Is London the best city break in the world? It’s undoubtedly one of those cities that has a never-ending list of attractions to visit, quirky things to do, and new restaurant openings. I called London home for much of my adult life, and even after many years living there, I still had so many things left to do on my London bucket-list.
My real appreciation for London didn’t begin though until I become a tourist. Coming back to a city you once called home with more time (and money) means you can start to appreciate a whole other side to a place. After my two day trip to Manchester, I jumped on a quick train to the capital to start working through my London bucket-list.
I’ve written about my budget London travel tips before, but here are 101 things to do in London, from the must-visit Museums and quirky speakeasy’s serving up excellent cocktails, through to the hidden underground history and lesser-known gems.
Classic London experiences you simply can’t miss
If you decide to maximise your time in the city by opting to book one of the many London Tours, you can be sure that most of these top highlights below will be covered.
1. Watch a West End Show
Catching a West End Show in London is a must, and with over thirty theatres to choose from you have plenty of options, not even counting the Opera Houses and classical music venues. I watched Matilda at the Cambridge Theatre on my last visit and can highly recommend it. Keep an eye out for ‘lottery tickets’ when you are in town, when shows, for example, The Book of Mormon, will do a lottery draw each night for last minute discounted tickets.
2. Covent Garden Market
It’s touristy sure, but I love it, and I worked here for many years. Not only have you got lots of cool restaurants around here, but the atmosphere with the street performers is also great. You’ll also often see musical performances in the basement of the cellar. Nearby in Seven Dials, you’ll also find a cool place to shop.
3.Tower of London
I’m ashamed to say I’ve never actually been inside the Tower of London, home to the crown jewels and the official fortress of London. You can either buy a ticket and head inside or simply enjoy walking the perimeter.
4. The Tower Bridge Walkway
Is there any London view more iconic than the Tower Bridge, especially when the bridge raises in the middle to let ships past.
What a lot of people don’t realise is you can actually go up the towers and walk across the bridge connecting them. It’s a really cool experience and gives you a different vantage point.
5. Changing of the Guard, Buckingham Palace and The Household Cavalry Museum
You can’t really visit London and skip out on this! Inside Buckingham Palace is the small Household Cavalry Museum which offers an insight into the royal regiment. The changing of the guard happens every day, usually at 10:45 am, though is cancelled in very wet weather, and hey, this is England after all!
6. Camden Market
There are plenty of cool Markets in London, but without a doubt one of the most famous is Camden Market. With over 1000 different stalls, selling crafts, fashion, food and plenty more, this buzzing and the photogenic market is another for the London bucket-list.
7. The South Bank and Tate Modern
I was very lucky to live in Shad Thames for a while, which is just by Tower Bridge, so got to walk along the South Bank every day to work.
The views across the Thames are great, and you can go on a London tour here easily, with the impressive Tate Modern museum, Tower Bridge, Waterloo Centre, Shakespeare Globe and St Pauls Cathedral views making it a fantastic walk.
8. St Pauls Cathedral
Another of London’s iconic landmarks, St Pauls Cathedral is a beauty. Sadly, it is quite expensive to visit it (museums tend to be free in London, but a lot of religious buildings charge) so you may want to just enjoy this icon from outside.
9.The National Gallery
Not only is The National Gallery in Trafalgar Square home to some 2000+ paintings, but it’s also an incredibly beautiful building inside with free entrance which makes it a must visit for me.
10. Big Ben & Westminster
The Houses of Parliament and Big Ben are two of the most famous and impressive architectural buildings in the capital. You can take tours through Westminster Abbey or just admire Big Ben from outside, though know renovation work and cladding will likely be covering it until 2021.
11. Shopping in London: Hamleys, Harrods and Libert
If you like to shop, then London will spoil you. There are though, of course, a few bucket-list London shops you simply must visit. While Hamleys and Harrods are stars, my personal favourite department store in London is Liberty, thanks in parts to the old-world style architecture outside and in.