20 Best Things to See and Do in London

London is a beautiful city with so much history, and it is one of the greatest cities in the world to visit. From museums and architecture to the theater and the thriving nightlife, there is something for everyone. Whether you are on a budget or are willing to spend money to have a good time, London has attractions that appeal to a wide range of people. As someone who has both lived and studied in London, I for one can attest to the excitement the city has to offer. Here are some of the best things to do in London.

Houses of Parliament at the River Thames in London
Houses of Parliament at the River Thames in London

1. Visit the British Museum. The British Museum is one of the most popular museums in London. It has a series of beautiful exhibits and galleries. Daily guided tours are offered for free throughout the day, and each tour takes about 30-40 minutes and covers a different collection in the museum. The museum’s “Lunchtime Gallery Tasks” are free 45 minute talks with guest speakers or museum curators. Friday evening spotlight tours are free 20 minute tours that focus on museum highlights, and they take place every Friday evening. Lastly, the “Highlights Tour” is a 90 minute tour of specific collections and they are held every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. These tours cost £12. Visitors can also go on self-guided tours with the use of audio guides that cost £5. Admission to the museum is free.

2. See a play at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. London is known for its history of theatre, and it wouldn’t be a complete trip to London without stopping by Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. The theatre is set up in a style reminiscent of what Shakespeare’s original theatre was like. It is an open-air theatre with very little seating. Most who see plays there stand, especially since the seating area does not offer good views of the stage. I personally saw Macbeth at the Globe and arrived early enough to stand directly in front of the stage. It was an experience unlike any other.

3. Tour the beautiful artwork of the National Gallery. The National Gallery is another one of London’s many beautiful art museums. It has more than 2,000 paintings and works of art. Free guided tours are given daily. The National Gallery is open daily from 10 am-6 pm and from 10 am-9 pm on Fridays. Admission to the museum is free.

4. Enjoy breathtaking views of London from the London Eye. The London Eye is one of London’s most recognizable attractions, and you can clearly see some of London’s most beautiful attractions when the Eye reaches its highest point. There are different ticket packages available. Buy your tickets online ahead of time to save you the hassle of standing in line.

5. Visit Madame Tussauds Wax Museum. Take your picture next to Queen Elizabeth or the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at Madame Tussauds Wax Museum. Whether or not you have been to any one of the many other locations around the world, you have to stop by the London location.

6. Take a walk through Regent’s Park. Regent’s Park is only one of London’s many gorgeous parks. Walk through the royal park on a sunny day and enjoy the beauty and the scenery. You can sit on a bench and people watch, or you can rent a pedal boat and go for a ride around the boating lake.

7. Visit the Royal Museums Greenwich. The Royal Museums Greenwich is composed of the National Maritime Museum, Royal Observatory, The Queen’s House, and Cutty Sark. All attractions are both beautiful and rich in history.

8. Enjoy the bustling activity of Piccadilly Circus both during the day and at night. Piccadilly Circus is one of London’s busiest and most exciting areas. From restaurants to clubs, Piccadilly Circus has everything.

9. Climb to the top of the Monument to the Great Fire of London. Climb the 311 steps to the top of the Monument to see breathtaking views of London. The climb is no small feat, but it is worth it to see views of London you would not be able to see anywhere else.

10. Visit the Museum of London. A personal favorite of mine, the Museum of London is a very modern museum with many wonderful exhibits. The museum is dedicated to telling the history of London throughout the centuries, and there is a section of the museum dedicated to a behind the scenes look at London’s role as the host of the 2012 Olympics.

11. Take a tour of Buckingham palace. Buckingham Palace is one of the most popular tourist attractions in London. It is amazing to see the magnitude of the palace from the outside, but it is a great opportunity to be able to tour the inside of the palace. There are a variety of ticket package options, but I personally recommend investing in the Royal Day Out ticket that gives you access to the State Rooms, the Queen’s Gallery, and the Royal Mews.

12. Visit Kensington Palace. Home to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Kensington Palace is one of the many gorgeous royal residences in London.

13. Visit Westminster Abbey. Westminster Abbey is the church where the beautiful royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton took place. Visit the church to see where the magic happened.

14. Visit St. Paul’s Cathedral. Climb 528 steps to the dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral for more stunning views of London.

15. Walk across Tower Bridge. Another one of London’s most recognizable attractions is Tower Bridge. Walk across the bridge during the day, but be sure to also take in views of it when it is lit up at night.

16. Visit Harrods. Home to some of the most high-end designer items, Harrods is the place for all things glamorous. With prices as high at £5,000 for one handbag, Harrods is not the place for small pockets, but it is a great experience just to visit and to see gorgeous designer items you might not see everyday.

17. Visit Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. One of my favorite things to do in London during the holiday season is to go visit Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. The park is essentially transformed into a holiday theme park complete with rides, a Ferris wheel, games, food, and live music.

18. Walk across the Abbey Road zebra crossing. Channel your inner Beatle and take a picture with you and your friends recreating the signature photo.

19. Visit St. Pancras railway station. Any Harry Potter fan will enjoy a trip to St. Pancras railway station and a chance to take a picture at the well-known 9 ¾ platform made famous by the Harry Potter films.

20. Attend a movie premiere in Leicester Square. The Odeon Theatre in Leicester Square hosts several movie premieres each year.

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