This is a London bucket list which includes the top 70 things to do in town by categories of activities.
The best experiences
Catch a cab
We will start with a classic. A visit to London wouldn’t be complete without choosing a very authentic public transport. The centre of London has a terrifying among of traffic that might keep you far from cars or buses if you are rushing. Otherwise, if you want some classic fun they are a very good asset and the perfect way for sightseeing.
Cabs are expensive but comfortable and cosy. They have that vintage vibe on them. If you rather want something cheaper and fulfilled with history too, just take a bus. You won’t regret!
Join a double decker route
Double decker buses are probably the most convenient, iconic and cool way of visiting the centre of London. They are there since the 1920s, when the first engine-powered version of the double-decker bus breaks out. With a growing population, especially among the working class, London needed more buses. That demand kept up until the 1950s when the most familiar model of the double deckers rose up. The ‘Routemaster’ of 1956, the version that all we have in mind, with its open rear door entrance so people could jump on and off while the bus was moving.
There are still some classic red decker buses working on the streets of London. We recommend the path of the 159 route. Check here the options for tickets and much more.
Take a loop on the London Eye
The London Eye (also known as Millennium Wheel) is a rotating observation wheel. Which is 135 meters high and provides 360-degree views over London in 30 minutes round rides. From the top is possible to spot 40 kilometers distance. Also some of the capital’s most iconic landmarks. Including the Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, the London Tower, and Buckingham Palace. In each capsule, there are interactive guides to explore the capital’s iconic landmarks in several languages.
It started functioning to celebrate the year 2000 and it was until 2006 the biggest rotation wheel in the world. The views are excellent and indeed is a super experience. There used to be long lines some days to get in. But since the Covid-19 pandemic, tickets must be pre-booked online with timed entry. The London Eye is located on the south bank of the River Thames, in a strategic location. Plenty of buses arrive there and the nearest metro station is Waterloo. Tickets are quite expensive, from 24.50£ to 41£.
Go for musical in the West End
West End in London is the home of opera and theatres. Including London Coliseum, Theatre Royal Drury Lane and many others till complete a list of 39 in total.
To go to a theatre is pricey experience, but you could get better deals looking for the tickets upfront. Weekdays are considerable cheaper than weekends. All the musicals are epic and out of contrasted and good working stories or screenplays. The costumes, production, acting, singing and dancing are normally incredible in all of them.
The first Chinatown in London was located in Limehouse in the East End in the early 20th Century. The current enclave occupies the area in and around Gerrard Street and was set in the 70s in Soho. The nearest London Underground stations to get there are Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus.
Chinatown is very touristy and popular into locals too. Since it contains plenty of Chinese restaurants, bakeries, supermarkets, souvenir shops, and other Chinese-run businesses.
Enjoy the nightlife in Soho
Soho is a neighbourhood in the City of Westminster well known for its nightlife. It is the centre of various burlesque shows. Also cool new wave bars, LMBTQ friendly pubs we can find here.
Soho is colourful and buzzy. It has been a fun district since old times and still has some of its ancient irreverence. Even being a square of geometrically straight streets, it has a messy branch of narrow alleys with the highest density of sex shops, strip clubs and strange dating bars of all London. Just take a look, only for some drinks with friends is more than worth!
Shop at Portobello Road
Portobello Road is in the heart of the neighborhood of Notting Hill. Portobello Road is one of the most famous streets in all of London. It is home to a very famous eclectic street market which has become a very local way to spend a weekend morning in Notting Hill.
Portobello Road is a street filled with colorful houses, small cute coffee shops and independent shops, including some cultural ones like Rough Trade and The Notting Hill Bookshop, made famous by the movie, Notting Hill, with Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant.
Saturdays are the main market day, followed by Fridays. On other days, only some stalls might be open too. You can check here the full schedule. To enjoy the market you must go in the morning. The activity usually kicks off around 8:30 A.M. and runs till around 11:00 A.M. On certain days, the street hosts a fabulous British market of antiques, artisan food, farm-fresh produce and knickknacks which is perhaps the most famous and photogenic one. Around the road you will be able to enjoy excellent food, trendy snacks and a perfect atmosphere.
Take a selfie in a red phone cabin
We know it sounds very cheesy and the fact itself is a cliche. Otherwise is a classic among the must do things in London and since is a cool vintage activity you will enjoy. Indeed more doing it than showing the picture afterwards like the previous generations did.
There are red cabins all around the centre of London. I won’t be hard to find one, but we can recommend those ones around The houses of Parliament where you can have an extra spot in the background.
Take a picture with a ¨bobby¨
Like red phone cabins, bobbies are part of the natural environment of London. They are real serious police officers but they use to be very friendly with tourist and they allow pictures of them, even with them posing with you. Long time ago when I was a teenager they even let me grab their cudgels for the picture. If you want a photo with one you can try and ask gently, if they are busy or they don’t want just respect the officer’s decision.
Get lost at Harrods
Harrods is a big store but a complete shopping mall itself. It is located in Brompton Road, a street in Knightsbridge neighbourhood, in the heart of the city of London. The closest tube station to the store is Knightsbridge.
Harrods started as a shop in middle XIX century and has grown adding the neighbour buildings in parallel as the growth of Kingsbridge itself. Nowadays, Harrods group owns a bank, a famous real estate, and an airline. One of its owners was the Egyptian magnate Mohamed Al-Fayed, famous for his son’s relationship with Princess Diana, and had recently been awarded the Imperial Mark, an ancient royal certificate over three hundred years old.
Harrods of London is located on a 20,000-m² parcel and has 90,000-m² of sales space spread over five floors, and its slogan says “Everything for everyone, everywhere”. Besides the shopping occasion, there inside the store is interesting to be taken as a classic, an excellent odd to understand London development and current local culture and lifestyle.
Ride the Emirates cable car
You can either catch the Emirates Air Line cable cars from North Greenwich or on the Royal Victoria side of the river. On the go you will be able to enjoy panoramic views of the Thames, London’s skyline, Greenwich Peninsula and the Royal Docks.
This is a modern cable and a very convenient alternative to London Eye in terms of price and waiting lines. To get on board is easy and fast. The Emirates cable cars arrive every 30 seconds and the trip takes about 10 minutes. During peak hours, the journey is about only five minutes but, after 7pm, it extends to 12-13 minutes for the night flight experience.
The fares are £3.50 for adults and £1.70 for kids and it is possible to get discounts, multi-ride tickets and exclusive experiences. Check tickets information here.
Kings Cross station for Harry Potter fans
Nothing is better than following the tracks of literature to get engage with a place. London’s Platform 9 ¾ located in King’s Cross Station is one of the most famous railway platforms in the world. The funny part of it is that actually it doesn’t even exist.
According to J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, in order to be transported to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Harry Potter had to board the Hogwarts Express at Platform 9 ¾ to get to their school in the north of Scotland. Of course, such a magic platform could only been seen by the magic folks.
To make everyone magic King’s Cross station authorities decided to place a Platform 9 ¾ in between real platforms 9 and 10. Recently, Warwick Davis (who played Professor Flitwick and Griphook in the Harry Potter films), decided to open up The Harry Potter Shop at Platform 9 ¾ in King’s Cross and install some props that look exactly like the ones used by Harry Potter and the rest of the magic crew.
If you want a complete Harry Potter Tour, we recommend clicking here.
Visit Sherlock Holmes
If you are a good detective you will find out that the famous 221b Baker Street address where Sherlock Holmes lived and worked it’s actually located between 237 and 241 Baker Street. The Sherlock Holmes Museum is there and inside you will find recreated his famous study as described in the books.
You should buy tickets from the shop before joining the queue to get in, and at busy times, there can be a long wait. Tickets to Sherlock Holmes Museum cost £15 for adults and £10 for children (under 16 years of age). The museum is just one minute’s walk from Baker Street station on the London Underground.
The views from The Shard
The Shard is the tallest building in London. It has 11.000 glass panels, covering 56.000 square meters, which is equal to the size of eight football pitches. Its architecture is ultimately modern and inside the building, there are expensive offices, shops, and luxury hotel rooms. Besides that is a new icon for the city and it is possible to visit and to go up to admire the skyline views from the top. Tickets are 20.21£ per person. You can get updated information here.
Cruise on the River Thames
Since the Thames is the main artery of London and the views on it are spectacular became very popular to take cruises along it. To meander along the river to see everything from there is possible. Normally the routes start at Tower Bridge and arrive to the Houses of Parliament or the other way round.
There many options for all the budgets, from cheap excursions to expensive dinners on board. Take a look here to some of the options you have.
Mind the gap but never mind the weather!
This rather an advice, a philosophy… You will see in the tube stations some signs and you will listen some warnings about minding the gap between the train and the subway platform. Do it! and move around buy tube. Nevertheless, when you get out back to the surface just enjoy the moment no matter what is the weather. This is London and rain and fog can be romantic if you make them that way.
Food and drink experiencies
Taste ales and food in a pub
Pubs ae unofficial institutions in London. The name pub is a derivation of public house, which is an establishment licensed to serve alcoholic drinks for consumption or selling. The term public house first appeared in the late 17th century, and was used to differentiate private houses from those which were open to the public as alehouses, taverns and inns. They come from the roman taverns and the old Anglo-Saxon alehouse and got very developed and spread in XIX Century, being accessible to the working class that was quickly increasing in number at the industrial neighbourhoods of London.
A pub is open to the public without membership, to everybody and serves draught beer, cider and spirits without requiring food be consumed. Even though the pub food is a developed concept and, since London is not very cheap to eat, is a perfect option to taste from good fast food to traditional recopies. In a pub, quality and comfort are guaranteed for everybody. That is the reason why you can find every kind of people in a pub.
There plenty of them in London. Check here a list of the best ones. In all of them, the beer or drinks must be good and the saloons and couches are normally really good for the reasonable money you spend inside there (well, all depends on how much you drink). In addition, they usually offer extra services for free very much matching with the local culture, like sport games in big screens or live music. Indeed, they are the perfect spot to join the local culture.
Order during the Happy Hour
The Happy Hour is an English concept that became popular all over the world since represent the good philosophy of the win-win, both for the client and for the pub’s owner. It is very popular in London to meet friends in pubs after the daily hard working hours or just join your job mates for a couple of drinks when you are done for the day.
To those ones that do not know what is that let me say that is very simple: you order two drinks but you pay only one during fixed a concrete hour. To join a happy hour as a tourist guarantees you besides a better deal with your drinks the chance of catching the local vibe.
Watching sports in bars
The sport bar is one more of the English concepts exported successfully. While in France the bars are ready for talking and the atmosphere is about conversations, in London many bars screen sports games all the time and people watch and bet. If you are visiting London and your favourite foreign team plays that day probably you won’t miss the game, since it is perfectly possible that any of the sport bars around will screen it.
Admiring the views from a cool rooftop bar
An aerial view of London is simply beautiful. No matters from where since the panoramic views will be unbeatable anyhow. In addition, Londoners love rooftop bars, so that is part of the local culture. They are modern, fashioned and cool, always trendy and the best places to escape the crowds on the pavement and they provide an amazing skyline background to have a drink with friends or in a romantic mood with someone special.
They are a good alternative to common pubs. Even though, they are usually pricy and might be snobbish, but London is somehow that too. All seasons are good to go, since in summer, the temperature is perfect and in winter, you can feel cosy under a blanket next to the cool open-air heaters. We definitely recommend going at sunset. In internet there are plenty of lists about the best rooftop bars, here you can check a list, which is late November 2020 updated with Covid-19 latest information.
Keep the afternoon tea tradition
Afternoon tea is a relatively new tradition but probably the most famous of English customs. The habit of drinking tea was popularised in England during the 1660s by King Charles II, but it was not until the mid-19th century that the concept of afternoon tea came up.
Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, introduced afternoon tea in England in 1840. The Duchess got hungry around four o’clock in the afternoon so she asked for a tray of tea, bread, butter and a cake to be brought to her room. This became a habit of hers and she began inviting friends to join her, developing without knowing a fashionable social event among aristocrats, which was followed soon by the upper-class and society women. Nowadays, the afternoon tea tradition is followed by all social classes and uses to be just a biscuit or small cake and a mug of tea made out of a teabag.
You can order in London a cup of tea almost everywhere, but if you want a classic Victorian experience there are a wide selection of hotels in London offering the quintessential afternoon tea experience like Claridges, Dorchester, Ritz, Savoy, Harrods… Traditional afternoon tea consists of a selection of dainty sandwiches, scones served with clotted cream, cakes and pastries. Tea grown in India or Ceylon is poured from silver teapots into delicate bone chinese styled cups. It won’t be cheap but it will be almost a ceremony.
They are originally from Scotland but so much appreciated by the Brits. A scone is an individual round-shaped bun. It is a very common food in breakfasts and snacks both in the United Kingdom and in Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United States of America. They very popular with jam, butter or both at the tea time.
You can taste them in many places or buy them in some bakeries. Chick here for a selection of the best places to taste them!
Have an English breakfast
A full English breakfast consists of a sunny side up, sausage, fried bacon, hashbrown, red baked beans, mushrooms, toasted bread and a slice of white or black pudding (similar to bloodwurst). It is accompanied by tea or coffee and hot, buttered toast.
The tradition of the English breakfast, sometimes also called a ‘fry-up’, as a national dish dates back to the 13th century, with its popularity driven by the gentry, the distinct social class who believed themselves to be guardians of the traditional English country lifestyle. They considered breakfast as the most important meal of the day and they used to offer to their guests to their great countryside house the most appreciated products of the moment.
The Victorian society caught the English breakfast as a national symbol that was spread to middle class in the 19th Century. The English breakfast tradition spread arrived to working classes once the workers could afford it and reached its peak in the early 1950’s when roughly half of the British population began their day by eating the same English breakfast we would eat today.
Nowadays, it is not that popular since we don’t need that amount of calories for our daily jobs and duties. Nevertheless, English breakfast is almost available every restaurant in London and it is popular as an all-day meal option.
Fish and Chips
London is home to Fish and chips. It is most likely the best-known and loved dish. There many places where to get it. However, it is also a challenge to find one among all not very disappointing.
Fish and chips is a dish of fried fish in batter served with chips. Indeed, it is very simple recipe and a culinary fusion that became an emblematic British meal. Even though, in practise has become the local version within the many times ethnic cheap fast food. Commonly low cost, normally too greasy, too fat and quite dirty.
On the other hand, since London is always fashionable for locals, full of tourist (we hope this is not changing) and there is some lack of local cheap and good food there are some places able to surprise the visitor. Check here a list of the best fish and chips restaurants in London.
The British Museum
The British Museum in itself is a masterpiece of art. However, the archaeologic pieces kept within its walls are the main reason why the crowds go.
Since London has been the capital of a Colonial Empire, it treasures a complete worldwide collection of the most relevant historic periods. Even though there are two spaces worth to highlight. The Egyptian room where is possible to learn about the ancient Egyptians, from their early years of fast advances in the technology to the significance of death and the afterlife to Egyptians. The second space would be the Middle-Eastern history room, where the visitor could catch a glimpse at the extravagant hunting rituals of the last great Assyrian king, Ashurbanipal, who lived between 668 and around 630 B.C.
The visit to the Museum as many of the public cultural exhibitions in UK is free, which is not a bad reason to visit one of the best collections in the world. The Museum provides many extra services and options that you can check here.
Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum in London is a natural history museum that exhibits a large collection of specimens from various segments of natural history. It is one of three major museums on Exhibition Road in South Kensington, with the Science Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum.
The museum is home to life and earth science specimens comprising approximately 80 million items within five main collections: botany, entomology, mineralogy, palaeontology and zoology. Some of its collections have great historical as well as scientific value, such as specimens collected by Charles Darwin. The museum is also a centre of research specialising in taxonomy, identification and conservation.
The museum is particularly famous for its exhibition of dinosaur skeletons and ornate skeleton of a blue whale hanging from the ceiling. Entry to the Natural History Museum is free. There are admission charges for some of the special exhibitions and events. You can get more information on the Museum website.
The Science Museum is a major museum on Exhibition Road in South Kensington, London. It was founded in 1857 and today is one of the city’s major tourist attractions and the most visited science and technology museum in Europe. It keeps over 15,000 objects on display, including world-famous objects such as the Apollo 10 command capsule and Stephenson’s Rocket.
Along plenty of interactive galleries the visitor comes through from the first scientific principles to contemporary science debates. It is possible to enjoy stunning 3D and 4D simulators or watch a film on a super huge screen in the IMAX 3D Cinema.
Entry is free, but charges apply for the IMAX 3D Cinema and some special exhibitions, attractions or extra services. Check for more information on the Museum’s website.
Victoria & Albert Museum
The Victoria and Albert museum (V&A) was founded in 1852 and named as it was because of Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert.
Victoria and Albert museum started life as the Museum of Manufactures and the collections were of applied arts and science. With the years, the Museum has become extraordinary big. It has 145 galleries in over twelve acres and it houses over 5,000 years of art history from Europe, America, Africa and Asia.
The complete visit to museum is practically impossible at once so it is a good idea to plan upfront what you would like to visit as a priority and just come back again to visit more things other day. Entry is free. You can get more information on the museum’s website.
The British Library
The British Library is the national library of the UK and the largest library in the world by number of items catalogued. It is not as beautiful and iconic as the Library of Congress in Washington is. It is not in privileged location and does not have either the history touch feeling of some libraries in Manchester. However, to visit the British Library is a must in terms of culture.
The services, the exhibitions and the easy-going access rules to the most interesting collections make a visit very profitable. As all the libraries in the country, the entry is free and you can get your partnership immediately. The best way to arrive is by trai to King’s Cross Station.
Tate Modern Art Museum
Tate Modern is a modern art gallery located in London is one of the largest museums of modern and contemporary art in the world. It holds the national collection of British art from 1900 to the present day and international modern and contemporary art. The permanent collection and temporary exhibitions are excellent in technical terms. For Tate work the best experts on their art fields and they have innovative exhibition project that follow always the artistic vanguards.
Entry remains free for everyone, with a charge for some exhibitions. All visitors, including Members, need to book a timed ticket online before visiting. To be upgraded with the latest information check the museum’s website.
The Globe Theatre was a theatre built in 1599 in London by Shakespeare’s playing company and some partners. A modern reconstruction of the Globe, named “Shakespeare’s Globe”, opened in 1997, located 230 meters from the original location of the theatre, on the bank of the Thames.
Shakespeare’s Globe is a unique international resource dedicated to the exploration of Shakespeare’s work and the playhouse for which he wrote, through the connection of performance and education, as well as a deeper experience and international understanding of Shakespeare in performance. It is possible to get into a tour, visit the bar and the shop. For updated information click here.
The Saatchi Gallery showcases contemporary works of art in a spectacular and huge exhibition space in Duke of York Square, Chelsea. The exhibitions focus on young artists and international artists who have rarely been seen in the UK. Actualy, the Gallery acquired a strong reputation for introducing artists who would later gain worldwide recognition. Saatchi Gallery is a registered charity to provide an innovative platform for contemporary art and culture.
The Saatchi Gallery supports innovative art through temporary exhibitions, an educational programme and events. The gallery also hosts a book shop and a café. Entry is free. For more information click here.
Charles Dickens Museum
Charles Dickens Museum is a visit to Victorian family home of Charles Dickens in London. This is where the author wrote Oliver Twist, Pickwick Papers and Nicholas Nickleby. It’s where he first achieved international fame as one of the world’s greatest writers.
The museum is the way to learn more about this very important author and spot some treasures of his own, including Dickens’s desk, handwritten drafts from the novels he wrote there and plenty of his personal belongings.
The fees are £9.50 per adult and £4.50 for children in between 6 and 16 years. For more information click here to the museum’s official site.
Imperial War Museum
Imperial War Museum London is the perfect place to enjoy learning about the war conflicts in the United Kingdom history. The visitor should pay special attention to First and Second World War Galleries. The experience is interactive and well organized. It is possible to discover some of the more unexpected objects from Curiosities of War collections or visit an award-winning exhibition on The Holocaust and explore stories of bravery in The Lord Ashcroft Gallery.
Imperial War Museum London is a short walk from Lambeth North or Elephant & Castle. Waterloo Train Station is also walking distance. The 344 and 360 bus routes arrive there too. Entry is free but they accept voluntary donations.
Beefeater Gin Distillery
Beefeater Gin is an old icon, very renovated lately since Gin has become trendy again. Moreover, The Beefeater London Gin Distillery has been considered as the “Home of Gin” for over 150 years.
It is possible to visit and tak a self-guided tour for 16£. The visitor’s centre is an interactive experience that leads you into the extraordinary stories and events behind one of the world’s best-loved spirits. For updated information click here.
Isle of Dogs
Despite its name, is not actually an island, but an area in east London within a large meander of the River Thames that found fame from its trade and shipping connections. Today there are no wild dogs or hunting ones, like there were probably in the past, only a residential oasis of quiet streets that have grown in popularity since the closure of the docks in the 1970s. But the investments didn’t ever stop and new iconic buildings of big multinational companies and banks went on coming along and they have all set up home in the skyscrapers that make up the area’s iconic skyline.
The O2 Arena is a multi-purpose indoor stadium in the centre of The O2 entertainment complex on the Greenwich Peninsula in southeast London. It opened in 2007 and it has the second-highest seating capacity of any indoor arena in the United Kingdom. Besides being an icon it is a excellent place to enjoy many kinds of performace. For more information check O2 Arena oficial website.
Wembley is the reconstruction of an icon. It has been a myth for football fans and much more. It is the famous stadium where to cheer for the English national team and watch other different sports besides football such as rugby, American football or boxing or different kinds of performance like music concerts. There was performed the emblematic Live Aid of 1985 where the band Queen reappeared which was reproduced in the biopic film Bohemian Rhapsody by Bryan Singer.
Replacing the old Wembley, in 2007 they built in the same location the new stadium of Wembley that is worth visiting just because of its avant-garde architecture and what is left of the myth. By the way, if you are F.C. Barcelona supporters like us, you will have the chance to visit the stadium where Barça won the finals of the Champions League, in 1992 (Old Wembley) and in 2011 (New Wembley). You can get updated information about tours and tickets here.
Other premier league stadiums
Besides the absolute temple of football, which is Wembley, London has a set of classic and modern stadiums that represents Premier League as one of the best football leagues of the world.
Among the modern ones, Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium, West Ham’s redeveloped London Stadium, Tottenham’s White Hart Lane and Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge are the most interesting stadiums to visit. They are worth because of the carried history, the actual atmosphere, the interesting inner museums, bars and tours.
However, London is not all about large modern football stadiums. In fact, London treasures smaller historic stadiums like Fulham’s Craven Cottage, perfectly located on the banks of the Thames with its magnificent classic vibe, or Crystal Palace’s atmospheric Selhurst Park. Don’t hesitate to visit the ones inspire you more!
To visit Wimbledon means to get into Wimbledon Lawn, the largest and most important tennis museum in the world and to take a look inside the large grounds of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, where the great Wimbledon Tennis Championship is held.
This museum offers an astonishing multi-dimensional journey through the traditions, sights, and sounds that have made Wimbledon Lawn trophy, the most coveted award of any tennis player in the world. The museum includes clothes that belonged to the most famous tennis players of history and the hologram of Joe McEnroe as a guide.
To arrive the best options are by tube at Southfields and Wimbledon stops on the District line, or by train at Wimbledon Station from Waterloo. The prices for the visit and the museum are 25£ per adult and 15£ for children. They have discounts for families. For more and updated information click here to the official site of the tennis club.
Lord’s Cricket Ground
Lord’s Cricket Ground, better known as Lord’s, is a cricket ground in St John’s Wood, in the City of Westminster in London, England. With a capacity for 30,000 spectators and more than a hundred international tests contested, is recognized as the “cathedral of cricket”.
If you are not English is very likely that you don’t know anything about cricket. Even though, probably you know that things are always more interesting in the right place and well explained. The stadium organizes different tours to introduce the visitor in cricket culture.
For updated information and tickets click here.
Visit in Central London
Buckingham Palace and The Changing of the Guard
Buckingham Palace was built in 1703 for the Duke of Buckingham. Since its construction it has been expanded and remodeled several times and during World War II, it was bombed on different occasions and even the royal chapel was destroyed in 1940. Buckingham Palace has been the residence of the British Royal Family in London since 1837. Today, it is the residence of Queen Elizabeth II.
Visits inside the palace are only allowed for a few weeks a year. From July 21 to August 31: from 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. and from September 1 to September 30: from 9:15 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
There are two different types of tickets. One of the modalities allows you to visit the State Rooms (Adults: £ 25; students and seniors over 60: £ 22.80; Under 17s: £ 14; Children under 5 years old: free entry). The other includes the Royal Garages and the Queen’s Gallery: Adults: £ 45, students and seniors over 60: £ 40; under 17s: £ 24.50; Children under 5 years old: free entry.
In addition to visits to the interior of Buckingham Palace, the Changing of the Guard is celebrated throughout the year in front of the palace. It takes place daily at 11:30 am from May to July. The rest of the year it takes place every other day, except on rainy days when the show is usually canceled.
To get there the best is by public transport. Tube: Green Park, Jubilee, Piccadilly and Victoria lines or Bus: lines 11, 211, 239, C1 and C10. For updated information click here.
Piccadilly Circus is one of the most famous intersections on the planet. Approximately 100 million people walk through Piccadilly Circus per year. Piccadilly Circus connects Regent Street, Shaftesbury Avenue, Covent Street, Glasshouse Street and Haymarket, all famous London streets by themselves. The name “Piccadilly” is derived from the name of a 17th-century frilled collar called the piccadill. It is said there was a tailor called Robert Baker who got famous in London by designing those piccadills, and he soon built an elaborate residence in the area. The junction now known as Piccadilly Circus was named after his “Piccadilly House”, and the name has stuck ever since.
It is a very iconic place that has evolved from very old times passing through a very famous hippie period to end up with its neon lights and showcases. Nowadays, it is always very vivid and if you are lucky you will catch up with one of the performance that use to take place there.
Carnaby Street is the “Capital of cool”. This street is a piece of Soho that describes perfectly good what is to trendy, what fashion means. By the 19th century, Carnaby Street started becoming a popular haunt already among creative and bohemian types, thanks to its convenient location to London’s many theatres and galleries. Nowadays it is still a concentration of alternative glamour, full of shops, bars and restaurants and cool atmosphere you should not miss!
Covent Garden is one of London’s most-loved neighbourhoods, located in the heart of the West End. It is probably one of the cosiest places for foodie and shopping experiences. Its lifestyle is modern and cosmopolite. Covent Garden is rich in theatre and performance, arts and all what culture means.
It is very famous for its Royal Opera House, Covent Garden Piazza, Covent Garden Market and St. Paul’s Church. The tube is generally the easiest way to get there (Covent Garden Tube Station is on Picadilly line).
Trafalgar Square is one of the most important squares in London, designed in 1830 to commemorate the British victory against the French and Spanish fleets in the Battle of Trafalgar. It is a huge space in a very strategic location in London, mainly the centre of everything. There are several different monuments in Trafalgar Square, but the most important is Nelson’s Column at the centre of the square, which has four lion statues and some fountains. The architecture of the surrounding buildings is historical and magnificent and the square is always full of pedestrians enjoying a walk, especially if the weather helps on that.
To get there Charing Cross (on the Bakerloo and Northern lines) is the closest Tube station, with an entrance/exit on Trafalgar Square.
Oxford Street is the busiest shopping street in Europe, and the most popular shopping destination in London. To go there is about shopping or at least watch some showcases. Even though you can find there probably one of the best selections of snob boutiques and glamourous services, there is a nice selection of shops for lower budgets. Moreover, Oxford Street is an excellent location to admire just local people going back and forth supporting capitalism!
To get there you have five different underground stations within walking distance to Oxford Street: Bond Street, Oxford Circus, Piccadilly Circus, Tottenham Court Road or Marble Arch.
St. Paul’s Cathedral
St. Paul’s Cathedral serves as the Anglican Episcopal see in London and is an icon for the city itself. The temple has been the location of many major cultural and religious events, like the funerals of Lord Nelson and Winston Churchill or the marriage of Prince Charles and Diana Spencer.
The exterior of the temple is very worth because of its famous dome and façade. In addition, on Sundays you will be able to see the cathedral’s weekly ringing of the bells.
The inner part of the temple is stunning because of its chapels, monuments, religious art, statues and galleries. It is highly recommended you check out the official website beforehand so you can schedule your visit according to certain events and performances and it may be a good idea to visit the cathedral when it is quiet, so try to arrive as close to the opening times as possible in order to avoid crowds.
The best way to arrive there is by tube, getting off at St. Paul’s Station.
Westminster Abbey is probably the most famous temple all around UK. Since 1066, the Abbey has hosted every coronation, and is the final resting place for great kings, queens, and the most well-known artists and scientists of the country. It is possibly to visit the tombs, the museum, the Lady Chapel, the Coronation Chair and the amazing cloisters.
Entry is not cheap, on-line tickets are £18 for adults and £7 for children, but visitors can attend Westminster Abbey worship for free. This does not allow full access to the Abbey nor to entry the museum, but a seat in the nave give guests a taste of the majesty and history this church holds.
For updated information check the official website of the abbey.
Houses of Parliament
The Houses of Parliament are more than a simple and iconic London landmark, they function as the heart of British democracy. Set in the Palace of Westminster, a Victorian complex made out of two houses: the House of Commons and House of Lords.
To visit the Houses of Parliament is one of the first things that a visitor you may think of when visiting London. If you are UK resident you can get a tour for free besides the rest of the options that the system provides to use your democratic rights.
Parliament also runs 90-minute guided tours of the Houses of Parliament for which everyone can access and have to pay for. On the face of it, the tours are quite similar to the free tours and held on weekdays when Parliament is not in session and most Saturdays throughout the year. They are available on selected days in French, Spanish, German and Italian.
Cost: £26.50 Adults, £22 Young Adults 16-18, £11.50 Children 5 to 15 and under 5 free. £22 Concessions (over 60s, students and UK Armed Forces). For updated information check here the website of the Parliament.
Big Ben is the nickname for the Great Bell of the striking clock at the north end of the Palace of Westminster. That name is frequently extended to refer to both the clock and the clock tower regardless the original name is Clock Tower and that was renamed to Elizabeth Tower in 2012, year of the Jubilee of Elizabeth II.
Currently the iconic tower is still under restoration and maintenance work, necessary to ensure its stability and permanence, as well as its accessibility through the installation of an elevator. That works started in 2017 and they will finish this current 2021, when will be possible to take again the most-wanted pictures with the famous clock in the background.
Hatton Garden – Jewish Diamond district
Hatton Garden is a famous street in Holborn in the London neighborhood of Camden. It is famed as London’s jewelry quarter and the center of the diamond trade in the UK with around 300 businesses located in Hatton Garden and over 55 shops. When people think of Hatton Garden, probably thing of shops filled with exquisite jewelry. It is the ideal go to place in London for engaged couples to pick out engagement rings and wedding bands.
This quatier is a Jewish heritage from old time. Since the law forbade the handling of goods or money for Christians, the Jews could take up the opportunity to play a significant role in wider society as moneylenders, providers of financial services and jewellery traders on one hand. On the other hand, since Jews were often unfairly threated and sometimes they even needed to scape, this way they got involved in such businesses that required less infrastructure and were more convenient in order to be able carry with all the valuable objects if necessary.
To get there Holborn Tube Station is your best option.
The Great Fire of London Monument was built between 1671 and 1677 to commemorate the Great Fire of London which took place in 1666 and to celebrate the rebuilding of the City and stands at the junction of Monument Street and Fish Street Hill in the City of London.
It has been renovated some times in history but preserves its appearance and importance as a city symbol. Ordinarily, it is not possible to get to the top.
To get to The Monument just get off at Monument Underground Station on the District and Circle lines or London Bridge on the Northern and Jubilee lines. There are many coffee shops and restaurants around. To get more information, anecdotes and complete historic background click here.
Somerset House is considered one of the great historic buildings in the whole UK. Currently it is an artistic centre designed for the most current audiences. It offers a host of events related to contemporary arts and modern day culture. Entry is free but you may pay for some of the exhibitions.
Somerset House is located in the heart of London, on the north bank of the River Thames. The nearest tube station is a 5 minute walk away and is Temple (Circle and District Lines). It is located 8 minutes walking from Covent Garden (Piccadilly Line) and 10 minutes to Charing Cross (Bakerloo and Northern Lines) and Embankment (Circle and District Lines).By train, Charing Cross is a 10 minute walk away and 13 minutes to Blackfriars and Waterloo.
You can get more information about Somerset House here.
Museum of Childhood
Founded in 1872, The Childhood Museum is the first public museum in London. It has welcome generations of visitors into the magic world of the early years of a human being. Now is under a conceptual reconstruction to lead again this museum theme all around the world as a reference.
Entry is free and the nearest underground stations are South Kensington (5-minute walking) and Gloucester Road (10-minute walking). To get updated information check the official website of the museum.
The Millennium Bridge is a suspension pedestrian bridge over the River Thames that connects the Bankside area with the City of London. It is located between London’s Bridges of Southwark and that of Blackfriars. Originally was built a century earlier from Tower Bridge but the current reconstruction was designed by the studio of the famous architect Norman Foster.
It was finally inaugurated on June 10, 2000, but on the day of its inauguration, more than 100,000 gathered to test it and, to everyone’s surprise, the bridge began to sway slightly. After this first negative experience, the bridge was dubbed “The Wobbly Bridge”, and the engineers responsible for the work were forced to close it. The Millennium Brigde reopened two years later, in 2002, after the engineers secured it with a system of shock absorbers.
Its design is modern, iconic, very pleasant of admiring, and the views from it to St. Paul’s Cathedral are spectacular.
Visit in South East London
Borough Market in London is the most important food market in the city. This is a place with long history and tradition that maintains and preserves part of its old charm. This market is a covered space, but its stalls extend further with offers, also, outdoors.
The Borough Market is located in central London, on the south bank of the River Thames. By tube or train, London Bridge on the Jubilee and Northern lines is the nearest and most convenient station.
The Borough Market is open every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., except on Friday, which closes an hour later, and on Saturday, which opens at 8 a.m. On Sundays it is closed. Entry is free.
More London Place
This is a successful example of how nice the city is able to integrate innovation and modernity into a historical background. More London was developed between 2000 and 2010 and offers some of London’s most stunning uninterrupted river view office, leisure and retail space. Boasting award-winning contemporary architecture and culturally rich open spaces.
It is an iconic neighbourhood that catches the new essence of London, a place for business into a quality life cool modern neighbourhood. If you are interested in either in architecture or rather into lifestyle you shouldn’t miss this visit.
Tower Bridge is one of London’s most famous símbols and a must for all the first time visitors. This remarkable drawbridge, built in Victorian style, is located near the Tower of London. By tube, Tower Hill (Circle, District and DLR lines) is the most convenient station.
It is highly recommended to cross it from side to side because of the river views. Even you will get into a crown of cameras and selfies. It is possible to visit from April to September from 10-18:00 and from October to March from 9:30-17:30 pm. The prices are £9.80 (€ 11) per adult and £ 4.20 (€ 4.70) for children (ages 5 – 15).
Tower of London
The Tower of London is probably the most important historic building in London. The visit is a must. Because of the building itself, the odds of a nice stroll arriving there and all the inner secrets that this place hides.
You can spot in a visit the Crown Jewels, the famous ravens, Bloody Tower, Medieval Palace, battlements, the public outside areas of the Tower of London and magnificent armour displays in the White Tower, including Line of Kings. Entry is £25.00 per adult and £12.50 for children. You can get more information here.
For sure you have heart about Jack the Ripper’s crimes and seen in the movies those kids selling newspapers while yelling “new crime in Whitechapel”. Indeed, Whitechapel was the heart of the East End of London, once known for poverty and unsavory behavior. It was where low-class workers found employment on the nearby docks and factories.
In more recent where still a place where new immigrants, arriving in England with almost nothing, made their new homes and run exotic shops and low cost restaurants. Do not be shocked when you spot the name of the streets in English and Hindi.
Currently, this part of the East End is under a new revolution. It has become the domain of the cool Londoners and has started to be all about street art, trendy cafes, hip bars and vintage shops. The main tube station is Whitechapel Station. Just take a look there and be ready for the mixture, you won’t regret!
Visit in West London
It has been always a very popular neighbourhood for locals. But let’s face that has become worldwide popular because of Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant’s film. Then, this neighbourhood became even trendier and fulfilled with world-famous restaurants, events and theatres.
In addition, every August Bank Holiday millions of people celebrate Europe’s biggest street festival, the Notting Hill Carnival. It has a Caribbean festival theme, bringing a welcome splash of colour to west London.
Notting Hill Gate is the main Tube station in the area. It is served by the Central line, the District line and the Circle line.
The extended area now known as Holland Park. That includes an awesome forest and nice wildlife was once the grounds of Cope Castle, a large Jacobean mansion constructed during the early 17th century by Sir Walter Cope. Later, the castle was renamed as Holland House after its second owner the Earl of Holland. Throughout the 19th century, many politicians and intellectuals like Lord Byron started meeting at Holland House to discuss politics. It soon became known as a “hub of political and literary activity”.
In 1992, a luxurious Japanese-style garden was installed near the centre of the park. During the summer months, the Holland Park Theatre is erected at the centre of the park to host some amazing opera performances in the great outdoors. Entry is free and it is a perfect place to spend a calm sunny morning strolling or reading.
Hyde Park is the largest park in central London. It is the city’s most important green lung. To where many tourists and residents come to relax and enjoy a bit of fresh air and urban nature. Hyde Park is also considered the oldest park in the city. Since it opened it has housed duals, protests, and concerts.
Nowadays, you can stroll, sunbathe, skate or cycle. Probably the most popular activity is to lay on the grass. But you can hire deck chairs available in the park. Besides that, it is also popular both for tourists and Londoners, boating on the Serpentine lake, a small oasis inhabited by many species of wildlife.
In the northeast part of the park, you’ll find the world wide famous Speakers’ Corner. Where on Sunday mornings all kind of speakers step up to give speeches, discussions and debates on various topics, but mostly on religion and politics.
Kew Gardens are located next to the huge and well-known Richmond Park. It is covering 300 acres and boasting more than 60,000 different types of live plants. And more than 7 million preserved plant specimens.
The Royal Botanic Gardens are part of the Kew Gardens. It is one of the only botanical gardens in the world declared a World Heritage Site for its collection of live plants and preserved specimens.
The prices are £17.75 per adult and £ 4 per child (4–16 years). To get there the best is Kew Gardens tube station. Check updated information here.
Leicester Square is strategically located in London. It is a pedestrianized square in the city’s very busy West End. To take a stroll there is to meet the very centre of everyday life in London in a less crowded place. Comparing with the top tourist spots you have 10 minutes walking around.
Leicester Square is equidistant less than 400 meters from four quintessential London tourist spots. To the north Cambridge Circus, to the south Trafalgar Square, to the east Covent Garden and to the west Piccadilly Circus. The best way to arrive is by tube getting off at Leicester Square tube station.
Visit in East London
Shoreditch is the name of that neighborhood located in the heart of the north of the City. More and more people are interested in this London neighborhood. Since it is a place where you can feel the coolest vibe, be fashionable and hipster guy all at once. And this is a new trend. Twenty or twenty five years ago arose the vintage clothing markets. Alternative shops and bars and cafes that currently call more public of hipster culture and a creative and modern environment.
You can take a look there arriving to Liverpool Street Railway Station. By renting a bus or using the very good bus network.
The Old Spitalfields Market Flea Market is held in a covered space. In it you can find everything. From art to gifts, antiques, clothes from young London designers or delicious restaurants, cafes and tea rooms.
It is famous for its antiques which, in addition to being at good prices, are real bargains. Specialized market stalls are housed under this same roof revealing some great secrets and a long history.
It is open every day from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Sundays from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.). The best way to get there is to reach Liverpool Street Station.
Visit in North London
Camden Lock Market is actually made up of several markets. Besides the main buildings on the Regent’s Canal there are in addition street stalls all around. The charm of Camden Lock has changed over the years, but it remains unique. The wide variety of merchandise for sale is overwhelming. Here you will find new and used clothing, antiques, jewellery, candles and all kinds of junk!
Camden Lock is in the north of London. You can get there by tube getting off at Camden Town and Chalk Farm Road Station on the Northern line.
The 395-acre park was first acquired by Henry VIII. The area was used mostly as a hunting park up until 1649. Today The Regent’s Park offers several different outdoor activities for tourists and locals. Its sports facilities alone cover nearly 100 acres. Which makes it the largest outdoor sports area in all of central London.
It is a very popular place for running or biking. As a tourist is a place to relax and a very good chance to catch a bit of local vibe. While having a break of your hard London walking tour.
The nearest tube station to get there is Regent’s Park, which is a 4-minute walk away.
Dear Traveller, hope you liked the latest article from Besides the Obvious! If you would not like to miss any of our travel stories, do not forget to subscribe here!