London is among the top destinations in Europe: Big Ben, Tower Bridge, St Paul’s Cathedral, and many more must-sees! So, how do you prepare for your trip? What to do and see in London? And how do you visit London in 3, 4, or 5 days? Discover our TOP 30 of the best things to do in London, from the famous landmarks to the most unusual. Let’s go!
- TOP 30 best activities 🤩
- Best neighborhoods 📍
- Where to eat in London 🍽
- Itineraries to visit London in 3, 4, or 5 days 👍
- What to do in London for free? ✌️
- and what about when it rains? 🌧
1. TOP 30 best things to do in London: must-sees + unusual
Let’s start with our TOP 30 of the best activities in London, from the most iconic places to more unusual spots!
1.1 See Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster
Symbol of London. Big Ben is the large bell in the Elizabeth Tower of the Palace of Westminster. Although the palace is less well-known by name than the famous bell, its tower represent London.
A must-visit? The Elizabeth Tower is open to UK residents only with special permission. The Palace of Westminster is the seat of the British Parliament. It’s open for tours only a few weeks a year. Therefore, it’s a must-see in London, but visiting the inside is unnecessary.
From the other side of the Thames. It is best to cross Westminster Bridge and go to the south bank of the Thames to fully appreciate the Palace of Westminster in all its glory.
1.2 Visit Westminster Abbey in London
Monarchy. Westminster Abbey, built in the 13th century, is the site of royal coronations. It also houses the tombs of British monarchs and the graves of the country’s great personalities.
Architecture. Visiting Westminster Abbey is one of the most fascinating activities in London if you want to admire fine examples of medieval architecture.
Good to know! Capacity is limited. Tickets to visit Westminster Abbey in London are sold with a date and time of entry. Consequently, in the high tourist season, booking tickets in advance is strongly recommended. (see availability here)
1.3 Discover London’s Tower Bridge
Bascule bridge. Tower Bridge is one of the must-see locations during your trip to London. This bridge is raised at night to allow large cargo ships to go further inland.
How to see Tower Bridge? Of course, you can go to the banks of the Thames, but this part is rather far from other places to visit. Therefore, we believe the best way is to see Tower Bridge from an observation deck, such as The Shard or the London Eye. We will talk more about this later.
Visit the inside? Visiting the Tower Bridge from the inside, specifically, its high-level walkways, is possible. If you spend 5 days or more in London, it is an interesting visit. Otherwise, it’s optional.
1.4 Visit St Paul’s Cathedral in London
Impressive. Rebuilt after the Great Fire of London in 1666, St Paul’s Cathedral is a magnificent religious building. The top of its dome reaches 111 meters in height and weighs 65,000 tons.
The City. Today, the cathedral is in London’s business district, the City. If you come here on the weekend, do not be surprised by the calm. The district empties when the office workers go away for the weekend.
View of London. Visiting St Paul’s Cathedral is among the essential places in London. Moreover, you can climb up the cathedral dome to enjoy a lovely view of the city. Plan for at least 1h30 for the visit.
1.5 Walk across London’s Millennium Bridge
Pedestrian. This suspension bridge over the Thames is a delightful place to visit during a trip to London. It joins the City district and the south bank of the Thames. Thus, you can explore this bridge after visiting St Paul’s Cathedral, for example.
1.6 Go up The Shard in London
Opposite the City. The Shard is one of the most recognizable skyscrapers in London. It is located on the south bank of the Thames, right opposite the City. Moreover, The Shard is the tallest skyscraper in the United Kingdom: 310 meters tall. It is one of the 10 tallest skyscrapers in Europe. The skyscraper has offices, restaurants, and a bar, but especially an observation deck on the tower’s 68th, 69th, and 72nd floors.
Unique 360-degree view. Day or night, the view from The Shard over London is spectacular! So, going to The Shard is one of the activities in London. The open-air terrace is located on the 72nd floor. To save time, book the tickets in advance. It is a lovely experience during your trip to London, whether as a couple or with family!
Surprise. On the 69th floor of The Shard, the toilets might surprise you. They, too, have a view of the city.
1.7 Discover Little Venice by boat: an unusual activity to do in London
What’s Little Venice? Little Venice is a charming small district in London. It is full of greenery and is located away from the city’s tourist attractions. Here, one can take a break on a houseboat or even go on a boat cruise.
Regent’s Canal. From Little Venice, one can take a boat to the famous Camden district (we’ll talk about that next)! This unique activity is a must-do to mark your trip to London. The journey takes 50 minutes, and the boat arrives directly in Camden: perfect! Here is the website of the company that offers this cruise.
1.8. Visit the astonishing district of Camden Town in London
Unusual. Camden is considered one of the atypical districts to visit in London. One of the most famous places to discover is the Camden Town Market. The best day to visit is Sunday when the district is vibrant.
Quite far from the city center. Camden Town is located northwest of the center of London. If you want to visit London on a 4- or 5-day trip, and if the alternative side attracts you, you may choose this district to stay in London. Learn more in our article: Best neighborhoods to stay in London.
1.9 See the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace
Free. The Changing of the Guard lasts 45 minutes. It occurs in front of Buckingham Palace at 10:45 am, but only on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday—weather permitting (find the schedule here). There is also a Changing of the Guard ceremony at Windsor Castle (we talk about this later in the article).
Very touristy. Among the things to do in London, this is one of the most touristy. There are a lot of people, and sometimes too many. Getting a good spot is not always easy. Therefore, if you are visiting London in 3, 4, or 5 days, it’s not a must-see if you’re not a fan.
Palace tour. The State Rooms of Buckingham Palace are open for visiting. One can explore the royal collection’s exceptional furniture, sublime paintings, and sculptures. The tour takes place with an audio guide. It’s a lovely visit to do in London with family. Highly demanded, the Buckingham Palace tour should be booked in advance to be sure to have tickets.
1.10 Visit the British Museum in London
Free. This vast and rich museum is one of the oldest in the world. And as a bonus, the entrance is entirely free! However, the number of visitors is limited. Once again, consider booking tickets in advance, especially since the museum is not open every day.
Cultures and civilizations. The British Museum’s strong point is its vast collections, which showcase cultures from different parts of the world: Africa, America, Asia, Europe, and the Pacific. It’s an activity for couples or families in London, whether you spend 4, 5, 6 days, or even more. Moreover, it’s one of the best activities to do for free during your trip to London.
1.11 Experience an unusual London adventure
London Dungeon. Visiting the London Dungeon is a unique experience to do in London. Here, you can walk the streets of London from the past and meet people from that time. However, you need a good level of English to fully enjoy the experience. It’s an original and unique activity in London for couples, families, or friends. If you spend 3 days or more in London, or it’s your second trip, it’s an exceptional activity.
1.12 Visit the lively district of Soho
Perfect for the nightlife in London. You may have heard of Soho or Piccadilly (another district to visit in London; we’ll get to that right after) at least once. Located right in the center of London, this district is very lively. In Soho, you will find places to party and enjoy the nightlife.
1.13 See an opera at the Royal Opera House in London
What to do in London at night? Seeing an opera is one of the best activities for couples or families in the evening. The Royal Opera House offers attractive rates for an excellent cultural evening in London. Discover the program, schedules, and tickets on the Royal Opera House of London website.
Piccadilly. The Royal Opera House is located in the Piccadilly district, which is just a stone’s throw from Soho. It is also a vivacious district to visit in London.
Shopping. Selfridges is one of the largest and most well-known stores in London, located a 5-minute walk from Piccadilly Avenue. It could be compared to the Lafayette or Printemps stores not far from the Paris Opera. However, if you did not visit London for shopping, come to this area for the Royal Opera House.
1.14 Visit Victorian London: walking in the footsteps of Jack the Ripper
19th century London. Jack the Ripper is one of the most famous serial killers in the history of London. This thematic immersive tour allows us to dive into the atmosphere of 19th-century London and to follow Jack the Ripper’s footsteps like investigators of the time. An unusual visit to do in London, if you have a good grasp of the English language: guided tour on the trail of Jack the Ripper.
1.15 Visit the Tower of London
History and Royalty. If you plan to visit London for 4 or 5 days or more, this historic tour is a must-add to your itinerary. It is especially true if you’d like to learn more about London’s 1000 years of history and see the British crown jewels. Book your tickets in advance and head straight to the cashier, avoiding the queue.
The world’s largest diamond. The Great Star of Africa, or the Cullinan, is the largest diamond ever found. Its mass is 3,106 carats, which means 621.2 grams. It adorns the British imperial scepter on display, specifically at the Tower of London.
1.16 Admire a magnificent view of London from the Sky Garden
Free. Sky Garden is an amazing garden located in one of the City’s skyscrapers. Access to the Sky Garden is free. The view from Sky Garden over London is breathtaking. However, visiting the garden requires booking on Sky Garden’s website.
Restaurant. On the same site, you can also book a table to make the most of the view from Sky Garden. It’s a great dining spot in London for a romantic trip.
1.17 Savor tea at London’s Kensington Palace
From Queen Victoria to Diana. Discover this emblematic site of the royal family. Kensington Palace will reveal its secrets and magnificent apartments.
Like the royal family. You can take a guided tour with the traditional English tea break to make the most of the visit. It’s a great way to enjoy this place even more. The tea break includes cakes and scones. For more information: guided tour with a Royal Hugh Tea break.
1.18 Stroll around Hyde Park in London
A green break. Hyde Park is one of the prettiest parks to visit in London. Take a walk in this park, complemented by a lunch break. Moreover, the park is between the Kensington district (the Kensington Palace we just saw above) and the Notting Hill district. Take a walk here if you visit London for 3, 4 or 5 days!
Notting Hill district. Have you seen the movie “Notting Hill”, starring Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant? It was set in this rather trendy and bustling neighborhood, one of London’s best places to stay.
1.19 Take a tour at Portobello Road’s antique market
What to do in Notting Hill, London? Besides Hyde Park, the antique market is located here. To see the most stalls, visit London’s Portobello market, preferably on Saturday morning.
Neighborhood architecture. Notting Hill is a pleasant and friendly neighborhood known for its charming streets and architecture.
1.20 Immerse yourself in the Harry Potter universe
Visit the Harry Potter studio. Harry Potter fans, visiting this Warner Bros studio is a must-do in London. Discover the filming secrets and visit Oxford with a guide: guided tour at the Harry Potter studios + Oxford. But exploring the Harry Potter universe without leaving London is also possible.
Platform 9 3/4. You can go to London’s Kings Cross station. This is where the famous platform 9 3/4 is. So, young wizards, ready for departure to Hogwarts?
Magical! Enjoy a guided tour that will take you through London in the footsteps of Harry Potter: guided walking tour in central London. It’s a magical experience in London! Nothing but good memories!
1.21 Visit London’s Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew
Unique. These gardens are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew illustrate the characteristic periods of garden art from the 18th to the 20th century. They are a globally recognized plant research center with over 30,000 plant species.
Bucolic visit. The plant collections are incredible. Visiting the Royal Botanical Gardens is an activity for plant lovers in London. Moreover, it’s also a charming visit for couples in London.
1.22 Wander and lunch at Greenwich Market
Left bank. Greenwich Market is located on the left bank of the Thames, that is, on the opposite bank from the City, Big Ben, or St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Typical London market. If you visit London for four or five days or more, you can add this place to your itinerary. It’s not an absolute must-see in London, but it’s a nice spot to venture off the beaten path. Here, you find both crafts and world cuisine stands.
1.23 Discover the Shoreditch neighborhood and Brick Lane
Hipster. Shoreditch is a cosmopolitan and hipster area of London. For years, this part of London was rather industrial, but today it has found a new lease on life.
Street art. Brick Lane Street is somewhat the benchmark of the Shoreditch area. Here, you can discover many street art pieces, alternative places, art galleries, theaters, and even cool places to eat or grab a drink in London.
1.24 Ride on the London Eye
The best view of Big Ben. Among the panoramic views of London, the London Eye provides a better view of the historic center, the Palace of Westminster, and Big Ben. Riding on the London Eye is London’s most visited tourist attraction, ideal for families or couples.
Comparison. Talking of heights, we also mentioned The Shard earlier. Tickets to go up The Shard are almost the same price as those for the London Eye. It is a different experience: one is a skyscraper with an elevator, and the other is a Ferris wheel.
Long queues. The London Eye is much more popular than The Shard, and there are longer queues here. Therefore, to avoid wasting travel time, getting fast-track tickets is recommended. It’s efficient and easy: fast-track tickets for the London Eye.
1.25 Take a boat trip on the Thames
From Westminster to Greenwich. The best way to visit London by boat is to cruise on the Thames. It’s a perfect opportunity to rest and discover London and its monuments from the water. Boat tours last between 1 and 2 hours. You can book tickets in advance (audio guide included) or buy them on the spot.
Cruise with lunch. You can opt for a Thames cruise with lunch to combine a boat ride and a meal. Indeed, it’s a good option that saves you from running around the city looking for a lunch spot and enjoying a pleasant visit. Great to do in London with family or as a couple: cruise + lunch.
1.26 See The Lion King show
Wow! One of London’s key musicals is The Lion King. The show takes place at London’s Lyceum Theatre. So, why not take advantage of your trip to London to see this musical? It’s an excellent activity for family and musical theater fans in London. Costumes, music, emotions: everything for an enjoyable evening! Learn more about dates and times here: choose your date and seats.
1.27 Discover London’s Trafalgar Square
Iconic square. Trafalgar Square is a rather touristy location in London. On this square, a tall column, Nelson’s Column, and fountains light up at nightfall. Trafalgar Square is considered a space for social interaction and freedom of expression.
National Gallery. Among the most interesting museums to visit in London is the National Gallery. It is located at Trafalgar Square. Entrance is free for the permanent collections of 2300 paintings owned by the British state.
Hungerford Bridge is another pedestrian bridge not far from Trafalgar Square. It is a nice spot for a walk over the Thames.
1.28 Walk through London’s Holland Park
Japanese garden. Part of London’s Holland Park is dedicated to the Kyoto Japanese Garden. If you’re visiting London for more than five days, it’s a pleasant place to discover with family. Moreover, Holland Park is close to the Kensington area.
1.29 Visit the Tate Modern Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art
Surprising. The Tate Modern is the most visited modern art museum in the world. It gathers artworks from the 1900s to the present day, including works by Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, and Salvador Dali. The museum is inside a disused power station on Bankside.
1.30 Visit Windsor Castle from London
50 km from London. If you visit London for a second time, you might consider this trip. Windsor Castle is located outside London. So, it takes a good half-day, or more, to visit the castle from London.
Visit from London. To make your life easier, you can take a ticket that includes transportation from London: guided tour from London + transport.
Bonus: visit Stonehenge from London
This megalithic monument needs no introduction. It’s one of the most mysterious monuments on our planet. If you visit London for 5 days or more, you can add Stonehenge to your itinerary. However, the visit will take at least a full day.
2. Best Neighborhoods to Stay for Visiting London
Soho, Covent Garden, Camden, Notting Hill, and Shoreditch are the best neighborhoods to stay in when visiting London with your partner, family, or friends. Some areas are more suitable for visiting London with family, others are perfect for a romantic trip, and others are most interesting for a trip with friends. The cost of accommodation in London is among the highest in Europe.
Locke at Broken Wharf offers welcoming, beautifully decorated studios and apartments. It is just an 8-minute walk from the Thames and St Paul’s Cathedral, and from here, you can visit the historic center of London on foot.
Kensington Gardens Hotel is a hotel for couples. It is located in the friendly district of Notting Hill.
citizenM Shoreditch: located in London’s hipster district, this hotel is a lovely place for couples to stay when visiting London. The view of the city from the rooms is excellent, and the decoration is modern.
3. Great Places to Eat in London
Whether you’re visiting London for 3, 4, 5 days or more, don’t forget about the gastronomy part of the trip. Discover our selection of the best places to eat in London.
Soho Hobson’s Fish & Chips is an excellent place to eat classic Fish and chips in London’s Soho neighborhood!
Clos Maggiore. An excellent place to eat as a couple in London. European cuisine in a romantic and charming setting.
Kitty Fisher’s Mayfair. Explore British cuisine! Good surprises await you.
Darwin Brasserie. This restaurant is located at Sky Garden. We talked about it earlier: an incredible garden on the top floors of one of the City’s skyscrapers. To enjoy the spectacular view of London from Sky Garden, you can come here for lunch or dinner (item 16 of our TOP 30).
Mildred’s Soho is a lovely vegetarian restaurant with seasonal dishes and organic ingredients in the heart of London’s Soho!
Greenwich Market is a typical London market with crafts and world cuisine stands (item 22 of our TOP 30). It’s a tasty place for lunch if you’re staying in London for four days or more.
4. Itineraries for Visiting London in 3, 4, or 5 days
How to visit London on a trip of 3, 4, or 5 days? Here are some itinerary ideas and activities to do to discover London.
3-day weekend in London
Optimizing your travel is essential if you are looking for things to do in London in three days. Here is an itinerary for a first trip to London that you can follow. If this isn’t your first trip to London, check out the unusual activities in our TOP above.
What to do in London on the first day?
- See Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster
- Visit Westminster Abbey (book tickets)
- Watch the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace (optional: palace tour)
- Walk through the historic center of London to Trafalgar Square, then head towards the Soho district (or for Harry Potter fans: take a guided walking tour around Harry Potter)
- Discover the lively neighborhoods of Soho, Picadilly, and Covent Garden
What to do in London on the second day?
- Visit the Tower of London or the British Museum
- Take a lunch cruise on the Thames, starting right next to the Tower of London (optional)
- Visit St. Paul’s Cathedral
- Walk along the Thames and the Millennium Footbridge
- Go up The Shard (to save time, book tickets in advance)
How to visit London on the third day?
- Take a boat from Little Venice to Camden
- Discover the Camden Town neighborhood and its market (generally, Sunday is the best day)
- Visit the Natural History Museum (a perfect family activity) or Kensington Palace
- Walk through the nearby Hyde Park
Visit London in 4 days
In addition to the activities above for the first 3 days, here is what you could add for the fourth day.
- Visit Kensington Palace or the Natural History Museum in London
- Stroll through Hyde Park
- Discover the Notting Hill neighborhood
- Climb up to Sky Garden to discover its garden and view
Visit London in 5 days
What to do in London on the 5th day?
- Visit the world’s largest modern art museum: Tate Modern
- Stroll and have lunch at Greenwich Market
- Discover the incredible collections of the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew in London
- Attend an opera at the Royal Opera House (optional)
5. What to do in London for free?
Among the activities to do for free in London is visiting museums. Admission to the permanent collections of museums is free. However, it is recommended that access be booked in advance. The number of visitors is sometimes limited. Here are the most interesting museums to visit for free on a trip to London:
- British Museum
- Tate Modern
- National Gallery
- Natural History Museum
Among the activities to do in London for free are visiting neighborhoods, markets, and city parks.
- Camden Town and its market
- Greenwich Market
- Notting Hill district and its antique market
- Hyde Park
- Holland Park with its Kyoto Japanese garden
Not to forget the star: Sky Garden!
6. What to do and visit in London when it rains?
When does it rain the most in London? London’s climate is oceanic. The rainiest months are June, August, September, October, November, December, and January.
So, what can you do if you’ve landed on rainy days? No choice: do fewer outside walks and choose indoor visits. Here are some ideas:
- Visit the inside of Buckingham Palace
- Discover the magnificent Westminster Abbey
- See shows or operas (we talked about it in our TOP 30 above)
- Discover London museums: Tate Modern, British Museum, National Gallery, Natural History Museum
- Visit the Tower of London
- Visit the Harry Potter studios and Oxford
What should you do to visit London in 3, 4, or 5 days? For a first trip, visiting all of London’s must-see places in 3 days is difficult. However, it is entirely possible if you make a good selection and optimize your travels. Even if you visit London in 3 days, discover neighborhoods outside the city center such as Notting Hill, Camden Town, or Shoreditch. For a 4-day weekend in London, making itineraries and running around less is more manageable. The same applies for a 5-day trip to London.