Best things to do in London
Read our guide featuring the best things to do in London, from classic sightseeing tours to West End shows, from renowned art galleries to architecture tours.
London is a vibrant city with iconic landmarks, world-class theatre, famous museums, lush gardens, and more. This dynamic capital city seamlessly blends its rich history, dating back to Roman times, with 21st-century modernity.
Whether you’re a first-time visitor looking for a classic London experience, complete with double-decker bus tours and afternoon tea, or a seasoned Londoner wanting to see something new, check out our list of things to do and must-see shows.
We’ve compiled a list of sights to see and exploratory experiences to ease your planning and make your time in London memorable.
Hold court at the Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace.
The Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace features an ever-changing exhibition of artifacts, artwork, and rare furniture from the centuries-old Royal Collection. The gallery showcases the artistic heritage of the British monarchy, and displays might include Georgian court dresses, William Hogarth paintings, or Coronation vestments. The Queen’s Gallery is located on the south side of Buckingham Palace Garden, on the site of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s private chapel, which was severely damaged in World War II. The building was transformed into an art gallery following its reconstruction and opened to the public in 1962.
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Step into the stables of the Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace.
Complete your visit to Buckingham Palace by visiting the Royal Mews. This working stable coordinates all the road travel for the King and the Royal Family, including horse-and-carriage transportation. At the Royal Mews, you can see the iconic state coaches, including the Diamond Jubilee State Coach and the Gold State Coach, the latter of which has been part of every coronation since William IV’s in 1831. Visitors can also see the Windsor Grey and Cleveland Bay horses and the livery worn by coachmen.
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Board a double-decker bus and see London at night.
The towering double-decker buses whizzing throughout London Town are synonymous with the city. Before engine-powered buses appeared on the streets, Londoners rode double-decker horse-drawn carriages! Board a double-decker bus at night for a unique London tour showcasing illuminated sights like St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, and the London Eye. Sit back, relax, and take in the famous landmarks — there’s something special about seeing the city aglow.
Book See London by Night tickets on London Theatre.
Wander through Kew Gardens.
Escape the hustle and bustle of the city to Kew Gardens, a UNESCO World Heritage Site boasting 300 acres of greenery. Whatever the season, Kew Gardens, also known as the Royal Botanic Gardens, offers horticultural wonders, like bluebells in the spring, roses in the summer, maple trees in the fall, and evergreen trees in the winter. Visit the Temperate House, the world’s largest Victorian-era greenhouse, with over 1,500 plant species. Or, peep the aquatic Amazon waterlilies in the Waterlily House. The expansive gardens also include Kew Palace, the former country home of King George III, which has been restored to showcase the family estate.
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Stargaze at the Royal Observatory.
The Royal Observatory is a perfect outing for those curious about the cosmos. In 1674, Charles II appointed a Royal Commission to boost Britain’s seafaring ambitions with advancements in astronomical navigation and cartography. The Commission requested an observatory, leading to Britain’s first state-funded scientific observatory. Today, visitors can stand on the Prime Meridan, which defines the world’s time zones, watch a planetarium show, or see the historic Harrison clocks, timepieces for measuring longitude at sea. Each afternoon, a red ball drops from the roof of the Royal Observatory to mark World Time, a tradition since the Observatory’s 1833 opening.
Get Royal Observatory tickets on London Theatre — your gateway the galaxy!
Jet along the River Thames.
Thrill seekers can rev up their sightseeing with a high-speed boat ride on the River Thames. What’s more exhilarating than seeing iconic landmarks swiftly pass by while on the water? City Cruises offers 50-minute cruises traveling from Westminster and Tower Bridge and circling the Canary Wharf. The ride offers spectacular views of the city along the way. Buckle up and prepare for an adrenaline-packed ride that will thrill newcomers and locals alike.
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Tour the Tower of London.
The Tower of London offers an immersive experience that transports visitors back in time. The UNESCO World Heritage site has a storied history — the formidable fortress guarded precious jewels and royal possessions during times of war and also served as a luxurious palace for several monarchs. Each year, the Tower of London attracts over 3 million visitors. Yeomen Warders, also known as Beefeaters, still protect the Tower of London. Inside, visitors can peep at the world-famous Crown Jewels. Onlookers can also see the traditional locking and unlocking of the Tower gates, known as the Ceremony of the Keys.
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Visit St. Paul’s Cathedral.
St. Paul’s Cathedral is an architectural masterpiece. The English Baroque-style cathedral, designed by Sir Christopher Wren, features a grand 111-meter dome with a gold cross. The cathedral’s exterior has columns and stone carvings, while the interior boasts mosaics and sculptures. St. Paul’s Cathedral holds historical significance and serves as the site for state funerals and royal weddings. The majestic cathedral appears in several films, including Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Visitors can climb to the top of the dome to see panoramic views of London and explore the crypts and catacombs beneath the cathedral, the resting place of several notable admirals and artists, including Wren.
Book St. Paul's Cathedral tour tickets on London Theatre.
Experience the magic of London’s West End.
No visit to England’s capital city is complete without experiencing the magic of a West End show. The vibrant theatre district attracts millions of visitors yearly to see Shakespearean dramas, contemporary plays, classic musicals, and more. See one of London’s longest-running shows or something new and exciting. Here are some of the top West End shows playing now to get you started.
Kander and Ebb’s classic tuner Cabaret has transformed London’s Playhouse Theatre into the Kit Kat Club. Set in the 1930s in Berlin, the musical follows American writer Cliff Bradshaw, who falls for Sally Bowles, a British cabaret singer. The rise of the Nazi regime taints the tale of self-discovery and love.
This new production, which won seven Olivier Awards, has an immersive staging with seats for 550 patrons. Come to the Cabaret today, old chum.
Another West End classic, Les Misérables has been running since 1985. The musical, based on Victor Hugo’s novel of the same name, takes place amid the French Revolution and follows the journey of Jean Valjean, a French peasant who chases redemption after stealing a loaf of bread and serving a 19-year prison sentence. The musical features popular show tunes like “I Dreamed a Dream,” “Castle on a Cloud,” and “One Day More!”
Don’t wait one day more — book Les Misérables tickets today on London Theatre.
Can’t decide which West End show to see? Mystery solved. Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap is London’s longest-running show and has been entertaining audiences since it opened in 1952. The Whodunnit follows a group of people gathered in the English countryside who discover a murderer is among them.
Book The Mousetrap tickets on London Theatre and put your detective skills to work as you watch this classic murder mystery — which was penned for Queen Mary’s 80th birthday — unfold on stage.
Back to the Future
Are you looking for something packed with 1.21 gigawatts of fun? Buckle up! The Back to the Future musical, based on the iconic 1985 film, brings movie magic to the stage. The time-traveling adventure follows Marty McFly, a high schooler who accidentally travels back to the 1950s, where he meets his teenage parents. He must set the course of history on the right track to ensure his parents meet and fall in love.
Set your destination to London and the time to now, and book Back to the Future tickets on London Theatre today.
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