Looking for things to do in London? Look no further than the ultimate London bucket list. Over 150 cool and quirky things to keep you entertained – from the big landmarks to off-the-beaten path finds. Let’s go.
“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life” – Samuel Johnson so sagely said way back in the 18th century. That quotation still rings true, three centuries later. But what are the best things to do in London? Which are the best places to explore? The unmissable landmarks?
Even as a born and bred Londoner (and someone who’s lived in London for more years than I would care to divulge), I sometimes run out of inspiration when it comes to finding things to keep me out of trouble.
Which is why I set out to create and conquer the ultimate London Bucket List – over 150 (151 in fact) awesome things to do in London.
Whether it’s your first time in the city, or you live here, I assure you there’s always something new to discover in this metropolis. Time to explore.
PS: Visiting London? Check out my London Travel Guide: Complete with Insider Tips for Planning Your Trip.
- Attractions That Need to be at the Top of Your London Bucket List
- Cool Things to do in London: More London Landmarks
- What to do in London: Museums & Galleries
- Cultural Experiences for Your London Bucket List
- The Best Foodie Experiences for Your London Bucket List
- Cool London Markets You Need to Visit
- Parks & Outdoor Spaces
- Active Things to do in London
- Non-Touristy Things to do in London
- Cool Things to See in London: Just for Fun
- London Tips: Read More
- London Bucket List Map
Attractions That Need to be at the Top of Your London Bucket List
The London Eye
Gone are the days when the London Eye went by the name the Millennium Wheel, yet it still stands as one of the most recognisable landmarks on the London skyline and a must for your London itinerary.
I have a soft spot for the London Eye (I actually worked there a few holidays while at uni) – sure it’s expensive but it really is one of the iconic London landmarks that you have to visit while you’re in town. Check tickets.
Do you want the bad news or the good? Big Ben is and will be largely covered up for the next few years for renovation. I said there was good news though – one of the clock’s fascias will be left uncovered so you can get a glimpse of one of London’s definitive attractions.
PS – did you know that the clock is actually called the Elizabeth Tower and Big Ben technically refers to the bell inside? Totally love those quirky little facts about London.
Read more: London City Break Itinerary
Say Hi to the Queen in Buckingham Palace
Perched across from the beautiful St James’s Park, you can’t spend any time in London without at least having a peek at Buckingham Palace. The palace is the Queen’s official London residence and her administrative headquarters to boot.
How do you tell if she’s home? Check to see if the Royal Standard rather than the Union Jack is flying on the mast. If it is, she is.
The UNESCO Heritage Listed Westminster Abbey is, in my humble opinion, one of the most beautiful buildings in London. Founded in 960AD, the buildings we see today date back to the 13th century.
Westminster Abbey has seen more than its fair share of pomp and glory – every coronation since 1066 has taken place there, as have 16 royal weddings (including, of course, Kate and Wills’).
PS, don’t miss Poet’s Corner, where you will find the graves or memorials for over 100 literary figures including Shakespeare and Jane Austen.
You have to pay a fee to enter Westminster Abbey – alternatively, entrance is included in the London Pass.
On the lookout for a few quirkier spots? You’ll love these 55 unusual things to do in London.
The Houses of Parliament and the Palace of Westminster
This is where all the action (or, at the moment, inaction) happens – the Palace of Westminster as we see it dates back to the mid-19th century. It is, of course, better known as The Houses of Parliament. You can visit, via a tour or just pop into one of heated debates to see democracy in action.
The South Bank
A mix of markets, theatres, cinemas, restaurants and bars, The South Bank has to go on your London bucket list even if you’re only in town for a few days. I love it at sunset, when the light covers the Thames in its rosy hues and the area is at its most beautiful.
See the location on my Interactive Sightseeing Map of London
Watch Tower Bridge Open and Close
Tower Bridge is on every single London tourist bucket list around. For good reason – the iconic bridge is a feat of engineering and really quite beautiful too. Walk over the bridge on the side facing the city for some spectacular views upriver.
Read More: Weird and Wonderful Facts about Tower Bridge
Bright lights, big city – Piccadilly Circus is a neon-fuelled, people-filled West End hotspot that’s at the top of every London tourist bucket list. Much as I’d love to hate it, just the tiniest part of me secretly loves the ridiculously OTT nature of it all – particularly at Christmas when even more lights provide that touch of extra bling.
Read More: Fabulous Things to do in London After Dark
Relive the Ghastly History of the Tower of London
The Tower of London certainly has a colourful past. From its days as a simple watchtower, to a royal prison, a makeshift zoo and now the home of the Crown Jewels, there are few London attractions with so much history and importance. Plus, who doesn’t want to get an eyeful of the Crown Jewels?
Read More: Interesting Facts about London
Did you know that Trafalgar Square is one of the last few big public squares in London? Centuries of demonstrations and festivities have taken place on the square, surrounded by the striking Neoclassical buildings of The National Gallery and its neighbours.
Nelson’s Column – the
Read More: The Insider’s Guide to Trafalgar Square
See St Paul’s Cathedral – Christopher Wren’s Architectural Masterpiece
Is there any London building more iconic than St Paul’s Cathedral?
Justifiably on every list of the top things to see in London, St Paul’s is every bit as impressive as the pictures suggest. Built after the Great Fire of London, it’s the architect Christopher Wren’s greatest work.
PS… when you’re finished, why not go and explore Farringdon’s best bars?
Cool Things to do in London: More London Landmarks
The Cutty Sark
In her day the Cutty Sark was the fastest boat on the oceans. These days, the tea clipper is moored in Greenwich, where you can learn all about what life on the ship used to be like and take in views of the city while you’re at it.
Walk Across The Millennium Bridge
The Millennium Bridge is a splitter – some Londoners love it, others can’t bear the sight of it. I think its graceful construction, which spans the Thames between the Tate Modern and St Pauls is a worthwhile addition to the Thames. Everyone should walk over (deliberately) wobbly construction at least once.
Changing of the Guard at Horse Guards Parade
Horse Guards Parade used to be the formal entrance to St James’s and Buckingham Palace. These days it’s best known for the Changing of the Guard ceremonies that takes place daily at 11am (10am on Sundays). It’s a theatrical spectacle like none other.
Perched high above the city, the Sky Garden is London’s highest public garden – boasting the kind of views that make it worth the persistence to get in.
Lush tropical gardens and great views? I’m sold. Entry is free, but make sure you book ahead to make your life a lot easier.
St James’s Park
Is it wrong to have favourites? St James’s Park has been my favourite royal park since the days my mother used to take us all for gloriously decadent picnics when I was a child. The lake, lined with willows, is just the perfect spot for whiling away a few lazy hours in the summer – and comes complete with Buckingham Palace views.
Read more: Romantic Date Ideas for London
Watch a Trial at the Old Bailey
Who needs crime podcasts or novels when you have the Old Bailey?
Pop in any day to the Old Bailey (which is the central criminal court of England & Wales) to see that life is indeed stranger (and sometimes a lot grimmer) than fiction.
See What’s on at Somerset House
Somerset House is the last of a string of riverside palaces that used to overlook the Thames. The gorgeous architecture is worth the visit alone, but Somerset House is so much more.
Ice skating in the winter ice rink is one of London’s classic things to do in winter, while the Courtauld Gallery features brilliant Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works. Check the schedule – there’s always something on.
The Royal Observatory and Greenwich Meridian
Famously the home of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), a trip to the Royal Observatory and Greenwich Meridian is one of those things you have to do in London. The attraction offers a surprisingly interesting look at the history of the meridian, and the observatory’s Planetarium is a cool little spot too.
Climb to the top of The Monument
If you haven’t had The Monument on your London Bucket List, you should. I hear you – why would you go out of your way to see a monument? Well, The Monument was designed by Christopher Wren as a remembrance of the Great Fire of London that destroyed the city in 1666. But the real attraction is the views from the top – 360 degree views of London at its finest.
Looking for more London tips for your trip? Check out my guidebook – The Discoveries Of: London – 78 pages of insider tips, itineraries and off-the-beaten track suggestions to help you explore the best of London.
Step into History at Leadenhall Market
Leadenhall market is a strong contender for the title of London’s prettiest market. The gorgeous market, with its cast-iron ceiling might look familiar – it pops up as Diagon Alley in the much-loved Harry Potter films (psst – check out my Harry Potter London Guide) . The pretty arches house a selection of a few cool bars and restaurants including one of my favourite wine bars in London – Bedales.
A Ride down the Thames on a Thames Clipper
Riding down the River Thames on a Thames Clipper is one of those cool things to do in London that everyone should do at least once. Impressive as London looks from the riverbanks, it takes on a whole new aspect as you zip along by boat. Hop on at Putney and off at Canary Wharf for the full tour.
St Dunstan in the East
One of the few Blitz-bombed buildings still standing, St Dunstan in the East is now a public garden. Christopher Wren’s steeple still stands, but the main buildings were bombed – with just the outer walls standing. Visiting the ruins of an old bombed church? Certainly counts as one of the more unusual things to do in London.
Read More: St Dunstan in the East The City’s Hidden Gem
Take the Emirates Flight Over the Thames
The Emirates Air Line cable car is a fabulous way to see London from above. Located in North Greenwich, I’d recommend taking the return trip (there’s not a tonne to see on the other side apart from an exhibition centre). Be warned – it can be a bit wobbly – just don’t look down!
Visit Hampton Court Palace
Hampton Court Palace was the palace of Henry VIII (you know, divorced, beheaded, died dude). I’m not normally that bothered about visiting palaces but Hampton Court is gorgeous. Visit in the summer if you can, when you can explore the gorgeous gardens – tackle the famous maze if you dare.
London is so fancy it has not one but ten palaces. Buckingham Palace draws the crowds, as does the Tower of London but Kensington Palace deserves a look-in too. The Palace is the official residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (that’s Wills and Kate). Why not buy tickets, pop inside and have a nose?
See the Churchill War Rooms
The basement of the Treasury was converted into the War Rooms in 1938 and it was from here that Churchill held cabinet meetings and made operational decisions throughout the rest of his tenure as Prime Minister in World War II. Today, the rooms offer a fascinating glimpse into London during the wartime.
- Visit Karl Marx’s Grave at Highgate Cemetery
- 10 Downing Street
- The Shard (featured in my guide to unmissable things to do in London Bridge)
- Climb to Parliament Hill for Views of London
What to do in London: Museums & Galleries
The Science Museum
The Science Museum is a weird and wonderful dip into the things that make our minds boggle. The interactive exhibitions put it firmly on my list of fun things to do in London. The museum is free, but you have to pay to enter the special exhibitions.
Read More: The 30 Best Free Museums in London
Natural History Museum
Can I just take a moment to say how much I love the Natural History
The Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A)
I used to hate the Victoria & Albert Museum when I was a kid – these days I can’t get enough of it. The museum showcases art and design throughout the the ages, with fashion, photography, textile and furniture collections spread over its gargantuan buildings. Don’t miss the cool late night events either – they’re always great fun.
The Tate Modern
The Tate Modern sits in the buildings of the old Bankside Power Station – impossible to miss with its monolithic design on the South Bank of the Thames.
Inside, you’ll find an intriguing (if I’m honest, sometimes downright weird) collection of contemporary art.
The Tate Britain
Contrary to popular opinion I’ve always loved the much-quieter Tate Britain to its contemporary counterpart down the river.
The Tate Britain’s collection should be on the London bucket list of every art-lover – there’s a whole wing dedicated to Turner as well as pieces by other British masters like Constable, Reynolds and Gainsborough.
The National Gallery
The iconic Neoclassical buildings of the National Gallery sit facing Trafalgar Square. Inside you’ll find one of the city’s (well, the world’s) best art collections.
Impressive considering the gallery was only created in 1838. Highlights are numerous to list – but if you only see one thing, make it Botticelli’s striking Venus and Mars.
The National Portrait Gallery
Right next to the National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery is a much more manageable affair – walking around it doesn’t make you feel like your legs are going to fall off for starters!
The collection is a who’s who of portraiture – highlights include portraits of Anne Boleyn, Queen Elizabeth, Thomas Cromwell and William Shakespeare.
Read Next: Exploring the Best of London in a Day
The British Museum
Get your comfortable shoes on – the British Museum is a grandiose collection of over 80,000-strong exhibits. The kind of place that makes children weep with boredom (just 10-year old me?) it’s labyrinthine and totally fascinating.
The British Museum has the largest collection of Egyption artifacts outside of Europe, not to mention treasures dating throughout the times and from all over the world since the Ancient Greeks.
National Maritime Museum
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t that keen on visiting the National Maritime Museum until an Ansel Adams exhibition a few years ago – but it’s surprisingly fun. The museum charts the history of how the UK became such a powerful naval force, with scaled replica ships and accounts of key battles. It’s also home to one of my favourite annual exhibitions – the Astronomy Photographer of the Year.
Read More: Cool Things to do in Greenwich
London Transport Museum
Believe me when I say that the London Transport Museum is far more interesting than it sounds.
Tucked away in a corner of Covent Garden, the museum walks you through the history of London’s Transport – complete with tube (underground) carriages from the 1920s and buses you can pretend to drive.
Read More: Unmissable Things to do in Covent Garden
The Imperial War Museum London
Tucked away in Lambeth, the Imperial War Museum offers an insightful and sensitive look into conflicts from World War I onwards. Yes, there are the displays of armoured tanks and guns, but there are also the stories of the people involved – it’s an uncomfortable but compelling look at war throughout the past century.
Hang out at The Horniman Museum
What is the Horniman Museum? Imagine if you took the Natural History Museum, shrank it down to about ¼ of its sized and moved it to leafy Forest Hill in South London and you’ll get the picture. Have a spare afternoon and wondering what to do in London? Head to the Horniman Museum…
Hidden away in Greenwich, word about the gorgeous Queen’s House is starting to get out – so add it to your list of top things to do in London while you can. The former royal residence is decked out in full resplendence – and, on top of it all, houses a cool collection of artwork including the famous Queen Elizabeth Armada portrait.
Sir John Soane’s Museum
Sir John Soane’s museum doesn’t make it onto many London tourist bucket lists, which is a shame as the museum is one of the capital’s quirkiest. The museum is located in three Georgian townhouses that were the former residence of architect Sir John Soane.
Soane’s vast collection of art and antiquities make for a fascinating trip. Once a month they light the museum up by candlelight – get there early, tickets go fast.
The Wallace Collection
The Wallace Collection isn’t one of London’s best-known museums, but it’s certainly one of its most interesting. Part art gallery, part museum, the building feels like someone’s rather grand and impressive home – of course if you could imagine having works by Velasquez, Titian, Rembrandt and Boucher in your home. Somehow I can’t quite do it.
The Wellcome Collection
Weird, wacky and ever so wonderful, the Wellcome Collection is a scientific museum in Euston.
Interesting as the permanent collection is, it’s the ever-changing temporary exhibits that continue to make this one of those cool things to do in London. Forthcoming Smoke and Mirrors, which will examine the relationship between magic and psychology, promises to be an interesting one.
Before its recent reopening in High Street Kensington, The Design Museum was a little off the beaten track. Suddenly it’s become one of London’s hottest tickets. The museum follows the evolution of contemporary design, particularly its influence on our day to day life.
Sherlock Holmes Museum
Skip Madame Tussauds around the corner (try as I might, I just could not include it on this list, it’s just rubbish) and visit the Sherlock Holmes Museum instead.
Holmes’ creator, Arthur Conan Doyle famously located Holmes’s HQ at 221b Baker Street. This museum, also on Baker Street, plunges you into the world of Victorian London and it’s famous (imaginary) sleuth.
Read More: 28 Brilliant and Funny Quotes about London
Museum of London
I couldn’t write a London bucket list without including the museum dedicated to showcasing the history of the city could I? The Museum of London walks you through London throughout the ages, from the Romans times right up to the modern day.
Leighton House Museum
Leighton House is the former home of Frederic, Lord Leighton – a Victorian artist. Leighton’s purpose-built studio-house is a cool little peek at the work of Leighton and his contemporaries. The decadent interiors are one of London’s hidden gems.
Head Back in Time at the Dennis Severs’ House
Another former private house that transports you to the past, the Dennis Severs’ House is one of the more unusual things to do in London. The house-come-museum is the work of Dennis Severs – a wonderfully bizarre artist who created the house to replicate the lives of an 18th century family of Hugenot weavers. Sounds bizarre? It is. Compelling? Certainly.
- The Geffrye Museum of the Home
- The Royal Society of the Arts (RSA)
Cultural Experiences for Your London Bucket List
See a Play for £5 at Shakespeare’s Globe
OK so the £5 tickets may involve you standing up for the duration of a whole play, but whichever ticket you plump for, you most certainly should see a play at Shakespeare’s Globe. Only question is which one?
Dr Johnson’s House
Tucked behind the back of Fleet Street, Dr Johnson’s House offers a fascinating glimpse into the life of Samuel Johnson. Johnson – most famous for compiling the first English Dictionary, was also a prolific writer and socialite. The museum shows how the dictionary was compiled, with a healthy dose of insight into life in the 18th century to go with.
Watch the Ballet (or the Opera) at the Royal Opera House
I’m going to put it out there and say that seeing a show at the Royal Opera House should go straight to your list of top things to do in London. The name’s a bit misleading – the Royal Opera House is, in fact, home to both the Royal Ballet and the Royal Opera and is pretty much the best place to see either performed in the capital.
See a Musical in the West End
I’m a firm believer that there’s a musical out there for everyone – even people who profess to hating musicals. Look, going to see a musical in the West End is on every London bucket list out there – don’t let that put you off. Buy some last-minute tickets and go and enjoy.
Street Art Hunting in Shoreditch
Checking out the latest street art murals in hipster Shoreditch is one of those cool things to do in London that never gets old. Each time I visit, there’s an even richer variety of pieces adorning the walls, alleys and even the bins in this hub of creativity. Don’t miss it.
Read More: Cool Things to do in Shoreditch
Listen to Jazz in Ronnie Scotts
Ronnie Scott’s is a London jazz institution – some of the best jazz musicians in the world have been jamming down at Ronnie’s since it opened in 1959. The programme is eclectic and features both established greats and new voices – it’s the perfect night out in London.
Watch the Proms at Royal Albert Hall
The proms take place over eight weeks during late spring to early summer each year at the iconic Royal Albert Hall. The idea of a classical musical festival might not be to everyone’s tastes but you can’t help but get swept up in the pomp and circumstance of the fabulous concerts.
See the Urban Murals in Hawley Mews
You can find plenty of street art in Camden but the cute Hawley Mews is one of the area’s biggest concentrations of cool murals. Get Google Maps out or you’ll never find it – but you will be glad when you do.
Read More: Cool Things to do in Camden
Visit the British Library
The imposing architecture of the British Library never fails to impress. The British Library is an obvious entry for the London bucket lists for book-lovers, but even if you’re not you should check out the cool events held there. Plus, those buildings always merit a visit.
Take a Studio Tour at Pinewood
Pinewood Film Studios is where the magic happens. But seeing the studios is no easy task. They’re rarely open to the public – but they do do occasional (very cool) tours. Register on their site to be notified when the next one’s running.
Watch a Cricket Match at Lord’s
How do you feel about cricket? If it’s not your cup of tea, you’ll probably want to skip this. Your loss – watching a game of cricket at Lord’s is one of the quintessential London summer pastimes. Bring your strawberries and cream, and the champagne of course, and settle in to watch the classic game.
See a Play at The National Theatre
Oh, The National, how I love you. One of the iconic buildings on the Southbank, there are always cool plays on at The National. It’s not even that expensive to see them. If you’ve failed to book ahead, you can try your hand at popping online on the day.
Read More: Quirky Things to do in London
Get Lost in a World of Literature at Daunt Books
London has more than its fair share of beautiful bookshops, but the original Daunt Books is Marylebone may well be the best of them all. The shop is a book-lover’s dream – shelf after shelf of difficult to find literature, along with current popular titles and classics. Don’t forget to grab one of the iconic green bags for your purchases either.
Attend one of the Free Lunchtime Concerts at St Martin in the Fields
St Martin in the Fields has a long-standing tradition of hosting some of the best classical music concerts in the capital – but tickets can get pricey. That’s why you should visit one of their brilliant lunchtime concerts, which are just as good, but free. Win win.
Walk “The Line” Contemporary Art Trail
London’s only contemporary art walk, The Line is a series of works set roughly along the lines of the meridian line in Greenwich. Despite being one of the coolest things to do in London, the Line is still relatively unknown. Works are dotted around, connected by a series of three short walks – you can do all three in an afternoon.
Marvel at the Brutalist Architecture of The Barbican Centre
Love it or hate it, there are few places like The Barbican complex. An impressive display of Brutalist architecture, the complex is a maze of concrete, brickwork and strong lines. At the heart of it all, sits the Barbican Centre, one of London’s best venues for theatre, music and art. There’s even a cool conservatory brimming with plants. For the record, I absolutely love it.
Go Shopping in Selfridges
London isn’t short on shopping options but when you want the best of the best, you go to Selfridge’s. The iconic London store was started in 1909 by Harry Selfridge and has been leading the flame of London’s fashion scene ever since.
- See a Burlesque Show at Proud Cabaret
- Go for a Movie Marathon or Singalong in Prince Charles’ Cinema
- Take a Jack the Ripper Tour of the East End
- Visit Keats’ House
- Find London’s Banksy Pieces
- Take in a Show at Wilton’s Music Hall
The Best Foodie Experiences for Your London Bucket List
Pick up a Picnic Hamper from Fortnum & Mason
Is there any food emporium so quintessentially British as Fortnum & Mason? I think not. This London institution has been providing quality treats for the table since it opened in 1707.
One of summer’s greatest pleasures is picking up a picnic hamper from Fortnums and decamping to Green Park, Hyde Park or St James’s to feast on its contents.
Afternoon Tea at The Ritz
Sitting amidst the pomp and glory of Piccadilly, The Ritz has been serving some of the best afternoon teas in London since it opened in in 1906. Yes, it’s expensive but sitting in the iconic Palm Court, nibbling on heavenly scones and sipping your tea is just one of those things that you have to do in London.
Treat Yourself at Bob Bob Ricard
Is there anywhere more decadent than Bob Bob Ricard? This chic Anglo-Russian restaurant is a long-established London favourite for a blow out meal on the town. Snag yourself a booth – complete with a “press for champagne” button and get ready for a gastronomic treat.
Learn about London Gin at the City of London Distillery
The City of London Distillery
Want to go the whole hog? Book onto a tour to learn about the gin-making process, or make your own personalised gin.
Speakeasy at Callooh Callay
Callooh Callay was one of the forerunners of London’s speakeasy scene. This cool bar in Shoreditch is still one of my favourite cocktail spots in the city today. Plus, if you’re persistent enough, you may be granted entrance to their exclusive Palace of Humbug secret bar.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Afternoon Tea at One Aldwych
Bored of the standard afternoon teas? In steps the marvellous world of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, faithfully recreated in afternoon tea form at One Aldwych. It’s absolutely fantabulous.
Tuck into Bagels from Beigel Bake
Beigel Bake has so many things going for it. They make the best bagels in London, they’re affordable, their salt beef bagels are ridiculously good and they’re open 24 hours. It’s on Brick Lane and one of my favourite places in Shoreditch. Enjoy!
Drink Your Way Along the Bermondsey Beer Mile
The name might be misleading (it’s actually a mile and a half if you want to split hairs) but the Bermondsey Beer Mile is one of London’s coolest drinking spots. Over 15 craft breweries and a couple of distilleries call Bermondsey their home – I can highly recommend taking a Saturday or two (when the taprooms are open) to go and visit them. Cheers to that!
- Late Night Eats at Duck & Waffle
- Eat and Drink Your Way along Bermondsey Street
- Cocktails at Franks in Peckham
- Join the Cupcake and Instagram Madness at Peggy Porschen
- Bond-Style Cocktails at Duke’s London
- Cocktails in The Shard – Read my guide to the Best London Bridge Bars
- Feast and Fizz at a Bottomless Brunch
- Or… A Gin-Fuelled Afternoon Tea on a Routemaster Bus
- Enter a World of Decadence at the Palm Vaults
- Visit a Local Brewery at the Brixton Brewery – Read my Guide to Cool Things to do in Brixton
- Dinner and Drinks in Sarastro
- Head to a Ye Olde Worlde Pub – Like The Old Mitre
- Dinner in a Tube at the Basement Restaurant
- Step Back in Time at Cahoots Bar (though I’m not actually a huge fan as you can read in my review here)
- Sunday Roast at The Ship Pub in Wandsworth
- Drink Indie-Produced Beers and Ciders at The Southampton Arms
- Bread Making at the Bread Ahead
- Feast on Pakistani Food at Tayyabs in Whitechapel
- Have some Proper Pie & Mash
Cool London Markets You Need to Visit
Visit Borough Market
Borough Market is the best-known of London’s ever-growing foodie markets. An impressive collection of independent traders and artisans, the market spills out into the courtyard during the weekends and is a feast for all foodies.
Go with plenty of cash and lots of bags for goodies to bring home with you. It’s also one of London’s best Christmas markets – bursting with gastronomic treats.
Feast at Maltby Street Market
Maltby Street Market burst onto London’s foodie scene less than ten years ago but has already established itself as one of the best food markets in London. Steak and chips, raclette, cupcakes, vegan hot dogs – you name it, you can find it.
Columbia Road Flower Market
The quirky environs of Columbia Road in Shoreditch burst into life on Sundays with the Columbia Road Flower Market. It’s hectic, smells wonderful and so much fun. I dare you to resist buying yourself a little treat.
- Explore the Alternative Scene at Camden Market
- Ooze Hipster Cool at Broadway Market
- Shopping in Spitalfields Market
- New Covent Garden Flower Market
- Petticoat Lane Market
- Go Shopping on Leather Lane
Parks & Outdoor Spaces
See the Flowers at Kew Gardens
London’s largest UNESCO-heritage site, Kew Gardens has one of the most diverse botanical collections in the world. There’s always something new to discover – it’s large so be sure to spend the whole day exploring.
If St James’s Park is my favourite Royal Park, Hyde Park comes a close second. The large park is the perfect place for a picnic (perhaps with a well-chosen hamper from Fortnum’s?). Watch the impassioned speeches at Speaker’s Corner, go for a lazy row on The Serpentine Lake and soak up one of London’s loveliest outdoor spaces.
Deer Spotting in Richmond Park
Richmond Park is both a royal park and a national nature reserve. Set in leafy Richmond, the park is home to over 600 deer – a tradition that started in the 17th century. Hop on the train and set off for a walk around the park – it’s difficult to believe you’re still in a city.
- Go for a Walk in Epping Forest
- Hang Out with the Lovvies at Primrose Hill
- Picnic on Clapham Common
- Hunt the Dinosaurs in Crystal Palace
- Watch the Wildlife in the Wetlands Centre
- Visit the Peacocks & Kyoto Gardens in Holland Park
- Learn about Herbology at the Chelsea Physic Garden
Active Things to do in London
Walk Over the O2 Arena
How does strapping yourself to a harness and climbing over the top of the O2 Arena in Greenwich sound? Urban mountaineering over an iconic London landmark sounds like exactly the kind of thing that needs to go on your London bucket list.
Go Swimming in the Hampstead Heath Ponds
You’re either the kind of person that’s into wild swimming… or you’re not. Swimming in the ponds at Hampstead Heath is a London classic. I’d advise you save it for summer unless you have a particularly masochistic streak.
Go Stand Up Paddleboarding on The Thames
Old father Thames is the beating heart of London – so why not see it from a different angle and go stand up paddleboarding along its waters? Active 360 run cool SUP adventures from Kew and Putney – time to test your balancing skills.
- Swim in Brockwell Park Lido
- Rowing the Serpentine in Hyde Park
- Pretend You’re an Olympian at the London Aquatics Centre
- Go Horse Riding on Wimbledon Common
- Go Ape in Battersea Park
Non-Touristy Things to do in London
Walk Along Regent’s Canal
A peaceful stretch of water in central London? You might think that it sounds impossible but it really does exist. Regent’s Canal is hidden away in Paddington and runs to Camden – hop on a narrowboat and float upriver or take a leisurely walk to see a completely different side of London.
House of Minalima
Harry Potter fans, it’s time to get excited. The House of Minalima is a
Read More: Why You Need to Visit the House of Minalima
See the Impressive Conservatory at The Barbican
Want to take a peek at the second-largest conservatory in London? (The only acceptable answer to that is hell yes!).
Make your way to the concrete jungle that is The Barbican Centre and hunt out the conservatory. Brimming with tropical plants, the light-filled atrium is about to become one of your new favourite spots.
- Visit the Olympic Park Slide
- Swing by Little Venice
- Visit Alexandra Palace
- Enjoy the Gothic Architecture at Strawberry Hill House
- Visit the Spitalfields Urban City Farm Head to an Abandoned Tube Station – Aldwych on The Strand
- Go Underground in the Mail Rail
- Make Your Way Through the Abandoned Corridors in Euston
Cool Things to See in London: Just for Fun
Visit the Harry Potter Studio Tours
If you’re a Harry Potter fan, you need to get to the Warner Bros Studio tours pronto. I’ll admit, this is one of my favourite spots – all of the sets and costumes from the films in one absolutely magical tour. Get your capes and wands at the ready – you won’t want to miss it.
Tucked into a small area of just three blocks, Chinatown packs a big punch with its
Read More: The Insider’s Guide to Chinatown
Step into a World of Neon at God’s Own Junkyard
OMG. The first time I visited God’s Own Junkyard in Walthamstow it was like walking into a neon-fuelled dream. The junkyard is the personal collection of a third-generation neon signmaker Chris Bracey. Bracey’s curation of neon signs old and new is one of the quirkier things to see in London – go visit asap.
Immerse Yourself in the Crystal Maze
Tapping into a whole generation’s obsession with the electrifying Crystal Maze TV programme, The Crystal Maze live gives you the opportunity to take on the challenge of the maze. It’s SO MUCH FUN. From the moment you don your brightly-coloured bomber jacket, you immerse yourself in a world in which wits, stealth and agility reign supreme.
- Hang out on Carnaby Street
- Go Bowling at the All Star Lanes
- Shop in Colourful Neal’s Yard
- Spend an Afternoon in Notting Hill
- Catch the Train for Hogwarts on Platform 9 ¾
- Navigate Your Way around The Tube
- Pit Your Wits against an Escape Room
- Party all Night in Fabric
Whew, what a whopper. The ultimate London bucket list – over 150 things to do in London. Because if you are bored of London, you are truly bored of life…
London Tips: Read More
- Read my guide to the best areas to stay in London during your trip.
- In London in winter? Here are some cool things to do in London in winter.
- Want to know more about this weird and wonderful city? Check out these 55 interesting facts about London (I’ll bet there are more than a few in there to surprise you).
- Need to know what to pack? This winter city break packing list will put you on the right track.
- Looking for a few date night ideas? Check out my pick of 18 romantic dates in London
- And don’t forget my insanely practical London travel tips.
London Bucket List Map
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Visiting London? Here are my Insider Tips.
First up, well before you go, you should start with two of my most popular London guides: The Best Time to Visit London and What to Pack for London.
Looking for a place to stay in London? Artist Residence is one of my favourite boutique hotels as is Ace Hotel in Shoreditch, but both are costly. Safestay Holland Park is a good budget option. Read my guide to the Best Places to Stay in London for more tips on where to stay.
Looking to explore? These are the London sightseeing spots you shouldn’t miss or you can delve deeper in my guide to the best things to do in London.
Short on time? Read my one day and two day London itineraries – complete with practical tips to help you ace your trip.
If you do want to visit some of the bigger attractions, consider whether buying the London Pass will work out cheaper for your trip – it’s often worth it if you plan to see a lot in the course of a few days to a week.