London is one of the most captivating cities in the entire world. Ancient laneways are lined with award-winning theatres, high-end stores, and modern architectural wonders like the Shard. Visitors are forced to gawk at the splendour of the scenic streets as they wind around famous landmarks like Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, and St. Paul’s Cathedral, using up all of their phone’s photo storage in the process.
With over 20 million visitors annually, it’s little wonder London is one of the most visited cities in the world, with so many breathtaking tourist sites and captivating things to do.
Should you visit a famous museum (many of which provide free admission), have a picnic in one of the many parks, visit a regal palace, or stroll through a stunning garden? Maybe you’d rather watch a show, go horseback riding in a forest, fly on the London Eye, or have a traditional afternoon tea at Harrods.
Use our list of the top London attractions and activities to pick what to see and do in this amazing city that you’ll want to visit repeatedly.
View the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace while you’re there
Buckingham Palace, one of Britain’s most recognisable structures, is also the location of London’s most well-liked pomp and circumstance show, the Changing of the Guard. This vibrant and free performance of precise marching and music draws audiences at 11:30am regardless of the season. It also takes place at St. James’s Palace, and thereafter, you may accompany the band as they march around The Mall between locations.
Since Queen Victoria’s accession, Buckingham Palace, which was constructed in 1837, has served as the Royal Family’s London residence. If you’re unsure if the Queen is home, check the flagpole on top of the structure. If it is flying day and night, she is. She and other members of the Royal Family might even make an appearance on the main balcony for significant state occasions.
Visitors can purchase tickets for tours of the State Rooms, the Queen’s Gallery, and the Royal Mews while the Queen is away at her summer residence in Scotland.
Visit The Tower of London to view the Royal Jewels and traverse Tower Bridge
The beautiful Tower of London has served in a variety of capacities over the years, including prison, palace, treasure vault, and private zoo. This magnificent World Heritage Site, one of Britain’s most recognisable buildings, provides hours of intrigue for travellers interested in the nation’s fascinating history—after all, so much of it took place here. The impressive 17th-century Line of Kings with its astounding exhibits of royal arms and armour is located inside the enormous White Tower, which William the Conqueror constructed in 1078.
The well-known Crown Jewels exhibit, the Beefeaters, the Royal Mint, and gory displays concerning the executions that took place on the grounds are all noteworthy. In addition to learning about the mystery surrounding two princes who vanished many years ago, The Bloody Tower tells tales of ancient torture.
One of London’s most recognisable landmarks is the nearby Tower Bridge, with its two enormous towers standing 200 feet above the River Thames (fascinating behind-the-scenes tours are available). Walk across for the best views of the tower and a glimpse of London Bridge, which many people wrongly think is Tower Bridge, further down the Thames. Butler’s Wharf, a hip area of town with many eateries, can be found on the south side of the bridge.
Visit the British Museum to become cultured
The British Museum houses more than 13 million artefacts from the ancient world, making it one of the best collections of antiquities in the world. It’s difficult to know where to start with this huge attraction because it has magnificent artefacts from Assyria, Babylonia, China, Europe, and other cultures.
Most visitors start by visiting the museum’s most well-known displays, which include the contentious Elgin Marbles from the Parthenon, the Rosetta Stone, the enormous bust of Ramesses II, the Egyptian mummies, and the magnificent Mildenhall Treasure of 4th-century Roman silver.
Discover Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament’s Charm
Big Ben, a massive clock with a resonating bell, is housed in a 318-foot tower that screams “London” more than anything else. It is a famous landmark on par with Tower Bridge, and the BBC’s time signal is known all over the world as Big Ben’s tolling. The Houses of Parliament are located below it along the Thames. They have served as the British government’s seat for many years and were formerly the location of the royal Westminster Palace that William the Conqueror resided.
You may get the best view by crossing Westminster Bridge and turning around. Alternately, after passing under the bridge, turn left to head in the direction of the SEA LIFE London Aquarium (a fun spot to take kids). A fantastic photo with Big Ben in the background can be taken by gathering your group around the wall.
Tours of the legislative buildings provide a rare opportunity to observe ongoing debates and vibrant political conversations. Whitehall, which is surrounded by so many governmental structures and is accessible from Parliament Square, has earned the moniker “Whitehall” for the British government.
The National Gallery is a Place to Be Creative
It’s nearly impossible to travel to London without seeing the magnificent National Gallery. This famous, columned museum is situated on the edge of Trafalgar Square and is home to amazing works of art, making it one of the top tourist destinations in London.
London’s National Gallery, one of the best art museums in the world, offers a nearly full overview of European painting from 1260 to 1920. The Dutch Masters and Italian Schools of the 15th and 16th century collections at the museum are among its strongest points.
Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square should be explored
Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square, two of London’s most well-known tourist attractions, are close to one another and serve as the entrances to Soho, the city’s vibrant theatre and entertainment quarter.
The distance between the two is extremely fun to stroll because it is surrounded by unique stores, scrumptious cafés, ice cream shops, and winding lanes that harken back to a time when only horses and carriages could navigate these cobblestone alleys.
The bustling crossroads of Piccadilly, Regent, Haymarket, and Shaftesbury Avenues is marked by Piccadilly Circus, where London’s most famous sculpture, a winged Eros poised with his bow and delicately balanced on one foot, stands. It’s popular to say, “It’s like Piccadilly Circus,” to describe a crowded and perplexing scene.
Take a trip to the Shard’s summit
The Shard has established itself as one of London’s most iconic and frequently visited monuments when it first opened its doors in 2012. This magnificent building, which is 1,016 feet tall and has 95 storeys, was named for the way it resembles a shard of glass. It dominates the skyline, yet because to its attractive design, it blends in perfectly with nearby landmarks like Tower Bridge.
The Shard has office space on the lower levels as well as a gorgeous Shangri-La Hotel, three excellent restaurants, and some of the best views of London. For visitors who are not staying here, the highest levels provide several viewing platforms: indoor and outdoor.
Take a stroll through Westminster Abbey’s Holy Halls
Westminster Abbey is situated on land that has a long history of being connected to British aristocracy and Christianity, dating back to the early 7th century. Edward the Confessor established Westminster Abbey in 1065 to serve as his burial site; it is now formally known as the Collegiate Church of St. Peter in Westminster.
Nearly 700 years after his burial in 1066 and up to George II’s, most kings and queens were not only crowned here but also interred there. It has gained notoriety more recently as the favourite venue for royal weddings.
Dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum to stroll with
The magnificent Natural History Museum in London, which opened its doors in 1754, continues to rank among the most popular tourist destinations worldwide. You may easily identify it by its enormous Romanesque façade, and you shouldn’t rush to go there. Due to the potential for crowding, get there early.
If you have time, start your visit by taking one of the formal, 30- to 50-minute guided tours that are offered. You’ll be introduced to key points you might want to go back to later and learn more about in depth. Regular fun events include everything from kid-friendly workshops to late-night openings. On-site food options and shopping opportunities are available.
Climb St. Paul’s Cathedral’s Dome
St. Paul’s Cathedral, the biggest and most well-known of London’s numerous churches and unquestionably one of the world’s most magnificent cathedrals, is built on top of the remains of a Roman temple. Sir Christopher Wren created the new church after the original was burned in the Great Fire of 1666.
Today, the majestic 365-foot dome of St. Paul’s and its twin Baroque towers stand as a masterpiece of English construction. If you feel up to it, climb the stairs for breathtaking views of the interior of the dome, including the Whispering Gallery, which is unquestionably one of the best things to do in London.
Shop at the Best Markets in London
The greatest markets in London have something for everyone, whether they love food, flowers, art, or clothes. While the majority are only open on weekends (including Fridays), some of the most unique places, like the bustling Camden Market (in North London), accept customers every day.
Over 100 stalls, stores, and restaurants can be found in Camden Market, where you may get everything from gluten-free treats to handmade jewelry to bohemian clothing. You can get an unique urban vibe here if you’re looking for one.
For foodies in the heart of London, Borough Market is a must-visit location. You’ll have to navigate crowds at this well-liked location near London Bridge on the weekends in order to get the freshest vegetables or a tantalising sample of the enormous paella. To get a bit extra elbow room, get there early (we advise no later than 10). Head there early because the wait for coffee can go on for blocks. Although some stalls are open during the week, the majority don’t start selling their wares until Friday.
Fly above London using the London Eye
The London Eye, also known as the Coca-Cola London Eye, is the largest observation wheel in Europe and was constructed to commemorate London’s millennium celebrations in 2000. As you take a circle trip climbing 443 feet above the Thames, its separate glass capsules provide the most breathtaking views of the city. The trip takes about 30 minutes, which is frequently less time than waiting in line. Make a time reservation if you can.
The Emirates Air Line, a system of cable cars that spans the Thames between Greenwich and the Royal Victoria Dock, is another entertaining way to see London from above.
It takes one kilometre and ten minutes to get there, giving you plenty of time to take in the breathtaking scenery and snap a few priceless selfies.
Visit Hampton Court Palace to meet Henry VIII
One of the most well-known palaces in all of Europe, Hampton Court is a wonderful addition to the Thames-side attractions in London. Elizabeth I first heard the news of the Spanish Armada’s loss in this palace’s Great Hall, which was built during Henry VIII’s reign and is rumoured to be haunted by two of his six wives.
If you want to feel a little more like a local, pick up an audio guide when you get there and don a velvet cloak while you visit the grounds. Grab a snack at the on-site café or get lost in the palace’s renowned Maze.
Other noteworthy features include the Chapel, the King’s Apartments, the Tudor tennis court, the State Apartments with their Haunted Gallery, and the Clock Court with its remarkable astronomical clock dating from 1540. The Tudor Kitchens, with their enormous fireplaces, should not be missed.
Through Richmond Park on a Horse
When visiting Richmond Park, it can be difficult to imagine that you are in London (technically just outside London). This lavish natural wonderland, one of the eight Royal Parks, features everything you’d expect from an English park: winding walkways, lush woodland, glittering lakes, horse stables and trails, bike lanes, and numerous picnic areas. It’s also one of the most intriguing of the eight Royal Parks.
From King Henry’s Mound, a magnificent hilltop surrounded by wild deer, take in unrivalled views of St. Paul’s Cathedral. At the Pembroke Lodge Tea Room, treat yourself to a nice cup of tea and some classic scones. You can also rent a bike and ride through this magnificent 2,500-acre natural reserve.
View the Kew Gardens’ Flora and Fauna
One of the nicest things to do in London is to spend the day visiting Kew Gardens. This amazing location, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is home to more than 50,000 living plants and some of England’s most exquisitely landscaped gardens.
Kew, also known as the Royal Botanic Gardens, is a tranquil retreat from the bustle of central London and a pleasant breath of fresh air for visitors. It is located in southwest London on the south bank of the Thames.
There are several jumbo aircraft nearby because the area is on a flight path, but this only adds to its attractiveness for young children.
Locations in London to Stay for Sightseeing
- The grande dames continue to be included on the list of London’s top luxury hotels. A short distance from Buckingham Palace, The Goring has been pampering guests for more than a century, and The Langham in the centre of the West End has welcomed royalty and famous people for more than 150 years.
- The Corinthia Hotel London, with a rooftop terrace and opulent afternoon teas, is a short distance from Trafalgar Square. The Ritz London, which is well-known for its teas, is close to Mayfair’s upscale stores.
- The Fielding Hotel, a well-liked boutique hotel, is located close to Covent Garden, one of the city’s busiest tourist destinations. Especially convenient for travellers arriving by rail from Heathrow or Gatwick airports
- Overlooking Victoria Station is The Clermont.
- The British Museum, one of the most popular sights in the city, is located in Bloomsbury, which is a short stroll from Covent Garden. Additionally, there are several highly regarded mid-range hotels in Bloomsbury, including The Montague on the Gardens and The Bloomsbury Hotel London. Oxford Street shopping is also just a short stroll away from both.
- The Premier Inn London Kensington is an inexpensive choice close to museums and Earls Court tube station if you’re minding your budget.
- The Alhambra Hotel and Jesmond Dene Hotel, both close to the crowded King’s Cross tube station, a significant transportation centre, are options farther to the north.