73 Unique & Fun Things to do in London, England (for First Timers!)

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I have to be honest: when it comes to things to do in London, you will inevitably be faced with weird and difficult decisions. After all, this is a city where you can wake up and ask questions like “should I go watch a musical today or float around the river in a BBQ boat?”

All to say – England’s exciting capital has something for everyone, no matter how niche your interests, whether they be Victorian packaging, centuries-old ships, mail trains, or drinking in pubs that are (almost certainly) haunted.

This stunning versatility is precisely what makes London a nightmare to plan for… that is, unless you have a weird friend who has already done all the leg work and research for you.

… Which you do, because – hi, I’m Christina! After visiting London extensively for the past decade, for varying stints as long as 2.5 months, I’ve finally gotten to a place where I feel like I can write about it… a strange blip of confidence you must now endure through a lengthy post that details London’s top must-dos with the fervour of a rabid stalker.

As you’ll soon see, there’s a lot more to do in this city than just stare at Big Ben and the London Eye. So, read on for a thorough roundup of things to do in London, separated by neighbourhood for ease of exploration, with honest opinions on which activities are worth the time and money…. along with the many that aren’t.

I hope you find it helpful!

Save this list of Things to Do in London for Later!

You’ll be very glad you did.

The Best Things to do in London (By Borough)

This post is a loooong one, so feel free to skip to the relevant sections below to help make the process easier:

My Free Map of Things to Do in London

For a free map that includes all the activities below (plus recommendations for food, drink, etc.), head to my VIP Zone!

1. Go on a sightseeing tour of all the major landmarks

Now, to start, even if it’s your first visit to London, I guarantee it’s not the first time you’ve seen it… because whether it was on the silver screen or haunting you from an IKEA canvas, I’m positive the sight of London’s most iconic landmarks has been seared into your brain at some point..

Which is a good thing, because just seeing these sights in real life is enough to make a fangirl out of any visitor. Yes, even mundane things like Tube signs or red telephone boxes… as we tourists are strangely simple creatures.

This is why for first timers to London, my first recommendation would be to do a little tour of all the major landmarks, from Big Ben and the London Eye to Tower Bridge and the Tower of London.

My personal favourite way is on foot (actually walking between these would take about an hour), but there’s also no shame in hopping on a sightseeing bus or boat tour (the Uber Boat is a great affordable option) to give your legs a rest. Just make sure you get a nice overview of the city’s top landmarks, especially if you’re short on time.

NOTE: If you opt to go by bus, I’d recommend booking a sightseeing tour like this one rather than a hop on hop off ticket, since London’s normal bus system is better suited for actually getting around, and much cheaper too. By sitting at the top, you can even use these local buses to DIY your own cheap sightseeing tour. You can learn more in my list of London travel tips.

2. Get an epic view

Another great way to see London’s landmarks is from a scenic viewpoint. Luckily, London is packed with unfairly good looking views, many of which cost nothing at all.

The London Eye and the Shard are probably two of the most famous viewpoints in the city, but honestly, I think your money is better spent elsewhere given how many free alternatives there are.

I’ll be sharing more recommendations below as we move through each borough, but some of my favourite FREE views in London include…

  • Sky Garden: An aptly named beautiful garden in the sky! Free, but must be booked in advance. Usually tickets are released every Monday up to a week in advance. Click here to book.
  • Garden at 120: A gorgeous free view and rooftop garden that doesn’t take bookings, so great for a last minute option
  • Horizon 22: Now officially the highest view in London (even higher than the Shard), and free! Tickets must be booked in advance. Click here to book.
  • One New Change Rooftop: Home to a rooftop bar but also a free viewing area with a great view over St Paul’s
  • Tate Modern: The museum is great but the view from their Level 10 Terrace is a knockout, with excellent views of the Thames and its main landmarks.
  • Primrose Hill: A farther away view of the skyline in a very pretty park/colourful neighbourhood!
  • Greenwich Park (up by the observatory): Again, a great farther away view of the skyline but glorious at sunset

Alternatively, you can take those pricey entry fees and book yourself in at a nice rooftop bar or restaurant, so you’re at least getting some extra stuff for your money. Duck & Waffle is one I can recommend for brunch. Say it’s a special occasion to maximize your chance at a window table.

View from the Shard

3. Enjoy a beautiful pub

Now, once you’ve enjoyed the sights, another quintessential London activity to check off your list a visit to a classic pub, of which there are literally thousands in London.

Some of my favourite unique and historic ones include…

  • The Old Bank of England: Absolutely stunning pub w/ dramatic chandeliers and an ornate ceiling
  • Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese: Around since 1667 – creaky, old, cavernous, vaguely creepy. Very fun!
  • The George: The oldest galleried inn still standing in London, with a nice outdoor seating area
  • The Churchill Arms: Epic facade decked with flowers (or Christmas trees and lights during the holidays) – has a nice Thai restaurant hiding inside with surprisingly good food
  • Trafalgar Tavern: Out in Greenwich, but really nicely decorated inside; one of (surprisingly) few pubs in the city with a good view of the Thames

Check out my list of the most unique & historic pubs in London for more recommendations.

PS: Even if you’re not a huge drinker, all pubs offer non-alcoholic options, as well as food, so don’t skip out on this London must-do!

4. Watch a live show

The theatre and culture scene in London is truly one of the most dazzling perks of the city, so make sure you watch at least a show or two during your visit.

The most popular place to do this is of course London’s world-famous West End. If you’re on a budget, many shows run lotteries and rush tickets through TodayTix, which is how I managed to get front row Hamilton tickets for only £10.

But there’s many more options beyond the West End! Catching a performance at Shakespeare’s (reconstructed) Globe Theatre is of course a nerdy delight, but there’s also venues all around the city putting on diverse programming at all times. This site is a great resource to browse for tickets.

NOTE: Be sure to consider the venue too when picking a show. Half of the fun of the West End for me is getting a chance to peek at London’s incredible historic theatres, which are worthy sights themselves.

5. Gorge at a food market

Now, before we launch into things to do in London separated by borough, the final London experience to make sure you enjoy is a visit to a food hall or food market. With multiple stalls offering diverse cuisines under one roof, these are a great way to sample London’s global food culture in a stress-free and unpretentious setting.

Luckily, London has loads! Most guides will recommend Borough Market as a must-do, but there are many other possibilities like…

  • Seven Dials Market near Covent Garden (home to a conveyer belt cheese restaurant!)
  • Mercato Metropolitano in Southwark
  • Maltby Street Market in Southwark
  • Market Halls Victoria near Victoria Station
  • Greenwich Market in Greenwich

6. Say hi to Big Ben

Alright, now let’s dive into London’s top must-dos broken down by borough, starting with the historic City of Westminster, packed with some of the city’s most famous sights, including the most famous clock tower in the world, Big Ben.

Although technically speaking, Big Ben refers to a bell inside of this famous tower (officially named Elizabeth Tower), these days the name is synonymous with the entire structure itself, which is hands down one of the most iconic sights in London.

Construction on this beauty first begin in 1843, and although the tower’s bells didn’t ring for the first time until sixteen years later, the lengthy efforts were worth it, if tourist enthusiasm is anything to go by.

A photo here is a must although if you want to get up close and personal, you can actually book a tour to reach the top and listen to the bells up close... a must if you’re looking for one of the more exclusive and unique experiences that the city has to offer. Do note that tickets sell out very quickly though, so be sure to check the official tickets page for details on the next drop.

NOTE: UK residents can even book this tour for free by writing to their MP!

7. Tour the Houses of Parliament 

Now of course, Big Ben doesn’t just stand on its own. It’s actually part of the Palace of Westminster, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is today home to the UK’s Houses of Parliament. 

As hinted by its name, this magnificent structure was a royal residence once upon a time, but the present structure is (in the grand scheme of London) relatively young, starting construction in 1840 after a brutal fire destroyed much of the palace.

Today, a photo of the gorgeous neo-Gothic exterior is a must but if you want to see the inside (which I can definitely recommend for any history or architecture nerds), then you can book a tour of the inside… another activity that happens to be free for UK residents by writing to their MP, if you’re so inclined.

8. Visit Westminster Abbey

Buy Tickets | Included in the London Pass

Another must-see in the area is Westminster Abbey, which you’ve probably seen in the news for one reason or another.

With its present structure dating back almost 800 years, this magnificent Gothic church has hosted countless royal weddings, coronations, and state funerals, acting as the final resting place of so many notable figures that reading the placards here is almost like studying for a history exam, with 30+ kings and queens interred here, along with notable figures like Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin and Stephen Hawking.

Again, admiring the abbey’s iconic facade from the outside is a must, and I enjoyed seeing the inside as well… though beware that while attending services is free, the entry ticket for sightseeing doesn’t come cheap, and it’s usually very crowded.

So, if you have a short time in London, I wouldn’t necessarily prioritize it. 

9. Head to Westminster Cathedral

If you’re looking for a more cost-effective church to see, a commonly missed sight is the impressive Westminster Cathedral a ten minute walk away.

It baffles me how few people visit, since it’s free to enter and actually really cool to look at, with a unique Byzantine style made of 12.5 million bricks.

Psst – it’s also casually the largest Catholic church in England, so worth checking out in its own right.

10. See Buckingham Palace

Originally built in 1703, Buckingham Palace is of course the official residence of the British monarch, which means (before you get your hopes up) you’ll mostly just be staring at the palace and its 775 rooms from behind tall, highly secure fencing… but it’s still one of the most iconic sights of the city so worth a quick stop!

A popular activity here is of course watching the Changing of the Guards,  a centuries-old tradition that takes place outside Buckingham Palace and other royal residences in the UK.

This elaborate ritual of music and marching signals the handover of duties between the old and new guard, and is one of the most ceremonial traditions you can witness first hand in London. Contrary to popular belief though, it doesn’t actually happen every day so be sure to check the official schedule. 

… And beware that it does get very very crowded, so arrive early if you want to get a good view at all.

Now if you’re nosy and want to see the inside of the palace, I have some good news: this actually is possible between July and the end of September, with some special tours in the off season, when members of the public can buy a ticket to explore the State Rooms. 

Visitors will often combine this with a Royal Day Out ticket which also includes access to the King’s Gallery which displays items from the Royal Collection, along with the Royal Mews, where you and get up close and personal with Royal carriages and coaches in the palace’s working stables.

NOTE: These attractions can be pricey though, so do know that the palace is surrounded by a number of free parks as well that are lovely to wander through, like St James Park.

11. Admire the many important buildings of Westminster

Now with Westminster’s main sights out of the way, I’d like to raise you… more main sights!

Like I said, this borough is packed with cool must-sees. My personal favourite is a walk along Parliament St and Whitehall, where you pass by iconic sights like…

  • The red phone booth which is probably the most famous photo opp in London 
  • 10 Downing St, visible only just through sealed gates, which is of course home to the UK prime minister 
  • The Royal Horse Guards, who you can learn more about in the nearby Household Cavalry Museum (included in the London Pass)

… And a number of important memorials and statues, like the Memorial Gates, erected in 2002 to honour the sacrifices of soldiers from the Indian subcontinent, Africa, and the Caribbean during the First and Second World Wars, a poignant reminder of the contributions and sacrifices made by colonial troops in defense of Britain and its empire!

Around here you’ll also encounter some attractions ideal for history buffs, including the Churchill War Rooms, an underground bunker that served as a secret strategy centre for Britain’s wartime efforts during WWII.

And for those interested in learning more about the iconic British Foot Guards, they have a small museum of their own, the Guards Museum that details their history and traditions (included in the London Pass).

12. Check out Trafalgar Square

Now, if you follow Whitehall all the way along, you’ll reach the ever popular Trafalgar Square, the centrepiece of which is the imposing Nelson’s Column, erected in 1843 to commemorate Admiral Horatio Nelson’s victory at the Battle of Trafalgar, 

These days, the square is a lively public space that hosts several performances and celebrations throughout the year, like at Christmas time when it’s home to its own little Christmas market. See my guide to Christmas in London for more.

13. See the National Gallery

Of course, on and around Trafalgar Square, you’ll also find a number of important buildings like the High Commission of Canada and the National Gallery. 

This free museum is home to a vast collection of over 2500 paintings from famous artists like Da Vinci and Van Gogh, with works dating from the mid-13th century to the 1900s – a must see for art lovers!

14. See the National Portrait Gallery

Close by there’s also the National Portrait Gallery, which as you probably guessed from the name is home to numerous portraits of prominent figures who have shaped British history and culture, from monarchs and political leaders to writers and artists!

15. Check Leicester Square Off Your List

A short walk from here, you’ll find one of London’s most famous and most hated squares – Leicester Square, dismissed by many locals as the biggest tourist trap in town.

Granted, the restaurants here are tremendously overpriced, and there’s not a lot to do in the square itself, but there are some fun statues of British icons to admire, a cute  Swiss Glockenspiel that puts on a show a few times a day, and two of my London guilty pleasures: M&M World and the LEGO Store.

Sure, M&Ms have absolutely nothing to do with London and it’s definitely an overpriced place to get candy, but there’s a lot of very cute Londonny photo opps inside so I say it’s worth a look. Same goes for the LEGO store, where you’ll find many of the city’s top landmarks in LEGO form.

16. Explore Covent Garden

Now, from here, you’re a short walk away from another main tourist hub – Covent Garden.

This bustling district is renowned for its eclectic mix of shops, restaurants, pubs, street performers, and cultural attractions.

It’s almost always crowded here, but there’s a ton of things to do including…

  • Watching entertainers in the Piazza
  • A walk through Covent Garden Market
  • A visit to colourful Neal’s Yard

… And one of my personal favourites, the London Transport Museum, which is a dream for transport nerds like me filled with tons of cool displays about the evolution of London’s iconic public transport system.

There’s many food options around here too, though you can expect to pay a premium given the buzzy location.

My recommendation? If you’re having trouble choosing a cuisine, just around the corner is the Seven Dials Market, a food hall with 20 independent vendors, and tons of tasty options… including the world’s first cheese conveyor belt restaurant which is indeed as amazing as it sounds.

17. Eat Your Way Around London’s Chinatown

Alternatively, if you’re craving Asian cuisine, then Chinatown is just around the corner.

London’s Chinatown has served as an epicentre of London’s Chinese community since the 1950s, and today this bustling district is filled with tons of East Asian restaurants, bakeries, and shops, with the aesthetic addition of colourful lanterns and its photogenic entry gate, which was actually only completed in 2016.

This is definitely a place to come while hungry, so be prepared!

18. Get your mandatory photo at Picadilly Circus

From here, you can walk over to get your mandatory photo at Picadilly Circus, a famous junction known for its illuminated billboards.

Somehow, this place has become known as London’s Time Square, which I feel like is a generous comparison, but it’s nonetheless an okay spot for a photo en route to some of London’s most iconic shopping streets like Regent Street and Picadilly, which is home to the flagship Fortnum and Mason department store, built in the 1920s. The inside is really beautiful, so I’d recommend you stop inside!

Plus, across the street is a fun hidden gem that most visitors miss – in the arched entryway of the Royal Academy of Arts, you’ll find the wooden original prototype of the iconic red phone booth now seen all around the city. 

19. Explore Soho

Now if you’re looking for things to do in London at night, be sure to explore Soho, a buzzy entertainment district known for its vibrant nightlife and shopping opportunities.

There’s of course the iconic Carnaby Street and Liberty London Department Store, but you’ll also find a number of West End Theatres here and fun bars. For a really unique experience, I can recommend heading to Cahoots, a 1940s themed bar set in an abandoned train station.

20. Explore Marylebone

Another neighbourhood to visit here is picturesque Marylebone – known for its beautiful Georgian architecture, boutique shops, and leafy streets. 

This neighbourhood is full of beautiful finds, perfect if you’re hoping to escape London’s main tourist circuit.

Some spots to check out include… 

  • Daunt Books: Popular and crowded as it may be, visiting this bookstore is still one of favourite things to do in Marylebone, with colourful shelves stacked with books telling tales from every corner of the globe. For the ultimate “London” souvenir, consider picking up one of their iconic canvas tote bags. These are a London classic, with many a bookish Londoner lugging them around as their tote of choice.
  • The Wallace Collection: An elegant art museum set in a fancy townhouse with a beautiful cafe in the center, and a very cool armoury on the ground floor, with a key highlight being centuries old horse armour, including one of only three sets that predate the year 1500.
  • 221B Baker St for Sherlock Holmes fans: A fun photo with the door seems like a must, though I’ve heard questionable things about the quality of the museum itself

NOTE: One of London’s most famous attractions, Madame Tussauds can be found in Marylebone as well. While there’s nothing wrong with wax museums, I don’t necessarily think this is the best use of your time in London, especially given the eye-watering price tag, but having said that, I know that posing with wax figures can be a lot of fun, so don’t let me stop you.

21. Explore Mayfair

Looking for something even swankier? Another fun thing to do in the City of Westminster is frolicking around Mayfair, one of London’s most exclusive and affluent neighborhoods. 

This prestigious area is renowned for its upscale boutiques, art galleries, fine dining establishments, and elegant architecture. 

Needless to say, even breathing here feels expensive, so one of the best things to do is just stroll around and window shop. A walk through beautiful Burlington Arcade is a must, as well as a stop at Mercato Mayfair, a beautiful food hall housed in a former church. While the food here is kind of overpriced and just okay, getting a drink in this setting is a great way to unwind after all that frenzied sightseeing.

22. Enjoy Hyde Park

Speaking of places to unwind, another highlight in the City of Westminster is Hyde Park, one of the largest and most famous parks in the city!

Stretching 350 acres, this park was actually established by our favourite controversial King, Henry VIII all the way back in 1536 as hunting grounds. Today, it’s a beautiful place for a stroll, with highlights including…

  • The Serpentine Lake
  • Various memorials and monuments (here is a list)

I wouldn’t necessarily go out of my way to visit Hyde Park if you’re short on time, given that it really is just a massive park, but if you’re looking for a wide green space to soak in some sun and maybe have a picnic, keep this one in mind!

It’s especially pretty in the Fall:

23. See the inside of the Wellington Arch

Buy Tickets | Included in the London Pass

Right by the Hyde Park Corner Tube station is the Wellington Arch, a nice landmark to check out while you’re in the area.

Oft photographed from the outside, it’s a surprise to many that this famous arch is actually hollow on the inside, even once housing a tiny police station.

These days, a (relatively cheap) ticket allows you to climb up its stairs, peruse small exhibits, see an art gallery, and ultimately check out its unique view up top.

If you’re looking for something a little different to do in London, this is a fun stop I enjoyed while making the most of my London Pass! Almost worth it just to see the look of confusion on people’s faces when you’re up there, but just know there’s not a ton to see (there’s only so much you can fit in an arch, after all!)

24. Stop by Apsley House

Buy Tickets | Included in the London Pass

More exciting than the Wellington Arch is Apsley House right across the street, once home to the Duke of Wellington and today (what I consider to be) one of THE most underrated things to do in London.

For the uninitiated, the 1st Duke of Wellington, Arthur Wellesley, is one of the most celebrated names in British war history, with many important monuments and things named after him… thanks largely to his instrumental role in defeating Napoleon at the famous Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

… and this swanky house is where he (and his descendants) lived, with a portion of it open to the public today for some Grade A snooping.

Photos aren’t allowed inside but trust me when I say the interiors are stunningly lavish. Plus, the audio guide is really good at succinctly explaining the significance of the rooms and the objects inside.

Overall a very enjoyable experience with a fraction of the crowds of London’s other main attractions. I actually enjoyed my visit here more than Kensington Palace (which can be found across the park).

Speaking of… Hyde Park is also connected to the Kensington Gardens which are absolutely gorgeous, and home to a cool contemporary art gallery – the Serpentine Galleries that’s free and well worth checking out.

25. Explore Little Venice

Now before we move onto our next borough, it’s worth noting that the City of Westminster is also home to London’s own Little Venice, a charming neighbourhood that’s so named for its picturesque canals and houseboats.

This is the perfect place for a peaceful stroll if you need some time away from the tourist crowds. I can definitely recommend the walk from Warwick Bridge over towards Paddington. There’s even the possibility of renting a self-drive boat through GoBoat from here to explore further, which I’ve heard great things about!

26. See St Paul’s Cathedral 

Buy Tickets | Included in the London Pass

Alright, now it’s time to tackle things to do in the City of London (which refers to the square mile historical heart of the city).

We’ll start with Saint Paul’s, which may well be one of the most photographed churches in the world… at least from the outside. 

Thanks to its somewhat eye watering entry fee however (especially compared to the free appeal of other globally famous houses or worship, and other free attractions in London), seeing the inside isn’t often a huge priority for visitors. It personally took me over a dozen visits to London before I ever set foot inside, but let me tell you: this is one incredibly good looking church.

Perched on the highest point in the City of London (Ludgate Hill), St Paul’s is perhaps as much a symbol of London as Big Ben, the London Eye, or sweaty rush hour commutes on the Tube.

Although its origins can be traced back to the early 7th century, the St Paul’s we see today is the work of Sir Christopher Wren, much like many other buildings in the area which were engulfed by the Great Fire of London. Unlike the other buildings though, St Paul’s has a special Wren honour none other can boast – his body is interred here in the crypt… along with other very famous figures like Admiral Nelson and the Duke of Wellington. 

With a height of 366 feet, the dome here is the 2nd highest of its kind in the world, a fact which you can put into perspective yourself by climbing up each of the 528 steps to the top. Your sweat-filled endeavours will be rewarded with sublime views and leg cramps for the rest of the week.

Ask any red sashed volunteer (or join a tour) and you can also sneak a peek at the Geometric Stairs, which may seem familiar thanks to their quick guest appearance in Harry Potter. 

27. Visit Postman’s Park

Named after its location by the original General Post Office for London, this leafy mini-park in the center of the City is possibly one of my favourite gardens to visit. Sure, it’s tiny, but it holds one of the most moving and unique memorials that London has to offer: George Frederic Watts’s Memorial to Heroic Self-Sacrifice, which is dedicated to ordinary people who sacrificed their lives to save others.

Shielded under a wooden roof, each of the 50+ ceramic tablets lists the name of the individual who sacrificed themselves, along with the circumstances around their death. As the memorial opened in 1900, most of the tablets recognize heroic deaths from the late 19th/early 20th century, so the majority of deaths revolve around heroic rescues from fires or drownings.

Of course, there’s quite a lot more to the park than just this moving memorial (which plays an important role in the fantastic film and play Closer, by the way, if you want to really get into it).

Look a little closer (heh) and you’ll also find a spot several gravestones moodily hidden behind bits of foliage. This is a legacy left behind from the park’s former function as a graveyard, before its conversion into a park began in 1880.

28. Check out the view at One New Change

As previously mentioned, London has no shortage of viewpoints, ranging from the (London) Eye-gougingly pricey, to the freest of free.

One of the latest lesser known viewpoints to join the latter category is the rooftop terrace at One New Change, which yes does partially include a swanky rooftop restaurant/bar, but also includes a free section that offers close-up views of Saint Paul’s, along with (farther away) views of London’s other prominent skyline regulars, from the London Eye and Big Ben to the newly renovated Battersea Power Station… if you squint hard enough, that is. 

To get here, simply head to One New Change, and find the glass elevator in the center of the complex, and take it up to the top (6th floor). Turn left at the elevator, past the restaurant and cafe then left again towards St Paul’s. It’ll be impossible to miss!

29. Climb up the Monument to Great the Fire of London

Tickets available on-site | Included in the London Pass

And if you’re looking for another one of London’s coolest views, with a bonus leg workout, then I can actually really recommend going up the soaring Monument to the Great Fire of London.

Built near the very spot where the Great Fire of London of 1666 supposedly began, this epic monument offers some of the best views in the city, and you even get a cute certificate once you finish the climb!

At less than 6GBP per person, it’s a lot cheaper than most paid viewpoints in London and (at least during my visit) quiet enough that you could actually enjoy it.

30. Visit St Dunstan in the East

Close to the monument is another one of my favourite quiet spots in the City, St Dunstan in the East, a ruined church that has been transformed into a peaceful public garden, with ivy-clad arches and ancient stone walls that make for perfect photos.

Originally built at the start of the 12th century, what you see today is all that remains after the Great Fire of London and the Blitz… but it’s still a gorgeous place to wander around.

While I can’t quite call it a hidden gem anymore thanks to its popularity among photographers, it’s still a nice contemplative space in the heart of the city to check out, especially if you want to rest your legs after all that sightseeing!

31. Visit Sky Garden

Book Free Tickets

Now, the Great Monument of London might offer good value in terms of paid views, but on the cost front, one view does have it beat, and that’s the very beautiful and very free Sky Garden.

Located atop the iconic Walkie Talkie building at 20 Fenchurch Street, this iconic London viewpoint opened in 2015, offering a unique public space with lush gardens, observation decks, and restaurants.

Be sure to book a ticket in advance though, or pay a little bit for an early morning ticket which includes coffee and a pastry, so you can enter before they open to the public.

If you want to get higher up, another free view in the City is the newly opened Horizon 22, which has dethroned the Shard as London’s highest view. I haven’t had a chance to go yet, but do make sure you book tickets in advance, and let me know how it is!

32. Scope out the views from the Garden at 120

Finally, there’s also the gorgeous free view from the Garden at 120, a great pick if you don’t manage to get tickets to the other two I just mentioned, because there’s no booking required.

Opened in 2019, this elevated green space offers panoramic vistas of iconic landmarks such as the Shard, the Gherkin, and Tower Bridge, and what’s cool is you can even check the capacity online.

33. See the Mithraeum

Now going from high to low, let’s talk about a very cool and free hidden gem of the City known as the Mithraeum, concealed underground amidst a sea of glassy skyscrapers.

This Roman temple can be found beneath an office block, a relic from the centuries that London was under Roman rule, during which it was known as Londinium.

Dating back to the 3rd century AD, this mysterious Roman temple is dedicated to the god Mithras, and was uncovered in the 1950s during excavations, before being reconstructed for visitors to snoop around today.

Inside, visitors will find an exhibition space with some changing displays, as well as Roman relics and of course, a visit to the temple itself, which is a really cool immersive experience they’ve put together. I can definitely recommend this as a unique must-do in London!

34. Check out the Old City Wall

Speaking of Roman London, another thing you can do in the City is trace the remnants of the former City Wall that once stretched for two miles around the ancient city.

Granted, these days there’s not a lot left, but if you’re a history nerd it could be worth checking out. Once upon a time, the City of London Museum (THE place to go if your goal is to learn more about the history of the city… from prehistoric times to present day) was located here, but it’s now in the process of moving to a new location. Stay tuned for its reopening in 2026!

35. Visit Leadenhall Market

Another beautiful place to see in the City is Leadenhall Market, one of London’s oldest markets that is today best known for its gorgeous Victorian design made of wrought iron and glass. 

There’s a few shops, restaurants and pubs to be found in here, but honestly the architecture is the star of the show. I mean… look at it!

36. See the Barbican Conservatory

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Another fun free spot to see in the City is the Barbican Conservatory, a lush botanical garden with exotic plants and tranquil ponds, that feels worlds away from the bustling city just outside.

Again, you need to reserve tickets for this one, but it is free, so definitely give it a look!

37. Enjoy a drink somewhere gorgeous or historic

Lastly, it’s worth noting that the City is home to some of the most beautiful venues for a drink in London.

If you want coffee, there’s Host Cafe, housed in a beautiful Gothic Church.

If you want tea or fizz, there’s the Royal Exchange, known for its elegant Fortnum and Mason in the center.

And, honestly WAY too many beautiful and historic pubs to count. Be sure to consult my full list of historic and unique London pubs for recommendations but here are some cool pubs in the area to check out:

  • The Old Bank of England: One of the most beautiful pubs in London, housed in a former bank building
  • The Old Cheshire Cheese: A cavernous historic pub that has been around since 1667 (when it was rebuilt), made up of a confusing tangle of rooms and floors. Perfect for a cozy, old school maze-like feel
  • The Hoop and Grapes: While you chug down your pint, take a moment to imagine what it must have been like here 500 years ago, when the Great Fire of London, an event that destroyed a third of the city, came to an abrupt end just 50 yards away 

NOTE: Ye Olde Cock offers a very cute narrow facade and chuckle-worthy name, but the interior is a fairly standard Greene King.

38. Stroll along the South Bank

Now, onwards to things to do in the borough of Southwark, starting with a classic stroll along the South Bank of the Thames.

This is by far one of my favourite walks to do in the city, with stunning views of London’s skyline and iconic landmarks along the way. I love the walk between Tower Bridge and the London Eye, which takes about an hour. If you’re looking for a good ‘value for money’ walk, this is it.

Along the way, you do encounter most of the top must-dos in Southwark, so let’s go through them now, starting with the London Eye.

39. See the London Eye

Buy Tickets | Included in the London Pass

Standing at 135 meters tall, this giant observation wheel offers panoramic views of the city’s most iconic landmarks… but at a fairly costly price tag.

I’ll be honest, after so many visits to London I still haven’t been up there, and think there are many other great views in the city that cost way less. But hey, it’s iconic, so definitely worth at least seeing from the outside.

40. See the Tate Modern

As you continue your walk along the river, you’ll pass a bunch of other nice spots, including the National Theatre which has a nice terrace, the Southbank Book Market under Waterloo Bridge and of course the Tate Modern, home to an extensive collection of modern and contemporary artwork from around the world.

This massive museum is housed in a converted power station and is free to visit, but my top tip is to not miss the rooftop terrace at Level 10!

41. Ogle Millennium Bridge

This is one of the most unique and most photographed bridges along the Thames, thanks largely to its perfect position by St Paul’s, its unique steely design, and…… perhaps also its prominence as a Harry Potter filming location in London.

True to its name, the Millennium Bridge was officially opened in the year 2000, though the large volume of pedestrian traffic caused it to sway (yikes).

While the bridge did have to shut down shortly after, the problem has luckily now been rectified… and you are free to frolic across as you please, which I’d highly recommend since it’s just so ridiculously photogenic:

42. Take a tour of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre

Book Tour | Included in the London Pass

Soon after you pass the Millennium Bridge, you’ll encounter Shakespeare’s famous Globe Theatre.

While today’s iteration of the Globe dates back only to the 90s, the care with which they’ve replicated the original is absolutely incredible. 

Of course, the best way to experience the famous Globe Theatre is by enjoying a show there, but if for some reason that’s not possible, fans of the Bard (or those forced to read him incessantly in high school) shouldn’t miss at least doing a tour.

And if you get lucky like me, you may even see some actors rehearsing on stage! 

43. Visit Borough Market (or Other Nice Food Markets in the Area)

If you head slightly south from here you’ll also find one of London’s most famous food markets, Borough Market, which is filled with food and produce vendors, with tons of enticing options for a slightly inflated price tag. The market is beautiful, and well worth seeing, but try to avoid peak meal times because it’s honestly not very enjoyable when it’s overcrowded.

Right by the market there’s also Southwark Cathedral, which is free to visit and has some unique features like its Great Screen and the ornate Altar Piece, as well as a monument and window dedicated to Shakespeare.

Now, if you’re looking for other food markets to explore, there are a few less touristy options in Southwark as well, including the Mercato Metropolitano, and the Maltby Street Market which is filled with unique food vendors on the weekend – both definitely worth checking out.

44. Marvel at iconic ships

Heading back and along the river, you’ll encounter a few more classic London attractions, like the Golden Hinde, an interactive replica of the galleon used by Francis Drake to circumnavigate the world in the 1500s, and the HMS Belfast a Royal Navy warship-turned-museum.

45. Check out London Bridge

Between the two is where you’ll find London Bridge, one of the city’s oldest river crossings and a historic landmark dating back to Roman times…

Those who know the bridge and assume it’s this incredible grand structure thanks to the famous nursery rhyme, I have some bad news – the real London Bridge (not Tower Bridge, which is often mistaken for London Bridge) is fairly plain and unremarkable.

… It’s also not even very historic, given that the current structure was only built in the late 60s and early 70s.

Nonetheless, you’ll pass by it on your walk so you might as well grab a quick photo!

46. Admire/Head up Tower Bridge

Buy Tickets | Included in the London Pass

And finally, you’ll soon reach the bridge that everyone thinks is London Bridge, AKA Tower Bridge.

Officially opened in 1894, this iconic bridge is a must-see on most London itineraries, but many visitors don’t realize it’s actually possible to climb up and walk on its iconic walkways for unique views.

They even have a few sections with a glass floor so you can test your bravery and wave at the unknowing onlookers below. For that reason, I would not recommend wearing a dress or skirt here!

47. Visit the Imperial War Museum

Of course, it’s worth noting that there’s several other things to do in Southwark further south from the river, like the free Imperial War Museum, which features extensive collections of military artifacts, vehicles, and exhibitions.

48. Check out Leake Street

And if you’re looking for something a bit more alternative to do in Southwark, don’t miss the incredible 300m long Leake Street Tunnel underneath Waterloo Station, today a haven for graffiti artists and small restaurants/bars.

If you’re craving Polish food at all (which, let’s be honest, there’s nothing pierogi can’t fix) then I can highly recommend checking out Mamuśka here.

49. See the Tower of London

Buy Tickets | Included in the London Pass

Now, we’re onto things to do in Tower Hamlets. While this is mostly a residential borough, there are still some pockets of sights that are interesting to tourists, including of course the Tower of London.

This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of Britain’s most iconic landmarks. Dating back to the 11th century, this historic fortress has served as a royal palace, prison, and treasury, with highlights like the Crown Jewels to ogle at, along with a bunch of cool things to see including the White Tower, which is home to an impressive armoury. If you’re a history buff, this is definitely a London must-see!

One of the very unique and cool experience here that I don’t hear people talk about though is the Ceremony of the Keys, a secretive, centuries-old ceremony at the Tower of London where they lock up for the night… a ritual you can watch for only 5 GBP.

Though tickets can be hard to come by, so be sure to book on the 1st working day of the month at noon, for the next month, which is when tickets are released. 

50. See the Columbia Road Flower Market

North of here, you’ll find a classic Sunday tradition in East London – the Columbia Road Flower Market.

While realistically, most tourists don’t have reason to buy fresh flowers during their trip, this is one of the most beautiful markets in London, with gorgeous stalls crammed with fresh flowers and plants at affordable prices. 

If you have longer to spend, this might be a nice Sunday morning activity to consider, though be sure to come early to avoid the crowds!

51. Go to Spitalfields Market

Speaking of markets, a more sensical choice might be a visit to the vibrant Spitalfields Market, which dates back to the 17th century and today offers a diverse array of stalls selling fashion, crafts, and most importantly, food from around the world.

This is a great, though somewhat pricey place for lunch, and a nice jumping point for visiting other areas nearby, like the eclectic and lively Shoreditch.

52. Explore Shoreditch

While once known as a hipster paradise, it’s safe to say that Shoreditch is fairly mainstream these days, though it’s still a very fun neighbourhood that feels worlds away from the classic London landmarks in Westminster, with striking street art, fun markets, unique entertainment, and many, many cool bars.

While it’s not necessarily a sightseeing neighbourhood with attractions to tick off your list, it is a very fun place to spend an evening, so be sure to come by if you’re looking to experience another side of London.

Here are some ideas for things to do in and around Shoreditch:

  • (Sunday only) Visit Shoreditch’s famous Brick Lane Sunday Upmarket
  • (Weekends only) Explore the Truman Brewery Markets
  • Seek out some of the area’s famous street art and murals
  • Visit Libreria, a unique bookstore where “they curate to maximize serendipity”, with books organized around themes and not genres, such as ‘Wanderlust’, ‘Enchantment for Disenchanted’ and ‘The City’ (Closed Mondays)
  • Grab a bite and enjoy the vibes at Ely’s Yard, a service yard turned oasis for food trucks, shops, and bars

53. Explore Canary Wharf

If you’re into big city vibes, another interesting place to visit is the thriving financial district of Canary Wharf, home to sleek skyscrapers, bustling shopping malls, and waterfront promenades. 

While for a long time, this was considered mainly as a business zone with not much to see, they’ve put a lot of work into making Canary Wharf an appealing destination, with lots of options for restaurants and entertainment, including BBQ and hot tub boat rentals on the canal.

There are some sightseeing opportunities as well, like at the Crossrail Place Roof Garden as well as the free Museum of London Docklands which has some really interesting displays about the history of the Docklands area.

If you’re looking to explore a little farther away from the tourist center, this could be a fun option, though I wouldn’t necessarily go out of my way to come here on a first visit.

54. Go to the Camden Market

Now we’re onto things to do in the lively borough of Camden.

The first and most obvious is to visit Camden Market, one of London’s most iconic shopping destinations. Dating back to the 1970s, this sprawling market offers a diverse range of stalls selling everything from vintage clothing and handmade crafts to international street food and… robotic rave clothing?

Truth be told, these days the market is known for being fairly touristy and overpriced, but it’s still a neat spot in the city to check out, especially given its proximity to one of the nicest parks and views in the city, Regent’s Park and Primrose Hill. 

55. Visit Regent’s Park & Primrose Hill

Regent’s Park is one of London’s most beloved green spaces, with lush gardens, scenic walking paths, and of course, the famous London Zoo.

The main highlight for me though is Primrose Hill, where you get a gorgeous view of the skyline from afar, and when you visit early in the summer, Queen Mary’s Rose Garden, the largest rose garden in London, is a colourful delight. 

56. Sir John Soane Museum 

Another cool spot to visit in this borough is the Sir John Soane Museum, which is a very unique and free attraction left behind by  knight-architect Sir John Soane, who wanted his house to become a free space for the public to visit, under the condition that it remained untouched from the moment he died. 

So even today, it’s filled with his crazy collection of stuff as he left it 200 years ago. 

This is definitely one of the most unique places to visit in London, and less than 10 minutes away from one of my favourite recent finds, the very quirky Novelty Automation, which is home to several satirical home-made arcade machines that you can buy tokens to play. Hard to describe, but fantastically weird, and great if you’re looking for a more offbeat thing to do.

57. Hop on the MailRail at the Postal Museum

Buy Tickets | Included in the London Pass

Speaking of offbeat, a museum just north of here is the London Postal Museum, an admittedly very nerdy attraction that is dedicated to – you guessed it, the history of British postal communication.

I know that doesn’t sound super thrilling, but a special highlight of your visit here is you get to hop on the Mail Rail, an immersive 15 minute ride through the original tunnels of the historic Mail Rail network, offering insights into the city’s Victorian-era postal service and the transportation of mail beneath the streets of London. I recognize that this is a super nerdy London activity, but I honestly had a great time.

58. Visit the British Museum (and Many Other Museums)

If you’re a different kind of nerdy, this neighbourhood is also home to a bunch of other museums, including the Charles Dickens Museum, Foundling Museum and of course, the British Museum.

This is considered by some these days to be a controversial attraction, so let’s get this out of the way: the British Museum is a fascinating museum filled to the brim with amazing artifacts from around the world…

But there’s no denying the obvious: many of these artifacts were stolen, and procured for the museum in questionable ways.

Still, it’s a unique museum with lots to see, and with free entry, it still remains one of the most popular things to do in London.

59. Explore King’s Cross

Speaking of popular, another part of Camden that’s all the rage these days is King’s Cross, of course best known for its train station where yes you can indeed get a cheesy photo opp of you jumping into Platform 9 3/4.

But there’s more to this neighbourhood now than just the train station!

There’s for instance the Coal’s Dropyard, a former industrial area that has been transformed into a vibrant retail and dining destination, as well as London’s prettiest floating bookshop, Word on the Water, which is moored along the Regent’s Canal. 

Housed within a charming 1920s Dutch barge, this quirky bookstore offers a cozy and atmospheric setting to browse books or, as I luckily did, get stranded during a thunderstorm!

60. Pose on Abbey Road

A must-do for Beatles fans, another interesting thing to do in Camden is a walk across the iconic zebra crossing pictured on the cover art for Beatles mega-album, Abbey Road.

NOTE: Be mindful that it is (really) just a regular crossing, so don’t disrupt traffic too much by taking a million photos. If you want a laugh, you can actually see a live web cam of the crossing here and there’s almost always people getting their photos taken.

61. Explore Hampstead

Finally, if you’re looking for a quieter day of exploration, venture northward towards leafy Hampstead, a charming village-like enclave nestled in the northwest of London. 

The picturesque streets here lined with elegant Georgian and Victorian homes, and there’s some beautiful spots to visit like the Hill Garden and Pergola, as well as Hampstead Heath and a few nice house museums like the Burgh House and Kenwood House.

Not far from here is also Highgate Cemetery where you’ll find the tomb of Karl Marx and many other notable historic figures.

62. Visit the V&A

Now let’s move west again to tackle some things to do in the famously well-to do borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

The first is a visit the Victoria & Albert Museum, also know as the V&A.

This is probably my favourite free museum in London. 

Founded in 1852, the V&A is the largest museum of applied arts, decorative arts and design in the entire world, with a permanent collection containing over two million objects.

Inside, you’ll find a stunning collection of paintings, sculptures, jewelry, fashion pieces and more… all housed in a gorgeous building, with an opulent cafe that makes the perfect place for a break.

63. Or visit many of the other nearby free museums

Nearby are also several other excellent free museums including the Science Museum, which is dedicated to the history of scientific advancements with over 15,000 objects on display.

And the strikingly beautiful Natural History Museum, which is dedicated to the diversity of life on Earth, as well as the processes and forces that shape our planet. 

I’d say these two options are definitely better with kids in tow but if you’re interested in the topics then they are amazing and comprehensive museums well worth checking out.

Photo by Yoav Aziz on Unsplash

64. Stop by the Royal Albert Hall

Book Tour | Included in the London Pass

In this area is another London icon, the legendary Royal Albert Hall.

The best way to experience this venue is of course by booking tickets to see a show but if the timing doesn’t align they do also offer paid tours as well which include access to special spaces not typically open to the public, including the separate entrance and lounge facilities used by the Royal Family.

View from the Royal Box

65. Visit Kensington Palace

Buy Tickets | Included in the London Pass

Thanks to its status as the current home of Prince William & Kate, Kensington Palace is a London attraction that dazzles with outstanding name recognition.

Unfortunately, as you can imagine, your £20 entry ticket here does not include a visit to their home… as they live on site at (understandably) private apartments. 

They often have cool exhibitions here which would make a visit worthwhile, but to be honest palace-wise, I think some of the others outside London like Hampton Court Palace offer a much better experience.

66. Admire one of London’s Prettiest Pubs

Now, a short walk away from here is one of the most beautiful pubs in London: the Churchill Arms, known for its facade which is decked in flowers in warmer months, and decked in trees for the holidays.

While admiring the outside is fun, the inside is actually really nice and cozy, plus there’s a great Thai restaurant hidden in the back!

67. Visit Holland Park

This gorgeous park is home to some very pretty Japanese gardens as well as a few museums surrounding it including the free Design Museum and Leighton House.

Definitely worth a look if you want a quieter, more relaxing thing to do in London!

68. Explore Notting Hill

Forever tourist central thanks to Instagram and the 90s rom com of the same name, charming Notting Hill is a picturesque piece of London known for its colourful houses, leafy squares and bustling markets, including the Portobello Road Market whose main day is Saturday.

I’ll admit, Notting Hill is one of the prettiest areas of London to explore, though definitely avoid weekends because it can get ridiculously busy.

Besides just capturing photos of the neighbourhood’s pretty streets like on Lancaster Road and St Luke’s Mews, on the culture front, there’s also the Museum of Brands which is a really cool museum if you’re an advertising and marketing nerd like me. 

With a vast collection of over 12,000 items, this unique museum chronicles the story and evolution of consumer culture through the lens of branding and packaging, dating back to the Victorian era. Definitely worth a look if you’re interested in branding.

69. Wander around Knightsbridge

And if you’re into shopping and the finer things, another neighbourhood to explore in this borough is Knightsbridge, with its most iconic spot being Harrods, one of the world’s most famous department stores. 

With over 300 departments and a massive food hall, this swanky department store is a haven for luxury shopping, though there are some architectural highlights too like the gorgeous Egyptian escalator.

70. Explore Chelsea

Just like Knightsbridge, this neighbourhood is known as one of the wealthiest in the city, with gorgeous streets to explore, beautiful restaurants and pubs to enjoy, plus a handful of tourist-friendly sights like the Saatachi Gallery, a bright and airy gallery with rotating art exhibits, and the Chelsea Physic Garden, one of the oldest botanical gardens in Britain.

Of course, one of the best ways to enjoy Chelsea is to just walk around and explore for yourself – there’s beautiful corners pretty much all over.

71. Scope out Battersea Power Station

And, right across the water over the Chelsea Bridge, you’ll find the newly reopened Battersea Power Station, one of London’s most recognizable landmarks and a symbol of the city’s industrial heritage. 

These days, it’s a shopping and dining destination, along with its own special viewpoint, Lift 109.

NOTE: If you don’t mind a detour, the London Peace Pagoda in Battersea Park is worth a look, and from here you can take the beautiful Albert Bridge across to Chelsea.

72. Explore Greenwich

Now, moving outside of central London, one must-do I  recommend for those with the time is to explore Greenwich.

With extensive maritime history, Greenwich was once home to a royal palace known as the Palace of Placentia and was actually where many of the most famous royals, the Tudors, were born… including both Henry VIII and Elizabeth I.

Today, it’s an idyllic wonderland of museums, monuments, and amazing views. You could easily spend a full day here (and discover why it’s one of my favourite boroughs in London to explore!)

Highlights include…

  • The Old Royal Naval College and its pretty painted hall 
  • The Royal Observatory, the home of Greenwich Mean Time where you can walk on the Prime Meridian and watch the red Time Ball drop at 1pm every day 
  • the National Maritime Museum, the largest museum of its kind in the world full of ships, boats and educational displays
  • Greenwich Market, filled with lots of great food stalls and shopping options
  • Cutty Sark, the world’s last surviving tea clipper
  • Queen’s House, a beautiful and free art gallery
  • Greenwich Park, a massive park with great views up near the Observatory

BONUS: You can also hop on the Emirates Air Line cable car, which seems like a fun ride but honestly the areas on either side aren’t the most exciting, so I wouldn’t go out of my way just to ride it.

73. Go to a TV show taping

Another really fun thing to do in London if you have the time is to go to a TV show taping.

From popular game shows and talk shows to comedy panel shows and talent competitions, there are tons of free opportunities to be part of a studio audience in London – I’ve personally been to the Graham Norton Show twice and really enjoyed it, though it can a be a time consuming activity that’s not close to the main sights, so only do this if you have lots of time.

This website is a great resource for requesting tickets.

73. Take an epic day trip

Now, after this very long post I feel like you’d be surprised to hear that I’ve really just scratched the surface with what there is to do in London.

For those with more time, I can highly recommend taking a day trip further out, with tons of amazing options including…

  • Kew Gardens: A UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the world’s most famous botanical gardens.
  • Richmond: A charming riverside town nestled along the banks of the River Thames in southwest London – ideal for Ted Lasso fans
  • Hampton Court Palace: The former royal residence of Henry VIII
  • Hever Castle: The childhood home of Anne Boleyn that has been beautifully restored and maintained
  • The Warner Bros Studio Tour: Where you can step into the real life sets used in all the Harry Potter films

Did I miss any of your favourite things to do in London?

Let me know in the comments so I can add more of the best London activities to the list. Happy and safe travels! 🙂

My Go-To Travel Favourites:

🧳 Eagle Creek: My favourite packing cubes

💳 Wise: For FREE travel friendly credit cards

🍯 Airalo: My go-to eSIM

🏨 Booking.com: For searching hotels

📷 Sony A7IV: My (amazing) camera

✈️ Google Flights: For finding flight deals

🌎 WorldNomads: For travel insurance

🎉 GetYourGuide: For booking activities

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