One of the world’s most visited cities, London is the capital city of the United Kingdom and is located in the south eastern part of the UK.
The Thames River flows through the centre of the city and on either side you have many famous sights and attractions.
London is one of the most expensive cities to visit however it does have many free activities and free things to see and do.
Make sure your London bucket list includes a look at Richmond Park, South Kensington, Holland Park, Trafalgar Square and Hampstead Heath.
Whether your interest lies in history, museums, nature, art or London sights, in this London travel guide I’ll share my 25 favourite things to see and do in London.
Things To Do In London
1. Tower of London
The Tower of London has a history that goes back more than a thousand years, making it one of the most well-known and recognisable castles in the world.
This imposing structure can be found in the heart of London on the north bank of the River Thames.c
The White Tower, sits at the very centre of the complex and was constructed in 1078 by William the Conqueror as a representation of Norman control over London.
It started out as a simple fortress, but over the course of history, it evolved into much more than that.
For hundreds of years, the Tower of London served as both a royal residence and a prison, and was also used as an armoury.
The Tower of London is located within walking distance of several stations including Tower Hill and Monument.
This is one of London’s most popular attractions and well worth a visit, I recommend at least 3 to 4 hours to see all of the Tower of London.
Address: Tower of London, London EC3N 4AB
2. Westminster Abbey
One of the most well-known and well-recognized religious structures in London is Westminster Abbey, which is also commonly referred to simply as Westminster.
Mellitus, the Bishop of London, is credited with establishing the abbey in the seventh century.
He did so by dedicating a modest church on the current location of the abbey.
This church, over the course of time, expanded and developed into what is now known as Westminster Abbey.
During the reign of King Henry III in the 12th century, the building that is still standing today was constructed.
Since that time, Westminster Abbey has served as both a place of Christian worship and a place for royal weddings, coronations, and burials.
Today, Westminster Abbey is open to visitors from Monday to Saturday throughout the year and is considered to be one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United Kingdom.
Address: Westminster Abbey, 20 Deans Yd, London SW1P 3PA
3. St. Paul’s Cathedral
St. Paul’s Cathedral is widely regarded as one of the world’s most significant examples of Gothic architecture and is one of the most recognisable structures in London.
This magnificent cathedral, which dates back to the 17th century and was designed by the well-known architect Sir Christopher Wren.
St. Paul’s Cathedral in its present form is, in point of fact, the fourth structure to be located at this particular location.
The magnificent interiors and impressive architecture of this building can be admired by guests, who can also take in breath-taking views of the surrounding area from the recognisable dome.
The Cathedral has been very important in many cultural and religious events, from the funeral of Winston Churchill to the marriage of Prince Charles and Diana Spencer.
Visitors to the Cathedral can walk in the footsteps of royalty, explore the Crypt and scale the magnificent Dome enjoying unrivalled views across London.
Self-guided or guided tours in many languages are available on most days.
Address: St. Paul’s Cathedral, St. Paul’s Churchyard, London EC4M 8AD
4. Borough Market
The historic Borough Market can be found in Southwark and is well-known for the extensive selection of fresh foods and specialised products that it offers.
The market has been serving the residents of London for hundreds of years, and it is now considered to be one of the largest and oldest food markets in the city.
Borough Market can be found in close proximity to some of the most famous landmarks in the city, such as Tower Bridge, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, and St. Paul’s Cathedral.
An impressive structure dating back to the 1850s, the market itself is housed in the building which was initially designed to accommodate livestock.
Today, Borough Market is well-known for the extraordinary variety of fresh produce, meats, cheeses, baked goods, and other specialised foods.
Locals and visitors from all over the world visit the market to sample the one-of-a-kind items it has to offer and get a real feel for what it’s like to live in London.
Address: Borough Market, 8 Southwark St, London SE1 1TL
5. Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum is devoted to the investigation of natural history as well as research in the scientific community.
One of London’s free museums it was established in 1881 and is situated in South Kensington.
It houses an extensive collection of specimens from all over the natural world.
The museum is broken up into a number of distinct collections, including botany, entomology, mineralogy, palaeontology, and zoology.
In addition to these collections, the museum houses taxonomy labs and conservation departments, both of which are devoted to the process of determining the identities of specimens as well as preserving them for the benefit of future generations.
The dinosaur skeletons on display at the museum are probably the most well-known aspect of the Natural History Museum.
The massive cast of a Diplodocus that used to take up most of the space in the central hall has been replaced with a full-size skeleton of a blue whale.
A large collection of taxidermized animals from all over the world are also on display, in addition to other noteworthy exhibits such as a Victorian glasshouse decorated with exotic plants and butterflies.
Good for kids, the museum makes a great family day out, with a minimum of three to four hours needed to enjoy the main areas.
Address: Natural History Museum, Cromwell Rd, South Kensington, London SW7 5BD
6. Houses of Parliament
The Houses of Parliament, also known as the Palace of Westminster, is one of the most important buildings in London and a major UK landmark.
This palace has undergone numerous expansions and improvements over the course of English history, culminating in its status as one of the most famous structures in the country.
In the year 1512, a devastating fire consumed a significant portion of the building and the king gave the order to construct a new palace on the same site so that the old one could be demolished.
However, in 1834, it was struck by another fire that destroyed a significant portion of it.
As a result of this catastrophe, the Parliament of the United Kingdom commissioned the architect Charles Barry to design and rebuild its current structure.
The new building was finished in 1836 and is still one of the most recognisable landmarks in all of London.
There are a variety of tours available to visitors that can be booked online or via the ticket office.
These excellent tours enable you to see inside one of the UK’s most magnificent buildings and find out about the work of UK Parliament.
Address: Houses of Parliament, Westminster, Central London
7. Hyde Park
Hyde Park is well-known for the stunning scenery as well as the extensive history that it contains.
The land that is now known as Hyde Park was initially established by Henry VIII as a hunting ground in the 16th century and is located just to the west of the city centre.
Over the course of time, it evolved into one of the most well-liked gathering spots in London, and at the present time, it is widely regarded as being among the most stunning parks in London.
Since 1872, Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park has served as a venue for public demonstrations and political speeches, making it one of the most well-known features of the park.
Now a Grade I-listed area it offers visitors over 300 acres of space to explore and discover as well as world class concerts and events that are held in the park.
Address: Hyde Park, London
8. Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge is without a doubt one of the most well-known and instantly recognisable landmarks in all of London.
This historic bridge was constructed between 1886 and 1894 and spans the River Thames.
It features two towers with heights of 213 feet (65 metres), high-level walkways, and Victorian-era engine rooms, becoming a symbol of London’s strength and engineering prowess.
In spite of its advanced age, Tower Bridge continues to serve as an important hub for the transportation of both vehicles and pedestrians.
Visitors can tour the bridge by entering via the North Tower, then heading along the East and West Walkways, crossing the iconic Glass Floor and then going down the South Tower to road level.
You also get to see the amazing Victorian Engine Rooms.
The bridge is great for a family visit, with plenty of fun activities and an unforgettable view.
Address: Tower Bridge, Tower Bridge Rd, London SE1 2UP
9. Churchill War Rooms
The Churchill War Rooms are are located in central London, not far from Number 10 Downing Street.
During World War II, the underground complex in Whitehall was utilised as the central command centre for the British government.
It was from this location that Prime Minister Winston Churchill and his staff directed military operations and planned Britain’s response to Nazi aggression during the war.
In 1938, a state-of-the-art communications centre, that could continue to function autonomously even in the event that London was subjected to extensive bombing, was constructed in the Cabinet War Rooms.
Offices, meeting rooms, radio studios, map rooms, kitchens, and sleeping quarters were all located within this bunker to accommodate staff members working round-the-clock shifts.
Churchill and his team planned and directed the major military operations that took place during the war from this location.
Today, guests can take guided tours of these subterranean chambers and gain an understanding of the significant role they played in the development of modern history.
In addition to learning about the core of the British government’s intelligence operations during the war at the Cabinet War Rooms, visitors can learn more about Winston Churchill himself.
Address: Churchill War Rooms, Clive Steps, King Charles St, London SW1A 2AQ
10. National Gallery
The National Gallery is a prestigious art museum in London featuring over 2,300 paintings dating from the 13th to the 20th centuries.
The National Gallery is consistently ranked as one of the most visited museums on a global scale, receiving more than 2 million guests annually.
The collection features the works of a great number of well-known European artists, such as Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Rembrandt, and Vincent van Gogh.
The National Gallery presents a variety of special exhibitions throughout the year in addition to the permanent collection.
Great for art lovers, the gallery is one of the free things to do in London, however special exhibitions may have a charge.
Address: National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN
11. The British Museum
The British Museum is one of the largest and most comprehensive museums, with a collection that contains more than 8 million individual items.
Sir Hans Sloane, who was both a well-known naturalist and physician, established the museum in 1753.
The museum has never stopped accumulating new collections from all over the world and expanding its existing collections through ongoing research.
The museum’s permanent collection is comprised of historical artefacts from ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, cultural objects from Africa and Asia, artworks from Europe and the Americas, and rare scientific specimens collected during the age of European exploration.
It is generally agreed upon that the British Museum is one of the most important archives of human history and culture.
Great for human history and culture lovers, the museum is one of the free things to do in London, however special exhibitions may have a charge.
Address: British Museum, Great Russell St, London WC1B 3DG
12. Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace serves as the administrative headquarters of the British monarch and as a focal point for national celebrations as well as mourning.
The Duke of Buckingham is responsible for the construction of the first structure on this site in 1703.
Following the completion of the initial structure, subsequent years saw the construction of additional wings, a courtyard, and various other features.
Today, the most well-known part of Buckingham Palace is probably the elaborate East Front.
In addition, the palace plays an important role as a symbol of the culture and history of Britain because it plays host to state events and royal hospitality.
Buckingham Palace is a working royal residence but visitors can take a guided tour with highlights including the Throne room, Music room, Ballroom and Grand Staircase, it is definitely worth a visit.
Address: Buckingham Palace, London SW1A 1AA
13. Victoria and Albert Museum
The Victoria and Albert Museum (also known as the V&A) houses an extensive collection of works of art that come from Europe, North America, Asia, and North Africa.
This collection spans a wide variety of mediums, including ceramics, glass, textiles, costumes, silverware, and jewellery.
In addition, the museum houses a substantial collection of objects from the middle ages, as well as drawings and sculptures dating all the way back to prehistoric times.
The V&A is renowned for its extensive collection of artworks and can be viewed in any of the museum’s 145 galleries, which cover a total area of 12.5 acres.
Despite its enormous size and reputation for excellence in all aspects of art history and the preservation of our cultural heritage, the V&A remains surprisingly accessible.
Great for history, art and culture lovers, the museum is one of the free things to do in London, however special exhibitions may have a charge.
Address: Cromwell Rd, London SW7 2RL
14. Tate Modern
Tate Modern is an art museum that has one of the largest collections of modern and contemporary art.
It is housed in the historic Bankside power station, which is situated on the banks of the Thames, and features an extensive collection of art from all over the world.
Collections from the 1900s to the present day are housed at the Tate Modern, which consist of paintings, sculptures, films, videos, photographs, and other forms of media.
Artists such as Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Wassily Kandinsky, Frida Kahlo, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Andy Warhol are just some of the more well-known names that can be found in the museum’s collections.
Special exhibitions are held frequently throughout the year, in addition to the permanent collection galleries that are located on levels 3 through 6 of the Boiler House building and levels 0 through 4 of the Switch House building.
These exhibitions frequently centre their attention on specific topics or themes within the history of modern art.
Great for modern and contemporary art lovers, the museum is completely free to enter, however special exhibitions may have a charge.
Address: Tate Modern, Bankside, London SE1 9TG
15. London Eye
The London Eye is a remarkable achievement of both engineering and architectural design.
From its lofty perch on the South Bank, it provides passengers with breath-taking panoramas of the city below.
More than three million people go through its turns every year, making it one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe.
At a height of 135 metres, it is one of the tallest cantilevered observation wheels in the world.
The Eye is made up of 32 glass capsules that are mounted on rotating arms to provide passengers with a view that is constantly changing as they move along the wheel.
It travels at a speed of approximately 0.6 miles per hour and a normal ride will take about 30 minutes to complete.
The structure itself was meticulously designed to withstand high winds and other types of weather, and it has a lighting system that makes it stand out against London’s skyline when it is lit up at night.
Address: London Eye, London, SE1 7PB
16. Sky Garden
Sky Garden, which is located within the Walkie Talkie building, provides visitors with lovely views of the city from the atrium located on the 43rd floor.
The Sky Garden has quickly become one of the most popular attractions in London since it opened in 2015.
The garden is known for its breath-taking views as well as its verdant open space.
The renowned skyline of the city can be viewed by tourists at the same time they listen to live music performances in the garden area or have a meal or drink at one of the many restaurants.
It is not difficult to arrive here from any location, as there is convenient access to public transportation.
Address: Sky Garden, 1, Sky Garden Walk, London EC3M 8AF
17. Trafalgar Square
Locals and tourists alike flock to Trafalgar Square to mingle and catch up with one another.
It is a popular destination for those who want to see iconic British landmarks like Nelson’s Column and the buildings that surround it.
The square was created in the early 19th century as a part of a larger project to redesign the area around Charing Cross, which was formerly known as King’s Mews.
The central column commemorates Admiral Horatio Nelson, a hero of the Napoleonic Wars who died at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.
The square is also home to four majestic stone lions that sit on pedestals around Nelson’s Column, as well as fountains and works of public art.
Today, Trafalgar Square maintains its status as an important gathering place for people living in London as well as those who are just visiting the city.
Address: Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN
18. London Bridge
Over the centuries, London has been home to many famous bridges, .
The Romans constructed the first London Bridge in the first century AD that was made of wood and was located a short distance upstream from where it is now.
However, several bridges named London Bridge have spanned the River Thames with the current bridge opening in 1973.
It is still an important transportation link between central London and Southwark on the south side of the river today.
The name London Bridge is often mistakenly used for the famous Tower Bridge which is the next bridge downstream.
Address: London, SE1 9BG
19. The Shard
The Shard is a famous building that stands out against the backdrop of London’s skyline.
The world-famous architect Renzo Piano was responsible for designing this tower, which now boasts 72 stories and a height of 1,016 feet, making it the tallest building in the United Kingdom.
2009 marked the beginning of construction on “The Shard,” which was finished in the latter half of 2012.
Two observation decks are located within The Shard and provide visitors with breath-taking views of London.
Address: The Shard, London SE1 9SG
20. Covent Garden
Covent Garden, which is located between St. Martin’s Lane and Drury Lane, has a long history of being connected to the fruit and vegetable market that used to take place in the square.
These days, the square serves as a popular shopping and tourist destination.
The world-famous Royal Opera House is located in this neighbourhood and throughout the year this venue plays host to amazing shows and performances.
The lively central square of Covent Garden, which can be found on the south side of Long Acre, is where visitors will find a variety of historical buildings, theatres, and other entertainment venues.
Covent Garden is also a great place to see a street performers who entertain the crowds with their artistic acts.
Address: Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9DD
21. Kensington Gardens
Kensington Gardens is a stunning park located in the centre of London that is ideal for spending a day outside unwinding and taking in the fresh air.
This Royal Park is located to the west of Hyde Park and spans over 107 hectares (265 acres).
It is owned jointly by the boroughs of Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea.
The gardens are well-known for the formal landscaping that they feature, which includes trees that have been meticulously maintained, green lawns, and flower beds that have been carefully arranged.
The Ring is a winding path that loops around the park and is framed on all sides by magnificent trees.
From this vantage point, you can take in breath-taking panoramas of the entire garden.
The Serpentine Bridge, which crosses the winding Serpentine River as it travels through Hyde Park, is one of the most well-known attractions in the Gardens.
Address: London W2 2UH
22. Camden Market
One of the most well-known and buzzing with activity places to shop in all of London is Camden Market.
This bustling market can be found in the centre of Camden Town, and it is comprised of a diverse range of one-of-a-kind shops and stalls selling a wide variety of vintage clothing items, handmade jewellery, unusual gifts, and cool accessories.
People come from all over the city to shop at the market because of the extensive variety of goods it sells and it’s lively atmosphere.
At Camden Market, you are certain to find something that catches your eye, regardless of whether you are looking for something that is more trendy or more classic.
It is the ideal place to go if you are looking for a one-of-a-kind accessory to inject some character into your ensemble.
There is also a wide selection of places to eat at Camden Market, ranging from food stalls that serve delicious ethnic specialties, street food and casual cafes that serve a variety of sandwiches, wraps, and salads.
Address: Camden Market, Camden Lock Place, London, NW1 8AF
23. Science Museum
The Science Museum is one of the largest and most popular museums in London, and each year it welcomes millions of visitors.
One of London’s free museums it first opened its doors in 1857 and has since expanded to include a sizable collection of artefacts and displays that cover a broad spectrum of historical eras and scientific fields.
The main building of the museum is a magnificent example of architecture from the 19th century, and it features an impressive façade as well as a beautiful inner courtyard.
The interior of the building houses extensive archives of historical scientific objects, documents, and photographs in addition to collections covering a wide range of topics, from engineering to the exploration of outer space.
The museum is home to many popular interactive galleries including Exploring Space, Making the Modern World, Flight Gallery and Wonderlab.
Good for the whole family, this free museum makes a great day out!
Address: Science Museum, Exhibition Rd, South Kensington, London SW7 2DD
24. Oxford Street
Oxford Street is widely recognised as being among the most well-liked and frequented shopping districts in London.
It is one of the busiest shopping streets in Europe, with over 500,000 people visiting each day and more than 300 shops to choose from including major department stores like Selfridges and Debenhams.
Oxford Street is a major thoroughfare that extends from Marble Arch in the east to Tottenham Court Road in the west.
It is over a mile long from end to end and puts visitors within easy walking distance of other famous areas including Regent Street, Tottenham Court Road, Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square.
Address: Oxford Street, London, W1D 2HS
25. HMS Belfast
In 1938, the Harland & Wolfe shipyard in Belfast was responsible for the construction of the light cruiser HMS Belfast.
At the beginning of World War II, Belfast became part of the blockade that the British Royal Navy was conducting against Germany.
Throughout 1944 and 1945, the Belfast continued to provide support for Allied operations located all over Europe.
Today, guests have the opportunity to investigate every facet of life on board this incredible vessel.
There are a total of nine decks for visitors to explore, which feature a variety of interactive exhibits and activities for families.
You won’t leave this ship without knowing everything there is to know about sailors, from how they lived to how they fought off enemy ships and aircraft.
Address: HMS Belfast, The Queen’s Walk, London SE1 2JH
What is there to do in East London?
East London has many free things to do and see such as the famous Brick Lane, a historic street that is popular for great food, many curry houses, London Street Art and buzzing markets.
Visitors can also watch sporting events at the Olympic Park in East London or browse some great British art in the independent galleries in Hoxton.
What is there to see in North London?
North London has many attractions worth seeing, that includes the 395-acre Regent’s Park with it’s Rose Gardens and Boating Lake. London Zoo also sits within its boundary.
Hampstead Heath that contains the wonderful Kenwood House on its northern boundary is also worth a mention.
Where in London Kings Cross station was Harry Potter filmed?
Kings Cross Station is where Harry Potter boards the Hogwarts Express from Platform 9 ¾.
The platform connected to the Harry Potter films is many HP fans favourite free things to see in London.
Visitors can find platform 9¾ on the wall in the King’s Cross concourse.
Is Greenwich Park London free to enter?
Originally used as a royal family hunting ground, Greenwich Park is now a free entry green space in London.
Greenwich park is open all year and is great for strolls and picnics under chestnut and oak trees.
There is also the Greenwich Peninsula Ecology Park further along the river that has freshwater habitats with a wealth of wildlife and free workshops at the weekend.
Are there walking tours in London?
There are some great walking tours in London, covering everything from a Graffiti and Street art tour, Harry Potter tour, and a Notting Hill tour.
Many are free walking tours but tips are appreciated.
Why is Piccadilly Circus so famous?
Piccadilly Circus is one of London’s most popular visitor destinations.
Piccadilly Circus is famous for it’s Eros fountain located in the middle of this junction.
There are also neon signs, a variety of cinemas, souvenir shops, theatres, and restaurants, including famous traditional English pubs.