London is undoubtedly my favourite city in the whole world. I love the hustle and bustle of city life, but to me, London is a city where I feel very at home. It contains many famous buildings, art galleries and museums making it a rather popular location for tourists from all over the world.
Part of what makes me love London so much is that there is just so much to do there-there is always something on and you can come back time and again and see a completely different city every single time.
So without further ado, here are 13 things that I think you must do while in London…
1. The Skygarden
The Skygarden is one of my favourite London attractions. It offers beautiful views of the city which you can enjoy and take in while sipping on a cup of tea and munching on a scone (one of my favourite food combos) all while being surrounded by a stunning indoor garden. Its a free attraction (another bonus) and tickets are generally available to reserve three weeks before your desired date. Its located in the 20 Fenchurch Street building – fondly known as the ‘walkie-talkie’ by locals due to its shape.
2. St Pauls Cathedral
Not only does the St Pauls bost stunning architecture (both inside and outside) but it’s another way to get spectacular views of London. While quite a hefty climb is required to see the views, no trip to the Cathedral is complete without climbing the 528 steps of the dome’s interior (a climb that almost reaches 365 feet in height). There are three different stages of this climb – the whispering gallery where you can get spectacular birds-eye views of the cathedral floor; then the stone gallery at 376 steps up and finally the Golden Gallery with a view that makes climbing all 528 steps absolutely worth it (outside the Cathedral is a cafe aptly called ‘Paul’ which serves the most amazing, to die for hot chocolates which is a good way to treat yourself after essentially climbing the equivalent of a small mountain).
While St Pauls is a little on the pricier side with admission fees (about £20 for an adult or £16 for a student/ concession), I believe that a trip to London is not complete without coming here.
3. Portobello Road
Located in the lovely Notting Hill, Portobello Road is most famous for its antique stores and markets as well as it’s all-round quirky vibe. Stalls and shops sell everything from fruit and vegetables to antique teacups to sparkly underwear and ballgowns. The market is open every day, except for Sundays, and I believe that a stroll through this market is something everyone has to experience at least once in their life.
4. Camden Markets
Camden Market is incredibly diverse and extensive – it contains lots of stalls, and street foods from all almost every cuisine imaginable. You can go from browsing artwork and photography to rummaging through racks of vintage clothing and antique trinkets to stepping inside a futuristic, neon-lit store that sells light up and glow in the dark clothing.
Afterwards, a stroll down to the lock is nice to do or you can walk along the water all the way to Kings Cross and beyond.
5. Kensington Palace
Kensington Palace is, in my opinion, the most enchanting of all the Palaces in London that you can visit. This palace is most famous for being the early home of Queen Victoria and its main exhibition focuses on her life there. An exhibition on the life and fashion of the late Princess Diana is also found here (and will be for the next year or so) which is very inspiring and really gives you an insight into her life – I had very little knowledge of the influence that Princess Diana had on people and the way she would dress just to cater for her different appearances.
The palace is surrounded by the stunning and extensive Kensington gardens which is great for a little wander round afterwards.
6. New Years Eve
New Year’s Eve in London is in my opinion, one of the most spectacular ways to ring in the New Year. I got the chance to do this a few years ago on a river cruise and I will never forget sitting in a boat on the River Thames while watching the sky light up behind the houses of parliament and the London Eye.
7. The Natural History Museum
London is FULL of fantastic museums which makes it hard to just choose one. However, my personal favourite is the Natural History Museum. I have visited this museum countless times over the years from when I was small to recently just a few years ago. It contains varying ‘zones’ that cover different parts of natural science – human biology (my fave), planet earth, dinosaurs and lots more.
The natural history museum is perfect to have a wander around on a rainy London day. Its a place I’m very fond of and couldn’t recommend visiting more (especially with children).
8. Shakespeares Globe
Shakespeares Globe is almost undoubtedly the most famous Elizabethan theatre in the world. While the Globe that stands on the banks of the Thames today isn’t the original theatre (the original burned down) you can really get a sense of what viewing a play was like here back in Shakespeare’s day. Guided tours through the playhouse occur regularly and are filled with stories of the comings and goings of this playhouse from a time when this part of London was regarded as far from respectable.
The theatre itself is stunning – its made from the same materials the original theatre would have been made from, with oak galleries and a thatched roof. Plays still take place here as the theatre is still operational, with the Globe being used for outdoor plays during the Summer and the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse being used in the Winter.
Attached to the globe is an exhibition about the life and times of Shakespeare. Though different parts of Shakespeare’s Globe are open at different times throughout the year, so its best to head to their website to find its exact opening times.
9. Houses of Parliment tour
Guided, pre-booked tours or self-guided audio tours occur here most days during certain months of the year. You can book here , or if you’re a British citizen then you can also book through your local MP.
The Houses of Parliment (also known as Westminster Palace) is a very interesting place to visit and I definitely learned a lot about both the history and traditions that lie at the heart of British politics during my visit. Even a visit just to see its stunning architecture its worth it.
Harrods is one of London’s most famous department stores. Its most well known for serving rather affluent people, including Oscar Wilde, Laurence Olivier and the Royal Family since its opening in 1824.
The luxury that is Harrods is spread across a number of floors, laid out in style through themed halls. My favourite part of Harrods is its ice cream parlour, where they serve large bowls of ice cream sundaes that are so large they require at least two people to finish them.
Harrods has something for everyone – cosmetics, clothing for days, jewellery, foods, London souvenirs, a toy department so large it makes me wish I was little again, a pets section and so much more.
11. The ‘Keeper for a day’ Experience at ZSL London Zoo
For those who are avid lovers of animals (like me), this is something I could not recommend more. You get to spend the day preparing food, feeding some animals, cleaning exhibits and petting certain animals. Getting to pet the Galapagos Tortoises and feeding anteaters were only two of my highlights from the day.
12. Medical Museums – Hunterian and the Wellcome Collection
If you’re a bit of a nerd (like me) who is super interested in medicine, then the Hunterian Museum is a perfect place to visit. This museum isn’t a place for the faint-hearted…It’s full of the anatomical-pathological collection of Doctor John Hunter who was known as a bit of a ‘mad scientist’and is thought to have changed the practice of surgery. Items on display include one half of the brain of the famous mathematician Charles Babbage, fetuses from varying species, and the skeleton of the tallest known man in the world (7’7” tall Charles Byrne).
13. Platform 9/34