London is one of the world’s greatest cities—proven by the sheer number of annual visitors. It often ranks among the top three to five most visited cities with more than 20 million visitors per year! Whether you’re here for a day or more, there’s so much to do in London! From tasting food to seeing history and bucket-list sights, let’s dive into the top things to do in London
Pro Tip: Planning what to do on your trip to London? Bookmark this post in your browser so you can easily find it when you’re in the city. Check out our guide to London for more planning resources, our top London tours for a memorable trip, and how to see London in a day.
The Best Things To Do and See in London
As a local Londoner, I’ve put together a list of the coolest and quirkiest things to do while in London. From a hidden café in a crypt to a hotel that has Europe’s highest swimming pool, you’ll agree these things to do in London will make for a fun-filled day!
25. Don’t Eat Fish and Chips
British food isn’t just about fish and chips. Gone are the days when they were mostly served in old newspapers—yes, they actually were! But today most of the chippies, as they are nationally known, have been transformed into more healthy or multicultural eating options.
Other fish and chip spots have become tourist attractions in locations such as Tower Hill. You can give it a go, but definitely broaden your horizons and embrace the variety of other amazing foods to eat here in London.
Where to get it: Josef Traditional Fish and Chips
24. Walk the Queen’s Walk
You’ll have plenty of tourist hotspots along this stretch of river from Lambeth Bridge to Tower Bridge. Along the Lambeth Pier section, there are great views of the Houses of Parliament and a number of places to stop off for food and drink, including our favorite Riverside Café.
Just after Westminster Bridge, you’ll also pass the London Eye and London Aquarium. It’s quite a walk, with attractions such as the BFI Southbank and the National Theatre along the way. Admire South Bank’s unique brutalist architecture without missing a stride.
Address: Queen’s Walk
23. Get Wizardy at Harry Potter Studios
Film and Harry Potter fans will relish the opportunity to see the Warner Brothers film studio in London where many of the Harry Potter sets still exist. You can walk through the Forbidden Forest, Diagon Alley, and the Great Hall. Also, visit Platform 9-3/4 to board the self-same Hogwarts Express from the movie.
And no visit would be complete without checking out the movie magic of the special effects department and other behind-the-scenes attractions. The studios are in Leavesden, Watford, 20 miles outside London, and tour tickets start from £47.
The most convenient option is to book a guided tour of popular Harry Potter stops plus the Warner Brothers studios! It’s a great deal that will really bring to life your favorite movie and remove the hassle of getting around the city and out to the studios yourself.
Address: Warner Drive, Leavesden
22. Have a Drink in Leadenhall Market
We celebrated the 700th anniversary of Leadenhall Market in 2021. The market site dates back to Roman times but the current market was built there in the 14th century. So it’s one of London’s oldest!
The Victorian architecture and stunning arches are so incredible that scenes from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone were filmed here. It’s rumored to have inspired the look of the movie’s Diagon Alley. This mix of movie magic and rich culture make it a must-visit for those looking for somewhere special to grab a bite or a drink before shopping at the many boutiques, jewelers, and bookshops.
Address: Gracechurch St
21. Adventure To Ancient Stonehenge
If you are intrigued by unique structures and ancient history, then a visit to Stonehenge is a must. The structure was built and added to over the course of a thousand years between 3,000 and 2,000 B.C. at the beginning of the Bronze Age. You could describe it as a pile of rocks—which it is—or as a glimpse of our ancient human origins.
It is also larger than life and inspiring to witness in person. The stones were dragged from Wales down to the south of England to create this impressive structure. They are definitely not just piled on top of one another. When you visit, you’ll notice there is an impressive system of joints that hold them together. You can read about it in our article on the history of Stonehenge and join one of our day trips from London to Stonehenge and Windsor Castle.
Not ready to book a tour? Check out how to visit Stonehenge for more info.
20. See the Famous Churchill’s War Rooms
It is at this site on King Charles Street where Winston Churchill, Britain’s greatest Prime Minister, led the allied response against Hitler. Here, you can explore the secret underground halls and corridors of the famous War Rooms. Also, there’s a Churchill Museum where you can learn little-known facts about his remarkable leadership.
There’s even a BBC Broadcast Room where the speeches from the War Room were broadcast to the nation. Churchill was known for his stirring speeches, which raised the nation’s spirits during the war. If WWII history is your thing, then stopping at the Churchill War Rooms should be at the top of your things to do in London list.
Address: Clive Steps, King Charles St
Not ready to book a tour? Check out how to visit the Churchill War Rooms for more info.
19. Get Fancy at Piccadilly Circus
Piccadilly has retained its reputation as a classy district since the 17th century. Back then, it was named after the fancy lace collars called piccadills that were sold there. Some of the shops on the adjoining stretch of road called Piccadilly still have Georgian-era fronts including Hatchards, which is London’s oldest bookshop, established in 1797.
My recommendation is to start your day on the steps around the statue of Eros, as it is commonly known. It’s a popular gathering place for tourists and street performers. From there, most of your options are within eyesight, including the Piccadilly Lights and the West End’s Theatreland.
Address: Piccadilly Circus
18. Take Pictures on Tower Bridge
The area near Tower Bridge and city hall where the mayor of London is based is dotted with eateries and filled with joggers and visitors. From the Tower of London side, you can usually walk up the steps and onto the bridge for free.
Otherwise, you can pay to enter the inner bridge itself and enjoy views from its glass walkway. Other areas to explore include the engine rooms just under the bridge where the history of its Victorian-era engineers and workers is documented.
Address: Tower Bridge Rd
17. Spend an Evening in Soho and Chinatown
For a lively evening around locals and tourists, head over to the Soho area, which is near Piccadilly. The closest metros are Leicester Square and Piccadilly. You’ll find lots of things to do here from dropping a few pounds (money, that is) at the famous Hippodrome Casino, seeing a show at the Piccadilly Theater, finding tasty food in Chinatown on Gerrard Street, or shopping at some high-end stores. Try Pho & Bun if you’re into Vietnamese food.
Address: Soho, London
16. Learn London’s Darker History at the Tower of London
The Tower of London has a gruesome history. The UK’s political prisoners and the monarch’s enemies were imprisoned and often tortured here centuries ago. One of the most famous prisoners was Guy Fawkes, a zealous Catholic who almost succeeded in blowing up the Houses of Parliament in 1605. He is commemorated by Guy Fawkes Night (bonfire night) every November 5th.
The Crown Jewels, which are the monarch’s most valuable jewels of state, are also kept here. Its official protectors, the Yeoman Guards are better known as Beefeaters. They still dress in the distinct 16th-century red uniform. Look out for the ravens that are kept on the grounds. Their care and presence are to appease a Tudor-era omen that if the ravens ever leave the Tower, the monarchy would be doomed.
Address: Tower of London
Not ready to book a tour? Check out how to visit the Tower of London for more info.
15. Dine on Delicious Indian Food and Curry
If you can’t get to India, then eat Indian food in London. It’s without doubt the best place to do so. Your best bet for curries is on Brick Lane in London’s East End. It’s away from the bright lights of the city center but bustling with its own energy. The curry houses are more or less next door to each other all the way along the street.
They proudly display their numerous national and local catering awards to drive customers their way. With that high level of competition, you can understand why it’s necessary for them to use friendly street staff who try to gently tempt you with food samples and price incentives.
Address: Brick Lane
14. Picnic Under the Shadow of St. Paul’s Cathedral
This magnificent building is not only a historic landmark but a buzzing gathering place for tourists. They can be found sitting on the steps around the entrance and lunching in its surrounding gardens. The awesome baroque architecture is the work of Britain’s greatest architect Sir Christopher Wren.
Many famous people have been baptized, married, and buried here, including Wren himself who was buried in 1723. Prince Charles and Lady Diana and also David and Victoria Beckham were married here.
Tickets can be purchased for a sightseeing tour of the ornate crypt, galleries, and dome. The Whispering Gallery is famous for carrying voices around the walls in a spooky way!
Address: St. Paul’s Churchyard
13. Take Pictures of Big Ben
Big Ben has just undergone a refresh, so all the scaffolding has been removed. Visitors can now see the structure in its full glory and hear its world-famous chimes for the first time since 2017. The bell and tower have undergone numerous repairs, but this is by far the most lengthy and extensive conservation project.
It’s still not open for visitors yet, but we hope it will be soon. In anticipation, you can read more on how to visit Big Ben. When you exit the Westminster subway stop, Big Ben will be front and center, waiting to greet you.
Address: Big Ben
12. See London from the Thames
The River Thames runs through London and offers a whole new perspective on the city, which is why seeing it from a boat is highly recommended. Granted, the cool London air can get a bit chilly in some months, so bring a jacket if you’re here in the off-season. We recommend taking a speedboat tour of the Thames and the unique areas along the river.
You’ll enjoy speeding on the river with several stops where the driver will explain what you’re seeing, the importance of the areas in old and new London, and fun stories about the history. It’s another experience you won’t soon forget!
11. Stay at a Downtown Hotel With Epic Skyline Views
So if you have the extra cash to spend, be pampered like a prince, president, or rock star for a few days. At the Savoy Restaurant, you can also dine like one, as this Michelin-starred restaurant has celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay at the helm.
If you prefer a hotel experience beyond these historic institutions, try Shangri-La at the Shard. It only opened in 2014 and has incomparable views of London as it’s the capital’s tallest building. It also has a sky pool, which is Europe’s highest hotel pool with views across London that are unmatched.
10. Take in the London Skyline from The Shard
This is the UK’s tallest building, so expect stunning views of the capital from the upper floors. Perhaps the architects deliberately constructed it as a glass pyramid knowing it would double as a visually appealing viewing platform. Their highest viewing platform has open-air panoramic views. There are also restaurants and bars to enjoy the cityscape in a more chilled-out mode.
Address: 32 London Bridge St
9. Get a View of Parliament
The Houses of Parliament are located in Westminster, the UK’s political center. Members of Parliament, legislators, and the Prime Minister gather here to debate policy and pass laws. On Wednesday or Thursday morning, you may even catch the Prime Minister arriving with his security entourage at the Cromwell Green entrance opposite Parliament Square.
Tourists often gather at a patch of green space called Parliament Square to admire the statues of political greats such as Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela, and Gandhi. Campaigners and political protestors also meet here, so it can get a bit noisy and heavily policed on occasion.
If you’re looking for quieter green, try Victoria Tower Gardens, a nearby park where you’ll also find a landmark bronze statue called the Burghers of Calais by Auguste Rodin. Find out more about how to visit the UK Parliament.
Address: Houses of Parliament
8. Walk Off Lunch in Whitehall Gardens
This is a welcome and pleasant patch of green in an area with a concentration of government ministry buildings. You’ll find construction workers and government civil servants alike having their lunches here.
It’s the ideal walk (or place to sit in the shade) before planning the rest of your after-lunch visits. Fortunately, the Strand is just 10 minutes away and South Bank and Westminster are within easy reach too.
Address: Victoria Embankment
7. Visit Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle is an epic site just over 1 hour from London, which makes it great for a day trip. The town feels like a medieval village (as it should) and is centered around the castle and shopping area with tons of restaurants.
The entire experience of visiting the home of this historic family is something you won’t forget. We walked into one of the largest halls I have ever been in only to find out it was where Megan and Harry had their wedding reception. The idea of walking on the same floors as the Queen of England was powerful.
Address: Windsor Castle
Not ready to book a tour? Check out how to visit Windsor Castle for more info.
6. Be Wowed at Westminster Abbey
This 750-year-old Gothic place of worship is one of the most famous attractions in London. The nation’s greatest monarchs, prime ministers, celebrated scientists, playwrights, poets, and authors are either buried inside the Abbey or within its grounds.
Inside there are also statues and plaques honoring historical figures buried elsewhere. The illustrious list includes Charles Dickens, Stephen Hawking, and Winston Churchill. While you can certainly visit on your own, you’ll enjoy skip-the-line access to the Abbey and understand more of what you’re seeing when you book a guided tour of Westminster.
Address: Westminster Abbey
Not ready to book a tour? Check out how to visit Westminster Abbey for more info.
5. Buckingham Palace
The famous red-tarmacked road leading to the palace is known as the Mall. A stroll up this road will prove to be a memorable time since you can also explore St James Park along the way. And of course, you can always try to see the Changing of the Guard that happens regularly in June and July. It’s less frequent in the off-season months.
The palace is popular in any season but particularly in spring and summer when tourists congregate around the Victoria Memorial statue opposite the palace and chill out on the steps. After your palace visit, you can also visit another Royal Park right next door: Green Park.
Address: Buckingham Palace
Not ready to book a tour? Check out how to visit Buckingham Palace for more info.
4. Enjoy an Afternoon Tea
My recommendation for a “cuppa” as it’s often called in the UK is a café in a very public place (the West End) but with a secretive, understated vibe. You could almost walk past Café In The Crypt because from the outside it doesn’t look anything like a café!
The cylindrical glass front is more like the entrance to a fancy public toilet. But once inside, you’ll discover there are authentic tombstones inside. They’re a unique statement piece alongside your English tea and cakes.
Address: Trafalgar Sq
3. Visit the British Museum
This museum has vied with the Tate Modern as the UK’s top museum attraction over the years, which is why it easily makes our list of top things to do in London. The sprawling neoclassical architecture is a tourist attraction in itself.
Once inside, you’ll want to visit the collections in the Enlightenment Room, which is full of quaint English curiosities and inventions from the Victorian age when England led the scientific enlightenment. Check out our article on how to visit the British Museum.
Address: Great Russell St
2. Stroll Through Hyde Park
This is the largest and most famous of the Royal Parks. Frequented by joggers, it comes alive like no other park during the summer when tourists flock to Serpentine Lake to hire boats or soak up the English sun.
You can also visit the Diana Memorial Fountain if you’re a fan of the lovely lady. There’s usually a summer gathering of hippy drummers whose numbers grow considerably as the rhythmic beats drift around the park and attract spontaneous dancers. It’s Woodstock vibes in the summertime!
Address: Hyde Park
1. The London Eye
It might surprise you that the London Eye is our top thing to do in London. When it first opened, the London Eye received harsh criticism from many who questioned its purpose, and they were all proven wrong. It’s a cantilevered observation wheel that is also the world’s tallest.
It’s situated along Westminster Road which is a vibrant area full of attractions that light up at night. The dazzling lights on the wheel stand out most amongst these. From those dizzying heights, you can enjoy panoramic views of landmarks such as the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben as you hover over the River Thames.
You’ll need to book your tickets ahead of time as they can sell out, especially in the summer months. Ticket prices start at £32.50, and they also offer multiple ticket packages to see several attractions in London.
Address: Riverside Building, County Hall
See London In A Day
Headed to London and want to see all the top sights? Be sure to check out our London in a Day tour. It includes a guided tour of Westminster Abbey, an exclusive view of the changing of the guard ceremony, a Thames river cruise, and a guided tour of the Tower of London. If you have more time to enjoy the city and its surroundings, see our other top-rated London tours.
Not ready to book a tour? Check out our London Guide for more resources.