Hundreds of attractions to choose from! Streets teeming with people! A London city break can seem a little daunting. But don't worry, we've put together our pick of fun things to do in London, ideal for both city newbies and regular visitors. You might be looking for centuries of history or the latest trends, on a romantic break, a family visit, or even live in the capital. No matter why you're visiting, we show you how to enjoy London.
Ditch the tourist guidebooks and delve into some of the more alternative things to do in London. Our informative guide of fun things to do in London features something for every budget. This includes many activities that cost either nothing or no more than the price of a drink.
For many visitors new to big-city life, simply exploring London's historic underground system is an experience in itself. An experience that need cost no more than a ticket to ride. While many stations are bleakly utilitarian, some are stunning works of art. Look out in particular for the modernistic Canary Wharf or Kings Cross St. Pancras stations, while Notting Hill Gate is a Victorian gem.
How about going shopping Tonight
Who doesn't love window shopping? Head off to browse until you drop in stores across London that stay open until 8:00 p.m. or later. Indulge yourself on Oxford Street or Kensington High Street. If you're feeling extravagant, spend a couple of evening hours exploring the high-end delights of Harrods.
Enjoy a cheap night out in London
If you have an appetite for the past, then pop into a jazz bar with a vintage Parisian flavor in Kennington. The Toulouse Lautrec is an intimate wine bar where you can indulge yourself with the live sound of talented bands. They cover everything from jazz and funk to swing and soul. Some evenings are free, while on others, entry is excellent value at just £10.
What about central London ?
London is a remarkably green city and one of its most central spaces is Hyde Park. Grab a deckchair and watch the world go by. If you're feeling more energetic, hire a pedalo or rowing boat on the Serpentine Lake. The lake also boasts the UK's first Solar Shuttle service. Relax as you glide across the lake in this sun-powered boat.
Like all capital cities, London is heavy on the wallet. If you want to stretch your budget further, however, there are plenty of fun things to do in London that won't set you back a penny. London has some of the best museums and art galleries in the world and many of them are entirely free. We recommend the Tate Modern, the V&A, and the British Museum. Later, stroll through London's parks, people watch in Soho, or marvel at the talented buskers that perform every day in Covent Garden.
The Angel stop on London's Underground has the distinction of housing Europe's longest escalator, an awe-inspiring 30 meters in height. Ride it for free or get some exercise and sprint to the top. You'll be greeted by Upper Street's boutique shops for a spot of window shopping, or head to Camden Passage and browse the antiques.
OK, it's not quite the same as watching a coastal sunset, but a South Bank sunset is quite impressive. Watch the city lights twinkling on the water's surface as you stroll past iconic sights like the National Theatre and the South Bank Centre. As dusk falls, the Coca-Cola London Eye across the river also lights up, creating a really magical sight.
Colorful M&M's are among the world's favorite sweets. So why not indulge your chocolate addiction with a couple of hours spent browsing the vibrant M&M's World in Leicester Square? Spread over four floors, this huge store sells over 100 choices of colors and flavors, as well as a range of branded merchandise.
Head a short distance out of central London to the pretty borough of Richmond, where you'll find the city's largest Royal Park. This huge green area is full of ancient trees and plants. Enjoy walking, horse-riding, cycle trails, and herds of several hundred red and fallow deer. Drink in beautiful views from Pembroke Lodge, stroll through the Isabella Plantation, then find a comfortable spot for a picnic.
Covent Garden is famous the world over for the quality of its busking acts, many of which are professional musicians, magicians, and circus performers. No act is allowed to perform until they've satisfied a jury, so find a spot on the Piazza and prepare to be wowed. Afterwards, browse the Piazza's fancy shops and Covent Garden market.
During the evening
London is home to many famous faces and there's always a chance you might spot one or two when you're out and about. To raise your celebrity-spotting chances, head to Leicester Square, where the red carpet is often laid out for film premieres. You might not have a ticket to enter, but lining up alongside the red carpet doesn't cost anything at all.
Guide to enjoy the summer
Camden Market is the perfect destination for a summer's day. Stroll around its unique boutiques and stalls, browsing everything from hand-made jewelry to original pieces of art. When you've had your fill of the market, head to the district's jewel in the crown, Regent's Canal. Meander along its peaceful banks while window shopping for a houseboat and watching the canal traffic cruise leisurely by.
At any time
A native of Bristol, where most of his work can be seen, Banksy, the graffiti artist, has been known to ply his talents in London. Look out in particular for his "Maid Sweeping Camden's Streets" or Bethnal Green's "Yellow Lines Flower Painter." He is not the only talented graffiti artist whose work can be seen on London's walls.
London has some of the best landmarks and museums in the world. It also has an ever-eclectic choice of shows in its West End and off-West End theaters. When it is time for a breather or an evening out, you can dine on cuisines from around the world. And don't forget to explore the hidden parts of London by simply seeing where your feet take you.
The landscaped surroundings and social spaces of The Sky Garden, 20 Fenchurch Street are among the city's most beautiful hidden gems. The Sky Garden is spread over three floors with exquisite plants, open-air terraces, and observation decks that give amazing 360° city views.
Among London's world-class museums, the V&A has always stood out as one of the most attractive, for both its architecture and collections. A recent renovation has made it even prettier. Enjoy lunch with friends in the Gamble Room or simply go on your own and soak up the Victorian stained-glass windows and spherical lights. You'll gasp in astonishment at architect Amanda Levete's gorgeous porcelain courtyard with its 11,000 handmade tiles.
Wherever you're staying or wherever you live in town, London's fabulous network of public transport systems brings every part of the city within reach. Hop on the underground and head out to the green spaces of Richmond and Bushey Parks. Alternatively, cruise down the river to Hampton Court, or take the train down to Windsor and visit Europe's largest inhabited castle with its glorious State Rooms.
Fun things tomorrow night
Dine with a difference at Sea Containers. This interesting space on London's Southbank is evocative of the Golden Age of transatlantic ocean crossings. Turn it into a romantic evening of cocktails and fine dining or go with friends for drinks and sharing platters of delicious food.
Free options ?
Built to host the 2012 London Olympics, the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is a lasting legacy of a successful event that truly brought the city together. Enjoy the parks, canals, playgrounds, and cafés while admiring the London Olympic Stadium, the Copper Box Arena, and the Lee Valley VeloPark. Don't forget to check out the unusual sculptural structure that is the ArcelorMittal Orbit.
Most London attractions and restaurants open seven days a week. This is perfect if you're working hard in the city from Monday to Friday or grabbing a weekend city break. Make your weekend stand out with a trip to the top of the Shard, one of London's latest landmarks. Simply go up and enjoy the spectacular view and a cocktail, or dress to impress and dine at the Aqua Shard Bar.
Fun and free
For window shopping with a difference, head east to Hackney Flea Market. Held once a month, this weekend market has an eclectic range of vintage and retro goods on offer. You'll find items ranging from 1970s-inspired furniture to dresses of a bygone era. Costume jewelry, old maps, door knobs, and antique tools are always crowd pleasers, and the atmosphere is guaranteed to be buzzing.
The first thing that springs to mind when Easter is mentioned is Easter eggs. Most stores in London sell them but for a top-of-the-range choice, browse the Food Hall at Harrods. Other Easter weekend treats should include a visit to one of London's top chocolate shops, Charbonnel et Walker, on Bond Street. Romantics can book a Chocolate and Prosecco Tasting Experience on the Coca-Cola London Eye. Youngsters, on the other hand, will love a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory themed afternoon tea at the One Aldwych Hotel.
Central London has, of course, many classic tourist sites. These range from Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery to Buckingham Palace and the Coca-Cola London Eye. There's nothing better than a stroll along the embankment on a sunny summer's day. Alternatively, step back from the main streets and explore hidden, cobbled alleyways, lined with quirky shops and eateries.
Jimmy's BBQ Club near Waterloo Station is the coolest place to eat in London during the summer months. Learn the techniques of successful grilling at your own table BBQ as you tuck into a six-course menu.
From Hyde Park Lido to the Festival Gardens of St. Paul's Cathedral, the Nomad Cinema is a pop-up experience that makes the most of nighttime London. The Nomad provides the chairs and the films, you bring a picnic or take advantage of local eateries. Sit back and enjoy films that range from classics to the latest releases.
Activities that won't break the bank
Combine DIY crafting fun with the saucy atmosphere of a restored Victorian bathhouse and you have the Drink, Shop & Do concept. Enjoy coffee and cake during the day or drinking and dancing at night while tapping into your artistic side. Crafty activities range from Lego robot-making to creating scary pâpier-maché monsters.
Free things to do
While touring inside Buckingham Palace comes at a cost, soaking up the royal atmosphere as you watch the Changing of the Guards is totally free. Indeed, this regular event is one of the most popular free activities in town. The action starts at 11:30 a.m. (from April to July) but we suggest arriving at around 11:00 a.m. to guarantee a great view. You never know, you might even glimpse a royal!
You only have to open any city guidebook to see that London is packed full of fun things to do during the day. Take a River Red Rover Cruise from one of four city piers. Stop off to visit the Tower of London and maybe catch a glimpse of Tower Bridge being raised. Continue your leisurely cruise past iconic sights such as the Greenwich Maritime Museum, the Cutty Sark, Shakespeare's Globe, and the Houses of Parliament. As well as visiting these tourist attractions, be sure to search out the city's quirkier side.
What to do on a rainy day?
The imposing former Bankside Power Station on the riverbank is now home to the huge Tate Modern gallery. It's also the perfect place to escape the weather on rainy days. Marvel at the ground-floor installations before heading upwards for a well-earned rest, drink, and meal in the top-floor café. You can even have a go at being an artist yourself, using the innovative digital drawing bar on Level 3.
On a hot day
Sun, sand, and sangria? Well, maybe not quite, but at the Neverland London Fulham Beach Club, you've got the nearest thing to the Costa del Sol in the city. Enjoy brunch with friends or play beer pong right through the hot days of summer. For something more relaxing, take part in the yoga sessions, or simply sit and chill in the sun.
Do you want to chill out with colleagues or have you been tasked with putting together a fun-filled evening of team-building? At one of Tooting's oldest pubs, The Castle, you can take part in the regular evening Big London Bake. Alternatively, build team loyalty through central London's Aftermath escape-room game. In this immersive experience, teams work against the clock to prevent the world from ending. No pressure there, then!
What's not to love about a compelling combination of gadgets and Asian food? At Inamo in Covent Garden, great cooking is combined with interactive tables. Order food, play computer games, and even watch the chefs working without leaving your seat.
When the tourist coaches and commuters have gone, London presents a different face, but a face that's no less buzzing than during the day. It's the perfect city for night owls. There are hundreds of pubs, restaurants, and clubs to choose from, along with themed evening tours and late-night entry to your favorite museums.
What's fun and cheap at night in London?
It's definitely fun and cheap but this isn't for the faint-hearted. In the autumn of 1888, terror stalked the fog-bound streets of London as Jack the Ripper went about his gruesome business. Follow in these footsteps of fear with a guided Jack the Ripper walk. Pretend you're accompanying the Whitechapel and Spitalfields police as they investigate the work of this notorious serial killer. You never know, you might be the one to discover who committed these baffling crimes!
At night for free
Many of London's museums open in the evenings, some occasionally, and some on regular weekly nights. Take a trip back to Ancient Egypt at the British Museum, which opens until 8:30 p.m. every Friday. Alternatively, the National History Museum opens until 10:30 p.m. on the last Friday of every month.
At night with your friends
The Flight Club concept, based in Shoreditch and Bloomsbury, has revolutionized the night out. Gone are the days when pub fun centered around the darts board and a snooker table. This trendy pizzeria is all about electronic gaming and intuitive scoring. Your friends certainly can't get one over on you by cheating here.
Things at night for couples
The SEA LIFE London Aquarium is always fun for the young-at-heart. Going to one of its LATES with prosecco sessions adds a definite touch of romance for loved-up couples. At these adults-only after-dark visits, pop-up bars add to the watery fun. You'll definitely need to hold hands on the scary Shark Walk.
At night for adults
Release your inner child and bring back memories of long-forgotten holidays with the unique mini-golf experience on offer at Puttshack. Located in Shepherd's Bush, this bar combines drinking and dining with sport and cutting-edge technology. Games involve a Trackaball. This clever ball knows who it belongs to, how you're playing, and even if you've visited and played before. Spooky but fun!
Things at night in central London
Laugh until you cry at the big-name acts that perform regularly at the Covent Garden Comedy Club. This venue is so well-acclaimed that big-name stars of the comedy world queue up to take their turn at the mic. Start your evening with a delicious meal at one of Covent Garden's Italian eateries, such as the Lulivo Restaurant.
At night in East London
While electronic gaming is fun, there's nothing quite as satisfying as beating your opponent at good old-fashioned board games. So, if you're a game lover, get some friends together and head to Draughts in Hackney, East London. The café's expert and friendly staff help you choose from its selection of over 800 games while serving wine, craft beers, and high-quality food.
With its offerings of brunch, lunch, and on through to evening drinks, it would be easy to spend a whole day in the opulence of 34 Mayfair. Start the day with Eggs Benedict or fresh buttermilk pancakes before sipping champagne from specially designed coupes. These one-off champagne glasses are, dare we say it, based on the shape of Kate Moss's left breast.
Pop Brixton brings a touch of continental or oriental street dining to the city. Firmly rooted in the local community, it is full of pop-up stalls serving great street food. There is also a packed program of events guaranteed to keep diners entertained.
Add a touch of horror to time spent with friends and dip into the paranormal goings-on that lurk beneath London's surface. This two-hour tour starts at Farringdon Station. Accompanied by the latest technological advances in paranormal detection, you explore murder sites, execution spots, and plague pits. The tour takes in the Viaduct Tavern, reputed to have abandoned prison cells in its basement. If some contact has been made with the other side, you'll definitely be ready for a drink or two!
Whether you're on an action-packed city break with friends, enjoying your honeymoon, or rekindling some romance, you'll always find some adult-friendly fun things to do in London. From candlelit restaurants and river cruises to evening tours of London Zoo and murder mysteries, there's something for every taste.
What's fun for adults at night?
If you want to dine out but fancy something a little way out, then the House of Song Restaurant is pretty unique. Housed in an old Farringdon warehouse, this eclectic space has a resident band that claims to be able to play any request. It truly is a step back to the old jazz lounges of the 1920s and 30s.
For young adults
Following on from their success on MasterChef, Jack and Billy have combined their love of food with their love of murder mysteries. The result is the Murdér Express at Pedlar Street Station. This is a great venue if you have young adults in your party. On arrival, you enter a luxurious retro train carriage for an immersive evening of murder mayhem and delicious food.
Whatever your budget, there's no shortage of fun things to do for couples to enjoy in London. Some are romantic, some are definitely a bit on the wacky side. Check out what's on at London's West End theaters and pick up some last-minute tickets from the theater kiosks in Leicester Square. Or, simply take a romantic walk through the city as the moonlight sparkles on the River Thames.
A little-known city gem that's free to enter is the Barbican Conservatory. This hidden oasis is the second-largest conservatory in the city and home to more than 2,000 species of plants, trees, and exotic fish. It opens to the public most Sunday afternoons, so check the Barbican website before heading there. For those who do want to splurge, tuck in to a delicious afternoon tea at the Barbican's Secret Conservatory Restaurant.
Things that couples can do at night
The church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields next to Trafalgar Square is worth exploring for its own sake. Make it more romantic by enjoying a Candlelit Classical Concert. The London Musical Arts Ensemble, ably led by musical director John Landor, brings alive the classical works of composers such as Handel and Vivaldi.
Give the children an adrenalin rush with a super-fast speedboat ride on the River Thames. The Thames Rockets Ping Pong Taster takes off from St. Katharine's Pier near Tower Bridge. It's the perfect complement to a morning exploring the Tower of London or HMS Belfast. Afterwards, tuck into perfectly crafted Dim Sum at the Ping Pong Chinese Restaurant near the pier.
During the day, make dreams come true, and take the kids on the Warner Bros. Studios Tour London - The Making of Harry Potter. This ultimate Harry Potter experience shows off the costumes, props, and sets. Fans can step into Hogwart's Great Hall, Hagrid's hut, and Dumbledore's office.
Then, let the kids stay up late and treat them to a magical London by Night Tour. Riding on the top of a double-decker bus, they'll see a host of awesome landmarks. All lit up after dark, the Coca-Cola London Eye, Harrods, Piccadilly Circus, St. Paul's Cathedral, and the Tower of London will leave the kids with sweet dreams.
On Your Birthday
Whether your birthday is a cause for celebration or commiseration, it's easy to fall into the rut of celebrating in the same style year after year. Why not do something a little different this year, and see what events London can offer?
At Aeronaut in Acton, the circus has definitely come to town. Get your friends and family together and tuck into some of the city's best pub grub while watching epic circus acts. These involve gravity-defying trapeze work, hula-hoop tricks that astound, and fire-eating acts that will leave you gasping in awe. There is even a photo booth to capture those birthday memories.
For something a little more sophisticated, a May Fair Bar Cocktail Masterclass Experience is a great way to celebrate with friends. Expert mixologists show you whether your cocktail should be shaken or stirred. Your birthday package includes a chance to make and sample three cocktails, accompanied by canapés and tasting plates of food.
On Valentine's Day
Don't go with the crowd and drink champagne on Valentine's Day - drink whisky instead. Housed in an old wedding-dress boutique, Cadenhead's is one of the longest-established whisky shops in London. You can take a sampling tour of Scottish whisky in the downstairs room where Princess Diana first viewed her wedding dress.
On Christmas Day
While most of London takes a well-earned rest on Christmas Day, it's the ideal time to roam the quiet streets. If you feel like being more energetic, however, the whole family can enjoy the JW3's Ice Rink in West Hampstead. Now a tradition, this 200-square-meter rink has stabilizers for little skaters and sparkly lights. Finish off your Christmas Day with a hot chocolate or mulled wine. The rink opens on Christmas Day, Boxing Day, and New Year's Day.
On New Year's Day
The fireworks have fizzled out and the party's over, so what fun things are there to do in London on New Year's Day? Your day's highlight should be the annual New Year's Day Parade. Over 8,000 performers take to the streets to create a fabulous carnival atmosphere. Follow this with a visit to Hyde Park's Winter Wonderland and a browse around the January sales.
There are enough restaurants in London to ensure you never have to cook again. Trendy wine bars are also a great way to get together with friends or even make new ones. Visit the iconic sights such as St. Paul's Cathedral, HMS Belfast, and the SEA LIFE London Aquarium. Or, search out more unusual ways of having a fun day out in the capital. For adrenalin-fueled sporting activities, we highly recommend the Lee Valley White Water Centre, where you can canoe, kayak, and raft over white-water rapids.
Why not combine a cruise on the River Thames with some amazing music? The Silent Sounds Boat Party cruises past London's iconic sights while headphones bring you your choice of music. Trying to guess whether other passengers are dancing to hardcore house or disco and pop classics is truly hilarious.
As London is the capital of England, don't miss sampling some of the country's most iconic, 70s-inspired dishes at the Coin Laundry in Farringdon. The quirky interior perfectly matches the retro menu, on which Chicken Kiev is one of the most popular choices. OK, it's not originally English, but we adopted it many decades ago.
No visit to England and London is complete without dropping in on the Royals. When you get back home, you can then boast about your hours at Buckingham Palace. The ornately decorated State Rooms open every summer from mid-July until the end of September. Summer 2018 also sees a special exhibition celebrating the Prince of Wales' 70th birthday.
We might have mentioned the British Museum before but that's because it's such a cool place and its permanent exhibitions are free. Go back through history, absorbing highlights such as the Rosetta Stone, the Mummy of Katebet, Parthenon sculptures, and a Samurai suit of armor.
Whether you visit London in spring or autumn, or stay for one day or 10, our list of fun things to do in London should have whetted your appetite. These ideas will inspire you to enjoy action-packed days starting with hearty brunches in quirky venues. Follow this with historical landmarks or way-out activities. Finish the day with pub grub, fine dining, or romance by candlelight. Whoever you're visiting with and whatever your interests, there's something here to spark your imagination and help you plan the best London trip ever. What fun things did you end up doing in London?