London, the capital of England and one of the world’s most famous cities, with a very long history dating back to Roman times. With nearly 20 million yearly visitors, it’s also Europe’s most visited city. But what brings people here. London is a very welcoming city and is known for its cultural diversity and anything-goes attitude. There is something for everyone. The city is so rich in history and has more famous landmarks than most other cities. Amazingly, London is also home to more than 270 different nationalities and 300 languages.
I feel very lucky to live less than 1 hour away from this bustling city, a place I visit many times a year, and my favorite city. Hopefully, with my knowledge of London, I can help give you some tips on what to see and do during your stay in the English capital.
Top 10 things to do on your stay in London.
1. See a west end show
No trip to London is complete without going to the theatre to see a show. London has some of the greatest shows in the world, from Disney’s The Lion King to Andrew Lloyd Webbers masterpiece, The Phantom Of The Opera which has been running since 1986. With 39 different theatres in the west end, you are sure to find a show for you.
The shows are full of energy and excitement and a great way to spend a Saturday night, whether that’s as a couple or the whole family. People come from all over the world to see these shows and the reason is simple, there the best.
There are many shops and stalls dotted around the west end offering 2 for 1 ticket or cut-price deals or you can book online, prices will vary from show to show. Why not start your evening off with a meal and then a show or vice versa, these can be booked together as part of a package.
2. Have dinner up the Shard
The shard, or also known as the shard of glass is a 310-meter skyscraper situated just off London Bridge and is the city’s tallest building. The Shard offers Londons the highest viewing platform offering stunning 360-degree views, on a clear day the views can be as far as 40 miles. Why not sample some contemporary British cuisine at the aqua shard, a restaurant, and bar situated on the 31st floor with floor-to-ceiling glass windows offering spectacular views while you dine. You don’t have to book if you just fancy some late-night drinks, or just to pop in for a cocktail after a long day shopping. This is not the only restaurant here, there are 5 others to choose from each offering British, European, and Asian cuisine. A full restaurant guide is available here. If you fancy partying the night away, there is no shortage of live music for you to show off your finest moves, but it’s always advisable to check dress codes before turning up.
3. Explore some history at the Tower of London
One of the most historic and interesting places in London. A historic castle situated on the bank of the River Thames, and right next to Tower Bridge, the Tower of London is 900 years old and home to over 23000 jewels, including the crown jewels. Founded by William the conqueror in 1066, the castle was built as a royal palace during King William I’s mission to stamp his royal power. Over the years the castle has been expanded by Kings Henry III and Edward I. The history of the castle is vast, and it has served as a royal residence, barracks, prison, and museum. Today, the tower is still a place of residence, the Yeoman Warders, the resident governor and some soldiers reside here. Take a tour of the tower and find out about its fascinating history, royal tragedies, and executions that have taken place here. Come and see the crown jewels for yourself.
Ticket prices are as follows
- Adult: £28.90 – €32.13
- Child: £14.40 – €16.01
The opening hours are: (summer hours)
- Tuesday-Saturday: 09:00-17:30
- Sunday-Monday: 10:00-17:30
- Tuesday-Saturday: 09:00-16:30
- Sunday-Monday: 10:00-16:30
4. Visit St Pauls cathedral
St pauls cathedral is one of London’s most famous landmarks, with its dome the highest point in the city of London. It has stood for over 1,400 years and survived the blitz although It has suffered its fair share of damage and has been rebuilt 5 times. Designed by English scientist, mathematician and, architect, Sir Christopher Wren, The iconic building features some of the most stunning architecture seen throughout the world and took 40 years to build. The main purpose of the cathedral has always been to be a place of worship and prayer.
But don’t just walk by this magnificent building, step inside and walk around the crypt where you will find wellingtons tomb. Then make your way up to the whispering gallery, 30 meters above the cathedral floor. Once you have spent a bit of time here, climb to the stone gallery, the first of 2 galleries to encircle the outside dome, At a height of 53.4 meters above the ground and 378 steps. For magnificent views of the city of London and sights such as Tate Modern and the River Thames, climb up the steps to the golden gallery, the smallest but highest of the galleries.
The cathedral is open to visitors from Monday to Saturday between 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. Tickets cost €20 (£18) for adults, €18 (£16) for students and €10 (£8) for children aged between six and seventeen.
5. Shop till you drop
London is one of the best places in the world to do some retail therapy. It’s home to some of the most famous shopping streets in the world like oxford street, bond street, regent street, Knightsbridge, and Carnaby Street. For London’s best shopping experience, head to Selfridges, (located on oxford street) the world-famous department store selling world-class luxury brands and all the latest trends. With over 6 floors of fashion for you to choose from you will soon be in need of some refreshment, and there are 5 cafes here too.
If you wish to avoid the crowds on Oxford Street and Regent Street it is probably best you go either early in the morning or later in the evening, with most shops open until 8 o clock or later. Oxford street is after all Europes busiest shopping street, with nearly half a million daily visitors.
My personal favorite is a walk along Bond Street, (although it’s only window shopping), a street famous throughout the world for its elegant stores, designer fashion, jewelers, and according to an article in the Retail Gazette, the 3rd most expensive street in the world. But it’s a great place for people-watching, or a stroll on a Sunday morning while waiting for the shops to open, as most won’t open until 12 pm on Sundays.
If you are shopping with children then go to Hamleys, the finest toyshop in the world. Officially the oldest and biggest toy store in the world, it’s packed with all the must-have toys. Hamleys is located on Regent Street, just down from oxford circus station. If your child cant find the toy they want in here, then it probably doesn’t exist. ok, so it’s a little bit expensive but the experience is worth the extra few pounds. My children could literally spend all day here, my wallet, on the other hand, could not 😩.
6. Take a walk around borough market
For foodies this one. Borough Market is London’s most talked about and well-known food and drinks market, selling British and international goods. Located in Southwark, a short walk from London Bridge station, Borough Market is one of the biggest food markets in the city. It’s a great place to visit if your a food lover and it’s great fun here, with over 100 stalls selling everything, including cheese, fresh bread, cakes, coffee, beers, cider, and much more. My favorite time to visit here is Christmas, I love a Christmas winter market, there is just something spectacular about the atmosphere and the mulled wine and turkey rolls, along with some naughty but delicious sweet treats.
7. The natural history museum and science museum
The natural history museum and science museum are located next door to each other on south Kensington high street. The museum is most famous for its collection of dinosaur bones and artifacts and incredible life-size models. At the natural history museum, you can explore the amazing diversity of life on earth, from dinosaurs to mammals and insects and human biology. With amazing images, sculptures, and models, in fact, it’s home to more than 70 million specimens, including a 28 meter long model of the blue whale.
The science museum is a must for all science fans and lovers. There is so much here for anybody of any age and there is and enough to keep the younger ones entertained for a few hours. Children between 3-6 years old will love the garden, where they can play with water and learn about science through play. Discover the story of flight, with overhead displays of the story of aviation, including a triplane (one of the very first airplanes to fly in the UK), the Supermarine S6B, (the world record speed holder in 1931), the Spitfire, the Hurricane, and a few others.
Come and see the actual spacesuit worn by Helen Sharman, a chemist, and astronaut (the first British astronaut), the suit was worn on an eight-day mission to the MIR space station in 1991. Discover space and humans’ journey into space, and the technology it took to get us there. From rockets to satellites, the space gallery has so much to see, including a British black arrow (satellite rocket).
Come and watch some fantastic presentations at the Imax cinema. Currently undergoing a major renovation and due to be open in the summer of 2020 the Imax cinema is one of the biggest screens in the UK. Go on journeys into space, around the planet or under the sea, all in stunning 3D.
The best thing about all museums in London is that they are all free, unlike most other museums in Europe.
Click For a full guide on what to see and do at the Natural history and science museums.
8. Wander around Camden Town
Camden Town, or more often known as Camden is known for its market, fashion, culture, buzzing nightlife and music scene, cafe culture, and its close proximity to London Zoo. Camden has always been famous for its live music and jazz clubs and is also home to the legendary Roundhouse, a concert venue located in an old railway engine shed.
Camden high street is packed with bars, pubs, shops, and cafes, as well as a market which is open every day from 10, am till late. Camden market has over 1000 unique shops, stalls, bars, and cafes all running alongside Regents canal. The market is the fourth most visited attraction in London, with over 250,000 visitors per week.
If you need a break from the hustle and bustle from here, take a picture up to the nearby primrose hill. You almost feel like you are miles away from the big city here. Home to a row of compact, pastel-colored victorian terraced townhouses, and a hilltop park that has fantastic views of the city.
9. Take a trip to the west end
The west end, the district of London that’s west of the city and north of the River Thames, and where you will find much of the city’s tourist hotspots and entertainment hub. It’s also my favorite part of the city. With Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square, Covent Garden, and Soho, areas famous for theatre, shopping, hotels and attractions, and buzzing nightlife, all within The west end, there is no shortage of fun and entertainment here.
Its also home to London Chinatown, which features lots of restaurants, souvenir shops, and bakeries. A great place to spend a night out dining if you would like to sample some of the best Chinese and Cantonese food in the city, or if you just wanted to stroll through and check out the decor, with lanterns and big oriental gates on display here.
10. Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey is a royal church situated in the Westminster borough of London, with over 1000 years of history, and famous for, most recently, the wedding of Prince William and Cathrine Middleton. In fact, it has seen 17 royal weddings. It was also used as a place for royal coronations and burials.
The Abbey looks absolutely stunning from the outside, with some of its gothic-style architecture. Inside the abbey, you can visit the tombs of Elizabeth I, Mary Queen of Scots, Charles Dickens, and many more. If you head to Poets’ corner, you can see the stone of Ben Johnson, who was buried standing up.
Have fun in London and enjoy this magnificent, culturally diverse city, the fun is waiting for you.