places to visit in london and nearby

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Places To Visit Around London

Here's a list of the best places to visit near london:, quick navigation.

Go on a scenic tour to 2 royal residences

Must Visit Attractions Near London

Windsor castle.

Windsor Castle

Alton Tower

Alton Tower

Warwick Castle

Warwick Castle

Harry Potter Warner Bros Studio

Harry Potter Warner Bros Studio

Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace

Leeds Castle

Leeds Castle

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The New Forest

The New Forest

The New Forest is an unenclosed pasture area of northern England that is renowned for its forest trails, native ponies, and heathland. It is the hotspot for many interesting outdoor activities such as paddle boarding, horse riding, and hiking. The New Forest National Park is the prime attraction of this area where you can have a picnic with your family, or you can witness deers, tigers, rhinoceroses, and wild buffalo in the region. You should also visit the Hearst castle that is an artillery fortress designed by Henry XIII. Apart from that, Exbury Gardens is the ideal weekend getaways from London for a family day out, and you can even have an Exbury steam railway ride here. Distance from London: 69 mi. Best Time: May to September. How To Reach: You can board a train from Waterloo that will drop you at The New Forest in 90 minutes. Suggested Read:  Things To Do In Victoria London   Must Checkout:  Europe Honeymoon Packages

Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace

Brighton Museum & Royal Pavilion

Brighton Museum & Royal Pavilion

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Highclere Castle & Downton Abbey Sites

Highclere Castle & Downton Abbey Sites

Must Visit Cities Near London

Oxford

Known throughout the world for its unparalleled educational magnificence, the town of Oxford is a global educational hub. It is considered to be one of the best places to visit near London due to its historical buildings and covered markets. One such amazing place that you must visit here is the Christ Church Cathedral that exudes excellent architecture and beauty. Oxford Castle is another major attraction here that gives you a chance to have a 360 degrees view of London. You should also visit the Sheldonian Theatre, which houses the Museum of the History of Science. It has a splendid collection of ancient art and antiquities, Greek and Roman pottery, classical sculpture, Far Eastern art, and jewelry. While here, you should also consider going shopping in Cornmarket Street, which is pedestrian-friendly and sells a range of items. Among many branded shops and departmental stores, this street also has the historic Golden Cross arcade which is well-known for its jewelry and craft shops. Distance from London: 56.1 mi. Best Time: August and September, May & July. How To Reach: Board a train from Paddington Station to Oxford. It will take sixty minutes to reach Oxford from London. Checkout & Book:   London Tower Bridge Tickets    Suggested Read:  Places To Visit In London       

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Regarded as one of the best places to visit around London, the city of Brighton has some outstanding attractions and monuments. A must-visit attraction is the Brighton Palace Pier, a perfect example of a Victorian pleasure pier. You can have traditional seaside fun here while enjoying the rides and the delicious street food. Another great attraction over here is the Royal Pavilion, which was the home of Prince Regent. This pavilion is one of the most exotic and stunning architecture in the British Isles. During your trip to Brighton, you should also visit the Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, which includes fashion & style, design & fine art and exciting interactive exhibitions. Distance from London: 56.4 mi. Best Time: May to September. How To Reach: Board a bus from Victoria Coach Station to Brighton. Book Now: Buckingham Palace Tickets  Recommended Read: Places In West London  

Canterbury

Located in the county of Kent, Canterbury is one of the heritage cities of Britain that has retained its old-world charm as well as modern glitz. It houses the Canterbury Cathedral that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is famous for being the murder site of Archbishop Thomas Becket. You should also visit the Beaney House of Art and Knowledge, which has a facility-part museum, an art gallery, and even a library. It displays a collection of paintings, prints, engravings, European ceramics, Anglo-Saxon jewelry, and Asian porcelain. Canterbury Castle is another major attraction here where you can discover the historical treasures of Canterbury. Distance from London: 60.8 mi. Best Time: May & September. How To Reach: South Eastern train runs regular service from St Pancras, Charing Cross and London Victoria. Do Read:   T hings To Do In Central London

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Cambridge

Known to be a rival of the Oxford University, Cambridge is claimed to have one of the most preserved historic buildings in England. The King's College Chapel is the most famous attraction over here that is renowned for its 12-bay perpendicular-style interior and incredible architecture. Besides that, the Mathematical Bridge is the major highlight of the city as it has been built without any nails solely relying on the calculative structuring. You should also visit the  Cambridge University Botanical Garden stretching across 40 acres in Cambridge. This garden boasts of having more than 8,000 plant species from across the world. Another must-visit place is the Fitzwilliam Museum, which is an architectural masterpiece. It displays collections of Egyptian antiquities, illuminated manuscripts,  potteries of English, China, Greek, and Roman origins. Distance from London: 64.0 mi. Best Time: June & July. How To Reach: ThamesLink Runway and The Great Northern Runway runs the fastest train to Cambridge. Check This Out:  Hidden Places In London    

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England

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Winchester functioned as a former cultural and political capital of England until the 13th century. It is home to some of the best places to visit around London, such as the Winchester museum, which is one of Europe's largest cathedrals. Another such attraction is the Highclere Castle: Aka Downton Abbey that was featured in the English TV series of the same name. The Castle includes a spectacular gothic saloon, a library with 5,650 rare books and historic portraits. Another popular attraction over here is the Hospital of St. Cross, which is England's oldest almshouse. It features the 15th-century Hall of the Brothers, a kitchen, and a chapel. Other must-visit places are Winchester City Mill, Winchester's Military Museums, Marwell Zoo, and Winchester City Museum. Distance from London: 67.8 mi. Best Time: May to June. How To Reach: Take a train from Waterloo to Winchester. Best Offers On:  London Eye Tickets   Recommended Read:  Things To Do In London With Kids     

St Albans

If you're looking for one of the best places to visit around London, then St Albans should be your topmost choice. It is a vibrant city located in the northern belt of London known for its centuries-old medieval cathedrals and scenic parks. Verulamium Park is one of the beautiful spaces in St Albans that houses an ornamental lake, and you can witness here the remains of ancient Roman walls. If you wish to trace the rich history of this city, then the Verulamium Museum should be your ideal stopover. It has displays of gold coins, mosaic structures, and second-century Roman theater. Distance from London: 69 mi. Best Time: May to September. How To Reach: You can take a flight from Gatwick and Luton airport. Both these airports are linked directly to London. Do Read:  Things To Do In Shoreditch   

Mersea Island

Mersea Island

This is a small fishing town with sandy beaches and an impressive collection of cafes, shops, and restaurants. Due to its old-world charm and impressive landscape, it is considered to be one of the best places to visit around London. Mersea Island Vineyard is a popular destination here that is known for producing local and traditional wines, while also offering an enthralling view of lush greenery of nature. Get a glimpse of the history of Mersea Island by visiting the Mersea museum that houses the oldest sculptures and archeological relics. Distance from London: 69 mi. Best Time: May to September. How To Reach: You can catch a train from Liverpool Street to Colchester train station. From here you can board a taxi to Mersea Island. Check This:  Things To Do In Kings Cross   

Istanbul

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One of the beautiful and charming villages in South East England, Rye, is a haven for nature lovers. This adorable fairy-tale town has medieval cafes and inns, winding streets and quirky shops. It houses the Rye Harbour Nature Reserve that is spread in around 1,000-acres and has over 4,000 species of animals. Another attraction is the Rye Castle Museum and Ypres Tower, which has two sites, East Street and The Ypres Tower. The East Street site includes collections of the museum and is the best place to know about the rich history of Rye. You should also visit the Parish Church of St. Mary, Rye, which houses magnificent stonework and exquisite stained-glass windows. Another must-visit site is the Mermaid Street, lined with crooked timber houses and quirky cafes. It is considered to be one of the most photographed streets in Rye. Distance from London: 76.7 mi. Best Time: June to October. How To Reach: No direct train runs from London to Rye. You can however board a train from St Pancras. Do Read:  Things To Do Near Borough Market   

Portsmouth

Portsmouth is one of the most famous places to visit near London that serves as the base of the Royal Navy and contains around two-third of the surface fleet of the UK. It houses some of the most popular ships such as the Tudor carrack Mary Rose, HMS Warrior and HMS Victory. Further, the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard gives you a chance to discover the eight hundred-year-old maritime histories of the town. You can also visit the Blue Reef Aquarium to witness the diverse species of aquatic animals housed here. Distance from London: 74.8 mi. Best Time: March to November & January to February. How To Reach: Board a train from Waterloo to portsmouth. Suggested Read:  Things To Do Near London Eye   

Dungeness

The stark landscape and the otherworldly beauty of Dungeness make it one of the best places to visit near London. It boasts of having the largest shingle beach in Europe where you can enjoy sunbathing, and you can also relish the seafood at the cafes and beachside shacks located here. Also, the RSPB Nature Reserve is an absolute paradise for the wildlife watchers as you can witness here a dazzling variety of migratory as well as domestic birdlife. Another major attraction that you must visit here is the Pilot Inn that is known for serving the best chips and traditional seafood. Distance from London: 77.8 mi. Best Time: March to May. How To Reach: Board a train from St Pancras to Ashford International. Board a taxi from Ashford to Dungeness. Recommended Read:  Museums Near London Bridge   

Zurich

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Surrounded by sandy beaches, fishing villages, and family attractions, Chichester is one of the most popular weekend getaways from London. West Wittering Beach is one of the prime attractions of Chichester that has been awarded the Blue Flag for its cleanliness. It is a sandy and long beach where you can enjoy sunbathing and boating. Chichester Cathedral is also an important attraction that is the sacred church of the Holy Trinity and is the seat of Bishop of Chichester. Also, the city center is the main shopping arena of Chichester, where you can buy a variety of elite brands. Distance from London: 80.8 mi. Best Time: June to Early September. How To Reach: You can board a train from Victoria to Waterloo station. Check This Out:  Places In East London   

Bath

Well known as an elegant spa town since Roman times, Bath is built for relaxation and pleasure. This is one of the best weekend getaways from London where you can have an aromatic spa or Roman Baths to relieve your senses. It is a gorgeous city dotted with exquisite architectural monuments and cobblestone streets. Nestled between Somerset and Mendip Hills, it is considered to be one of the best places to visit near London because of its honey-colored Georgian houses and beautiful gardens and parks. Bath Abbey is also a popular site over here that is a Gothic cathedral with beautiful paintings and architecture. Furthermore, another popular attraction is Pulteney Bridge that is considered to be the departure point for various fun river excursions. Distance from London: 114.6 mi. Best Time: January to February. How To Reach: Frequent trains run from Paddington station to London after every thirty minutes. Do Read:  Adventurous Things To Do In London   

Bristol

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Also known as the capital of castles in Wales, the city of Cardiff is known for its vibrant culture and stunning landscape. Among many places to visit around London, Cardiff should be an ideal stopover in your itinerary due to its beautiful castles and historic houses. It houses the Cardiff Bay Barrage, which is located in a stunning maritime setting, perfect for a bike ride or a relaxing stroll. You should also pay a visit to the Albany Gallery and the Martin Tinney Gallery that depict some of the greatest art collections in the world. Some other attractions that you must visit over here are Hensol Castle Distillery, St. John's Parish Church, and Forest Farm Country Park. For a calming experience after a busy day of touring, you should surely visit the chic Mermaid Quay to have a romantic dinner with your partner. Distance from London: 150.6 mi. Best Time: Early June to Late September. How To Reach: 27 trains operate in a day from London to Cardiff. You can board any of the trains that will drop you at Cardiff in 2hrs and 28 mins. Also Read:  Things To Do Near Borough Market   

Manchester

Manchester is one of the most lively and vibrant cities in London, throbbing with architectural splendours and creative spaces. It houses the most popular football club in the entire world known as the Manchester United Football Club. Moreover, a paradise for the foodies, Manchester has a huge variety of street food markets as well as elegant cafes and restaurants. The city is also home to some of the oldest libraries, such as the Chetham's and John Rylands library that houses a collection of novels and books spanning across five millennia. Distance from London: 208.4 mi. Best Time: June and August. How To Reach: Take a bus from Victoria bus station to Manchester. Suggested Read:  Things To Do In London In September   

Guildford

Guildford is a beautiful town located on the southern periphery of London. It is considered to be one of the best places to visit around London because it is home to historic cathedrals and castles that offer peace and tranquility like none other. Apart from that, the city seems to be brimming with an array of pubs, restaurants, bars, and shopping venues as well. Moreover, the Odeon Cinema is a paradise for the film fanatics, and you can watch some of the best Hollywood movies over here. If you're a shopping enthusiast, then Tunsgate Quarter should be your ideal spot as it is home to some of the branded stores such as Cath, Loaf, and Kidston. Distance from London: 208.4 mi. Best Time: June and August. How To Reach: Direct buses don't run from London to Guildford. You can however board a bus from Victoria Coach Station and arrive at Friary Bus Station. Check This Out:  Thing To Do In London In October   

Rome

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Home of iconic music-band, The Beatles and Liverpool Football Club, the city of Liverpool, is one of the best places to visit near London. To start the tour of this city, you should visit the Merseyside Maritime Museum, which has an impressive collection of artifacts and sculptures. Another such attraction is the Pier Head area of Liverpool, which houses the Three Graces,  the traditional trio of harbor buildings. Moreover, the Museum of Liverpool celebrates the city's distinct history, geography, and culture with several displays. It houses various collections of decorative art and period costumes and other archaeological materials. Liverpool also has some of the best gardens and parks, such as the Sefton Park Palmhouse, that is lush with greenery and large varieties of flowers. Distance from London: 220.5 mi. Best Time: May to June. How To Reach: Board a train from Euston station in London to Liverpool. Suggested Read:  Places In North West London  

Belfast

The capital city of Northern Ireland, Belfast is the birthplace of the sunken ocean liner, RMS Titanic. To recall the legacy of the ship, the Titanic Quarter has been built, which pays tribute to Belfast's maritime history. Another major attraction over here is the HMS Caroline museum, which houses one of the last surviving vessels to have witnessed service in both world wars. This floating museum also displays history related to WWI and WWII. You should also visit St. Anne's Cathedral, which is a neo-Romanesque style of a basilica featuring a beautiful mosaic ceiling and elegant stained-glass windows. Other worthwhile visits in Belfast are the Grand Opera House, Crumlin Road Gaol, the Belfast Castle and the Belfast Zoo. Distance from London: 470.0 mi. Best Time: April to October. How To Reach: Board a train from Euston station to Belfast. You can also take a car ferry from London that takes ten hours and four minutes to reach Belfast. Recommended Read:  Camping Near London   

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Visit the St. Paul's Cathedral & know about its rich history of this building built over 300 years

London Top Attractions

London

Located on London’s Southbank, the London Eye is the world’s tallest cantilever wheel and an iconic figure in the London sky. This wheel attracts nearly 4 million visitors every year, making it a popular destination among tourists and locals alike. If you're planning a trip to Europe, consider including the London Eye in your itinerary as part of our exciting Europe tour packages.Wheel consists of 32 capsules which are made of glass. On a clear day one can see up to 40 km from the wheel. There are multilingual guides giving a commentary on the details of the spectacular view of the city. Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Tower Bridge, and other famous London landmarks can be seen from the London Eye.The slow rotation of the wheel enables one to take pictures of the famous landmarks. Apart from the stunning view, another major attraction is a 4D show that forms a part of your London Eye experience. Over the past 19 years, it has become an important feature of the London skyline.You can also look out for special themed events like pop-up dining events, Valentine day celebrations or an anniversary dinner. London Eye is one of the major attractions in London’s New Year day firework celebrations. Seeing London at a glance should definitely be a part of your London itinerary. The wheel was dedicated to the public in 2000. It was originally planned to be in public service for only 5 years. However, its popularity made it a permanent feature in the tourist map of London. Tourists love the experience of the thrilling ride on the wheel and observe the breathtaking view of the London city over the River Thames.If you are planning for a honeymoon trip to Europe, you can checkout Europe Honeymoon Packages

Kew Gardens

Popular as one of the unique UNESCO World Heritage sites in London, Kew Gardens is one of the pleasant getaways in the city to enjoy with your family and friends. Explore this captivating destination as part of our curated Europe tour, home to a fascinating collection of living plants and an internationally recognized scientific research center. With over 14,000 trees, Kew Gardens' exquisite natural landscape spanning 300 acres is truly spellbinding, making it a leading center of research, complete with a library, museums, and beautiful gardens.It invites people of all ages to discover a day of serenity in the city of London. The visitors here can enjoy a number of activities whether it is taking a stroll along the colourful canopies of trees or exploring the beautiful glasshouses. Some of the popular attractions of Kew Gardens include the Palm House, Princess of Wales Conservatory and the Waterlily House.There are activities which the visitors can enjoy at Kew Gardens like the 59 ft high Treetop Walkway, catching the views of the city by climbing the Great Pagoda and getting to know about its history at the Kew Palace. Kew Gardens is also a paradise for photographers who wish to capture the natural beauty of London at its best.

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London, England   Travel Guide

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places to visit in london and nearby

34 Best Things to Do in London, England

Whether you're keen to brush up on your history knowledge at the Tower of London , tour the home of the monarchy at Buckingham Palace or check out one of the city's many art galleries, London isn't short on things to do. Thespians will

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places to visit in london and nearby

Buckingham Palace Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace, King Charles III's London home, is open for touring (except for the king's private quarters, of course) from July to October. On the tour, you'll have access to the 19 State Rooms where the king and members of the royal family host guests for state, ceremonial and official affairs. Opulently accented with chandeliers, candelabras, paintings by Van Dyck and Canaletto, and exquisite English and French furniture, these rooms display some of the most magnificent pieces from the Royal Collection. Along with the grand interiors, the State Rooms, where kings and queens have entertained guests on both official and ceremonial occasions, are also a witness to history. Those who followed the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton closely will recognize the Throne Room, which served as the backdrop for the pair's official wedding photographs.

For tours in the summer, recent travelers suggested taking advantage of the multimedia guide (included with admission and available in multiple languages), so that you hear a detailed history of each room at your own pace. The palace advises you set aside at least two hours to see the State Rooms (and that you wear comfortable shoes), while recent travelers advised that you use the facilities prior to the start of the tour; there are no public restrooms available until you reach the garden. Except in the Garden Café, no food or drinks (except bottled water) are permitted in the palace.

places to visit in london and nearby

Tower of London Tower of London

Although its exterior might be grim and even unimpressive (especially when compared to stately  Buckingham Palace ), the Tower of London's interior is always bustling with activity. Despite its name, the large complex has a long history as a palace, a fortress and a prison. Each exhibition and activity here explores this history.

If you're enchanted with the monarchy, don't miss the famous crown jewels exhibition. Among the items you'll see is the Imperial State Crown – which is still worn by the queen for each State Opening of Parliament – and the Sovereign's Sceptre with Cross. In 2020, Prince of Wales' Investiture Coronet joined the display in the Jewel House. For an oral history, take an entertaining tour led by the Yeoman Warders (tower guards). During the hourlong excursion (included in your admission ticket), the guards will regale you with tales of the tower's bloody past. The White Tower is one of the world's most famous castles and a recognizable London landmark. Inside, you'll find the 350-year-old exhibition, "Line of Kings," which includes suits of armor worn by Henry VIII, Charles I, and James II. Keep an eye out for the Tower's famous ravens, who are said to guard the structure.

places to visit in london and nearby

Houses of Parliament Houses of Parliament

Step through halls where history was made time and again by visiting the British Parliament. Guided and self-guided tours (which come highly recommended by recent travelers) take visitors through multiple areas of the building, including Westminster Hall (the oldest building on the Parliamentary estate, which is more than 900 years old), the House of Commons Chamber and the House of Lords. If you're not interested in perusing the corridors that make up the U.K.'s governing body, many travelers say that simply admiring the iconic structure's impressive exterior is enough, and an absolute must-do for anyone visiting London. 

If you're one of many looking to snap your own photo of one of the most photographed buildings in the world, the best vantage point is from Westminster Bridge. But if you want a truly smashing shot, head on over to Lambeth Bridge or the Golden Jubilee Bridges on the South Bank for a view of Parliament and the London Eye together. Keep in mind that Westminster Bridge connects two of the city's most popular attractions ( London Eye  and Parliament), and as a result is almost always very crowded.

places to visit in london and nearby

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places to visit in london and nearby

Westminster Abbey Westminster Abbey

This medieval church, graced by many royal weddings and coronations, offers a magnificent peek at London's far-reaching history. Westminster Abbey is generally busy – and the staff keeps you moving at a pretty swift pace – so do a little research ahead of time to avoid missing your personal must-sees. For instance, if you're a bibliophile, consider a visit to the Poets' Corner. This is the final resting place of famed authors Geoffrey Chaucer, Charles Dickens and Rudyard Kipling, among others. If you're fascinated by all the intrigue surrounding the British royalty, you might like to visit the shared tomb of enemies and half sisters Elizabeth I and Mary Tudor.

If you prefer to see the abbey at your own pace, but still want a little guidance on the history you're encountering, take advantage of the multimedia guides, which are included in the price of admission and available in 14 languages. Alternatively, you can take a guided tour (led by the abbey's vergers) and see special places inaccessible to the public, including the tomb containing Saint Edward the Confessor. If you decide to take this tour, you'll pay 10 pounds (around $14) on top of the general admission price.

places to visit in london and nearby

British Museum British Museum free

The British Museum is both an architectural beauty and a trove of some of the world's most noted antiquities. In fact, many travelers say it's the best museum in all of London. What's more, it's free to visit. From the Rosetta Stone to the Parthenon Sculptures to Mesopotamian objects, the British Museum is a history buff's dream containing artifacts in the millions. The immense collection can make an initial museum visit seem overwhelming: Pick the exhibits that most interest you, and plan return trips if you feel so inclined.

If you want a little help navigating the museum's exhibits – the approximately 80,000 objects on display out of its collection totaling 8 million items – consider tagging along on a guided tour. Several, including the daily eye-opener tours and the LBGTQ-themed "Desire, Love, Identity" tour and Friday evening spotlight tours are free. You can also book an "Around the World in 60 Minutes" tour for 14 pounds (around $20). Audio guides, which cost 7 pounds (about $10), are also available to rent daily.

places to visit in london and nearby

Covent Garden Covent Garden free

Though called a garden, Covent Garden isn't all about plants and flowers. Rather, it's a piazza and a collection of urban streets boasting numerous upscale stores as well as bars, restaurants, art installations and more. In other words, it's a bustling neighborhood within London's West End. Shops range from famous trademarks like Ralph Lauren and Mulberry to independent brands. In addition to conventional shops and boutiques, Covent Garden has a covered market area where vendors sell everything from antiques to crafts. Similarly, dining options range from foodie destinations like Sushi Samba and Balthazar to casual pubs. Given Covent Garden's open-air orientation, there are appropriately more than 1,000 seats for al fresco dining.

Covent Garden is also home to the Royal Opera House. Even if you're unable (or disinclined) to see an opera, you can tour the lavishly appointed Royal Opera House. Architecture-enthusiasts find the building, especially its glass atrium, stunning and the tours informative. General admission tickets are 19 pounds (about $24) for adults and 16.75 pounds (about $21) for anyone younger than 16. (Check the opera house’s website for dates and times.)

places to visit in london and nearby

Piccadilly Circus Piccadilly Circus free

U.S. News Insider Tip: Wander over to nearby Chinatown to sample its slew of Asian restaurants and bubble tea shops, and continue on into Soho for some of the city's best LGBT-friendly bars. – Laura French

Regularly compared to  New York 's  Times Square , Piccadilly Circus is the meeting place of five busy roads and is the center of London's hustle and bustle. Whether it's people on their way to work in the morning, shoppers en route to the chain store-lined Oxford Street (just a few blocks north) or lively club and bar hoppers passing through at night, Piccadilly is always thrumming with activity. 

places to visit in london and nearby

West End Theatre District West End Theatre District

U.S. News Insider Tip:  For a fun night out, buy tickets for a showing of Agatha Christie's "The Mousetrap," which is the longest-running play in history. – Nicola Wood, Senior Editor

Catching a show in London's West End theater district is just as necessary as watching a play on  Broadway  during a trip to  New York City . The quality is some of the best in the U.K., and the constant mix of new and classic productions with local and world-renowned talent (think: Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Angela Lansbury, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Benedict Cumberbatch) excites both visitors and locals alike. Even if you don't consider yourself much of a theater devotee, recent travelers said the atmosphere, specifically near the lively Leicester Square, where many of the theaters are concentrated, is worth a late-night wander.

places to visit in london and nearby

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places to visit in london and nearby

Hyde Park & Kensington Gardens Hyde Park & Kensington Gardens free

U.S. News Insider Tip: A short stroll from Hyde Park Corner will take you to The Grenadier – a tiny pub hidden down a cobbled alley. It opened in 1818 as an officers' mess and now serves beers and classic pub fare in atmospheric, wood-strewn surroundings. – Laura French

Just north of the Royal Albert Hall and northwest of Buckingham Palace  sit Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens: a stretch of green bisected by West Carriage Drive. Hyde Park was once the recreational stomping grounds for King Henry VIII, but now this 350-acre swath of land is open to the public and a must-visit for travelers looking for a relaxing moment away from the city's hustle and bustle. Among Hyde Park's meandering foot and bike paths and flourishing flora and fauna, you'll find a few standout attractions that are worth exploring. Watch the swans and boats glide over the serene Serpentine Lake (or rent a vessel yourself), visit the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain or stop by the Speakers' Corner, a site for public speeches and debates since the 19th century (previously used by George Orwell and Vladimir Lenin, among others). For the sporting set, Hyde Park has tennis courts, football pitches (remember: football means soccer here) and a horse-riding arena.  

places to visit in london and nearby

The London Eye The London Eye

The London Eye (the giant Ferris wheel found in many London panoramas) is on the River Thames and meant to deliver great views – not a thrilling ride. It circles around slowly, offering an unbeatable bird's-eye perspective of London's South Bank. However, those with a fear of heights should beware: When you're more than 400 feet high, the 360-degree views can be a bit disconcerting.

While some travelers say the London Eye is an absolute must-do, others found the experience to be overrated. Some recent travelers said the lines were too long (upward of a couple hours) and the ticket prices too high. However, many others were amazed by the views, especially  Parliament  and  Buckingham Palace . Visitors were keen to note that this ride is not a fast one, with the average rotation of the wheel at least 30 minutes long. You can also combine a ride on the London Eye with a guided boat tour.

places to visit in london and nearby

Trafalgar Square Trafalgar Square free

For nearly 200 years, Trafalgar square has been a London institution. Flanked by the National Gallery , the square features two fountains, several busts and bronze lions at the base of Nelson's Column. The column, which honors Admiral Horatio Nelson for his success at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, stands 16 feet tall. At its base, bronze panels detail some of Nelson's battles and the two lions are there to protect the monument.

Recent travelers appreciated this famous London locale, noting that it's a great spot for photos and people-watching. However, know that aside from the National Gallery and surrounding shops and restaurants, there isn't much to do at the square itself.

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St. Paul's Cathedral St. Paul's Cathedral

St. Paul's Cathedral is arguably the second must-see church in London (the first, of course, being Westminster Abbey ). With its imposing dome – one of the largest in the world – St. Paul's forms a predominant spot along London's skyline. It's also a survivor: Although an older incarnation burnt during the Great Fire of London in 1666, the current dome (designed by Sir Christopher Wren and officially completed in 1711) survived numerous World War II bombings.

To make the most of your visit, reviewers highly recommended climbing to the top of the dome to the Golden Gallery. You'll have to hike up 528 steps, but after catching your breath you'll enjoy far-reaching views of the River Thames, the  Tate Modern , and Shakespeare's Globe . And once you've seen the top, head below ground to the crypt (the largest in Europe), where the tombs of notable figures such as Lord Nelson and the Duke of Wellington as well as Wren are housed. Though some reviewers are put off by the pricey admission, most agree that a peek inside is well worth the extra coin.

places to visit in london and nearby

Natural History Museum Natural History Museum free

U.S. News Insider Tip: Before or after your visit, head next door to the Science Museum to browse interactive exhibits and live science shows, and catch a film at the IMAX, one of the UK's biggest screens (entry to the museum itself is free, though some exhibitions are extra). – Laura French

Located in South Kensington, this museum brims with data from 70,000 different species (from animals to tiny protozoa) and exhibits showcasing everything from dinosaur bones to simulated earthquakes. The Natural History Museum is also a favorite among families, so you'll find it crawling with kids.

places to visit in london and nearby

Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and Bath Tour from London + Admission

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Best of London Tour inc Tower of London and Changing of the Guard

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Windsor Castle, Stonehenge, and Oxford Day Trip from London

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St. James's Park St. James's Park free

One of London's eight Royal Parks, St. James's Park is nearly 57 acres. It's surrounded by three palaces: its namesake St. James’s Palace, Westminster (now the Houses of Parliament ) and Buckingham Palace . The park's semi-circular flower beds – the Memorial Gardens – which sit beside Buckingham are one of its major attractions. The park is flanked one side by the Mall, a route for royal processions that bisects the gardens and on another by the Horse Guards Parade, a parade ground where the annual Trooping the Colour is held. Other notable buildings nearby include No. 10 Downing Street (the Prime Minister's residence) and the Churchill War Rooms . The park also features a portion of the 7-mile Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Walk and provides habitat for various animal species, including foxes and ducks as well as its famed pelicans. Additionally, runners race through St. James's park as the final leg of the annual London Marathon.

Visitors invariably find the park to be quite stunning and well-maintained. It’s deemed an excellent place for walking while admiring the many historical structures nearby.

places to visit in london and nearby

National Gallery National Gallery free

Sitting in Trafalgar Square, London's National Gallery features a labyrinth interior so large that it requires a color-coded map to navigate. The museum features paintings in the Western European tradition from the 13th to early 20th centuries, including Italian Renaissance masterpieces and French Impressionist works. Among its 2,300 in-house pieces, visitors will find famed paintings, such as Botticelli's "Venus and Mars," Rembrandt’s “Self Portrait at the Age of 34” and Van Gogh's "Sunflowers." 

Recent visitors loved the variety of paintings at the National Gallery, saying that travelers may need more than a day to get a glimpse at all the masterpieces that grace its never-ending halls. They also commend the gallery's cafe.

places to visit in london and nearby

Borough Market Borough Market free

U.S. News Insider Tip: Across from Borough Market sits the Old Operating Theatre Museum & Herb Garrett: a tiny museum housed in an 18th-century attic of that's the oldest surviving operating theatre (think: operating room) in Europe. It displays intriguing artifacts about the gruesome medical practices of the past. – Laura French

The food-focused Borough Market is effectively three markets in one (with restaurants, bars and shops interspersed throughout). Three Crown Square features large producers and merchants while Green Market has smaller, specialty ones. You'll find everything from cheese to wine to pastries to produce. Borough Market Kitchen provides a platform for street-food vendors. The roughly 1,000-year-old market regularly hosts cooking demonstrations and classes.

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Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter

U.S. News Insider Tip:  Pick an early tour time and explore slowly. There is so much to see that you may miss small details if you go too quickly. And don't worry about time. Once you're inside, you can stay as long as you like (well, until closing). – Marisa Méndez, Senior Editor

Located at the studios where all eight of the "Harry Potter" films were produced, this is a must for anyone wanting to learn more about the Wizarding World. Visitors can view original film sets – from the Great Hall to Gringotts, Diagon Alley to the Gryffindor Common Room – with hundreds of original props and costumes to browse. Glimpse the model used for Hogwarts Castle, learn about Hagrid's animatronic head, visit Platform 9 ¾ and board the Hogwarts Express; this is a comprehensive, interactive tour for the whole family that's well worth adding to your London bucket list.

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Windsor Castle Windsor Castle

Home to more than 40 British monarchs and in use since the 11th century, Windsor Castle is a spectacular daytrip from London. Visitors can wander the elaborate state rooms, observe the famous Changing the Guard and admire the many artworks and collectibles on display. Should time allow, take a stroll along the Long Walk: a nearly 3-mile-long tree-lined road that is part of the castle's park. Though you'll find a cafe and souvenir shop on-site, Windsor (the town) offers a bevy of dining and shopping options.

Though always crowded, a visit to Windsor should not be missed. Time and again, travelers say that it is a wonderful place to see while in London, and many were repeat visitors. Additionally, travelers with mobility issues said they had little trouble exploring the castle.

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Warner Bros. Studio Harry Potter Tour with Superior Transport from London

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Tower of London: Entry Ticket, Crown Jewels and Beefeater Tour

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Shakespeare's Globe Shakespeare's Globe

U.S. News Insider Tip: If you're able, opt for a standing ticket at the performance. You'll get a more authentic experience, plus your proximity to the actors lets you admire their facial expressions and costumes. – Marisa Méndez, Senior Editor

This is not the Globe Theatre of Shakespeare's time. The original Globe Theatre – which staged Shakespeare's plays and where the Bard wrote "Twelfth Night," "King Lear," and several others – opened in 1599 and burned down in 1613. The second Globe was erected in 1614 but was then torn down in 1644, after all theaters where shuttered by Parliament. The current incarnation – referred to as the Globe Theatre by its staff – has been in operation since 1997 and it is a celebrated performing arts venue dedicated to staging the Bard's plays. In a nod to its much older namesake, today's open-air theater has a thatched roof – the only one in the city – that does not cover the central yard. Seating is in the round. Or, for a truly memorable experience, you can choose to stand in the yard just below the stage to watch a performance (as many did in Shakespeare's time).  

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Royal Albert Hall Royal Albert Hall

U.S. News Insider Tip: Come in December to see Carols at the Royal Albert Hall; it's a spectacular, sing-along show guaranteed to get you in the festive spirit. – Laura French

Royal Albert Hall is a concert hall where musicians of all genres perform. It also hosts special non-concert events, including sporting events and dance performances. The building's famed 20,000-square-foot iron roof was the largest unsupported dome in the world when it was installed in 1869 (two years before the hall officially opened). An 800-foot long, 5,200-square-foot mosaic frieze dubbed "The Triumph of Arts and Letters" encircles the structure's exterior. The hall can accommodate 5,900 people.

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Victoria and Albert Museum Victoria and Albert Museum free

The palatial Victoria & Albert Museum, named in honor of the 19th-century royal couple, is known more commonly in its shortened form – the V&A. Located in South Kensington, this free museum is a compendium of applied art across a number of genres, disciplines and time periods. The collections are arranged by categories, such as sculptures, Chinese artifacts, and so on, making it slightly easier to navigate this mammoth museum. Among the permanent collections, the V&A also offers diverse temporary exhibitions and free weekly public lectures.

Recent travelers praised the variety and sheer enormity of the art offered here. Many described its permanent collection as surprise around every corner. If you've only set aside a few hours to tour the museum, consult the building's map before you go; a map will help you plan a route of the collections you'd like to see and maximize your visit.

places to visit in london and nearby

Tower Bridge Tower Bridge free

Along with Parliament and Big Ben, Tower Bridge is London's next must-see architectural marvel, not to mention the most famous bridge that crosses the Thames. Construction on the bridge started in 1886, which means it's practically modern by London standards, but Tower Bridge stands out for its stunning detail and moveable roadways that lift up when large ships need to pass through. The views from the bridge are an added bonus. From the elevated sidewalks visitors get a prime view of the  Tower of London ,  St. Paul's Cathedral's iconic dome, the London Eye and The Monument.

If you're interested in viewing the city from a higher vantage point (about 137 feet above the Thames), consider a visit inside Tower Bridge, during which you go to the top of the bridge – equipped with a glass floor – as well as to the bottom to the engine rooms. However, recent visitors say that those who are afraid of heights might want to forgo walking across the glass floor.

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Hampton Court Palace Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace, which Henry VIII acquired in the 1520s and subsequently expanded, features the Grand Hall (with Anne Boleyn's coat of arms carved in the ceiling and antique tapestries on the walls) and the largest kitchens in Tudor England (capable of producing 800 meals a day). Its grounds include 60 acres of formal gardens complete with the oldest surviving hedge maze in the country as well as the largest grape vine in the world.

Past visitors observe that there’s a lot to see and that the huge palace necessitates a lot of walking. They also recommend the audio tour, which is included in the ticket price. The gardens are frequently singled out as worthy of attention.

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VIP Tower of London and Crown Jewels Tour with Private Beefeater Meet & Greet

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Regent's Canal Regent's Canal free

Meandering just shy of 9 miles from Paddington in the west to the Limehouse Basin in the east, this charming river walk offers an idyllic escape from the bustle of the city. It passes several postcard-pretty spots, including Little Venice, where quaint cafes, pubs and restaurants sit on the waterfront; Regent's Park, one of London's most popular green spaces and the home of London Zoo; and Camden Lock, famous for its markets, street food stalls and antique shops. You'll also get to see the East End, including trendy Dalston, Victoria Park (home to a farmers market every Sunday) and Mile End.

There's history behind it, too; the canal opened in the early 19th century to transport coal, building materials and other goods from northern industrial cities to King's Cross – a long-standing center for trade – and operated for more than 140 years.

places to visit in london and nearby

Camden Market Camden Market free

Londoners and out-of-towners alike enjoy spending a morning (or afternoon) at the Camden Market. Camden Market is actually multiple markets spread out in the neighborhood of Camden. It sprawls with more than 1,000 stalls, shops, bars and cafes carrying close to everything, from furniture to food and lots of fashion. Looking for cheap graphic T-shirts and dresses? Head over to the first set of Camden Market stalls located closest to the Tube station. If you're looking for more of a mix of items, walk over the bridge to the lock market, situated on the peaceful Camden Lock. You'll find stalls filled with antiques, clothing, souvenirs and a variety of food stalls. Food on offer ranges from traditional fish and chips to Middle Eastern fare, hot dogs and Portuguese tarts. This area gives way to the long and winding stables market, consisting of vendors selling vintage home decor, leather goods and clothing.

It's easy to get lost in this market, but with all it has to offer, including cool restaurants and bars tucked between nooks and crannies, visitors agree it's also very fun. The only grievance travelers had concerned the massive crowds that form during the weekend. If you don't want to be shopping amidst wall-to-wall people, consider visiting during the week. Even if you're not intent on shopping, many visitors recommend the market for its diverse food stalls. You can find the Camden Market off of the Camden Town, or Chalk Farm Tube stops, as well as the Camden Road Overground stop. Bus routes nos. 24, 214, 274 and 393 also stop in the area. The market is open daily from 10 a.m. until roughly 6 p.m. (though different businesses may open and close at different times). For more information about the vendors at the market, visit its official website .

places to visit in london and nearby

Tate Modern Tate Modern free

Located on the South Bank along the Thames, the Tate Modern is part of a group of four museums (all named Tate) which house the 70,000 artworks that comprise the national collection of British art. As its name suggest, this Tate holds the more contemporary-style pieces than its three other counterparts, making it more of a hit or miss among travelers. Dalí and Picasso, as well as many British artists, are represented inside this repurposed power plant – but you'll find the works are scattered. Art is grouped by theme rather than by artist.

Recent visitors said if you're a fan of contemporary and modern art, you'll enjoy the Tate Modern. If you're partial to antiquities or the more traditional works of art, you'll probably be better served at the  British Museum  or the  National Gallery . Art aside, the eateries located within the museum may be enough of a reason for travelers to visit. Both the Espresso Bar and Kitchen and Bar at Tate Modern afford stunning views of  St. Paul's Cathedral , which is situated on the other side of the river. At the very least, take a stroll along the Thames to view the museum's impressive exterior.

places to visit in london and nearby

Greenwich Greenwich free

U.S. News Insider Tip: Skip the tube and hop on an Uber Boat to arrive in Greenwich by water – they depart from various stops along the Thames, including Tower Bridge, London Bridge, Westminster and the London Eye, with single fares from £5.20. – Laura French

Sitting southeast of central London, Greenwich is a great daytrip within city limits and well worth the trek. Greenwich's claim to fame is undoubtedly the Royal Observatory, where the prime meridian bisects the institution and travelers can stand on both the eastern and western hemispheres. Other favorite museums and attractions include the Greenwich Market, the Cutty Sark, the National Maritime Museum and the Greenwich Market. 

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Madame Tussauds London Madame Tussauds London

Famous for its waxworks, this was the first Madame Tussauds museum in the world, established in 1884 on Marylebone Road to display works by French sculptor Marie Tussaud. During the French Revolution, Tussaud was forced craft works of executed nobles – including King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette – to prove she was loyal to the crown. Following the end of the revolution, she left France and traveled to Britain, bringing the waxworks with her, in the early 1800s. Today, the museum upholds the waxwork tradition, with more than 150 realistic-looking figures displayed across 11 zones – from Leonardo DiCaprio to Lady Gaga, Brad Pitt to Harry Styles and Barack Obama to King Charles III.

Recent visitors were impressed and said they enjoyed exploring the different themed areas – from "Star Wars" to "Marvel" – as well as the new Chamber of Horrors room, which explores London's historic criminals. The taxi-themed ride and Marvel 4D show were also a hit, and many recommended it for families, especially those with teenagers. Several commented that lines can be long, even with pre-booked tickets, and it can get crowded inside.

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Leeds Castle, Cliffs of Dover and Canterbury Day Trip from London with Guided Cathedral Tour

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Up at The O2 Up at The O2

U.S. News Insider Tip: Go early in the morning for crisp air and fewer crowds. Afterwards, head southwest to Greenwich for some food and shopping at Greenwich Market. – Marisa Méndez, Senior Editor

Climb over the roof of The O2 – London's arena for major musical and sporting events – for unparalleled views of the city. The Olympic Park and Canary Wharf are among the sights observable from the 170-foot apex. Excursions generally take about 90 minutes, with an hour of walking that travelers typically find rewarding.

places to visit in london and nearby

Portobello Road Market Portobello Road Market free

Locals and tourists alike tend to adore Portobello Road Market. Located in the posh Notting Hill neighborhood (made famous by the Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts movie of the same name), the market stretches down the long Portobello Road, which is considered to be the area's high street (or main street). The market is filled with hundreds of merchants of all kinds selling a variety of common flea market items including antiques, art, jewelry, clothing and food. But what stands out about Portobello Market (aside from its adorably colorful location) is its collection of antiques and quintessentially English items. In just a few blocks, visitors can find a wellie shop, scores of vintage tea sets, quality London souvenirs and Banksy recreations. The market is also billed as being the largest antiques market in the world. If you have a penchant for fashion, the best sampling is found at the end of the market near the Ladbroke Grove Tube stop. There, visitors will not only find the greatest concentration of locals but a great selection of vintage attire as well.

Recent visitors loved Portobello Market for its lively atmosphere, wide selection of items and cheap food stalls. Although many lauded the quality found at the food stalls, some urged visitors to check out nearby restaurants, as many serve exceptional British and international fare. Others also advised visitors to pay close attention to their belongings. Portobello Market is not only very crowded, but concentrated on a narrow street, creating an easy opportunity for pickpockets to strike. 

places to visit in london and nearby

The London Dungeon The London Dungeon

Delve into London's macabre past at this interactive attraction, which explores the history of Jack the Ripper, Guy Fawkes, Sweeney Todd and other criminals through live actors, exhibits and rides. Smell, see and hear the city of yesteryear as you wander through the underground vaults of County Hall on the South Bank, exploring a darker side to this bustling city.

Travelers said the London Dungeon was a great way to get a glimpse into the history of the city and were impressed with the quality of acting and special effects. Many enjoyed the rides and other surprises, although some noted it can be frightening for younger children (a minimum age of 12 is recommended). Some also said it was expensive, but discounts are available when tickets are combined with entry to nearby attractions, including Madame Tussauds and the London Eye.

places to visit in london and nearby

London Transport Museum London Transport Museum

Step inside the London Transport Museum to explore the history of getting around London. Exhibits detail the first London Underground, how the city expanded, Victorian-era transport and much more. Plus, there are multiple hands-on exhibits to keep young ones entertained.

Overall, travelers were pleased with their visits to the museum and found the history fascinating. Others note it's very family-friendly, so you should expect tons of kids during a visit (unless you visit in the late afternoon, when the museum says it's a bit quieter). 

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The Wallace Collection The Wallace Collection free

The collection here includes works by renowned artists such as Titian, Velazquez and Van Dyck as well as various medieval and Renaissance objects. The collection was assembled in the 18th and 19th centuries by the Marquesses of Hertford and Sir Richard Wallace and then donated to Great Britain. The permanent collection centers on European paintings from the 14th to 18th centuries and includes notable French paintings and decorative arts from the 18th century. Special exhibits tend to focus on individual artists, such as Frans Hals and Peter Paul Rubens. Before going to see the fine and decorative arts on display in person, you can explore more than 400 items using a free digital guide available from the museum's website .

Art lovers generally find much to enjoy here, and many suggest it merits repeat visits. Some opine that the signs could provide more information about the items on view.

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Best of London: Tower of London, Thames & Changing of the Guard

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Churchill War Rooms Churchill War Rooms

The Churchill War Rooms are the underground bunker that Prime Minister Winston Churchill and his war cabinet used to shelter from bomb raids and plot their steps during World War II. The maze-like corridors tell the story of this volatile time period, centering on the larger-than-life leader that Churchill was.

Travelers describe the Churchill War Rooms as fascinating, and more than one traveler calls it a favorite London attraction. Some say that the rooms are much bigger than they had imagined and that people tend to spend a lot of time soaking in the exhibits and information. Others say that the exhibits have a strange layout, which can lead to confusion when trying to follow the sequence of events. Additionally, this popular spot gets crowded, so most museumgoers recommend that visitors get to the Churchill War Rooms early to avoid a long wait.

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13 of the best things to do in London

Feb 25, 2024 • 13 min read

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Make the most of your time in London with these top things to do © franckreporter / Getty Images

Fast-paced, fabulous and fun, London is packed with world-class things to see, do and experience.

You probably already have a checklist of London sights to visit, but don't forget to pause and soak up the vibe of a city that has been at the forefront of world culture for at least two millennia.

Whether you're a first-time visitor  or coming back for more, London serves up so many options that it can be hard to know where to start. It's easy to fill days or even weeks taking advantage of free entry at the city's top art galleries and museums, learning about the rich and complex history, and seeing live bands and captivating West End shows.

If you have the time – and budget – almost anything is possible in London. To help you whittle down the options, here are the top experiences in London that you won't want to miss.

Raven perched on a railing at the Tower of London, with two Yeomen Warders in the background

1. Step back in time at the Tower of London

A world of English eccentricity enclosed within the sturdy walls of an imposing 11th-century fortress, the Tower of London is the perfect place to start a visit to London. As well as taking visitors on a remarkable architectural and historical journey, the castle is home to the world's largest diamond (the controversial Cullinan diamond, part of the famous Crown Jewels), as well as a dazzling array of armor and weaponry. A palpable sense of history and heritage will greet you at every turn.

Planning tip: It’s well worth getting to the Tower early – you'll need at least half a day to explore the sprawling chambers, courtyards and jail cells, and hear about its gruesome history. Arrive as the doors are unlocked and head straight to the Crown Jewels to avoid a long wait in line. To learn more about the Tower's back story, join a Yeoman Warder’s tour for a fascinating and personal introduction to the life and grisly times of this fortress-palace.

Explore the Tower of London effortlessly with GetYourGuide.  Book your tour today .

2. Be wowed by contemporary art at Tate Modern

A vast shrine to modern and contemporary art, the much-loved Tate Modern enjoys a triumphant position right on the River Thames. Housed in the former Bankside Power Station, the gallery is a vigorous statement of modernity, architectural renewal and accessibility. Enter via Holland Street to experience the vast Turbine Hall, which used to house the power station’s electricity generators, and is now home to large-scale art installations. Upstairs exhibition spaces are pushing the conceptual envelope, too, with interesting temporary shows, installations and performance art.

Local tip: Level 10, the viewing platform atop the Blavatnik Building, has been the subject of some controversy regarding privacy because it's possible to look into the adjacent apartment buildings. There are many signs politely requesting no photography on the south side (and not as much to see there anyway). There are also great views from the coffee shop and bar in the main building. If the tide is out, there's good mudlarking – an evocative term for looking for historic junk on the exposed mud at low tide – right in front of the gallery.

Dancers in colorful costumes for the Notting Hill Carnival

3. Explore London’s Black history 

London’s Black history is rich and fascinating and stretches back across centuries. All over London, you'll sense a growing enthusiasm for acknowledging, owning and celebrating this once-overlooked part of London's story. Begin your journey by joining one of the 16 walking tours in central London run by Black History Walks , then head down to the Docklands to learn about the capital’s involvement in the transatlantic slave trade at the Musem of London Docklands before meandering south to marvel at the vast Black archives at Brixton’s Black Cultural Archives . Next, indulge in some delicious Caribbean cuisine and take in many of the city’s best Black artists at 198 Contemporary Arts and Learning .

Planning tip:  Notting Hill Carnival , held over the August Bank Holiday weekend, is a colossal street party celebrating Black, Caribbean and African cultures. Join the dancing, parties and parades that fill the neighborhoods around Ladbroke Grove. The official website publishes routes and events in advance.

4. Imagine the royal weddings of yesteryear at Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey has been the heart of the country’s royal and religious life for centuries. This Gothic wonder was founded more than a thousand years ago and today it displays a mix of architectural styles, with the bulk of its structure dating back to the 13th century. As a result, almost every nook and cranny has a story attached to it.

London's great abbey has served as the venue for many showstopper funerals and weddings – 30 monarchs are buried here, and 16 royal weddings have been hosted here, the most recent being that of Prince William and Catherine Middleton in 2011. Among the highlights, you will find the oldest door in the UK, the collection of memorials to great poets and writers known as Poets’ Corner, the Coronation Chair, 14th-century cloisters, a 900-year-old garden, royal tombs and much, much more.

Planning tip: Be warned that the crowds are almost as solid as the abbey’s unshakeable stonework, so aim to join the line first thing in the morning.

Explore Westminster Abbey effortlessly with GetYourGuide.  Book your tour today .

A large ferris wheel beside a river at dusk

5. Stroll the sights of the South Bank

A great way to get your bearings and take in a slew of sights at the same time is to take a west-to-east walk along the Thames, through the cultural quarter known as the South Bank. Getting off the Tube at Westminster will deposit you right by Big Ben , the legendary bell atop the clocktower of the Houses of Parliament . From there, cross Westminster Bridge for stellar views back toward the seat of British democracy. 

Once on the Queen's Walk, as this pathway is known, stroll east with the river to your left. Although it’s inescapably touristy, a rotation on the London Eye  is a must for any first-time visitor to the capital. This futuristic Ferris wheel takes 30 minutes to complete a full turn, reaching 135m (443ft) at its highest point, and providing spectacular views of iconic landmarks from its glass capsules. Book tickets in advance to avoid the lines.

The Southbank Centre offers up a roll call of top-draw icons and entertainment; it's a great place to go if you're traveling with kids , with lots of free activities and events in summer. Once you leave the Brutalist concrete architecture of the Southbank Centre behind, you'll find other eclectic London sights, including Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre , the Tate Modern art gallery (with views across the river to  St Paul’s Cathedral ), and the Shard , Britain's tallest building. As you walk, look across the river towards the City of London, and try to pick out its curiously nicknamed skyscrapers – such as the Gherkin, the Cheesegrater and the Walkie-Talkie.

Detour: When hunger calls, take a snack break at legendary Borough Market close to London Bridge, where there are pubs, restaurants, dairies, bakers and more than 100 gourmet food stalls.

Transform your visit to London's Eye by  booking with GetYourGuide.

6. Delve into Muslim London

London was once the capital of an empire that ruled over more than half the world’s Muslims, so it should come as no surprise that the city is home to a wide range of Muslim communities and rich in Islamic heritage. Start with the amazing Islamic collections in the Victoria & Albert Museum ’s Jameel Gallery or the British Museum ’s Albukhary Gallery  – between them, these former imperial institutes hold over 115,000 Islamic items. 

To learn where Arabic was taught in 17th century London, take an eye-opening Muslim History Tour , then treat yourself to some of the capital’s most delicious Muslim cuisine. Try a fiery curry along East London’s Brick Lane (or great Punjabi-style kebabs nearby at Tayyabs ), head north to Green Lanes for London’s most authentic Anatolian dishes, or go west along Edgware Road for varied Middle Eastern cuisine.

The blue whale skeleton in the Natural History Museum, London

7. Dive deep into history at the South Kensington museums

A trio of world-class museums lie within yards of each other in the well-to-do neighborhood of South Kensington , their grand edifices proving an equal draw to the glories within. With seven floors of interactive, educational and eye-opening exhibits, the spellbinding collection of models, machines and inventions at the Science Museum mesmerizes adults and children in equal measure. 

You could spend days in the huge Victoria & Albert Museum , which houses the world’s leading collection of decorative art objects, and still be astounded at its variety and depth. With its animatronic Tyrannosaurus rex , riveting displays about planet Earth, the research-oriented Darwin Centre and architecture straight out of a Gothic fairy tale, the Natural History Museum is an astonishing melding of science and imagination. Start in the iconic Hintze Hall, where the skeleton of a blue whale dives down from the ceiling.

Local tip: To see a more unusual side to the museums, and mingle with some Londoners, check in advance to see if any “Lates” are running; the museums periodically open their doors into the evening for special events with music and food. There are even occasional sleepover events called Dino Snores  at the Natural History Museum.

8. See a world-class theater show in the West End – and beyond

London is one of the best places in the world to catch a show, so take the opportunity while visiting the capital. For the most famous faces and well-known productions, head to the West End . This area is synonymous with musicals; look out for classics like  Les Misérables or Mamma Mia! , family favorites such as Matilda,   The Lion King  or Wicked, and offbeat hits such as The Book of Mormon (definitely not family viewing!) .

If musicals are not your thing, get onto TodayTix and see what else is playing. Be sure to check out the edgy, small-cast shows at independent theaters such as the Donmar Warehouse and Soho Theatre , to catch up-and-coming talent for not much more than the price of a pint of beer.

Detour: If Shakespeare is more your thing, attend an Elizabethan-style performance at Shakespeare's Globe . You'll need to book ahead for a standing ticket as one of the all-weather "groundlings" who watch from the open-air yard in front of the stage (or you can pay extra for a seat in the gallery). Despite being the brainchild of American actor, Sam Wanamaker, the facsimile theater is a triumph of authenticity, right down to the nail-less construction, English-oak beams, original joinery and thatched roof (the sprinklers are a modern touch).

People on deck chairs in parkland near an artificial lake

9. Relax in gloriously green Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens

London’s impressive array of urban parks is second to none and the city's eight Royal Parks are the place to see locals at ease and in their element. Hyde Park alone covers 142 hectares; throw in Kensington Gardens , and you have even more space to roam. Here, you'll find everything you could want from a London park: a central setting, a royal palace , deck chairs, boating lakes, open-air concerts, art galleries, towering centuries-old trees, a tasteful granite memorial to Princess Diana, and a magnificently overblown memorial to Prince Albert facing the iconic Albert Hall .

A guard in a fuzzy hat and a red jacket stands at attention in front of a booth and next to an ornate lamp

10. Watch the guards change at Buckingham Palace 

No trip to the capital would be complete without a glimpse of what the Royals are up to. The simplest way to see a bit of sovereign ceremony is to watch the Changing of the Guard , a generations-old ritual in which soldiers in iconic bearskin hats swap shifts outside Buckingham Palace . Arrive early for a good view; the show starts at 11am, and it’s best to arrive by 10:15am (unless you happen to be very tall). If you hanker after more, you can tour the palace itself from July through September (the State Rooms are open for guided tours in the winter and spring, and for 10 weeks every summer).

Built in 1703 for the Duke of Buckingham and then purchased by King George III, Buckingham Palace has been the Royal Family’s official London lodging since 1837, when Queen Victoria abandoned the old royal residence at St James's Palace . On a tour, visitors can get a peek at the State Rooms – a mere 19 of the palace's 775 rooms – and wander through the stunning gardens.

People standing on the street outside bars and pubs at night

11. Drink a pint at a historic English pub

London minus its pubs would be like Paris sans cafes. Pub culture is a part of London's DNA, and the pub is the best place to see local people in their hop-scented element. Some London pubs – such as the character-filled, centuries-old  Lamb & Flag  and Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese – have been fixtures on the social scene for centuries, and a pub pint is the cornerstone of a good night out across the capital. They're also favorite stops for long, family-friendly weekend lunches; gastropubs dot London’s culinary cosmos, many rivaling the best restaurants. 

Local tip: If you have to choose one place in London for an evening out, make it Soho , a densely packed warren of after-dark delights. For centuries a bohemian quarter, Soho was once a seedy red-light district, but these days, it's better known as the hub for London’s LGBTIQ+ community . For an old-school pint or four, drop into the French House , Bar Termini , Yard or the White Horse .

12. See the world’s treasures at the British Museum

With almost six million visitors trooping through its doors annually, the British Museum in Bloomsbury is Britain’s most-visited attraction. It is crammed with such an array of treasures (many of which, controversially, were obtained from other countries by force or political sleight of hand) that you could probably spend your whole trip navigating the vast and hallowed collection of artifacts, art and age-old antiquity, and still not be done.

In fact, the collection was once even bigger, but some objects have been returned to their home countries (and others, unbelievably, were stolen by a light-fingered curator). Free eye-opener tours allow you to focus on specific parts of the vast collection, or you can take in the highlights by wandering through the Great Court, with its stunning glass-and-steel roof designed by Norman Foster, and checking out the closest exhibition halls. Don’t leave before you’ve seen the Rosetta Stone, the key to deciphering hieroglyphics, and the fascinatingly macabre Egyptian mummies (including mummified calves, birds and cats).

13. Sit down to a traditional afternoon tea 

The quintessentially English indulgence of whiling away an afternoon eating dainty sandwiches and cakes and drinking tea may give you the feeling you're being observed by Lady Whistledown herself. Venues serving afternoon tea abound, and despite looking like sets from a Bridgerton party, these establishments are perfectly welcoming to all sorts of travelers. There's no need to dress to the nines; smart casual attire is fine (in other words, no trainers, joggers or sweatshirts). 

For the classic experience, head to Claridge’s or the Ritz , or in the summer try the terrace at The Goring or the stately Orangery  at Kensington Palace. It's called afternoon tea, but you can have your tea at almost any time of the day. Pre-booking is highly recommended as slots can book out, especially on weekends and in the peak season.

Planning tip: Make sure you arrive suitably hungry. The spread might not look much in the pictures, but all those plates of delicate treats really do add up to a mini feast. 

This article was first published Mar 19, 2019 and updated Feb 25, 2024.

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Full Suitcase Travel Blog

17 Absolute Best Day Trips from London (+ How to Visit, Top Tours & Map)

By Author Jurga

Posted on Last updated: January 10, 2024

17 Absolute Best Day Trips from London (+ How to Visit, Top Tours & Map)

London is an amazing city with so much to offer that you could spend weeks and still not see it all. But in addition to all the top sights and attractions in the city itself , there are also so many beautiful places near London, many of which can easily be visited as a day trip from London.

However, with such an array of possibilities, how do you choose the very best day trips from London that are worth your time the most?

In this article, we feature the absolute best places that you can visit as a one-day trip from London, England . This guide includes all the ‘musts’, the very best day trip destinations near London for first-time visitors, but also for local travelers who want to (re)discover some of the most popular sights near London.

In addition, for each place, we include recommendations on how to visit on your own and also the best day tours from London . Because even though you can visit many of these places by train, often, you will be able to see so much more if you go on an organized tour.

Many tours combine several major landmarks in one day, allowing you to make the most of your time and see a lot in a short time. Furthermore, going with a local guide is a great opportunity to explore deeper, scratch beneath the surface, and discover things you didn’t even know existed…

Good to know: At the bottom of this article, you can find a map indicating all the places that you can easily visit as a day trip from London mentioned in this guide. It will give you a better idea of where everything is.

Best London day trips and most popular day tours from London

TIP: If you don’t have the time to read the entire article and are looking for the best day trips from London, here are the 4 most popular day tours among our readers:

  • Windsor Castle, Stonehenge & Bath (also in combination with Roman Baths that you can add when booking).
  • Cotswolds .
  • Harry Potter Studio (also in combination with Oxford).
  • Seven Sisters & South Downs .

Interesting to know: Overall, the most-visited day trip destinations from London are Windsor Castle and Harry Potter Studios.

These are the best & most popular day trips from London:

1. Windsor Castle

If you visit just one place outside of London city, make it Windsor Castle ! Located just 20 miles (32 km) from the city center, a day trip to Windsor is a must on any London bucket list!

The spectacular Windsor Castle is one of the queen’s official residences and has been home to the royal family for 900 years! Kings and queens have been buried here, including the infamous Henry VIII and Jayne Seymour, his third wife. Most recently, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, is also buried at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.

An excellent example of church architecture in medieval times, Windsor Castle is still used for royal receptions and state occasions. In recent years it has been the venue of the weddings of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, and Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank.

Open all year round, Windsor Castle is a great way to explore royal history, from touring the Castle Precincts to viewing the lavish staterooms and apartments. The Castle Grounds are both beautiful and peaceful and from there you can observe the iconic Changing of the Guard, which normally happens at 11 am on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, from April until the end of July.

Good to know. At the moment, Windsor Castle is open daily except for Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Because it’s a working royal palace, sometimes parts of the castle or even the entire castle can get closed on short notice. Below, you can find all the practical information for your visit. Read on!

Windsor Castle is one of the best places to visit as a day trip from London

How to visit. You can easily get to Windsor by train from London. There’s a direct train from London Waterloo Station and it takes about 1 hour. From Windsor & Eton Riverside station, it’s just a short walk to the castle. Be sure to book your Windsor Castle tickets online in advance ! This is the best option for those who prefer to take their time and explore the castle at their own pace.

If you come here for a day, be sure to check out Windsor and Eton towns as well! The best way to do this is by taking a hop-on hop-off bus in Windsor . Another nice thing to do is take a boat tour and enjoy different views of the castle from the river.

Good to know: Entry to Windsor Palace is also included with the London Pass , which offers good value if you spend more time in London and plan on visiting many popular tourist attractions and museums.

Best tours from London. Windsor Castle is the most popular day trip destination near London, so there are many tours that can bring you here as well. Most tours that visit the castle also include one or several other nice places nearby – perfect for those who are short on time and want to make the most of their day.

Here are the most popular day tours from London that visit Windsor Castle:

  • Windsor Castle only – this is a convenient bus transfer from/ to London that also includes the tickets to the castle. This tour takes about 4 hours in total – the fastest way to visit Windsor Castle from London.
  • Windsor Castle, Stonehenge & Oxford – the most popular full-day tour from London.
  • Windsor Castle, Stonehenge & Bath – with an option to visit Roman Baths.

Inside the Royal Windsor Castle - London Day Trips UK

2. Stonehenge

Stonehenge is one of the world’s most famous prehistoric monuments and another extremely popular destination for London day trips. Built almost 5000 years ago by farmers in the Neolithic period, this is a spiritual and architectural wonder that many people consider an absolute must-see in the UK!

Historians still debate its original purpose, although most agree that it was probably built for spiritual reasons. Meanwhile, engineers marvel at the extraordinary skill and size of the construction project, which must have involved hundreds of workers given the very simple tools they had available at the time.

Whilst the main attraction at this UNESCO World Heritage Site is the mystical Stone Circle itself, you can also view the 5 on-site Neolithic houses. Their design was based on the remains of houses from this period that were discovered during a nearby excavation in 2006.

You can step through the doors of these houses to see just how the builders of Stonehenge might have lived thousands of years ago, with each house equipped with replica axes, pottery, and artifacts.

Stonehenge is one of the most popular places to visit near London

How to visit . Stonehenge is located about 90 miles (145 km) from London. There are no direct trains to Stonehenge, but you can take a train to Salisbury train station and then take The Stonehenge Tour Bus service from there. The easiest way to get here from London is either by car or by tour. If you drive, prepare for very busy traffic and count at least 2 hours one way. If you go without a tour, be sure to book your admission tickets online in advance !

Best tours from London. Since Stonehenge is quite a drive from the city, but it doesn’t require that much time to visit, it’s usually included as one of the sights of some of the most popular day tours from London.

Here are the most popular tours that visit Stonehenge from London:

  • Stonehenge only – a very popular half-day tour (morning or afternoon) that includes transportation and entrance tickets. It takes about 6 hours and is the fastest way to visit Stonehenge from London.
  • Stonehenge & Bath – the most relaxing full-day tour.
  • Windsor Castle, Stonehenge & Bath – a very complete tour that also includes an entry to the Roman Baths.

Stonehenge - London day trips

Bath is one of the most beautiful cities in the UK and the most popular town that you can easily visit as a day trip from London. This picturesque historic city is filled with stunning examples of honey-colored Georgian architecture and some of the most photographed buildings in the world.

Perhaps the most famous feature of this UNESCO World Heritage City is the ancient Roman Baths built around thermal springs and supplying water for over 2,000 years. Whilst the Baths are open for you to view, no bathing has been allowed there since 1978. Instead, the much more modern Thermae Bath Spa was opened in 2006, containing the only natural hot spring in England in which you are allowed to bathe.

In the city stands the magnificent Bath Abbey , with its unique ‘ladder of angels’ on the west front. This feature was inspired by Bath’s Bishop at that time, who saw angels ascending and descending in a dream. You will also see the iconic ‘Royal Crescent’ – 30 Grade I listed terraced houses built in the late 18th century, arranged in a crescent around a verdant lawn overlooking Royal Victoria Park.

Another architectural gem is the Circus , also built in the latter half of the 18th century. This historic street of large townhouses forms a circle, which is how it got its name (Circus is Latin for a ring, circle, or oval).

And perhaps most beautiful of all is the romantic Pulteney Bridge , with its small, leaded domes, pilasters, and pediments. The bridge was named after the wife of William Johnstone Pulteney, an important figure in Bath at that time and owner of much of the surrounding land. A popular thing to do in Bath is to take a short boat trip on River Avon – it allows you to easily see some of the main sights of Bath in a short time.

Roman Baths in Bath UK

How to visit. Bath is about 120 miles (195 km), about 2.5 hours drive from London. If you drive, be sure to stop at Stonehenge along the way! The fastest way to get to Bath from London is by train – it takes less than 1.5 hours. And there are also many tours that visit Bath from London, usually in combination with other beautiful places nearby.

TIP. If you visit Bath on your own, you may want to take a walking tour of the city. It’s the best way to see a lot in a short time – you’ll be sure not to miss any important places, but it also gives you a better insight into the history and architecture of this unique town.

Best tours from London. Since Bath is so close to Stonehenge, most tours from London visit both of these places together. In addition, some tours also include one or several other places nearby.

Here are the most popular day tours from London to Bath:

  • Stonehenge & Bath .
  • Windsor Castle, Stonehenge & Bath .
  • Stonehenge and Bath Tour with Secret Site – a very highly rated small group tour.

Pulteney Bridge over River Avon in Bath UK

One of the UK’s most famous university towns, Oxford is also a place that you can easily visit as a day trip from London.

Oxford University was established in the 12th century and is one of the oldest universities in the world. The university is composed of 38 separate college buildings, whose architecture inspired the poet Matthew Arnold to name it the ‘City of Dreaming Spires’ (see the picture of the All Souls College below, and you’ll understand where the name comes from).

Some scenes in the Harry Potter movies were filmed in Oxford, so it can be fun to try and spot them as you tour the city. Harry Potter fans can also opt for this popular walking tour of the filming locations .

In the heart of the city center is Christ Church College , home to the magnificent Hall and Christ Church Cathedral with its landmark spire and Tom Tower. The gardens of the 12th-century Cathedral inspired Lewis Carroll to write ‘Alice in Wonderland’. You can hunt for features of the story, such as the Alice in Wonderland motives in one of the large windows in the Great Dining Hall.

The Cathedral also contains the shrine and tomb of Saint Frideswide, the patron saint of Oxford. Christ Church College – one of Oxford University’s largest colleges – has lots more for visitors to see, from the famous Bodley Tower to the stunning Meadow Building.

There are two main museums that are well worth seeing during a visit to Oxford. Founded in 1683, the Ashmolean Museum is Oxford University’s museum of art and archaeology. Free to enter, it’s a great place to learn all about human culture and societies across the world and throughout time, with its collections including everything from Egyptian mummies to contemporary works of art.

The Oxford University Museum of Natural History , meanwhile, houses a captivating collection of natural specimens, covering everything from Earth’s beginnings to a look inside an active beehive!

Connecting two parts of Hertford College is the Hertford Bridge , popularly known as the ‘Bridge of Sighs’. Named after its resemblance to Venice’s Bridge of Sighs , this particular bridge is a skyway that allows students to travel from one building to another. Designed by Sir Thomas Jackson and completed in 1914, this photo-worthy bridge is best viewed from the steps of the University’s Bodleian Library (another must-see in Oxford).

All Souls College in Oxford

How to visit. Oxford is just 60 miles (95 km), 1.5 hours drive from London. There are also direct trains from London and the journey takes about 1 hour – this is the best way to visit Oxford on your own. There are also organized tours that visit Oxford from London – usually in combination with one or two other places nearby.

TIP: If you visit Oxford for a day, consider this walking tour . It takes just 1.5 hours and is a great way to learn more about the city and the university. River cruises are also very popular and are a fun way to explore Oxford!

Best tours from London. While you could easily fill an entire day in Oxford, most one-day tours from London only spend a few hours here and combine a visit here with several other places.

Here are the most popular tours that visit Oxford from London:

  • Harry Potter Studio Tour & Oxford – a bucket list day trip for all Harry Potter fans!
  • Windsor Castle, Stonehenge & Oxford – see three of the most popular locations in one day.
  • Oxford, Stratford, and Cotswolds – this is a great tour for those who want to see the English countryside. It’s also a nice addition to the popular Windsor, Stonehenge, and Bath tours mentioned above. If you do two of these tours, you get to see most of the nicest day trip destinations near London in just two days.

Hertford Bridge in Oxford UK

5. Cotswolds

The scenic traditional towns and stone villages of the Cotswolds is one of the most popular London day trips for those who want to experience the true English countryside. This area is so picturesque! Below, you can find an overview of the most beautiful places not to miss.

Minster Lovell village is the home of Minster Lovell Hall and Dovecote, which sits on the banks of the River Windrush. This 15th-century Oxfordshire manor house was built by William, Baron of Lovell and Holand – one of England’s richest men at the time. The house was eventually abandoned and now only the substantial ruins remain, giving lots of wonderful photographic opportunities against their beautiful rural backdrop.

A Cotswold village of outstanding beauty is Bibury , with its gorgeous stone buildings that run along the banks of the River Coln. Here you can see the iconic Arlington Row – a series of buildings that were originally built as a monastic wool store but were later converted into cottages. Now owned by the National Trust, Arlington Row is considered to be so quintessentially English that its image appears on the inside cover of UK passports.

Another village well worth visiting is Buford , with its 3 arched medieval bridges across the River Windrush. Famous for its High Street which runs down toward the river, Buford is popular for antique shopping and boasts lots of good restaurants, pubs, and tea rooms. It’s also home to a hotel in which King Charles dined with his mistress, Nell Gwynne.

Whilst there are many contenders for the title, most people will agree that Bourton-on-the-Water is the prettiest village in England. Also known as the ‘Venice of the Cotswolds’, this ‘must-see’ village is named for the many beautiful bridges that cross its river at the center. Located in a small valley, Bourton-on-the-Water has many charming tea rooms and restaurants, plus a range of eclectic shops including pottery and the Cotswold Perfumery. Don’t miss the popular model village, which is a 1/9th scale replica of the entire center of the village.

If you are lucky enough to be visiting on the afternoon of the August Bank Holiday Monday, you’ll witness one of the village’s more curious traditions, in which a local team plays a full game of football right in the River Windrush. This bizarre game of soccer has been filmed and reported all over the world!

If you have more time in this area, here are some more really nice villages to see in the Cotswolds: Castle Combe, Stow-on-the-Wold, Cirencester, Chipping Campden, Blockley, and Stanton .

Arlington Row in Bibury Cotswolds UK

How to visit. The Cotswolds are about 30 minutes drive west of Oxford and about 2 hours drive from London. Since the main attractions of the Cotswolds are its various villages, the best way to visit here is either by car or with a tour.

Best tours from London. The beautiful Cotswolds region is just a short drive from Oxford, so many tours combine the two places. There are also popular Downton Abbey filming location tours that combine a visit here to that of the Highclere Castle, but because of time restraints, you usually only see one village on these tours.

Here is an overview of the most popular Cotswolds tours from London:

  • Cotswolds only – this is the best tour for those who want to explore the Cotswolds deeper as it visits several of the nicest villages and allows you more time to experience this beautiful area.
  • Oxford, Stratford, and Cotswolds – the most popular day tour.
  • Oxford and Cotswolds Villages – the best small-group tour.
  • Stonehenge, Stratford-Upon-Avon, Bath, and Cotswolds – this tour is packed, but well organized and you get to see some of the best places in a very short time.

Castle Combe village in Cotswolds UK - London day trips

6. Stratford-upon-Avon

Stratford-upon-Avon is a small medieval market town and also a very popular place to see near London. The birthplace of William Shakespeare is probably at the top of most people’s must-see lists and the main reason to visit here.

The timber-framed house on Henley Street is where Shakespeare not only spent part of his childhood but also the first 5 years of his marriage after his father’s death in 1601. Live presentations from guides dressed in period costumes and the carefully restored Tudor rooms bring history to life.

In the many Tudor-style buildings of Stratford, you’ll also find 3 theatres owned by The Royal Shakespeare Company. They perform plays by Shakespeare, his contemporaries, and other, later writers. The Royal Shakespeare Theatre is situated on the banks of the River Avon, panoramic views of which can be enjoyed from the theatre’s tower.

Also on the River Avon is the Swan Theatre , built on the side of the Royal Theatre and offering a more intimate atmosphere. The third theatre – the Other Place – is smaller and used as a center for performing arts.

For a taste of old-fashioned romance, pay a visit to Anne Hathaway’s Cottage a bit outside of town. This beautiful 500-year-old building was originally a farmhouse and was where William Shakespeare courted Anne, his future wife. Incredibly picturesque, the cottage still contains original features and furnishings and is surrounded by beautiful gardens.

Another must-see is the Hall’s Croft , the house of Shakespeare’s daughter, with stunning gardens. Inside, you can find original 16-17th-century furniture, paintings, and other items.

Hall's Croft in Stratford upon Avon

How to visit. Stratford-upon-Avon is about 100 miles (160 km), 2 hours drive from London. If you don’t have a car, the easiest way to visit here on a day trip from London is by joining a tour.

Best tours from London. Most tours visiting Stratford-upon-Avon from London combine it with other places nearby and only spend a few hours here. They usually include a guided walk in the town center and sometimes a visit to Shakespeare’s birthplace.

Here is a small selection of the best day tours from London:

  • Shakespeare’s Stratford & Cotswolds – this is one of the few tours that spend more time in Stratford and also visits Anne Hathaway’s Cottage. It also brings you to three villages in the Cotswolds.
  • Oxford, Stratford, & Cotswolds – this popular tour spends about 2 hours in Stratford and covers more ground in a day.

Stratford-upon-Avon UK

7. Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studio Tour

Fans of Harry Potter – and even those who have yet to experience the wizardly wonder of the movies – will enjoy a visit to the fascinating Warner Bros. studio near London . It’s one of the most popular day tours from London (after Windsor Castle), and a must if visiting London with kids .

Here, you can see firsthand some of the amazing sets used in the film’s production, including the Great Hall of Hogwarts (which went on to be used in 6 more films) and the Forbidden Forest filled with 19 trees, each with a diameter of over 12 feet. You can even see The Hogwarts Express locomotive at the elusive Platform 9¾.

There are prop rooms where you can take a close-up look at look at the elaborate props used in the Harry Potter movies. There are almost 2,000 potion jars and memory vials, all with labels hand-designed by the Graphics Department. You can also see Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, which took 3 months to build and was intended to look as much as possible as a real 18th-century storefront.

If you have an interest in the making of movies, you will enjoy other parts of the studio as well. The Special and Visual Effects section reveals how some of the more incredible scenes were created, including how Harry and his friends were made invisible by the Invisibility Cloak and how they appeared to fly! Even more captivating is the Creature Effects section, where you can learn how the magical creatures in the Harry Potter films were created and brought to life.

A visit to the Making of Harry Potter Studio provides a magical and educational experience for adults and children alike. If you are looking for a fun relaxing day trip near London, this is a great option for the whole family!

Harry Potter Warner Bros Studio near London

How to visit. Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studio is located in Leavesden, Watford, about 20 miles from London city center. But because of the busy traffic, it’s quite a long drive. There’s a train from London to Watford, from where you’ll have to take a bus to the studios – the journey will take you over 1 hour not counting the time to get to the station. There are also several companies offering bus transfers from London – see below.

Best tours from London. The easiest way to get to Harry Potter Studios is by booking a transfer or a tour from London. That way you don’t have to worry about the tickets either.

This highly-rated  Harry Potter at Warner Bros. Studio Tour  departs from Victoria Station, close to Westminster Catedral in the city center. There is also a popular  tour that departs from King’s Cross . The prices are usually the same and include a bus transfer and tickets. You’ll need about 7-8 hours in total for this day trip.

PRO TIP: One of the most popular tours from London is this popular tour that includes a visit to the studios and also visits Oxford . It’s a truly magical day trip as Oxford is one of the places where Harry Potter movies were filmed.

Harry Potter Warner Bros Studio Tour London

8. Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace , one of the Tudor Palaces, was the former royal residence of King Henry VIII. In addition to Windsor, this is another really nice place to visit near London, especially if you are a fan of royal history.

Hampton Court is a huge, impressive baroque-style palace located at the River Thames and surrounded by stunning gardens and parkland . If you visit in spring, you can see the magnificent tulip festival. But the gardens have something nice to offer in every season, and there are various events at the Palace throughout the year.

The interior of the castle gives you a chance to take a glimpse into the daily life of royals in the 16-17th centuries. You can visit the impressive State Rooms and private apartments of William III . Also, don’t miss the kitchens of Henry VIII , where over 200 people worked in the past, cooking and serving more than 800 meals per day.

Another highlight is the magnificent Great Hall that was originally a dining room, but afterwards became a sort of theatre that was used for entertainment, plays, and dances. Back in the day, William Shakespeare performed his plays here. The highlights here include a series of tapestries showing scenes from the Book of Genesis and the impressive timber roof with Anne Bollaine’s coat-of-arms.

This is also a very nice place to visit for families, with a maze in the garden, fantastic play areas for children, and plenty of places for a picnic. When the weather is nice, you could easily spend an entire day just exploring the gardens.

Hampton Court Palace near London

How to visit. Hampton Court Palace is located on the outskirts of London, about 15 miles southwest of the city center. You can easily visit Hampton Court Palace from London by train. There is a train from London Waterloo Station to Surbiton Station, and from there to Hampton Court. It takes about 40 minutes.

In addition, there are also several tours – see below.

Good to know: Hampton Court Palace entry is included with the London Pass .

Tours from London. Because Hampton Court is quite easy to get to and explore on your own, there aren’t many organized tours. The best ones are private tours like this one ; it combines a visit to Hampton Court Palace with that of Windsor Castle. That way, you get to see two of the most impressive royal palaces near London in one day.

There are also some nice bike tours or boat tours that explore the surroundings of Hampton, starting from different locations nearby.

Hampton Court Palace (inside) - London day trips

9. Brighton & Seven Sisters

If you are looking to escape the hustle and bustle of London and see some of the stunning nature of England, then definitely consider a day trip to the white cliffs of Seven Sisters and South Downs . At the same time, you can also visit one of the UK’s nicest coastal cities – Brighton .

Brighton is worth a trip in its own right, with all the little pleasures that a lively seaside resort has to offer. If you have some time to spare, check out the Royal Pavilion , an Asian-style palace that looks like it belongs in an Indian fairytale…

But for a sightseeing day trip from London, you can also opt for something slightly different and explore some of the beautiful nature outside of town as well.

The rolling hills of the South Downs offer so much to explore and enjoy, with spectacular views and popular spots with their own unique legends. One of the most famous is that of the Devil’s Dyke , a v-shaped dry valley whose creation was attributed to the work of the devil himself (although, as you will see, it’s far too beautiful for that!). The South Downs is also home to the Long Man of Wilmington – a 235 ft tall chalk figure on the side of a grassy hill and one of only two human hill figures in England.

Be sure to check out Beachy Head , which – at 535 feet – is the highest chalk cliff on the southern coast of England. From the top, you can see miles of coastline in either direction, plus the candy-striped lighthouse that sits just out to sea. Nearby is the Birling Gap – one of the longest stretches of undeveloped coastline on the south coast. Here you can see coastal erosion firsthand, with the cliffs eroding up to a meter a year at certain points.

Another highlight of any visit to the South Downs is the Seven Sisters – an undulating line of white chalk cliffs, each hill with its own name. They are best viewed from Seaford Head , where you can see evidence of an 8th hill beginning to form from the erosion of the sea.

TIP: Any visit to the Downs must include a visit to the popular Middle Farm , which offers such delicacies as local cheese, sparkling wines, and traditional Sussex cider.

White cliffs of Seven Sisters in southern England

How to visit. South Downs and the Seven Sisters are located near Brighton in south England. While you can easily get to Brighton by train from London, you’ll need a car for the other places. The best way to visit is with a tour – see below.

Best tours from London. There are just a few tours from London that visit this area. The best option is this highly-rated tour that includes a train ticket from London to Brighton and a small-group minibus tour of the sights along the coast. If you prefer to make your own way to Brighton, you can also book the same tour starting in Brighton .

TIP: If you rather book a private tour, there is one tour that offers a pick-up in your hotel in London and covers all these sights in and around Brighton.

Seven Sisters white cliffs in Sussex UK

10. Cambridge

Less than an hour by train from London, Cambridge is another beautiful town to visit for a day. Just as Oxford, it’s probably best known for its centuries-old University, and this beautiful town has lots of well-preserved historic buildings. But this medieval city is also a student town and has a very nice, relaxed atmosphere.

Don’t miss the King’s College Chapel , Queen’s College , Trinity College, and Wren Library . You can also climb to the top of the tower of Great St Mary’s Church for nice views over the city.

In addition to exploring the many colleges in the city (there are 31! of them), be sure to walk along the River Cam ! Also Cambridge has its own Bridge of Sighs . This covered bridge at St John’s College spans over the river and is a favorite photo spot for weddings as well as tourists visiting the town.

Other nice bridges worth seeing in Cambridge are the Mathematical Bridge , Clare College Bridge , King’s College Bridge , and there are many others.

A great way to explore the beautiful river, see the bridges, the town, and the surroundings is a punt tour . This traditional boat ride is a very typical thing to do in Cambridge – don’t miss it!

Bridge of Sighs Cambridge

How to visit. Cambridge is just over 60 miles (95 km) north of London, and the easiest way to visit is by taking a direct train from King’s Cross Station in London. It takes less than 50 minutes, so you can easily visit Cambridge on your own, without a tour.

Once in Cambridge, you can take a walking tour with a local or explore on your own. The earlier mentioned punt tours on the river are also not to be missed.

Best tours from London. If you rather visit Cambridge with a tour from London, there are several options as well. We recommend this 2-in-1 tour that visits Cambridge and Oxford . That way, you get to see two university towns in one day.

King's College in Cambridge - London day trips

11. Canterbury Cathedral & Leeds Castle

While Leeds Castle and Canterbury Cathedral are over 20 miles apart, these two landmarks don’t require that much time and so are usually visited on the same day. In fact, they are usually combined with a short visit to Dover too, but more about it further below.

After a visit to Leeds Castle , you will not be able to help but agree with Lord Conway, who described it as ‘the loveliest castle in the world’. With a romantic, fairy-tale appearance, this 12th-century gem was built in the center of a natural lake, surrounded by 500 acres of beautiful gardens and parkland.

Leeds Castle was once used as a palace by Henry VIII and the private property of six medieval queens. Its rooms have been beautifully restored and give you the opportunity to learn all about its long and fascinating history.

In addition to the Lady Baillie Garden, which gives stunning views across the lake, the grounds also hold one of Kent’s most popular mazes, with 2,400 yew trees. Once you reach the maze’s center, a fascinating underground grotto takes you back to the real world!

Leeds Castle is a popular day trip destination near London

One of the most famous and picturesque Christian buildings in England, Canterbury Cathedral was founded in 597, then extensively rebuilt from 1070 to 1077. It is the Cathedral of the leader of the Church of England, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and is still used for active worship.

The Cathedral contains the shrine of Archbishop Thomas Becket and you can stand on the spot upon which he was murdered, as told in Geoffrey Chaucer’s famous ‘Canterbury Tales’.

Also the medieval town center of Canterbury, with its cobbled streets and timber-framed houses, is a nice place to see if you have more time. It’s a popular day trip from London for locals. Also here, you can take traditional boat tours on the river.

How to visit. Unless you have a car, the easiest way to visit Leeds Castle and Canterbury Cathedral is by taking a tour. If you just visit one of these places, you could also get there by public transport. For Leeds Castle, you have to take a train to Ashford, followed by a bus trip to the castle. For Canterbury, there’s a direct train from London, and you can make a nice relaxing day trip by visiting this picturesque town.

Best tours from London. There are several tours from London that visit these places. You can find them here and they are all quite similar in terms of itinerary.

Canterbury Cathedral and Canterbury town aerial view

12. White Cliffs of Dover & Dover Castle

“There’ll be bluebirds over the white cliffs of Dover” went the words to the popular wartime song – and if you’re familiar with the song then it’s quite incredible to see the inspiring white cliffs for yourself. If you are looking for something different to see near London than historic towns and villages, Dover is a wonderful place to visit!

Composed of chalk, Dover’s cliffs are 350 ft high and stretch for 8 miles. They were on the front line of both world wars and were a critical part of England’s defenses at that time. Now, they provide wonderful views across the surrounding countryside and the English Channel. On clear days you can even look across and see France!

The unique chalky grassland habitat of the cliffs means that they are abundant in wildlife and you can see all sorts of flowers, butterflies, and birds as you walk, including the rarely spotted peregrine falcon.

You can either spend your visit simply enjoying the cliff-top views, or take a short trip to see Dover Castle too. Dover Castle is one of England’s biggest castles and was built in 1066 by William the Conqueror. Ironically, he built it to stop anyone from invading the country using the way in which he’d invaded it himself!

A visit to the Castle includes exploration of the tunnels that go deep into the cliffs, where you can learn all about the dramatic evacuation from Dunkirk and see the Underground Hospital that was used to treat injured soldiers in WWII.

White Cliffs of Dover UK

How to visit. Dover is about 80 miles southeast of London. You can take a direct train to Dover from London and visit the town and the castle, and take a walk along the shore from where you can admire the beautiful white cliffs. Alternatively, you can also visit here with some day tours from London – see below.

Best tours from London. There are several tours that visit Dover from London, usually in combination with a few other places and Dover is often not more than a short photo stop. Here are the most popular day tours:

  • Dover, Leeds Castle & Canterbury Cathedral – the most popular and best price/quality tour from London.
  • Dover, Leeds Castle, Canterbury Cathedral & Greenwich – quite a full day, but you get to see a lot in a short time.

Dover Castle, UK

13. Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace is a very impressive country house in Woodstock, about 65 miles northwest of London. This is England’s only non-royal country house that actually holds the title of a palace.

The birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill currently the home of the 12th Duke of Marlborough, Blenheim Palace is a stunning example of 18th-century Baroque architecture. During your visit, you will see the magnificent staterooms, which are filled with priceless works of art and beautiful tapestries. A grade I listed building and World Heritage Site, Blenheim Palace also contains the finest collection of antiques to be found anywhere in Europe.

The gardens – set within over 754 hectares of land – are particularly wonderful to explore. Designed by the English landscape architect Capability Brown, there are several formal gardens to enjoy. Don’t miss the Rose Garden, the exquisite Water Terraces, the Secret Gardens, and the family-friendly Pleasure Gardens.

Historical monuments can be seen throughout, including the Column of Victory (built to commemorate the Duke of Marlborough’s military successes), the Grand Bridge which spans the two lakes and The Temple of Diana, where Sir Winston Churchill proposed to his future wife.

There are also a few recommended walks to take. Possibly the most beautiful is The Lake and Grand Cascade walk, which gives you breathtaking views of the countryside.

Blenheim Palace UK

Good to know: The Palace and the grounds are so big and have so much to offer that you can easily spend an entire day here. In fact, many people find that one day isn’t even enough and many locals get a yearly pass for the Palace. However, many tours only spend a few hours here and just cover the main highlights. So how to visit depends on what you want to see and do here.

How to visit. The easiest way to visit Blenheim Palace is by car or with a tour, but you can also get here by public transport. From London Paddington Station, take a train to Hanborough (a bit over 1 hour), and from there, take a bus to the palace (it takes 7-10 minutes). If you want to spend an entire day at the palace, this is the best way to visit on a day trip from London.

Best tours from London. There are several tours that shortly visit Blenheim Palace from London. The best tour that spends more time at Palace is this Blenheim Palace, Downton Abbey Village & the Cotswolds tour. This tour also includes a few short photo stops at other popular locations nearby.

Blenheim Palace Gardens

14. Downton Abbey Filming Locations

Downton Abbey filming locations close to Oxford and the Cotswolds make another popular day trip destination from London. There are two main places that you’ll want to see here – Bampton village and Highclere Castle .

Highclere Castle is a beautiful building and another fine example of luxurious life in the English countryside. It has been used for various film sets but became hugely popular since the filming of the TV series Downton Abbey . It’s now a very popular place to visit from Oxford or from London. The castle belongs to the Carnarvon family and is kept as it is, without turning it into a ‘theme park’ like some other castles in the area.

Another must-see for Downton Abbey fans is the beautiful village of Bampton . You’ll recognize many of the buildings here from the series, and it’s great fun to try to spot them during your visit!

Be sure to locate the home of Isobel Crawley, the church (actually named St. Mary’s), two fictional pubs – the Grantham Arms and the Dog and Duck – plus the Downton Cottage Hospital. The building used for the hospital is, in reality, the Bampton Community Archive, which houses a collection of old photos of the village and its people.

Bampton is a lovely village to visit in its own right. It is mentioned in the Domesday book of 1086 and was already a large settlement during the era of the Norman Conquest. On the other hand, it’s so small that you don’t need much time here.

Highclere Castle is a popular London day trip for Downtown Abbey fans

How to visit. Highclere Castle is located about 65 miles (105 km) west of London, whereas Bampton village is about 30-40 miles from here, very close to Oxford. The best way to visit these places is either by car or by taking a tour.

Best tours from London. There are several tours visiting Downton Abbey filming locations from London. Some of the tours also visit Oxford, some others pass several villages of Cotswolds as well. This tour has the most complete itinerary covering most of the Downton Abbey filming locations.

Bampton village in the UK (one of Downton Abbey filming locations)

The picturesque village of Lacock in rural Wiltshire near Bath is another place often visited on day tours from London. It’s a small village and you don’t need much time here, but it’s well worth a stop if touring the area.

The historic village of Lacock looks much as it did two centuries ago. Founded in the Saxon era, Lacock’s buildings originally made up part of a monastery complex (be sure to visit Lacock Abbey !). In the 19th century, it lost its main source of income from the wool industry, so very little development has taken place since then.

This means that this unspoiled little village gives an authentic look into days gone by. In fact, you can still see an old workhouse and medieval tithe barn in addition to the traditional stone cottages, with classic English pubs dotted throughout.

The village’s beauty makes it a popular choice as a TV and film location. Scenes from Pride and Prejudice were filmed here and Lacock Abbey was also used to film parts of Harry Potter.

Lacock was also used in Downtown Abbey, but because of its location, it’s usually a place you’d visit in combination with Bath and Stonehenge and not together with Highclere castle or Bampton. Unless you drive – in that case, you could make your own tour covering all three.

Lacock Abbey in the UK

How to visit. Because of its rural location, Lacock is best visited by car or with a tour.

Best tours from London. There are many tours that stop in Lacock, usually in combination with a visit to Bath, Stonehenge, sometimes also with Windsor Castle. This is the most popular tour that also brings you to Lacock (in addition to Stonehenge, Windsor Castle, and Bath).

Lacock Abbey cloisters

16. Warwick Castle

If you want to visit a real medieval castle near London, consider a day trip to Warwick Castle . With a history that goes back over 1000 years, a visit here takes you on a journey back in time, to a world of historic myths and battles for the English throne, but also lavish banquets, and royal splendor.

The castle was originally built as a wooden fort in 1068 and was rebuilt in stone in the 12th century. As you arrive, you enter over the footbridge and find an impressive medieval castle with ramparts and towers. You can climb the stairs of the castle walls and explore this impressive castle inside out.

A visit to Warwick Castle is very different than the others mentioned in this guide – it has something of a theme park feel if you like. There are various events, shows, attractions, archery and sword lessons, and lots of other fun experiences all year round.

This is one of those places where locals visit with their children during weekends and school holidays, but it’s also fun and entertaining for tourists. Even more so if you are traveling with a family.

Medieval knights jousting at Warwick Castle

How to visit. Warwick Castle is located about 100 miles (160km), 2 hours drive from London. If you want to spend more time at the castle, by far the easiest way to visit Warwick from London for a day is by train.

There are direct trains from London Marylebone Station to Warwick Railway Station, the journey takes about 1.5 hours. From the station, it’s about 20-30 minutes walk to the castle. Be sure to check the official website of the castle for more info and book your tickets in advance!

Best tours from London. Most tours from London that visit Warwick Castle do this in combination with Oxford and Stratford. Some also stop at one or two villages in the Cotswolds. Here you can find a selection of tours that include a visit to Warwick Castle .

Warwick Castle in the United Kingdom

17. Liverpool & The Beatles

While not exactly next door, we feel that Liverpool also deserves a mention as a place that you can visit on a day trip from London. If you are a fan of The Beatles , a visit here is a bucket-list experience and well worth the journey.

A visit to Liverpool gives a fascinating look into the lives and times of 4 local lads who formed what would become one of the most famous bands in the world. A good starting point from which to enjoy this vibrant Victorian city is the Royal Albert Dock, which is made up of refurbished dock warehouses and is now packed with restaurants, cafes, and many attractions.

The Beatles Story is an award-winning, permanent exhibition totally devoted to the Fab Four! Located on the Dock, it contains lots of authentic memorabilia and provides an immersive experience for visitors. Even children are catered for in the Exhibitions Discovery Zone. Be sure to reserve your tickets in advance !

Another interesting part of the visit for die-hard Beatles fans is the Magical Mystery Tour , which you take via a colorful tour bus that sets off from the Royal Albert Dock. In addition to the birthplaces, homes, schools, and original workplaces of the Beatles, you will also see the places that inspired some of their greatest hits, including Penny Lane and Strawberry Field.

READ ALSO: Best Things to Do in Liverpool

The Beatles Story Liverpool

How to visit. The best way to visit Liverpool as a day trip from London is by taking a train (going by car would be about 4 hours one way). The journey by train takes 2 – 2.5 hours and there are many trains throughout the day, but be sure to book in advance and start your day as early as possible!

Once in Liverpool, you can take the earlier-mentioned Magical Mystery bus tour. Definitely visit the Beatles Story exhibition as well!

TIP: If you find it overwhelming to arrange everything yourself, you can also book a day tour to Liverpool from London. Most of these ‘tours’ are actually individual trips where everything from train tickets to all activities is pre-arranged for you. See below.

Best tours from London. This Liverpool and The Beatles day tour is the most popular and probably the best option. It includes reserved train seats, an entry to the Beatles Story exhibition, and also a ticket to the 2-hour Magical Mystery Tour!

Good to know: The above-mentioned tour from London to Liverpool starts at Euston Station in London and is normally available every day except Sundays. You’ll have to meet their representative at the station at 6.30 AM, so prepare for this to be a long day!

LEARN MORE: How to Plan a Day Trip to Liverpool from London

Liverpool UK - London day trips

Map of the best places to visit as a day trip from London & practical info

To give you a better idea of where all these places are located, we created a map indicating all the best day trip destinations from London mentioned in this guide. You can click on the map below in order to see it on Google Maps.

Good to know: As already mentioned, many of the most popular day trip destinations from London can be visited with organized tours or by train .

We don’t recommend renting a car if you are staying in London – the traffic is so busy in and around the city that it would be a nightmare for someone who’s not used to it. Renting a car would only make sense if you are planning a longer road trip, outside of the cities.

For organized tours , we recommend booking via the GetYourGuide website . They have a great selection of tours at the most competitive rates and the best cancelation policy and customer service out there. We personally book all tickets and tours via this website when we travel anywhere in the world.

Map of best places to visit as day trip from London

So, this is our guide to some of the most popular day trips and tours from London. I hope that this helps you choose a few nice places to visit near London and make your trip even more memorable.

For more travel inspiration for London and the UK, please see our featured articles below. Check it out!

More travel tips and inspiration for London:

  • Must-see in London: Top London Attractions
  • Hidden Gems of London
  • Camden Market
  • What to See in Camden Town
  • Best Views in London
  • London Travel Tips
  • Where to Stay in London
  • 1 Day in London
  • 2-day London Itinerary
  • London with Kids
  • Family Afternoon Tea in London
  • Best Things to Do in Greenwich
  • Painted Hall
  • Queen’s House and Tulip Stairs

READ ALSO: Traditional British Food & Where to Try It in the UK

If you found this post helpful, don’t forget to bookmark it and share it with your friends. Are you on Pinterest? Pin these images!

Best UK day trips near London, tours, and info on how to visit

More travel tips and inspiration for all over the UK:

  • Cities: Best Cities to Visit in the UK
  • Cornwall: Best Places to Visit in Cornwall & Where to Stay in Cornwall
  • Yorkshire: Yorkshire Day Trips
  • Liverpool: Best Things to Do in Liverpool & The Beatles in Liverpool
  • Manchester: Best Things to Do in Manchester & 1-day Manchester Itinerary
  • Scotland: Isle of Skye Itinerary & Scotland Whisky Tour
  • Edinburgh: Top Places to See in Edinburgh & One Day in Edinburgh & Tips for Visiting Edinburgh
  • Glasgow: One Day in Glasgow
  • Seaside: Best Things to Do in Blackpool & Blackpool Travel Tips & Places to See Near Blackpool
  • …for more destinations, check our UK travel guide .
  • Read also: How to Plan a Trip to Europe

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Lacinda Mena

Tuesday 2nd of May 2023

I am traveling with a group of six. We would like to depart London on September 4 and view Stonehedge, Windsor, and Bath on our way to Southampton. Do you know of any tours that would offer this service?

Hi Lacinda, no, I don't personally know any tours that offer this kind of service. I found this private tour that visits all the places that you mentioned from London. It's one of the cheapest and best-rated tours in its kind. However, I'm not sure if they wouldn't mind dropping you off somewhere else. You could probably book it and then contact them and ask what is possible. If it's not what you are looking for, you can cancel it. I see that the tour has free cancelation, so that's how I would do it. Otherwise, try to search the internet for private drivers and ask for a quote. Good luck!

Wednesday 26th of April 2023

Amazing blog! Was looking for something like this for my trip to London in a few days, and this has been really useful information; the detail with which you describe are amazing. Plus the alternatives to get there and the map, loved it all! Thanks for taking the time.

Thursday 27th of April 2023

Glad to help and thanks a lot for taking the time to leave this kind feedback, Alex! Have a great trip!

Wednesday 15th of February 2023

Awesome! Thanks for the info!

Saturday 4th of February 2023

This was great information. Thanks

Monday 6th of February 2023

Glad to help. Have a great time in the UK!

Thursday 15th of December 2022

Love this blog!!! I am planning a trip to London with my son in February! This is exactly the information we are looking for! Super helpful!!

Friday 16th of December 2022

Glad to help, Holley. Have a great time in London!

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Buckingham Palace

The 50 best attractions in London

Discover London’s best attractions, landmarks and sightseeing spots that you’d be mad to miss, even if you‘re a local

Rhian Daly

London landmarks are iconic for a reason.  You’ve got your London Eye, your Hyde Park, your Big Ben, and even if you’ve lived here for years and have steadfastly been avoiding ‘tourist traps’, you really ought to check these places out at least once.  Whether you’re a day-tripper or a local, marvelling at the capital’s museums , galleries , monuments and  parks  is a London rite of passage – and they’re all really bloody great.  But where to begin? We’ve pulled together a list of the best attractions in London for you to start ticking off your bucket list. And the best news? Loads of these must-see London attractions won’t cost you a penny. For those that aren’t, you can book below.

Still after some sightseeing inspiration? Check out our list of  101 things to do  in London, and find out what’s happening in London  today ,  this week , and  this weekend .

RECOMMENDED: the best hotels in London   RECOMMENDED: the best alternative attractions in London RECOMMENDED: the best London bus tours

This article includes affiliate links. These links have no influence on our editorial content. For more information, see our   affiliate   guidelines .

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London’s top attractions

Tower of London

1.  Tower of London

  • Historic buildings and sites

What is it? O ne of the capital’s best and most well-known historical attractions.  The Tower of London offers wonderful architecture, gruesome stories, hands-on activities for younger visitors, costumed actors and guides, and worryingly confident ravens.

Why go? To get an eyeful of the Crown Jewels.

The London Eye

2.  The London Eye

  • Things to do
  • Event spaces

What is it? Much like the Millenium Dome – or, as it's known to those who don’t remember the twentieth century, the O2 Arena – the London Eye was built to celebrate the year 2000. Since then, the Eye has been a resounding success, and it’s hard to picture London’s skyline without it. Step into one of its spaceship-like pods, and before you know it, you’re halfway into the sky and taking in sweeping vistas of the city.

Why go? The view, obviously. 

The National Gallery

3.  The National Gallery

  • Trafalgar Square

What is it? A huge art museum right on Trafalgar Square that’s free to enter. Perfect, whether you’ve got ten minutes in your lunch break to check out Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’ or time to wander the entire collection of Western European paintings from the thirteenth to the nineteenth centuries. Check out the Friday Lates for after-hours access to exhibitions, creative workshops and life drawing sessions, or drop in for one of the themed tours of the collection to get a different perspective on the work.

Why go? To be swaddled in artistic greatness.

Buckingham Palace

4.  Buckingham Palace

  • Sightseeing

What is it? A chance to see world-famous art, glimpse regal opulence and get inside HM’s headquarters. In the summer, the palace opens to the public for tours, letting you go behind the keyhole of what’s one of the most – if not the most – famous buildings in London. Inside, you’ll learn about the monarchs and the big, ornate palace itself.  

Why go? To snoop around the most famous royal residence in the world.

St Paul’s Cathedral

5.  St Paul’s Cathedral

  • Religious buildings and sites

What is it? Iconic as St Paul’s may be, the cathedral as we know it today is in fact version six, at least. The last was infamously razed to the ground by the Great Fire of London in 1666, but thankfully Sir Christopher Wren’s design, which was completed in 1708, has survived 12 monarchs and two world wars. The admission fee here comes with an introductory talk before you're taken on a 90-minute tour.

Why go? To test your hearing in the Whispering Gallery.

Westminster Abbey

6.  Westminster Abbey

  • Westminster

What is it? Like the Pantheon Crypt in Paris, where you can see the tombs and memorials of great figures from history, Westminster Abbey is a popular attraction to peruse the graves, tablets, busts and stone dedications. Seventeen monarchs are buried here, along with dukes, countesses and history’s ‘celebs’ (Think Darwin, Dickens and Hardy). It's also played host to 16 royal weddings and every single British coronation has taken place within the Abbey's walls since 1066.

Why go? To see Gothic grandeur in all its splendour.

Hampton Court Palace

7.  Hampton Court Palace

What is it? A resplendent palace with plush grounds on the edge of southwest London. From the Tudor indoor tennis court to the Royal Maze, the King’s private loo to the Magic Garden adventure playground, there’s something here for all ages. History buffs and art enthusiasts should purchase a ticket for the Palace and Gardens; those with little ones in tow will appreciate the Magic Garden and Maze ticket. 

Why go? To get lost in the Royal Maze.

Tower Bridge

8.  Tower Bridge

  • Tower Bridge

What is it? There’s more to this ornate Victorian bridge than something cool to look at: you can actually venture inside. Check out the engine rooms with their whirring wheels and pistons, then head up to the glass-floored viewing platform above the draw bridge, where you can delve into this magnificent structure's story.

Why go?  Time it right and you'll see the bridge rising up to let paddle steamers and barges through. Want to know a fun fact? A full schedule of bridge lift times is available on their website . 

The London Dungeon

9.  The London Dungeon

What is it?  A tour of London’s nastiest historical moments, with gory stories retold with humour, gooey props and gruesomely costumed actors. You can board a traitor’s boat to the Tower of London, dash through the streets of Whitechapel in pursuit of Jack the Ripper and get a glimpse of plague London. 

Why go?   Gore-seekers can ride a recreation of The Death Express, a line which carried the deceased to their final resting place in Surrey. 

Warner Bros Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter

10.  Warner Bros Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter

  • Hertfordshire

What is it? The Warner Bros Studio, a short trek north of London, where you can set foot inside the Great Hall, Forbidden Forest and Diagon Alley. See film sets, costumes, props and exhibits that take you behind the scenes of the Harry Potter films. Changing exhibitions are included in the ticket and you get the chance to discover the secrets of the movies’ special effects.

Why go? To finally get your mitts on a flagon of Butterbeer.

The View from the Shard

11.  The View from the Shard

  • Towers and viewpoints
  • London Bridge

What is it?  The capital's tallest tower, having joined London's skyline in 2012.  Measuring 310 metres, The Shard was built with everything in mind: offices, homes, hotels, bars, restaurants and, of course, the alluring viewing platform. From the highest point that the public are allowed access to (floors 69-72), you get stunning 360-degree views of the city. There’s a silent disco on selected Saturday nights and other events, such as gigs and gin tastings throughout the year.

Why go? The floor-to-ceiling windows allow exceptional views out across the capital, especially on a clear day.

Wembley Stadium

12.  Wembley Stadium

  • Sport and fitness

What is it? The venue where England won the World Cup in 1966, and the Lionesses won the Euros in 2022. Wembley still has a magic about it, even when you don’t have a ticket for a match or a rock concert. Take the tour and you’ll feel the atmosphere in the players’ tunnel and climb the 107 Trophy Winner’s steps. With the use of 360-degree video, you can also experience what it’s like to be at some of the stadium’s biggest events.

Why go?  To peek  behind the scenes and sense that Cup Final magic.

Up at The O2

13.  Up at The O2

  • Greenwich Peninsula

What is it? Ever wondered what London looks like from 53 metres above North Greenwich? Find out with a ticket for Up at The O2 where you can choose from Daytime, Sunset and Twilight climbs. The ultimate AAA pass gains you access to the roof, where you’ll be able to see across the capital, spotting famous sites like the Olympic Park, Thames Barrier, The Shard and Canary Wharf.

Why go? For an incredible 360-degree view – and that adorable climbing onesie.

Kew Gardens

14.  Kew Gardens

  • Parks and gardens

What is it? Budding horticulturalists will have a field day here. There are over 300 acres to explore filled with indigenous flora and fauna, as well as exotic greenhouses and nature trails. What sets Kew Gardens apart from other botanical gardens? Well, the treetop walkway and the beautiful Grade I-listed Temperate House, for two. The latter is the largest Victorian glasshouse in the world and quite a sight to behold.

Why go? For a breath of fresh air in the busy city.

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

15.  Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

  • Olympic Park

What is it? The huge park created in Stratford for the London Olympics in 2012. As well as swathes of parkland, it’s home to London Stadium (host to big concerts with headliners like The Weeknd and West Ham FC as well as various athletics championships), children’s play areas, walking trails, the remarkable ArcerlorMittal Orbit , and more state-of-the-art sporting venues.

Why go? For whatever exercise takes your fancy – a swim at the Zaha Hadid-designed London Aquatics Centre , BMXing at the Velo Park, or just strolling through the beautiful park.

The Houses of Parliament

16.  The Houses of Parliament

What is it? The seat of British democracy. Take an audio tour through the House of Lords and House of Commons to bring the building to life. It takes around 90 minutes and features leading parliamentary figures such as Mr Speaker and Black Rod. 

Why go? For a dazzling combo of history, politics and architecture.

Kensington Palace

17.  Kensington Palace

What is it? Where William, Kate and the kids hang their hats. This tourist attraction has a chic style: it played host to the most fashionable salons in Georgian times, was home to Queen Victoria in her youth, then sassy Princess Margaret and then classy Princess Diana. Now the main palace is a pretty visitor magnet with tranquil gardens to wander.

Why go? To be blown away by the outfits in the ‘Royal Style in the Making’ exhibition.

Big Ben

18.  Big Ben

What is it?  Big Ben is the nickname of the Great Bell inside Westminster’s iconic clock tower, but even locals think ‘Big Ben’ when they see the Elizabeth Tower. If you’re ready and willing to climb up the narrow 334-step spiral staircase, you can pay a visit to Ben himself – and stand next to him when the hour strikes. Now is a good time to visit, too – renovations on the tower were recently completed, meaning it’s in better nick than ever.

Why go?  To see the world's most celebrated clock – and bell – face to face.

Madame Tussauds

19.  Madame Tussauds

What is it? In 1802, Marie Tussaud made her waxwork debut in the capital (32 years after she founded the show in Paris). By 1884, she decided to lay down permanent roots in Marylebone, and she’s been there ever since (well, her legacy, at least). If you head down to Madame Tussauds today, you’ll come face-to-wax-face with over 150 lifelike models including contemporary stars like Drake and Dua Lipa and historic icons like Albert Einstein and Marilyn Monroe. 

Why go? To snap a selfie with all the famous faces. Instagram, incoming.

Churchill War Rooms

20.  Churchill War Rooms

What is it? A secret, secure bunker, tucked behind Downing Street and Parliament Square, where Churchill and his cabinet could monitor how World War II was going, receive intelligence and give orders. It’s the little details that give the biggest impression, from a daily-updated weather noticeboard to the scratch marks on Churchill’s chair (caused by his ring on a stressed day).

Why go? For history lovers to see the rooms just as they were left after 1945.

Royal Opera House

21.  Royal Opera House

  • Classical and opera
  • Covent Garden

What is it? Covent Garden’s grand old opera house. Visiting for a performance doesn’t have to set you back a ton of cash – there are discounts for students, senior citizens and those on credits, plus regular ticket offers for all. Alternatively, take a backstage tour, where you can sometimes spot the Royal Ballet practising their moves. 

Why go? To see a right royal opera or ballet performance.

Thames RIB Experience

22.  Thames RIB Experience

  • Victoria Embankment

What is it? A high-speed ‘rigid inflatable boat’ that will have you zooming up and down the river. Unleash your inner 007 and hop aboard the RIB to travel at speeds of around 35 knots (roughly 40 mph) – it’s almost definitely the fastest, most thrilling way to see some of London’s riverside attractions, from the Tower of London to the Cutty Sark.

Why go? Because it’s the most thrilling way for adrenaline junkies to see the sights.

National Theatre

23.  National Theatre

  • Public and national theatres

What is it? Only the greatest theatre in the world (well, we would argue so, anyway). Take your pick of entertainment from the three theatres, and if you’ve got time to kill pre- or post-performance, there are plenty of bars and restaurants in the vicinity to gab about your expectations or dissect the show in afterwards.

Why go?  To witness shows that champion rising talents and showcase big-name stars.

Royal Albert Hall

24.  Royal Albert Hall

  • Music venues
  • South Kensington

What is it?  Across the road from the ornate golden memorial statue of Prince Albert is another dedication. The construction of Royal Albert Hall was ordered by Queen Victoria and named after her late husband. Although the venue is most famously associated with the Proms, its prestigious hall has played host to all kinds of music, theatre and comedy – and continues to do so to this day.

Why go? To experience the dazzling Victorian opulence.

The British Museum

25.  The British Museum

What is it?  The first-ever national museum for the public. Since it first opened in 1759, the British Museum has been displaying global artefacts discovered by British explorers, and it aims to document human culture from its very beginnings. Must-see gems in its permanent collection include the Rosetta Stone and the Parthenon sculptures.

Why go? The museum has more than eight million objects in its collection, 50,000 of which are on display. That’s a lot of bang for your buck, considering entrance to the main areas is free.

Shakespeare’s Globe

26.  Shakespeare’s Globe

  • Shakespeare

What is it? A painstakingly accurate recreation of the kind of theatre Shakespeare would have written all his plays for. If you’ve never been, book groundling tickets and stand in the open-air pit like you’re at a rock festival. It will shake the perception of the Bard’s poetry as stuffy memories of English homework and make it feel how it should – like first-rate drama.

Why go? For a raucous, interactive take on  theatre.

Somerset House

27.  Somerset House

What is it? An elegant eighteenth-century landmark and cultural hub on the north side of Waterloo Bridge that hosts several art exhibitions and events at a time, incorporating the Courtauld Gallery and temporary exhibitions in the Embankment Galleries. The courtyard was once an Inland Revenue car park, but now plays host to a variety of gigs, alfresco cinema and fountains in the summer.

Why go? For music and movies under the stars.

Tate Modern

28.  Tate Modern

What is it?  A riverside icon dedicated to modern and contemporary art, based in what was the Bankside power station. The permanent collection is always free, and features work by big names like Warhol, Dalí and Hockney, while the gallery’s programme of special exhibitions delves deeper into the lives and careers of important artists.

Why go?  For some of the best art and architecture London has to offer. 

Kew Palace

29.  Kew Palace

What is it? The favoured residence of George III looks more like a massive, ornate biscuit tin than the glittering home of a royal. In the gardens, there is a wonderful little cottage built for Queen Charlotte that trumps any garden shed. You can only visit the palace via Kew Gardens (it’s included in the entry ticket to Kew) so make save time to pop inside during your botanical outing. 

Why go? To discover an often-forgotten treasure.

Cutty Sark

30.  Cutty Sark

  • Ships and boats

What is it? T he world’s last surviving tea clipper. Experience life on board, see the intricate craftsmanship used in its creation and find out how the crew lived. The historic ship caught fire in 2007, but was thankfully repaired. Since its post-blaze refurbishment, visitors have been able to walk underneath the hull. 

Why go?  To get a taste of life at sea without leaving the dock. 

London Transport Museum

31.  London Transport Museum

What is it? A vast museum full of real relics of the bygone ages of London transport, where there’s always a bus or a train to hop on. While you can swot up on the history of the city’s transport network – including why tube stations were used as war shelters – you can also learn about its future and how the latest technology will run our services in the future. The LTM always hosts a fabulous Friday Late, themed around its newest exhibition.

Why go?  To discover a treasure trove of retro design. 

Highgate Cemetery

32.  Highgate Cemetery

What is it?  A beautiful, crumbling north London cemetery. It’s full of overgrown paths that will lead you to several Grade II-listed catacombs and a number of famous remains, including poet Christina Rossetti, architect Sir Lawrence Weaver and philosopher Karl Marx. On a sunny day, it even feels a little less morbid.

Why go?  To try to find Karl Marx’s hidden-away grave.

London Zoo

33.  London Zoo

  • Zoos and aquariums
  • Regent’s Park

What is it?  The Regent’s Park landmark has come a long way since the days when zoos were full of homesick wildlife. London Zoo does a lot of world-class animal welfare work, creating carefully designed settings in which beautiful creatures from gorillas to lizards, penguins to tigers now reside. There’s a dedicated area for small kids and daily shows for nature fans of all ages.

Why go?  To take a walk on the wild side.

V&A Museum

34.  V&A Museum

  • Art and design

What is it? One of the greatest collections of decorative art, design, fashion and textiles in the world. The Fashion galleries run from 18th-century court dress right up to contemporary chiffon numbers; the Architecture gallery has videos, models, plans and descriptions of various styles; and the famous Photography collection holds more than 500,000 images. Admission is free, expect for special exhibitions.

Why go? To drool over amazing designs and gobble up cake in the sunny courtyard. Bliss.

The South Bank

35.  The South Bank

What is it? A buzzing open space and cultural nucleus of the capital, lined with some of the city’s most exciting galleries, theatres and attractions. Start at the Southbank Centre, for free art and live shows, lunch at one of the many restaurants, watch the skateboarders and then wander east past the artists’ enclave at Gabriel’s Wharf and on to Tate Modern and the Globe.

Why go? For riverside adventures and ace views. 

SEA LIFE London Aquarium

36.  SEA LIFE London Aquarium

What is it?  The home of sea creatures from all over the world, from Pacific nurse sharks to Antarctic penguins (with a glimpse of what’s swimming past you in the Thames, too). There are different themed areas to explore, too, like the Coral Kingdom and Open Oceans. It can get busy but go off-peak to get some one-on-one time with the crocs.

Why go? To immerse yourself in the life aquatic.

British Library

37.  British Library

  • Libraries, archives and foundations
  • King’s Cross

What is it? A working resource for printed and sound archives that’s open to all. If you nip into the free entrance hall exhibitions you might get to see a scribbled page of Beatles songwriting or a Leonardo da Vinci notebook. There are some stunning illuminated scripts and landmark scientific items too, including very early photographs. While it’s usually a hushed venue, don’t expect silence to be enforced when a Late at the Library event kicks off.

Why go? For studious research or to geek out on paper-based artefacts.

Science Museum

38.  Science Museum

  • Science and technology

What is it? An incredible, free-to-enter, hands-on museum. Over seven floors of entertaining and educational exhibits, you can get up close to the Apollo 10 command module, a virtual reality space-descent experience and a 16th-century artificial arm. Interactivity is a focus here, so this is one museum guaranteed to keep the attention of kids big and small.

Why go? To experience the incredible Information Age gallery, from where the Queen sent her first tweet, signed Elizabeth R.

Trafalgar Square

39.  Trafalgar Square

What is it?  When it comes to London’s top attractions, Trafalgar Square can’t be overlooked. Bring your selfie stick because posing for pics is a must. Get the lions, fountains and red buses and black cabs circling the busy roads around you in shot, and check out the latest modern art installation adorning the Fourth Plinth. Don’t be tempted to get in those fountains, though – paddling is forbidden.

Why go? To take the archetypal, cheesy, London tourist selfie.

Natural History Museum

40.  Natural History Museum

  • Natural history

What is it? The magnificent South Kensington home of around 80 million plant, animal, fossil, rock and mineral specimens. This fascinating museum, which is also a world-class research institution, is full of natural wonders and admission is free. In winter, you’ll find an ice rink in the grounds, while this summer a new garden will open that will let you follow in the footsteps of the story of evolution.

Why go? To marvel at a  25.2-metre-long  blue whale skeleton, a piece of Mars rock,  Mary Anning's  ichthyosaur fossil and lots more.  

Borough Market

41.  Borough Market

What is it? Located just around the corner from London Bridge station, Borough Market is an upmarket foodie heaven of markets, restaurants, bars and pubs. Go on an empty stomach and take a tour around its environs while sampling the dishes and flavours that have kept Londoner’s bellies full for generations... and then wash it all down with a few glugs of craft beer at a local pub.

Why go? To taste food so good you (almost) won’t have time to photograph it first.

Hyde Park

42.  Hyde Park

What is it? A massive central London park that’s easy to take for granted. Wander into Hyde Park’s vast greenery, and eventually, you get to the Serpentine Lake, where you can take a dip, go boating, board a solar-powered ferry (in summer) or eat pizza by the water. You can also take guided tours of the gardens and a secret pet cemetery – visit the park's website to book the latter. 

Why go? Because life’s more fun if you stop for a stroll, a bike ride or a picnic.

Royal Observatory

43.  Royal Observatory

What is it? For centuries, the location for the scientific study of the stars and of timekeeping – originally for the benefit of sea navigation. This is where you’ll see the Greenwich Meridian Line marked out, from which point the world’s time zones are measured. You can also see the incredible instruments that helped astronomers make discoveries about our universe, or go stargazing at a planetarium show.

Why go? To give Brian Cox a run for his money. 

HMS Belfast

44.  HMS Belfast

What is it? A grey warship, with its guns tilted high, moored close to Tower Bridge, that’ s a museum nowadays. Open daily, with scenes set to show you what life was like on board a working WWII warship, HMS Belfast is a lively visitor space. You can explore all levels of the boat, from the bowels of the vessel to the engine room, the kitchens and even the dentist’s office. And don’t forget the action stations up on the deck.

Why go? To play life-sized battleships.

Regent’s Park

45.  Regent’s Park

What is it?  A verdant 410 acres of lush, open space, just a short stroll north of Oxford Circus. Featuring a pretty rose garden, the elegant Open Air Theatre (open throughout the summer – check the  website for exact dates) and tree-lined avenues for jogging, it’s a slice of horticultural heaven and a much-needed respite from the rest of the whirring city. 

Why go? To escape the Oxford Street crowds.

Young V&A

46.  Young V&A

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Bethnal Green
  • Recommended

What is it? The Bethnal Green museum previously known as the V&A Museum of Childhood. It’s since undergone a £13 million refurbishment project to make it shine brighter, but is still home to one of the world’s finest collections of children’s toys, dolls’ houses, games and costumes.

Why go? To see kids' toys over the ages, including bonkers 1970s puppets, Barbie Dolls and Victorian praxinoscopes.

St James’s Park

47.  St James’s Park

What is it? London’s oldest Royal Park and, essentially, Buckingham Palace’s front garden. St James’s Park runs alongside The Mall and offers a handy escape from the traffic noise of Trafalgar Square. The two islands in its lake are home to wildlife and there’s the Princess Diana Memorial Walk to follow if you fancy some gentle exercise.

Why go? To watch the pelicans (which were introduced to the park more than 400 years ago) being fed at 2.30pm daily.

Design Museum

48.  Design Museum

What is it? A trove of the world’s finest design. Relocated in 2016 from its former home on the side of the Thames near Tower Bridge, the new-and-improved building in Kensington is an awe-inspiring presence that covers design over a wealth of disciplines, from architecture and fashion to graphics and products.

Why go? To be wowed by eye-pleasing works and by how design has evolved over the decades.

Hamilton

49.  Hamilton

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Victoria Open run

What is it? The award-winning musical from Lin-Manuel Miranda about US founding father Alexander Hamilton. The show modernises the history of America, pulling from hip-hop, R&B and soul in its songbook, and has won huge acclaim since it first premiered off-Broadway in New York in 2015.

Why go? For the most entertaining – and catchy – history class around.

Shrek’s Adventure! London

50.  Shrek’s Adventure! London

  • Theme parks

What is it? An interactive tour that starts with a breathtaking 4D ride through the sky before you crash-land near a certain ogre’s swamp and find yourself having to flee from the wicked Rumpelstiltskin. Different missions will give you the chance to meet, help, or even rescue some favourite characters, such as liberating Pinocchio from the Wheel of Torture and cooking up some spells with the Muffin Man. 

Why go? To have a giggle on a whirlwind trip to Far, Far Away.

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Top Things to Do in London, England

Places to visit in london.

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  • Things to do ranked using Tripadvisor data including reviews, ratings, photos, and popularity.

places to visit in london and nearby

1. London Eye

SmittenWithLife

2. Tower Bridge

aybeer

3. V&A - Victoria and Albert Museum

sohailaj745

4. Chelsea FC Stadium Tour & Museum

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5. Imperial War Museum London

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6. Regent's Park

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7. Royal Air Force Museum London

DrStephenWA

8. British Library

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9. Science Museum

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10. Tottenham Hotspur Stadium Tour

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11. Museum of Brands

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12. Notting Hill

kix2mix2

13. Oxford Street

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14. Jack the Ripper Museum

Escape92873

15. Beefeater Gin Distillery

MarieVersailles

16. Charles Dickens Museum

powell7

17. The Postal Museum

Thevintagegirl

18. Savoy Theatre

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19. Westfield London

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20. Immersive Gamebox - London Southbank

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21. Temple Church

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22. ClueQuest - The Live Escape Room Game

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23. National Theatre

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24. London Stadium

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25. St Martin-in-the-Fields

UkJodie

26. Hayman's Distillery

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27. DreamWork's Tours: Shrek's Adventure! London

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28. Horniman Museum and Gardens

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29. Fox in a Box London

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30. Wellcome Collection

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What travellers are saying

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A Lady in London

A Lady in London

And Traveling the World

Lady’s Top Places to Visit Near London

Today I want to share my top picks for places to visit near London with you. From day trips to weekend getaways, scenic drives to stately homes, there are a lot of spots you can go to escape the city and enjoy other parts of Britain. Whether you’re into the seaside or the countryside, the coast or castles, this guide has a destination (or three) you’ll love.

Places to Visit Near London

Places to Visit Near London

I’ve published a lot of blog posts about places to visit near London since I moved to the UK over a decade ago. Today I want to pull them all together into one easy-to-access place. I hope it inspires you to explore more of the UK.

You can bookmark it or pin it on Pinterest for easy reference if you want to.

Hastings Beach View

Day Trips from London

Since they’re the easiest, I’ll start my guide to places to visit near London with day trips.

I’ve written about 15 day trips from London , 17 more day trips from London , day trips from London by car , day trips from London by train , cheap day trips from London , beach day trips from London , seaside day trips from London , scenic drives near London , and more.

I’ve also published blog posts about seasonal day trips from London. I’ve covered summer day trips from London , autumn day trips from London , winter day trips from London , and spring day trips from London .

If there’s a particular time of year you’re looking for places to visit near London, they have you covered.

Mathematical Bridge, Cambridge, England

I’ve also written a lot of posts about specific day trips from London.

From Brighton to Oxford , Cambridge , Ramsgate , Hastings , Deal , Winchester , Ely , the New Forest , Windsor Castle , and the Cotswolds , there’s no shortage of places you can read about on the A Lady in London blog.

If you want to find a specific destination you’re interested in, you can use the search box to find it. The box is on the sidebar of the blog if you’re on desktop and at the bottom if you’re on mobile.

Hospital of St Cross, Winchester, England

If you prefer tours, I’ve reviewed plenty of day tours to places to visit near London. From an Oxford and Cotswolds day tour with Rabbie’s to a Warwick Castle and Stratford-upon-Avon tour , I’ve covered a lot.

They’re great if you want to visit places like the Cotswolds without a car , as transportation is included.

There’s a lot more about these and other places in the beautiful book Escape London: Days Out within Easy Reach of London . You can get it here .

Ely Cathedral View

Weekend Trips from London

I’ve also published blog posts about places to visit near London for a weekend. I’ve written about weekend trips in the UK , weekend getaways from London , and more.

And as with day trips, I’ve published seasonal posts about weekend trips from London .

I’ve covered an autumn weekend in the Cotswolds , a spring weekend in the Cotswolds , a summer weekend in Wales , a summer weekend in Hampshire , a winter weekend in Wales , a winter weekend in Rye , a winter weekend in the Cotswolds , and more.

Pink Thatched Roof Cottage in the Village of East Meon, Hampshire, England

I’ve published lots of blog posts about specific weekend trips to places to visit near London, too. From West Sussex to Norfolk , Cambridge , Stratford-upon-Avon , the Wye Valley , and Bath , I’ve covered a range of places.

If you want to read more about a destination you’re interested in, you can use the search box on the blog to find it.

There are a lot more ideas in the book 52 Great British Weekends , too. You can get it here .

Bath Abbey is one of the best places to visit near London

Longer Breaks Near London

If you want to go away for more than a weekend, I’ve written about a number of places to visit near London that I’ve been to for three or more days. They’re great for bank holiday weekends or week-long getaways.

From Southwold with its great beaches to Surrey with its beautiful countryside, there are a lot of easy travel destinations close to London.

I’ve also reviewed a small-group tour of southwest England with Rabbie’s that includes places like Stonehenge , Durdle Door , Exeter , Glastonbury , Bath , and destinations in Devon like Tavistock and Dartmoor. It’s perfect for seeing a lot in one trip.

If you want more ideas, you can take a look at my blog posts about 3-day trips from London and 4-day trips from London .

Southwold Fish and Chip Shop in England

Themed Places to Visit Near London

If you’re interested in a particular theme when it comes to places to visit near London, you’ll find an abundance on the A Lady in London blog.

I’ve published posts about country walks near London , stately homes near London , places to go to the seaside near London , and castles near London .

If you like urban areas, I’ve written about the best cities in England . If you enjoy the countryside, I’ve written about beautiful places in England , a lavender field near London , and National Trust Cotswolds properties.

If you love village charm, I’ve published posts about the prettiest villages in England , the best villages in Wiltshire , and the top Cotswolds villages .

And if you’re into literature, you can find posts about literary places to visit in England and Jane Austen locations .

Stratford Upon Avon Garden in England

I hope you’ve enjoyed this guide to places to visit near London and that it’s inspired you to discover more of Britain.

If you want to go further afield, take a look at my blog post about the best places to visit in the UK . Happy travels!

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9 Great Places To Visit Near London

London’s a great place to visit, but it would be a shame if you didn’t also grab the chance to see a bit of what else England has to offer whilst you’re there. Here’s our list of places we’d visit.

Each idea is meant to be able to be done as a day trip although you can, of course, spend longer there.

We’ve also included ideas for a range of age groups and interest – families with kids, culture vultures and the like – and so there should be something for everyone here.

( This post was updated in January 2023 )

Table of Contents

trip to oxford

The internationally renowned seat of learning is also extremely pretty.

The University is actually a collection of about 40 colleges, each its own distinct ethos – some are new, whereas others are over 800 years old – but the prettiest are within a mile radius of the center.

Explore some of these colleges, punt on the river or just wander around soaking up all that history and learning…

Oxford’s an hour on the train from Paddington Station in London.

Update: We recently published a post focusing on Oxford here>>> 10 Must See Sites In Oxford

2. Stonehenge

If you think Oxford’s old then you’ll think it positively juvenile compared to Stonehenge, reckoned to be over 5000 years old.

Comprising huge blocks of stone arranged in a circle in the middle of Salisbury Plain, it is one of the most recognisable monuments in the world.

It’s a bit tricky to get there given its remote location.

However its a short drive from London – or you could take one of the many tours from London.

3. Legoland

A change of take: this is one for the kids (and big kids).

Legoland is a short trip west of London – there are several coach operators such as Golden Tours – and will suit kids of all ages.

4. Cambridge

Given we’ve listed Oxford, it would be unfair not to mention its arch rival Cambridge.

If anything it’s even prettier than Oxford and quieter – Oxford a reasonably sized city whereas Cambridge is much smaller in relation to the university.

There are frequent rail services from Kings Cross station.

5. Stratford Upon Avon

One for the more culturally inclined.

Stratford Upon Avon was the home town of William Shakespeare. You can visit his actual birthplace and where he lived with his wife, Anne Hathaway (no, not that one).

It’s also the home of the world famous Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) and so you can always catch a play whilst you’re there.

6. Bletchley Park

Fans of the movie ‘The Imitation Game’ will know that Bletchley Park was where codebreakers – especially the genius Alan Turing – broke the German Enigma code during the second world war. This allowed the Allies to spy on German naval communications.

The Bletchley park trust now does a great job of explaining how it was done – great for scientifically mided older children.

Again, it’s a short train ride from London.

7. Windsor Castle

Windsor was Queen’s favourite castle – she stayed there often – and also one of the most accessible.

Windsor itself is a beautiful place to visit, but the highlight is the castle itself, available for tours.

Here’s our post on the castle: Windsor Castle

Another beautiful place, Bath in Somerset has been a spa town – renowned for its mineral water, well, baths – since Roman times. Indeed one of the major attractions is the well preserved Roman baths which can be toured year round.

In later years it become one of the best sites of Georgian architecture – be sure to visit the streets around the Royal Crescent for great examples of this popular building style.

Here our post on this lovely town>>> Bath

9. Cotswolds

No trip to England could be considered complete without a trip to its beautiful countryside, shaped by thousands of years of human activity- especially farming.

One of the best examples is the Cotswolds, gentle rolling hills dotted with pretty villages built with the local Cotswold sandstone.

Update – we just published a post focusing on the best places to visit in the Cotswolds .

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24 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in London

Written by Bryan Dearsley and Shandley McMurray Updated Mar 20, 2024 We may earn a commission from affiliate links ( )

Author Bryan Dearsley has visited London many times, most recently on an extensive tour of England in the spring of 2022. Author Shandley McMurray lived in London and always enjoys returning.

London is one of the world's most mesmerizing cities . Modern architectural marvels like the Shard line medieval laneways peppered with historic monuments, high-end shops, and award-winning theaters. Picturesque streets and avenues connect renowned attractions like Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, and St. Paul's Cathedral, causing visitors to gape at their beauty and exhaust their phone's photo storage.

Houses of Parliament and Big Ben in London, England

With so many impressive tourist attractions and captivating things to do, it's no wonder London is one of the most popular places to visit in the world , attracting over 20 million tourists each year. Britain's bustling capital offers something for everyone, including shopaholics, foodies, adventurists, historians, and kids, making it tough to choose what to do first.

Should you hit one of the top museums, many of which are free to enter, or enjoy a picnic in one of the city's expansive parks ? Maybe tour a royal palace, or wander around a breathtaking garden? Perhaps you'd prefer to take in a show; enjoy a horseback ride; see the city views from atop the London Eye; or enjoy a traditional afternoon tea in Harrods, the world's poshest department store?

Use our list of the best attractions and things to do in London to help decide what to see and do in this phenomenal city you'll want to visit again and again.

See also: Where to Stay in London

1. Visit Buckingham Palace and Watch the Changing of the Guard

2. see the crown jewels at the tower of london, 3. beat the crowds: take a morning stroll across tower bridge, 4. get cultured at the british museum, 5. big ben and the houses of parliament, 6. get creative at the national gallery, 7. tour the art displays at the victoria and albert museum, 8. wander around piccadilly circus and trafalgar square, 9. journey to the top of the shard, 10. get your art fix at tate britain and tate modern, 11. walk the hallowed halls of westminster abbey, 12. head underground to the churchill war rooms, 13. walk with dinosaurs at the natural history museum, 14. enjoy a picnic in hyde park, 15. climb the dome of st. paul's cathedral, 16. shop at london's best markets, 17. be entertained by buskers at covent garden, 18. take flight on the london eye, 19. meet henry viii at hampton court palace, 20. straddle the meridian line at greenwich, 21. the imperial war museum & hms belfast, 22. explore the london docklands & canary wharf, 23. visit picturesque richmond park, 24. ogle the flora and fauna at kew gardens, where to stay in london for sightseeing, tips and tours: how to make the most of your visit to london, map of tourist attractions & things to do in london, best time to visit london, england.

Buckingham Palace and the Changing of the Guard

One of Britain's most iconic buildings, Buckingham Palace is also the scene of London's most popular display of pomp and ceremony: the Changing of the Guard.

Drawing crowds at 11:30am most days regardless of the season, this colorful display of precision marching and music also takes place at St. James's Palace . One of the top free things to do in London , you can then follow the band along The Mall as they march between sites.

Buckingham Palace and the Changing of the Guard

Buckingham Palace was built in 1837 and has been the London residence of the Royal Family since Queen Victoria's accession. If you're wondering whether the King is in, look at the flagpole atop the building: if the royal standard is flying day and night, he's at home. On special state occasions, he and members of the Royal Family may even emerge on the central balcony.

When the King's away at the Royal Family's summer residence in Balmoral Castle, Scotland , visitors can purchase tickets for tours of the State Rooms, the Queen's Gallery, and the Royal Mews.

The Tower of London

From prison to palace, treasure vault to private zoo, the magnificent Tower of London has fulfilled many different roles over the centuries. One of Britain's most iconic structures, this spectacular World Heritage Site offers hours of fascination for visitors curious about the country's rich history, so much of which happened here.

Inside the massive White Tower, built in 1078 by William the Conqueror, is the 17th-century Line of Kings with its remarkable displays of royal armaments and armor. Other highlights include the famous Crown Jewels exhibition, the Beefeaters, the Royal Mint, and gruesome exhibits about the executions that took place on the grounds.

The Tower of London

The Bloody Tower is also worthy of a visit. Here you'll find stories of ancient torture, and you can learn about the mystery of two princes who disappeared many years ago.

For the best use of your time, especially during the busy summer season, purchase the Tower of London Entrance Ticket Including Crown Jewels and Beefeater Tour in advance, to bypass the ticket office lines. This pass guarantees the lowest price, helps avoid the crowds, and saves time and hassle.

Tower Bridge

Located adjacent the Tower of London, Tower Bridge features two huge towers rising 200 feet above the River Thames.

This is one of London's best-known and most photographed landmarks. While fascinating behind-the-scenes tours are available, you can easily walk across the bridge from the Tower of London.

For the best Tower views, as well as a glimpse of HMS Belfast and London Bridge (which many mistakenly believe Tower Bridge to be), find a spot mid-way across. While it can be crowded, especially around sunset, an early morning arrival before the throngs of tourists get there is well worth the effort.

Afterwards, head over to the renovated Butlers Wharf district on the bridge's south end for a unique twist on the classic "full English" breakfast at WatchHouse Tower Bridge. This now ritzy area is fun to wander and is home to a funky selection of restaurants, luxury housing, and shops.

Address: Tower Bridge Road, London

Official site: www.towerbridge.org.uk

The British Museum

Displaying one of the world's finest collections of antiquities, the British Museum contains more than 13 million artifacts from the ancient world. With priceless objects from Assyria, Babylonia, China, Europe, and elsewhere, it's hard to know where to begin in this expansive attraction.

Most tourists head first for the museum's most famous exhibits: the controversial Elgin Marbles from the Parthenon, the Rosetta Stone , the colossal bust of Ramesses II, the Egyptian mummies, and the spectacular hoard of 4th-century Roman silver known as the Mildenhall Treasure .

In addition to a well-stocked, on-site bookshop boasting an exhaustive array of titles on ancient history, archaeology and art history, there's a shop selling kids' games and souvenirs, along with one that sells replica sculptures and jewelry.

For those able to linger longer, the museum offers a variety of lectures and workshops, plus a restaurant and café.

Address: Great Russell Street, Bloomsbury, London

Official site: www.britishmuseum.org

Houses of Parliament

Nothing screams "London" more emphatically than the 318-foot tower housing the giant clock and its resounding bell known as Big Ben. It's as iconic a landmark as Tower Bridge , and the tolling of Big Ben is known throughout the world as the time signal of the BBC.

Below it, stretching along the Thames, are the Houses of Parliament . The seat of Britain's government for many centuries, it was also once the site of the royal Westminster Palace occupied by William the Conqueror.

Big Ben and Parliament

The best view of the parliament buildings can be had by crossing Westminster Bridge and looking back. Or, turn left after crossing the bridge and walk along the path towards the SEA LIFE London Aquarium (a fun spot to take kids). Gather your crew along the wall for a perfect photo with Big Ben in the background.

Tours of the Houses of Parliament offer a unique chance to see real-time debates and lively political discussions. From Parliament Square, Whitehall is lined by so many government buildings that its name has become synonymous with the British government.

Official site: www.parliament.uk/bigben

National Gallery

It's almost impossible to visit London without catching a glimpse of the impressive National Gallery. This iconic, columned museum is set at the edge of Trafalgar Square , home to incredible masterpieces that make it one of the best attractions in London.

Ranking among the top art museums in the world, London's National Gallery represents an almost complete survey of European painting from 1260 until 1920. The museum's greatest strengths are in its collections of Dutch Masters and Italian Schools of the 15th and 16th centuries.

Among its highlights are a cartoon (preliminary sketch) of the Madonna and Child by Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo's The Entombment , Botticelli's Venus and Mars , van Gogh's Sunflowers , and The Water-Lily Pond by Monet.

Address: Trafalgar Square, Charing Cross, London

Official site: www.nationalgallery.org.uk

The Victoria and Albert Museum

The Victoria and Albert Museum (aka the V&A) is part of a South Kensington-based group of museums that includes the Natural History Museum and Science Museum . Founded in 1852, the V&A covers close to 13 acres and contains 145 galleries spanning some 5,000 years of art and related artifacts.

Exhibits include ceramics and glass, textiles and costumes, silver and jewelry, ironwork, sculpture, prints, and photos, and are conveniently arranged into four main categories: Asia; Furniture, Textiles, and Fashion; Sculpture, Metalwork, Ceramics, and Glass; and Word and Image.

It's impossible to get around this vast museum in a single visit, so the best plan to tackle it is to decide in advance which sections you most want to see. Taking a V&A tour is highly recommended, and often free, with options including everything from daily introductory tours to specific gallery or themed tours.

The Main and Garden Cafés are more impressive than any museum eatery you've seen. The intricate detailing on everything from the floor to the columns to the ceiling make them worthy pieces of art themselves. Plus, the food is quite tasty. Also, don't miss an opportunity to luxuriate in the John Madejski Garden , which is so beautiful and serene, you'll forget you're in the center of one of the world's largest cities.

If you're around, check into one of the fun "Friday Late" programs held on the last Friday of the month (except for March and December). These fun events are popular for their food and drink experiences, along with late-night exhibition openings.

Address: Cromwell Road, Knightsbridge, London

Official site: www.vam.ac.uk

Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square

Two of London's best-known tourist spots, Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square lie not far apart and mark the gateway to Soho , London's lively theater and entertainment district. The walk from one to the other is truly enjoyable, lined with eclectic boutiques, tasty cafés, ice-cream shops, and winding laneways evoking a bygone era when only horses and buggies traipsed through these historic streets.

Trafalgar Square was built to commemorate Lord Horatio Nelson's victory over the French and Spanish fleets at Trafalgar in 1805. Nelson's Column , a 183-foot granite monument, overlooks the square's fountains and bronze reliefs, which were cast from French cannons. Admiralty Arch, St. Martin-in-the-Fields , and the National Gallery surround the square.

Trafalgar Square

Piccadilly Circus marks the irregular intersection of several busy streets, including Piccadilly, Regent, Haymarket, and Shaftesbury Avenue. Overlooking this somewhat untidy snarl of traffic stands London's best-known sculpture, the winged Eros delicately balanced on one foot, bow poised.

"It's like Piccadilly Circus" is a common expression among Londoners to describe a busy and confusing scene.

The Shard and the London skyline

Since it opened in 2012, The Shard has taken its place as one of the most-recognizable and most-visited landmarks in London.

Standing 1,016 feet tall and encompassing some 95 stories, this remarkable structure is so-named for its resemblance to a shard of glass. Yet, while it dominates the skyline south of the River Thames, its pleasing design doesn't seem at all out of place when seen next to neighbors such as Tower Bridge.

The Shard

In addition to its office space on the lower levels, The Shard is home to a stunning Shangri-La Hotel and three superb restaurants, all boasting some of the most incredible views over London. For those not staying here, the upper-most levels consist of a choice of viewing platforms: indoor and outdoor.

Another London skyscraper that's worth a visit is the "Walkie Talkie" with its popular Sky Garden attraction. Located around the corner from the Tower of London and set on the building's 34th to 37th floors, the garden's terraces offer some of the best views over the city. If you've got the time, reserve a table at one of the restaurants here in order to enjoy the views while you dine.

Address: 32 London Bridge Street, London

Official site: www.the-shard.com

Tate Modern

Art lovers cannot visit London without touring its most impressive art museums: the two Tates. Located on opposite sides of the Thames, Tate Britain and Tate Modern together comprise one of the world's most important art collections .

The original gallery opened in 1897 as the basis of a national collection of significant British art, and continued to make acquisitions, needing more space to properly display its collections. The end result was the establishment of Tate Britain, in Millbank on the north side of the Thames, as home to its permanent collection of historic British paintings.

A superbly transformed power station across the Thames became home to the modern art collections. Art lovers can spend a whole day viewing both sites, conveniently connected by high-speed ferry. Better still, walk across the Millennium Bridge , a footbridge that connects the two banks of the river close to the Tate Modern. The views are spectacular.

Tate Britain

  • Address: Millbank, London
  • www.tate.org.uk/visit/tate-britain

Tate Modern

  • Address: Bankside, London
  • www.tate.org.uk/visit/tate-modern

Westminster Abbey

Another location with a long association with British royalty, Westminster Abbey stands on a site that's been associated with Christianity since the early 7th century. Officially known as the Collegiate Church of St. Peter in Westminster, Westminster Abbey was founded by Edward the Confessor in 1065 as his place of interment.

From his burial in 1066 until that of George II almost 700 years later, most sovereigns were not only crowned here but were buried here, too. More recently, it's become famous as the preferred location for Royal Weddings.

This masterpiece of Gothic architecture not only has the highest Gothic nave in England (102 feet), it's also one of London's most popular tourist attractions, drawing well over a million visitors each year.

Westminster Abbey

Highlights of a visit include seeing the more than 600 memorials in the Nave, including the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior; Poet's Corner in the Transepts , with its memorials to the likes of Shakespeare, Chaucer, and Dickens; the Westminster Abbey Museum; and the attractive gardens.

Address: 20 Dean's Yard, Westminster, London

Official site: www.westminster-abbey.org

Westminster Abbey - Floor plan map

Among the most fascinating and evocative of London's historic sites are the perfectly preserved Churchill War Rooms.

The nerve-center from which Prime Minister Winston Churchill directed British military campaigns and the defense of his homeland throughout World War II, their simplicity and cramped conditions underline the desperate position of England as the Nazi grip tightened across Europe.

You'll see the tiny cubicle where Churchill slept and the improvised radio studio where he broadcast his famous wartime speeches. Simple details, such as Clementine Churchill's knitting wool marking the front lines on a map of Europe, bring the era to life as no other museum could possibly do.

Audio guides are available (a thorough self-guided tour takes about 90 minutes), and a café and bookshop are located on the premises.

Address: Clive Steps, King Charles Street, London

Official site: www.iwm.org.uk/visits/churchill-war-rooms

Natural History Museum in London

Established in 1754, London's spectacular Natural History Museum remains one of the most-visited such attractions on the planet. It's easy to spot for its huge Romanesque façade, and a visit is something you'll not want to rush. Arrive early as it can get quite crowded.

Many of the museum's original exhibits are still on display centuries later, and together comprise a massive collection of more than 80 million items showcasing everything from botany to zoology, plus pretty much everything in between. A highlight of a visit is seeing the preserved specimens that Charles Darwin collected on his epic journeys.

If you're not in a hurry, start your visit by joining one of the formal guided tours on offer, ranging from 30 to 50 minutes. You'll be introduced to highlights you may wish to return to at a later date to explore in greater detail.

A variety of fun events are held regularly, from workshops for kids to late night openings. Shopping opportunities are located on-site, along with a number of dining options.

Address: Cromwell Road, South Kensington, London

Official site: www.nhm.ac.uk

Hyde Park

Covering 350 acres, Hyde Park is London's largest open space and has been a destination for sightseers since 1635. One of the park's highlights is the Serpentine, an 18th-century man-made lake popular for boating and swimming. Hyde Park is also where you'll find Speakers' Corner , a traditional forum for free speech—and heckling.

Another Hyde Park landmark is Apsley House , former home of the first Duke of Wellington and purchased after his famous victory at Waterloo. Now a museum, it houses Wellington's magnificent collections of paintings, including Velázquez's The Waterseller of Seville , along with gifts presented by grateful European kings and emperors. England's greatest hero is also commemorated at the Wellington Arch.

Another lovely London green space to explore is Regent's Park . Just a short walk away from Westminster, this 410-acre attraction is a delight to stroll around. If you're traveling with kids, be sure to visit London Zoo , located within the grounds of the park and one of the most popular things to do for families visiting the city.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Attractions around Hyde Park

St. Paul's Cathedral

The largest and most famous of London's many churches, and undoubtedly one of the most spectacular cathedrals in the world, St. Paul's Cathedral sits atop the site of a Roman temple. The previous church structure was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666, and Sir Christopher Wren designed the rebuild .

St. Paul's Cathedral

Today, the twin Baroque towers and magnificent 365-foot dome of St. Paul's are a masterpiece of English architecture. If you're up to it, be sure to walk the stairs with their spectacular views of the dome's interior, including the Whispering Gallery , undoubtedly one of the top things to do in London.

  • Read More: Exploring London's St. Paul's Cathedral: A Visitor's Guide

Camden Market

Whether you're a fan of food, flowers, art, or clothes, you'll find something to love in London's best markets . While most open only on weekends (Fridays included), some of the most eclectic venues, like the vibrant Camden Market in North London, welcome shoppers daily.

Camden Market is home to over 100 stalls, shops, and eateries offering everything from gluten-free goodies to hand-made jewels to bohemian clothing. If you're looking for a distinct urban feel, you'll find it here.

Borough Market is a must-visit for foodies in central London. This popular venue, which is situated near London Bridge, is so busy on weekends, you'll have to fight your way through crowds to nab the best produce or mouthwateringly good sample of giant paella.

Hats for sale at Camden Market

Arrive early (we'd suggest no later than 10am) to enjoy a little more elbow room. The line for coffee can extend for blocks, so head there first. While some stalls are open during the week, most don't unveil their goods until Friday morning.

Old Spitalfields Market is another beloved spot offering some of the city's most gorgeous flowers, interesting antiques, art, jewelry, and more. Built in 1876, this is one of the best examples of a Victorian Market Hall.

Other popular markets include, Maltby Street Market , Brick Lane Market , and Portobello Road.

Read More: Best Places to Shop in London

Covent Garden

The market halls of Covent Garden are only the beginning of the neighborhood, which encompasses the shops and restaurants of Long Acre and other adjacent streets, those of Neal's Yard and Seven Dials, as well as the Central Square with its incredibly talented, and unique, street performers.

The halls and arcades of Covent Garden Market are lined with specialty shops and kiosks selling everything from teas to fine handcrafts to tacky souvenirs. A few restaurants are sprinkled in as well, some offering patios for you to enjoy a tasty treat while people-watching.

Covent Garden

Housed in the former flower market, you'll find the London Transport Museum , a kid-centric haven for those who love all things vehicular. Filled with historic buses, trolleys, and trams, children and adults alike will love this interactive transportation hub. "Drive" a London bus, pilot a tube train, or sit on an ancient trolley.

This area is also where you'll find the Royal Opera House and a variety of other leading London theaters.

The London Eye

Built to mark London's millennium celebrations in 2000, the London Eye is one of the world's largest observation wheels. Its individual glass capsules offer the most spectacular views of the city as you embark on a circular tour rising 443 feet above the Thames. The journey lasts close to 30 minutes, often quicker than the time spent lining up for your turn.

If you can, reserve your time in advance. Better still, skip the line completely with a London Eye: Skip-the-Line Ticket . This advance ticket allows you to take a flight at any time on the day you plan to visit. If you can afford it, rent one of the private capsules and share the experience with friends and family.

The London Eye

Another fun way to view London for above is aboard the Emirates Air Line , a cable car system that crosses the Thames between Greenwich and the Royal Victoria Dock. The journey travels one kilometer and lasts 10 minutes, long enough to enjoy spectacular views and grab a few memorable selfies.

Official site: www.londoneye.com

Hampton Court Palace

Another great Thames-side attraction, Hampton Court is one of the world's most famous and grandest of royal palaces, and a truly remarkable place to visit in London. Its Great Hall dates from Henry VIII's time (two of his six wives supposedly haunt the palace), and it's where Elizabeth I learned of the defeat of the Spanish Armada .

Meet Henry VIII himself or have a chat with Anne Boleyn, both of whom wander the grounds and involve guests in their interesting antics at random points throughout the day. Depending on the time and date you visit, you may even be asked to participate in a session in court.

Grab an audio guide upon your arrival and choose a velvet cloak to wear as you tour the grounds, if you're hoping to feel a bit more authentic. Get lost in the palace's famous Maze , or grab a bite in the on-site café,

Other interesting features include the Clock Court with its fascinating astronomical clock dating from 1540, the State Apartments with their Haunted Gallery, the Chapel , the King's Apartments , and the Tudor tennis court. Don't miss the Tudor Kitchens and their massive fireplaces.

The gardens are also worth visiting, especially in mid-May when in full bloom. Highlights include the Privy Garden, the Pond Garden, the Elizabethan Knot Garden, the Broad Walk, and an area known as the Wilderness.

Although a little farther outside the city center, Hampton Court is a must-do sightseeing trip when visiting London. It's a bit of a haul on the tube, but taking a taxi, renting a car, or even grabbing a car service will make this trip more than worthwhile.

  • Read More: Visiting Hampton Court Palace: Top Attractions, Tips & Tours

Greenwich

For centuries the hub of Britain's naval power, Greenwich is best known to tourists as the home of the Cutty Sark , the last of the 19th-century tea clippers to sail between Britain and China. The ship is located adjacent to the Discover Greenwich Visitor Centre with its exhibits showcasing more than 500 years of maritime history, and the Palladian mansion known as Queen's House .

The impressive collections of the National Maritime Museum , the largest of its kind in the world, illustrate the history of the Royal Navy. And one of the most unusual things to do in London is standing with one foot in each hemisphere, astride the Meridian Line in the Meridian Building in the Royal Observatory.

Read More: Top Attractions in Greenwich & Docklands Districts, London

Imperial War Museum

If you've time in your travel itinerary, two other military attractions related to the Churchill War rooms are also worth visiting: The Imperial War Museum and HMS Belfast .

Located a short distance from the popular Southbank cultural district, the Imperial War Museum London can easily occupy the best part of a day with its fascinating exhibits and collections of military vehicles, weapons, and aircraft.

Set in chronological order, displays portray the very real experiences of participants and victims in the world's major conflicts, with many hands-on exhibits allowing unique incites into their place in history. The Holocaust Galleries are particularly sobering.

A shop and café are located on-site, and before leaving, grab a selfie standing next to the huge shells and guns located out front.

The other must-see under the Imperial War Museum umbrella, HMS Belfast is a well-preserved WWII-era cruiser that served during D-Day. Located on the River Thames opposite the Tower of London, this historic vessel can be explored as part of a guided or self-guided tour.

For a truly memorable experience, consider booking a fun family tour. A gift shop is located on the premises.

St. Katherine Docks

The revitalized Docklands area of East London has been transformed into an international place of business and recreation, filled with some of London's smartest new restaurants and entertainment experiences.

The revitalized Docklands area also includes Canary Wharf. This important financial and business hub offers a variety of fun things to do, including shopping and dining.

The excellent Museum of London Docklands is the place to visit to learn more about the area. Located in a series of old Georgian warehouses on Canary Wharf, it brings to life the river, port, and its people from Roman times to the present through hands-on displays that are especially interesting for children.

A little closer to the Tower of London, St. Katherine Docks is fun to explore, too. Redeveloped as a mixed commercial and residential area, here you can spend time wandering the marina or enjoying a great meal or respite while watching the world go by.

Isabella Plantation in Richmond Park

It's hard to believe you're in London (well, technically just outside London) when on a visit to Richmond Park. One of the most captivating of the eight Royal Parks, this lavish natural wonderland has everything you'd look for in an English park: winding paths, verdant woodland, sparkling lakes, horse stables and trails, bike lanes, and multiple picnic spots.

Enjoy unparalleled views of St. Paul's Cathedral from King Henry's Mound , a picturesque hilltop surrounded by wild deer. Luxuriate in a warm tea and traditional scones at the Pembroke Lodge Tea Room , or rent a bike and cycle through this spectacular 2,500-acre nature reserve.

If visiting during spring, particularly late April or early May, make your way to the Isabella Plantation , a remarkable Victorian woodland garden set within the park. Its vibrant 40 acres are filled with colorful rhododendrons, azaleas, and camellias so resplendent, you'll think you're walking through a fairy tale.

Official site: https://www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/richmond-park

Kew Gardens on a beautiful summer day

Spending at day at Kew Gardens is one of the best things to do in London. A UNESCO Heritage Site , this phenomenal spot is home to over 50,000 living plants and some of the most majestically manicured gardens in England.

Officially called the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is situated in southwest London on the south bank of the Thames and offers visitors a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of central London, and a welcome breath of fresh air. Located on a flight path, you'll spot multiple jumbo jets, but these add to the allure for little ones.

Also family-friendly is the expansive indoor and outdoor playground, which comes complete with a zipline. Visit on a sunny day, and you should prepare to jostle for a picnic spot on the lush lawns, as this is a popular spot for families to enjoy a lunch out. Didn't pack snacks? Visit one of the on-site restaurants for a tasty treat-they even offer dairy and gluten-free options.

Laid out in 1759, the gardens became government property in 1841. In 1897, Queen Victoria added Queen's Cottage and the adjoining woodland. A variety of tours are available free with admission, and many musical and cultural events are held here throughout the year.

Don't miss the towering Pagoda ; Japanese gardens ; Treetop Walkway ; and the remarkable Palm House , an indoor rainforest with an aquarium in the basement. The impressive Rhododendron Dell is a breathtaking treat popping with vibrant blooms during spring.

  • Read More: Exploring the Top Attractions of London's Kew Gardens

London's top tourist attractions are spread out over several different areas of the city. If you want to spend time sightseeing, it's a good idea to base yourself in a central location and use the city's excellent public transport system to travel between the sites. Here are some highly rated hotels in Central London:

Luxury Hotels:

  • When it comes to posh hotels, the grande dames still grace the list of London's best. Pampering guests for more than a century are The Goring , a stone's throw from Buckingham Palace.
  • The Langham , in the heart of the West End, has played host to royals and celebrities for more than 150 years.
  • A few steps from Trafalgar Square is the Corinthia London , with a rooftop terrace and luxurious afternoon teas.
  • The Ritz London , also known for teas, is handy to the posh shops of Mayfair.

Mid-Range Hotels:

  • The Fielding Hotel , a popular boutique property, places you right near Covent Garden, one of the city's most touristy areas. Handy for those arriving by train from Heathrow or Gatwick airports,
  • The Clermont, Victoria is right over Victoria Station.
  • About a 15-minute stroll from Covent Garden, Bloomsbury was once London's literary hub and is now home to one of the city's top attractions, the British Museum, as well as highly rated mid-range hotels such as The Montague on the Gardens and The Bloomsbury . Both are also a short stroll from Oxford Street shopping.

Budget Hotels:

  • If you're watching your wallet, the Premier Inn London Kensington (Earl's Court) Hotel is an affordable option minutes from museums and Earls Court tube station.
  • You can also head north and try The Alhambra Hotel or Jesmond Dene Hotel , both near busy King's Cross tube station, a major transport hub.
  • In-depth tours. It's hard to choose the best sights to see in London; there are so many awesome spots on offer. This nine-hour, Best of London Sightseeing Tour makes sure you don't miss anything essential. In addition to taking you to some of the city's top spots like Westminster Cathedral and Buckingham Palace, guests receive pre-arranged tickets for a boat cruise, as well as comprehensive tours of the Tower of London and St. Paul's Cathedral, plus a stop to watch the Changing of the Guard. Upgrade to receive a cream tea at Harrods or a flight on the London Eye.
  • Seeing the Sights . One of the best ways to see the sights of London is on a traditional, double-decker Hop-On Hop-Off London Sightseeing Tour . This has been the classic sightseeing tour for years, and it's popular for good reason: it's easy, convenient, informative, and ensures you see the most important attractions. Tickets are flexible, with open dates, and are valid for a 24-hour period. Even if you are in London for several days, this is a great way to spend a day getting oriented, especially for first-time visitors to the city.
  • Day Trips . Beyond the city, there are some excellent sightseeing opportunities that can be easily undertaken on a day trip tour from London. The Stonehenge, Windsor Castle, and Bath Day Trip from London is an 11-hour guided trip that takes visitors to these must-see places to visit. It's a great way to see the surroundings without the hassle of driving, navigating, and parking.
  • Harry Potter Experience. Fans of Harry Potter will definitely want to take the Warner Brother's Studio Tour - The Making of Harry Potter for a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the movie and a walk through the incredible sets where the film was made. Visitors can explore the site on their own, see the costumes and props, wander through the Great Hall, and learn about the whole experience of filming. The tour includes transportation to and from the studios from central London and an entrance ticket.

Let's be honest: no one travels to London for its weather. Frequented by cloudy skies that release smatterings of mist and rain, the UK's epic capital city is best visited with an umbrella in hand.

That said, London receives less annual rainfall than its tarnished reputation would have us believe, and less than many European cities . And rather than heavy rainfalls, the norm is "little and often." Yes, you'll likely run into a sprinkle or two during your visit, but a little rain never ruined a vacation, especially when touring a historic metropolis with so much to offer.

When those beautiful, bright sunny days do appear, visitors receive front row seats to the city's remarkable transformation. Locals smile more easily, the city's best parks and gardens fill with sun worshippers and picnickers, and a sparkling hue adds another level of magic to the city's most magnificent buildings. There's nothing better!

London is a tourist hot spot throughout the year. In other words, there's never a bad time to visit. If you're looking for a better chance of glimpsing the sun and avoiding masses of tourists, however, the best time to visit London is from March through May . That said, if you don't mind rubbing elbows with a zillion other tourists, a good time of year to travel to London is during the summer months from June to September.

More Related Articles on PlanetWare.com

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Other English City Destinations : Given its relatively small size, it's easy to travel from London to other great English cities, including lovely Liverpool , famous as the birthplace of The Beatles. The industrial city of Manchester is also within easy reach and is popular for its historic canal network and fine museums. Birmingham is another northern city worth visiting and celebrates both its rich industrial past along with modern museums, art galleries, and other cultural attractions.

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Easy Escapes : From London, you're only a short train ride away from the idyllic countryside of the Lake District , a popular walking destination and known for the stunning scenery around Lake Windermere. The historic city of Bath , named after its well-preserved Roman baths, is another great escape, whether for a weekend or a week. So, too, is the cathedral city of Durham , which is also home to one of the most-visited castles in England.

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Top UK Vacation Ideas : Scotland makes for an excellent UK vacation, and is where you'll find the spectacularly beautiful city of Edinburgh , recognizable the world over for its lovely castle. The tiny nation of Wales , too, is worth exploring, especially its capital city of Cardiff and the stunning scenery of Snowdonia in North Wales .

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17 Best Day Trips From London — From Small Towns to Stunning Forests

Take a break from the big city.

places to visit in london and nearby

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There’s no denying London is one of the greatest cities in the world for art, culture, history, and theater. After a weeklong trip, though, you may want to escape its hustle and experience some of the U.K.'s best forests, country houses, seaside towns, and even other European neighbors. Thankfully, all of this and more lies within easy reach of the capital.

"London is often seen as the gateway to the rest of Europe and the United Kingdom, with six international airports and excellent rail connections to continue your onward journey," said Rose Wangen-Jones, the managing director of London & Partners, which runs the city's official tourism site . "You could even be at the Eiffel Tower taking snaps of the Paris skyline in just over two hours, thanks to the high-speed Eurostar train."

Complete with riverside walks, ancient towns, idyllic streets filled with indie shops, and amazing restaurants, here are our picks for the best day trips from London.

Whitstable, Kent

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Ask any Londoner and they’ll often tell you Whitstable, located about an hour east of London via high-speed train, is at the top of their city escape list. One of the U.K.'s most charming seaside towns , Whitstable is famed for its multicolored North Sea-facing beach huts and restaurants that plate up fresh lobsters. The town’s castle ruins are well worth exploring, too, and the hilly — and sometimes windy — coastal walks will help brush off those cerebral cobwebs.

Another major draw is the town’s oysters. Guzzling half a dozen of these must-try mollusks is almost a rite of passage in these parts, and one of the best times to try them is during the Whitstable Rocks Oyster Festival , which takes place every summer. Expect live music, markets selling local wares, and stellar wines.

Margate, Kent

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Thanks to a cultural renaissance spearheaded by celebrities and artists such as Tracey Emin, Margate has experienced a rebirth. The Kent coastal town, less than a two-hour train ride from London, exudes cool grit and harbor glamour, with independent shops, contemporary restaurants, and the Walpole Bay Tidal Pool , made for a quick summer dip. Though Margate is on the gusty side, the Turner Contemporary gallery will keep you shielded from all the elements. For those seeking an adrenaline rush, the retro theme park and roller-disco Dreamland is well worth the admission price.

Cliveden House, Berkshire

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Over its long, illustrious history, Cliveden has been a retreat for royals (Meghan, Duchess of Sussex stayed here on the eve of her wedding), and it played host to the scandalous Profumo affair back in the 1960s. The former home of the Astor family, the house was originally built in 1666 by the Duke of Buckingham as a country pad to rival all others. Now, anyone can visit to admire its over-the-top English style (think winding oak staircases and hallways filled with paintings, chandeliers, and armor). Aside from it being a great spot for afternoon tea, Cliveden really is all about stunning riverside walks, park picnics, and if you’ve got the time, a riverboat tour down the Thames. The best part? It's just an hour's drive west of London.

Rye, Sussex

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Instagrammers from across the globe descend upon Rye to snap photos of its cutesy, cobbled lanes and mishmash of Diagon Alley-esque antique shops and bookstores. Just under two hours from London, the small and hilly town is the perfect place to grab a local Sussex ale or English sparkling wine. Plus, there are plenty of restaurants serving top-notch seafood lunches and scrumptious lobster pots. Another bonus? It's close to one of the U.K.’s best beaches , picturesque Camber Sands. Tip: bring a fancy picnic basket.

Box Hill, Surrey 

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Green and pleasant pastures await in this dreamy part of the Surrey countryside. Less than an hour outside of London, Box Hill is a solid quick option for a day trip with fresh air. Most people cycle here from Richmond Park, but if you're short on time, you can take the train. It takes roughly four hours to complete the entire eight-mile circular Box Hill Hike , and those who reach the summit will be treated to sprawling views of the North Downs. Another option is walking from the train station to the Stepping Stones Path , which takes about two hours. The National Trust cafe is a great spot for a well-deserved slice of cake, but if you fancy heading further out, the nearby Beaverbrook hotel has several dining venues on its 470-acre estate, including The Garden House Restaurant , which offers steaks of both the beef and cauliflower variety, salads, seafood, and pasta.

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Despite being more than 200 miles from the capital, York is actually one of the easiest day trips from London. Trains take just under two hours and run frequently enough that you can decide if you want to go the same day. The ancient walled city is best known for its Gothic masterpiece York Minster , one of the U.K.’s oldest cathedrals, dating back to the seventh century.

"York Minster is one of the most magnificent cathedrals in the world, as well as one of the largest of its kind in Northern Europe," says Nicola Butler, a T+L A-List advisor and owner of NoteWorthy . "The first recorded church on the site was built in 627, and it has had a colorful and varied history ever since. We then suggest our clients admire the timber-framed buildings of the Shambles, which was mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086."

In addition to admiring this stunner, visitors can walk along the city walls before climbing up Clifford’s Tower for some awesome views of the city and beyond. Learn about 3,000 years of chocolate history at York's Chocolate Story museum, then hit up the Shambles for winding, Harry Potter -style streets packed with cool storefronts and tea shops.  

Lewes, Sussex

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Lewes often gets overlooked for its neighbor Brighton but this quaint town, located about an hour south of London, has lots to offer. Lewes Castle , the remains of Lewes Priory , and the former home of Anne of Cleves will keep you busy for a few hours, as will the pubs and local handicraft shops. If you have more time to spare, take a cab to the nearby village of Rodmell. Here, you’ll find Monk’s House , the former 16th-century country retreat of groundbreaking 20th-century author Virginia Woolf and her husband, Leonard. The garden is pretty, and you’ll also get to go inside Woolf’s writing lodge where she sat and wrote her most famous novels and essays. And if you’ve got the stamina, the walk to the village of Glynde and its Elizabethan manor is well worth the steep hills. Your reward? Spectacular views over the South Downs.

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The beauty of Europe is its excellent and efficient train network. The Eurostar , for example, takes approximately 2.5 hours to reach the French capital from London’s St. Pancras International station. With little planning, you can easily tackle many of the top attractions in Paris if you book yourself on the earliest service out and the latest back. To make the most of your day here, focus on the heart of the city: the Louvre , Musée d'Orsay , plus the amazing stores, coffee shops, and restaurants of Saint-Germain-des-Prés are all within walking distance of each other. Round out the day at the Trocadéro to snap a selfie with the Eiffel Tower and relax on the banks of the Seine with a picnic, Emily in Paris- style.

Bath, Somerset

One of the best day trips from London for history lovers, Somerset’s largest city beckons visitors with its ancient Roman baths and Georgian architecture. After the Roman period, its healing hot springs experienced a surge in popularity, transforming Bath into a fashionable spa retreat in the 17th and 18th centuries. Recognized as one of UNESCO's "Great Spa Towns of Europe," the city can be easily reached via an hour-and-change train ride from London. When you arrive, explore the bathing complex, constructed around 70 C.E., and have afternoon tea at The Pump Room restaurant. Then, stop by Bath Abbey , where you can tour the top of the church tower. While you can’t swim in the historic baths, the next best option is Thermae Bath Spa 's rooftop thermal pool — a perfect place to cap off your visit before taking the train back to London.

Ashdown Forest, Sussex

Winnie-the-Pooh fans will likely want to add Ashdown Forest to their list of scenic day trips from the capital. A.A. Milne lived near the 6,500-acre woodland when he penned the stories of Christopher Robin and his friends. Better known as the fictional “Hundred Acre Wood,” the forest is accessible via a one-hour train ride to East Grinstead station, followed by a short taxi or bus ride. For an even easier journey, join a customized tour with Pooh Trek , which will pick you up at the station and visit highlights like the historic Pooh Sticks Bridge, plus cozy cottages and pubs. Those looking to extend their stay can even spend a few nights at Milne’s former house, the 16th-century Cotchford Farm .

Brighton, Sussex

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The unofficial gay capital of the U.K. is the place to go if you're in search of wall-to-wall live music venues, classic seaside bed-and-breakfasts, buzzing clubs, and Soho House's members-only Brighton Beach House . About an hour's train ride from London, Brighton's famed Palace Pier , pebbly beach, and shops on The Lanes are all worth a visit. Visitors can expect narrow alleyways packed with independent boutiques, record stores, pizza shacks, vegan eats, and small pubs championing local ales sourced from all over the city’s home county, Sussex.

Hastings, Sussex

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About a 1.5-hour train ride from London, Hastings has a long, colorful, and somewhat brutal history that’s kept tourists flocking to its windy cliffs for centuries. The former battleground of William the Conqueror offers all sorts of to-dos, from the ruins of its Norman castle (no dragons, sadly) to a strip of indie shops to great local restaurants. There's also a long pier stretching out into the English Channel that has "sunset walk" written all over it. The best views can be enjoyed from East Hill, accessible via the U.K.'s steepest funicular, the East Hill Cliff Railway. After riding down, head to George Street, a haven for continental-style cafes, art shops, and bookstores.

Stratford-upon-Avon, West Midlands

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Literature buffs will love this medieval town hidden away in England's West Midlands. Shakespeare’s former homes and his wife Anne Hathaway’s cottage are the major draws. A little more than two hours north of London, the town is also a great place to indulge in a boat tour along the plant-flecked canal basin. If you’re a theater lover, catch a play at the Royal Shakespeare Company 's playhouse (book well in advance) or enjoy a dinner cruise down the picturesque River Avon on the Countess of Evesham restaurant boat.

Canterbury, Kent

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If you dig a medieval cathedral coupled with a dash of Chaucer, head to Canterbury. Roughly a 45-minute train ride from London, the town is a great option for travelers who are pressed for time. Start off with a walk (or bike ride) down the wiggly King’s Lane to check out the city’s stellar indie shops. When it comes to fueling up, there's lots on offer, from pastries at The Goods Shed farmers market and food hall to Scotch eggs at pubs in town. Walk it off in one of England’s oldest parks, Westgate Gardens, before hitting up the nearby Blean Woods Nature Reserve , an ancient woodland filled with rare flora and fauna. The Beaney House of Art & Knowledge is also worth visiting for a glimpse at one of the world's most important collections of cow paintings.

Cambridge, Cambridgeshire

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An easy, one-hour train journey from St. Pancras, this university city dating back to 1209 is home to some of the world's most photogenic colleges and dorms. Begin your journey at King’s College and stroll through its 15th-century landmark Gothic chapel, home to the world’s largest fan vault and some impressive stained-glass windows.

Next, explore the waterways in a punt, a long, flat-bottomed boat. Aside from hopping on a bike, it’s the simplest (and most fun) way to explore the city on the cheap. Plus, you’ll see all the top attractions, from Trinity College to the Bridge of Sighs , along the way.

"NoteWorthy clients often visit the Wren Library in Trinity College Cambridge, designed by the renowned architect Sir Christopher Wren," says Butler. "It is one of Cambridge’s most famous and historic college libraries. This experience will take you behind the scenes to see some extraordinary and valuable literary works guided by a subject expert. Two of Shakespeare’s first folios and various letters of Sir Isaac Newton are just examples of what you could see on the tour."

When you get hungry, head to the Pint Shop for gourmet pub-style food served in a joint once loved by E.M. Forster. The Sunday roast is great, as are all the beers sourced from hops all over the country.

Oxford, Oxfordshire

Famed for its academic history, ivy-clad buildings, and Harry Potter filming locations , Oxford is another university city well worth a day trip from London. The train journey from Paddington or Marylebone station takes just over an hour and once you arrive, you’ll feel as if you’ve stepped into a real-life version of the Wizarding World. Start your visit with a walking tour ( Bodleian Libraries offers guided explorations of the city and its beautiful libraries). Then, climb the tower of the University Church of St. Mary the Virgin for one of the best views of the rooftops. In addition to the towering Gothic architecture, the city's historic streets are lined with traditional pubs and charming cafes. After refueling, end your day with a punting adventure along the River Cherwell or visit the Ashmolean Museum , which houses an impressive array of art and artifacts.

Bruton, Somerset

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Somerset is a long day trip from London, but it’s doable and worth the effort if you’re willing to wake up early. One of the most convenient ways to get a taste of it is via the Great Garden Escape , courtesy of one of England's most celebrated hotels, The Newt in Somerset . The approximately two-hour journey sets off from London’s Paddington station, with breakfast served on board before the train rolls into the hills of the West Country. Next to the hotel’s Georgian façade, explore picturesque gardens and ancient woodlands, plus learn the art of cider making before digging into an afternoon tea overlooking the orchards. It’s basically England summed up in about eight hours.

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The History Hit Miscellany of Facts, Figures and Fascinating Finds

30 of London’s Most Famous Historical Attractions

Londinium, the big smoke, the great wen: london has experienced its fair share of change over its 2000-year history. here's our pick of some of the british capital's most famous historic sites to visit today..

places to visit in london and nearby

Lucy Davidson

07 sep 2021, @lucejuiceluce.

Founded by the Romans in 43AD, London initially became an important city in Roman Britain . Although little remains from this period, some ruins remain, including parts of the Roman walls and the remains of a Roman theatre. After the Romans departed, the city’s influence waned until the site was refortified by Alfred the Great . The Norman conquest saw the city become increasingly important until it was established as the capital of England – a fact reflected by the many royal palaces and homes which still exist today.

Much of London’s history speaks for itself, with a wealth of historic sites providing an insight into the lives that thousands of years of Londoners have led. Here’s our pick of 30 of the most famous attractions – from Buckingham Palace to Highgate Cemetery – which you shouldn’t miss.

places to visit in london and nearby

1. British Museum

The British Museum is one of the world’s foremost museums of history and anthropology. The museum has some of the largest and most revered collections from around the globe ranging from Babylonian stonework and Samurai armour to pottery and glass from the Roman Empire .

Three hour and children’s’ itineraries are available on the museum’s website and at the museum itself. Alternatively, free audio guides are available or visitors can book a highlights tour in advance for a fee, which take place daily. You can book this online or by calling the museum.

places to visit in london and nearby

2. London Mithraeum

In September 1954 during the construction of a huge new office block for insurance firm Legal & General, builders discovered a Roman temple which sat on the banks of the long-lost River Walbrook (now a City of London street), an ancient tributary of the Thames and source of fresh water, vital to the running of the Roman city of Londinium.

The good news is that the owners of the original location of the temple, media behemoth Bloomberg have brought the temple back to life by way of ‘an innovative museum experience that will change the way we encounter archaeology.’ The resultant experience is both fascinating and superbly presented and definitely one to visit.

places to visit in london and nearby

3. Houses of Parliament

The Houses of Parliament or ‘Palace of Westminster’ is where both houses of the UK Parliament are located. Originally part of the great royal palace that had been home to English monarchs for over 500 years, Westminster Palace became the home of parliament in the 16th century after reign of King Henry VIII , when Henry moved the royal family out of the Palace of Westminster following a fire.

The original Westminster Palace burned down in 1834, and the building you see today is the result of the subsequent rebuilding by Sir Charles Barry and Augustus Pugin. The iconic clock tower, housing Big Ben, is probably the most famous part of this building and the complex is a UNESCO World Heritage site .

places to visit in london and nearby

4. The Tower of London

The Tower of London, originally known as the White Tower, was commissioned by the first Norman king, William the Conqueror and work on it was underway by the 1070s. It was designed as a fortress-stronghold, a role that remained unchanged right up until the late 19th century. There is a great deal to see and do at the Tower: the beefeaters, ravens, site of the menagerie and just walking around it to soak up the history. Allow plenty of time for your visit.

places to visit in london and nearby

5. Highgate Cemetery

Highgate Cemetery is a graveyard in London where the famous philosopher and political economist Karl Marx is buried. It is also the burial site of several other prominent people, including several novelists, artists, political activists and professionals. A list of famous internments can be found on Highgate Cemetery’s website. Guided tours of the East Cemetery, where Marx is interned, take place on the first Saturday of each month starting at 2:15pm and last around an hour.

places to visit in london and nearby

6. Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey is an iconic medieval structure and the site of many historic royal and national events, from coronations and weddings to burials and even deaths. Centrally located in London, Westminster Abbey was first constructed in the eleventh century by King Edward the Confessor , a Saxon king who dedicated this new church to St Peter.

To have an informed visit and to see the most interesting parts of the abbey, take a tour, as just wandering around can be overwhelming. Poets’ corner is one of the main attractions, it being the burial site of many prominent non-royal figures. One of the other most impressive sites is the Coronation Chair, produced in 1300-1301 under the orders of King Edward I . Its purpose was to accommodate the Stone of Scone, which the king had brought from Scotland .

places to visit in london and nearby

7. Imperial War Museum

The Imperial War Museum is dedicated to exploring worldwide conflicts throughout history. The exhibitions in the London Imperial War Museum cover, amongst other things, different aspects of the First and Second World Wars including military history, the Holocaust , women’s roles in the conflicts, wartime artwork and the political issues of the time.

The Imperial War Museum is particularly child-friendly, with temporary exhibitions such as a reconstruction of a World War I trench.

places to visit in london and nearby

8. London Roman Wall

The London Roman Wall was built between around 190 and 220 AD and stretched for about three miles from Blackfriars to Tower Hill. This defensive wall protected what was then the important Roman city of Londinium. Prior to the building of the London Roman Wall, Londinium already had a fort, parts of which were now incorporated into the new wall.

Over the centuries, most of the London Roman Wall has been obscured by medieval additions and other development. However, there are some well-preserved parts which can still be seen today. The map highlights one of the more prominent remaining sections of the London Roman Wall, that at Tower Hill.

places to visit in london and nearby

9. Cabinet War Rooms

The Cabinet War Rooms are part of the underground bunker complex in London where Winston Churchill and his government operated during World War Two. The Cabinet War Rooms were left untouched from 1945, when they were no longer needed, until the 1980s when they were restored and opened to the public.

Those which are open today include the cabinet war room, where Churchill’s war cabinet met, Churchill’s office, and his bedroom. This underground office block even included a canteen and a hospital. Visitors should allow at least 90 minutes to savour the atmosphere of this iconic Second World War site.

places to visit in london and nearby

10. Kew Palace

Kew Palace was built around 1631 by merchant Samuel Fortrey. The 17th century palace is noted for its distinctive decorative brickwork and gables, and it is the oldest surviving building in the Kew botanical gardens .

The Palace was opened to the public in 1898. The ground and first floor rooms at Kew have been restored to reflect the Georgian era, while the second floor has remained untouched.

places to visit in london and nearby

11. HMS Belfast

HMS Belfast is a Royal Navy light cruiser ship that played a role in both World War II and the Korean War. It is now open to the public in London under the remit of the Imperial War Museum. Launched in March 1938, HMS Belfast was commissioned by the Royal Navy in 1939, not long before the outbreak of World War II.

During the war, HMS Belfast took part in the blockade on Germany , patrolling northern waters from the Scapa Flow naval base in Orkney , among many other roles. HMS Belfast’s next wartime role would occur in the 1950s, during the Korean War, where she was one of the first ships to go into action to support American and South Korean Troops. HMS Belfast was involved in a few peacetime missions before finally being taken to London in 1971.

places to visit in london and nearby

12. Jewel Tower

Originally part of the medieval Westminster Palace, the Jewel Tower was built in 1365 to hold the riches of Edward III , earning it the name of the ‘King’s Privy Wardrobe’. Following a fire in 1834, the Jewel Tower and Westminster Hall were the only buildings of the palace to survive.

Today, the Jewel Tower is open to the public under the remit of English Heritage. Visitors to the Jewel Tower can view its fourteenth century vault, an exhibition about Parliament’s history and view the remains of its medieval moat and quay. A visit usually lasts around half an hour.

places to visit in london and nearby

13. 10 Downing Street

10 Downing Street in London has been the residence of every British Prime Minister since 1730, when it was presented to Sir Robert Walpole. Walpole, Britain’s first Prime Minister, and architect William Kent converted the three existing buildings of 10 Downing Street into a single large one, known collectively by its now famous address, connected to each other by what is known as Treasury Passage.

Since that time, 10 Downing Street has been the location from which Prime Ministers have run the country and entertained heads of state and governments from around the world. 10 Downing Street’s iconic black door hides a warren of offices and state rooms as well as numerous conference rooms, dining rooms, private apartments, kitchens and cellars.

Over the years, 10 Downing Street has undergone renovations and modernisations to bring it into the 21st Century. It is not possible to tour 10 Downing Street, except of course by invitation, although the official website does have a virtual tour. There are also several audio files available on the Downing Street website detailing the building’s history and that of its residents.

places to visit in london and nearby

14. Banqueting House

The Banqueting House in Whitehall, near Horseguards Parade, is the only complete building of the Palace of Whitehall to remain standing. The original Palace of Whitehall was acquired from Cardinal Wolsey by Henry VIII and was a royal residence until James I came to the throne in 1603.

From 1654 until 1658, the Palace of Whitehall was the home of the revolutionary and statesman, Oliver Cromwell . After the restoration of King Charles II to the throne in 1660, the Palace of Whitehall once again became the royal residence and the Banqueting House once again was used for its original purpose. In 1698, a huge fire burned Whitehall Palace to the ground. Sir Christopher Wren was commissioned to convert the Banqueting House into a chapel to replace the one destroyed in the fire.

places to visit in london and nearby

15. Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace has been the official residence of Britain’s monarchs since 1837, at the start of the reign of Queen Victoria . With its 775 rooms, Buckingham Palace was originally built for the Dukes of Buckingham at the beginning of the eighteenth century.

In 1761, Buckingham Palace, then known as Buckingham House, was acquired by George III who rechristened it “The Queen’s Residence” and had it remodeled by Sir William Chambers. When the building passed to George IV , he continued the renovations, and, from 1826 under the remit of architect John Nash, began transforming Buckingham Palace into the building with which we are familiar today. These changes took around 75 years to implement. The first monarch to actually live there was Queen Victoria. Today, Buckingham Palace is the official London residence of Queen Elizabeth II.

places to visit in london and nearby

16. Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace is a medieval palace once favoured by Henry VIII which has served as everything from a royal residence to a prison . In 1514, Thomas Wolsey , soon to be made cardinal, leased Hampton Court for a period of 99 years. He began rebuilding on a grand scale, converting Hampton Court into a lavish palace.

Upon the fall of Wolsey, Henry VIII took Hampton Court Palace for himself. Henry set about further renovation of Hampton Court Palace, rebuilding and extending the existing palace, at a staggering cost of over £60,000. The palace was used as a country retreat by Edward VI and Mary I . Elizabeth I used it as a venue for diplomacy and Hampton Court Palace was also used by James I, but none of them altered the buildings to any great extent.

places to visit in london and nearby

17. Kensington Palace

Originally built for the Earl of Nottingham, Kensington Palace was acquired by King William III in 1689, after he and his wife, Mary II , had taken the throne from her father, James II . They employed Christopher Wren to rebuild and improve it.

Other monarchs enjoyed the atmosphere at Kensington Palace. These included Queen Anne , Mary’s sister, and her husband Prince George of Denmark. Her successor to the British throne, George I, had new state rooms built, and Queen Caroline, wife of George II, had the gardens laid out. In the time of George III, Kensington Palace ceased to be the monarch’s residence, and it housed some of the more minor Royals.

places to visit in london and nearby

18. Nelson’s Column

Nelson’s Column is a tribute to one of the great men in British history: Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson , victor of many naval battles, including the Battle of Trafalgar (hence the name of the square). Constructed in the nineteenth century, Nelson’s Column commemorates the death of this iconic figure.

Nelson’s Column is the best known of the statues in Trafalgar Square. One plinth still awaits a permanent tenant, and is currently used for a series of exhibits by British artists.

places to visit in london and nearby

19. Eltham Palace

Eltham Palace is a spectacular Art Deco palace built in the 1930’s alongside a 15th Century medieval hall. The Great Hall of Eltham Palace is still extant and was originally built for the Yorkist king Edward IV in the 1470s and his grandson, Henry VIII, spent much of his childhood here.

However, the ‘new build’ at Eltham Palace, dating from the 1930s is a wonderful example of Art Deco. When Stephen and Virginia Courtauld built their 1930s Art Deco mansion beside the Great Hall of medieval Eltham Palace, they created a masterpiece of 20th century design.

places to visit in london and nearby

20. Tower Bridge

The impetus to build Tower Bridge began gaining momentum in 1876, when it was decided that there was a need for a bridge to the east of London Bridge to accommodate the increasing commercial development in that part of the city. A competition was launched for the design of this new bridge, as a result of which city architect Horace Jones and engineer John Wolfe Barry were chosen to collaborate on the project.

Tower Bridge was opened in 1894 by the then Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII). The walkways, much used by the population, were closed to the public from 1910 to 1982 as many ‘undesirables’ were using it. They were reopened in 1982 and now Tower Bridge offers a wonderful exhibition on its structure and engineering.

places to visit in london and nearby

21. Battle of Barnet

The Battle of Barnet took place on the 14th of April 1471 and was one of the most decisive and bloody encounters of the Wars of the Roses .

There is little left of the battlefield now, but there is a monument on the A1000 road, which gives as good a view as any of the battlefield, which is now agricultural land, with little in the way of public footpaths. Like many of these medieval battlefields, the actual site is disputed, and is always under review.

places to visit in london and nearby

22. The London Royal Air Force Museum

The Royal Air Force Museum (RAF Museum) in Hendon in North London has a series of exhibitions dedicated to the history of the RAF and aviation in general. Housing a fantastic collection of over 100 aircraft, the RAF museum has an impressive selection of planes including some of the most famous to have ever graced the skies.

Also on show at the London Royal Air Force Museum are a series of objects and structures from throughout the history of aviation, such as two World War I hangars, a World War II Battle of Britain exhibition and a timeline of aviation history.

places to visit in london and nearby

23. Victoria and Albert Museum

The Victoria and Albert Museum, better known as the V and A, in London is one of the world’s most prominent museums of design and decorative art.

Housing a vast array of items from around the world and throughout history, including Ancient Chinese art, Indian sculptures and medieval and renaissance masterpieces, the millions of artefacts and works displayed by the Victoria And Albert Museum span a period of over 3,000 years.

places to visit in london and nearby

24. Big Ben

Big Ben is often thought to be the name of the iconic clock tower of the Houses of Parliament. In fact, ‘Big Ben’ is the nickname of one of the bells of this clock tower, originally called the Great Bell. It is unclear exactly where the name Big Ben originated, although it is thought that it was probably named after Sir Benjamin Hall, the man in charge of commissioning the structure. Another popular, although less likely, theory is that it was named after Ben Caunt, a champion heavyweight boxer of the mid nineteenth century.

In any event, most people now think of the whole of the clock tower as Big Ben. The clock tower of Big Ben was begun in 1843 and completed in 1859, while the clock was completed later that year and first sounded its bells on 7 September.

places to visit in london and nearby

25. Kenwood House

Kenwood House is a picturesque historic stately home in North London run by English Heritage. Initially built in the seventeenth century, Kenwood House subsequently underwent a renovation in the mid-eighteenth century.

Today, Kenwood House is famous for its summer concerts, held in its extensive gardens. It also houses an impressive art collection, including works by Vermeer, Constable and Rembrandt to name a few.

places to visit in london and nearby

26. Apsley House

Apsley House was the home of one of Britain’s most heroic figures, Arthur Wellesley better known as the Duke of Wellington. In fact, Wellington lived there following his most famous victory, that over Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

Named after the Baron Apsley, who originally built it in the 1770s, Apsley House came to be owned by the Wellesley family in 1807. The Wellesleys extended and altered Apsley House, transforming it into the building we see today. Now managed by the English Heritage, Apsley House has a range of worthwhile things to see, such as its remarkable regency interiors and exhibits relating to the Duke of Wellington. There are many things at Apsley House which belonged to the Duke, including his impressive art collection, much of which once formed part of the Spanish Royal Collection and which includes pieces by several famous artists such as Canova and Velazquez.

places to visit in london and nearby

27. Fenton House

Fenton House in Hampstead in North London was built in the seventeenth century and has since remained almost entirely unchanged. It is unclear who built Fenton House, but it has been continuously occupied over the period of three hundred years.

Today, Fenton House and its gardens are managed by the National Trust and the house includes exhibits of, amongst other things, porcelain and early keyboard instruments.

places to visit in london and nearby

28. St James’s Palace

St James’s Palace has been the official residence of the British Sovereign since the reign of King Henry VIII. In fact, it was under Henry VIII that the redbrick Tudor structure of St James’s Palace was begun in 1531 on the former site of a hospital. It was mostly completed by 1536. Much of this original work remains today, including a gatehouse, parts of the state rooms and the Chapel Royal.

With its status of royal residence, St James’s Palace has played host to many an important event. Amongst these was the death of Henry VIII’s illegitimate son Henry Fitzroy in 1536, the signing of the treaty of the surrender of Calais by Mary Tudor in 1558 and the births and baptisms of numerous future monarchs such as Charles II, James II, Mary II and James Francis Edward Stuart.

places to visit in london and nearby

29. Clarence House

Clarence House has been the London residence of several members of the British royal family and is now the home of the Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall. Built from 1825 to 1827 next to St James’s Palace, the prime location of Clarence House has made it the perfect place for royals to call home. The first member of the monarchy to live there was King William IV.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother moved in in 1953 and resided there for almost fifty years. Meanwhile, a newlywed Queen Elizabeth II also lived at Clarence House with The Duke of Edinburgh for a time in 1947.

places to visit in london and nearby

30. Ham House

An opulent 17th century mansion, Ham House in London was once a bustling political playground for the courtiers of the Stuart dynasty from the reign of James I to Charles II.

Built by Sir Thomas Vavasour in 1610, Ham House epitomised the great competition for the favour of kings which was rampant during the seventeenth century and was often the battleground for courtiers competing for influence and power. In a time of intrigue and rivalry the material wealth of Ham House, still seen in the impressive collection of original furnishings and textiles, gives visitors a first-hand understanding of just what wonders were at stake for the glitterati of the English court.

London x London

Posted on 13th December 2023 Categories Things to do

By: Author Julianna Barnaby

56 Quirky and Unusual Things to do in London

56 Quirky and Unusual Things to do in London

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Think it’s all “been there, done that” when it comes to London? Think again. London is full of secret spots for you to explore. Need inspiration? Check out these 56 quirky, weird and unusual things to do in the capital.

London has a lot going for it. There are the big attractions, the museums , the galleries… basically the stuff that everyone talks about.

But sometimes, well, we’re a bit over the obvious stuff right? We’ve done all the big things to do around the city and are looking for something a little quirkier to occupy our time.

We hear you – we’ve all been through phases where we feel totally “over” London. Somehow, we think that because we grew up here, or have spent years writing about London, that we’ve seen it all. Incorrect.

So we set out to discover some of the more unusual places to visit in London, the quirky spots and obscure pastimes. From stunning cathedrals of sewage (yes, that’s a real thing) to ghostly tube stations, and from off-the-beaten-track museums to hidden Roman temples, this is what we found.

Quirky & Unusual Things to do in London

Worship a roman god at the london mithraeum.

The City of London 

London Mithraeum

The Mithraeum is a gem of a find. Looking for an unusual way to spend an afternoon? How about an immersive experience based around the ancient Roman Temple of Mithras underneath the Bloomberg Offices slap-bang in the heart of the city? Thought so.

We’d never even heard of the Mithraeum before stumbling on it while visiting St Stephen’s a few doors down the road, but it was a revelation.

The Mithraeum is set over three floors – one showcasing the Roman artefacts found on the site, the second explaining who Mithras was (the deity of loyalty to the emperor) and how people worshipped him and the third the temple itself.

The temple dates from the 3rd century AD – the ruins are part of a short sensory experience that plunges you into the mystery of worshipping in a Roman temple. Totally weird, very memorable and completely wonderful.

Check out the Fake Houses of 23 and 24 Leinster Gardens

Paddington 

23-24 Leinster Gardens

These houses look completely normal right? Nothing to see here.

Look again.

The fake houses of Leinster Gardens in Bayswater are one of the more obscure things to see in London – largely because they’re so difficult to spot.

The story goes that two houses were demolished to create an air vent for the Metropolitan Line, which was being constructed at the time.

As you can imagine, the local residents were furious. They demanded that two fake facades were built to cover up the unsightly gap.. and so the fake houses were born.

Over the years, the houses have seen more than their fair share of scandal – in the 1930s a con man sold tickets to a ball in the houses, and it was only when the guests turned up that they realised they’d been duped. 

The houses also pop up in much-loved detective drama Sherlock.

Go Wild in a Ball Pit Cocktail Bar London 

Shoreditch 

Ballie-295

We used to think we were the only ones who looked back with a touch of nostalgia and longing for those heady hours spent in the ball pit during our childhoods. Apparently not – ball-pit bars are one of the quirky London crazes du jour.

While there are many bars scattered around the capital where you can drink alcohol and throw yourself with gleeful abandon into a pit of plastic balls – Ballie Ballerson in Shoreditch is the original and the best.

You can buy tickets in advance on their website (which, incidentally is smattered with tongue-in-cheek references to playing with their balls). Naughty.

Take an Urban Adventure 

Leadenhall Market Group

Looking to explore London? CityDays offers a pretty unique way of discovering London’s fun side. It’s probably best described as an interactive treasure hunt crossed with an outdoor escape room. What does that look like? 

Well, they’ll line up an interactive mystery walk for you, shooting clues to your phone as you run around London trying to solve puzzles and discover hidden sides to the city. It doesn’t require any prior knowledge but it does require a little teamwork. 

Whether it’s just two of you, a bunch of your pals or a day out for an office team building you’ve got ten different routes to choose from, each focussed on discovering a different area of London and telling a different story about the city’s past and present. 

Each route is about 5km long and should take about two and a half hours to complete. In one you’ll explore Kensington’s beautiful and mysterious mews, in another you’ll follow in the footsteps of Jack the Ripper. Fancy tracing the City of London right back to the Romans. You can do that too. 

More information and booking here

Or Visit Leighton House

places to visit in london and nearby

The Narcissus Hall © Leighton House Museum, RBKC.

Image Courtesy of Will Pryce

Fabulous, opulent and verging on the bizarre, Leighton House is one of those places that could have only belonged to a grand old British eccentric. 

That eccentric was Frederick Lord Leighton and Leighton House, built in 1866, his private studio-cum-home.

Lord Leighton was an artist – at the time the house was built he was an associate of the Royal Academy, and he rose to become its president before his death.

He wanted Leighton House to be both somewhere he could work and somewhere he could showcase his extensive art collection, curated from the work of his contemporaries.

The result is a stunning palace of art and design – resplendent in rich colours, created from materials sourced from all over the world – and one of London’s most beautiful interiors.

Read more: 150+ Things to do in London: The Ultimate London Bucket List

Be Enchanted by Brixton Windmill

Brixton 

Brixton Windmill

Once upon a time, South London was a rural area – a patchwork of farms, woods and clean, wholesome air. While those days are long gone, finding and visiting the bits that remain is one of the more unusual things you can do in London.

Did you know that there’s a windmill in Brixton ? The windmill – an old flour mill dating from 1816 – sits in the shadow of Brixton Prison. 

Recent restorations mean that the mill is fully functioning – you can even take tours during certain times of the year, depending on the mill’s open days.

Read Next: Unmissable Things to do in Brixton

Adventure On The Dare Skywalk

Dare Skywalk

Ready for an ultra-fun adventure in London? Tackle The Dare Skywalk and climb to the very top of Tottenham Hotspur’s Stadium. It’s one of the most unusual things to do in London and the views from above are well worth it.

Once you’re clipped in, you’ll be led up 100 steps towards the glass apex – a whopping 46.8 metres above the pitch. From here you’ll be greeted with views of the London cityscape and the stadium bowl below.

Make sure to keep your eyes peeled for the famous Golden Cockerel that overlooks the city – he’s even more magnificent up close!

Tickets start from £31 with discounts available for club members and kids – book yours here .

Take a Backstage Tour of the National Theatre

The Southbank

See a Play at the National Theatre London

We’ve all heard of The National Theatre right? We’ve snuggled into the comfy seats and watched the plays (if you haven’t, you should – The National puts on some of the best plays in town and tickets are totally reasonable), then toddled off home.

But what if you could do more… What if you could take a peek behind the scenes to learn about the history of the theatre and learn about how a play actually gets onto the stage?

Well, turns out that you can. The National Theatre’s backstage tours are the perfect way to get an insider’s look at the stages, sets, props and costumes that make each play what it is.

Watch the Archives in the British Film Institute’s Mediatheque

BFI Mediatheque

Got a few hours to spare and want to settle in and watch something a bit different?

Head to the BFI’s cool little Mediatheque at the BFI Southbank.

The BFI is one of our favourite places to visit on the South Bank . The Mediatheque contains a number of private booths, each with its own screen, headphone jack and speakers, where you can access all of the digitised BFI National Archive.

As you’d imagine, the archive is vast – you can feast on Dracula film after Dracula film, through period dramas, old classics, silent films – all for free.

Last time we went down there we plumped for an old version of Wuthering Heights with Timothy Dalton – because vintage 70s period dramas is where it’s at. 

To find the mediatheque, just pop into the BFI and it’s right behind the ticket desk.  

Visit the Bascule Chamber in Tower Bridge

Tower Hamlets

Tower Bridge London

Tower Bridge. We can literally feel you rolling your eyes. It’s safe to say that Tower Bridge is not at all off the beaten track in London. It’s at the top of any tourist itinerary for the city and is one of the most photographed spots in town.

But deep within the bridge’s bowels, there’s a secret chamber. A secret chamber! It’s one of the many facts and stories about Tower Bridge that few people know about.

The Bascule Chamber is a cavernous space that is situated beneath the bridge’s towers – the huge counterweights swing into the chamber when the bridge opens, but the rest of the time this cave beneath the river sits empty.

Sounds incredible! Sign us up! Unfortunately, the Bascule Chamber can only be accessed as part of the Tower Bridge Behind the Scenes Tour (which costs an eye-watering £75) or as part of the Bascule Chamber Concerts (these tend to be held in the summer – keep an eye on the website for details when summer approaches).

Peek at the Street Art in Croydon

Street art in Croydon

A slow revolution has been taking place in Croydon in the past few years.

An area once known for ugly architecture, the riots and the Croydon facelift (a hairstyle where your hair is scraped back so tightly that your face retreats at least 2 cm upwards), has been quietly creating its own little scene of cool and quirky things to do in London.

We’ll be upfront, we’ve got a Croydon gal on our team and so there might be a touch of bias here, but we reckon Croydon might be one of the most underrated spots to explore London’s street art scene.

Much of the neighbourhood’s street art revolution has come about since Rise Gallery’s RISEfestival in 2018 which saw huge international names such as Otto Schade, Dotmasters, Hayley Welsh and David Hollier adorn Croydon’s walls. 

Since then the collection has grown and much has changed with some of our new favourite street art pieces taking pride of place on Croydon’s walls. It’s well worth checking out. To do so just head into the centre of town to take a look on the fly, you can’t miss the works, many of them take up the side of whole buildings. 

Street art in Croydon

Read more: Street Art in Shoreditch

Visit London’s Smallest Listed Buildings

Piccadilly 

K2 Telephone Boxes

London has heaps of listed buildings. It’s kind of to be expected when you have a city as old as this. It’s the city’s smallest listed buildings that we love best though. 

They come in the form of a pair of K2 Telephone Boxes tucked into the grand entrance to the Royal Academy. They’re the original prototypes of the phone box that went on to be a true British icon. 

One is made of wood and the other cast iron and together they won designer Gilbert Scott the competition organised to find the new model. That was all the way back in 1924 and now there aren’t many K2 boxes left in London, which also makes this a good place to get a blast from the past.  

Visit the Marx Memorial Library

Clerkenwell 

Contemporary London isn’t exactly a bastion of communism. It’s safe to say that anywhere you have to pay £5 for a small coffee has strayed far from the communist manifesto. But there are small pockets that continue to pay tribute to the resistance if you know where to look.

The Marx Memorial Library , in leafy Clerkenwell, is one such place. The library pays tribute to the city’s past affinity for political rebels with a collection of over 150,000 pieces of left-wing literature.

They also hold semi-regular talks (called symposiums here) and events like book launches if that tickles your fancy. You can find more information about those on their website. 

Visit the Cinema Museum

Elephant and Castle 

Willow Street NT

Tucked away in South London, the Cinema Museum is one of those unusual places in London you’ll wish that you had discovered sooner. Put simply, the Cinema Museum is a treasure trove of images and items from the film world.

Any and everything relating to the cinema makes an appearance – thanks to collector and founder Robert Grant’s tireless passion for film.

Over the years, Grant has built his collection into the quirky emporium that we see today: corridor after corridor of film reels, scores, props and stills. Visiting is one of those quirky experiences that isn’t quite what you expected – but so much better.

See the Perfect Modernist Show Home 

Hampstead 

2 Willow Road is famed for being the modernist masterpiece of master architect Ernö Goldfinger. It’s not some grand structure, more like a humble, paired-back bit of red-brick building. 

It does, however, represent a bit of a revolution in British architecture, pushing the boundaries of Modernist design in ways that were quite shocking to people of the time. Interestingly enough, Ian Flemming hated Goldfinger’s work, the reason he lifted the man’s name and gave it to Bond’s nemesis in Goldfinger. 

We’re thoroughly on board with the style of this place though. It seems to us to be incredibly sophisticated, even decades later. We’ll let you be your own judge though. 

Visit the Ghost Stations of the London Underground

Mutliple location (But especially Aldwych)

Ghost Stations of the Underground - Strand Station

Given that the tube was constructed in the 19th century it makes sense that there have been a few changes to the network over the years.

As time has passed, stations have been closed or repurposed – meaning that if you keep your eyes open, you can spot more than a few of the so-called “Ghost Stations” of the London Underground .

Of these unusual London attractions, the most central is the former Aldwych Underground Station at the end of The Strand. The station sits forlornly, a few paces away from Somerset House .

London Transport Museum host tours of the station from time to time – giving visitors a look at the historic (and slightly creepy) interiors.

Head to the Spot where the Brownings had their Illicit Marriage

Marylebone 

Tribute to the Brownings in Marylebone Church

It was the love affair of the century. She was a Romantic poet, an invalid and a recluse, housebound and governed by a tyrannical father. He was an up-and-coming poet (later to become one of the most eminent poets of the Victorian period ).

They fell in love, her father banned the relationship, so they eloped, getting married in St Marylebone Church near to her house and then running away to Italy. The story of Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning sounds like something straight out of a fairytale.

You can visit the room in the church where the two married by appointment. There’s a stained glass window commemorating the event and a copy of their marriage certificate too.

Read More: Romantic Things to do in London

Be Charmed by a Sewage Pumping Station (Yes, Really)

Crossness Pumping Station

We’re well aware that a sewage pumping station doesn’t sound like the kind of place you might be charmed, but that’s because you’ve not seen the inside of Crossness Pumping Station .

The building was designed in the Victorian era (you know how the Victorians were for flare) and boasts an incredibly ornate design of wrought iron and vivid colouring. No kidding, the word ‘cathedral’ gets thrown around a lot in relation to this place. It’s very grand. 

You can visit the pumping station on a guided tour that runs a couple of times a month. Check their calendar here for the next outings. 

Take a Good Look at the Lions of Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Square 

Lions of Trafalgar Square

There’s barely a person who has visited London that hasn’t been to Trafalgar Square .

The four lions, sitting towards the front of the square are pretty famous in themselves – not to mention subject to a never-ending stream of prancing, posing airheads seemingly incapable of obeying the sign telling them not to climb on them.

So why have we included the Trafalgar Square lions in our guide? Because for all their fame, few people ever really look closely at the lions. If they did, they’d start to think they looked a bit strange.

No wonder, when you hear the story behind them.

The lions were created by Sir Edwin Landseer, a painter who, prior to starting the lions, had never sculpted in his life.

Landseer requested a dead lion from London Zoo to use a study for the sculptures – unfortunately, it started to rot away before he’d finished them. That’s why they have the paws of a cat – in truth, their faces look a bit odd too. Take a close look the next time you visit.

Marvel at an Art Deco Palace

Eltham  

Eltham Palace

When you think of the palaces of London you tend to think of the ornate rococo of places like Buckingham Palace, or the grandeur of Hampton Court. 

Eltham Palace offers something totally different. It has been the site of royal courts since the 1400s but fell into disrepair after the kings of England fell out of love with Eltham and started hanging out elsewhere. 

Then, in 1933, the palace came into the hands of a pair of wealthy socialites, Stephen and Virginia Courtauld. They gave it an entirely new facelift in the style of the day: Art Deco. The result is stunning. We thoroughly recommend you give it a look. 

Walk Alongside the Old London Wall

Barbican 

London Wall

First built by the Romans around the settlement of Londinium and maintained until the 18th century, you can still spot parts of the old London Wall popping up in various parts of the City of London between the Barbican and Tower Hill.

The section between what was the Museum of London and the Barbican is our favourite – thanks to the small patch of parkland and gardens surrounding it – it’s a rare quiet spot in the heart of the city.

Read More: Cool (and Free!) Museums in London

Visit God’s Own Junkyard

Walthamstow

Gods Own Junkyard

Neon, neon everywhere. In deepest, darkest Walthamstow lies a quirky place that’s bound to light up your day – God’s Own Junkyard .

A private collection of all things neon – curated by the late Christopher Bracey, it’s like walking into a film set.

Bracey, otherwise known as the Neon Man, was a second-generation neon signmaker who collected pieces throughout the decades.

The result is one hell of a quirky experience. Once you’ve finished admiring all the work, be sure to settle in for a cuppa at the stellar on-site cafe.

Explore the Museum of Brands 

Notting Hill 

Museum of Brands

London’s got more quirky museums than you’d imagine. One that really took us by surprise is the Museum of Brands . 

It’s pretty much exactly what it says on the tin, a museum that showcases branding throughout the ages. It’s sort of a time warp. They have loads to see and they dress it all up with a good bit of historical context. 

We’d highly recommend this for anyone that’s got an eye for design or perhaps a job in advertising. 

Visit the Institute of Making

Bloomsbury 

A research club and makerspace run by UCL, The Institute of Making offers all kinds of unique things to do in London.

While the space is reserved for UCL’s students and staff, the Institute of Making runs a programme of maker workshops that are open to the public.

Dabble at making your own Christmas decorations or create your own Roman mosaic – check the listings and book well ahead.

Catch a Show at Wilton’s Music Hall

Shadwell 

Wilton’s Music Hall first opened in 1859 with the goal of providing the glamour and showmanship of the West End stage to the people of the East End. 

It’s still going strong on exactly those principles, providing shows that are well worth catching. They don’t run a massive budget like their West End competitors so the stuff they get on stage has a charmingly grassroots feel – it also means the tickets won’t break the bank. 

Go Stargazing at the Royal Observatory

Greenwich 

Royal Observatory

There’s nothing like a trip to outer space for something unusual to do… You can find quite the astrological journey at Greenwich’s Royal Observatory . 

The place dates back to 1675 and was built under the order of Charles II. A lot has changed since then, mainly the addition of a planetarium – the object of your visit. 

With daily shows ranging from trips across the surface of Mars to understanding the night sky as it is on the day you’re visiting, it’s nothing if not fascinating, and we’ll throw in pretty beautiful too. 

Step Back in Time at the Dennis Severs’ House

Spitalfields 

Ever so slightly wacky, visiting the Dennis Severs House is one of the more unusual ways to spend a day out in London.

The house is an artistic recreation of the life of a Huguenot weavers family from the 18th to the 20th centuries.

A series of still-life recreations, each meticulously brought to life in the rooms of 18 Folgate Street – you walk through the house and through the lives of generation after generation of the fictional family.

The place is a feast for the eyes, with period furniture and a baffling array of trinkets and Huguenot floral patterns on pretty much every wall. We doubt you’ll have seen anything like it before.  

Take a Turn Around the Streatham Rookery

Streatham 

In the Old English Garden at The Rookery

If you’re looking to find a hidden slither of peace in the busy city, how about a stroll around a secret garden? 

Streatham Rookery offers exactly that. It’s a series of gardens that’ve been lovingly tended to for over a hundred years. Its site was once (believe it or not) a spa. 

Strolling through the charming gardens you’ll even be walking in the footsteps of royalty. Queen Mary, consort of George V, is said to have loved the gardens dearly and often came here for her walks. 

Visit a Country House in the City

Fenton House

We love a day exploring London’s National Trust properties for something a bit different to do. Hampstead’s Fenton House would be one of our top picks if you’re thinking the same way. 

The grand house resembles something closer to a stately country home than it does a London residence, but then again it was owned by the 2nd Earl of Haddington – someone we’re sure wasn’t short a quid or two. 

His wife, Lady Binning left a charming touch on the house and its gardens and then handed it over to the National Trust in her will. They’ve kept it almost exactly how she left it. 

Walking the corridors is like stepping into another world. We’re not going to pretend we didn’t imagine ourselves as a set of earls, dukes and duchesses when we visited. 

Visit The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology

Petrie Museum

The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology is another UCL gem tucked away in Bloomsbury.

With over 80,000 objects displayed within its rather small space – it’s a full-blown immersion into the world of the ancient Egyptians .

From the world’s oldest dress to pyramid texts and beautifully engraved ceramics, The Petrie offers a glimpse into a civilisation past (and on a much more manageable scale than the nearby British Museum too).

Read More: Visiting the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology

Go to a Magic Show and Visit the Magic Circle Museum

Euston 

There’s nothing quite like the thrill of a magic show. Sadly, these days good magic shows are few and far between.. Until you head to The Magic Circle that is. The circle is a society of some of the world’s best magicians and illusionists.

You’ll be happy to hear that they frequently host top-class shows that make for a much cooler alternative to a night in the pub.

There’s even a museum – though it’s only accessible with a ticket to one of the shows. It’s well worth a visit. There’s also no public access to the building at other times so buckle up and prepare to have your mind blown. 

Take the Parkland Walk 

Finsbury Park, Muswell Hill  

Parkland Walk

Living in the concrete jungle can get a bit much sometimes. It’s good to take in a little nature once in a while. Parkland Walk makes the perfect place for exactly a bit of that. 

It’s London’s longest nature trail, stretching a mild 3.1 miles from Finsbury Park to Muswell Hill. The walk follows the route of an old rail line that ran from the two parts of London and has now been removed and left as a space for nature to flourish. 

It boasts some lovely views, plenty of scenic spots and no end of quirky elements – creepy railway arches and spriggans included. 

See the Jean Cocteau Murals in the Notre Dame de France

Covent Garden 

Jean Cocteau Murals

French novelist and director Jean Cocteau is best known for his writing (Les Enfants Terribles) and avant-garde films (Beauty and the Beast, and Orpheus, among others). However, Cocteau also blessed London with a unique series of murals.

Hidden in plain sight in a church on the corner of Chinatown in the West End, the murals are dedicated to the Virgin Mary and show the religious celebrations of the Annunciation, the Crucifixion and the Assumption. (And no, that’s not the one in Paris)

Bold and striking, the murals are one of London’s quirkier sights. You’ll find them in the Church of Notre Dame de France (And no, that’s not the one in Paris).

Ride the Mail Rail

Mount Pleasant

Mail Rail

Quite a few Londoners will have heard of the Mail Rail but most people are hazy about what and where it is.

In its former life, the Mail Rail was the lifeblood of the Royal Mail postal service. Ferrying thousands of letters to and from the sorting office on Mount Pleasant, the railway operated from 1927 until 2003.

Today, you can hop aboard the railway as part of a visit to the Postal Museum . A train ride through a tiny tunnel in an immersive railway experience – certainly one of the more unusual ways to explore London’s subterranean world.

Feast at Bob Bob Ricard

Bob Bob Ricard

It’s no secret that Bob Bob Ricard is one of our favourite restaurants. Not only is the menu totally decadent – it’s the perfect spot for a splashy night out where all you want is good food, great cocktails and even better champagne.

Bob Bob’s appeal is that it lies a world away from the bland cookie-cutter restaurants that seem to dominate the city’s dining scene.

Cosily ensconced in your banquette booth, you are encouraged to ring the bell discreetly labelled “Press for Champagne” as you feast on lobster, truffled fries, souffles and other such indulgences. Dinner at Bob Bob is an unforgettable London experience – book ahead at weekends.

Read more: Bob Bob Ricard Review

Step into the World of Harry Potter at The House of Minalima

House of Minalima

Who else is a raging Harry Potter fan? We’ll freely admit that even years after the final film, we still sit down with the box set every Christmas, drawn into the world of The Boy Who Lived.

If you can relate, you should totally get yourself down to The House of Minalima – one of our fave quirky places in the capital (and one of London’s top Harry Potter sights).

The House of Minalima is the brainchild of Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima, the creators of the graphic universe in the Harry Potter films. The store features all kinds of graphic works that appear in the film – including some that have come straight from the Harry Potter Studios .

From wanted posters of escaped Azkaban inmates (Bellatrix Lestrange still frightens us to this day), to books adorned with Gilderoy Lockhart’s’ simpering face and copies of the Quibbler and The Daily Prophet, it’s part-shop-part immersion into the world of wizarding.

What’s more? There’s a whole floor dedicated to Fantastic Beasts too ( hello Eddie Redmayne..)

Read More: Step into the World of Harry Potter in Soho – The House of Minalima

Take a Snap Running Through to Platform 9 ¾

King’s Cross

Harry Potter Platform 9 3/4

There’s no shortage of Harry Potter finds in London – but a trip to Platform 9 ¾ to take a picture of you pretending to run through the wall is pretty much mandatory. You’ll find it in Kings Cross Railway Station.

Just head to the back of the station and look for the crowds of people wearing Hogwarts scarfs and brandishing HP merch. You can’t miss it. 

Get Street at Leake Street Graffiti Tunnel

Leake Street Tunnel

It’s no secret that London is a street art lover’s dream .

Shoreditch , Camden , Walthamstow, Croydon and Brixton are great places to go if you’re looking to spot some cool murals. If there’s one spot that’s always packed with awesome works from a diverse range of artists it is Leake Street Tunnel .

The tunnel is just behind Waterloo Station and constantly features an ever-changing rotation of street art. The tunnel first rose to fame when Banksy organised Cans Festival in 2008, which saw 30 artists transform the bleak tunnel into a multi-faceted and colourful canvas.

Whenever you visit, you’re bound to see a new piece in the making, not to mention hundreds of others sprayed on every single inch of the tunnel’s walls.

The tunnel is also surrounded by (and filled with) great bars and restaurants for a bit of a recharge should you need it. 

Read more: Street Art in Camden

Visit the London Transport Museum’s Depot

Acton 

London Transport Museum Depot

A trip to the London Transport Museum is one of the more unusual days out in London – but if you want to go the full hog, you should travel out to Acton to visit the museum’s vast depot .

The depot is packed with the transportation of times past. Ever wondered what trains looked like on the Metropolitan Line in the 30s? Now’s your chance to find out. The place is packed with literally hundreds of thousands of vintage vehicles and transport-related items, including some uber-cool vintage tube posters.

The depot only opens to the public for special events – check the London Transport Museum’s website for more details.

Play Bingo in a Beautiful Grade I Listed Cinema

Tooting 

Billed as the most spectacular cinema in Britain, the former Granada Cinema in Tooting was one of a handful of Art Deco cinemas built in the thirties.

These days it’s a Buzz Bingo and without a doubt, it’s the most beautiful space you’ll ever play bingo in – and one of the most unusual places to visit in London to boot.

The interior was inspired by the Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain – that will explain the soaring arches and intricate carvings inside then. It can be a bit distracting – all that beauty when you’re simply trying to play a game of bingo, but we’re sure you will struggle through.

Check Out Severndroog Castle

Woolwich 

Severndroog Castle

Eltham is one of those surprise places that you never think to visit – but when you do, you find out it’s home to some of London’s weirdest spots – Severndroog Castle being a case in point.

The unusual London castle was built as a memorial to naval commander Sir William James by his wife in the 18th century. 

An architectural oddity, the triangular castle is made of three rooms, each atop the other and crowned with a viewing platform that boasts some of the best views in South London.

You can visit from Thursday to Sunday 9am – 3.30pm and see what this obscure place is all about. 

Visit London’s Smallest Police Station

Trafalgar Square

Smallest Police Station Trafalgar Square

Have you ever wondered what the small Tardis-like box perched on the corner of Trafalgar Square is? The answer is London’s smallest police station.

The box (which, in truth isn’t a police station but an observation post made from a hollowed-out lamppost), gives the officer inside a view across the whole of the square – an important as Trafalgar Square is used as a frequent spot for protesters.

In the day and age of modern surveillance, the boxlike station is no longer used, but that shouldn’t stop you from striking a pose outside anyway.

See the Views from Westminster Cathedral’s Bell Tower

Westminster

Westminster Cathedral makes for an interesting visit on any day of the week, but did you know it also makes for one of the best viewing platforms in London? 

Yep, you can actually climb to the top of the cathedral’s tower and soak in views of the city right from its heart, 64 metres up in the air. It’s not often you get a chance to see the capital from that angle. 

The tower is open to the public on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 11am to 3.30pm. 

Get Wet at Lee Valley White Water Centre

Waltham Cross 

The Olympics may have brought a new sense of pride to London, but even though the events are long-finished, their legacy lives on.

The Lee Valley White Water Centre may technically be in Herefordshire, but it’s close enough that you can get there without breaking a sweat. Believe us when we say that it is worth the effort.

Where else are you going to get the chance to tackle white water rapids, go canoeing, kayaking or tubing less than an hour from the centre of town?

Wrap Up and Visit the Hampstead Observatory

If you want to see something that will really impress, you can actually go and look at the planets and stars at an observatory in London. 

Hampstead Observatory opens to the public from mid September to mid April and gives you a chance to gaze through some astronomically large (geddit?) telescopes. The sessions do depend on the alignment of the planets so you have to be flexible. 

They also happen in winter because you’ll have less light which is better for seeing the planets with, so remember to bring a warm coat. 

See the York House Watergate – A Testament to the Banking of the Thames

Embankment 

York House Watergate

The banking of the Thames was a feat of Victorian engineering. The Thames is a tidal river, and prior to the banking project, its shores extended way beyond the river we see today.

The York House Watergate is one of the few remaining watergates that used to provide entry to the riverside mansions that lined the shores of the river.

Tucked away down a narrow alley that begins about halfway up Villiers Street, the gate shows just how much the Thames was narrowed when it was banked- it stands just under 144 metres from the bank of the Thames today.

Read More: Cool Things to See in and Around Covent Garden

Check out the Christopher Wren Architecture at St Stephen Walbrook

Christopher Wren basically re-designed London after the Great Fire of 1666. Most famous for his work on St Paul’s Cathedral, he actually created the designs for a number of buildings in central London, St Stephen Walbrook among them.

The church is an unusual place – particularly for architectural buffs to see Wren’s work on a much smaller scale. It’s also just rather beautiful. The knave is bright and airy in a way that stands in direct contrast to other more gothic places of worship.

Don’t forget to pop into the Mithraeum (featured above) a few doors down once you’re done.

Visit the Clown’s Gallery and Museum

Dalston 

If you’re after an afternoon of clowning around (harr harr) you probably can’t do better than The Clown’s Gallery and Museum . Established in 1959, the museum has been building a collection of items that illustrate the fine art of the clown. 

We’re guessing some of you might be getting the spooks just thinking about it, but if you’re interested (or just looking for something different to do) this place will provide plenty of laughs. 

Highlights include the Egg Gallery, where you can see the individual face painting patterns of clowns painted on eggs. Funnily enough this was originally a practice to protect your pattern against plagiarism, the eggs making a perfect shape to represent a human head. 

Get Spooked at Crossbones Burial Ground

Southwark 

Murky views of The Shard and Crossbones

Make your way through the maze of streets in Southwark to find the rather strange and eerie Crossbones Burial Ground .

A lot of weird things to see and do in London revolve around bodies and death, and Crossbones is no exception.

The burial ground once sat within London’s poorest slum and many of the city’s paupers and prostitutes are buried within its grounds. The graveyard closed in the 1850s, by which time it’s estimated that over 15,000 people were buried within it.

Today, people use the site to commemorate loved ones who have passed away – the ground’s boundaries are covered in flowers, ribbons and wreaths in varying stages of decay.

You can also attend the monthly Vigil for the Outcasts – a service meant to remember outcasts living and dead.

See Giro’s Grave

St James’

What’s so weird about some guy’s grave we hear you ask. Well, first off it’s not a guy, it’s a dog, and what’s more that dog was a nazi. 

Giro was a pet terrier. He came to London with his owner, German ambassador Leopold von Hoesch, in 1932. Von Hoesch would go on to represent the Nazi Party after they seized power a few years later. 

He’d also go on to create a memorial for his beloved pet, who strangely enough died of electrocution after chewing through an electrical cable. That memorial is the only one you can find in Britain that commemorates a nazi. 

You can find it at Carlton House Terrace, St. James’s, London SW1Y 5AJ. 

Pull Some Teeth at The British Dental Association Museum 

Inside the British Dental Association Museum

Housed in a tiny (and we mean tiny) room in the British Dental Association , this museum charts the history of the British dental profession.

Modern dentistry, with its white rooms and concerns about hygiene, is a very recent thing – the museum has a few (pretty horrifying) images of blacksmiths pulling out people’s teeth, as well as some of the crude items used to do the job.

Though it’s small, there are a couple of fun interactive exhibits – you can test your skills at pulling people’s teeth, or using a treadle-powered drill to drill into a tooth (don’t put it in your mouth, it’s sharp enough to do damage).

Hopefully you’ll time your visit to coincide with the hours of the ebullient guide, who talked us through the exhibits and really brought the museum to life.

Freak Yourself Out at The Old Operating Theatre

Borough 

If you’ve got the stomach for it, The Old Operating Theatre never fails to make for a curious day of exploration. 

The place was actually lost for many years, then rediscovered when an adventurous researcher decided to climb to the attic of St Thomas’ Hospital in Southwark. 

The space used to be an operating theatre, primarily used for female surgery cases. The space has been restored to a worryingly accurate degree. What’s the worrying part? The fact that you can see where people used to gather round to watch the operations. 

Given the quality of surgery back in the 1800s when the space was in use, it creeps us out no end. 

Knock Yourself Out at the Anaesthesia Heritage Centre

London Anaesthesia Centre

Another quirky quease-inducing museum in a small room – the Anaesthesia Heritage Centre showcases the curious and interesting history of the use of anaesthetics in medicine.

While the history is relatively tame, the implements used in the past were not – you can’t help but shudder at the drawers of gigantic needles and syringes. Ring the bell at the Association of Anaesthetists and they’ll show you down.

Peek at the Hyde Park Pet Cemetery

Hyde Park 

hyde park pet cemetery

A sad and wobegon spot on the edge of Hyde Park, the Hyde Park Pet Cemetery was an unofficial pet cemetery in the then-parkkeeper Mr Windbridge’s back garden. After the first burial in 1880, over 300 pets were buried by Mr Windbridge until he closed it in 1915 due to a lack of space.

You can’t get inside the garden itself, but you can see it through the railings from the pavement outside the park.

Visit Postman’s Park

Watts Memorial in Postman

Postman’s Park is both touching and tragic – it was built to memorialise Londoners who died doing heroic deeds. You can read about their sad and sometimes grisly deaths – there are several drownings, tales of people who caught fire trying to put out one another and more strange tales you can’t help but marvel at.

If you’re thinking that it sounds a bit familiar – the park actually features in the film Closer . Natalie Portman’s character takes her pseudonym from a plaque on the memorial at the beginning of the film.

Read More: Postman’s Park – London’s Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice

Check out the Golden Boy of Pye Corner – The Alternative Monument to the Great Fire of London

Golden Boy of Pye Corner

Everyone knows about The Monument that was erected as a memorial of the Great Fire of London… but there’s another, much smaller and more random memorial to the fire on the corner of Cock Lane (seriously, that’s its name).

Stand on the corner, look up and you’ll see a small statue of a fat, golden boy set into the wall on a spot marking the outer limit of the Great Fire. He stands as a reminder of the true cause of the great fire (it started in a bakery on Pudding Lane and finished on Pye Corner) – gluttony.  Be warned.

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Seven of the UK’s most magical outdoor theatres

Pair picnics and rosé with an alfresco show at these venues, showing everything from shakespeare to singin’ in the rain. plus we’ve selected the loveliest places to stay nearby.

The Minack Theatre In Cornwall

W ith summer just around the corner, Britain’s outdoor theatrical venues are springing into action, setting up lights, polishing seating and rehearsing, so they are ready for the crowds. Pack fleeces and flasks and settle in to enjoy the spectacle on clifftops and tiny islands, in city parks and at stately homes. Beyond the great ideas below, you may be lucky enough to pick up returns for the sold-out Macbeth at what will be the final season at Brownsea Open Air Theatre, a quick ferry ride from Poole in Dorset (July 24 to August 9, £30; brownsea-theatre.co.uk).

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1. Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, London

Twelfth Night is on the bill for this summer at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

A much more solid structure than many pop-up summer theatres, Regent’s Park OAT is tucked to one side of Queen Mary’s Gardens. Huge musical revivals and Shakespeare plays are mounted here, as well as magical child-friendly productions: 2024’s summer season includes Twelfth Night , Fiddler on the Roof and The Secret Garden . More than 33,000 tickets are sold at £15, keeping things affordable, and once you’re in the venue, there’s a posh-festival feel not unlike Wimbledon tennis, with bars selling rosé and cheeseboards and picnic benches outside the theatre area. There’s a real romance too, as the sun goes down and the stage glows under the lights (until September 21, from £15; openairtheatre.com). You’ll be steps away from the park gates with a stay at the smart, modern Melia White House. Details Room-only doubles from £188 (melia.com)

2. Thorington Theatre, near Southwold, Suffolk

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is is part of the Thorington Theatre’s summer season

Set in pristine woodland outside the village of Thorington, this 360-seat venue was created in an old Second World War bomb crater. Built during the pandemic using sustainably coppiced chestnut timber from the surrounding area, it has a wooden thrust-style stage, meaning great views for all, and hosts plays and talks throughout summer. This year visitors can look forward to an evening with Charlie Mackesy , author of The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse ; the musical Sunday in the Park with George; and the atmospheric A Midsummer Night’s Dream (until August 31, from £18; thoringtontheatre.co.uk). Explore Suffolk’s gorgeous heritage coast with its walks and shingle beaches while you’re here — the Randolph at Reydon makes the perfect base. Details B&B doubles from £180 (therandolph.co.uk)

3. Brighton Open Air Theatre, East Sussex

Highlights of this year’s Brighton Open Air Theatre season include As You Like It

A 400-seat amphitheatre in Dyke Road Park, Brighton Open Air Theatre (aka Boat) is just as diverse as you’d expect from the south coast’s hippyish, edgy, LGBT-friendly hub. Drag, comedy and burlesque intermingle with puppetry-led children’s shows: this year’s highlights include a touring As You Like It and an adaptation of the classic film Brief Encounter (until September 22, from £11; brightonopenairtheatre.co.uk). Stay at the central Hotel du Vin for sea swims, exploring the independent shops around The Lanes, a visit to the whimsical Regency-era Royal Pavilion and some of the country’s best record and book shops. Details Room-only doubles from £99 (hotelduvin.com)

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4. pitlochry festival theatre, port na craig, perth and kinross.

The amphitheatre in Pitlochry Festival Theatre’s Explorers Garden has an enchanting leafy backdrop

This leading Scottish arts venue is in the village of Port na Craig, across the River Tummel from Pitlochry. It is a magnet for theatre buffs, who swing by for summer season and stay in the area for a week or two to catch shows at the enchanting amphitheatre in the Explorers Garden. This year’s programme includes a magical outdoor adaptation of The Secret Garden and a Scottish Gaelic and Scots language version of Purcell’s opera Dido & Aeneas , with a romantic backdrop of leafy evergreens (July 12 to September 15, from £25; pitlochryfestivaltheatre.com). Slot it into a Scottish road trip ‒ the Cairngorms National Park is nearby — or, to be a short walk from Loch Rannoch, stay at the grand Fonab Castle Hotel with its stylish spa. Details B&B doubles from £276 (fonabcastlehotel.com)

5. Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre, Chester, Cheshire

Catch productions by the local theatre company Storyhouse at Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre in Chester

With performances in the round, this summer pop-up in a Chester city park has the feel of a circus big top. Putting on shows produced by the local theatre company Storyhouse, it’s scheduled to stage a take on The Gangs of New York , based on the same book as the Scorsese film. More old-school is Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest and, for families, an immersive, walk-through Wizard of Oz experience (July 19 to September 1, from £7.50; storyhouse.com). While you’re in Chester, visit the city walls — the oldest, longest and most complete defences in Britain — climb to the top of the cathedral’s central tower, and stay at the Chester Grosvenor for afternoon teas and spa treatments. Details B&B doubles from £175 (chestergrosvenor.com)

6. Kilworth House Theatre, Lutterworth, Leicestershire

Kilworth House Theatre is one of the UK’s best outdoor venues

Hidden in a country glade close to the county’s Kilworth House Hotel, this expertly rigged-up theatre has dramatic, sail-shaped canopies to protect theatregoers from the elements. Considered one of the UK’s best outdoor venues, the tiered 547-seater showcases West-End-standard musicals — this year’s is the tap-dancing classic Singin’ In The Rain — plus there’s live music from the country’s best tribute acts and themed murder mystery dinners (June 18 to July 28, from £45; kilworthhouse.co.uk). Make a weekend of it by staying on at grand Kilworth House with its 38 acres of grounds, and visiting Leicester’s King Richard III museum, which tells the gripping story of the discovery of the king’s remains in a car park here in 2012. Details B&B doubles from £165 (kilworthhouse.co.uk)

7. The Minack Theatre, Porthcurno, Cornwall

Bring a cushion if you’re going to see something at the Minack Theatre

Cut into rugged emerald cliffs above the Cornish sea, Porthcurno’s historic open-air theatre is always worth a look. Even if there’s no play on, you can take a guided tour and stroll its subtropical gardens. Live theatre runs all summer, with this year’s programme including Marlowe’s classic Doctor Faustus , the musical Little Shop of Horrors and an adaptation of The French Lieutenant’s Woman . It’s a bit of an adventure: there are steep steps down to the theatre (wheelchair access is available) and you should bring a cushion; seating is on stone benches or grass (until September 21, from £10; minack.com). Boskenna Home Farm, where breakfast is raved about, is a 15-minute drive away. Details B&B doubles from £120 (luxury-cornwall.co.uk)

Have we missed your favourite outdoor theatre? Let us know in the comments below

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places to visit in london and nearby

Seven unusual places to visit in London for free

W ith the cost of living crisis continuing to affect us all, it’s no surprise that people are looking for more and more opportunities to cut costs on days out and other activities.

The good news, if you live in or near London, is that there’s no shortage of things to do for nothing – with many of the capital’s biggest museums, galleries and parks free of charge – while taking in many of the famous sights on a walk won’t cost you a penny.

But if you fancy something a little more off the beaten track, there are plenty of hidden gems in London you might not have come across before, from more unusual museums and stately homes to gorgeous parks further afield in the city.

And many of those are also completely free to visit – meaning it won’t cost you any more than the price of a Tube fare.

So if you’re looking for somewhere a bit different for a day out, consider giving some of these a go. The trip out of the centre will be worth it…

Richmond Park/Isabella Plantation

One of London’s eight Royal Parks, Richmond Park is often overlooked in favour of the more centrally located parks – but it’s a must-visit for fans of unusual wildlife as well as those looking for a haven away from the centre of town.

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As well as being home to rare species of flowers, fungi, deer and other wildlife, for true tranquillity head straight to the Isabella Plantation, a stunning 40-acre woodland garden tucked away in a corner of the park that houses all manner of unusual trees and shrubs.

It’s particularly known for its rare Kurume azaleas, which were introduced to the UK from Japan in the 1920s and which still blossom every spring.

Tube: Richmond (District Line/Overground/National Rail)

London Mithraeum

If you’re fascinated by ancient history then get yourself to the City Of London to check out this cultural hub, situated on the site of the ancient Roman temple of Mithras.

The site lies over the Walbrook, one of the city’s lost rivers, dating back to the 3rd Century AD and dedicated to the cult of Mithras, which was founded in ancient Rome and spread across the Empire over the next couple of centuries.

Its remains were discovered during an archaeological dig in London in 1954, and have since been turned into a multi-sensory experience featuring artefacts, immersive installations and more.

12 Walbrook, London, EC4N 8AA

Nearest Tube: Bank (Central Line, Northern Line, DLR), St Paul’s (Central Line), Mansion House (Circle and District Line)

The Horniman Museum

It’s worth making the trip out to South London for this quirky museum, which houses a huge collection of natural history, anthropology and other unusual exhibits.

The majority of the museum, and the gardens, are free – which means you can gaze all you want at the giant stuffed walrus which takes pride of place in its midst – but there is a charge for the aquarium, the butterfly house and some of the exhibitions – check the website for more details of the cost.

As an added bonus if you go on a Sunday you can visit the Horniman Market and pick up some local produce, organic fruit and veg or artisan cheese – or visit one of the many craft, design and body care stalls there.

100 London Road, Forest Hill London SE23 3PQ

Overground: Forest Hill

Aldenham Country Park/Winnie The Pooh trail

This one’s all the way out near Elstree, but if you have young kids who love Winnie The Pooh then it’s well worth the effort.

The park is a not-for-profit venture based across 100 acres of land, featuring nature trails, wide open green spaces and 100 Aker Wood – where you can explore Winnie The Pooh’s world, locate his and his friend’s houses and even play a game of Pooh Sticks on the bridge.

Other attractions include a farm and adventure playground, for which there is a small charge – you can even go camping in the park grounds.

Aldenham Road,  Elstree,  Hertfordshire , WD6 3BA

Thameslink: Elstree and Borehamwood

Tucked away in a corner of north-west London, discover the history of the RAF, from its formation in 1918 through to its involvement in conflicts over the past century, and how it’s adapting to the technological changes of the future.

The displays of planes and marine craft, as well as other artefacts, are free to visit but there’s a small charge for the museum’s 4D theatre, allowing audiences to experience a pilot’s eye view of soaring through the skies, and its flight simulator.

Grahame Park Way, London, NW9 5LL

Tube: Colindale (Northern Line)

God’s Own Junkyard

A gallery with a difference, it’s worth venturing out to Walthamstow to visit this warehouse filled to the brim with neon signs.

The brainchild of Chris Bracey, who’s made props and signs for Hollywood movies and worked with the likes of Tim Burton and Christopher Nolan, it features everything from old movie props to those specially created for other events – and it’s visually stunning, not to mention highly Instagrammable.

You can even rent or buy some of the signs on display – although be warned that doesn’t come cheap.

Unit 12 Ravenswood Ind Estate, Shernhall Street, London, E17 9HQ

Overground: Wood Street

Hackney City Farm

You might not expect to find a farm in the midst of the city, but if you want to escape from life for a bit and spend it petting goats and donkeys you don’t have to go too far to find it.

Hackney City Farm offers the chance for you to get up close to the animals and see them in their habitat – as well as visit the orchard and vegetable gardens and learn more about how to lower your environmental impact.

It’s free to enter but you can make a donation in lieu of an entry fee – while the farm also offers paid-for classes in pottery, woodworking, using herbs and bike maintenance, among others – you can find out more at the website.

1a Goldsmiths Row, London E2 8QA

Overground: Cambridge Heath

Shri Swaminarayan Mandir

Aka the ‘Neasden temple’, this stunning place of Hindu worship offers a haven of peace and tranquility just a stone’s throw from the North Circular – and it’s completely free to visit.

The interior is just as spectacular as the outside, with its intricate carvings, marble columns and the Cantilever dome at the heart of the building. Depending on when you go you might also get the chance to see a traditional arti ceremony, involving waving lighted wicks before sacred images as a form of greeting and thanksgiving.

The temple also houses a permanent exhibition explaining the traditions and values of Hinduism, as well as offering visitors the chance for meditation and reflection while under the dome.

Pramukh Swami Rd, Neasden, London NW10 8HW

Tube: Neasden (Jubilee Line)

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A guide to the London Athletics 2024

A red running track

What is the London Athletics Meet?

Getting tickets for london athletics meet events, event timetable, places to stay near london stadium.

For one day every year, London hosts the world’s best athletes in an unmissable spectacle for athletics fans. When international athletes meet, world records are beaten. Most recently, Medina Eisa set a new Under-20 world record at the Meet, running 5000m in 14:16.54. From shot put to pole vault, you’re guaranteed action.

People running on a red running track

The London Athletics Meet is a one-day athletics event at London Stadium on Saturday, 20 July 2024. It's the UK’s biggest one-day athletics event.

The London Athletics Meet has various ticket options. Prices vary by seating location. For example, Category A adult seats (closest to the track) cost £95, while Category E seats (furthest from the track) cost £23.

H2: How to get to London Stadium

London Stadium is in Stratford, East London, in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. South Western Railway has trains to London Stadium via London Waterloo . From there, catch the Jubilee line to Stratford, walking 12 minutes to the stadium.

Snoozebox Olympic Park

Snoozebox Olympic Park is an adults-only hotel made from shipping containers. It offers comfort and affordability, and it’s only a 10-minute walk from the stadium.

Holiday Inn Express London Stratford

Holiday Inn Express London Stratford has all the amenities for a comfortable stay, including free high-speed internet, blackout shades and tea and coffee facilities. It’s a 16-minute walk from the stadium.

Travelodge London Stratford

Travelodge London Stratford is perfect for families on a budget. Rooms have Wi-Fi, Freeview TV, and blackout curtains. The stadium is a 17-minute walk away.

Premier Inn London Stratford

Premier Inn London Stratford is another affordable family stay. Rooms have free Wi-Fi, power showers, and tea and coffee facilities. The stadium is an 18-minute walk away.

Price: £ Address: Premier Inn London Stratford hotel, 9, International Square, Westfield Stratford City, Montfichet Rd, London E20 1EE

Discover cheap train tickets to London by booking in advance and travelling off-peak. Passengers with a  Railcard  could save more. Those travelling in a group could benefit from GroupSave or a  Family and Friends Railcard . Travel at any time with Sunday Out tickets and return any time with Semi Flex Return tickets .

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NEWS... BUT NOT AS YOU KNOW IT

What was the song drowning out Rishi’s snap General Election announcement?

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Rishi Sunak ’s general election announcement was already not going to plan, with his blazer drenched (but somehow his hair still in place) from the rain.

So the sound of Tony Blair ’s 1997 election soundtrack Things Can Only Get Better by the Northern Irish band D:Ream drowning him out was the cherry on top.

Anti-Brexit campaigner Steve Bray said he decided to blast the track out of an amplifier because it was a ‘top trolling song for the Conservatives’.

The lyrics of the song, first released in 1993, read: ‘So teach me now that things can only get better / Only get, they only get, take it on from here / You know, I know that things can only get better.’

The sound of the dance-pop song that marked Blair’s success only came to an end when Bray’s amplifiers got soaked.

‘I’ll just buy some more,’ he said outside Westminster Abbey.

we had a good run at Downing Street but both and amplifiers got soaked and blown. They lasted for the moment that mattered. pic.twitter.com/zH0LInQzaY — GET TORIES DONE – GENERAL ELECTION NOW! (@snb19692) May 22, 2024

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Things can only get wetter pic.twitter.com/0k658C6oXx — Jessica Elgot (@jessicaelgot) May 22, 2024

He added: ‘I thought about what would be the best trolling tune if he announced the election.

‘And of course, it had to be Things Can Only Get Better. Because everybody can relate to that and the 1997 election.

‘I didn’t do it for Labour. I did it because it was the top trolling song for the Conservatives.’

Bray said he received complaints that some spectators couldn’t hear Sunak’s speech because of the song, leading to him being banned from protesting outside Parliament and Whitehall

‘Look at the damage Sunak’s done to the country,’ Bray said in response.

‘If they couldn’t hear the speech, it’s still reported. They’ll know what he said.’

Peter Cunnah, of D:Ream, sings the famous song (Picture: Shutterstock)

Bray added: ‘Of course, the police are trying to shut us down all the time. Both of the amps got soaked and they blew anyway.

‘it was just so wet today. Water got into them and they were just gone.’

Standing outside on a rainy day by Downing Street, Suank said: ‘This hard-earned economic stability was only ever meant to be the beginning, the question now is how and who do you trust to turn that foundation into a secure future for you, your family, and our country?

‘Now is the moment for Britain to choose its future, to decide whether we want to build on the progress we have made or risk going back to square one with no plan and no certainty.’

Before today, November was the most heavily anticipated date for the next general election – but the date has now been confirmed as July 4.

What will be the big issues at a summer election?

Starmer and Sunak will go head to head in the general election (Picture: AP)

The Conservatives are likely to point to falling inflation as evidence the government’s economic plan is working.

And remember on April 28, when Rishi Sunak said the first Rwanda migrant flights will be taking off in 10-12 weeks?

Well, 10 and a bit weeks after that date is July 4. The PM is no doubt hoping those planes take off in the days beforehand.

Labour will hope to place the focus on the cost of living, and will be asking voters whether they feel better off than they did when the Tories first took over in 2010.

Leader Sir Keir Starmer wasted no time in releasing a campaign video on his X account within minutes of the announcement being made.

He said: ‘Britain is a great and proud country, but after 14 years under the Tories, nothing seems to work anymore.

‘Public services crumbling, ambulances that don’t come, families weighed down by higher mortgage rates, antisocial behaviour on our high streets – the list goes on and on.’

The last July General Election took place in 1945, and resulted in Clement Attlee forming the Labour government that created institutions like the NHS.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at [email protected] .

For more stories like this, check our news page .

MORE : How AI could have a massive impact on the General Election

MORE : Why did Rishi just call an election when he’s so far behind in the polls?

MORE : Can the King or the rest of the Royal Family vote in elections?

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The Picture Show

Photos: see the northern lights from rare solar storm.

Geoff Brumfiel, photographed for NPR, 17 January 2019, in Washington DC.

Geoff Brumfiel

places to visit in london and nearby

Christchurch, New Zealand: People look at the Aurora Australis, also known as the Southern Lights, in Rolleston on May 11, 2024. Sanka Vidanagama/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

The largest geomagnetic storm in nearly two decades is hitting Earth's atmosphere . It's producing a beautiful glow in the sky all over the world.

A sunspot has sent a stream of charged particles towards Earth.

As those particles hit the Earth's atmosphere they will be heated and start glowing producing beautiful aurora.

The huge solar storm is keeping power grid and satellite operators on edge

South looks north, as solar storm brings auroras

Lisa Upton is with the Southwest Research Institute. Social media is already filling with photos from places like Finland, Russia, Germany and New Zealand, which catches the same effect in the southern hemisphere. It's not clear how far down in the U.S. the aurora will spread, but Upton is keeping an eye out in Colorado.

Space weather forecasters expect the solar storm to peak overnight, but it will last throughout the weekend.

places to visit in london and nearby

Brunswick, Maine: The northern lights flare in the sky over a farmhouse, late Friday, May 10, 2024. Robert F. Bukaty/AP hide caption

Brunswick, Maine: The northern lights flare in the sky over a farmhouse, late Friday, May 10, 2024.

places to visit in london and nearby

Estacada, Ore.: In this image taken with a long exposure, cars pass by as people look at the night sky towards the northern lights, or Aurora Borealis, on Friday, May 10, 2024, in Estacada, Ore. Jenny Kane/AP hide caption

places to visit in london and nearby

Lake Berryessa, Calif.: The blinking lights of a plane streak through the aurora borealis, also known as the northern lights, which is visible on May 11, 2024. Carlos Avila Gonzalez/San Francisco Chronicle/Getty Images hide caption

places to visit in london and nearby

London, Ontario: People stop along a country road near London, Ontario to watch the Northern lights or aurora borealis during a geomagnetic storm on May 10, 2024. Geoff Robins/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

places to visit in london and nearby

Brandenburg, Germany: Light green and slightly reddish auroras glow in the night sky. Patrick Pleul/dpa/picture alliance/Getty Images hide caption

Brandenburg, Germany: Light green and slightly reddish auroras glow in the night sky.

places to visit in london and nearby

Whitley Bay, England: People visit St Mary's lighthouse in Whitley Bay to see the aurora borealis, commonly known as the northern lights. Ian Forsyth/Getty Images hide caption

places to visit in london and nearby

Crosby Beach, Liverpool, England: The aurora borealis, also known as the northern lights, glow on the horizon at Another Place by Anthony Gormley. Peter Byrne/PA Images/Getty Images hide caption

Crosby Beach, Liverpool, England: The aurora borealis, also known as the northern lights, glow on the horizon at Another Place by Anthony Gormley.

places to visit in london and nearby

Saxony-Anhalt, Schierke, Germany: Northern lights can be seen from the Brocken. The natural spectacle is particularly intense on Saturday night. Matthias Bein/dpa/picture alliance/Getty Images hide caption

places to visit in london and nearby

Rochester, N.Y: Northern Lights light up the sky on May 11, 2024. Lokman Vural Elibol/Anadolu/Getty Images hide caption

places to visit in london and nearby

Hesse, Germany: Northern lights appear in the night sky over the Pferdskopf near Treisberg in the Hochtaunus district of Hesse. Lando Hass/dpa/picture alliance/Getty Images hide caption

places to visit in london and nearby

Mount Mitchell, N.C.: Unusual sun activity created a G5 Geostorm on Earth sparks northern lights on May 10, 2024. Peter Zay/Anadolu/Getty Images hide caption

places to visit in london and nearby

London, Ontario: Northern lights or aurora borealis illuminate the night sky near London, Ontario, during a geomagnetic storm on May 10, 2024. Geoff Robins/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

places to visit in london and nearby

Debrad, Slovakia: Northern lights illuminate the sky May 11, 2024. Robert Nemeti/Anadolu/Getty Images hide caption

places to visit in london and nearby

Eindhoven, Ukraine: Northern lights illuminate the sky in Eindhoven, Ukraine, May 10, 2024. Nikos Oikonomou/Anadolu/Getty Images hide caption

places to visit in london and nearby

Liseleje, Denmark: Northern lights illuminate the sky in Liseleje, Denmark on May 11, 2024. Mohamed El-Shemy/Anadolu/Getty Images hide caption

places to visit in london and nearby

Markville, Minnesota: The northern lights glow in the sky over St. Croix State Forest late Friday, May 10, 2024. Mark Vancleave/AP hide caption

places to visit in london and nearby

Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine: Northern lights light up the sky May 11, 2024. Diego Herrera Carcedo/Anadolu/Getty Images hide caption

places to visit in london and nearby

Skidmore, Missouri: Old tombstones stand against the northern lights at a cemetery early Saturday, May 11, 2024. Charlie Riedel/AP hide caption

places to visit in london and nearby

Middletown, California: Northern lights illuminate the night sky over a camper's tent north of San Francisco on May 11, 2024. Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

Middletown, California: Northern lights illuminate the night sky over a camper's tent north of San Francisco on May 11, 2024.

places to visit in london and nearby

Estacada, Oregon: In this image taken with a long exposure, people look at the night sky towards the northern lights, or Aurora Borealis, on Friday, May 10, 2024. Jenny Kane/AP hide caption

  • northern lights
  • geomagnetic storms
  • aurora bourealis

Northern Lights: Where in the UK you will be able to see another display of aurora borealis tonight

  • Northern Lights
  • Monday 20 May 2024 at 12:18pm

BRAMLEY

Hues of luminescent pinks and greens lit the skies above the UK just days ago for what rate view of the aurora borealis - and the nation is set for another glimpse of the Northern Lights even sooner than expected.

Also known as aurora borealis, the spectacle is usually a rarity but recent spikes in geomagnetic activity have contributed to an increase in visibility.

Less than two weeks ago, the lights dazzled huge swaths of the UK - with the best visible in Whitley Bay on the north east coast, Essex, Cambridgeshire and Wokingham in Berkshire.

It was also spotted in Suffolk, Kent, Hampshire and Liverpool, and was even visible in parts of London.

The Met Office has confirmed that the display is not yet over and told ITV News there's a chance of some aurora visibility as early as Monday night in parts of the UK.

Where in the UK will the Northern Lights be visible from?

The weather forecaster said the phenomena will be seen most prominently in the "far north" and added "any viewing potential largely restricted to parts of northern Scotland and Northern Ireland".

But the lights could be captured by a camera by those in the north of England and Wales.

The Met Office noted that any visibility is likely to be significantly weaker than what was seen a few weekends ago, when auroras could be seen over the vast majority of the UK.

"Tonight, any visibility is likely much further north, with some breaks in the cloud likely aiding visibility," it said.

Why is the UK seeing glimpses of the Northern Lights?

The bands of pink and green light were seen across the UK and in parts of Europe last week after an extreme geomagnetic storm caused them to be more visible, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Aurora displays occur when charged particles from the sun, primarily electrons and protons, collide with gases in the Earth's atmosphere, typically oxygen and nitrogen.

These collisions emit light at various wavelengths, creating vibrant displays of colour in the sky, often appearing as curtains, arcs, or bands of light.

The sun is currently in the most active period of its 11-year cycle. The chances of aurora activity is expected to decline in the coming nights, the Met Office said.

Top viewing tips

Chris Page provided his tips for spotting the Aurora Borealis:

Look to the northern horizon: The aurora is drawn towards the polar regions of the Earth. As a result you might not be able to see it directly overhead, but as it happens so high in sky look towards the northern horizon where it's likely to be dancing.

You can see it with the naked eye but cameras tend to capture it better. This is because cameras can adapt to different wave lengths better than our eyes. Give yourself time to adjust, at least 10 minutes.

Find dark, open spaces: Seek out locations away from city lights and other sources of light pollution. Open fields, parks, or remote areas with unobstructed views of the northern horizon are ideal for aurora watching.

Be patient and persistent: Seeing the aurora requires patience and persistence, as it can be unpredictable and may not appear every night, even during periods of high activity. Stay flexible with your plans and be prepared to wait for hours if necessary.

Use long exposures for photography: If you're interested in photographing the aurora, use a camera with manual settings and a tripod to capture long exposures. Experiment with different exposure times and ISO settings to achieve the best results.

Stay up late: Auroras are often most active in the late evening to early morning hours, so plan to stay up late or wake up early for the best chance of seeing a spectacular display.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know…

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