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Solo Travel to London | Things to Do Alone

Updated: November 19, 2023
 By Margaret

This post is for those traveling solo to London with recommendations for things to do when travelling by yourself.

We include safety tips, suggestions on finding the best hotel for you, where to eat out alone, and how to meet people (if you want to!).

As a London tour guide, who has been self-employed for over a decade, I spend a lot of time doing things alone, often before or after my tours. So I'm drawing on a wealth of experience to create this post.

I've also used some of the ideas from people like you, who are members of our popular London Travel Tips and Hacks Facebook group.

Our group is comprised of roughly 145,000 locals, tour guides, veteran travelers to the UK, as well as first-time visitors to London.

You don't need to become a member to read the posts, comments, and recommendations.

So, check out our group once you've finished reading this post!


Things to Do Alone in London

Below are just of the hundreds of fun things to do in the city! For more ideas on how to spend your time in London, check out our master list of Things to Do in London (including options for things to do in London at night and things to do in London with kids).

Go on A Free Walking Tour

The best way to explore London is by foot, and Free Tours by Foot London has a jam-packed schedule full of tours to help you make the most of your solo time in the city. These tours are a great way to see our capital - as well as to meet other solo travellers. To find out which tours we re running when you're in town, just take a look at our Tour Schedule.

I, and my fellow tour guides, look forward to meeting you!

Visit a World Class Museum

London is home to some of the best museums in the world and these are great places to spend time by yourself, enjoying the thousands of items on display in various locations. The most popular museums are The British Museum, The Victoria and Albert Museum, The Natural History Museum, The Tate Modern and The National Gallery and Portrait Gallery.

But there are dozens more of museums just waiting for you to explore! For more ideas on where to spend your time, check out our list of Over 40 Free Museums in London.

See a West End Show

Photo by Pedro Szekely CC2.0

London's theatre district draws people from all across the globe with an ever-changing array of musicals, plays, dramas and spectacles. Seeing a show in the West End is a great activity for solo travellers, as many theatres reduce prices on single tickets they've been unable to sell during the day.

For more information, check out our post on Getting Discount Theatre Tickets in London.

Bag a Bargain and Sample Delicious Street Food at an Iconic London Market

For those who like to shop, those who like to eat, or those who like to do both (that's me!), London is home to dozens of markets just waiting to be explored. There's famous markets like Portobello Market (antiques, vintage clothes, food), Borough Market (the BEST food market in the country), Spitalfields Market (various goods depending on the days of the week) and iconic Camden Market (clothing, gifts, food, antiques, vintage, hand made crafts etc. etc.).

And then there's lesser-known offerings like the Columbia Flower Market or beautiful Victorian Leadenhall Market. There's dozens to choose from, depending on what you're after, so check out our post on Our 18 Favourite Markets in London.

Note that for foodies, we visit markets on both of our food tours: East London and Borough Market and Maltby Street!

Explore Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens

We are spoiled for choice when it comes to beautiful parks in our city. London is home to dozens of green spaces and some of the most stunning Royal Parks in the country. The most popular is Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, but I'd also recommend a stroll through St. James's Park or Hampstead Heath. I've made a list of the Best Parks in London to enjoy while you're here and you'll find plenty to keep you busy!

Visit a Royal Palace

The UK is home to the most popular Royal Family in the world, and throughout the years they have built incredible spaces are are now open for you to enjoy! From current residences like Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle to former homes like the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, and Kew Palace, there are plenty of places to go and get a healthy dose of royal pomp in stunning surroundings.

Take a Trip Along the Thames on the Uber Boat

For centuries, the fastest way through London was via the River - but these days is the best way to travel through the city while enjoying some incredible scenery! I always recommend a trip along the river, either using the Uber Boat or on a tour boat, as many of the buildings along the banks of the Thames were specifically designed to be seen from the water which means you're getting the absolute best views possible.

Walk Across a World Famous Bridge

London is home to two of the most famous (and often confusing) bridges in the world: London Bridge and Tower Bridge. Both are free to walk across (although you can pay extra to enter the towers and walkways of Tower Bridge) and both offer gorgeous views along the river.

Oh, and if you ever wanted to know the differences between the two, I wrote a helpful guide to help you out!

Enjoy the Best Views of London for Free

If you want to literally see all of London, you can't go wrong with a sky-high view! There is, of course, the tallest building in the UK, The Shard, but a trip to their viewing platform will set you back around £30. I always tell guests to save their money and consider one of our fantastic free viewing galleries such as the Sky Garden, and our newest offering, Horizon 22 - which is not the tallest viewing gallery in the city thanks to the topography of the land!

Grab a Drink at a Historical Pub

It's just not a real trip to London without a visit to the pub! There's a host of historical offerings for you to enjoy like Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese (in existence for over 500 years), The Prospect of Whitby (London's oldest riverside pub and former haunt of pirates) and the Viaduct Tavern (a Victorian gin palace with 17th century prison cells in the basement). We've also got a list of our Top 10 Historic Pubs you may want to check out before you get here.


Best Hotels for Solo Travellers

We don't think you should limit your hotel search simply because you are traveling alone! You may already have preferences for the type of hotel, room cost, and location, so it's always worth looking into any hotels that look interesting to you...But there are some things I recommend considering when choosing where to stay in London while travelling solo.

Firstly, think about staying in a neighbourhood that is safe and lively. The more people around, the better you will feel coming back to your hotel late at night.

Also, you’ll want a neighborhood that has lots of cafes and restaurants that are good for dining alone. 

Areas that fit the criteria above include:

  • Soho
  • Covent Garden
  • Earl's Court
  • Kensington
  • Knightsbridge and Belgravia
  • Chelsea
  • The Southbank
  • London Bridge
  • Victoria
  • Notting Hill
  • Fitzrovia

Note that some hotels have a built-in social scene, with scheduled activities, game rooms, and lounges that are welcoming to solo travelers. 

We like these hotels for those traveling alone in London:

  • (Hub by) Premier Inn: Premier Inn is a chain of affordable hotels in London and in the view of our team of guides, the the commenters on our Facebook page, they have some of the most comfortable beds you will ever find! They have multiple locations throughout the city, are great for those travelling on a budget, and are always clean and well kept. Their latest offerings, Hub by Premier Inn are smaller, lightly furnished spaces that are perfect for solo travellers.
  • Mimi's Soho: Right in the heart of Soho, this is a beautiful converted historical building boasting small but impeccably furnished rooms and a charming bar/lounge which is great for solo travellers to relax or meet other guests.
  • Park Plaza Westminster Bridge: This is a favourite on our Facebook community! Located just across the river from the Houses of Parliament, this well appointed hotel is clean, affordable and boasts four onsite restaurants and bars which is great for those travelling alone.

See our article on Where to Stay in London organized by neighbourhood. 

Lastly, look for hotels that are near London Underground Stations. 

Not only will your feet thank you for not adding additional walking time to your London exploration, but you will also have a quicker, safer walk to your hotel at night. Luckily there are literally hundreds of tube stations so this is one criteria that is usually easy to meet!

If you want to meet fellow solo travellers, consider staying at a hostel. London has a plethora to choose from including:

If you want some personalised assistance finding the right hotel, join our London Travel Tips Facebook Group and create a post asking for recommendations specifically for solo travellers.


Eating Alone in London

When you dine alone in London, you will not be eating alone! Lots of people enjoy their meals without companions. 

Bring a book, play on your phone, or just people-watch - you'll find many others doing the same. Note that no restaurant or pub will be reluctant to have you as a solo diner!

If you want to enjoy your food with others and even make a friend or two, take a food tour like our pay-what-you-wish food tours!

You'll find plenty of cafes throughout the city - from lovely spots to get a light bite with tea and cake (like Brigit's Bakery) to full on greasy spoons for full English breakfasts (like Terry's Cafe ) to London's most beloved coffee institution, Monmouth Coffee.

You'll also find the three most popular coffee chains in the city: Cafe Nero, Costa Coffee and, of course, Starbucks!

In nice weather, enjoy your food in a park - and note that it is, indeed, legal to drink in public in the UK so consider a boozy picnic!

Solo Dining Recommendations

  • Churchill Arms - This is my favourite restaurant in London. It's a Thai restaurant hidden within a traditional London pub. Tables are small and service is fast making it a great stop for solo diners.
  • Dishoom - Dishoom has become one of the most popular restaurants in London to the point where they now have multiple locations throughout the city. Small plates and dining seats t the large bars make this a great spot for those on their own.
  • Bar Douro - Dishing up delicious Portuguese food and wine with plenty of bar style and counter seating.
  • Sabor - Here you can watch the chefs at work with counter seating while enjoying delicious tapas.

Food Halls and Markets

  • Market Halls - Outposts boasting 24 kitchens and over 200 dishes with locations in Victoria, Oxford Street and Canary Wharf.
  • Borough Market - The best food market in the country, hands down! You'll find endless options to enjoy there as well as quality ingredients (and drinks) to take home.
  • Mercato Metropolitano - Now with four sites in the city, Mercato has a focus on global quizzing and you'll find options of endless variety. This is a great one for picky eaters! Find them in Elephant & Castle, Mayfair, and Wood Wharf.

Communal Tables

  • Ottolenghi Islington and Soho - Delicious food with stunning cakes and desserts.
  • Busaba - Popular London outposts serving up Thai dishes.
  • Flesh and Bun - Self described as "London's Modern Japanese Feasting Experience."

How to Meet People

London is an excellent destination for solo travelers, for both men and women. There are so many people living here who spend time on their own that you won't feel alone!

But, if you do want to meet other travellers, there are a few ways to do so.

Join a Walking Tour

Taking walking tours and food tours is a great way to learn about the city and meet new people. 

Our pay-what-you-wish walking tours and food tours attract travelers from all over the world and quite a lot of solo travelers. 

Eat/Drink at Your Hotel

Most hotels have bars and restaurants where other solo travellers may be driving and dining, giving you a great opportunity to make new acquaintances.

London Meetups

Meetup.Com operates throughout the world and their London page is constantly filled with activities and events taking place in the city, arranged by locals and visitors. Often, the people who turn up don't know each other so they are in the same boat as you!

Go to the Pub!

London's pub culture makes up the bulk of socialising in the city. It's rare to find and empty one and they are popular destinations for those in groups - or alone. You'll find oftentimes the bar staff are happy to have a chat and, particularly in neighbourhood haunts, locals are happy to engage with visitors and share tips for the area.

Take note that we run both a Historic Pub Tour and a Pub Crawl and Cockney Sing-A-Long which are great options for those travelling on their own!


Is London Safe for Solo Travellers

It’s normal to be concerned with safety when traveling alone, even more so in such a huge city like London. But rest assured, you will be fine if you follow some safety tips. 

The tips below are for both men and women of all ages. 

However, women solo travelers face challenges that men solo travelers typically do not. 

Here are two in-depth articles for women traveling alone: Solo Travel Safety Tips for Solo Female Travelers and Safety Tips for Solo Female Travelers.

Be Aware of Your Surroundings

You probably do this already, but take it up a notch in the city. 

If you find yourself in a densely crowded area, be aware of who is in your immediate surroundings. Pay extra attention on the Underground during rush hours when the trains can be packed. 

The same holds true when you are on quiet unpopulated streets at night. Many neighborhoods will be lively on their main streets, but side streets can be very quiet and you may not see a single person! 

As best you can, stay on streets that are well-lit and fairly populated. 

Do not listen to music on the streets at night. Take those earbuds out and listen to who and what is around you.

And never browse your phone while standing on the edge of the street (particularly when waiting to cross) as thieves on bikes can take those opportunities to nab your phone!

Try to Blend in With the Locals

There is no shame in being a solo traveler in London and, as I've said, you're not the only one by far! 

But if you have your head buried in a map, you will stand out like a sore thumb and be a target for pickpockets. Large backpacks or particularly clean trainers (sneakers/tennis shoes) can also mark you as a potential target.

Carry yourself with confidence, if possible and read up on the areas you are going to so you will know in advance what to expect.

Never Leave Your Bag Unattended

This is a given in most cities. Be sure at all times to have your bag and other belongings with you. 

Don’t leave your bag or phone on a table while you go off to use the restaurant restroom. 

Keep your bags closed and any valuables out of sight. Don’t have your phone sticking out of your back pocket - and don't keep your wallet there, either!

More Safety Tips

Read up on even more safety tips from our article, How Safe is London for Visitors?


We hope that all the information above helps you enjoy your time in London! 

Be sure to check out our comprehensive list of things to do in London which includes information on free things to do, nighttime activities, and suggested itineraries to make the most of your time in the city! 


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About The Author

Margaret

An American simply by accident of birth, Margaret moved to London over 16 years ago and hasn’t looked back since! With a keen interest in History – and a BA degree to match – Margaret prides herself on her knowledge of the amazing city she calls home and she's been guiding here now for nearly a decade. Social history is her real expertise, with sound understanding of the day-to-day lives of Londoners over the past centuries. Read More...
Updated: November 19th, 2023
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