Top Things to Do in London: A Comprehensive Guide for Travelers
London has an abundance of activities to offer! You can explore the museums, historical sites, and art galleries, or indulge in the Michelin-starred restaurants, or do both! London has something for every type of traveler, from fantastic shopping and endless sights to friendly locals and a vibrant nightlife. Check out this guide to find out more about what to do in London, including tips on visiting London on a budget!
If you have more than a few days in the city, consider taking a day trip to some of the surrounding English gems. Check out our list of favorite day trips from London, including top places to visit in England.
THE MUST-SEE TOURIST SIGHTS Some of the classic must-see sights in London are Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Palace of Westminster, and Tower Bridge! If you are looking for a quick self-guided walking tour, St. James Park, Westminster Abbey, and Big Ben are all within walking distance of Buckingham Palace, and the whole area is very tourist-friendly.
WESTMINSTER ABBEY Westminster Abbey is one of the greatest churches in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is stunning from the exterior, and we highly recommend going inside for a full tour around the 700-year-old building. It’s still one of our favorite spots in London, and a true pillar of English history.
PINTS AT A PUB While pub food might not be your thing, you can’t leave London without visiting one of the historic pubs for a pint or two. Ye Old Cheshire Cheese (Smithfield) is one of the most iconic pubs and worth a visit. You’ll probably recognize The Churchill Arms (in Notting Hill/Kensington) for its flowered exterior (plus, it serves awesome Thai food). You can find more old-school and unpretentious pub experiences at The King’s Arm (be sure it’s the one in Bethnal Green), Mr. Fogg’s Tavern (in Covent Garden), Coach & Horses (in SoHo), and the Culpeper gastropub.
AFTERNOON HIGH TEA High tea is a must while visiting London. Check out the most luxurious hotels in the city for the best spreads—our top choices are The Ritz London, Corinthia Hotel, The Dorchester, or The Royal Horseguards Hotel. Check out our guide on Where to Find the Best Afternoon Tea in London!
VISIT MUSEUMS + THE BRITISH LIBRARY London’s cultural highlights are highlighted in many free museums. The British Museum hosts world-famous exhibitions, while the Tate Modern shows the best of British and International Modern Art. The British Library offers huge collections of books in a series of reading rooms.
Our favorite? The Natural History Museum! With a regularly changing series of exhibitions, there is always something interesting to be discovered. Bonus: For those traveling on a budget, most of London’s museums are free!
EAST LONDON FOR STREET ART While Banksy may be Britain’s most famous street art export, there are also a series of street art pieces situated in locations around East London.
VISIT WILTON’S MUSIC HALL Wilton’s Music Hall is a stunning building that is the oldest of its kind in the world. This music hall hosts a wide range of events from classical music and theater to comedy and cabaret, all in an atmosphere that is truly unique.
SHOPPING Shoreditch has developed a reputation as the home of London’s vintage boutiques, and it is now drawing its fair share of trendy coffee shops, thrift shops, and quirky fashion designers to supplement the shopping scene. Oxford Street attracts most tourists looking for souvenirs! Harrod’s is a world-class shopping scene and also a must when you’re in London.
LONDON EYE Don't forget to take a ride on the London Eye, which offers stunning views of the city's skyline from a 135-meter-high vantage point. This iconic Ferris wheel is located on the South Bank of the River Thames and is a popular attraction for visitors to London.
TAKE A THAMES CLIPPER ALONG THE RIVER The Thames is an integral part of the city's identity, and these Clipper boats take visitors past the Tower Bridge, historic sites, and down to the iconic business district at Canary Wharf. It's a great way to see the city from a different perspective and take in the sights along the river.
HARRY POTTER STUDIO TOUR LONDON For fans of the Harry Potter franchise, the Harry Potter Studio Tour in London is a must-visit attraction. This tour takes visitors through some of the most iconic locations seen in the films, from Dumbledore's office to the shops of Diagon Alley. Check out our experience Visiting the Harry Potter Studio Tour in London!
DRINKS AT SHANGRI-LA Instead of spending a lot of money to ride the London Eye, head to the bar at the Shangri-La Hotel At The Shard London for a more epic aerial view, all while sipping on some wine.
THE MARKETS London's food markets are amazing. The most well-known market is the Borough Market, which has been in London for over 400 years and has tons of great foodie options. Other great markets are the Portobello Market (Notting Hill) and Old Spitalfields Market (East London), where you'll find everything from food to antiques to clothing. Plus, they are great for souvenirs!