What to see in London. With 27 million visitors every year, London is the most visited city in Europe. With so many attractions and museums to visit, it's no surprise that the UK capital is a favorite destination for millions of people. Here are the things to see during your trip to London!
What to see in London - what to visit in London
Founded by the ancient Romans countless centuries ago, today London is one of the most cosmopolitan and diverse cities in the world , with a rich history and home to some of the most important cultures on the planet.
The area referred City of London represents the ancient center of London, which actually covers only a small part of the London we know today. In fact, the metropolitan area covers a much larger dimension and is home to around 9 million people.
Divided into the vibrant and distinctive areas of North, West, South and East London, as well as the commercial and tourist city centre, each district has its own neighborhoods that are recognizable and distinct from each other. There is always something to see and do. With some of the best art, entertainment, shopping, restaurants and history in the world, it's impossible to get bored in London .
See also: how to get to London, London public transport and the London City Pass (discounts and free entry to top London attractions).
explore the best things to see and do in London :
What to see in London: Hyde Park
Hyde Park is perhaps London's most famous park , and it is one of the largest. The park has historical significance, having hosted a number of rallies and protests including suffragette protests.
The park's famous Speaker's Corner is still occupied by debates, protests and performances by artists every week. The park is home to several memorial statues, as well as two bodies of water, the most famous of which is the Serpentine . Here you can go rowing, admire swans and breathe fresh air in the city centre. Not to be missed.
Want to see Hyde Park and London from above? Try the London: Helicopter Flight Experience .
What to see in London: Westminster and Big Ben
Westminster is considered the political center of London and is home to Parliament and the famous Big Ben . Big Ben is the name of the bell that sits inside the iconic clock tower and still rings on the hour.
You can also find Westminster Abbey , which is open to the public most days. Parliament Square houses the statues of important political figures including Nelson Mandela and Winston Churchill.
What to see in London: Buckingham Palace
A trip to London is incomplete without strolling through Green Park for a glimpse of Buckingham Palace . The palace has been home to the British royal family since 1837. It has 775 rooms and boasts the largest private garden in London.
Some of the palaces are open to visitors so you can get a taste of the lifestyle of the royal family. From the outside you can see the famous Changing of the Guard . This procedure takes place a couple of times a day and is a great opportunity to observe a historic London tradition and an example of the strict discipline of the Royal Guard.
What to see in London: Trafalgar Square
The very central Trafalgar Square is one of the symbols of London . Impossible to arrive in the English capital and not admire the beauty of this square built to commemorate the battle of Trafalgar (1805), in which Admiral Horatio Nelson defeated the French and Spanish fleets. The symbol of the square is Nelson's Column , a 30-metre high column on top of which stands the statue of Nelson looking towards Westminster.
What to see in London: Camden Town
Camden is a well-known cultural district in North London. Known for its alternative culture, the crowd here is filled with goths, punks, rockabilly and tourists, and the neighborhood is also home to a number of tattoo and piercing shops.
Camden Market is eclectic and diverse, with international cuisine street food and plenty of stalls selling knick-knacks and one-of-a-kind art to take home. Rummage through the shelves of vintage clothes, find a used book for your travels or visit one of the best vegan bakeries in town, Cookies And Scream .
After shopping, stroll to Camden Lock to relax along Regent's Canal or walk along the canal to King's Cross .
What to see in London: London Eye
A trip to London isn't complete without a visit to the iconic London Eye . Originally built to celebrate the turn of the millennium, the London Eye is a giant Ferris wheel that offers great views over the city . At night, the wheel is illuminated in color and is the centerpiece for London's annual New Year's Eve fireworks display.
You can share one of the spacious staterooms with other visitors or splurge on a private pod. Next to the London Eye is the SEA LIFE London Aquarium , which is home to aquatic creatures from around the world, including jellyfish, seahorses and crocodiles.
What to see in London: Piccadilly Circus
Piccadilly Circus is instantly recognisable , a square filled with bright lights and large electronic screens. Piccadilly Circus has been a busy London area since the 17th century, when it was a shopping centre.
Today it is still the heart of the West End, with some of London's largest theaters and nightclubs , including the Criterion Theatre . The Statue of Eros in the center of the circus is itself a meeting point and a very popular tourist attraction.
What to see in London: Soho
Soho has long been known as London's red light district. The area is today the most popular place in London's nightlife , although there are still a few sex shops scattered here and there, which give Soho a spicy and cheerful atmosphere. Soho is often considered the center of London's LGBTQ community and is home to many gay-friendly bars .
As well as the large number of bars and clubs, Soho boasts a good choice of theaters and restaurants to explore, making it a hotspot not only for nightlife but also for culture. Its proximity to Leicester Square also makes it a great neighborhood to go for a drink after a theater show.
During the day, Soho doesn't lose its charm. Here you will find many music shops, small cafés and quaint pastry shops. Stop for a coffee and pastry on Old Compton Street and watch the movement of people come and go.
What to see in London: Shoreditch
Shoreditch is one of the trendiest areas of London and also hosts the trendiest and most stylish nightlife. Full of bars and restaurants, this neighborhood is ideal both during the day and at night. Check out Trapeze , a circus-themed bar that serves very inventive cocktails out of popcorn-style cups. Or visit the Blues Kitchen for a blues night accompanied by sticky ribs and other American foods.
What to see in London: Hampstead Heath
Hampstead Heath is one of the largest parks in London and covers a huge area of 790 hectares. It sits atop one of the highest points in London, providing excellent views of the city from Parliament Hill. With grassy fields, wooded areas and several large ponds, this perco is the best place to immerse yourself in nature and forget the hustle and bustle of London, with plenty of wildlife and small woodlands to get lost in.
There are also lidos for the more adventurous who want to swim in the open air in the harsh British climate. History buffs can visit Kenwood House , a historic home that's known for its art collection.
What to see in London: Baker Street and Regent's Park
One of London's icons is Baker Street, best known as the street where Arthur Conan Doyle's infamous detective Sherlock Holmes . Today you can find a Sherlock Holmes museum near the tube station, especially popular after the BBC revival TV series "Sherlock" .
Just around the corner is Madame Tussauds , the internationally famous wax museum where you can pose with your favorite celebrities. Next, escape the crowds on Baker Street in nearby Regent's Park , or by climbing Primrose Hill for the most spectacular views over the city of London.
What to see in London: O2 Arena
The O2 Arena was originally built to celebrate the new millennium, under the name "Millennium Dome" . It once served as an exhibition center with various exhibits and hands-on activities aimed primarily at children.
Today it is a leading destination for live music and theater performances, regularly hosting top international artists. Inside there is also a cinema, various bars and restaurants with cuisines from all over the world. The O2 is the perfect place to hang out with friends. If you're looking for some adventure, try climbing to the top of the O2. During these guided walks, you can climb along the dome to the roof, where you can enjoy great views of the city.
What to see in London: Brick Lane
Made famous by the book of the same name and its film adaptation, Brick Lane is the heart of London's Bengali community . An incredibly diverse neighbourhood, Brick Lane features street signs in both English and Bengali, and is famous for its abundance of ethnic restaurants.
This is the perfect place to find something spicy to eat, but be sure to head to one of the many sweet shops to sample some authentic South Asian desserts. The area also has many trendy bars and street markets which attract a young and trendy crowd. Explore the many pieces of street art on Brick Lane and surrounding streets, or pop into the nearby Whitechapel Gallery , an English public art gallery known for its programming of modern and contemporary art exhibitions.
What to see in London: Chinatown
's Chinatown is located around Gerrard Street , nestled between Soho and Leicester Square. With its Chinese lanterns and eye-catching red arches, it's hard not to recognize this lively neighborhood. Filled with authentic Asian restaurants as well as hidden supermarkets and bars, there is always something new to explore in London's Chinatown.
What to see in London: Electric Avenue
Electric Avenue is a street in Brixton, South London, famous for being the first market street in London to be lit by electricity. This street inspired the Eddy Grant song of the same name and was at the center of some of London's historic events, including the Brixton riots in 1981. Today, Electric Avenue is home to Brixton Market , a diverse and eclectic food market. The Brixton district is also home to a multitude of small shops selling unique, quirky and handmade items. This is one of the most colorful areas of London and is a good place to shop or listen to live music.
What to see in London: Oxford Street and Bond Street
Oxford Street is not only the main shopping landmark in London , it is also the busiest shopping street in Europe. There are around 300 shops, including fashion boutiques and internationally renowned department stores such as Debenhams and House of Fraser , with interactive displays and works by acclaimed artists. Around Christmas, the Christmas lights on Oxford Street light up the shops and streets and add some glitter to London evenings.
Connected to Oxford Street, Bond Street is another popular London shopping district . Bond Street differs from Oxford Street in its selection of shops with a greater focus on unique style and design. Bond Street is one of London's most expensive shopping streets and worth a visit to get a taste of high-end luxury.
Doormen stand patiently outside shop entrances. Diamonds sparkle in the windows of watchmakers, jewelers and even handbag shops. On this street you will find Tiffany's, as well as the flagship stores of Cartier and Ralph Lauren. Towering above the entrance to Sotheby's is London's oldest outdoor sculpture : this sculpture comes from Ancient Egypt and is over 3,000 years old.
What to see in London: Leicester Square
Follow in the footsteps of Hollywood stars by visiting Leicester Square , famous for hosting the premieres of blockbuster films. The square is surrounded by numerous cinemas with some of the largest screens in the city, such as the Prince Charles , as well as a variety of restaurants. The garden in the center of the square is perfect for cooling off during the summer or resting after a long day exploring London.
Leicester Square is also home to Chinese New Year celebrations where you can see the traditional dancing dragons and get lost in the crowds.
What to see in London: Harrods
Open since 1824, Harrods is one of London's most popular department stores , dedicated to the elite and super-rich. The luxury is spread over numerous floors, divided into different themed rooms where the opulence reigns supreme. At Christmas, Harrods puts together a range of luxury Christmas hampers filled with goodies to make the holidays extra special. Explore the building and get lost in the maze of rooms as you shop for opulent perfumes, children's toys and even pets in London's most exclusive department store.
What to see in London: Platform 9 ¾
King's Cross is one of the busiest areas of London, with a railway station open since 1852 which connects the capital to the rest of the country. Recent refurbishments have given the station a sleek, modern feel – try to find the hidden tunnel with walls lit up with artistic images.
But to many people around the world, King's Cross is best known for something else: the station that Harry Potter uses to travel to Hogwarts. Here you can visit the famous Platform 9 ¾, located inside King's Cross railway station . The luggage trolley that magically disappears into the wall is undoubtedly one of the most photographed attractions in London. Nearby there is also a shop dedicated exclusively to the world of Harry Potter ( https://www.harrypotterplatform934.com/ ).
What to see in London: Portobello Road Market
Located in the heart of charming Notting Hill, Portobello Road Market is an atmospheric and energetic market selling everything from vintage clothes and sumptuous street food to antiques. It is busiest on Saturdays, but there is always something to see any day of the week.
Museums and galleries in London
London is one of the best cities in the world for culture buffs and boasts an impressive number of free museums to visit . Many museums are within walking distance of each other, especially along Exhibition Road in South Kensington.
natural History Museum
The Victorians loved to collect and catalogue. This is one of the more interesting findings: The Natural History Museum has an outrageously large collection (some 80 million items) of all things natural in a lovely Gothic Revival building, which opened in the late 19th century. A wildlife garden is open March through November, and the main hall is dominated by a massive blue whale skeleton. In the museum you will also find ancient fossils and stuffed animals including a replica of a dodo.
The Science Museum is highly informative and entertaining, and is housed over seven floors with interactive exhibits. The Energy Hall highlights early steam locomotives, which date back to the early 19th century, while the third floor exhibits, which include old paragliders, hot air balloons and flight simulators, are popular with children.
Victoria & Albert Museum
A short walk to the Victoria and Albert Museum will shift your attention to the history of art. Here you will find works of art on display alongside fashion and lifestyle tools from around the world. The Victoria & Albert Museum is arguably the best decorative arts museum in the world . Open for over 150 years, the museum contains a staggering over 4 million objects. The foreground focuses on Asian artifacts (Japanese swords, ancient Chinese ceramics) and some European artworks, including plaster casts made of Michelangelo's David (note the fig leaf created in the 19th century to protect the sensibility of Victorian visitors).
The British Museum is one of London's top attractions and it's absolutely free . It contains fascinating artifacts from around the world: from Egyptian mummies and samurai armor to Anglo-Saxon burial treasures and the Rosetta Stone. Surprisingly, the 80,000 exhibits in the museum halls make up just 1% of the eight million objects held by the British Museum.
London is also the ideal city for art lovers as there are so many galleries to visit, with the best of classical and contemporary art. Most of the city's galleries are free to visitors, including the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square , which houses masterpieces by painters including van Gogh, Renoir, da Vinci and Michelangelo. Indeed, the National Gallery is home to one of the most impressive art collections in the world and welcomes over six million visitors each year. Avoid the crowds by visiting the museum during weekday mornings or Friday evenings. Whenever you go, the permanent collections are always free.
Located in what was once Bankside Power Station on the south bank of the River Thames, the Tate Modern is one of London's best-loved attractions . In this museum dedicated to modern art, you can enjoy the permanent collection for free, which includes works by Pollock, Warhol, Matisse and Picasso. The upstairs bar has great views over the Thames, and the building itself is an example of modern architecture.