As the capital of England and one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, it’s no secret that London is home to a countless number of tourist attractions and famous landmarks. In fact, there are so many things to do in London, you’re far more likely to struggle with deciding which attractions you can realistically fit into your visit, than finding something to do that actually appeals to you; there really is never a dull moment in the Big Smoke. So, to help you get started in choosing which London attractions to schedule into your stay, I’ve handpicked five of my favourite things to do in London – read on to get the lowdown!
A superb mix of architectural styles, Westminster Abbey is regarded as the best example of Early English Gothic (1190–1300) architecture. Not only is it a splendid place of worship, but the Abbey also serves to show the history of England among its slabs of stone. Here, you will find the resting places of some of history’s most famous people, from Edward the Confessor to Henry VIII and even the Queen Mother.
The abbey has crowned every monarch since William the Conqueror up to Queen Elizabeth II, but it’s not just the royal line that attracts visitors – be sure to take a look at the other famous names like Chaucer, Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, Tennyson, Dr. Johnson, Lawrence Olivier and Kipling, as well as the latest arrival, Prof. Stephen Hawking.
An adult ticket purchased online in advance costs £20 (£22 if purchased on the door), but concessions are available and all tickets include a multimedia guide; in any case, it’s definitely worth the price and you can easily spend a good three hours inside. Visiting Westminster Abbey has to be one of my favourite things to do in London!
Old Spitalfields Market is one of the finest of all the Victorian market halls in London. Dotted around its interior, you will find stalls selling anything from antiques and bric-a-bac, to household essentials and toiletries. You can also browse the latest fashion trends in clothing, from quirky and outlandish, to vintage wear and African designs.
When you get peckish, stop off for a bite to eat at one of the many superb restaurants inside the main building; regardless of when you attend, there’ll always be something to suit all tastes.
Fancy a beverage or two? The market is conveniently located just across the street from the famous Ten Bells Pub, so it would be rude not to stop off for a drink during your visit!
Jack the Ripper Tour
No list of the best things to do in London would be complete without a mention of the Jack the Ripper tour! The dark side of London can be fascinating and it doesn’t come much darker than the tale of the victims of Jack the Ripper. A Jack the Ripper tour is a fantastic way to see a part of London that’s off the beaten track. The tours take you down hidden alleyways and courtyards you never knew existed, and explain how the world’s most famous whodunit began. You get to play at being a real detective by working out the clues and deciding for yourself exactly who Jack the Ripper was.
It’s always more atmospheric at night and the new Ripper-Vision tour, a tour company that uses handheld projectors, seems to be the latest big thing in Ripper walks. This is well worth checking out the next time you’re in London!
Priced at £15 per person for an hour and a half tour, this is excellent value for money. Be sure to book online in advance and then head to exit 3 of Aldgate East Station in time for your tour.
The Victoria and Albert Museum
The Victoria and Albert Museum (a.k.a the V&A) is well worth a visit when in London. The museum is part of a South Kensington-based group of museums, including the Natural History Museum and Science Museum.
The V&A is 160 years old and covers 13 acres of ground. Inside, you’ll find 145 galleries housing 5,000 years of art and related artefacts. If textiles and jewellery are your kind of thing, this museum will be right up your street.
The best bit about visiting the V&A is that there’s no entrance fee, although some events and exhibitions carry a charge.
Wilton’s Music Hall
It’s regarded as one of the best-kept secrets in London and a real time capsule of a bygone time. Wilton’s Music Hall has been hidden down a little laneway in East London for over 270 years, but it remains one of the most unmissable things to do in London for anyone interested in the city’s entertainment history to this day.
Wilton’s Music Hall began life as an alehouse, serving clients from the docks and still has its original mahogany bar. The building has been funded by donations and door sales for many years, and is currently undergoing restoration. Standing in front of the main stage looking up at the plush red velvet curtains, imagining all the Victorian performers who’ve stood on stage entertaining the masses, you can’t help but be carried back to a grander time. Stay up-to-date on what’s on at Wilton’s Music Hall here.
What are your favourite things to do in London? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.