London is one of the most exciting and vibrant cities in the world. Undoubtedly, there are many great things to see and do. From iconic landmarks to world-class museums, and cutting-edge art galleries to fantastic food markets, London has something for everyone to enjoy. Here is our list of the 12 best things to do in London to make the most of your visit. Are you ready? Let’s get started.
1. Explore the British Museum
One of London’s most popular and cool things to do in London is to explore the British Museum. The enormous British Museum houses an outstanding collection of artifacts and antiquities from around the world, including the Rosetta Stone and Egyptian mummies. Wander through the vast halls and admire exhibits on ancient civilizations, gain insight into cultures like the Aztecs and Mayans, and marvel at the exquisite Elgin Marbles from the Parthenon in Athens. Don’t miss the chronological galleries showcasing a journey through human history.
2. Take a Spin on the London Eye
For unforgettable 360-degree views across London, hop aboard a ride on the London Eye. Spot iconic landmarks like Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and St Paul’s Cathedral from 135 meters up in the air inside one of the glass pods of Europe’s tallest observation wheel. A complete rotation takes around 30 minutes. Tickets include fast-track admission so you skip the regular queues – handy for avoiding long lines in the peak season. Moreover, this is one of the unique things to do in London.
3. Explore Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge, crossing the River Thames next to the Tower of London, is one of London’s most famous landmarks. The bridge actually consists of two towers joined by two horizontal walkways. You can go inside the towers and take in the views from the high-level glass floor walkways. The Tower Bridge Exhibition explains the history and engineering behind the famous neo-Gothic bascule bridge, which lifts open for passing ships several times per day.
4. Stroll Through Hyde Park
The perfect spot for a leisurely stroll or jog, Hyde Park offers over 350 acres of lush greenery right in central London. Marvel at the majestic Serpentine Lake, catch spectacular views from the Diana Memorial Fountain and admire the park’s many monuments and sculptures. You can also browse art at the Serpentine Galleries, catch a show at the park’s open-air theater in summer, or go boating on the Serpentine.
5. Have Afternoon Tea
Sitting down for elegant afternoon tea is a quintessential British custom, and no visit to London is complete without it. For the ultimate traditional afternoon tea experience, book a table at Fortnum & Mason’s Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon, the department store’s dedicated tea room with an ambiance of old-world glamour. Other top spots for excellent scones, sandwiches, and cakes include The Wolseley, The Langham’s Palm Court, and Sketch in Mayfair.
6. Visit Westminster Abbey
The magnificent Westminster Abbey is where British monarchs are crowned, and is London’s most important Gothic building. This striking church has been the site of royal weddings and burials for over 1000 years. Walking through you can see the tombs and memorials of some of Britain’s most significant historical figures like Isaac Newton and Charles Dickens. Audio guides provide insightful commentary. Time your visit for Monday-Saturday mornings to attend the atmospheric service of Holy Communion according to the church’s worship schedule.
7. Cruise Down the River Thames
See the top riverside attractions in London aboard a boat cruise down the Thames. Embassy River Cruises and City Cruises both offer excellent sightseeing tours, with live commentary highlighting sights like the Tower of London, St Paul’s, Shakespeare’s Globe, the London Eye, and many bridges. For evening views of illuminated landmarks, take a sunset cruise or opt for a dinner cruise with high-end catering and dancing. Moreover, this is one of the cool things to do in London.
8. Catch a West End Show
Whether you love gripping drama, spectacular musicals, or hilarious comedy, things to do in London West End theaters deliver a world-renowned selection. Long-running record-breaking musical Les Misérables and Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap are audience favorites, while Harry Potter and the Cursed Child cast an unforgettable spell. Keep up to date on new upcoming shows, and book discount tickets in advance online. Many theaters also offer same-day ticket sales.
9. Tour Kensington Palace
Once the home of Princess Diana, today Kensington Palace provides an intimate glimpse into the private lives of the British Royal Family. The King’s and Queen’s State Apartments present splendorous rooms with fine furniture and artwork, while the Victoria Revealed exhibition showcases fascinating pieces from Queen Victoria’s wardrobe. The Sunken Garden outside is particularly lovely. Timed tickets help avoid long queues. Consider afternoon tea in the Palace’s celebrated Orangery afterward.
10. Go Skyscraping at The Shard
Are you looking for the best things to do in London, then make a visit to “The Shard”. For panoramic city views on a grand scale, ascend to the 72nd-floor observation deck of The Shard, one of Europe’s tallest buildings. On clear days, you can see all across London from a height of almost 1,000 feet. Try to visit late afternoon on a sunny day – the views at sunset and into the evening are spectacular with the city lights sparkling below. Tickets include admission to the multimedia exhibits telling the story of The Shard’s construction.
11. Shop Oxford Street
London’s most famous shopping street, Oxford Street is packed with over 300 stores from department stores like Selfridges to high street brands, luxury boutiques, and flagship stores. Search for souvenirs on a shopping spree along the 1.5 miles from Marble Arch to Tottenham Court Road. Don’t forget the famous Oxford Street Christmas lights and decorations during the holiday season. Nearby Regent’s Street and Bond Street are also lined with shops.
12. Explore London’s Famous Food Markets
To immerse yourself in London’s dynamic foodie culture, nothing beats wandering the city’s bustling markets selling artisan treats and street food from around the world. Borough Market near London Bridge overflows with baked goods, cheeses, and organic produce, while the West End’s Camden Market has tempting global snacks beside punk shops and vintage stalls. East End’s Spitalfields Market and Brixton Village are hipster havens.