Has London been on your bucket list for ages and it’s now finally happening? Here are the 30 best things to do and amazing must-have experiences in London for a perfect first-time trip!
London is one of Europe’s top travel destinations and a beautiful city to visit! With its rich history, cultural events, and vibrant nightlife, you will always find something cool and interesting to do in London. No matter how many days you spend there, you’ll always leave thinking it wasn’t enough. 🙂
So if London has long been on your travel bucket list and you are now finally making it happen, here are the best things to do in this beautiful city.
(By the way – most of these awesome things to do in London are completely FREE and perfectly suited for families or couples. Wherever there are fees involved, you will find the costs and link to the ticket shop. Everything for your convenience ;))
30 Bucket List Things To Do In London
Big Ben and Westminster Bridge
Yes, of course, I’m going to start with Big Ben. 😉 This gorgeous symbol of London and probably the world’s most famous clock has towered over the city since 1859. You will easily find it at the Westminster underground stop or by walking on the Westminster bridge (which I highly recommend). You’ll get iconic shots of Big Ben, The Houses of Parliament, and those cute double-deckers all in one.
FUN FACT: Did you know the official name of Big Ben is actually Elisabeth Tower?!
Houses of Parliament
Next to Big Ben (connected actually), you will find the beautiful gothic style Houses of Parliament or the Palace of Westminster. It is a truly impressive building that borders the Thames. Walk on the opposite side of the river for some beautiful views and sunset pictures or take a look inside if you’d like to see some more. The entry ticket costs around 22GBP.
Tower bridge – the most iconic bucket list item in London
One of London’s most iconic landmarks and definitely a top item on your London bucket list is Tower Bridge.
A beautiful sight and a must-see spot for all your London selfies and IG reels. 😉
And no, this isn’t London bridge! Watch out for this confusion to make sure you don’t get off the bus at the wrong stop (like yours truly hehe). 🙂 London bridge is a little bit further and not quite as impressive.
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Tower of London
Right next to Tower Bridge you will find the Tower of London, this historic castle in the center of the city. It played an important role throughout history and served multiple purposes. The Tower of London used to be an armory, treasury, the Royal Mint, a residence of monarchs, a prison, and an execution site. (If you’ve watched The Tudors, you’re going to want to visit it 😉 ).
The ticket price for visiting the Tower of London is 30GBP. You can book it HERE.
London Eye – another top bucket list experience for any first-time traveler to London
London Eye is a must-have experience for any first-time traveler to London. This massive wheel will take you pretty high up and offers amazing views of the city from above.
It’s a perfect bucket list item to add to your London itinerary after a long walk through the city as you’ll get to rest and simply admire the views.
FUN FACT: London Eye (also called the Millenium wheel) is actually UK’s most popular paid tourist attraction, with over 3 million visitors every year. So you DO want to book upfront and avoid the lines. You can book your tickets HERE.
St. Paul’s Cathedral
Another spectacular landmark of London is St. Paul’s Cathedral. The best way to reach it is to walk on the Millennium bridge and you will see it slowly rising in all its beauty. It is a truly imposing building and a must-see during your first trip to London. It’s not really a must to visit the inside, especially if you are short on time. But a walk around its walls is definitely worth it. In case you would like to explore the cathedral on the inside, you can buy your tickets HERE. They cost around 21GBP.
During your walks throughout London, you should definitely not miss Trafalgar Square. This is where you’ll find The National Gallery as well as Nelson’s column.
Get off the tube at Charing Cross station, this is the closest stop.
Rooftop bar H10
I love admiring a city from above, with a cocktail in my hand, after a long day of walking through the city. This is why a rooftop bar is a perfect choice to catch your breath, relax and take in the atmosphere and views of the capital.
When in London, make sure to check out the H10 Waterloo’s Sky Bar, the views are insane from the 8th floor!
Shakespeare’s Globe theater
Of course, we can’t have a bucket list of activities for London without mentioning Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.
Located at the bank of the River Thames, this is the place where since 1599 Shakespear’s players were played. If you’d like to visit or see a show, check out more information HERE.
Climb up the Shard
City views like you’ve never seen before! Up at the 72nd floor of this sharp steel & glass building, you will have breathtaking panoramic views of London, from all sides, up to 40 miles. Fancy a glass of champagne on floor 69 above the city? Sure, why not!
And trust me, you DO want to check out the toilets too. 😀 The best view I’ve ever had from a toilet so far!!
Ticket prices start from 28GBP and it is totally worth it. If you had to choose, between London Eye and The Shard, I’d go for the Shard, due to the much broader, spectacular views.
Book your tickets HERE. It will be an unforgettable experience!
The British Museum
One of the things I love most about London is that all museums are FREE! Yes, you read that right! 🙂
So when you’re there, don’t miss this amazing opportunity to explore some of the world’s most important works of art or historical artifacts. (Don’t miss the Egyptian exhibition at the British Museum!)
Even though the museum is free, you still need to book your ticket online. You can do that HERE.
Tate Modern Museum
If museums are your thing, you’d also want to visit Tate, the museum of modern art.
You will find it closely located to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, at the edge of the Millenium Bridge.
Yet if you have only a short time to spend in London, I’d keep this one for your next visit.
Take the Hop-on Hop-off Bus
The Hop-On Hop-Off bus is a super convenient way to get around and explore all major bucket list items around London. The bus will drive you to the major sites, you can spend as much time as you’d like and just hop into the next bus.
It is especially convenient if it rains, which it usually does in London… a lot… 🙂
No need to book anything upfront, you will see lots of buses around the city and can purchase the tickets right there.
Shopping at Harrods
If luxury shopping is your thing, you should definitely include a trip to Harrods, the most famous shopping mall in London and quite possibly – the world.
From Prada, Chanel, and Dior, you will find all major luxury designers here.
The famous store is located at 87–135 Brompton Road Knightsbridge (Knightsbridge metro stop).
The “Time’s Square” of London, if I can call it like that, yet of course, much smaller (don’t expect skyscrapers thought :)). Picadilly Circus is a junction of several main streets of which probably the most famous, Regent Street.
It’s a sight I’m sure you’ve already seen all over your IG feed, and definitely a beautiful place to visit in London. Look around, admire the gorgeous old buildings, and the fountain, then walk on Regent street for some more sightseeing (and shopping) 😉
If you are looking for a cool, vibrant area with great food, luxury stores, and an amazing atmosphere, then Covent Garden is for you. Lots of great terraces, but also shops for a perfect afternoon in the city.
Covent Garden is also the place where you’ll find the Royal Opera House.
Shopping on Oxford Street
Fancy some shopping while in London? Then definitely head to Oxford Street – the busiest shopping street in Europe! This is where you’ll find all major high street fashion stores and lots more – there are over 300 stores in the area.
You can reach Oxford Street from Marble Arch, or via metro at Bond Street or Oxford Circus.
Free Walking Tour
If you are visiting London for the first time I highly recommend going on a free walking tour. You will learn lots about the history of the city and visit all the major landmarks with a fun, experienced guide.
This is one of the best things to do in London and totally free. Tips are always appreciated of course.
Of course, you can’t leave London without a visit to the royals. 😉
Buckingham palace is the formal residence of the Queen and a must-see during your trip. At least for a selfie in front of its gates. If you’d like to visit the inside of the palace, that’s possible too between July 22nd and October 2nd. A ticket to see the State Rooms costs 30GBP. Get your tickets HERE.
You can also watch the Changing of the Guard from 11.00 AM, mostly every day of the week, especially in summer.
Ride the London Tube
The fastest way to get around London is via its underground system. The city is extremely well connected so you will reach the main tourist attraction within minutes.
The London Underground, also called The Tube, is actually Europe’s first metro system, built in the mid-1800s.
You can purchase a day ticket (which is what we’ve done for both days we were there)- the cost is around 14GBP per person, or you can pay as you go with your phone or card at the entrance machines. No need to buy any specific travel card anymore.
A super convenient way to get around London. After a few rides, “mind the gap” will become your favorite phrase haha! 😉
Very close to the Palace of Westminster and Big Ben you can find Westminster Abbey, the famous church in the center of London which has hosted many coronations, royal weddings, and important events as such thought centuries.
I would say that this is definitely an important bucket list item for your first visit to London, not to be missed.
See a Musical – top London bucket list item but book ahead
If you have the time and manage to get tickets, seeing a musical in London is an amazing experience. I would imagine, at least, I still haven’t managed to do it yet. Tickets sell out really fast, especially for famous musicals, so if this is a bucket list item for you, make sure you book them way ahead of time (months if possible).
I’m still dreaming of seeing the Phantom of the Opera, it was completely sold out when we were there…
Who knows, maybe I’ll make that happen on Broadway. 😉
Unwind in Hyde Park
What could be better than a picnic in the sun after a long walk through the city? Hyde Park is the perfect spot for escaping the crowds and busy streets.
Located right in the center of London, Hyde Park is a quiet place to relax and unwind. Think of it as the Central Park of London.
It is also famous as a place of free speech and demonstrations. Early Sundays, you can hear people sharing anything that’s on their minds at the Speaker’s Corner.
Regent Street is definitely worth a visit, especially if you are traveling for the first time in London. It is a major shopping street, with many luxury boutiques, and beautiful old buildings.
It stretches from Waterloo Place to Picadilly Circus and Oxford Circus.
Churchill War Rooms
For you history enthusiasts out there, you’d want to visit Churchill’s War Rooms. You will learn about WWII and the British operations from the places where Churchill worked during those challenging times.
You can find it at Clive Steps, King Charles Street, just a few minutes walk from 10 Downing Street.
Tickets cost around 26GBP. You can book them HERE.
10 Downing Street
Fancy a visit to the Prime Minister? Then head over to 10 Downing Street, the official residence of UK’s leaders since 1735.
To manage your expectations and avoid disappointments, you should expect not to get very close, due to high security. We were only able to see it through metal gates, from quite a distance. yet another bucket list item we checked off in London. It still counts. 😉
Walk around Kensington
Kensington is probably one of my favorite neighborhoods of London with gorgeous old Victorian buildings and embassies. It actually reminds me of Amsterdam a little bit.
It is an upscale area, where many celebrities have their London residences and a good shopping spot too on Kensington High Street.
Once you’re here, I highly recommend visiting Kensington Palace and its gardens. You will find here also Princess Diana’s Memorial.
Explore London by Night – bucket list moments
One of the best things you can do in London is to explore the city at night. You might be completely exhausted after a full day of walking but believe me, it is really worth it.
Take a bus to London Bridge and walk also the Thames River all the way to Tower Bridge. It’s a spectacular view by night too, not only by day.
Of course, you can stop and have a drink at the many pubs in the city center and experience London’s vibrant nightlife.
Ride on a Double-Decker
This is such a cool experience and a must-do while you are in London!
Hop in and head upstairs for an amazing ride around the center of London. Aim to get the front seats. These are the best spots for taking pictures, videos or simply admiring the sights during your trip.
If you purchased a daily ticket at the metro, this is valid on all public transport, so also on these buses.
This is one of the best ways to travel in London in my opinion. While not as fast as the tube, it will offer you great views of the major landmarks while driving through the center.
Harry Potter 93/4 Platform at King’s Cross
For those Harry Potter fans out there, you want to see this one! The famous platform can be found at King’s Cross station, as well as a Harry Potter shop where you can buy all the Harry Potter souvenirs you’d like.
Final thoughts – 30 Bucket List Things To Do In London
I hope you’ve enjoyed my list of the 30 best things to do in London! After visiting the city several times, these are the top things I’d recommend to check off your bucket list during your first-time visit to London.
It is such a wonderful city and I’m sure you’ll have a great time there. No matter what season or time of the year, you will always find amazing things to do in London.
Happy travels! 🙂
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