Welcome to London! A bustling city where you won’t get bored! Between its museums, its stores, its gastronomy or its monuments, there are many things to discover in the British capital.
So, what to do in London? What are the must-do activities? What are the good addresses and the good plans to discover the city at a lower cost? Prepare your stay with this travel guide.
London in short
- When to go? All year round! In London you can go for a walk in the open air or take refuge in the free museums in case of rain. There will always be a way to adapt to the weather.
- How long can I stay in London? It is a dense city that is hard to get around! 2 days will be enough for a first discovery-express but it is preferable to plan 4 or 5 days to enjoy it properly.
- How to get around? A vast network of subways and buses makes it possible to circulate very easily in London. The famous red double-decker buses also allow you to enjoy the city. Your best ally will be the Oyster Card, the transport card that you can preload with the amount of your choice. Buses cost £1.65 per journey, while the subway operates in zones and costs from £2.40.
What to do in London? 10 must-do activities
Visit the museums
There is no shortage of museums in London and you would be wrong to miss out because the national museums are free! You are free to leave a contribution if you like the visit but it is optional.
Don’t miss the British Museum, the National Gallery, the Tate Britain, the Tate Modern or the National History Museum. I also strongly recommend you my favorite: the Wallace Collection where you can admire “The swing” by Fragonard.
ALSO READ: The 5 most beautiful museums in London
Westminster Abbey is one of the most famous buildings in London. Built from the 13th century onwards, it is here that some of the greatest events in British history have been celebrated.
Many kings and queens are buried here, but also more than 3300 writers, politicians and scientists such as Stephen Hawking, Charles Darwin or Isaac Newton…
The entrance is paying (£27) except if you go during a service. In this case, however, photographs are forbidden and you will not be able to wander around the building as freely.
For an additional £5, you can visit the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries, a sort of small museum presenting objects related to the royal family. From these galleries you will also have a superb view of the whole nave of Westminster.
Prices: £27, £24 for students and over 65s, £12 for 6-17 year olds; free for under 6s
Take a high at Sky Garden
Sky Garden is an impressive bar/restaurant located at the top of a tower in the City. With a large bay window, you can enjoy an incredible 360° view of London. But be careful, this place is very popular so it is better to book, at least two weeks in advance to be sure to have a slot.
If a reservation at the restaurant obliges you to dine on the spot, a reservation at the bar or a free visit allows you to discover the place without obligation to consume to simply enjoy the view. Day or night, it’s magical!
Visit Saint Paul’s Cathedral
Built between 1675 and 1710 after the great fire of 1666 which destroyed the previous cathedral, Saint Paul’s Cathedral is the work of the architect Sir Christopher Wren.
The visit (paying £ 20.5) gives access to the magnificent nave, the crypt and the dome from which you have a magnificent view of the city. A view that must be earned because the dome is over 110 meters high and you have to climb 568 steps to get there!
Discover the works of Street Art
In East London, walk in the district of Brick Lane. Playground of many street artists, Brick Lane is an open-air museum.
To fully discover these works and understand the history of street art, you can follow the guided tour proposed by Strawberry Tours. You pay for these tours by the hat, giving at the end the amount you want.
Walking in a park and chatting with squirrels
There are several beautiful parks to discover in London. The biggest one, Hyde Park, covers 250 hectares! It is the lung of the city and it is very pleasant to walk there.
Here, as in the other parks of the city, it is not uncommon to come face to face with squirrels, especially if you approach the trees or shrubs. Not shy and used to crowds, these squirrels who spend their days looking for food will easily approach you!
Ride the London Eye
Europe’s tallest Ferris wheel at 135 meters high, the London Eye is an ideal spot to discover London from another angle. You board a transparent bubble that allows you to enjoy a 360° view of the city.
The entrance is a bit expensive (from £30.5) but the tour lasts 30 minutes which allows you to really enjoy the view.
Strolling in Notting Hill
With its colorful houses and its typical British architecture, it is very pleasant to walk in Notting Hill, especially in spring when the trees start to bloom.
Very popular with tourists, this area can be very crowded, so it’s best to go on a weekday.
See the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham
The Changing of the Guard attracts a lot of tourists and for good reason: it’s typically British and it’s free! It takes place at the king’s palace, Buckingham Palace, every other day.
The ceremony starts at 10:30 am but it is better to arrive in advance to have a good place and a good view and it can be cancelled in case of bad weather. To get the right practical information, it is best to consult the Household Division website which will give you the exact dates and times.
This is certainly not the most intellectual step but let’s not lie: London is the perfect city for shopping, with some unusual stores.
The most fun is probably M&M’s world, an entire store dedicated to the famous candy, on several floors. Original and fun, it will appeal to children and adults alike. Just opposite, the LEGO store will seduce the fans of the small bricks!
In a completely different style, go to Harrods, the equivalent of Printemps in Paris. A must-see for shopping as well as for discovering the beautiful building. But the most pleasant place is undoubtedly Covent Garden, a covered market where you can find stores as well as restaurants.
Best places in London
Where to eat?
In Notting Hill, an excellent fish and chips at The Sun in Splendour
How can you go to Great Britain without falling in love with fish and chips? To be tasted the English way, that is to say with vinegar on the chips! In Notting Hill, stop at The Sun In Splendour, a charming restaurant that will serve you a hearty and delicious fish and chips.
In Notting Hill, a sweet treat with a cupcake at The Hummingbird Bakery
If you feel like a sweet touch, go to The Hummingbird Bakery where delicious cupcakes await you. A must try!
In Paddington, Darcy and May Green for a meal on the water
Just next to Paddington station, go to Darcy and May Green, a restaurant installed in a barge. The setting is original and the food very good. The dishes are very copious and excellent. Don’t miss the cheesecake with mars, a treat !!!
At Brick Lane, Bengal Village to eat Indian
If you feel like eating Indian food then go to Bengal Village, a nugget! The food is excellent and the prices are very reasonable. Be careful though, the dishes take a little time to come out of the kitchen so avoid them if you are in a hurry.
In Soho, Circolo Popolare “the place to be”
This Italian restaurant of the Big Mamma group has a particularly original decoration with more than 2000 bottles adorning its walls. On the menu, you will find pizzas and pasta dishes but like any trendy place, it is strongly advised to reserve to have a chance to have a table!
Gail’s bakery, a cheap bakery
This bakery chain is present in several places in London. You will find very good salads, sandwiches and pastries at reasonable prices. A good solution to have lunch or a snack without ruining yourself.
Where to sleep?
Hotels in London are often expensive, so make sure you book as early as possible to get the best rates.
Enter the dates of your stay here to find London hotel rates:Booking.com
Here are also some addresses that I recommend:
Near the train station and the British Museum
If you are looking for central accommodation, the Fitzrovia Belle Hotel is just a few minutes walk from St Pancras Station. This establishment also serves as a pub, perfect to immerse yourself in the English atmosphere. Rest assured, however, that the rooms are upstairs and soundproofed.
The rooms are spacious and very pleasant. The breakfast, also included in the price, is a real English breakfast since you can choose anything on the pub’s menu. An excellent address!
In the East, in the Whitechapel district
I fell in love with the New Road Hotel, an establishment located in East London. In an industrial style, the brand new rooms have an original style: exposed pipes, king size bed, metallic glass roof?
In the Notting Hill district
The Comfort Inn Hyde Park hotel is located right next to London’s largest park and only a few blocks from Notting Hill. This makes it an ideal location for exploring the western part of the city.
The hotel has been recently renovated and is very clean. Breakfast is included in the price, it is basic but not expensive and there is everything you need to get your strength back before leaving for a day of sightseeing!
Ideally located close to Paddington station, which will allow you to go everywhere very quickly, the Pilgrm is also a nice place. In the morning, you can order the breakfast of your choice (English breakfast, pancakes, French toasts…), a treat!
Be careful though: it is located above a bar, so ask for a room on a high floor so as not to suffer from the noise at night.
The map of the best places!
Find all the addresses mentioned in this article on this map! Use the filters on the right to select the themes that interest you (restaurants, museums…).
You now have all the information you need to enjoy your stay in London! So, when are you leaving?