has gained increasing Sunday flea market stalls, Columbia Road market has become a great tourist attraction with millions visiting every year.
After a morning of bargaining and loud market traders it’s likely you will be hungry, and this area is also a great spot to grab brunch or coffee.
You can head behind the stalls and down traditional side streets to find cute cafés, independent restaurants, delis, shops, antique dealers, vintage stalls and small galleries, many of which follow the market’s opening hours.
Pop into Jones Dairy Cafe on the corner for organic and local produce (and they’ve even got a cat in the cafe who sleeps all day), though it does get really busy here, so you may need to head there early. Or you can treat yourself to a freshly baked cake at Treacle or treat yourself to a locally brewed pint at the Nelson’s Head.
Recommended by Sophie from Sophie’s Suitcase
View from ArcelorMittal Orbit
ArcelorMittal Orbit is one of the additions to the city for the 2012 Olympics held in London. A 114.5-meter tall landmark with an impressive design which features an observation platform and a slide, it is a must attraction for your London bucket list. It is located in the Queen Elizabeth II Olympic Park in Stratford in East London. To get there, you need to make your way to Stratford which has an underground (Central and Jubilee lines), an overground, a DLR and a rail station. It may seem far from central and west London, but the trip is totally worth it.
From the top of ArcelorMittal Orbit, you can enjoy some of the best views over London. The whole skyline of London unfolds in front of you with all the skyscrapers of the City standing proudly in view. The most unique part of this attraction is not the amazing views, but its slide. The slide is a 178-meter long tunnel with many turns and twists to boost your adrenaline rush.
The whole experience if you purchase the slide and skyline combo in advance costs £16.50 (£11.50 without the slide) and allows you to firstly enjoy the slide ride and then get up again and spend as much time as you want to grasp the skyline views from the top observation platform. Optionally, you can choose to decent using the stairs. In this way, you will have a closer look at the mechanics of this steel structure.
Recommended by Elina from Empnefsys & Travel
London Eye is the symbol of London, famous for its fireworks display during celebrations such as the New Year’s Day countdown and Royal celebrations. London Eye should be on your London bucket List.
London Eye is one of the World’s tallest cantilevered observation wheel, standing tall at 135 metres (443 feet) with a diameter of 120 metres. It is supported by a single A-frame with capsules located outside the wheel. There are 32 capsules which represents the 32 boroughs in London.
It takes about 30 minutes for a full rotation and offers 360 degrees views of London. The views you are guaranteed to see from London Eye are Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, St Paul’s Cathedral, Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Tower of London, Tower Bridge, the Royal Parks and many more.
The top tips for getting the most out of your London Bucket list – The London Eye includes:
- Purchase your tickets online for around £40. You can buy a combination ticket for much less. The lines to purchase your ticket are very long.
- Pay a little more for the ‘skip the line’ tickets. You will be pleased you did.
- Dress Comfortably. London Eye welcomes about 4 million visitors every year, it is a very popular attraction.
- Take an umbrella – Afterall, you are in London, it can rain anytime.
How to get to London Eye
You can take a London cab, Uber, London bus or Underground train to get to the London Eye. The London bus number that will take you nearest to London Eye includes – Bus 343, Bus 211, Bus 453, Bus 155, Bus 53 and Bus 148.
There are several underground stations close to London Eye, they include – Waterloo station, Embarkment station, Charing Cross and Westminster station.
London Eye is an iconic symbol, a London Bucket list that you must see.
Recommended by Bolupe from 13 Weeks Travel
If you are a music lover, there is one spot you absolutely cannot miss in London, and that’s Abbey Road. Known for being the spot where the Beatles recorded the album of that name (and 190 songs of their 210-song catalog). Not only that, but it is also currently a working studio where other bands such as U2, Aretha Franklin, Amy Winehouse, Lady Gaga, and many more have also immortalized their work. Because of this, you can’t go inside the studios themselves, but you can sign its famous wall outside to add your name to this impressive roster.
Of course, you’re most likely going to want to head there to get that iconic photo walking across the nearby crosswalk featured on the Beatles’ Abbey Road album cover. It’s only a short walk from St John’s Wood Underground station on the Jubilee line.
Don’t be worried if you pop up in an area that seems like it should be a neighborhood—it is for some of the wealthy living in London. There are also some great places around to grab some afternoon tea and scones. Once you have posed for your photo (watch out for cars passing through!), then you might want to head to the nearby Lord’s Cricket Ground for an additional museum and tour.
I’ve attached a picture–let me know if you have any questions!
Recommended by Alex from Alex on the Map
My favourite view in London has always been the one from Greenwich Observatory. From watching people walking their dogs along the paths crisscrossing through the park and the historical white buildings, to the panoramic view of London’s famous skyline rising behind it. The Meridian Line, which separates the Eastern and Western sides of the globe, is also famously next to the observatory. If you’ve heard of Greenwich Mean Time, now you’ve visited the place that it’s named after.
Not only is strolling around the rest of Greenwich Park, or visiting the Planetarium next to the observatory, also a fun addition to a London itinerary, but there are also many more things to do in Greenwich you can read about here. Some of the other highlights include strolling around Greenwich Market or visiting the classical architecture of the Old Royal Naval College. ‘The Painted Hall’ here is particularly stunning. If you’re interested in naval history, the interactive Maritime Museum or Cutty Sark ship are also worth seeing.
You can start or end your day in Greenwich with more great London views; enjoy a boat along the Thames, or take the Emirates Air Line chair lifts over the river to the Greenwich O2 arena.
Recommended by Cassie from Cassie the Hag
If there’s only one place I have to choose for a day out in London, I would happily choose Little Venice. The picturesque canals, lined up with trees, surrounded by ever beautiful Georgian houses makes for a great outing. Some of the of the biggest advantages of visiting Little Venice is it is a free attraction plus away from the buzz and the crowd. Some of my best summer and autumn evenings were spent in Little Venice sitting by the canal side, munching snacks and sipping tea. Even after many years, the charm of Little Venice is still in tact, and I can safely say that this is the favourite spot for Londoners.
Since this is a free attraction, you may think that there’s no itinerary and nothing much to see apart from the canal itself. Well, that’s the mistake a lot of people who don’t know about Little Venice do. The entire canal side is one of the happening places, with many things to do and that suits people of all ages. If you fancy, you can take the 45 minute boat trip on the canal that takes you from Little Venice to Camden Market. Alternatively if you are a theatre buff, don’t miss the show at Puppet Theatre Barge.
Located very close to Paddington Central station, to reach Little Venice you have to walk towards Maida Vale. Little Venice is exactly located at the junction where Grand Union Canal meets Regent Canal. Other metro stops that are near to Little Venice are Warwick Avenue and Edgeware Road.
Recommended by Anuradha from Country Hopping Couple
image courtesy of Steph from Book It Let’s Go
Tower Bridge is an iconic stop on any tour of London. You can admire the fantastic views of the bridge from the banks of the river or you can take go into the towers and learn the history of Tower Bridge and find out the fascinating engineering behind the lift system.
The tour begins by climbing the north tower where there are various displays along the way and windows to look out of. Once at the top of the tower stop and watch the educational video all about the bridge, then head out along the west walkway, crossing the iconic glass floor- perfect for Instagram selfies or watching the world go by. Once across the bridge descend the south tower to road level and follow the blue line commemorating the workers of Tower Bridge. Finally, enter the Victorian engine rooms and museum area to see the engines in action and complete the visit in the Tower Bridge gift shop.
If you are lucky you may even see the bridge in action, but there is also a designated timetable for when it opens which is up to 800 times a year! So, if seeing the bridge lift is a bucket list item of yours check out the times on the tower bridge website so you don’t miss out. The cost of visiting Tower Bridge is £10.60 for adults, £7.90 for students and seniors and £5.30 for children and there are discounted rates for family bookings.
Recommended by Steph from Book It Let’s Go
Allow me to explain…
Basically, mudlarking’s a time-honoured tradition of heading down to the banks of the River Thames at low tide and hunting for ancient artefacts! From broken pottery and clay pipes to old coins and long-lost shoes, there’s no shortage of ‘treasure’ to uncover.
Remember, London’s one of the oldest and most historic cities in the entire world. It’s been around for 2000 years, been home to ancient Romans and world-famous explorers, witnessed countless monarchs and survived two world wars. To go mudlarking is to experience that history with your own eyes. You come into direct contact with its past and get to touch it with your own hands- as opposed to seeing it on display at the museum.
It’s for those reasons that I’d include mudlarking on any London bucket list! This novel activity is both unique to this incredible capital city and utterly distinct from everything else you’ll do there! Digging around in river mud might not sound like fun, but (I promise you) it’s exciting, interesting, and utterly addicting. Be sure to give it a try when you’re next there.
Recommended by Danny from What’s Danny Doing