My sister was transferred to London for work for three months in 2016 so I obviously took advantage of her living there and visited her for 5 days. I did 4 days of touring London (which was still not close to enough) and a half-day trip outside the city. Keep reading to find out the best things to do in London including where to visit and lots of restaurant and day trip options!
Disclosure: This “Best Things To Do In London” guide may contain affiliate links. I may receive commissions for purchases made through links in this post. As always, all opinions are my own and I would never post about something I have not personally used/verified.
TIPS FOR VISITING LONDON
- All the museums in London are free!
- Bring your Student ID if it applies – lots of good student discounts on the touristy stuff!
- If traveling alone, I recommend using Big Bus Tours London (or any of the Hop on Hop Off companies – but I liked this well-known company) to see all the sights. This makes it easy to get to all the must-sees under a pre-paid 24- or 48-hour ticket, instead of figuring out the metro and wasting time. Of course you’ll hit some serious London traffic but you’ll still be overground looking at the amazing city.
- For all of my travel/packing essentials I bring on any trip compiled together, head to my influencer page on Amazon here for a complete list or my descriptive carry-on packing guide here!
- I stayed with my sister while she was living in London but you can search here for London hotels and I suggest booking quickly since it’s a popular city!
HOW TO GET TO LONDON
Flying from America is beyond easy and is a quick 5/6 hour flight from New York . I suggest Virgin Atlantic personally, I have flown them many times, including all the way to South Africa, and love the airline, however all major carriers fly direct to London.
BEST THINGS TO DO IN LONDON
There is way too much to do in London to squeeze in five days. Below is a list of all of the AMAZING sights to see in London that I couldn’t even get through.
Most famous name (and songs), least famous bridge. Cool to see just to say you went to the London Bridge, but Tower Bridge is the famous, gorgeous one.
Definitely walk over Tower Bridge, maybe even multiple times. It is a gorgeous, historical, massive bridge with amazing views of the city. I also suggest coming here to watch the sunset if you can work that into your itinerary.
Top of the Shard:
One of the newest buildings in London, the Shard provides the best views of London from the highest point – it is twice the highest of any viewing point in London. The building is amazing and modern and is a must-go. You also must buy your tickets in advance on their website (you will save 6 euros!) so plan this in advance! You can buy them here: Top of the Shard tickets. The journey up is also awesome – they made a whole experience on the elevator ride. The picture below shows what the Shard building looks like (can’t miss it!) and the picture at the top of the article is the view from the top!
Most famous food market that is an absolute must when visiting London – preferably more than once. Borough Market is an indoor food market with all the food/drink/snack possibilities you could possibly imagine – it is heaven – and everything tastes amazing.
Tower of London/Crown Jewels:
One of the most popular attractions and the lines wind around the city. This is an essential visit, most notably the Crown Jewels. The Crown Jewels exhibit is inside the Tower of London and showcases all of the crowns and jewels (duh) of the previous kings and queens dating back far beyond our years.
Duh! The most famous attraction probably in Europe. Everyone waits on lines forever to ride the fun ferris wheel to get the best views in London. Can’t go to London and not ride the London Eye – but definitely get a fast pass online beforehand so you can skip to the front!
Westminster Abbey/House of Parliament:
The famous church in London, and one of the most famous in the world, and an essential to visit if you love gothic churches – it is also gorgeous to marvel at from the outside.
Can’t miss a famous picture of the Big Ben clocktower outside Westminster Abbey in the heart of London.
Where the Royal Family lives! Usually people go just for the changing of the guards (which I suggest) (you can find the timings each day online), but some seasons they have tours inside the palace. I happened to go during this time (while the family was at their summer house) and I was able to tour the castle and see a special Queen’s fashion exhibit there. Definitely try to get inside the palace if a tour is available – it is stunning.
The famous department store people travel from all over the world to come to! Everything is very high-end and it is easy to get lost in the massive store and try to buy something! A definite experience when coming to London.
Notting Hill/Portobello Market:
An area accessible by the metro in central London and probably my favorite part of London. You could spend hours just walking on these streets through the market and the colorful houses. A standard London experience that you cannot miss.
Regent Street is the main, huge boulevard in London near Piccadilly Circle and is famous for its high-end shopping. Take some time to walk around the Regent Street, Covent Garden and SoHo area.
Broadway is just as huge in London as it is in New York! I recommend going to their theater district and seeing a show there. My sister and I saw “Book of Mormon” there and it was incredible.
Other Popular London Attractions:
Other attractions that are popular, depending on your tastes, are the Beatles Tour/walk on Abbey Road, the Warner Brothers Studio tour, the Jack The Ripper Tour and the Cabinet War Rooms.
Click any of the activity links above to find out more!
WHERE TO EAT IN LONDON
- Flour to the People – trendy and known for their avocado toasts.
- Brickwood Coffee
- Farm Girl Cafe
- St. Clements Cafe
- Borough Market – DUH
You must take advantage of the UK’s favorite pasttime – afternoon tea! It is one of the best things in London to enjoy! While most restaurants offer specials and afternoon tea options, I would suggest making a reservation in advance at one of the fancier places below for a real, pampered experience.
These are mostly Italian restaurant recommendations due to my family’s eating habits but London obviously has an amazing food scene and you won’t go wrong anywhere.
- Cecconi’s – very good and near Theater District.
- Holborn Dining Room – get the burrata.
- Bocconcino – good Italian restaurant also near Theater District.
- Franco Manca – Very good pizza in Soho area.
- Bocca Di Lupo – One of the top restaurants in London, very good Italian. Near Piccadilly/Theater district. Highly recommended.
- Antico – Very good burrata and pasta, across London bridge.
- Novikov – Famous for pasta inside a parmesan cheese bowl.
- Morelli’s – famous gelato spot in London
- Molly Bakes
- Milk Train Cafe – cotton candy on ice cream – I recommend! (see picture)
Click any of the restaurant names above to learn more/make reservations!
BEST DAY TRIPS FROM LONDON
There is SO much to see around Great Britain and I highly suggest taking some of the amazing options of day trips from London. We only had a half day and chose Windsor Castle and it is definitely a must-visit. If we had a full day I would have done a combination Stonehenge, Windsor and Bath trip, which you can find on any tour company website. There are a bunch of other options here that cater to anyone’s interests, so pick which you would benefit from most!
- Bath – 1.5 hour train. World heritage city, architecture, ancient roman baths.
- Oxford – 1.5 hour train, pretty college town.
- Cambridge – 1.5 hour train, university, boat ride down river (punt tours)
- Brighton – <1 hour train, shopping, marina, beach, seaside town, depends on season.
- Edinburgh – 1 hour flight into Scotland.
- Windsor Castle – 30 minute train ride, one of the best-known London attractions, has exhibition tours and activities in castle. Easiest trip and only need a half day. I was a HUGE fan of Windsor Castle and suggest it.
- Kew Palace & Gardens – 20 minutes by train, famous botanical gardens and exhibit, another very easy half day trip from London.
- Stonehenge – 2 hour drive away, an official tour to get there would be easiest. Stonehenge is difficult to get to but a World Heritage site.
- Hitchin – 30 miles away, famous lavender farms.
- Leeds Castle – 1 hour train ride. Picturesque castle and tour, tree-top adventure courses and hot air balloon rides or flower gardens/afternoon tea.
Like my “Best Things To Do In London” post? Pin for later or share with friends!
Did I miss something in my “Best Things To Do In London” guide that you loved? Let me know in the comments for my next visit! Don’t forget to check out my general United Kingdom travel guide here for more tips!