Things to do in London

posted in: Europe, Heritage, Nature, UK | 37

London is a city that will constantly captivate and enthrall you, no matter how many times you visit. Whether it’s your first or hundredth time in the city, you’ll still find something to be fascinated as – I’m from the capital and I’m still finding new things to do in London all the time!

There’s so much to do and see in London that it could take a lifetime; but if you only have three days in the city, you can still see the most popular tourist attractions and experience London living at its finest.

Things to do in London
Things to do in London

The best things to do in London range from old cathedrals to modern skyscrapers; and from city parks to comprehensive museums. Whether you’re backpacking in London or visiting the city with your family, you’ll love these attractions which give a real essence of the city. Let’s get stuck into the list!

Things to do in London

Westminster Abbey

My favorite London attraction – and possibly the most quintessential thing to do in the whole of Britain – Westminster Abbey is a 700-year-old building in the heart of central London. It was the site of the wedding of everyone’s favorite royals, Will and Kate, and many kings and queens of England have been crowned in the same spot. In fact, the Coronation Chair is on display and can be admired by visitors to the abbey – it is the oldest piece of furniture in the country that is still used for its original purpose.

One of the things to do in London - West Minister Abbey
One of the things to do in London – West Minister Abbey

The architecture of both the interior and exterior of the abbey are well worth admiring, and many visitors to the abbey love to admire the memorials and try to find their favorite British historical character. Buried within the walls are monarchs such as Henry V, Elizabeth I and Edward the Confessor, as well as numerous poets, novelists and lots of other notable people.

The London Eye

Going up in the London Eye will give you a spectacular vista over the whole capital and Greater London; it takes about 30 minutes to do a full circuit, so you’ll have plenty of time to admire the view and snap some amazing pictures.

London Eye_One of things to do in London
London Eye_One of things to do in London

Each pod can hold up to 25 people, and there’s room to walk around, so you don’t have to worry about being restrained to one particular viewpoint. You can buy tickets beforehand, which is cheaper – but beware that if you do so you are restricted to one time and in London, the weather can never be relied on! It is slightly more expensive to buy tickets at the ticket office of the London Eye, but you will be able to judge when is the best time to see the birds-eye view at the actual time. Remember to also, walk the South Bank for its fun, cultural delights.

Tower of London

It’s rumored to be London’s most haunted building, which comes as no surprise when you consider how many prisoners the Tower of London has seen! It has had several different uses throughout its past: it has been the Royal Mint, a zoo, an observatory and of course, a jail.

Tower of London - Things to do in London
Tower of London                                                                                    Image Credits: Creative Commons under CC0 via Pixabay

Many colorful characters from British history have been ‘sent to the tower’; notable ones include Elizabeth I, Henry VI, Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard. Today, visitors can learn all about these stories and learn the history of the tower, as well as see its most celebrated attraction, the Crown Jewels.

Free Museums and Galleries.

Although these free museums could keep you occupied for a week, I’ve put them under one heading as different people will want to see different museums. Many of London’s best museums are completely free to visit, which is great for a rainy day in the capital (and I’ll be honest, we get a fair few of those…).

If you are interested in nature and geography, check out the Natural History Museum; my favorite museum in London. With exhibits about dinosaurs and natural disasters, it’s a fascinating place to learn about the world around us. If you’re more into social history, the Imperial War Museum details Britain’s involvement in various wars, including World Wars One and Two. The Science Museum is a great place to visit with kids, as there are lots of hands-on exhibitions about physical science and technology, and the V&A museum is one of the best tributes to art and design in the world, with thousands of exhibits through the ages.

Natural History Museum - Things to do in London
Natural History Museum – Things to do in London                                                                                          Picture Credits: Pixabay

If you’re looking for something a little more British, check out the Museum of London for all things related to the capital. The British Museum – which was the first public museum in the world – has exhibits from all over the world that are very impressive too. And if you’re an art fan, the National Gallery and the TATE are world-class galleries that are completely free to enter and browse!

Big Ben (Elizabeth Tower) and the Houses of Parliament

A fairly easy one to check off your list of the best things to do in London, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament are located by the River Thames. There’s plenty of great angles where you can get an iconic shot of the buildings, either side of the Thames or further down the river.

If you want to impress your travel mates with your London knowledge, let them know that the tower is actually called Elizabeth Tower and Big Ben the bell inside the tower!

Things to Do in London - Head to Big Ben
Things to Do in London – Head to Big Ben

The inside of Elizabeth Tower is not currently open to tourists, however, it is possible to book tickets to a parliamentary debate, if you organise them in advance. These are generally free, but tickets are limited – so if this is something that you want to do in London, reserve in advance to avoid disappointment.

St Paul’s Cathedral

Another renowned building of London, the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral often features on TV shows and postcards, so seeing the exterior is mandatory during your trip to London. It’s well worth taking a peek inside as well; to admire its fine baroque architecture and learn about some of the fantastic historical events that have taken place here.

St Paul's Cathedral
St Paul’s Cathedral                                                                                                                                          Picture Credits: Pixabay

A cathedral has stood on the site of St Paul’s for over 1,400 years; the present Cathedral opened in 1710, after the one before it perished in the Great Fire of London in 1666. If you’re interested in the British Royal Family, Prince Charles and Diana were historically wed here – and it was also the place of Admiral Lord Nelson’s Funeral.

Buckingham Palace

You can’t visit the capital without seeing the Queen’s residence! No matter what your feelings are toward the British royalty, it can’t be denied that seeing the Change of Guards is one of the most British things to do in London.

Buckingham Palace, London
Buckingham Palace, London

The Change of Guards takes place at 11 am every day in the summer and every other day in the winter. Sometimes it is called off due to rain, and it is well worth trying to see it during the warmer months, as during the winter their iconic red jackets are covered with a coat!

Things to do in London - Watch the change of guards at Buckingham Palace
Things to do in London – Watch the change of guards at Buckingham Palace

If you’re visiting London during July and August, Buckingham Palace is open to visitors. You won’t get any glimpses of the Queen – she doesn’t live there during these months – but you’ll be able to see various rooms of the castle. Tickets are fairly expensive, but it’s a once in a lifetime experience!

Tower Bridge

Beautiful Tower Bridge is one of the best photography spots in London; from the bridge you can see some of London’s best skyscrapers, including the Gherkin and the newly built ‘Cheese Grater’, as well as the Tower of London and other historic London buildings.

Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge

The bridge is pretty spectacular, too; it was constructed between 1886 and 1894 and, with its grand appearance, is the most popular bridge in London. Visitors can head to the Tower Bridge exhibition, which has a glass floor and interesting displays about the bridge’s history. The attached Victorian Engine Rooms are a great place to learn about the inner workings of the bridge.

London Dungeons

Even though there are dungeons of the same style all over the world, the London Dungeons do a fantastic job in telling the capital’s goriest parts of history in an unforgettable way. Learn about serial killers like Jack the Ripper and the real extent of the Bubonic Plague, while being scared out of your wits by the amazing actors!

Hyde Park

Hyde Park, London
Hyde Park, London

Even though it rains a lot in Britain, we do love our parks. Hyde Park is known as the green lung of the city, and is a fantastic place to take five from the busy surroundings of London. The park features ponds, fountains and boating opportunities across its 350 acres, as well as ample walking opportunities. On a Sunday, Speakers’ Corner is home to people sharing their views on a variety of matters, which is always worth a visit.

If you’re not at the park over the weekend, there are plenty of bars and cafes to kick back and relax in. London has a plethora of things to do and these are just the beginning. Once you are done with these, you can even look up this list of family-friendly places to see in London. 

Claire Martin is a British travel blogger and freelance writer. She blogs about eco-travel and overland adventures on her blog Claire’s Footsteps; she has spent the last year and a half driving around the entirety of Australia and is currently back in the UK planning an overland trip through Asia. She wants to explore as much of the world as possible in an eco-friendly manner, and invites you to do so as well!


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37 Responses

  1. Ryan Biddulph

    London feels so much like NYC Claire and Ami; you could spend 50 lifetimes there and still not run out of stuff to do. Amazing how much fun stuff you can enjoy in this charming city. The Eye catches my fancy but so does virtually everything on the list. Good for 3 days or even 3 weeks if you did each even proper, stretching them out for soaking up and digestion. Excellent post!


    • Ami

      Thanks Ryan. Claire really got me nostalgic about my own visit here. There is so much I saw and yet could not see. I hope to visit here again.

  2. Mariyam

    London is a dream destination for me. The crisp weather and vibes, epic culture, what’s not there to love? Would love to visit there someday…

  3. Holiday mango travel

    Thank you for sharing such an informative article.

  4. Marvi

    I would really love to visit London one day! So cool to know that despite being from London, there are still a lot of amazing things to do and discover! 🙂 This is actually the first time I’ve read about the London Dungeons. It sounds fascinating in a weird way. LOL.!

    • Ami

      London charmed me too and while I have done a few of these, I am yet to do a lot more. Claire got me some more things to add to my list.

  5. Mar

    London just has so many landmarks isn’t it. You have managed to round them all up in one post, these are definitely the top spots in the city anybody visiting London should include them all.

    • Ami

      Indeed. Claire has got the best spots rounded off here. It sure is a fun city with plenty to do.

  6. Ash

    I have worked in London for almost 5 years and must admit that I have not seen and done all it has to offer. The world-class museums and galleries which are free to the public top my list.

    • Ami

      While I have not done it all, I promise you this – those museums are a destination themselves. It is never ending and no matter how many times you go, you will find something unique there. Loved the British museum and time was not enough there. Hope to get to London again for it and more of these on the list

  7. Dorene

    London is amazing there is so much to do there. I have been there several times, and haven’t done many of your recommendations here. First, I had no idea that museums were free what a great tip, considering how easy it is to spend money in this city. Definitely the Natural History Museum – I’m sold! Also I like the idea of the London Dungeons – something else that isn’t your run of the mill thing to do in a big city! Great tips!

    • Ami

      With my own trip to London, I was surprised to note that the museums like British Museum had a free entry. and the best part is that they are so so well done and well curated. Loved them for it. Claire added more to my list for my next visit. Hope to be able to do that. Cheers

  8. Medha

    This is perfect timing – a friend of mine was asking my help in creating the perfect London itinerary and I have shared this with them (I have been to London but it was about 10 years ago!). I think you’ve listed the key places to see – Westminster Abbey, Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace, London Eye, Big Ben are places I remember visiting as well when I went!

    • Ami

      Thank you Medha for sharing this. Claire has drawn up a perfect list for the first timers. I did see some of these myself but missed a few too.Hope to remedy that the next time.

  9. Marissa

    London is such a fun city! Westminister Abbey is such a beautiful church to visit. I’d love to go in the London Eye and see the views from the top.

    • Ami

      I could not do the London Eye the last time owing to the queue. However, I assure you that South Bank around it is a cultural delight too. Hope you can visit it . Cheers

  10. Kirstie

    I love all the pictures! London is a dream destination for me. I feel the culture is great and I will really enjoy it there.

    • Ami

      Indeed, the culture is quite open and fun. I loved the vibe here too. Thanks for stopping by

  11. Sandy N Vyjay

    London is indeed the stuff of dreams. Though we have never been there, it seems so close to our hearts. This is thanks to English literature and novels. Places like Westminster Abbey, Tower of London, London Bridge, et all, ring a bell. This is a wonderful synopsis of things to do in London. Hope to get there someday and say hello to a London Bobby if not the Queen!

    • Ami

      Ooh yes, if you have never been to London, this is quite a handy guide. You will love all these things for sure, especially museums. Cheers

  12. Suruchi Mittal

    London is one of our bucket list destinations and it surely is perfect guide for the first timers like us. The place has so much to offer and we are particularly impressed by the architecture and feel of the place. Abbey, London bell, Big Ben, Tower Bridge are so damn beautiful.

    • Ami

      Claire’s post got me so nostalgic about my own visit and I would say that she has got it bang on for the first timers. These things are must do in London and I hope you can get to it sooner.

  13. Nisha

    London has been eluding us for quite sometime. I am sure we’d need a few weeks to be able to see and experience all the important places and activities. I have my own list which is missing a couple of things from your post and hence adding those too. Thanks

    • Ami

      Trust me Nisha, 2 weeks here and I barely scratched the surface. I did do most of these but a few are still pending. Hope to return to complete those myself.

  14. Anny

    London is spectacular! The history is intriguing, amazing architecture and i`m so impressed with buildings!

    • Ami

      Yes, London is quite impressive with its architecture. Glad you stopped by at this post.

  15. Aneena

    Thanks for posting this blog. Its give an idea about the specialties and the things to do in London. Its a beautiful city houses lots of attractive destinations.

  16. isha

    Amazing post ami and first time i am reading your post and really its great described by you easy to read and understandable

  17. Linda sommers

    London is the dream for every traveler. This such a beautiful place, you explore all the highlight points of this amazing place. Your post is the great motivation for all the beginner. I visited around London almost 9 years ago with my family. Now i want to explore all those highlight points as a traveler. The natural history museum is amazing, and i never miss to visit the queen residence. thanks Ami for this wonderful post.

    • Ami

      Glad you liked it, Linda. London truly is amazing. I enjoyed my week there but could not cover it all. Hoping to get there myself. Cheers

  18. Kd

    London is an awesome travel destination. Such a cool city and you’ve captured it so well. I hope i would travel this place once a day and turn my visuals in reality.

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