Wondering what are the best things to do in London? Home to 4 world heritage sites, founded by the Romans and today's one of the most important economic hubs in the world, London is a diverse city, known for its art, culture and hipster neighbourhoods. London is one of the world's greenest cities, home to the iconic Big Ben and the Royal Family. London is a vibrant city, full of opportunities and one of the coolest places in Europe. England's capital is an absolute must-see.
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Best 19 things to do in London - Contents
Things to do in London
We visited England on so many occasions and we absolutely love its capital city given the sheer number of awesome things to do in London. During our romantic 4 days in London itinerary, we spent so much time just soaking in what the city has to offer. London means a lot to us as well, as this is the city where we ordered our wedding rings from. It's also the first-ever city we had a travel date in, with a cool visit around Tate Modern. We are certain you are going to fall in love with London and will want to come back for more. And if you visit London with your family, rest assured there are plenty of free London museums for kids as well.
The Elizabeth Tower, commonly referred to as the Big Ben, is London's most iconic landmark. The name Big Ben was given to the bell itself which weights over 13 tonnes. The best time to visit the Big Ben is during night time when the tower is illuminated.
Unfortunately, the Big Ben is not open to visitors from abroad, however, a UK resident can write to their local MP and ask to arrange a visit.
The House of Parliament
Another icon landmark is the House of Parliament, a majestic gothic building located right in the heart of England's capital. The House of Parliament features three towers: The Victoria tower which is also the tallest, the Central Tower which is the smallest and the Elizabeth Tower which is the most famous and home to the Big Ben bell.
You can purchase tickets in advance for a tour around the House of Parliament.
Natural History Museum
Inspired by many of David Attenborough's documentaries, I couldn't resist not visiting the magnificent National History Museum. My only mistake was underestimating the amount of time it would take to enjoy all its wonders. For example, I spent an hour wandering around the Dinosaur exhibition and another hour visiting the world's rock and gem collection. Overall, it took me about 5 hours to soak in everything the Natural History Museum has to offer and I still feel that I missed on a lot of things!
Although I've been to London more times than I can count, I've only been in the London eye twice: once durin the daytime, to be able to take spectacular pictures over London and the second time during twilight, to enjoy a lovely vanilla sky over the House of Parliament and the Big Ben.
Having had these experiences, I recommend going to the London Eye as late as possible. The queues are shorter and the views are more outstanding when the sky goes red. Taking pictures when it's dark (for example during winter times) can be a little tricky as the wheel rotates continuously.
If you want privacy, you can purchase a VIP experience which includes Champagne too.
What I love about the UK is that most Museums and Art galleries offer free admission. The British Museum is no exception and it features an amazing collection of over 2 million years of human history. The most visited attraction within the Museum is the Rosetta Stone, the Parthenon sculptures, and the Egyptian mummies.
The British Library
During my university years, I went to the British Library to see the Magna Carta. For those of you who don't know, Magna Carta is a charter written by King John back in 1215. Although most of the charter’s clauses dealt with medieval rights and customs, Magna Carta has become a powerful symbol of liberty around the world. The most famous clause, which is still part of the law today, for the first time gave all ‘free men’ the right to justice and a fair trial.
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Don't worry, if you are not a legal geek like me, you can see many cool things at the British Library, including the Leonardo da Vinci's Notebook or some Beatles manuscripts. Access to the Library is free, although some exhibitions cost a few pounds. You can apply for a reader pass if you wish to access the reading rooms.
The Royal Botanic Gardens of Kew is a world heritage which comprises of over 130 hectares of landscapes and gardens, an amazing treetop walk and beautiful glasshouses which are home to hundreds of world's rarest plant species. The palm house is probably the icon of Kew, but you must not miss the Princess of Wales Conservatory or the Waterlily House. There are often spectacular exhibitions held at Kew, so make sure to check their official website regularly. I visited during the tea and coffee exhibition where I learned about the East India Company, as well during the toxic plant display, which gave me a chance to learn about all sort of hallucinogens. They even had a cute gin stand and a botanist who explained lots of interesting facts. Kew is known internationally due to its seed bank. Scientists at Kew are continuously collecting seeds from all around the world, to ensure the survival of many flora species.
The admission to the National Gallery is free and you can pick up an audio guide available in multiple languages. There are even free guided tours and free kids actives. You will have the chance to enjoy art by Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt, Gainsborough, Turner, Renoir and Van Gogh.
This is an absolute must if you are in London. You can tour 19 remarkable rooms, decorated with tasteful items from the Royal Collection. The Buckingham Palace is still in use today and during the summer months, it hosts special exhibitions which cannot be missed. This is a brilliant opportunity to catch a glimpse of the Royal life. Remember it's not just the decor you will enjoy, but also masterpieces by Rembrandt, Rubens and Canaletto.
The prices vary from £21 to £37 if you opt for the Royal Day Out ticket available between the 23rd of July until the 2nd of October. With the Royal Day Out ticket, you can also get access to The State Rooms, The Royal Mews and The Queen’s Gallery.
Victoria and Albert Museum
The Victoria and Albert Museum is the world's greatest museum of art and design. Here, you can enjoy over 3,000 years of human creativity. To top it all up, the admission is of course free! Make sure you allocate lots of time to really enjoy your visit. It took me hours and hours to see it all. I spent a whole day marvelling at art. It's worth mentioning that no other museum captivated me as much. No, not even the Louvre.
This is your modern and contemporary art gallery, right by the river banks. You can freely enjoy works of arts by Cézanne, Bonnard, Matisse, Picasso, Rothko, Dalí, Pollock, Warhol and Bourgeois. There are certain temporary exhibitions which have an entry fee, although the general admission is completely free. Same as with most museums in London, I dedicated several hours of walking around Tate Modern. It's really spectacular and you are guaranteed to encounter some things which will make absolutely no sense whatsoever.
There is no trip to London without catching the sunset over its rooftops. Although England's capital might not be as imposing as Tokyo, it still looks impressive from above. At a height of one of Western Europe's highest buildings, The Shard offers spectacular views over London for up to 40 miles. At 244 m, twice as high as any other vantage point in the city, it is the best place to admire London in all its glory.
This is the most visited Science Museum in Europe. For a visit with your children, know that it has several interactive exhibitions as well as 3D and 4D simulators. The entry is free, however, there are special exhibitions which do have a small fee.
Take a trip beneath the ocean's surface and immerse yourself in one of Europe's largest collection of marine life. At the Sea Life in London, you can walk under the Tropical Ocean and see some amazing sea creatures, from sharks to rare jellyfish. The admission fee is £19.50 for adults.
Kings Cross Railway Station
This one if for the Harry Potter fans who don't have the possibility to go to the Warner Bros studios located in Watford. King's Cross features in the Harry Potter books and movies. It is famed due to the platform 9¾ accessed through the brick wall barrier between platforms 9 and 10. You can go to the King Cross Station and look around the dedicated Harry Potter store where you can purchase odd tasting jelly beans, magic wands and Hogwarts scarves.
Madame Tussaud Museum
On my first visit to London, I actually went straight to Madame Tussauds. This is because I saw a documentary on how long it takes to make the wax figurines. I became incredibly fascinated by the subject and really wanted to see these models for myself. The trip around the museum is absolutely fantastic. There is more about Madame Tussauds than meets the eye. You can enjoy a journey back through history to see the London fire and you will even experience the London dungeons where stage actors dressed in creepy clothing are sure to make your heart race!
Everyone loves a good horror story and London is the perfect stage for it. The London Dungeon is a signature attraction which has been charming tourists for almost 40 years. Here, you can enjoy a 90-minute journey through 1000 years of London's murky past. The shows are based on real events, some funny, others quite scary.
Nothing says shopping better than Oxford Street in London. Dotted with shopping boutiques and world's famous brands, you are sure to find that perfect outfits needed for further exploration around London. Oxford Street can get a bit overwhelming and crazy, as tourists from all around the world come here specifically to shop. London is an international fashion hub.
You've seen it collapse during the Harry Potter movie "Half-Blood Prince" but in reality, the Millennium Bridge is still very much intact. You can walk on this steel suspension bridge over the river Thames and enjoy beautiful views of the St. Paul's Cathedral.
Why would you like to go to London? What is the first thing to do in London you will want to experience? Let me know in the comment section below.