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Planning a trip to London? Keep reading for everything you need to add to your London Bucket List!
London is one of the most visited cities in the world, and it’s easy to see why. The bustling English capital city is full of exciting attractions, activities, and museums to keep you busy for days. In fact, you could spend weeks in London without running out of things to do!
On my first trip to London, I attempted to tick off as many attractions and activities as possible off of my London bucket list. I spent several days exploring the city, visiting all of the must-do attractions as well as more offbeat places. While I was able to check quite a few things off my bucket list, there are still so many things that remain!
With the help of a few fellow travelers, I’ve put together this ultimate London bucket list full of more than 50 top things to do in London. Here, you’ll find some of London’s top attractions to visit on your first trip to the city as well as more offbeat things to do on return visits. There are also activities perfect for foodies and some fun and free things to do for budget travelers!
Are you ready to explore London and start ticking things off your London bucket list? Keep reading for a guide to some of London’s best things to do!
A World in Reach contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, I may receive a commission at no cost to you! Read my full disclosure here.
The Ultimate London Bucket List: Things to Do on Your First Trip to London
Visit the Tower of London
Recommended by Derek and Mike from Robe Trotting
One of the best things to do in London is to book a Tower of London tour. This historic building unlocks layers of British history as it has been used as a prison, palace, armory, and even the Royal Mint.
The impressive structure is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was founded in 1066. It was built during the Norman Conquest of England as a means of intimidation. The White Tower, which gave the site its name, was built by William the Conqueror and was a symbol of resentment during the early stage of its existence. Over the centuries, the grounds of this fortress have expanded and new structures have been added.
Today, the Tower of London is a symbol of British pride sitting stately upon the banks of the Thames River. You can easily spend a half-day or longer touring all the buildings and viewing the Royal regalia. Most guests take advantage of a guided tour by the Yeoman Warders, also known as Beefeaters. For centuries, they have been the royal bodyguards and are a fascinating tradition carried forth today. One member of the Yeoman Warders is known as the Ravenamster. He keeps and cares for at least six ravens on the grounds of the Tower of London at all times. As legend states, if the ravens are absent from the Tower of London the kingdom will fall.
The Tower of London has been one of the nation’s most-visited attractions since the Victorian era and is one of the most famous European landmarks. A formal ticketing and entry infrastructure was added in 1850 and it still belongs on your London bucket list today. Make sure to book skip-the-line tickets to the Tower of London before your visit.
- Location: St Katharine’s & Wapping, London EC3N 4AB, United Kingdom
- Price: Adults £25, Students (with ID) £20
- Click here to book skip-the-line tickets to the Tower of London and Crown Jewels
BUDGET TRAVEL TIP
Are you a university student? If so, don’t forget your student ID card! Many of London’s museums and attractions offer discounted admission to students with a valid ID – this is a great and easy way to save a few Pounds.
For more discounts, look into signing up for an International Student Identity Card (ISIC) – a card that proves your official student status and gives you over 150,000 benefits and discounts worldwide.
See the Iconic Tower Bridge
Recommended by Melissa from Parenthood and Passports
Tower Bridge is one of the most iconic places in London and one of the most beautiful and famous bridges in Europe. Adjacent to the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, which crosses the River Thames, is perhaps the most famous bascule bridge in the world. Using hydraulics, the road crossing the bridge lifts and lowers when needed to allow boat traffic to pass. Originally opened in 1894, Tower Bridge is often mistakenly called London Bridge, which sits just west about half a mile upstream along the same river.
Crossing the lower level of the bridge is free to do by car or on foot, but paid admission is required to enter the towers or access the upper level of Tower Bridge. The upper level has a glass floor and offers panoramic views of London. With admission, you can also tour the old engine room and learn about the history of Tower Bridge and the significance of this defining London landmark.
- Location: Tower Bridge Rd, London SE1 2UP, United Kingdom
- Price: It’s free to walk or drive across the bridge. Admission to enter the towers is £10.60 for adults, £7.90 for students, or £5.30 for children. You can purchase tickets at the on-site ticket office or online in advance.
Visit Westminster Abbey
Recommended by Bec from Wyld Family Travel
No trip to London will be complete without a visit to the World Heritage site Westminster Abbey. The famous Church has seen some of the biggest occasions for over a thousand years and has some of the most famous English people buried there.
There are over 3300 people buried in Westminster Abbey from English Monarchs to poets, politicians, and philosophers known all around the world. Seeing their memorials on the walls and tombstones on the floor in this church is a history lesson like no other. One of the favorites was Elizabeth of York, the mother to Henry the VIII. She started a dynasty that ended up changing the face of religion for the people of England. If you are looking for someone in particular you can get a booklet that will help you find the person you are looking for. Many people make sure to stop at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Mass is still held at the Church and you are able to attend. Please make sure you are respectful of the service and dress accordingly. On some days, you can hear the choir practicing. If you are unable to attend mass, hearing the ringing of their voices through the building is amazing.
Take your time wandering the many vaults and rooms or just find a place to sit and contemplate what this site holds and what it has seen over time. Westminster Abbey is one of the most popular places to visit in London so it will be busy, but it is definitely worth a spot on your London bucket list.
- Location: 20 Deans Yd, Westminster, London SW1P 3PA, United Kingdom
- Price: Admission with an audio guide is £22 for adults or £16 for students with ID. Click here to book tickets for Westminster Abbey with an audio guide.
See London from Above on the London Eye
Recommended by Emma from Wanderlust and Wet Wipes
The London Eye is one of our favorite tourist attractions in London for little kids but the truth is that it is a brilliant attraction for kids of all ages – even grown up ones!
It is a brilliant experience and a lovely way to see the best sites in London from a completely different perspective. With over 3.5 million visitors every year and a staple attraction since the turn of the millennium, the London Eye is one of London’s most popular fee-paying tourist attractions and it is easy to see why. It towers over the nearby buildings and offers a 30-minute “flight” with unrivaled, 360-degree views of the London skyline.
The interactive iPad-style guides offer an opportunity to figure out where landmarks are in relation to each other and the meandering path of the Thames River. You can see classic London landmarks including Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, and Westminster Abbey in the foreground as well as Tower Bridge, St Paul’s Cathedral, and the many famous City of London skyscrapers such as The Shard and the Gherkin in the distance.
It is not cheap, with prices starting at £24.50, but it is worth it. It is a very well organized experience and can be done as an “experience” if you are prepared to pay extra. You can also combine it with other activities like a bus tour, a river cruise, or a visit to one of Merlin Entertainment Group’s other attractions.
- Location: Riverside Building, County Hall, Bishop’s, London SE1 7PB, United Kingdom
- Adult tickets start at £24.50. Click here to book skip-the-line tickets, or purchase bundled tickets with included admission to SEA LIFE Aquarium and Madame Tussauds.
Have a Pint at an English Pub
Recommended by Sydney from A World in Reach (me!)
One of my favorite things to do on an evening in London is to head to a traditional English pub for a pint (or two!) and a delicious meal. Hanging out in pubs is a great way to meet both locals and fellow tourists.
Traditional English pub food isn’t typically praised by hardcore foodies, but it is personally one of my favorites. There’s nothing like enjoying a plate of yummy fish and chips or bangers and mash in a pub on a rainy day in London. Don’t forget to have a pint of an English pale ale or a fruity cider along with your meal!
London is dotted with fun pubs, both independently-owned and chains of pubs associated with breweries like Greene King or Fuller’s. Some of my favorite pubs across London are St. Stephen’s Tavern (a bit touristy but they have the best bangers and mash!), The John Snow (named after the legendary doctor who traced the source the 1854 cholera outbreak), and The Churchill Arms (very touristy, but very Instagrammable – the outside is covered in flowers!).
Another fun experience? Go on a London pub crawl and visit some of the most fun pubs in the city!
Pay a Visit to Trafalgar Square
Recommended by Christina from Travel2next.com
If you have never visited London and you’re wondering where to start, head to Trafalgar Square in the center of London. The historic square is often used as a venue for the public, but even if there’s nothing special on, Trafalgar Square is one of the most famous London landmarks to tick off your bucket list.
What was formerly a grand courtyard of Whitehall Palace, these days, the square is a popular spot for both locals and tourists. It’s the place to people watch, and there are several cafes around the square. One attraction not to miss is Nelson’s Column and the beautiful 19th-century fountains in the square. There are also bronze busts of famous British heroes Admiral Beatty, Admiral Jellicoe, Admiral Cunningham, and General Sir Charles James Napier. You’ll see lots of people taking photos of the fountains and statues, which have historical significance. Nelson’s Column dates back to 1843.
Trafalgar Square is easy to get to. Take the Bakerloo or Northern Line to Charing Cross, which is the closest tube station. From Trafalgar Square, there are plenty of other places in London within walking distance like the National Museum, Leicester Square, and Piccadilly Circus.
- Location: Trafalgar Square, Charing Cross, London WC2N 5DN, United Kingdom
- Price: Free!
Watch the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace
Recommended by Katy Clarke from Untold Morsels
Watching the ritual of the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace is a thrill that you can only have in London. This iconic ceremony, also known as Guard Mounting, takes place across three locations. It involves members of the Queen’s Guard who hand over responsibility for the protection of Buckingham Palace and St. James’s Palace to the New Guard.
Wearing distinctive scarlet jackets and bearskin hats, the soldiers are accompanied by a full military band that play marching tunes and popular songs of the day as the soldiers march down the Mall.
The ceremony takes place four times a week for most of the year and every day in June and July. The best place to see the parade is actually not at Buckingham Palace but nearby Wellington Barracks where the New Guard forms to march toward the Palace. But, if you just can’t resist seeing the soldiers perform their duties in front of the palace, make sure you are in place well before the 10:45 AM start.
For a unique experience, take a Changing of the Guard walking tour to have the opportunity to march in step with the guards and learn more about the ceremony.
Have Afternoon Tea
Recommended by Rachael from A City Girl Outside
Afternoon tea is quintessentially English and one of the top things to do in London. You cannot visit the capital of the United Kingdom without having experienced afternoon tea. There is an abundance of places to get your afternoon tea fix in London, from the traditional to the quirky.
So what is afternoon tea? Afternoon tea was introduced during the 1840s and was invented as a mini-meal to stem the hunger before dinnertime later in the evening. An idea I can totally get behind! It is traditionally served with loose leaf tea and a stack of yummy goodies. The standard three-tiered tray usually includes finger sandwiches on the bottom, followed by sweet scones with jam and clotted cream, and finished off with an array of sweet treats on top.
Afternoon tea is named so since it is served in the afternoon, however with its rise in popularity over the years you’ll find many places offering it all day long. Dining times are usually between 2 PM and 6 PM. How do you choose an afternoon tea experience? My personal favorites for traditional afternoon tea are at Fortnum & Mason, The Ritz, The Savoy, and Claridges. For a quirky spin on this British tradition try Cutter & Squidge for their Harry Potter theme, The Sanderson Hotel for their Mad Hatter tea, or sketch for their beautiful pink setting.
Admire the Beautiful St. Paul’s Cathedral
Recommended by Sarah Barthet from Dukes Avenue
Few buildings in the world have defined their location’s skyline quite like, and for as long as, St Paul’s Cathedral in London. While the original church was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666, it was rebuilt under the watch of Sir Christopher Wren and from its reopening in 1710 until 1963, it was the tallest building in London.
St Paul’s Cathedral is found in the historic City of London, between the historic Roman streets and grand Victorian buildings, and is a focal point for life in the City. It even has a tube station named after it! The gardens in the churchyard are tranquil and green, while Paternoster Square, Cheapside, and One New Change (which offers stunning vistas of the Cathedral) bustle with bars, restaurants, and shops. While the church can be seen from many places close by, one of the best views can be had from the Millennium Bridge, crossing the Thames to or from the Tate Modern on the South Bank.
- Location: St. Paul’s Churchyard, London EC4M 8AD, United Kingdom
- Price: Viewing the cathedral is free, but you’ll have to purchase a ticket to go inside. Tickets are £17 for adults or £15 for students with an ID. Skip-the-line tickets can be purchased here.
See a Show on London’s West End
Recommended by Riana Ang-Canning from Teaspoon of Adventure
One of the best things to do on a visit to London is to enjoy a night of theatre. I love it so much that I do it at least once every time I visit London and it’s one of the big reasons why London is my favorite city in the world. You may have heard of New York’s famed Broadway, but London has its own extensive theatre culture that deserves to be appreciated on your trip.
Most of London’s plays and musicals take place in the West End, an area of the city where you’ll find many theatres, bars, and restaurants. You’ll find well-known and popular shows in London, like Hamilton and The Lion King, as well as up and coming new shows. The best part about the theatre scene in London is that there is something for everyone.
You also don’t have to spend a lot in order to enjoy a West End show. All over the city, discount ticket booths can be found where you can buy cheap tickets to plays and musicals. You’ll find the best deals if you go to the ticket booths just a few hours before the show begins. If you are flexible with what show you want to see, you can score tickets for as little as £20! After you’ve secured your discount tickets, head out for a pre-theatre dinner and then enjoy a night at a West End play or musical!
Enjoy the Incredible Views at the Sky Garden
Recommended by Hannah from That Adventurer
The view from the Sky Garden is one of the best views in London and the best part is that it’s completely free! The Sky Garden sits at the top of the Walkie Talkie building on Fenchurch Street. It’s the highest public garden in London with 360-degree views of the city’s iconic skyline.
You need to book tickets in advance for a one-hour time slot. The best time slot to book is around sunset as that way you can enjoy The Thames and London’s iconic buildings in a gorgeous light.
Once you arrive make sure to get one of the delicious cocktails as you wander the lush greenery and take in the views!
- Location: 1 Sky Garden Walk, London EC3M 8AF, United Kingdom
- Price: Free!
- Click here to book a free ticket to the Sky Garden
Wander Around Notting Hill
Recommended by Megan Indoe from Bobo & Chichi
One of the best bucket list worthy spots to visit in London is the charming and colorful neighborhood of Notting Hill.
Famous for its pastel and bold gem-colored houses, the Portobello Market, and being a movie star in the Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts rom-com Notting Hill, this attractive neighborhood is no stranger to welcoming tourists!
There are plenty of things to do in Notting Hill. Located in Kensington and Chelsea, you can easily spend a whole morning or afternoon here weaving up and down the streets with colorful homes, shopping around Portobello Market, and having tea at any of the cute cafes here.
For Gin drinkers, be sure to stop at The Distillery, for tea and fans of charming cafes be sure to stop at Biscuiteers Boutique & Icing Cafe, and of course don’t miss out on the Museum of Brands, Packaging, and Advertising while you’re here.
Fans of hunting down filming locations can not only find Notting Hill filming locations but also Love Actually and a whole slew of other films and cinema!
Explore the London Zoo
Recommended by Nichola West from Family Hotel Expert
London Zoo is one of the must-visit destinations when you’re visiting the UK’s capital. This is the world’s oldest scientific zoo and is constantly evolving to bring new experiences to visitors.
Set in London’s beautiful Regent’s Park, the zoo was opened in 1828 and was originally intended for scientific study. Today, the 36-acre park is filled with well-cared-for animals and creatures – nearly 700 species reside here. As well as all the animals here there are also playgrounds, restaurants, picnic areas, and shops.
During school holidays there are numerous activities taking place which all the family can get involved in and they also have special events taking place at Christmas. Some of the buildings in London Zoo hold protected status too (including the Penguin Pool and The Snowdon Aviary) so they’re well worth looking out for when you’re walking around. Some of the best London hotels for families are within walking distance of Regent’s Park making it an easy visit when you’re in the capital.
- Location: Outer Cir, London NW1 4RY, United Kingdom
- Price: Adult tickets start at £26, depending on time of day and season. Click here to prebook tickets.
Immerse Yourself in Royal History at Hampton Court Palace
Recommended by Ella from Many More Maps
Although London is jam-packed with historic places to visit, you can’t get more fascinating, or more iconic, than Hampton Court Palace. Throughout the palace’s 500+ year history countless royals have called Hampton Court home, but the most famous is undoubtedly Henry VIII. During a visit to Hampton Court Palace, you get to discover the palace’s gorgeous interiors (including Henry VIII’s rooms) and its expansive gardens. In summer, there’s even a maze in the garden which is a lot of fun!
The Palace also runs a range of exciting events across the year, including ghost tours at Halloween and an amazing outdoor ice rink and Tudor Christmas Market in December.
Visiting Hampton Court Palace from Central London takes around 35 minutes on the train, and you should plan to spend between 4 and 5 hours at the palace. Prices vary depending on which season you visit, with heavily discounted tickets in winter!
- Location: Hampton Ct Way, Molesey, East Molesey KT8 9AU, United Kingdom
- Price: Admission fees vary based on the time of year. Click here to view prices and book your entry ticket to Hampton Court Palace.
Check Out the Street Art in Shoreditch
Recommended by Zarina from Dutch Girl in London
London might be internationally recognized for its vibrant art and entertainment industry, but not everybody visiting the metropolis is aware of its fantastic street art scene. Attracting hundreds of graffiti writers, muralists, and street artists to its streets each year, London is one of the top street art cities in the world. And one of the best places to see street art in London is Shoreditch, the epicenter of the UK graffiti and street art scene.
When I moved to the UK from the Netherlands eight years ago to live with my partner, I was lucky to settle down near Shoreditch, the ultimate east London hipster neighborhood. Characterized by its bright-colored walls and exciting creative atmosphere, this really is my favorite place in London. Playing tourist in my new city, I was in awe of its incredible street art which inspired me to become a street art blogger.
The artworks here come in all different shapes and sizes, from the smallest stickers, installations, and sculptures hidden in the most obscure places, to large-scale wall paintings. Thanks to its ephemeral nature, the “collection” of this astonishing open-air urban art gallery is ever-changing. Chances are you’ll find dozens of new artworks during each visit, with the exception of the iconic pieces by artists such as Stik on the historic Princelet Street and ROA on Hanbury Street, that is.
Visiting Shoreditch, it’s impossible to miss its street art, it’s literally everywhere! Discover a unique side to London and allocate a few hours for your self-guided Shoreditch street art tour. Simply follow the famous Brick Lane with its side-streets covered in art, I promise you won’t be disappointed by what you’ll find!
Eat and Shop in Camden Town
Recommended by Mal from Raw Mal Roams
If you’re looking for a unique experience in London, head to Camden Town. The area is timing with colors, unique shops, tasty eats, and great nightlife!
Walk along the high street and check out all the quirky shops with stunning, artsy shop facades selling Dr. Martens, vintage clothes, souvenirs, and all sorts of interesting items. Don’t forget to check out the Camden Market for more great purchases. Head to the picturesque area of the Regent’s Canal, sit in one of the pubs with a locally brewed beer in hand, and people watch – you might even spot a celebrity!
Camden Town also has a great selection of restaurants from cheap but tasty eats of pop up restaurants around the market area to Gordon Ramsey’s York & Albany. Camden is also famous for having great live music events. This is the place where Amy Whitehouse and Pink Floyd performed. There are various venues depending on your music taste from metal to folk music. And if live music is not your thing, head to one of the town’s night clubs for a late-night boogie. The choice is excellent – try Barfly, Joe’s Bar, or Koko and you won’t be disappointed.
Go Shopping at Harrods
Recommended by Sarah Barthet from Dukes Avenue
Knightsbridge, a chic and desirable corner of London nestled between Chelsea, Kensington, Belgravia, and Hyde Park, is characterized by its charming white stucco houses and red-brick mansion blocks. Supercars, glamorous hotels, and exclusive mews houses all abound, but there is only one Harrods.
Occupying a large site on Brompton Road with its own underground train station exit, Harrods is an exclusive department store that has been a London institution for several decades, and it is easy to see why. From the grand Victorian architecture to the immaculately presented shop windows and the luxurious boutiques, Harrods attracts crowds of tourists because it transcends mere shopping into an experience.
Whether browsing the shops, sitting down to enjoy a meal or even high tea at one of the extraordinarily well-presented restaurants, or sampling the lavish delicacies found in the glorious food hall, you can easily spend an afternoon getting lost in Harrods.
Be sure to keep an eye out for the doormen, immaculately presented in their crisp green uniforms, or pay tribute to the shrine to the late Diana, Princess of Wales, and otherwise take in the scents, sights, and lavish marble interiors of London’s most enigmatic department store.
- Location: 87-135 Brompton Rd, Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7XL, United Kingdom
Walk in The Beatles’ Footsteps at Abbey Road
Recommended by Jennifer Campbell from Just Chasing Rabbits
For fans of finding famous pop culture locations from movies, TV, and music, a stop by London’s Abbey Road crosswalk is a must when in London.
While you may not think an ordinary crosswalk can be special, the zebra crossing at Abbey Road is one of the most famous crosswalks in the world. It is known worldwide for being featured on the cover of the Beatles album, Abbey Road, released in 1969. People from all over the world recognize the image of John, Paul, George, and Ringo walking single-file across the street, Paul without his shoes. The image can be recreated by using any crosswalk, but it’s pretty awesome to visit the exact location. Plus, Abbey Road studios is nearby for more photo ops and a perfect stop for a Beatles souvenir.
During our visit in 2016, we were lucky to find road construction near the crosswalk, blocking most traffic yet not blocking the photo op at all. On a day of normal traffic, visitors will want to be aware of vehicles and not take up too much space or time getting a photo (and I would highly advise to keep your shoes on!).
- Location: 3 Abbey Rd, St John’s Wood, London NW8 9AY, United Kingdom
- Price: Free!
Experience Magic on the Harry Potter Studio Tour
Recommended by Fiona from Travelling Thirties
“Platform 9 and 3/4? Think you’re being funny do ya?” For many of us, we grew up alongside Harry and his friends like they were our friends. He has been the longest lasting and most consistent character of our time.
The Harry Potter Studios are located in Leavesden, about an hour out of central London and easy to visit on a day trip. The easiest way to visit the studios is via train from Kings Cross Station – you can use the Journey Planner to plan your trip. Once you reach Watford Station, there is a Warner Bros. bus to pick you up and take you to the studios. As soon as you jump on the bus, get ready for the magic to start. When you arrive at the studios, you will be given your audio guide. Then, you’re ready to enter the Great Hall.
SPOILER: A lot of your magical dreams will be squashed – the movie magic behind the Harry Potter magic reveals exactly how everything works. From the characters’ costumes to the Hogwarts Castle, be prepared to have your mind blown. Halfway through the studio, you will find a lunch stop – you can bring your own food but make sure you buy a Butterbeer.
At the studio, you can take a ride on the Hogwarts Express, stick your wand out and catch the Knight Bus, stop by Number 4 Privet Drive, walk through the dark Forbidden Forest, buy a wand at Diagon Alley, and avoid the Dragons at Gringotts Wizarding Bank. Make sure you have plenty of memory in your camera and cash in your purse for the epic gift shop. A day at the Harry Potter Studios is a day you will not forget.
- Location: Studio Tour Dr, Leavesden, Watford WD25 7LR, United Kingdom
- Price: Adult admission-only tickets start at £48, but special tours can be purchased for more
- Click here to book a tour of the Harry Potter Studios including transportation from London
READ MORE: Unforgettable Day Trips from London
Explore Hampstead Heath
Recommended by Olivia Loren from The Travel Philosophy
Situated just four miles north of the city, Hampstead Heath is one of London’s most-treasured green spaces. This gorgeous green park is a lovely playground of open fields, swimming ponds, hiking trails, and breathtaking views of London. Simply put, Hampstead Heath is the perfect escape from busy London!
For first-time visitors to the Heath, Kenwood House is a good location to aim for. The path that leads to Kenwood House passes through forests and meadows and opens up to a beautiful field in front of the estate. Here, you can enjoy a picnic or spend a few hours sunbathing. If you’re brave enough, you can even pack your swimsuit and take a dip in one of the nearby swimming ponds!
To catch the most iconic view of London, be sure to head over to Parliament Hill. This spot is easy to find as it is noted in Google maps and is definitely one of the more popular locations at the Heath.
Undeniably the most beautiful location in all of Hampstead Heath is the Pergola and Hill Garden. This secret place remains a hidden gem thanks to its location off the beaten path. Overgrown with vines and flowers but still meticulously maintained, Hampstead Pergola is an incredibly magical and romantic site to see.
If time allows, complete your visit to the Heath with a stroll around the residential neighborhood of Hampstead Village. Have a pint at a local pub, peek into one of the darling boutiques, or simply admire the impressive mansions.
- Location: Hampstead, London NW5 1QR, United Kingdom
Wander Around Kew Gardens
Recommended by Jan from Leisurely Drives
Kew Gardens, London’s “lesser-known” UNESCO World Heritage Site, is located in Kew with River Thames on one side and Richmond Park on the other. There is something here for everyone, from a serious botany enthusiast to those who simply want to walk through the beautiful gardens. The place is full of colorful plants and flowers – most times of the year, especially in Spring.
Climbers and Creepers is a popular and innovative children’s play area. Based on a botanical theme, it has slides, tunnels, and bridges – perfect for toddlers and young children. There is also the Log Trail and Giant Badger Sett for older kids.
The stunning grounds are maintained by Horticulturists – 10 garden landscapes from 10 different countries and the fascinating Woodland Garden. Other attractions include Spectacular glass houses, Victorian greenhouses, galleries, The Great Pagoda, and Royal Kitchens.
Get there early to get a parking spot. For those who do not want to walk or have difficulty walking, there is Kew Explorer – a charming road train with several stops to the highlights. Yes, there is a café and a whole food hall with BBQ and other authentic options. Top tip – try the amazing ice cream stand located by the pavilion restaurant.
Kew Gardens is the perfect day out in London with plenty to do for everyone.
- Location: Kew, Richmond, London, TW9 3AE
- Price: £18 for Adults (ages 25+), £9 for Youth (ages 16-24)
- Click here to book tickets to Kew Gardens
Bucket List-Worthy Museums in London
Explore the British Museum
Recommended by Stephen from Asia-Hikes
One of the world’s largest museums with vast collections from across all seven continents, the British Museum is an essential bucket list stop for museum lovers traveling through London. No matter your cultural passion, you can find something interesting at the British Museum – from the ancient Oxus Horde of treasures from Tajikistan to whale-tusk chess pieces from 12th century Scotland to the actual Rosetta Stone and Elgin Marbles (the latter of which remains a source of some controversy).
Visit to explore the history of humanity in the UK through the ages, diverse cultural artifacts ranging from the Rapa Nui moai sculptures and intricate bronze carvings from the Kingdom of Benin in modern Nigeria, and more modern prints, paintings, and drawings from across Europe. Not limited to the boundaries of London or the UK, a visit to the British Museum is a chance to explore the diversity of cultures across the world.
Like all state-owned museums in London, the British Museum is free to enter (though donations are accepted) for all visitors. In an otherwise expensive city, such an excellent opportunity for a full day of sightseeing is a welcome financial relief, and on the occasional rainy London afternoon the British Museum is the perfect place to while away hours of exploring all the world under one roof.
- Location: Great Russell St, Bloomsbury, London WC1B 3DG, United Kingdom
- Price: Free, but tickets must be booked in advance.
Visit the Imperial War Museum
Recommended by Sarah from In Search of Sarah
During London’s rainy days, the Imperial War Museum makes for a worthy bucket list item. Located in Southwark district, it’s easily accessible by the tube by exiting at either Lambeth North or Elephant & Castle. The best part? It’s free to visit!
There are entire floors dedicated to World War I and World War II history, all the way up to present-day, and some of these exhibits will leave you speechless. A must-visit is the Holocaust Exhibit. Personal belongings are displayed in glass cases, videos from survivors are playing throughout, and there’s even a full-size replica of one of the train cars used as transport to the death camps. There is also a model version of Auschwitz. It’s a harrowing experience and also important to see, but it isn’t recommended for children under 14.
The Imperial War Museum is the place to be for anyone looking to gain further understanding of our history and to gain a deeper understanding of past wars and conflicts. You could easily spend a few hours wandering through the different displays and exhibits.
If you’re looking for more reading material, there is a fantastic gift shop with an extensive collection of books and tons of other gifts to bring that history aficionado back home, or to buy for yourself!
- Location: Lambeth Rd, London SE1 6HZ, United Kingdom
- Price: Free, but tickets must be booked in advance.
Experience History at the Churchill War Rooms
Recommended by Sam from S&A Getaway
The Churchill War Rooms is a museum, not only where you learn about London’s history, but you are also standing in the actual rooms where history took place. The rooms where Winston Churchill, his wife, and members of his War Cabinet worked while London was being bombed during World War II.
You will be walking in the footsteps of Churchill, experiencing what life was like for him during his first time as Prime Minister. Not only do you get to see Churchill and his wife’s exact living quarters, but you also will see what it was like for the men and women who lived down here for days at a time throughout the war. Probably the most famous room is The Map Room, which has been featured in many movies based on the Prime Minister’s life. The Map Room has even been left in the exact condition since the last day of the war in 1945.
After discovering the many rooms, head over to the second part of the museum, all about Winston Churchill’s life. There are many personal items and artifacts displayed to commemorate his amazing life, including his actual door from 10 Downing Street, the Prime Ministers Residence.
- Location: Clive Steps, King Charles St, London SW1A 2AQ, United Kingdom
- Price: Admission tickets are £29 for adults or £23.60 for students with ID. Click here to book your tickets online.
Visit the Natural History Museum
Recommended by Rachael from Tea with Mum
Many children love dinosaurs, so why not get in touch with your inner child and visit the Natural History Museum in London? It is one of the best dinosaur museums in the world (not just my opinion).
It is not all about the dinosaurs though. After a long renovation, Hintze Hall was reopened to the public in July 2017 and it is stunning. Tall arches, stained-glass windows, two large staircases, and a blue whale skeleton diving down from the ceiling. Even the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were very impressed.
I love the little architectural details. Carved into the columns, painted on the ceiling panels, and depicted in the stained-glass windows are a multitude of flora and fauna, highlighting the focus of the museum. You might be admiring the blue whale and find yourself face-to-face with a carved monkey.
Entry to the museum is free, though donations are accepted. Don’t forget to check out the museum shops – they are a great place to find a more unusual London souvenir or a gift for someone at home.
- Location: Cromwell Rd, South Kensington, London SW7 5BD, United Kingdom
- Price: Free, but tickets must be booked in advance.
Learn About London’s Past at the Museum of London
Recommended by Rachel from London and Leap
Travel through London’s rich past, from prehistoric times to the modern day, at the Museum of London. Although often overlooked by tourists for more well known museums, the Museum of London is a fantastic, free alternative to pricier, crowded attractions such as the London Dungeon.
Learn about life as an ancient Roman, experience the Great Fire, explore a Victorian walk, and see how London grew with the legacy of the 2012 Olympic Games and beyond. Regular talks and tours delve deeper into the museum’s collections and the city’s history, and family events and interactive galleries will entertain kids of all ages.
The Museum of London is handily located between the Barbican and the City, an area that is especially quiet on the weekend so makes a great place to escape the tourist crowds of the West End. You can easily combine a visit to the Museum of London with enjoying the view at the Sky Garden, evensong at St Paul’s, and a picnic in Postman’s Park or the Barbican Lakeside Terrace for a brilliant, free day out in London.
- Location: 150 London Wall, Barbican, London EC2Y 5HN, United Kingdom
- Price: Free, but tickets must be booked in advance.
Explore the Victoria & Albert Museum
Recommended by Susan Gan from Thrifty after 50
A visit to the Victoria & Albert Museum is the perfect activity while visiting London, especially if the weather isn’t so great. The museum is huge, covering a massive 12.5 acres meaning that you could spend the entire day there if you wanted to and it wouldn’t cost you anything.
The sheer size of the building can be quite overwhelming when you first arrive, so sign up for one of their many free tours to help you get your bearings. On one of the tours, you can learn about the building and the changes that have been made to it since it was established in 1857. Another tour will show you some of the highlights of the collections.
Whichever tour you choose, they are a great starting point to help you decide where you want to spend more time exploring, and with 145 galleries to choose from, there are plenty of options. The V&A Museum has a permanent collection of more than 2.3 million objects and is the world’s leading museum of art, design, and performance, with collections ranging from ancient times to the present day.
The Victoria & Albert Museum is located at South Kensington just a 5 minute walk from the South Kensington Underground Station.
- Location: Cromwell Rd, Knightsbridge, London SW7 2RL, United Kingdom
- Price: Free, but tickets must be booked in advance.
Explore South Bank and Tate Modern
Recommended by Danni B from Danni in the Desert
South Bank is both a London tourist hot spot and equally a place where locals love to go to hang out. This is due to the huge amount it has to offer. It is famous for its foodie scene with some of the tastiest food you will ever taste in one spot. There are even outdoor food festivals during the summer! It also features many tourist attractions such as the London Eye and Tate Modern, so it’s definitely worth spending a whole day here to tick off your bucket list items!
Simply jump on a tube to Waterloo and you’re in the heart of South Bank, situated south of the Thames in Central London. The closest tube to the Tate Modern is Southwark but it’s so much fun getting off at Waterloo and walking along the river to the Tate Modern. Here you’ll find all your street vendors and street performers dotted along the river.
The Tate Modern features contemporary art with both free and paid exhibitions (though donations are recommended). One of the gallery’s most famous pieces is Salvador Dali’s lobster phone, Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Diptych, and Picasso’s Nude Woman with a Necklace. As you work you way up through the Tate Modern, it’s definitely worth stopping by to have a coffee in the cafe for the fabulous views across the river.
- Location: Bankside, London SE1 9TG, United Kingdom
- Price: Tickets are free, but must be reserved in advance.
Learn about the UK’s Naval History at the National Maritime Museum
Recommended by Annabel Kirk from Smudged Postcard
There are lots of versions of the very long history of the United Kingdom. The history you’ll learn about at the National Maritime Museum in London is perhaps a more honest take on this not always virtuous nation.
The National Maritime Museum is part of the Royal Museums Greenwich which includes the Cutty Sark, the Queen’s House, and the Royal Observatory. The National Maritime Museum is free to enter and it offers an immersive and fascinating exploration of Britain’s naval history. There are model ships, a major artwork by Turner depicting the Battle of Trafalgar, and even the coat complete with bullet hole which Nelson wore when he was fatally wounded.
If you’re visiting the National Maritime Museum with kids, you’re in for a treat. There are some excellent family-friendly tours and two brilliant interactive play spaces as well as a giant map of the world to run around on.
Just outside the museum you’ll discover the famous “Ship in a Bottle” artwork, which is a replica of Nelson’s HMS Victory.
- Location: Park Row, Greenwich Peninsula, London SE10 9NF, United Kingdom
- Price: Free!
- Book your Free Museum Entry in Advance
Learn About the Evolution of Public Transportation at the London Transport Museum
Recommended by Stuart Forster from Go Eat Do
The London Transport Museum is at Covent Garden. It’s an informative and engaging place to learn about the evolution of the public transport system in the British capital.
The attraction conveys how wealthy people once moved about carried in litters and that horse-drawn transport formerly dominated the streets of London. That may sound eco-friendly and something the world should return to in the wake of the climate emergency. However, tons of dung had to be shifted every single day. That waste meant foul odors and provided a haven for insects and the transmission of diseases.
Omnibuses pulled by horses were, over time, replaced by passenger vehicles with combustion engines. Examples of historic vehicles stand within the museum, including the iconic Routemaster, the red double-decker bus that was a staple form of transport for so many years. The museum also charts the development of the London Underground system. It explains how steam-driven trains were replaced by an electrified system.
There are lots of photos showing how the transport system has changed. Additionally, the museum displays a range of posters, illustrating how design and artwork plays an important role in conveying messages about London’s sizeable transport system. The museum shop is a good source of transport-related souvenirs and books.
- Location: Covent Garden, London WC2E 7BB, United Kingdom
- Price: £18.50 for adults, £17 for seniors and students
- Click here to book a day pass to the London Transport Museum
The Cutty Sark
Recommended by Roshni Patel from The Wanderlust Within
One of the most iconic landmarks in Greenwich is the majestic Cutty Sark. Set on the banks of the River Thames (the inspiration of many famous London travel quotes), the 150-year-old Cutty Sark ship is still standing strong.
In its heyday, the Cutty Sark was the fastest clipper of its time and was used to transport tea from China to London. Today, it is open to visitors year-round. You can learn about the history, enjoy the amazing view from the deck, and even have an afternoon tea under the hull of the ship.
Admission is £15 for adults and £7.50 for children (prebook tickets here), which includes entry and audio guides. However, there are plenty of other events that take place throughout the year as well including evening concerts and comedy shows that are part of the ‘Cutty Sark Lates’ program.
The Cutty Sark ship can be reached by DLR from Bank in 20 minutes and has its own dedicated DLR stop. If you want to get into the maritime view, you can reach the Cutty Sark by boat on the Thames Clipper which has some pretty epic views of London.
- Location: King William Walk, London SE10 9HT, United Kingdom
- Price: £15 for Adults, £10 for Students (ages 16-25), £7.50 for Children (ages 4-15)
- Click here to book tickets to the Cutty Sark in London
The Wallace Collection
Recommended by Amber Charmei from Thessaloniki Local
London’s choice of fine museums is overwhelming. If time is short and I can go to just one, I make it the Wallace Collection. Set in the opulent 18th century Hertford House – home to the Marquesses of Hertford – it’s like an enormous jewelry box, lined in bold silk damask.
The Wallace Collection would be worth visiting even were it not for the stellar collection, but the collection is dazzling. The collection includes many, many significant paintings and is particularly strong in works of the 16th through 18th centuries – Fragonard, Velazquez, Gainsborough, Reynolds, and a Franz Hals you definitely know (The Laughing Cavalier). There are also fine examples of Medieval and Renaissance art.
In addition, there are porcelains so opulent and bold they almost look like they’re from the home shopping network, intricate furnishings of fine inlaid veneer, an abundance of exquisite snuff boxes, chandeliers, and seriously beautiful weaponry and armor. The experience is between being in a traditional museum and a private mansion – it’s intimate and cozy, opulent and lush. And it’s also very friendly – the staff have an obvious affection for the Wallace Collection. There are free tours by excellent docents – try to take one to hear more about the intriguing tale of the philanthropic Wallace Family.
Stay for tea – the courtyard under a glass ceiling is a wonderful place for a full afternoon tea in any season and is very well priced. Or just have a cream tea if you are watching your budget – a pot of tea with scones and jam and clotted cream. The museum itself is free.
- Location: Hertford House, Manchester Square, London W1U 3BN, United Kingdom
- Price: Free!
The Ultimate London Bucket List for Foodies
Try Local Cuisine on a British Food Tour
Recommended by Claire from Tales of a Backpacker
British food gets a bad rep around the world, but a visit to London is the perfect time to try out some traditional British food and see for yourself how delicious it really is. If you are a bit daunted by the range of food on offer, a food tour is the best way to pick out the best dishes and tastiest British food to try.
I took a food tour in London and was overjoyed to see our (French!) guide was so passionate about British cuisine. She guided us around Borough Market for sausage rolls and fish and chips, to a traditional English pub for some cheese and beer, a stop off at a historic site for a sip of honey mead, to the banks of the Thames for a sugary doughnut, and to a restaurant for the classic British dessert sticky toffee pudding.
Everything we tasted along the way was a wonderful example of British food, right in the heart of London. It was great fun to try everything myself and to see the reactions of the Americans on the tour with us when they realized how good the food was. I highly recommend taking a food tour in London to really get the best experience of British cuisine!
Click here to book a 3-hour Secret Food Tour of London in order to sample delicious British cuisine.
Enjoy Food Around the World at Brick Lane Market
Recommended by Heather Raulerson from RaulersonGirlsTravel
While in London, you have to visit the Brick Lane Market on Sundays. One of the biggest in London, Brick Lane Market is five different combined markets in the East End of London. If you are looking to sample food from around the world head over to Boiler House Food Hall. Open hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and I would head over there early as it tends to get very busy later in the afternoon. You might have to push through the crowds to see what is offered at the food stand you just passed that had the most mouthwatering aromas wafting from it.
In this food hall, you can find all the lip-smacking foods you want from countries worldwide like Japan, China, Poland, Mexico, India, Germany, and Lithuania, to name a few of over 30 food stalls within the hall. The best way to figure out what to try first is to wander through each aisle. Keep in mind which ones you want to try. After seeing everything available, go back for what you crave the most. Then get all the other ones as well. Come hungry and you won’t leave unsatisfied. Whatever you are in the mood for, sweet, savory, or spicy, you can find it all at Brick Lane Market.
- Location: Brick Ln, Spitalfields, London E1 6QR, United Kingdom
Have a Unique Dinner at the Underground Supper Club
Recommended by Emily Tarrier from London City Calling
While there are plenty of cool, quirky, and unusual places to eat in London, one unique little spot in particular is an absolute must on any London bucket list: Underground Supper Club!
Located a little outside of central London at the Walthamstow Pumphouse Museum, Underground Supper Club is a nightly supper club which takes place on board a decommissioned 1967 Victoria Line tube carriage.
The old London tube carriage is almost completely untouched from when it was part of a working train, except for the addition of a few smaller 2 and 4 person tables as well as a long communal table for those wanting to make some new friends for the night. Being a supper club, the tube carriage holds just 30 people and dinner starts at a set time each evening.
The supper club itself is hosted by head chef Beatriz Maldonado Carreño (Bea) who is originally from Bogotá, Colombia and certainly brings exciting South American flavors to all of her dishes. Bea appears in the carriage with each course and explains the dish herself, making the whole experience even more special.
Not only is Underground Supper Club located in one of London’s coolest and most unusual locations, but the focus on the flavors of the food and coordinated drink pairings also makes it an unbeatable London experience for foodies.
- Location: S Access Rd, Walthamstow, London E17 8AX, United Kingdom
- Reservations must be booked in advance. Reserve your spot here.
Enjoy Amazing Food at Borough Market
Recommended by Kristel and Gabriel Glasier from Chef Travel Guide
This bustling market along the south bank of Thames is a feast for the senses. As soon as you walk into Borough Market, you will be greeted by stalls of colorful seasonal produce, artisanal products, wafting aromas of cheese, and fresh-baked bread along with friendly vendors offering free samples for you to taste. London’s oldest food market has become a gathering place for avid foodies and local producers alike.
Whether you’re a hardcore foodie looking for the hottest food trend, a passionate cook searching for an exotic ingredient, or just hungry for something delicious, Borough Market is a London bucket list item you shouldn’t miss.
If you’re shopping for ingredients, expect to find everything from fresh and cured meats to aged cheeses to rare fruits and vegetables. Make sure to strike up a conversation with the vendors about their products and maybe even get recipe recommendations in the process.
The variety of food on offer is impressive as traditional British dishes are served alongside international street food. Whether you’re in the mood for authentic Thai street food, a hot chorizo roll, or a decadent duck confit sandwich, Borough Market has you covered.
There is no better place to tour the tastes and smells of London than this market. Let your nose be your guide in finding the best stalls to try as you indulge in this exciting culinary experience.
- Location: 8 Southwark St, London SE1 1TL, United Kingdom
Have a Night Out at sketch
Recommended by Cecily from Groovy Mashed Potatoes
Put on your most fabulous outfit and get ready for a night out at sketch. Each restaurant and cocktail lounge in the 18th century townhouse has a funky and eccentric design, almost like you’ve stepped into an art exhibition. Some of the world’s biggest celebrities have been spotted here, such as Kylie Jenner, Bella Hadid, and Taylor Swift.
With five restaurants and bars in the townhouse, there is so much to discover. Everywhere you walk is the perfect photo op. You’ll find space egg bathrooms, a sunken spaceship bar, an enchanted forest cocktail lounge, and the pinkest dining room you’ve ever seen. If you are up for the splurge, treat yourself to The Lecture Room, a three-star Michelin restaurant. The fuchsia and orange colors of the restaurant make it feel like you’re watching a vibrant sunset.
As sketch is one of London’s trendiest spots, make sure to make reservations in advance. All restaurants can be booked online, however the spaceship bar is first come, first-served only.
- Location: 9 Conduit St, Mayfair, London W1S 2XG, United Kingdom
- Reservations are recommended. Click here to reserve a table.
Free Things to Do in London to Add to Your Bucket List
Walk Around Regent’s Park
Recommended by Becky from The Owlet
When thinking of a park in London your mind will most likely head straight to Hyde Park, but there are so many other beautiful parks to explore in and around central London – one of those is Regent’s Park. It’s a short walk from several tube stations, including Baker Street which you can get a direct train to from Oxford Circus, so it’s incredibly convenient if you’re in the middle of a sightseeing trip. Exploring Regent’s Park is also one of the top free things to do in London.
Regent’s Park is much smaller than Hyde Park, but that means it’s a lot quieter and much easier to navigate. There’s a beautiful boating lake where you can rent a pedalo or just watch the birds swimming on the lake. During your walk, you will find several cafes tucked into the trees that wouldn’t look out of place in a village in the Cotswolds.
Despite being in Central London, when you’re walking through Regent’s Park it’s easy to feel like you’re spending an afternoon in the countryside. If you need a break from busy city life, Regent’s Park is the perfect place to visit.
- Location: Chester Rd, London NW1 4NR, United Kingdom
- Price: Free!
See London’s Colorful Houses
Recommended by Rose from Where Goes Rose?
The brightly colored houses of London are definitely something to add to your London bucket list, either to enhance your Instagram or simply wander these upmarket neighborhoods, marvel at the architecture, and wonder how the other half lives. There are several places in London to find entire streets of colorful houses in every shade of the rainbow.
The first is Primrose Hill, a decadent neighborhood in North London known for its panoramic views over the capital from the park. Two of the best places nearby for colorful houses are Chalcot Street and Chalcot Square near Chalk Farm Station. The four-story townhouses in pink, blue, and purple sell for millions.
Another iconic place to visit is Notting Hill, known as the filming place for the movie of the same name. Escape the busy center to find Hillgate Place and Farm Place with their gorgeous terraced cottages, each one a different color than its neighbor. Next, you can head to Portobello Road. It’s tough to get a clear shot of these colorful houses as the market street is so busy but they’re still fun to admire.
The area around Camden is another favorite for colorful houses in London. Find Kelly Street in Kentish Town where there are plenty more colored cottages, each with ornate, matching balconies. Finally, head over to Bonny Street in Camden, not far from Kentish Town. The nearest station to these colorful houses is Camden Road Overground Station. They were once low-cost homes now painted in pretty rainbow hues with red-brick upper stories.
Go on a Harry Potter Free Walking Tour
Recommended by Maartje and Sebastiaan from The Orange Backpack
One of the best things to do in London is to join a free Harry Potter walking tour. All Potter fans know how the books were inspired by this city and we’ve seen it featured in our favorite Harry Potter movies. A visit to London is the perfect moment to see the best Harry Potter spots in London with a guide pointing you to details of the city you wouldn’t haven’t noticed without them.
You won’t visit Platform 9 ¾ at Kings Cross during any Harry Potter themed walking tour, as the lines are just too long. But you will enjoy locations around London you would never recognize from the movies without your free guide.
Did you know one of the embassies at Trafalgar Square was the inspiration for Gringotts Bank? And one of the London scenes of Harry and Hagrid in the first movie was shot at historic Leadenhall Market? And the opening scene with death eaters destroying a bridge in London is the Millennium Bridge? You can visit them all and if you’ll look online, you’ll find many enthusiastic free guides ready to guide your way to get into the Harry Potter mood.
Book your spot on the free Harry Potter Walking Tour of London here.
Explore Kensington Gardens
Recommended by Nichola West from Family Hotel Expert
Visiting Kensington Gardens is one of our favorite things to do in London – there are so many great activities that happen here. Once the private gardens of Kensington Palace, they are now a beautiful green space to enjoy.
Straddling Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea, these gardens spread out across an impressive 107 hectares. Within this, there is the melancholy but beautiful Albert Memorial, Queen Victoria’s remembrance to her husband who died from typhoid, the magnificent Serpentine Gallery for a cultural look at contemporary art and architecture, and of course Kensington Palace, where you can see the room Queen Victoria was born in.
If you’re visiting with kids then many of the best London hotels for families are near the park and children will adore the Diana Memorial Playground which is one of the best in the world. With lakes for feeding the ducks, the ornate Italian Gardens to sit and contemplate in, and various cafes dotted around the grounds, Kensington Gardens is somewhere to come and really enjoy.
- Location: London W2 2UH, United Kingdom
- Price: Free!
Run Through the Fountain at Somerset House
Recommended by Miriam Menkarius from Miro from Cairo
Whether you are on your way with your family to see a musical at the West End or to visit Saint Paul’s Cathedral, you should plan to spend a couple of hours at Somerset House. This neo-classical building was once a royal palace but is now London’s working arts center and a hub for its creative community.
Entrance to Somerset House is free and it is family-friendly and dog-friendly, so what is not to love about it?! I used to work right next to Somerset House and I would go there on my breaks to sit in the courtyard and enjoy a cup of hot chocolate. I loved watching kids and grown-ups alike running through the notorious fountain!
There is always something going on at Somerset House, whether it is an art installation, a photography exhibition, or an outdoor cinema series. If you want to grab a bite, then you can visit one of the five restaurants, bars, and cafés. And if you happen to be in London during Christmas, you will find the courtyard transformed into an ice-skating rink. Somerset House is located on Strand Street and is easily accessible by train, bus, or Tube. It is open every day of the week except for Christmas Day.
- Location: Strand, London WC2R 1LA, United Kingdom
- Price: Free!
Enjoy the Atmosphere of The Dickens Inn
Recommended by Phil from JOURNICATION Travel Blog
Would you like to enjoy your pint in a unique atmosphere? Then I have a hidden gem for you – right in the heart of London: The Dickens Inn! This restored 18th-century pub is in the heart of St. Katharine’s Docks in central London, easily accessible from famous attractions such as the Tower of London. Today’s location was founded by Cedric Charles Dickens, the great-grandchild of the famous author Charles Dickens.
You can even catch a glimpse of Tower Bridge from the balconies on the first floor of the former brewery. This is not the only reason why the Dickens Inn is in an exposed location: once an important trading port in up-and-coming London, the St. Katherine Docks in the Docklands district now serve as a business location, marina, and, with their luxury apartments, an exclusive address for wealthy citizens.
Special tip: Go to St. Katharine Docks in the evening light. The slowly setting sun is reflected in the water and bathes the whole scene in a wonderfully warm light.
- Location: Marble Quay, St Katharine’s Way, Tower Hill, London E1W 1UH, United Kingdom
Walk or Cycle around Richmond Park
Recommended by Mansoureh from Travel With Mansoureh
Cycling in a busy financial city like London might not sound very appealing but without any doubt, London is home to one of the most unique places for cyclists and nature lovers. Richmond Park, the largest of London’s Royal Parks, in the southwest London offers a range of cycling routes and walking paths suitable for all abilities.
No matters what trail you choose, you will be amazed by its beauty. You might also be able to spot a group wild Red or Fallow deer. There are more than 600 wild deer and 140 bird species living in the park.
If you don’t own a bike, there are a few rental bike shops near the park, so you can hire a bike and pay hourly or even get it for a day. Cycling in the park can be enjoyable and relaxing but keep your speed under 20mph all the time. Otherwise, you might receive a £60 fine.
If you prefer roaming around on foot, you can take Tamsin Trail which is 7.35 miles and goes around the park. When in the park, make sure to check out Isabella Plantation, a beautiful woodland garden.
- Location: Richmond, United Kingdom
- Price: Free (bike rentals available for a fee)
Unique Things to Put on Your London Bucket List
Take a Tour of Hidden London
Recommended by Anisa from Two Traveling Texans
Your London bucket list would not be complete without a behind the scenes tour.
The London Transport Museum offers Hidden London tours that take you to the “forgotten” parts of the Tube network to explore disused stations and tunnels, go behind the scenes at some of London’s busiest stations, and learn more of the city’s fascinating history with an expert guide.
You can choose to tour eight different underground stations. We chose to do the Clapham South Station tour, which would take us to the tunnels about 12-stories below ground originally built as shelters during the Blitz. It was eye-opening to see where 8,000 people would have spent nights during some of the scariest times of World War II. We walked through the tight quarters where people would have slept and saw the areas that were used for bathrooms, medical treatments, and canteens.
After the threat had subsided, the shelter became the temporary home for some of the Windrush generation, a group of Jamaican immigrants who were recently wrongfully forced to leave the UK because of lack of proper documentation. Later, the shelter was used as a hotel and then for storage.
If you want to do one of the Secret London tours, tickets are very limited, so you will need to purchase in advance. Some tours can be packaged with food experiences or film screenings.
- Tours vary in price but start around £35
- Click here to choose your tour and book your ticket
Experience London’s Scary Past at the London Dungeon and London Bridge Experience
Recommended by Moshe from The Top Ten Traveler
The glorious city of London has a long history with royal dynasties, love stories, palaces, and castles; however, the history of London has lots of dark sides and terrifying stories as well – The Great Fire of London, the Black Plague and Jack the Ripper just to name a few. With a sigh of relief, I am happy to know that these are only a part of the past.
London of today offers two amazing experiences that take you on a journey back in time, to learn more about the scary stories of the city’s past. Don’t worry – these are entertaining and theatrical experiences, well planned and directed to touch all your senses. One experience is the London Dungeon and the other is the London Bridge Experience.
The London Dungeon shows interesting events from the city’s history including what happened in the dungeons of London’s courts in the 1800s. The London Bridge Experience focuses on the history of London Bridge and related events, from the first bridge that was built 2000 years ago up until today. While some of the stories they cover are the same, each experience has its own unique way of presenting them. Both experiences take you through dark rooms and narrow hallways with actors leading your way and frightening you. The productions play with lights, sounds, and smells to empower the experience as you move from one room to the next.
These scary adventures are some of my best memories of London and I highly recommend visiting at least one.
- Location: The Queen’s Walk, Bishop’s, London SE1 7PB, United Kingdom
- Price: £30 for Adults 16+, £24 for Children ages 3-15
- Book Tickets for the London Dungeon
The London Bridge Experience
- Location: The Rennie Vaults, 2 – 4 Tooley St, London SE1 2SY, United Kingdom
- Price: £21 for Adults, £18 for Children
- Book Tickets for The London Bridge Experience
Visit the Old Operating Theatre
Recommended by Dagney from Cultura Obscura
The Old Operating Theatre is a must in London for anyone interested in weird history. Once upon a time, the theatre was used for surgeons to do operations, and for medical students to watch and learn. In fact, it is one of the oldest surviving operating theatres in the world. However, in the late 1800s it was closed off and forgotten about for nearly 100 years when in 1956, it was rediscovered by a man researching the old hospital it once sat on.
Today, it has been converted into a museum where visitors can learn more about this somewhat gruesome history. Although the museum can be visited independently, it is definitely better to go when a talk is on as the speakers are incredibly knowledgeable and have a wealth of stories about the theatre.
After sitting in on a talk and learning more about the function of the theatre, visitors can walk around and see old medical tools, such as saws and forceps, or learn about outdated practices, like using leeches for bloodletting.
- Location: 9a St Thomas St, London SE1 9RY, United Kingdom
- Price: £20
- Click here to pre-book tickets to the Old Operating Theatre and Museum
See the Victorian Pet Cemetery at Hyde Park
Recommended by Steph & Lewis from Book It Let’s Go!
The Pet Cemetery in Hyde Park is one weird attraction and a must-see on any London bucket list. Most people who have pets commemorate them in some way when they die. In Victorian London, the gatekeeper of Hyde Park took this tradition to a whole new level, creating a pet cemetery for London’s wealthiest families.
The pet cemetery started in 1881 with the passing of a Maltese Terrier named Cherry. Cherry was owned by friends of the gatekeeper who would regularly walk Cherry in the park. When the Duke of Cambridge’s Yorkshire Terrier Prince departed his life, the small garden in Hyde Park became the place for pet burials.
Cherry and Prince were joined by around 300 other beloved companions in the 22 years the cemetery was in operation. Mostly cats and dogs were buried here but the cemetery also holds some exotic birds and a few pet monkeys. The tiny headstones dotted in neat rows hold sentiments for much-loved pets such as ‘Dear Little Smut’ and ‘Dearly Loved Trap’ with most pets declared ‘a faithful friend’. However, some are less sentimental, and some are downright disturbing with Fritz and Balu who were ‘poisoned by a Swiss’ and Scamp who was ‘run over’.
Go Up at the O2
Recommended by Deeptha Doshi from The Globe Trotter
For adventure lovers, the O2 rooftop walk needs to be on their London bucket list. Aptly named as “Up at the O2”, the climb up the O2 arena is an exhilarating experience that not only gives an adrenaline rush but also affords some stunning views of London.
Climbing up the arena’s dome requires no prior training just a good level of fitness. You are kitted out with all the relevant gear – a security harness, vest, and climbing shoes. Once you have all your gear, you will be briefed by your instructor/guide and then it is off for the climb. The initial climb is a bit steep (not very difficult) and it gradually flattens up as you reach the top. At the top is a viewing platform where you can take in the city’s stunning views.
The guides share tidbits about the sights and the history of the city both during the climb and at the viewing platform. You get enough time at the top to take in the views and for photography too. The descent is quicker than the ascent and in no time you are back at the base. Overall, climbing the O2 is a fun and thrilling experience and one that comes highly recommended.
- Location: Peninsula Square, Greenwich Peninsula, London SE10 0DX, United Kingdom
- Price: £32
- Click Here to Book Your Climb Up the O2
Check Out the World of Neon at Gods Own Junkyard
Recommended by Melissa McVeigh from Meet Me at the Pyramid Stage
Gods Own Junkyard is a veritable shrine to all things neon and the art of sign making. Tucked away in an industrial estate and arts compound in Walthamstow, Gods Own Junkyard is the definition of a hidden gem.
A short 15-minute tube ride from Kings Cross and a 10-minute walk will take you to the front door of arguably one of the most Instagrammable places in London. Housing Europe’s largest collection of handmade neon signage, the signs in this Aladdin’s cave of light have been sourced from all over the world from motels, strip clubs, corner stores, and more. Many on display have been created by the legendary late Chris Bracey, also known as the Neon Man.
It’s easy to spend hours here, taking in all of the signs and other curios within its walls, it literally does feel like being inside a kaleidoscope. The signs are available to purchase (although not cheap) or rent – you can even commission your own design. While you are here stop for a coffee, a beer, and a bite to eat at the fabulously named “Rolling Scones” café.
- Location: Unit 12, Ravenswood Industrial Estate, Shernall Street, London, E17 9HQ
- Price: Free!
Get into the Holiday Spirit at Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland
Recommended by Kelly Soltis from Fit Fashion Traveler
Christmastime is one of the best times to visit London. Unlike in the United States, where Americans must wait for Thanksgiving’s passing before beginning the Christmas season, Londoners begin celebrating Christmas in early November.
There are so many Christmas activities to experience in London. From outdoor skating rinks to decorated high streets, it is difficult to fit everything in. The best Christmas activity in London is Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland festival. This is such a great London activity that it is worth making a special trip to see in early winter.
The Hyde Park Winter Wonderland festival and Christmas market in Europe. Instead of having a few rows of quaint wooden structures filled with shopkeepers selling artisanal goods and specialty foods, this market takes over half of Hyde Park with all its activities.
Your typical Christmas market booths do appear in Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland. You can find everything from alpaca gloves to Himalayan salt lamps and Russian nesting dolls in the booths. However, there is so much more to the festival than just Christmas market booths. Follow the lights to find numerous carnival rides for children and adults alike. Walk a little further to encounter cozy food and drink venues featuring live cover bands.
Though Hyde Park’s Winder Wonderland is only available to experience in November and December, it should definitely be on your London bucket list.
Explore Eel Pie Island
Recommended by Katja Gaskell from Globetotting
London is home to some big-name sights – you can’t visit the capital without seeing the Tower of London or Big Ben. But the wonderful thing about the British capital is how many quirky sights and attractions there are to discover too.
One of the quirkiest – and least well known to outside visitors – is Eel Pie Island. This tiny slip of land sits in the middle of the River Thames between the towns of Richmond and Twickenham. Some historians believe that a monastery once stood here; others alleged that this is where King Henry VIII would have clandestine meetings with his mistresses.
Visitors started arriving in the 17th century for a day trips and the chance to eat the eel pies dished up by the local inn. In 1830 the Eel Pie Island Hotel opened and later – over 100 years later – the hotel became a hot spot for visiting musicians. Howlin’ Wolf played here and in 1963, The Rolling Stones played a weekly gig. The hotel closed in 1967 and sadly burned down several years later.
Today it’s a private island, home to 26 sculptors, potters, and painters. It’s closed to the public except for two weekends each year when the artists open their doors to visitors. Time your visit to London right and you can walk across the bridge and onto Eel Pie Island.
Visit the Painted Hall at the Old Royal Naval College
Recommended by Bhushavali from My Travelogue by Bhushavali
Greenwich has quite a few places to see including Royal Observatory & Park, Maritime Museum, the Cutty Sark, and Greenwich Painted Hall. Originally a hospital for sea-men, Greenwich Painted Hall was built in the late 17th century but by the late 19th century it was converted to the Old Royal Naval College.
Every inch of the building is completely painted – 40,000 square feet to be precise. An art history enthusiast could spend an entire day admiring the paintings. The entire ceiling of the lower corridor has a mix of mythological paintings (like Zeus, Medusa, zodiac signs, cardinal virtues, etc.) and factual events & historic people (like astronomers Tycho Brahe, Copernicus, and Thomas Weston). On the wall of the upper hall is the family portrait of King George I. In this composition, the artist Sir James Thornhill has included himself too!
Entry to Greenwich Painted Hall is £12. Various tours are available as well.
- Location: King William Walk, Greenwich Peninsula, London SE10 9NN, United Kingdom
Whether you’re spending a few days or a few weeks (or longer!) in London, there are tons of things to add to your London bucket list to keep you busy during your visit. You can visit all of the city’s top attractions as well as hit up a few of the best non-touristy things to do in London. While you might not be able to knock everything off in one trip, you’ll be excited to return to London and see even more of what the beautiful city has to offer!
Have you been to London? What’s on your London bucket list?
Planning a trip to London? Check out these posts next:
- Unforgettable Day Trips from London
- The Best Places to Stay in London
- Stonehenge and Bath Day Trip from London with Golden Tours
- Safestay Holland Park: Is This the Best Hostel in London?
Pin this post for future London travel planning!
29 thoughts on “The Ultimate London Bucket List: 50+ Things to Do in London, England”
Very cool list, Sydney. Been living in the Big Smoke for the last 15 years but still learned a few new things like that Underground Supper Club, and got reminded of all the things I’d heard about but haven’t done yet. Thanks for sharing.
Wow what a huge list!! This is very thorough and very interesting to read. I loved Shoreditch and Camden when I visited many years ago. I’d love to back now to visit the Harry Potter studio… that sounds like fun 💛
Hands down, best post on London I have ever seen! It has EVERYTHING! I love the underground supper car! How cool is that!! When travel is more possible I will definitely be coming back to this post and have another look!
Wow, I’ve done a number of these but your list is a great resource of things to do (and I wish I had done). It shows that I should have added another week in London.
Wow! This list is so comprehensive! I definitely need to head back to London and tick some of these spots off on my list! I honestly didn’t know there was this much to do.
I want to visit one more time. It’s over 10 years since my last visit. Things have really changed. Great helpful tips. Will save this.
Notting Hill is as beautiful as I imagined it 😍
Wow this looks like an absolute killer list of things to do in London. I was totally overwhelmed when I visited London and I really wish I would have had this list and more organization to guide me. I would especially love to tour the Tower of London. I will for sure save this for when I get to go to London again!
What an informative post you have created for your readers! One of the best ones online. Thank you for sharing this in such amazing detail!
This is absolutely amazing! I have been to London twice and it feels like I have seen nothing! I must travel there again and do all of these!!!
This is such a great guide to London. A must read for anyone planning a visit to London.
This is such a great list! I love London so much and this guide brings back so many great memories of some of my favourite places 🙂 There are also some things I haven’t done yet so those will definitely be on my list for my next visit one day!
This guide has some gems! I can’t wait to travel to London again. Next time with this guide!
Wow! These are really cool ideas for visiting London. I love the unusual places to dine in the underground resturant! Thank you for this great guide. Saving it for later for when we visit London again one day!
You’re welcome, Emmy! Glad you enjoyed the post!
What an epic travel guide! Definitely repinning for future use!
Reading your post gives me a nostalgic feeling. London was my first Solo International trip when I was just 19. I remembered how I convinced my Dad so much to let me go and visit my best friend there:). You have put great information altogether. Great tips. I hope to go visit again one more time.
Putting it together made me nostalgic too! London was my first independent trip – I went with a friend, so I wasn’t solo, but we had never traveled internationally without some sort of organized group. I can’t wait to go back!
We went to London last year and loved EVERY minute of it. The Harry Potter Studio is amazing and definitely a highlight! I love all these ideas, looks like we need to go back and see more!
I definitely can’t wait to go back and knock some more things off my bucket list!
Fantastic list of things to do in London that you’ve put together! I found it really difficult to pick where to visit during my trip because there are so many things.
I had the same problem – there are just so many great things to do!
This post is great! Such wonderful suggestions! Thanks so much for including me!
-Jennifer Campbell of Just Chasing Rabbits
Thanks for helping out with the post!