The UK’s Capital city is one of the world’s most visited cities. Whether you’re visiting for the first time or a regular traveller, there are thousands of things to do. We have highlighted 23 of our favourite things to do in London in 2023.
1) Tower of London
Built by William the Conqueror and standing on the site by the River Thames for nearly 1000 years, the Tower of London is steeped in history as a castle, fortress and prison. Get up close to the Crown Jewels, meet the legendary Beefeaters and learn about the fascinating history of one of London’s most important buildings.
Nearest tube station – Tower Hill
2) The British Museum
Home to over 8 million artefacts, The British Museum is one of the largest museums of its kind, documenting human history with a focus on art and culture. With over 60 galleries including collections from Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, Africa, the Roman Empire, Mesopotamia, China and Japan, it’s the only place to see treasures of the ancient world including the Elgin Marbles and the Rosetta Stone. Entry is free, though queues can be quite long, so make sure to set aside plenty of time as you could easily spend a whole day here.
Nearest tube station – Tottenham Court Road
3) Buckingham Palace
One of the world’s most recognisable buildings and the King’s official residence, Buckingham Palace is open to the public for guided tours in spring, winter and for 10 weeks during the summer. One of the most popular free attractions in London is the Changing of the Guard ceremony, which happens every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday from 10.45am and lasts around 45 minutes. The best place to view it is at the Palace gates or the steps of the Victoria Memorial.
Nearest tube station – Green Park
4) Natural History Museum
Located in South Kensington, the Natural History Museum is dedicated to life on earth with over 80 million items including specimens gathered by Charles Darwin. The collections are based around botany, entomology, palaeontology, zoology, and mineralogy with famous items including moon rock from the Apollo 16 mission, the world’s most intact Stegosaurus fossil, Sophie, and Hope, the massive 25 tonne, 4 tonne Blue Whale skeleton. The museum is free but you have to book a time slot for guaranteed entry.
Nearest tube station – South Kensington
5) Portobello market
Portobello Road in Notting Hill has one of the most famous street markets in the world with a rich history dating back to the 19th Century. On Fridays and Saturdays, the market stalls stretch for a mile along Portobello Road and Golborne Road with hundreds of traders selling everything from antiques and bric-a-brac to music and books with everything in between. You’ll also find street food traders from all over the world if you get peckish when you’re browsing the stalls.
Nearest tube station – Notting Hill
6) Tate Modern
The Tate Modern is host to the UK’s national collection of contemporary and modern art and is one of the top ten most visited galleries in the world. The gallery is located in the former Bankside Power Station and is accessible from the north bank of the Thames by the London Millennium Footbridge. One of the largest modern art galleries in the world, the gallery is home to works by Pablo Picasso, Piet Mondrian, Henri Matisse and Jackson Pollock amongst hundreds of others. Entry to the collections is free but there are some exhibitions which charge a fee and usually are booked out months in advance.
Nearest tube station – St Paul’s
7) St Paul’s Cathedral
One of London’s most iconic buildings, St Paul’s Cathedral was designed by Sir Christopher Wren after the original gothic cathedral on the site was destroyed by the Great Fire of London in 1666. Hosting one of the largest domes in the world and standing at 365 feet tall, the Cathedral was the tallest building in London from 1710 until 1963. The Cathedral is an active place of worship and is the seat of the Anglican Bishop of London. Entry is £23 but you can reduce this cost by booking online ahead of time.
Nearest tube station – St Paul’s
8) The National Gallery
Located on the north side of Trafalgar Square, The National Gallery hosts a collection of over 2300 paintings dating from the 13th Century to 1900. Home to works by some of the most renowned British artists including Turner and Constable and some of the continent’s most famous names including Van Gogh, Leonardo Da Vinci, Raphael, Caravaggio, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Cezanne and Monet. The gallery is free to the public, but they recommend booking a free ticket to skip queues and guarantee entry.
Nearest tube station – Charing Cross
9) Platform 9 ¾
A short walk from Euston Station on the concourse at Kings Cross, you’ll find Platform 9 ¾, a must see for any fans of Harry Potter. You don’t have to dash through a wall to get there, but you can get your photo taken to show your true colours whether you’re Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw or Slytherin. There is a professional photographer on hand to capture a snap with the luggage trolley between 9am to 9pm, but be aware the queues can be quite long, especially during school holidays. The trolley is situated directly next to the Harry Potter shop, styled to resemble Ollivander’s wand emporium, which is full of wizarding goodies for any Harry Potter fan worth their wand.
Nearest tube station – King’s Cross St Pancras
10) Tower Bridge
One of London’s most recognisable landmarks, Tower Bridge stands near the Tower of London and links the south and north banks of the Thames at the East of the city. The span of the bridge is 800 feet (240 metres) and has two towers climbing 213 feet (65 metres). The walkway is open to the public and spans the distance between the two towers offering breath-taking panoramic views 42 metres above the Thames. Entry is £11.40 for adults and £5.70 for children with family tickets available from £19.38. Guided tours tart from £20 where you can see the towers, the walkway and the old Victorian engine rooms.
Nearest tube station – Tower Hill
11) Covent Garden
One of Central London’s most famous locations, Covent Garden is famous for its shopping, restaurants, and street performers. The Covent Garden Piazza is the central focal point of the area and is where you’ll find the Covent Garden Apple Market, a former fruit and vegetable market which today hosts market traders selling unique handcrafted items. Near the piazza is the Royal Opera House, home to the Royal Ballet and the Royal Opera. Other nearby attractions include the London Museum of Transport, countless retailers and restaurants, including London’s oldest restaurant, Rules, founded in 1798. The area is also home to 60 pubs including the Lamb and Flag on Rose Street which dates back to 1772.
Nearest tube station – Covent Garden
12) The British Library
Just a short walk from Euston Station, the British Library is home to 200 million books and artefacts spanning thousands of years of human history. The library has various exhibitions including short runs next to more permanent displays. The exhibitions include The Sound Gallery, an exhibition of recorded sound from birdsong to beatboxing, The Philatelic Exhibition, packed with rare stamps and the show-stopping Treasures of the British Library which is home to the original Magna Carta and The Declaration of Arbroath, hand-written scores by Handel and Mozart, Beethoven’s tuning fork, sketchbooks by Leonardo Da Vinci, Jane Austen and Charles Dickens manuscripts and hand-written lyrics by The Beatles.
Nearest tube station – Kings Cross St Pancras
13) Trafalgar Square
One of London’s most famous locations and proximity to Westminster and Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square is usually on any tourist’s list when taking a trip. Named after the famous battle, the square is dominated by Nelson’s Column, the monument dedicated to the British naval Admiral. Guarding Nelson’s column are the four bronze Landseer lions, standing 22 feet tall and the famous fountains. The square is home to a multitude of street performers and is a great place to take in the bustling atmosphere. Just off the square is St Martins in the field, one of London’s most famous churches which doubles as a venue with lunchtime concerts, crypt performances and even silent discos.
Nearest tube station – Charing Cross
14) West End Shows
London’s West End is home to the 39 theatres of “theatreland” which has been entertaining visitors and Londoners for over 350 years. Ranging in size from 350 seats at the arts theatre to the massive London coliseum which holds 2359 people. Famed for its musicals and plays there are long running shows like The Mousetrap (since 1974), Les Misérables (since 1985), The Phantom of the Opera (since 1986) and Mamma Mia (since 1999). You’ll also find newer shows like Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, The Lion King and Back to the Future: The Musical. Keep an eye out for short run plays where you can sometimes catch your favourite stars from film and TV up close in the theatre.
15) The Wellcome Collection
Situated directly outside Euston station, The Wellcome Collection is a museum and library dedicated to health and the human experience. The museum has a range of changing exhibitions and a permanent exhibition “Being Human” which explores what it means to be human in the 21st Century with four sections covering genetics, minds and bodies, infection and environmental breakdown. Between 30th March and 10th September there is an exhibition exploring human’s relationship to Milk, its place in global society, politics and culture with over 100 items looking at scientific principles of dairy production and how the future of dairy farming might look. Entry is free for all exhibitions.
Nearest tube station – Euston
16) Afternoon Tea
There is nothing more British than afternoon tea and London offers afternoon tea experiences for every budget. If you want your tea with spectacular views head to Shangri-La on the 35th floor of the Shard where prices start from £69. For something more traditional head to the Ritz where afternoon tea is served in the former ballroom from £67 or to the Savoy where afternoon tea has been served in the Thames Foyer since 1889 with prices starting from £69. For something a bit different try the Mirror Room at in Rosewood London where you can enjoy cakes based on a changing artist themed artworks with prices starting at £72. If you have kids you might want to try Jurassic afternoon tea at The Ampersand Hotel, 5 minutes from the Natural History Museum which is a dinosaur themed affair. If you are looking for something more wallet-friendly then you can follow in Queen Victoria’s footsteps and visit the drawing room at Brown’s hotel with prices starting from £30.
17) Thames Boat Cruises
London was built around the river Thames and taking a boat cruise gives you a unique perspective to view some of the city’s most famous landmarks. There are countless river cruise operators offering sightseeing tours including hop on and hop off services and many leave from Westminster Pier, The London Eye pier or the Embankment pier. If you fancy something a bit higher paced, you can do a speedboat trip with Thames Rockets or the Thames RIB experience. If you fancy something a bit slower paced many operators offer lunch and dinner cruises to take in the sights as you enjoy a meal over a few hours.
18) Madame Tussauds
Founded on Baker Street in 1835 by Marie Tussaud, Madame Tussauds is the world’s most famous waxwork museum. Packed with waxworks of famous figures, the museum is split into multiple zones including Royalty, featuring King Charles II, Music with Ariana Grande, Drake and Freddie Mercury, Awards Party featuring A-listers including Angela Jolie, Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson and Leonardo DiCaprio, Marvel Hall of Heroes featuring all your favourite Marvel characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Star Wars featuring characters from the galaxy far, far away. The museum also hosts some experiences including the Chamber of Horrors featuring famous London criminals from the last 150 and Alien Escape based on the Alien film franchise where you step on board the Covenant spaceship and navigate a trail of blood, gore, chaos, and danger. Not for people of a nervous disposition!
Nearest tube station – Baker Street
Marked out by the four gates and paper lanterns, Chinatown is nestled between Shaftsbury Avenue, Charing Cross Road, Rupert Street and Leicester Square in central London and is home to a large East Asian community. The area is famous for its restaurants where you will find a huge variety of East Asian cuisine with over 70 restaurants. The area is also home to cafes and ice cream shops where you can find bubble tea, filipino ice cream, matcha ice cream and Japanese style souffle pancakes. You’ll find all kinds of small shops selling trinkets, souvenirs and Asian skincare products and can stock up on Asian staples at the various Chinese supermarkets. Tired shoppers and sightseers can take a trip for an invigorating reflexology session, massage or acupuncture.
Nearest tube station – Leicester Square
20) Camden market
The largest market in London, and open seven days a week, Camden Market is packed with creative sellers, street food traders and independent retailers next to the Regent Canal. With over 1000 places to shop, eat, drink and dance it’s one of London’s cultural hotspots. From vintage and retro finds through handmade jewellery, t-shirts and cosmetics, to futuristic clubwear and alternative fashion, there’s something for everyone. Once you have browsed the traders you can take a walk around to take in the bohemian atmosphere and view the street art before relaxing with a drink at Camden Lock or choose from some of London’s best bars and music venues to take in a gig.
Nearest tube station – Camden Town
21) Spittalfields market
Traders started trading at Spitalfields in 1666 after the Great Fire of London and today it’s one of London’s largest markets. Open seven days a week until 6pm, the centrepiece is the Spitalfields Traders’ Market, an uncompromising array of up to 110 independent stall holders, showcasing hand-crafted and hard to find contemporary and vintage fashion, jewellery and music. The market is also home to boutique shops and family friendly restaurants and street food trucks, which are open until 9:30pm Monday to Saturday. There is a calendar of events including street art, art markets, and street dancing too!
Nearest tube station – Liverpool Street
22) Brick Lane
Positioned between Bethnal Green to the North and Whitechapel to the south in the East End, Brick Lane is famous for its street artworks, pubs, places to eat and markets. The best way to view the street art is heading from south to north where you’ll see countless murals and pieces of graffiti. The street is famous for its vintage shops and Brick Lane books, one of London’s most famous second-hand books shops. Weekends are the best time to visit for the Backyard Market, the Vintage Market and the Sunday Upmarket with eclectic choices of food and quirky crafts. The area is famed for its Bangladeshi curry houses and there are countless options to choose from. You’ll also find Beigel Bake (the white one) and The Beigel Shop (the yellow one), 24 hour bagel bakeries serving traditional bagels with a massive choice of savoury or sweet fillings.
Nearest tube station – Aldgate East
23) Churchill War Rooms
Located just off Horse Guards Road, the Churchill War Rooms offer a glimpse of the past in the nerve centre of Britain’s war effort in World War II. Walk the top secret corridors of the underground hub where Britain’s leaders plotted the allied victory. The museum details what life was like in Churchill’s secret bunker where you can visit the Cabinet room, where all decisions were made, the Map Room, which was staffed 24 hours a day by the Royal Navy, the Royal Air Force and the Army, the BBC Radio room where iconic speeches were made, and even Churchill’s bedroom. There is also a museum dedicated to Winston Churchill himself, where you can find out more about the two time Prime Minister, voted the Greatest Briton by the public.
Nearest tube station – Westminster