11 Bucket-List Things To Do In London

One of the world’s greatest cities, London offers practically an endless list of things to do with something for everyone, from history enthusiasts and art lovers to those who want to shop ‘til they drop. Enjoy strolls through renowned green spaces, time in cozy pubs and plenty of opportunities for fine dining and nightlife too. 

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What Are The Must-Do Activities In London?

If you’re visiting London, be sure to check out some of these bucket-list activities:

  • Ride the London Eye
  • Walk through Hyde Park
  • Cruise the Thames
  • Explore the British Museum
  • Visit the National Gallery
  • Watch the changing of the guard
  • Visit the Tower of London
  • Check out Westminster Abbey
  • Enjoy afternoon tea
  • Shop at Harrod’s
  • Take the hop-on, hop-off bus tour

With so many options, unless you have unlimited time, you’ll have to narrow it down to the most memorable, with these bucket-list things to do an absolute must for any visit to the United Kingdom’s capital city.

Ride the London Eye

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The tallest Ferris wheel in Europe, the London Eye sits along the River Thames as a major feature of the city skyline. 

At 443-feet-high, it offers some of the best views of the capital you’ll find anywhere while riding in one of its more than 30 capsules. There may be no better way to start your visit than with a perspective that reveals London’s most famous landmarks during the 30-minute experience.

Stretch Your Legs with a Walk Through Hyde Park

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London’s most famous park, Hyde Park is the perfect place to walk off jet leg, covering 350 acres with over 4,000 trees, ornamental flower gardens, a meadow, and a large lake. 

There are interesting monuments and other structures strewn throughout, including the Diana

 Memorial Fountain, the world-renowned 18-foot-high statue of Achilles was the city’s first public nude sculpture since antiquity, the Serpentine Bridge, and the Joy of Life Fountain. Paddle boats can be rented if you want to explore the lake and when you need a break, unwind on one of the park benches for some great people-watching.

Cruise the Thames

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The River Thames has long been the lifeblood of England and provides a fun and memorable way to see London’s sights from the water.

Cruises pass multiple highlights while traveling through the heart of the city, including Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, the Tower of London, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Shakespeare’s Globe, and the Tower Bridge. You’ll want to have your camera ready as you pass beneath the bridge’s central arch as you can capture the best photos of it from here. 

Some of the river cruises run at night, offering the chance to see the sights illuminated and you’ll find options that include lunch or dinner too.

Explore the British Museum

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An internationally acclaimed museum of human history, art and culture, the British Museum is one of the top free attractions in London. It stands out for its architecture as well as featuring a permanent collection of eight million works that include so of the world’s most notable antiquities, though you’ll find centuries of archaeological discoveries from prehistoric to modern times. 

You’ll see everything from the Rosetta stone, Babylonian stonework, and part of Athens’ Parthenon to Roman Empire artifacts and a world-famous Egyptian collection.

Marvel at Works By Masters in the National Gallery

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The crown jewel in Trafalgar Square, a large plaza that’s one of the best places for people watching in the city, the National Gallery is another free attraction in London. It showcases some of the world’s most famous paintings, which include works by masters from the 13th through 19th centuries such as da Vinci, Van Gogh, Michelangelo, Picasso, Renoir, and Botticelli. 

If you’re limited on time, be sure to view The Ambassadors by German-Swiss painter Hans Holbein. Completed in 1533, the Tudor Period, the unique double portrait is laden with symbolism, featuring the anamorphic perspective, a technique that frequently appears in early Renaissance art. 

You’ll notice an image in the foreground that looks smudged, but if it’s viewed sideways, becomes a human skull as a much-cited example of anamorphosis used in painting. 

Watch the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace

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Buckingham Palace is the London residence of Queen Elizabeth II and one of the most popular things to do here is to watch the Changing of the Guard, an impressive formal ceremony in which a group of soldiers are relieved of their duties as a new group takes their turn. 

It’s combined with precision drill and bands that make it an incredible spectacle to witness. The ceremony officially begins at 11 a.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 10 a.m. on Sundays, with the best spot to watch from the steps of the Victoria Memorial.

If you want to tour the palace, you can do so during the summer when the Queen is on vacation. The State Rooms and some of the most spectacular pieces from the Royal Collection can be seen although Her Majesty’s private quarters are closed off to the public.

See the Crown Jewels and More at The Tower of London

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Dating back to 1066, the Tower of London has been a castle in wartime, a monarch’s residence in times of piece, and a prison/execution site for rebels. 

Built by William the Conqueror to protect the city as well as to keep watch over its citizens and boat traffic on the Thames, it’s one of the most important structures in London. The complex includes the Outer Ward that’s surrounded by a wall with two bastions and six towers, and the Inner Ward which has 13 towers.

The Crown Jewels are a highlight for many here, a collection of nearly 23,600 gemstones that includes thousands of diamonds, sapphires, pearls, emeralds, and rubies. 

If you’re interested in the paranormal, The Tower is said to be one of the world’s most haunted, with ghost tours that will reveal its creepy side.

Visit Westminster Abbey

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Considered to be the greatest church in the English-speaking world, Westminster Abbey opened its doors in 1269.

It contains 3,000 tombs with the remains of 29 kings and queens, while hundreds of memorials like within the walls, revealing a pageant of England’s long history. This was also the setting for Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding. 

Enjoy Afternoon Tea

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Afternoon tea, a tradition for over 150 years started by the Duchess of Bedford, is a quintessential British experience and an ideal way to relax among elegant surroundings.

Many hotels and restaurants offer it but one of the best you’ll find is in the Gatsby Room at The Beaumont. Here it’s easy to imagine F Scott Fitzgerald himself enjoying it with light bites like sandwiches, pastries, scones, or a slice of Boston cream pie. 

Shop at Harrod’s

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The most famous department store in London, Harrods opened nearly 200 years ago. While you might want to pick up one of its own line of British teddy bears, you don’t have to buy to enjoy it.

It’s an attraction as much as it is a shopping venue, with Old World interiors, a stunning Egyptian elevator, perfumery, magnificent food halls, and a shrine dedicated to Diana and Dodi Fayed, the former owner’s son

There are some fantastic toys, including rare items and fantastic Lego sets, that are fun for kids and adults alike to browse. If you’re looking for a unique gift, you’ll even find a Toy Concierge for advice. 

Take the Hop-On, Hop-Off Bus Tour

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If you’re a first-time visitor to the city, the Hop-On, Hop-Off Bus Tours are a great way to get a feel for it and see some of the top highlights. 

You can simply stay on and get a good overview, or hop off, using it as transport to get from site to site. That includes everything from Big Ben and the Tower Bridge to Piccadilly Circus, Whitehall, and much more.