20 Activities You NEED To See and Do in London
London is not short on activities or events to see and do! You can spend every single day on a new activity and STILL NOT see and do it all. That’s just one of the many awesome aspects of London, you’ll always have something new to see and do. But how do you know which activity to go with? Trust me, there’s so many activities out there but we’re going to focus on 20 activities YOU NEED to do in London.
You do not have to limit yourself to these activities. Depending on your personal interests or preferences, you can do other activities which suit your interests. These are just a drop in the bucket of what you can do in London.
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20 Activities to see and do in London
Big Ben is such an iconic landmark to see in London. Big Ben is actually the name of the clock inside of the Elizabeth tower. You CANNOT visit London and not see Big Ben at least once.
Stand beside the iconic red phone booth and take of picture with Big Ben in the background. Such a classic thing to do. If you’re able to, I highly recommend you book a tour to see the Houses of Parliament.
When I studied abroad in 2015, my one political science class had us go inside the Houses of Parliament wing for discussions with a member. It was such a cool experience and I recommend it!
Buckingham Palace is the home of the monarchs and where state occasions and other ceremonies take place. The current king resides and works here. The outside of the palace is notorious for not only its beautiful architecture but for the changing of the guards ceremony.
If you’re in London at just the right time of year, I highly recommend you book a ticket to tour the state rooms in Buckingham Palace. You’re not allowed to take any pictures or video in there, so I don’t have actual proof of how beautiful, regal, and grand the rooms are. So, you’ll have to see for yourself!
Located just a short walk from Big Ben, the London Eye or the Millennium Wheel is yet another iconic landmark to see in London. You can’t miss this giant wheel that’s situated along the South Banks of the Thames River in London.
What’s cool about this wheel, is that it consists of clear glass capsules. Why is this important? Because people can get tickets to go inside these capsules, be taken into the air, to get beautiful views of London. You can see Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, and other areas of London along the Thames River.
If you’d like to take a ride on the London Eye, click here to purchase your tickets.
Tower Bridge is a beautiful suspension bridge people can walk across. It connects two parts of London. You can’t miss this bridge, because of its dazzling and grand double vertical towers. You take pictures up close, from afar, or on the bridge itself.
Or, you can do the Tower Bridge Exhibition and go into the twin towers, Victorian engine rooms, and high-level walkways. I’ve never been into the tower itself, I’ve always taken pictures of it and walked over the bridge. However, this is something that you can do and it’s something I’m looking forward to doing the next time I’m in London.
This Anglican church has over ten centuries of history behind it. It is the location used by many English and British monarchs of the past for their coronation ceremony and burial. To be exact, 39 monarchs have been crowned here since 1066 and is the resting place for over 3,000 Britons.
The church is open to all visitors and still hosts mass, as it’s still a working church. You can take a virtual tour, group tours, or in-person tours. These tours can be done with or without a verger, someone who is from the church. If you decide to take a tour with a verger, you’ll get exclusive access to parts of the church which aren’t available to those visiting on their own.
So add Westminster Abbey to your list of activities to see in London!
The Tower of London
The Tower of London is a historic castle on the north bank of the Thames River. It is also a World Heritage Site with so much history. When you purchase your ticket, you not only get a tour of the castle and its history but you get to see the crown jewels, the ravens of the castle, and the yeoman warder tour.
This last tour (Yeoman Warder) is a very grim one, because you get to learn about the not so pleasant and grotesque history of the castle. Which, if you’re into that stuff like myself, then this is one activity you cannot miss in London.
The Shard Experience
When you’re in London, this is activity is an experience you should try at least once. It’s a very touristy attraction, however you get 360 degree views of London from all sides of the Shard. This skyscraper offers not only the best view of London but the highest view of London! On a clear day, you get an amazing view of the city and a lot of its attractions.
To make this experience even better, you can opt to purchase a glass of champagne with your ticket. You don’t have to, because you can buy alcohol on site. If you’re looking to have just one glass to enjoy with the view of the city, then it’s better to get it as a add-on to your ticket.
The day I went to The Shard Experience, it was a bit hazy out, so I didn’t get the clearest views of London. But the views I had of the city, it was still beautiful to look at!
The Sky Garden is exactly what its name suggest. It’s a garden that’s high up, towards the sky. This Sky Garden is London’s highest public garden. Just like The Shard, you get 360 degree views of London. The main difference between the two is that with the Sky Garden, you get the beautiful appearance of plants, leaves, flowers, just a whole garden of green! This gives that observation deck some more beauty.
Tickets to the Sky Garden are free! However, you need to book them in advance, because spaces are limited and they will be gone just as soon as they appear. If you’re able to get a free ticket to the Sky Garden, you won’t be disappointed with your experience.
Jack the Ripper Tour
For all my true crime and unsolved mysteries fans out there, you can’t miss out on this activity! When in London, take a Jack the Ripper Tour in the Whitechapel area of London.
In case you don’t know, Jack the Ripper is the name given to unidentified serial killer who killed 5 females in the poorer area of Whitechapel. To this day, forensic scientists have done a lot of research and have come up with suspects throughout the decades. But no definitive person has ever been convicted of the murders.
With that being said, if you’re interested in the case and want to take a tour of the area, then I recommend this activity to you!
Want to see more of London and learn more about the neighborhoods and their history? Then, take one of the many walking tours London has to offer! From pub and restaurant tours to more cultural and historical tours, you can find any type of walking tour to do in London.
I took a walking tour of Brixton through Free Tours by Foot. However, they offer different options for different areas of London to explore and the type of tour you want. But that’s not the only walking tour. There’s Free London Walking Tours, Strawberry Tours, London Walks, and other tours through Viator and GetYourGuide.
Whether you’re on a budget and are looking for a free walking tour or don’t mind paying for one, there’s an option for everyone.
St. Paul’s Cathedral
While you’re walking through the streets of London, if you notice this beautiful cathedral with a covered dome, you may want to stop by to visit. St. Paul’s Cathedral is known for its beautiful neoclassical English baroque-style architecture!
It’s free to worship here and there are posted prayer times. However, if you’re looking to take a tour of the cathedral floor, the crypt, and the dome galleries, you can purchase a ticket! No trip to London is complete without doing this activity.
Explore Brick Lane & Shoreditch
Now, this is an area of London you surely cannot miss! Brick Lane is known for its amazing street art, hipster vibes, artists, boutiques, nightclubs, and other amazing restaurants. One things for certain, two things for sure, walking through this neighborhood is such a vibe!
We cannot forget about Shoreditch and its contribution to the great East London scene. Filled with clubs, bars, and diverse dining opportunities, Shoreditch is not short of a colorful and vibrant presence.
When I was in London, I just took the time to walk on my own and explore the area. I saw some amazing artwork and establishments, both on the Main Street and the side streets as well. The other option is to book a walking tour of Brick Lane and Shoreditch. Either way, this activity is definitely a must see AND do when in London.
Visit a Market
London is full of little markets, each with its own unique vibe, vendors, and food. There’s a plethora of markets to choose from and visit! Some of the markets in London are:
- London market
- Borough market
- Leaden Hall market (where they filmed Harry Potter)
- Brixton Village market
- Camden Town market
- Old Splitfield market
- Maltby Street market
- Greenwich market
I’ve been to a few markets in London and they’re all so special in their own way. I loved exploring Leaden Hall market because of its architecture, style, and connection to Harry Potter. I also enjoyed exploring Camden Town market and all the cool vendors which sold delicious food and vintage trinkets. Brixton Village market was also a cool market to explore at the end of my free walking tour of Brixton.
These markets are something, locals and tourists alike, travel within London to experience every day of the week.
If you’re noticing a theme here, then you’re definitely right! London is just full of and known for its numerous diverse, colorful, and eccentric neighborhoods. Each one bringing forth something special to those who visit them.
The pastel colored homes of Notting Hill in west London are iconic. People flock to this area of London to just see the pastel colored homes along the side streets and the main one, Portobello Road. That’s exactly what I did when I was in London last year!
There’s more to Notting Hill than just the pastel colored homes. In this beautiful neighborhood, you’ll find upscale restaurants, Portobello Market, theaters, and quaint charm. Exploring Notting Hill and all it has to offer is a great excursion to partake in while you’re visiting London!
See a Show
Shows in London’s west end are such a treat to see. I have fond memories of the time I saw the Lion King with my best friend in London, many years ago. There’s nothing like a night out in London to see a show.
You can be into theatre and the art of plays or you can watch a show just for the fun of it. Whether you’re trying to experience a wonderful show just as a fun activity or to fulfill your interest, a show in London’s west end is your ticket for a great time!
Walk through a Park
London is full of beautiful parks, so you are definitely not short on parks to stroll through. Take a walk through Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, Regent’s park, Green Park, Victoria park, Richmond Park, St. James’s Park, and more!
The cool thing about some of these parks, is that some are connected to each other. So, if you’re planning to stroll through St. James’s park, you can continue walking through onto Green Park, then you can walk straight into Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens! How cool is that?
Visit a Museum
If you’re a nerd like myself, then you love a good museum when exploring a new city. Well, London is home to tons of wonderful museums to satisfy your interests and curiosity.
Just to name a few museums, you can visit:
- The British Museum
- Museum of London
- Tate Modern Museum
- The National Gallery
- Victoria and Albert Museum
- Charles Dickens Museum
- Jewish Museum
It’s mind blowing how many museums there are in London, each with different areas of specialty or interest.
This one is a specific activity you can only do during the winter in London. So, if you’re in London from November to January, give the Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland a go. This year, the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland will run for 6 weeks, starting in November of 2023 and ending in January of 2024.
It’s a winter themed amusement park with rides, games, food, music, and all things festive and fun! There’s something for everyone, no matter if you’re a child or a grown adult. My friend and I spent 2 days exploring the Winter Wonderland and we had a blast each day!
I know this isn’t something that’s centered in London. However, being in London, you have access to a wide variety of day trips to other parts of England. By train, plane, or bus, you can easily visit another area of England or another country even! The choice is yours as to where you want to take a day trip to.
When I was in London, I took 3 day trips and I loved them all. Take a day trip to Windsor Castle, Stonehenge, and Oxford. Or, take a trip to the Seven Sisters and South Downs. Maybe, a little trip to The Cotswolds? These are just a few of the many day trips London has to offer.
You can check out the day trips I took with GetYourGuide below.
Visit a Football Stadium
Visiting a football stadium is kind of a clique but classic activity to do in London. Football, or soccer for my American audience, is a very popular sport in the UK.
You can either get a tour of a football stadium or purchase tickets to a match and watch them play. Trust me, it’s quite an experience to see not only the game but to see the crowd get so passionate and excited about their team winning.
You can tour:
- Chelsea FC Museum and Stadium
- Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
- Arsenal Emirates Stadium Tour
Of course, you can tour other stadiums in London which aren’t related to football. Wembley Stadium is a popular one, the World Rugby Museum and Twickenham Stadium, Marylebone Cricket Club Museum are other options as well.
Is this it?
Absolutely NOT! This isn’t it by any means and I truly do mean that. Every time you visit London, you will discover new things to see and do. New activities are constantly popping up and you’ll find the oldie but a goodie set of activities as well.
I studied abroad in London back in 2015 for 4 months, I revisited London for 8 days in March of 2022, and I still haven’t done everything in London. A lot of the things I’ve discovered were recommended by others who live or visited London, and just exploring on my own.
The most memorable experiences are the things I randomly discovered while walking around and exploring on my own. Like, Little Venice, the beautiful little neighborhoods in between Camden Town and Notting Hill, random events for movies in little neighborhoods. The list goes on and will only continue to get bigger.
Honorable Activity Mentions
The amount of activities, excursions, and attractions in London does not end with these top 20. Not by a long shot. There are more activities and attractions you can see and do as a tourist, plus cool little hidden gems and other things locals tend to do more of.
If you’re looking for some other things to see or do in London, then check these places and activities out. Though they didn’t quite make it into the top 20 activities list, they’re still pretty cool and should be explored! Here are some other activities or things you can see or do In London which weren’t mentioned in the list.
A classic British afternoon tea is a must for your visit in London. Head on over to Fortnum & Mason or any place which does afternoon tea. Enjoy some lovely tea with sweets, scones, sandwiches and more.
Thames River Cruise
Book yourself a cruise and enjoy the views of London and the Thames River. Have a drink, eat dinner, or enjoy whichever activity you’ve selected for your cruise.
Walking the Thames River Path
If you’re not into cruise rides or being confined to a boat, then walk along the Thames River Path. You still get to see the river and the views of London. The difference is, you have more flexibility and ability to stop and take pictures, videos, and explore places that are along the path.
Walking and Exploring
I recommend taking a day or two to walk around and explore London. Some of the best places, activities, or things you’ll do are discovered just by walking around. You get to see and experience so much more of London. This means, seeing more of the local scene and hidden gems of this city. Let’s just hope that the weather is on your side when you decide to do your walking.
Little Venice is a very new find to me and the only way I found it was by walking! I planned to walk from my hostel in Camden all the way to Notting Hill to see the pastel colored homes. Little Venice is a district in West London, near Paddington and the entrance to Paddington Basin.
I walked along the canal path, which runs through Camden Town Market. After walking for a bit, I came to this section in London marked by the canal, overarching trees, little boats along the canal waterway. I didn’t go too deep into this neighborhood but based off what I saw walking along the canal path, it’s a very interesting and quirky area to say the least.
There’s trips and tours you can do in this area either in the neighborhood itself or on the canal. I think next time, I’ll definitely take a walking tour of the area to learn more about it.
The financial district in London is known for its cool building architectures, like The Gherkin. You can’t miss this classic building with it’s shape resembling a pickle. If you ask me, it looks more like a bullet or a fancy ornament.
Not only are the sky scrappers in this section of London really neat to look at but the financial district is a short walk away from Shoreditch and Brick Lane as well!
Brixton is a section of south London with a diverse crowd of races, cultures, and vibes. Brixton doesn’t have the a clean history but it’s rough beginnings and influx of immigrants from the Caribbean have contributed to this area’s identity and diversity. A wonder around or walking tour of this area is a great activity starter to get you introduced to this area of London.
I did a cultural walking tour of Brixton and it was amazing! They have other types of tours in Brixton, so do be sure to check them out and see which one looks interesting to you.
Kensington is a neighborhood in London that’s very upscale and posh. It’s quite expensive in this section but the area is just lovely. I’m a bit biased, as this is the section of London I lived in when I studied abroad back in 2015. You’ll see why when you arrive and start to walk around.
The buildings are quite luxurious looking, beautiful taste and architecture to say the least. Kensington is located near Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park, so you have a couple parks to stroll through. On the high street, there’s plenty of shops, cafes, restaurants, and boutiques for one to spend a day shopping. In addition to the churches and museums in the area, you’d be surprised at the activities and things to explore and do in this area.
Last but not least, the neighborhood of Mayfair. Mayfair is a very wealthy and posh area of west London, located near Hyde Park. When you’re walking around, you can see how elegant and upscale this area is. Definitely the place to explore some of London’s more luxurious activities such as world-class galleries, boutiques, restaurants, and retailers on Bond Street. If you seek to explore the fancier side of life, then Mayfair is for you!
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