This post is our guide to fun things to do in London, the capital of England as well as the United Kingdom.
We provide tips on free things to do, nighttime activities, things to do with kids, top attractions, and other points of interest.
- Top 15
- Free Things to Do
- Top Attractions + Museums
- Nighttime Activities
- Things to Do with Kids
- Seasonal and by Month
- By Neighbourhood
TOP THINGS TO DO IN LONDON ENGLAND
In this section, we list our top things to do in London.
Of course, we are talking about one of the most exciting cities in Europe, if not the world, so many more things belong on this list, so be sure to check out our other sections of this post.
TIP: Many of London's top attractions and tours are included for free or at a discount with any of the many London tourist attraction discount passes available to you.
1. Witness the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace
This world-renowned spectacle takes place daily in the summer and 4 days a week for the rest of the year (weather permitting).
Our definitive post explains how and when the ceremony takes place, who make up the guards, and shows you where to get the best spots to watch - or watch this video.
Or, you could have us take you along on our free Westminster Tour.
And did you know that you can tour Buckingham Palace?
Well, there are 3 different options and not all are available all year. We detail it all in the link above.
2. Tower of London and the Crown Jewels
Both the Tower of London and the Crown Jewels are enduring symbols of the British Monarchy.
We give tips on how to visit, what you will experience, the best times to go (including exclusive early-bird tours), as well as tips on how to save money, in our guide to visiting the Tower of London post.
Top Tip: Entry into the Tower of London and the Crown Jewels exhibit are included for free in both the London Pass and the IVenture London Card.
You can also get early access to this landmark and avoid the crowds on an early bird Tower of London guided tour.
The Tower of London is the final stop on our Old City of London Tour.
3. Ride the London Eye
The London Eye, which was built for the millennium celebrations in the year 2000, is now a permanent fixture on the London skyline.
Because each section of the wheel is surrounded by glass and has plenty of room to look around the city, this massive Ferris wheel functions almost as a viewing deck.
Learn how you could save money on tickets to the London Eye.
Our Pay-What-You-Wish Walking Tours
Whether you’re in town for a weekend in London or sightseeing for the day, our London tours cover popular tourist destinations as well as off-the-beaten-path parts of town.
We offer both guided tours and self-guided tours that take you through the heart of The City and Westminster and help you decide what to do in London and what to see.
Our selection also includes food tours, street art tours, and themed tours, such as our Rock N Roll London and Harry Potter Tours.
We also have a tour of Notting Hill and the Portobello Markets for those who are looking to see a different side of the city.
Check out our current schedule of guided tours or take one of our GPS-enabled audio tours, which you could take any time that you like.
You could also take a live-streamed virtual tour with us from home.
4. Walk Across Abbey Road
Recreate the famous album cover by the Fab Four who recorded their material at the Abbey Road studios, located right beside the most famous traffic crossing in the world!
They didn't go far to reach the crosswalk and neither will you. It's located just a short walk from St. John's Wood Underground station.
We detail how to get to Abbey Road in a blog post.
You might also be interested in our self-guided tour of Beatles sights in London, which includes this stop.
For London music lovers, you may be interested in taking our (pay-what-you-wish) London Rock N Roll Tour, which includes many Beatles’ sites. Saturdays at 15:00 (3 pm).
5. Ride a Double Decker Bus and Cruise the Thames
London has several hop-on-hop-off bus tour options to choose from to take you from one popular attraction to another.
Additionally, there are many themed bus tours, such as the Harry Potter Tour, the Jack the Ripper Bus Tour, and a ghost ride.
Check out our bus tour comparison post. Likewise, there are many Thames River cruises available to you.
6. Visit Harry Potter Film Locations
Fans of Harry Potter are at the epicenter of settings in both the books and film franchises when they visit London.
It seems that just about everywhere in this city has been used as a backdrop or main setting in one of these movies.
There are no costs to visit these locations and to take your own photos.
We have created several posts on finding Harry Potter sights, including how to find Diagon Alley, the Ministry of Magic, Platform 9 3/4, or check out our free, self-guided tour of Harry Potter London locations.
Want to meet other Muggles? Then join us for our pay-what-you-wish, guided Harry Potter London Film Location Tour.
And although it's not technically in London, consider a visit to Harry Potter World Warner Bros. Studios.
7. Experience the Street Art of London
London is one of the world's premier cities to view street art and there is no better place to see it than in London's Shoreditch district.
World-renowned artists as well as the anonymous hit the London streets to put up some of the most impressive pieces of artwork.
Jam-packed full of eclectic, interesting, shocking, and beautiful street art, this area of London is practically blanketed in some of the most famous street art in existence.
You could join us on one of our name-your-own-price London Street Art and Graffiti Tours.
If our schedule doesn't match yours, you can also take a guided Street Art Tour here.
While you are in the neighborhood, you might want to check out our free, self-guided East London Food Tour and its surrounding areas.
8. Visit Westminster Abbey
Famous the world over, Westminster Abbey has seen over 16 royal weddings, is the burial location of 17 monarchs and has held globally watched events (such as the funeral of Lady Diana Spencer).
It is also home to the United Kingdom’s Tomb of the Unknown Warrior.
And you can take a tour of Westminster Abbey. Entry and tour costs are included for free with most London tourist discount passes.
9. Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament
Big Ben in London is probably the most famous clock in the world. Its iconic four-faced chiming clock, which has been ticking since 1859, is the largest in the world.
And if you are a resident of the United Kingdom, you could take a tour of Big Ben.
Likewise, the Houses of Parliament in the Palace of Westminster is also open for tours and is located adjacent to Westminster Abbey.
You can also attend a public viewing of either House of Parliament for free (see our section below).
Or you could admire its beautiful, iconic Victorian architecture from across the Thames.
10. Attend a Concert or Major Sporting Event
As a mega-city, London offers more big-name entertainment options than you could possibly take advantage of in one trip.
The city has several major venues to choose from, including:
London is home, of course, to several world-famous football teams, and attending a home game is a must-do for some visitors.
Below are the major teams. You can also tour their stadiums and team museums.
11. The British Museum
Founded in 1753, the collections held at the British Museum span over two million years of history!
World-famous objects kept here include the Rosetta Stone and Parthenon sculptures which are displayed alongside classic sights such as Egyptian mummies and ancient works of art from across the globe.
And the best part is, there is no cost to visit. And why not join us on one of our free tours of the British Museum?
You may also be interested in our guide to visiting the museum on your own.
The British Museum isn't the only free museum in London. Other notables include the Tate Modern, the National Gallery, and the Imperial War Museum.
Read our post on other free museums in London.
12. Take an Afternoon Tea
What could be more British than sipping tea and eating finger sandwiches and scones with jam?
With so many choices, our post on an affordable afternoon tea can help you find the best service for you.
We list Afternoon Tea offerings for all budgets, as well as children’s teas, vegan and gluten-free tea, and even an afternoon tea bus tour!
13. Taste the Food of London
There's a lot of great food in London, but it's not always easy to find the best local eats. Start with our list of the best British food in London.
If you're looking for someone to take you places, consider taking a London food tour.
These outings typically include at least 5-10 samples and cover multiple neighborhoods, giving you the opportunity to experience the best meals in the whole city.
Whether your kids are picky eaters or you just want to find some food you'll love, this is a great way to become acquainted with several great dishes in London.
14. Explore Christer Wren's Masterpiece: St. Paul's Cathedral
St. Paul's Cathedral is a historic Anglican cathedral located in central London and is one of the city's most recognizable landmarks.
The cathedral has hosted a number of significant events in British history, including Sir Winston Churchill's funeral and Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer's wedding.
On a tour, you will visit the central nave, the Divination Staircase, the Stone Gallery, the Golden Gallery, and much more.
Learn about ticket options and discounts.
St. Paul's Cathedral serves as a place of worship on a daily basis.
There is no admission fee for those who wish to use the church for worship purposes, as long as they arrive on time for the service.
15. See the View from the Shard
This is one of the best observation decks in London, and it's in a perfect location to see some of the most notable sites in the city.
From the 7th tallest building in Europe, you'll be able to see a variety of attractions such as the Tower of London, the London Eye, Tower Bridge, and the River Thames.
If you're visiting on a day with clear skies, this is one of the first places we recommend to visit. There are also free observation decks which we will cover in more detail in our free things to do section.
For more details about this attraction, please read our post covering View from the Shard.
16. Take a Day Trip to Stonehenge
There are a lot of ways to visit Stonehenge from London, including multiple free options you might want to consider.
Whether you join an organized Stonehenge tour or decide to go it alone, this is one of the best activities for anyone who wants to get outside of the city for a little while.
Given that this attraction is one of the most historic locations in all of England, it's an absolute must for history buffs.
For more details, please read our post about Stonehenge tickets and prices.
If you're not interested in visiting this location, there are several other day trips from London that you might want to consider, including some of the following examples:
- Windsor Castle
- Highclere Castle
- Hampton Court Palace
- And more!
Honorable Mention: Self-Guided Exploration Game
If you're looking for an interesting way to discover some of the lesser-known aspects of London, there are a few different self-guided games you may want to consider.
There are currently three great options to choose from, and each one gives you the task of solving a mystery using clues provided to you which will help you find each stop on your journey.
TIP: The best and fastest way to get between our top 10 stops and our tours is using the London Underground (the "Tube"), use our guide to navigating the Tube for information on tickets, reading the map, and tips on Tube Etiquette.
FREE THINGS TO DO IN LONDON
There really is so much to do in London that doesn't cost anything that you could spend an entire visit visiting free attractions, museums, and events.
Several can be visited by day, some by night, and even a few can be visited at both times.
Many of the items mentioned in the top 10, such as watching the Changing of the Guard or visiting one of London's many museums are also free to do, as well as items in other sections of this post, are absolutely free to do.
For even more ideas, check out our post on 100+ Free (and almost free) Things to Do in London as well as our guide to London on a Budget.
Many attractions have buy-1-get-1 free offerings.
Visit the Houses of Parliament
The Houses of Parliament (located inside the Palace of Westminster) is the legislative body of the United Kingdom.
Any time the House of Lords or the House of Commons is at work inside the Palace, the public may enter the building and sit in the public galleries to watch the political debates as they take place!
A particularly popular time to visit is at noon on Wednesdays when the Prime Minister takes questions.
Read our guide on how to visit Parliament.
Walk Across Tower Bridge
There is a price to enter the Tower Bridge Experience, but it costs nothing to cross Tower Bridge and it’s spectacularly illuminated in the evening.
The bridge opens and closes several times a day, so be sure to time out your visit to witness this. Sometimes, the bridge is scheduled to open its drawbridge at night.
Find out more information on our Tower Bridge post.
Westminster Abbey and St. Paul's Cathedral for Free
St. Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey have a hefty price tag for entry.
But for those who are traveling on a budget, it is worth noting that both churches hold services on weekday evenings and throughout the day on Sundays that are free for the public to attend.
Guests at the services are not allowed to wander throughout the building. This means no audio tours or taking in the museums and memorials throughout both churches.
However, worshipers are invited to come inside and sit in the main body of the buildings and partake in a church service being held in some of the most breathtaking religious sites in the country.
Sky Garden - London's Free Observation Deck
At the top of London’s new “Walkie Talkie” building sits a restaurant, bistro, bar…and free public garden!
The views from this building are almost unbeatable in London, and even though the outdoor viewing balcony closes around 5, the atrium stays open until the late hours of the night.
Learn how to book your spot on our Sky Garden post.
Be sure to also check out the other options for great "free" views of London.
OK. It's not as crazy as Times Square, but it's close.
There's no need to spend a dime here. You will be entertained just by the cacophony of buses, cars, people, and just about every other sound imaginable.
Learn about what there's to see in this central area.
Piccadilly Circus is surrounded by other areas that you will likely enjoy a free stroll through, including Soho, Trafalgar Square, Leicester Squarey Chinatown.
Or you could join us on our Piccadilly Circus, Soho, and Chinatown Tour, which runs several times a week.
Watch the Changing of the King's Life Guard
This event is a time-honored tradition that you can see every day, and it's usually less populated than the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace.
The Changing of the King's Life Guard is entirely free to attend, and you can actually get pretty close to the action.
Located at the Horse Guards Parade, this ceremony takes place once an hour from 10:00 am - 16:00 (4 pm).
There is also a final Dismounting Ceremony at 16:00 (4 pm) which is a lot more detailed, so that's definitely the time of day to see this happen.
For more details, read our post about the Changing of the King's Life Guard.
Visit Portobello Market
Located on Portobello Road, this is one of the most interesting markets in the entire city of London.
In addition to the typical fruits and vegetables, there are also antiques, bric-a-brac, clothing, and secondhand items for sale.
Although you might want to bring some money to do some shopping, it's entirely free to visit this marketplace and just look around.
Check our post on the Portobello Road Market for more information.
Go to Hyde Park
If you're looking for an interesting place to take a walk, consider visiting Hyde Park to see some of the sights in that area.
There are a lot of landmarks here including the Marble Arch, Speaker's Corner, the Serpentine Lake, and more.
While you can just wander around the park on your own, we recommend using our self-guided walking tour of Hyde Park and Kensington to find some of the best attractions.
Be sure to check out our post on London's best royal parks and gardens.
Stroll around Kensington Gardens
Located right next to Hyde Park, these used to be the private gardens of Kensington Palace, but they are now open to the public and free to enjoy.
In addition to the palace itself and art galleries that aren't necessarily free, there are plenty of things to see in Kensington Gardens that won't necessarily cost a thing.
One of the more notable attractions is the Albert Memorial in honour of Prince Albert.
There is also a Peter Pan statue that younger visitors might want to see.
If you want help finding everything, consider taking our Royal Kensington Tour.
Visit the Victoria and Albert Museum
Also known as the V&A, this museum houses an impressive collection of more than 2.8 million objects including ancient artifacts and even some modern items.
You can expect to see furniture, clothing, jewelry, ceramics, paintings, sculptures, and many other historic attractions.
For more details on how to get here and what you can see, please read our post covering the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Check Out Tate Modern
The seven floors of galleries at the Tate Modern are always accessible for free.
There are numerous rooms containing the creations of various painters on each gallery floor.
There is an audio tour of the museum that you may use for a fee, but if you have the London Pass, you can use it for free.
For more information about how to get here and what to see on our post covering the Tate Modern museum.
Discover Trafalgar Square
Trafalgar Square, a popular destination and gathering place, is referred to as London's common room.
Named after the Battle of Trafalgar, the Square today serves as a venue for gatherings, political rallies, protests, celebrations, and other political activities. There are occasionally concerts, ballet, and West End Live performances during the summer.
The famous Lord Nelson statue (Nelson's Column) stands perched atop his column in the middle of the Piazza, overlooking everything.
For more details about this attraction, check our post covering things to do in Trafalgar Square.
Visit St. James's Palace
St. James's Palace is situated in the City of Westminster in the center of London.
Seeing the Changing of the Guard is a must-do for anybody visiting London from all over the world!
As the Changing of the Guard Ceremony gets underway, a group of the King's Guard forms up here at the royal palace.
The Guards will parade from St. James' Palace, down The Mall, and in front of Buckingham Palace's gates.
If you want to experience this event and see one of the most historic sites in the city, make sure to read our post about visiting St. James's Palace for more details.
Get an All-Inclusive Tourist Discount Pass
A tourist attraction discount pass affords you discounted entry into most of London’s most popular tours and attractions.
While the passes themselves certainly aren’t free, if you plan your itineraries well, you will end up getting one or two attractions for free each day.
There are several different types of London tourist discount passes, so be sure to read our comparison post to learn about how you can save more of your hard-earned money while in London.
Catch a Glimpse Down 10 Downing Street
Number 10 Downing Street is one of the world's most famous addresses. It has housed the Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom since 1735.
Although security makes it difficult to get a good look at the street, it is still one of the most visited sites in our capital city.
Be on the lookout for Larry the cat, whose official title is Chief Mouser.
We have a post that covers how to take a look inside 10 Downing Street.
Visit a London Museum
London is a top destination for museum lovers and many of the museums are free, including the British Museum, the National Gallery of Art, and the Tate Modern.
Click here for even more free London museums.
Or how about a list of alternative museums or a list of London's war museums or London's medical museums?
We've even put together an itinerary for London museum lovers.
TOP LONDON ATTRACTIONS, MUSEUMS, AND POINTS OF INTEREST
THINGS TO DO AT NIGHT
As a mega-city, London has no shortage of night activities.
For our full list of recommendations, visit our full post on things to Do in London at Night, where we break down by free, family-friendly, restaurants, and entertainment.
We also have a post where we list and review all of the night sightseeing tours available to you, including our pay-what-you-like evening tours.
Walk along the Southbank of the River Thames at Sunset
Start your walk at Tower Bridge to watch the sunset over London before moving on along the south bank of the River Thames to London Bridge.
You'll pass Shakespeare's Globe Theater and Millennium Bridge, where you will see St. Paul's Cathedral across the river.
Finally, you will check out the scene at the South Bank Center and end at the London Eye.
Along the way are lots of people watching, nightlife, buskers, and more. So grab a pint or a glass of wine and spend the night out in London Town.
Experience a West End Show
London's West End is home to a lot of historic and wonderful theatres which host some of the best musicals, plays, and ballet in the world.
There are a lot of great shows to see, including plenty of family-friendly fare.
Although tickets can be expensive, we actually have a post covering some of the best ways to get cheap London theatre tickets.
Take a Jack the Ripper Tour
If you're familiar with the tale of this notorious killer, you might want to consider taking a pay-what-you-wish Jack the Ripper walking tour to see some of the most notable historic sites related to the events.
There are also a few premium paid tours you can take, and multiple locations you might want to visit including the Jack the Ripper Museum and the London Dungeon.
For more details, make sure to read our full post covering Jack the Ripper tours.
See the Ceremony of the Keys
A gate-closing ceremony known as the Ceremony of the Keys has been performed at the Tower of London every night for the past 700 years without fail.
The Chief Yeoman Warder of the Tower chooses a few ticketed visitors to come back inside each evening after evicting the tourists and bidding goodnight to the families live within the Tower's walls to see the ceremonial shutting up of the Tower of London!
If you're interested in this activity, make sure to read our post about seeing the Ceremony of the Keys.
Go on a Dinner Cruise
While a sightseeing river cruise are enjoyable, it might not be the best choice for professional or romantic occasions.
Many businesses provide a range of dining and party cruises, such as tea and showboat cruises, in addition to the standard dinner cruise, allowing you to take in more than just the sights and sounds of London.
These outings typically take place between the hours of 7 pm - 10 pm, and include either as 3-course meal or a buffet experience.
For more details, read our post covering London dinner cruises.
Visit a London Museum after dark
Several London museums here feature late-night hours to help you fit in even more culture during your trip to the city!
On some days, the National Gallery, the British Museum, the Tate Modern, and even the Transport Museum are open after sunset.
The majority of museums that are open late are free to enter.
A free guided tour of the British Museum is also available. Be sure to look at our guide to free museums in London.
Go on a Pub Crawl
The pub crawl is a well-known custom in London (and the club crawl).
This is an excellent choice for lone tourists wishing to make new friends or for those seeking out hotspots.
There are pub crawls for craft beer lovers, backpackers, and people interested in visiting old pubs. There is even a pub crawl with a Harry Potter theme!
In a similar vein, London has a sizable and active club scene. These beer crawls may also include admission to one or two clubs. There is even a flat-rate nightclub card.
Check out our pub crawl comparison page, which rates many of London's top crawls.
Check out the Live Music Scene
London is brimming with music venues to suit every budget and taste.
From jazz to classical, pop to rock, there's nothing like grabbing a drink and listening to some music to pass the time at night.
There are numerous locations to choose from, but here are a few of our favorites: Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club, Koko, and Roundhouse.
We have several dozen ideas as well as links to other resources.
Here are a few of our favorite ideas.
- The Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London
- Stroll through Piccadilly Circus
- Museums with Late Night Openings
- Sky Garden Observation Deck.
- Watch a West End Musical
- Dinner Cruise on the Thames
- Pub and Club Crawls
- Watch Street Performers
- Take a Jack the Ripper Tour
- Or Join a Pub Crawl
For our full list of recommendations, visit our full post on things to Do in London at Night or our post on historic London pubs.
LONDON WITH KIDS
Many of London's top attractions are kid-friendly and all of our daytime Visitas a pie are great for families.
For more family-friendly activities to consider, visit our post on Visiting London with Kids
Visit a Kid-Friendly Museum
These museums have dedicated children's sections or activities that entertain and educate during a family visit.
Tour Buckingham Palace
Open to the public, you can explore certain sections of the palace, a royal residence since 1837, mostly the staterooms where the royal family hosts events.
Family activity bags are available free of charge, so be sure to ask for one when picking up your tickets. In the State Rooms, there is a drawing and coloring room.
For more information on visiting Buckingham Palace
Explore Harry Potter's London
Lovers of the Harry Potter series will adore London!
We have created several posts on finding Harry Potter sights, including how to find Diagon Alley, the Ministry of Magic, Platform 9 3/4, or check out our free, self-guided tour of Harry Potter London locations.
Want to meet other Muggles? Then join us for our free, guided Harry Potter London Film Location Tour.
Ride the Stratford Slide
This is the world’s highest and longest tunnel slide.
It was originally intended to be a piece of art, but in 2016 the slide was added which takes guests from the observation tower at the top, 12 circles throughout the curves on the structure, and all the way to the bottom in a 40-second trip!
- Location: The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
- Tickets: £16.75 for Adults / £10.75 for Children / £13.75 for Concessions / £53.00 for a Family of 2 adults and 2 children
- Note: Riders MUST BE AT LEAST 1.3m tall and above the age of 8. Only children above the age of 14 can ride unaccompanied by an adult.
- Book HERE.
See a Show
There are several theatres throughout London that have excellent programs for kids, such as the Little Angel Theatre and Half Moon Young People's Theatre.
Both theatres have kid-themed shows running often and at times host interactive workshops.
Take a Peppa Pig Afternoon Tea Bus Tour
Yep, you read that correctly: a Peppa Pig-themed afternoon tea experience will be held on a famous, moving Routemaster bus!
This genuinely distinctive afternoon tea, created by the B-Bakery creative team, is served on a quick tour of the city that includes Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, St. Paul's Cathedral, Trafalgar Square, and more.
Each table has a tablet showing a "guided animation of the London tour along with sing-along songs that the whole family will enjoy," in addition to Peppa Pig-themed sweet and savory treats (with champagne on offer for the adults!).
For more information about this service, check our post on kid-friendly afternoon teas in London.
Visit the Charles Dickens Museum
Even if you're not familiar with all of his works, chances are both you and your kids are familiar with A Christmas Carol.
Although not all of his work was family-friendly, this museum hosts a lot of events aimed at kids and they have a variety of interesting exhibits to see.
This museum is usually included on at least one London tourist pass.
If you're interested in visiting, make sure to read our post covering how to get tickets to the Charles Dickens Museum.
Another effective way to plan your trip is to discover London by neighborhood. This has the advantage of cutting down on time spent traveling from one area to the next.
London contains many distinct neighbourhoods and districts.
You can explore on your own and we’ve created over a dozen self-guided tours, many of which also provide tips on things to do, restaurants, and places to stay, as well as a growing list of self-guided GPS-enabled audio tours.
Of course, you can join us for one of our many pay-what-you-wish walking tours for deeper insight into the neighborhoods shared by one of our knowledgeable and personable guides.
Below is a list of the top areas.
- Old City of London
- St. James and Piccadilly
- Hyde Park and Kensington
- Covent Garden (+ Covent Garden Food Tour)
- Trafalgar Square
- Leicester Square
- Camden Town
- Borough Market
- Brick Lane
- Notting Hill
THINGS TO DO IN LONDON BY MONTH AND SEASON
We have also created guides based on the time of year. Click on the links below for the corresponding month that you plan on being in London.
These also include monthly weather expectations to help you plan how to dress.