London is one of the most exciting and vibrant cities in the world. It’s packed with history, traditions, museums and beautiful parks. If you’re pushed for time, we’e compiled the ten best things to do in London. From having a pint of beer in London’s oldest pub, through to finding out more about the city’s bloody history at the Tower of London, here are our top picks.
1. Visit Big Ben
Take a walk along London’s South Bank before heading across Westminster Bridge towards Big Ben. The iconic clock tower stands beside the historic Houses of Parliament where the British government resides. Big Ben features neo-gothic architecture and was built in 1859. Be sure to have your camera fully charged as it’s the perfect place for a selfie.
2. Have a Picnic in Hyde Park
London is one of the greenest cities in the world because it’s packed with beautiful, leafy parks. Pack a picnic (top British picnic foods include strawberries, cocktail sausages, and sandwiches), a blanket and a book, and relax on the grass at Hyde Park, one of the city’s four royal parks. The park is set around a large lake, and during the summer months you can rent a pedal boat and explore the lake. There are several manicured gardens and plenty of luscious, grassy spaces where you can lie down or sit.
3. Tower of London
Delve into London’s grizzly history with a visit to the Tower of London. The tower was once used for public beheadings and executions, including one of King Henry VIII’s wives, Anne Boleyn, who was accused of witchcraft and adultery during the Tudor era. The tower is more than one thousand years old and it’s one of London’s most famous sights. It sits in front of Tower Bridge and together they both dominate London’s skyline. Today the Tower of London is home to the British Crown Jewels, estimated to be worth a whopping £3-5 billion GBP.
4. Visit London’s Oldest Pub
Grab a drink at Ye Old Cheshire and Cheese, London’s oldest pub, established in 1667. The pub has a low-beamed ceiling and features a maze-like layout, with an underground vault area thought to pre-date the pub. Have a pint of beer or a traditional gin and tonic.
5. Explore Museums
London is known for its amazing selection of museums, and it can be hard to pick which ones to visit. If you’re on a schedule, the top museums to visit include the Natural History Museum, which houses an incredible collection of dinosaur bones (including those of a tyrannosaurus rex), the Science Museum, a fun, interactive museum detailing the history of science and the British Museum, a world-famous collection of artifacts ranging from the Egyptian era through to the Roman era. The British Museum is housed in one of London’s most striking buildings, dating back to 1759.
6. London Zoo
London Zoo is the world’s oldest scientific zoo and dates back to the early 19th century. It’s home to a collection of animals, ranging from penguins to lions, tigers and gorillas. The zoo has daily shows and events, which are great fun for kids and adults alike. London Zoo is located near to Camden station, boasting a vibrant market and is a great place to grab some street food after a busy day exploring the zoo.
7. Go Shopping
If you want to indulge and do a spot of shopping, you’ll find everything you need on Oxford Street, London’s principal shopping street. On Oxford Street, there are top chains including Topshop, Nike, Urban Outfitters, and H&M. There are also some of the UK’s best department stores, including John Lewis and Debenhams, where you’ll discover makeup brands through to clothes and electrical appliances.
8. Visit Art Galleries
For an art fix, the best galleries to visit are the Tate Modern, featuring a fabulous collection of modern and contemporary art, and the National Gallery, known for its impressive art collection that dates from the mid-13th century to 1900.
9. Take a Ride on the London Eye
For a bird’s eye view of London, take a ride on the London Eye, the giant Ferris wheel overlooking the River Thames. The iconic wheel offers an incredible view of London and is in a prime location on London’s South Bank, making it near to sights like the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. It’s one of the best things to do in London — don’t skip it!
10. Visit Buckingham Palace
No trip to London would be complete without visiting Buckingham Palace. The royal palace, home to the British Monarchy, draws millions of tourist each year hoping to see a glimpse of Queen Elizabeth II and her entourage. Be sure to time your visit for the changing of the guards when the royal guards switch posts. The best time to see the routine is daily at 10.45am when the ceremony lasts for around 45 minutes.