London is the capital and largest city in England and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. In fact, London is the third most visited city in the world (second only to Bangkok and Paris) and is known for its array of famous attractions, historic buildings, world-class dining scene, major cultural events, beautiful public parks and so much more.
Regardless of your personal interests, London has something for you to enjoy. However, because of London’s sheer size and the wide range of activities to do, you might find it overwhelming to plan your trip to the city. While there are so many fun things to see, there are a certain few that you should definitely try when in London!
To make travel decisions easy for you, we have curated this list of quintessential London experiences that are not to be missed, especially if it is your first time visiting the city.
But before you tick these activities off your bucket list, drop off personal belongings like large purses and backpacks at a luggage locker in London. Get ready to experience this English city for a trip you won’t soon forget!
Ride the London Eye
One of the most recognizable landmarks in the city, one that dominates the skyline, is the London Eye, a huge Ferris wheel that takes you to a height of up to 135 meters. While this may seem like a cliché activity for some, a ride on the London Eye is a memorable activity that will complete your visit to the English capital.
Travelers are presented with two ticket options – a standard ticket and a fast track ticket – which will give you a 30-minute ride on the Ferris wheel. Not only is this a thrilling experience, but the ride on the London Eye also serves as an excellent viewing point, offering you unparalleled views of the city and landmarks such as Big Ben, Tower Bridge, and the Houses of Parliament.
Visit the iconic Buckingham Palace
No London trip would be complete without wandering Green Park to check out the iconic Buckingham Palace. Since 1837, this massive royal building has served as the official residence of the British Royal Family and is home to the biggest private garden in the city. While it is the royal home, there are some sections of Buckingham Palace that are open to the public, allowing you to get a glimpse of what the life of royalty is like.
If you decide not to explore the inside of the palace, you can stroll along Green Park and take photos of the marvelous building from the outside. Another interesting thing to witness is the world-renowned Changing of the Guard, a historic tradition that showcases the discipline of the Royal Guards and takes place multiple times a day.
Catch a show at the West End
The theater scene in London is known all over the world, which is why it is not really a surprise that the city showcases some of the biggest productions in the industry. For theater nerds, the ultimate destination is the West End. London’s equivalent of New York City’s Broadway, the West End is home to the most prominent theaters in the United Kingdom. These theaters host a range of events, including world-famous musicals, plays, ballets, and other performing arts events.
Some of the shows that have had significant runs in London’s West End include Phantom of the Opera, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Les Miserables, The Lion King and so much more. Because of the popularity of the shows in West End, it is best to book your tickets ahead of time to secure your slot. The area itself is also a vibrant district that is filled with restaurants, bars, and tourist attractions that you can enjoy after watching a show.
Experience the British tradition of afternoon tea
Everyone knows that the Brits love their tea and that afternoon tea is one of the most sacrosanct traditions in the nation. For those who don’t know, afternoon tea refers to a mid-day light meal involving small bites of sandwiches, cakes, and scones consumed alongside tea. For the full London experience, you should definitely try one of the many afternoon teas offered in different venues across the city.
Afternoon teas are served regularly in various hotels in London; some of the most prominent hotels that offer this tradition include The Langham, The Delaunay, and Claridge’s Hotel. If you want a memorable and quirky version of this British tradition, you may opt to have your afternoon tea onboard the red double-decker tour bus; in this option, you get to sip your tea and have some light snacks while the bus takes you around to see some of London’s most famous attractions.
See the incredible collection at the Natural History Museum
London has no shortage of museums and it is hard to see all of them in one visit. If there is one that you absolutely should not miss during your London trip, it would have to be the Natural History Museum. Located in South Kensington, the facility houses the most important natural history collection in the world and functions as a world-class research institute.
The museum’s impressive collection is comprised of over 80 million specimens of rocks, minerals, fossils, plants, and more. Among the most popular artifacts on display at the Natural History Museum include dinosaur fossils, glow-in-the-dark crystals, and a life-size skeleton of a blue whale, nicknamed Hope, hanging from the ceiling. The best part is that entrance to the museum is completely free, although you must book your ticket in advance through their website.
Eat to your heart’s content at the Borough Market
If you love good food, then you should make a trip to the Borough Market. Believed to date as far back as the thirteenth century (although the current location was established in 1756), it is the oldest food market in London and one of the best places in the city to get an array of specialty food and delicacies.
At the Borough Market, you can shop from over 100 food stalls, selling everything from fresh fruits and vegetables, to artisanal cheese, and gourmet goods. There are also street food vendors in the market that sell a diverse range of cuisines – from Ethiopian stews to French duck sandwiches.
We are with you, here are the essential gadgets to get you covered before you start one. Globetrot untroubled!