Devin Kleu/Unsplash

Features

47 Top London Attractions Worth A Visit (For Tourists And Locals)

You know what makes London so attractive?

Its attractions.

There’s a near infinite list of incredible things to see and do in this city. There are fascinating museums and art galleries that are free to visit (and home to some of the world’s most famous paintings and objects); leafy parks and botanic gardens like Kew Gardens (which houses virtually every plant on the planet); historic buildings and iconic monuments; famous streets and houses to explore; and so much more.

Long story short: London has so many attractions you could live here for ten years and still be working your way through them all. So if you’re just getting to know the city, here’s what we consider to be the unmissable attractions in London: those that are genuinely worth your time and money, and a couple of more unusual recommendations to help you see the city like a local.


Before we begin, you might also want to check out:


LONDON’S UNMISSABLE ATTRACTIONS

1. See the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London

Tower of London

Beefeaters, crows, and a 1000 year old castle filled with precious gems. It’s a priceless experience…

Details: London EC3N 4AB | £34.80 | Book entry to the Tower of London

2. Get Neck Strain at Westminster Abbey

westminster abbey London attraction

Dembee Tsogoo/Unsplash

London’s Neo-Gothic royal church, scene of every coronation since 1066; wedding venue for multiple royal couples; and final resting place for some of the country’s most famous figures, including Sir Isaac Newton, Elizabeth I and ‘Old Tom’ Parr, a 15th century celebrity who apparently stepped off at the age of 152.

Details: 20 Dean’s Yard, London, SW1P 3PA | £29 | Book entry to Westminster Abbey

3. See Big Ben and The Houses of Parliament

Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament

Marcin Novak/Unsplash

As one of London’s most recognisable sets of landmarks, you have to at least walk past the seat of British government. But if you want to see more, it’s surprisingly easy to visit – you can watch parliamentary debates for free, or book a tour to see some of the building’s stately interiors and the 900 year old main hall built by William the Conqueror’s son. As for Big Ben (which is actually the bell inside the Elizabeth Tower), you can climb up the tower’s 334 steps to stand right behind the clock faces and see the bells up close.

Details: Parliament Square, London SW1A 0AA | Book the Houses of Parliament (£26) | Book Big Ben tours (£30)

4. Drive the Buses at London Transport Museum

London transport museum

James Petts/Flickr

By now you’re no doubt intimately familiar with the peculiar delights of London’s elderly transport systems. But have you experienced the retro elegance of a 1930s tube carriage? Stepped aboard a Victorian trolleybus? Sat in the drivers’ seat of an Elizabeth line train? The London Transport Museum is one of the more unusual museums in London, charting the 200 year history of travel in the capital with hundreds of quirky exhibits to geek out over. And the museum shop is an excellent place to pick up some offbeat souvenirs.

Details: Covent Garden Piazza, WC2E 7BB | £22.50+ | Book tickets to the London Transport Museum

5. See David at the Victoria & Albert Museum

V&A Museum London

Another of London’s top museums, free to visit, and home to almost three million objects showcasing global art & design. You can see Michelangelo’s David (in cast form); Da Vinci’s notebooks; 19th century wedding dresses and one animatronic wooden tiger. And the café interiors are absolutely bonkers.

Details: Cromwell Road, Knightsbridge, SW7 2RL | Free to visit | See what’s on at the V&A

6. Pop into Buckingham Palace

buckingham palace

Bruno Martins/Unsplash

You can actually go in! You’re unlikely to join the king for a cuppa but you will get to snoop round dozens of unimaginably lavish state rooms, including the official throne room and the immaculately landscaped gardens. If you’re not going in, it’s still an impressive landmark to take in from the outside – pair it with a stroll through St James’s Park or down the flag-lined Pall Mall, where all the most important royal processions take place. Fun fact: it’s scientifically impossible to make the guardsmen laugh.

Details: Buckingham Palace, London SW1A 1AA | £32+ | Book tickets to Buckingham Palace

7. Be a culture vulture along the Southbank

south bank london

Some of the city’s most treasured arts spaces sit along this scenic river promenade, including the Hayward Gallery, the National Theatre, Shakespeare’s Globe and the Southbank Centre. Then when you’re all out of cultural juice, toast to your exploits with a drink at the Queen Elizabeth Hall Roof Garden Bar & Café.

Details: The easiest way to reach the South Bank is to get the tube (Bakerloo, Jubilee, City or Northern line) to Waterloo Station, head towards the river, turn right and walk. You can also see our guide to walking the Thames.

8. Stand under one of the world’s biggest domes at St Paul’s Cathedral

St Paul's

Robert Bye

Then let everyone know what you think in tiny whispers at The Whispering Gallery, a balcony circling the dome where a quirk of acoustics supposedly means you can hear conversations on the other side. The truly brave can climb the outer dome for views over London, but if you want the best view of the Cathedral itself, head up the elevator at the One New Change shopping centre to the free rooftop viewing platform.

Details: St Paul’s Churchyard, EC4M 8AD | £25 | Book entry to St. Paul’s Cathedral

9. Clink glasses at a Champagne afternoon tea at The Ritz

London Attractions: The Ritz

It’s in the former ballroom of one of London’s grandest hotels, with resident harpists and pianists doing their thing in the background.

Details: 150 Piccadilly, W1J 9BR | £76+ | Book afternoon tea at The Ritz | See more great afternoon teas in London

10. Picnic with pelicans at St James Park

Pelicans in St James Park

Given to King Charles II in the 17th Century and there ever since, they take a late lunch 2.30-3pm. And you should too. Bring a picnic (you could stock up at the famous Fortnum & Mason on Piccadilly if you’re feeling really fancy) and bask in the sun. The lake has one of the most scenic views of Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and the London Eye, too.

Details: Horse Guards Road, SW1A 2BJ | Free | See our itinerary for a perfect day in St James’s

11. Spend an Afternoon in Greenwich

London’s old-timey nautical neighbourhood is full of grand architecture by Sir Christopher Wren; cobbled high streets lined with peach coloured buildings; and a glorious hilltop park with views over the Thames and beyond. Hundreds of films have been shot in this historic setting, and just walking around is a day out in itself. But you can also climb aboard the Cutty Sark, an 18th century tall ship; straddle the meridian separating the world’s eastern and western hemispheres; see the Painted Hall, Britain’s answer to the Sistine Chapel; and visit the Royal Observatory and the awe-inspiring Peter Harrison Planetarium. Plus, you can get to Greenwich from central London by boat, taking in dozens of iconic London landmarks along the way.

12. Turn the world into ants at Sky Garden

Sky Garden - London attractions

Remember London is your oyster – and neck one whilst doing it, at the adjacent Fenchurch Restaurant & Bar.

Details: 20 Fenchurch Street, EC3M 3BY | Free entry | Book Sky Garden entry | See more London viewpoints

13. Pretend to be a king or queen at Hampton Court Palace

hampton court palace

It’s like an episode of MTV Cribs but in the Tudor times. And you’re P. Diddy.

Details: Hampton Court Road, Town Centre, East Molesey KT8 9AU | £27.20 | Book entry to Hampton Court Palace

14. Visit the Churchill War Rooms

Churchill war rooms unmissable London attractions

Andrew Tunnard

This subterranean network of offices below Whitehall is where the war cabinet convened for top secret decision-making throughout WWII. The rooms have been left almost exactly the same since 1945, filled with fascinating photographs, documents and the very same tables where Churchill would have laid out his plans.

Details: Clive Steps, King Charles Street, London, SW1A 2AQ | £32+ | Book entry to the Churchill War Rooms

15. Dress Up Fancy For the Royal Ballet and Opera

Best Things To Do in Covent Garden: Royal Opera House

…and book £9 seats right up at the top to see some of the world’s most talented opera singers and ballet dancers in action.

Details: Bow Street, London WC2E 9DD | £9+ | See what’s on at the Royal Ballet and Opera

16. Go wild swimming in Hampstead Heath

hampstead heath ponds

The men’s, women’s and mixed ponds will cost you just a few quid for a dip, and are open all-year-round. Too chilly? Satisfy yourself watching the kite fliers around Parliament Hill, romp across acres of unspoilt nature, pop into Kenwood House (a Palladian mansion that’s free to visit), and explore the picturesque Hampstead Pergola. See our perfect day out around Hampstead Heath here.

Details: Hampstead Heath, NW5 1QR | Free entry / £4.70 for swimming | Book a swimming slot here

17. Make friends with the fallow deer in Richmond Park

London attraction: Richmond Park

Sophie Keen

The park’s famous tenants were apparently unpopular with the locals when they were first brought in by Charles I, back in the 17th century. But as it often goes in life, time healed the relationship, and now in the present visitors flock to the wild 2500-acre landscape to see the animals and their majestic antlers in action.

Details: Kings Road, TW10 5HS | Free entry

18. Show your feet no mercy at Shakespeare’s Globe

Shakespeare Globe

Clive Sherlock

It’s a full-size recreation of the open-air theatre where many of Shakespeare’s plays were first performed. And for the bargain price of five pounds you can snare a spot in the yard as a groundling (think of it like moshing at a music gig in the late 1500s), standing metres away from the stage – and get a great snap of an iconic London attraction to boot.

Details: 21 New Globe Walk, SE1 9DT | From £5 | See what’s on at Shakespeare’s Globe

19. Play restaurant roulette in Chinatown

Chinatown

You win some, you dim sum? Or something like that. This central London district has been the hub of the city’s Chinese community for decades, with all-you-can-eat restaurants, amazing bakeries, street food specialists and more.

Details: Gerrard Street, London W1D 6JE | See our guide to the best restaurants in Chinatown

20. Test your bargaining skills at Portobello Market

London Attraction: Portobello Market
Jack Gisel

With over 1,000 stalls, it’s one of the biggest antique markets in the world. And once you’re laden with trinkets, you can explore the rest of pastel-covered Notting Hill.

Details: Saturdays on Portobello Road, W11 3DJ | Free entry

21. Test the limits of your stomach at Borough Market

London attraction: Borough Market

Acmanley

The market, the myth, the legend. London has a whole load of great street food markets, sure, but with stalls upon stalls of A-grade artisanal produce and critically-acclaimed restaurants tucked all around, Borough is the granddaddy of them all.

Details: 8 Southwark Street, SE1 1TL | Free entry

22.  Watch the sun go down from the top of Primrose Hill

primrose hill london attraction

Timur Valiev/Unsplash

It’s hella romantic and the twinkling view of the London skyline is hard to beat.

Details: 49 Regents Park Road, Primrose Hill, NW1 8XD | Free

23. Traverse through a million years in a single day at London’s Natural History Museum

natural history museum London attraction

Bruno Martins/Unsplash

This free London attraction counts more than 80 million animal, fossil, plant and mineral specimens among its ranks, plus a skeleton of a blue whale on display in the central hall.

Details: Cromwell Road, SW7 5BD | Free entry | Find out what’s on at the Natural History Museum

24. Take a dip in the Serpentine Lake

Sepentine

Or row, if you want to stay dry. Then take a stroll around Kensington Gardens; snoop round Wills and Kate’s house, Kensington Palace; or soak up free art at the Serpentine Galleries.

Details: Hyde Park, W2 2UH | See all the best places to go boating in London

25. Think deeply about the Tate Modern’s art collection

London Attraction: Tate Modern

The gift of great art doesn’t cost a cent here. This power station-turned-gallery is home to one of the world’s largest collections of contemporary works, housing pieces by heavyweights like Picasso, Warhol and Dalí. There’s a free viewing platform on level 10 where you can sip a coffee and gaze over the city.

You can also jump on a boat down the Thames directly to its older sibling, the Tate Britain – an ode to the work of British artists over the past 500 years.

Details: Bankside, SE1 9TG | Free, temporary exhibitions ticketed | See what’s on at Tate Modern

26. Wish you were wealthier at Harrods

Harrods

Marvel around the floors and stroke expensive things. Then nip into the Harrods dining hall where you can perch at a counter and enjoy some top-quality snacks.

Details: 87–135 Brompton Road, SW1X 7XL

27. Hold up traffic on Abbey Road

Michael Heise/Unsplash

Don’t let a couple honking cars get in the way of nailing that perfect Beatles’ album cover photo…

Address: Abbey Road, NW8

28. Savour every last drop of a martini at The Savoy’s American Bar

Savoy American bar best Covent Garden

We’re not going to lie, they’re eye-wateringly expensive. However the American Bar at the Savoy isn’t just one of London’s best cocktail bars, it’s also its oldest. The place opened in 1893, and has counted Churchill and Hemingway as patrons over the years. The art deco interiors haven’t changed since its 1930s heyday, when bar manager Harry Craddock invented classics like the Hanky Panky and the Corpse Reviver.

Details: The Savoy Hotel, 100 Strand, WC2R 0EZ | Make a booking here, or just walk in

29. Go for dinner and a show in the West End

London’s Theatreland sprawls across Covent Garden and Leicester Square, where over 40 theatres put on an array of dazzling, top-quality productions from steely dramas with the stars of stage and screen, to glittering musicals. You can see the best shows on in London right now here (with critics’ ratings, and handy suggestions for dinner & drinks nearby), or see all of London’s best musicals right here. You can often get cheap theatre tickets on the same day as a show. Or if you just want to soak up the atmosphere, take in some other classic London attractions like Piccadilly Circus on a stroll through the West End.

30. Spend an hour at Trafalgar Square

Mike Lacey/Unsplash

Approximately 1 minute snapping a quick pic of Nelson’s Column and the lions, and then the other 59 darting around the National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery exchanging looks with London’s largest collection of European art.

Address: 65 Trafalgar Square, WC2N 5DN | Free

31. Stop and smell the roses at Kew Gardens

London Attractions: Kew Gardens

Max Letek/Unsplash

There’s 170 types of them in the rose garden here, plus treetop walkways, Victorian conservatories, a 10 storey pagoda… and virtually every other kind of plant known to man.

Details: Royal Botanical Gardens, W9 3AE | £12-24 | Book entry to Kew Gardens

32. Roam the Barbican Centre

barbican centre London

Max Colson

Enjoying a renaissance thanks to a renewed appreciation for concrete-clad brutalist architecture, the Barbican Centre has culture in spades, housing a concert hall, cinemas, theatre, library, art gallery, and of course the Barbican Conservatory.

Details: Silk Street, EC2Y 8DS | See what’s on at the Barbican

33. Try pulling an Albert Gunter at Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge

He safely drove a double decker over the gap when the bridge started opening unexpectedly. Of course, you could always stroll along the glass walkways above if you want to keep a safe distance from the Thames.

Details: Tower Bridge Road, London, SE1 2UP | Book walkway tickets (£13.40+)

34. Spend an afternoon exploring Brick Lane

brick lane

Hulki Oban/Unsplash

Rifle through the vintage markets, check out the street art adorning every wall, then follow your nose for dinner – this street is famous for its Bangladeshi curry houses.

Details: Brick Lane, E1 6SA

35. Spot your yard from the top of The Shard

Rocketman shard screening

You can get an eyeful of every one of these London attractions from the Shard, which stands, Sauron-like, over the city at 306 metres. Don’t fork out for the View From The Shard, though – you can enjoy those panoramic views of the city with a cocktail in one of the skyscraper’s glitzy restaurants and bars instead.

Details: 2 London Bridge Street, SE1 9SG

36. Practice your cockney rhyming slang at Columbia Flower Market

Columbia Road Flower Market

If your windowsill is looking a bit sad or you’ve had a fight that needs to be nipped in the bud… Columbia Road is where you want to be. The East London flower market is open every Sunday and, while the early birds may have their pick of the bunch, it’s also a shrewd move to arrive after 2pm when the traders start slashing their prices.

Details: Columbia Road, E2 7RG | Free entry

37. Catwalk down Carnaby Street

Carnaby Street

The iconic home of London’s mod movement in the 60s: now home to the food paradise Kingly Court; dozens of shops (including the equally iconic Liberty’s department store, an attraction in itself); and flamboyant street displays all year-round.

Details: Carnaby Street, W1F 7DL

38.Remember why you’re terrified of the ocean at Sealife London Aquarium

Sealife London Aquarium

With over 500 different species of underwater creatures – from tropical fish to venomous jellyfish, penguins, crocs and sharks – this aquatic London attraction really has every-fin.

Details: County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road, SE1 7PB | £28+ | Book London Aquarium tickets

39. Neck a butterbeer on the Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studio Tour

Warner Bros Studio Tour

See where all the magic happened, from inside Hogwarts itself to the original sets of Diagon Alley and the Forbidden Forest (which here you’re permitted to enter).

Details: Studio Tour Drive, Watford, WD25 7LR | £53.50+ | Book tickets | See our full Harry Potter in London guide

40. Take a stroll around one of the best parks in London

Crystal Palace Park

With eight royal parks and a mere 3000 other parks dotted around the city, there’s no denying green is London’s second favourite colour (after grey of course).

41. Crawl your way along The Bermondsey Beer Mile

Best Breweries in London: Hiver

15 breweries and bottle-shops along one stretch of railway arches, known to bring even the hardiest of men and women to their knees.

Details: Across Bermondsey | Check out an unofficial list of all the venues

42. Sneak into the A Box at the Royal Albert Hall

Royal Albert Hall

Okay, maybe slightly ambitious, but absorbing the sights and sounds of arguably London’s most famous music hall is a must for any self-professed lover of acoustics.

Details: Kensington Gore, SW7 2AP | See what’s on at the Royal Albert Hall

43. Geek out to a cult classic at the Prince Charles Cinema

Prince Charles Cinema

This indie darling in Leicester Square is where the proper film purists go. And those who want to watch all three Lord of The Rings films in their pyjamas, overnight.

Details: 7 Leicester Place, WC2H 7BY | Take a look the best cinemas in London

44. Make up for any childhood disappointment at Hamleys

hamleys London attraction

Matt Brown/Flickr

It’s five floors of mass-manufactured heaven for kids (and not-kids) of all ages.

Details: 188-196 Regent Street, W1B 5BT

45. Go to the British Museum

British museum unmissable London attraction

Christian Lendl/Unsplash

And casually take in over two million years of human history, art and spirituality over the course of an afternoon…

Details: Great Russell Street, WC1B 3DG | Main collection free (temporary exhibitions ticketed)

46. Chow down on a slice of sporting history at the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum

The championships only take place once a year, but you can go to the grounds and appreciate the hallowed grass courts/meet a hologram of John McEnroe whenever you want.

Details: Church Road, SW19 5AE | £15 | Book entry to the Wimbledon Museum

47. Ride the London Eye

The London Eye

Then cast your own eye over the city below.

Details: Riverside Building, County Hall, London SE1 7PB | £29+ | Book tickets for the London Eye

 


Feeling peckish after touring London’s attractions? That’s where our guide to the best restaurant in every neighbourhood comes in.