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The best things to do in London, England

Updated On 6th May, 2021

London is hands down one of the best cities in the world to experience. It’s one of the best capital cities to visit in Europe and without a doubt a must if you’re heading to England.

Even if you wouldn’t say you’re a ‘city person’, you have got to visit London at least once in your life. It’s just as vibrant and as full of life as you’ve seen it in the movies.

London is filled with some of the most creative and talented people in the world and it’s a host to world-class performers, chefs, venues, events and more.

Whether it’s for a night in the West End, for a Sunday morning stroll through some of the best markets in Europe, to watch a world-famous talent perform, to soak up the iconic landmarks or to dine under the menu of a Michelin Star Chef – London will quickly capture your heart and I can guarantee it will leave you with lifelong memories.

If you’re planning a trip to Europe and are thinking to add London to your itinerary but have no idea what to do in London, you’ve arrived at the perfect blog post.

In this London travel guide, I’m going to pass on what are, in my opinion, the best things to do in London in 2021.

Grab your pen and paper and let’s dive in to all the London travel guides, London travel tips and the best things to do when you visit London!

P.s. If you’re looking to dive deeper into planning your London trip I have an abundance of London travel guides on my blog after living, working and breathing this gorgeous city for 3 years. Here are a few that may help your London planning!

A complete guide to exploring London during Winter

16 best things to do in London...

1. Take a walk around London to see all the famous landmarks.

London is one of the best places to be a tourist for the day, and it costs nothing to see the landmarks from the outside and take some iconic Insta snaps with them! Most of London’s landmarks can be seen on this walk around London, which I think is one of the best free things to do in London

There are so many places that are on our London bucket lists: London movie scenes (Notting Hill), London landmarks (such as the London Eye, Big Ben, St Paul’s Cathedral) and more. One of the best things to do in London is visit all these spots and see them for yourself, not just on Pinterest or Instagram. 

See how to improve your travel photography here. 

2. Learn about history from all over the world in London's museums and art galleries.

One of the best things to do in London is to visit one of the many art galleries and museums in London. It’s a great thing to do in London when it rains! Learn about history, art, science or something else in one of London’s best museums or art galleries. What’s more, many of them are free! Check out more free things to do in London in this post.

My favourite museums in London include:

  • Natural History Museum
  • Museum of London
  • Victoria & Albert Museum
  • British Museum
  • Science Museum
  • Tower of London

My favourite galleries in London include:

  • National Gallery London
  • National Portrait Gallery
  • Tate Modern
  • Tate Britain
  • Photographer’s Gallery, Soho
13 reasons why you'll fall in love with London

3. Enjoy a quintessentially British afternoon tea.

Afternoon tea is a British classic, and where better to try than in London! Afternoon tea is a great way to warm up after exploring London in the rain. Going for afternoon tea is one of the best things to do in England, never mind one of the best things to do in London!

My favourite afternoon tea in London was taking the B-Bakery bus tour around London, seeing the landmarks and enjoying my cake at the same time. See what I got up to on the B-Bakery bus tour here.

Check out the best places to have afternoon tea in London here.

BB Bakery Afternoon Tea Bus Tour on a Red London Bus | Where's Mollie? A UK Travel and Adventure Lifestyle Blog

4. Watch a show in London's West End.

I absolutely love going to the theatre; it’s one of the best things to do in London, come rain or shine, winter or summer. Sing along to a musical, get caught up in a Shakespeare play, or laugh your socks off at a comedy; London has a variety of shows for every audience. See what’s on at the London theatres here. 

While you’re exploring the West End, take a trip to Soho. There are plenty of bars and restaurants in this part of London, and lots of cool things to do in London, including visiting the Sophie Tea Art Gallery! Check out my Soho coffee and cake guide here.

If you prefer the cinema, London has your back too! There are the big cinemas such as Leicester Square and the IMAX, but there are also smaller, independent cinemas to visit too. For live music shows and concerts in London, as well as the big acts at the O2, plenty of bars have indie live music for you to enjoy over a drink.

5. Make the most of London's night life.

There’s nothing a Londoner likes more than going for a drink. Whether you prefer the informal atmosphere of a pub or a fancier cocktail bar, there are so many places to go for a drink in London, you’ll be spoiled for choice!

Once you’ve had a couple of cocktails in London to warm up, one of the best things to do in London is to hit the town and party! London night life caters for everyone and anyone, so put on your dancing shoes and dance the night away! The best part is that London transport runs through the night, so getting home isn’t something you have to stress about.

Check out the best places to go for a cocktail in London here.

Cocktails in London: 25 fun places to try

6. Go shopping in London.

Shopping is a great way to escape the rain in London, and London is a great place to go shopping! What’s more, if you’re window shopping then it’s a free thing to do in London!

London is world-renowned for being a great place to go shopping. Yes, it’s busy (especially London at Christmas), but if you enjoy the hustle and bustle, you should give it a try. My favourite places for shopping in London are Regent Street, Oxford Street, Covent Garden and Westfield.

13 reasons why you'll fall in love with London

7. Eat as much of the international cuisine as possible.

One of my favourite things to do in London is to indulge in any cuisine I could possibly dream of. London is a melting pot of culture and if you want it, it’s got it. We aren’t particularly famous for good food in the UK, but other cultures have brought it to London and done it well. 

My favourite meal of the day is brunch, so going out for brunch with the girls is one of my top things to do in London. London has amazing brunch choices for every diet, and going for brunch is a great way to see your friends, even if it’s raining in London. Whatever brunch you want in London, whether it’s something healthy or something sugary or anything in between, you’ll find it!

Check out the best places for brunch in London in this blog post.

A list of the best brunch spots in London

8. Browse the London markets.

Visiting the markets in London is one of my favourite things to do in London. I absolutely love taking in the colours, smells and personalities within the London markets. They make for a great day out (because they’re one of the best free things to do in London, and full of amazing food!) and the indoor markets are a great way to take shelter if you’re looking for things to do in London when it rains.

My favourite markets in London include:

  • Greenwich Market
  • Camden Lock Market
  • Columbia Road Flower Market
  • Borough Market
  • Mercado Metropolitan

See my list of all the best markets in London here.

9. Spend Christmas in London.

After two Christmas seasons in Australia, I can honestly tell you nowhere does Christmas like London does (even if London in winter doesn’t sound like your cup of tea). From ice-skating outside Somerset House and exploring Winter Wonderland with a glass of mulled wine to doing your Christmas shopping on Oxford Street after watching a pantomime, there are so many fun things to do in London at the most wonderful time of the year. 

See all my favourite thing to do in London at Christmas here. 

Check out my complete guide to exploring London in winter here. 

10. Have a sleepover or be a keeper at London Zoo.

It is as it says on the tin! Have a once in a lifetime sleepover at London Zoo in the Gir Lion Lodges and enjoy VIP moonlit tours, feeding opportunities and access to the animals. This is one of the most unique days out in London and I absolutely loved my stay here. See more photos and the full experience of my sleepover at London Zoo in my blog post here.

Alternatively, if you don’t fancy staying over at London Zoo but you still want to experience one of the best things to do in London, what about being a Keeper for a Day? You can feed and get to know the animals as you enjoy exclusive access to London Zoo and see what’s really in a day’s work for a zookeeper. See my ‘Keeper for a day’ experience here.

‘KEEPER FOR A DAY’ EXPERIENCE AT LONDON ZOO | Where's Mollie? A travel and adventure lifestyle blog

11. See the city from the water on a River Thames cruise or when kayaking on the River Thames.

One of my favourite things to do in London is to hit the water and see the city from the River Thames! There are a few different ways you can do this… 

The Thames Clipper is possibly my new favourite way to see and get around London. The interior of the boat, the spacious comfy leather seating and the views on board make it a great option for transport in London in summer! There’s a cafe on board serving up coffee (the good stuff), alcoholic drinks, all the teas and even food (including vegan options). To use the service you can tap on with your Oyster or contactless card and transport yourself across London via the Thames with all the iconic views of the city’s landmarks, e.g. Westminster, the London Eye, Tower Bridge and more. See the Thames Clippers routes available here.

A complete guide to exploring London during Winter

If rather than a day out in London you fancy seeing the city by night, or you want to do something fancy for e.g. a date night in London, take a River Thames night cruise from Westminster and see London’s most famous landmarks light up the skyline. See more photos and read about the experience on my blog post here.

Maybe you’re looking for something more active and something fun or unique to do in London? How about kayaking on the River Thames? This is still one of my top things to do in London to date. Grab a willing friend and head out on the water to catch an extremely unique perspective of London. It’s a great thing to do in London in summer! Book your kayaking experience here.

12. Escape city life and enjoy the many green spaces in London.

One of the best things to do in London is to enjoy the green space within this bustling metropolis. Grab some snacks and your friends (or a good book or a podcast if you’d prefer some alone time) and spend a London summer afternoon is on of the many parks in London. The parks are definitely one of the best things to do in London are of course are a completely free thing to do in London.

Some of the best parks in London are:

  • Greenwich Park
  • Regent’s Park
  • Kensington Gardens
  • Hyde Park
  • Green Park
  • St James’s Park
  • Richmond Park
  • Battersea Park
  • Hampstead Heath

13. Chill out in Camden.

Camden has forever been my favourite place in London to stroll on a Sunday afternoon, or any afternoon for that matter. Take a stroll through the markets before walking the canal (or even hopping on a gondola ride) and picking up lunch at Kerb food market. As the sun goes down on Camden it gets even more lively as the bars and nightlife start to pick up! 

See my complete guide to Camden here.

14. Walk to the top of Primrose Hill for the best view over London.

With so many attractions to choose from and things to do in London, you might be wondering why I’m telling you to climb up a hill. Well, the views are stunning and it’s a great way to escape the city for a few hours and take in some fresh air. 

Once you’ve seen the stunning panoramic views of the London skyline from the top of Primrose Hill, which are particularly stunning at sunrise and sunset, you’ll see why it’s such a popular place to visit in London. On a sunny day you’ll be able to see London attractions and landmarks like The London Eye, The Shard, and The BT Tower.

The surrounding area is stunning if you want to make a day of it, and Primrose Hill is in the centre, near to Camden, Regent’s Park, Abbey Road and London Zoo

The best things to do in London, England
Primrose Hill by Mike Rolls, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mikerolls/6987318712/

15. Get creative in Shoreditch.

Central London is great, but don’t foret to check out some of the other neighbourhoods outside the centre too! Shoreditch is one of the most unique and creative areas in London, filled with artisan coffee shops, small start-ups, vintage shops, pop-ups, markets, rooftop cocktail bars and the street art East London is famous for. 

As far as London is concerned, Shoreditch is still not as touristy or overcrowded as other parts, so get in there while it is still ‘undiscovered’. It’s also cheaper than other parts of London if you’re looking for things to do in London on a budget.

See my complete guide to backpacking in Shoreditch here. 

16. Take a day trip outside of London.

As wonderful as London is, I urge you to not overlook the beauty on offer in England beyond the city, especially if you’ve got time on your hands because you live in or near London or you’re visiting for a while. Whether you’re looking to visit one of the famous university towns such as Oxford or Cambridge, see how the royals live in Windsor, get a taste of the quintessentially English countryside in the UK National Parks or get active with a hike in some of the stunning landscapes near LondonEngland can cater for you.

See my favourite day trips from London in this blog post.

A day trip from London to Windsor Castle

What are the best things to do in London?

What’s on your London bucket list? Anything you’d add?

Love as always and happy adventuring,

Mollie.

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