The Top 10 Things To Do in London

We recently visited the majestic city of London, England (UK) and had a jolly good time there seeing the many wonders and blunders of one of the world’s greatest cities.

We only had a few days there so we wanted to get the most bang for our buck with the time we had available. Here’s our top recommended things to do and see in the London area, in no particular order:

 

#1 – Eat a Proper English Breakfast

Some acquaintances of ours who were expats in the UK for awhile insisted we must have a proper English breakfast during our visit and they were so very, very right.

Sausage, egg, ham (which they call bacon but it’s not like American bacon), beans, tomatoes, mushrooms, black pudding (just eat it, it’s delicious, but better not to know what it actually is), and perhaps some toast or a scone on the side. And of course some proper English tea.

Everything a growing boy or girl needs to begin their day full of sightseeing and adventuring (also great for hangovers)! Unfortunately, it was so good we ate it all before we could take a picture so you’ll just have to use your imagination…or Google it.

We highly recommend Terry’s Cafe, a classic little British establishment located near Burough tube station in the South Bank. If you’d like to meet some locals, sit at the large family-style table in the middle of the cafe!

 

#2 – Ride a Double Decker

Getting around London is pretty convenient with a massive public transportation system and constantly running buses and trains. Sometimes it seemed there were more of the iconic double decker buses on the roads than cars.

London Street with double decker bus

Sit in the upper deck for a great view as you ride to your destination! And after all, driving in London is strictly for masochists.

You can also ride a public waterbus (ferry) on the River Thames right through the heart of the city, connecting some of the major landmarks such as the Tower of London and Westminster Abbey.

We don’t recommend the tour buses or ferry tours as they seemed overpriced but if you like pithy tour guides pointing out the sights, go for it! They are a better value if you’re planning to do multiple tours in one or two days since they offer package deals with tour tickets, but do your research on prices before you buy.

 

#3 – Visit the Tower of London

A truly imposing fortress currently housing the Crown Jewels, the Tower of London is arguably the most historic building in London.

Tower of London

It was begun by William the Conqueror himself in the 11th century and has been added onto substantially over the centuries. I admit I got a bit of a nerd boner seeing my first real castle!

The Tower has served as a fortress, royal palace, prison, mint, and many other functions in its day. We were rather sad we weren’t able to take the tour as we had already planned to spend time visiting other sites that day but it sounded like a jolly good show including an immersive reenactment!

Even just viewing it from the outside was a very memorable experience and well worth the trip. You can buy tour tickets or learn more about the Tower’s history here.

#4 – Get Some Lunch at Burough Market

London has a few large markets where you can find all sorts of goodies, but we really enjoyed Burough Market, located in the shadow of the Shard in the South Bank.

Borough Market London

They have food and drink of all kinds and it’s a great place to grab a cheap and tasty bite to eat or to pick up a few culinary specialties to take home with you that you can’t find anywhere else.

Wine in Borough Market London

 

#5 – Spend Some Time with Big Ben

Yes, pun intended, do you have a problem with puns? Because if so, I’m sad for you.

Big Ben is the most recognizable London landmark; it’s kinda like the Eiffel Tower or Statue of Liberty of London. It’s part of the Palace of Westminster and Westminster Abbey is next door, which is another must-see.

Big Ben in London

It’s also located centrally to other nearby landmarks like Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace, and the London Eye.

For us, it was enough to see Big Ben and take the obligatory selfie shots but there are tours available if you’re into that sort of thing.

 

#6 – Be a Day Tripper

Besides the many attractions in London itself, there are quite a few other national landmarks located within a couple of hours from the city that are worth checking out if you get the chance.

Various bus tours offer day trip routes from London that include world famous sites such as Stonehenge, Salisbury Cathedral, Windsor Castle (home to the Queen Mother), and more.

Stonehenge

We had a great tour with Golden Tours and our guide did an excellent job pointing out various landmarks along the way and keeping us all organized.

 

#7 – Get Lost in the British Museum

The British Museum is one of the world’s finest, with exhibits ranging from Egyptian mummies to Greek and Roman antiquities, to Renaissance art and beyond.

British Museum

Although there have been some controversies over the years regarding whether a British museum should own so many historical artifacts from other world cultures, it is the premier museum of London and you can learn about cultures from all over the world throughout history in one place.

The building itself is wondrous to behold, but strap on your walking boots because it’s also one of the largest museums in the world at 277,000 square feet!

Best of all, admission is free! Learn more about the museum here.

 

#8 – Visit the National Gallery

Somewhat overshadowed by the British Museum and the Tate Modern Museum is the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery next door, located in Trafalgar Square.

We dipped into the National Gallery about a half hour before it closed and were disappointed we didn’t go earlier in the day, but still had the chance to gaze slackjawed at some great pieces.

There are works by Van Gogh, Suerrat, Monet, and other famous artists, and it’s a much more manageable museum to tour than the behemoths like the British Museum or the Louvre in Paris.

And did I mention, admission to most museums in London (including this one) is free?!

 

#9 – Grab Some Grub n’ Suds in a Pub

No visit to London would be complete without a visit to a local pub to sample some of the local fare and brews. Try some fish and chips or roast beef and yorkshire pudding, or maybe some chicken tikka marsala, which has become a British fave.

Ask around and try to find a local’s place if you can, rather than the typical tourist traps, for an authentic London experience. Just don’t go to any football (a.k.a. soccer) bars since the hooligans can get a bit rough.

 

#10 – Relax

You can’t see it all. There are many fun things to do and see in London that we didn’t mention above.

Unless you spend weeks or months there, you’re going to have to make choices about seeing this instead of that. Relax and enjoy the ride and see what you can. Think about what interests you and make your own top 5 or top 10 list. Ask locals for their opinions.

Be spontaneous.

London has been here for thousands of years, it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. You can always come back some day!

Focus on enjoying what you’re experiencing while you’re experiencing it, rather than stressing about getting to the next place on time or keeping to some impossible timetable in a fruitless effort to “see it all.”

Leave some time to sit back, relax, and explore. You never know what you may find!

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