Visiting Europe falls on many people’s bucket lists. It could be the allure of culture, food, music, languages, nightlife, the art, or perhaps a combination of it all that drags people from all walks of life and has them spending their vacations on the continent year after year. One of the most loved cities in Europe is London, England. In 2015, the city welcomed 18.82 million visitors, making it the most popular tourist destination on Earth.
Many have debated what the appeal is for the city, but we reckon that part of the attraction is that it is a beautiful city with a good blend of old-school charm with a faced-paced 21st-century feel. A short google search will have you spoilt for choice of things to do in the city. Before you get excited, too much choice isn’t always a good thing, though. Too much choice sometimes just leaves us feeling a little confused and overwhelmed.
Well, lucky for you, TheTalko has your back as we have compiled a comprehensive list of the ultimate activities to take part in on your next trip to London. We’ve also decided to throw in some restaurant choices as you can’t possibly visit this megalopolis without sampling some of its most loved cuisine and drinks.
20 Warner Bros. Studio Tour London - The Making Of Harry Potter
J.K. Rowling captured the hearts of many fantasy readers when she released the Harry Potter series of novels. After the success of the books, the stories got adapted into being an even more successful film franchise.
Perhaps one of the most mentionable factors is that 'Harry Potter' is one of the few franchises to attract audiences both young and old.
If you’re one of the many people around the world who can’t get enough of the story of the young wizard and his friends who have to battle “He Whose Name Should Not Be Spoken”, then you’ll definitely enjoy a trip to the Warner Bros Studio where you can explore the breathtaking sets, see the beautifully crafted props and have access to some of the original costumes. Tickets should be bought in advance, so make sure to plan ahead for this fun-filled adventure.
19 Afternoon Tea At The Athenaeum
Who visits London and doesn’t partake in having afternoon tea? No matter how old the tradition may be, it is a fun way to get you feeling like a real local as this is one of the first things that pops into many people’s minds when thinking about England. So, of course, you want to enjoy your lovely tea (and those scones) at the perfect location. The Athenaeum is one of the hotels in the city that can help you fulfill this item on the list. It is an award winner in customer service so you’ll be sure to receive an amazing afternoon tea experience…just don’t forget to lift those pinkies, of course.
18 London Eye
The Coca-Cola London Eye is perhaps one the most famous attractions of not only the city but the world. If you’re heading to London, you’ll definitely want to add this one on your itinerary.
It is 135 meters and boasts at being the world’s tallest cantilevered observation wheel.
If you really want to have an incredible view of the capital, then you’ll definitely want to head to this wheel, perhaps even on your first couple of days in the city. You will be able to see London and all its landmarks from its breathtaking 360-degree views, all in just 30 minutes.
17 Madame Tussauds
Spending some time with your most loved celebrities is the fantasy of many but unfortunately, the reality is that most of us only get to see them if they have a performance or a meet and greet of some sorts. Those meet and greets are very brief and sometimes those dear camera phones just don’t have enough time to capture the moment as we would like it. Well, lucky for you then, Madame Tussauds is probably the next best thing. Okay, so the celebrities and icons aren’t real as they are wax figures but hey, nothing’s stopping you from playing pretend.
16 Sky Garden
If you’re not afraid of heights and simply get excited at the mesmerizing views you know you’ll more than likely be able to view from up top, then taking a trip to the Sky Garden is a definite must do activity while in the city of London. This monument has 2 bars and 2 restaurants on its 3 stories of gorgeous public gardens in the building.
So, if you get a little hungry or tired, you won’t be miserable at all as you will be covered.
The Sky Garden also offers visitors 360-degree panoramic views of the city and whether you choose to do it during the day or at nighttime, you’re sure to get yourself a number of unforgettable selfie moments.
15 Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour
Most tourist-filled cities in the world have Hop-on, Hop-off tour buses, and this, of course, this definitely includes London. It is convenient for a visitor to have these much-loved bus tours as it helps you get around the city and see and experience as much as possible, all in one day.
In London, the city has an option of 3 different hop-on, hop-off bus tours that are operated by a variety of brands so you are spoilt for choice and could also get a great deal while you're at it. Probably one of the best parts of a bus tour is that you’ll be around plenty of other tourists and make friends from around the world.
14 Buckingham Palace
A vacation in London is simply not complete without a trip to Buckingham Palace. It is the official London residence of the Queen of England and something about a monarchy and the prestige of it all draws people from all walks of life to it.
A tour of the palace is possible for 10 weeks during summer and on certain days during spring and winter, so you might want to double check the dates of your trip.
You’ll be able to witness the much-loved Changing of the Guards ceremony and also be able to make your friends and family back home jealous as you explore the State Rooms.
13 Fish And Chips At Rock & Sole Plaice
Any tourist will tell you that part of visiting these amazing destinations around the world is the opportunity to sample the unique cuisine and drinks that these places have to offer. You want to immerse yourself in the culture and eat and drink like the locals so that you have a true feel for the place.
Well, when in London, you definitely need to head out to Rock & Sole Plaice Restaurant and have yourself an English classic of fish and chips. The restaurant was established in 1871 and is the oldest fish and chips restaurant in the city, so you’ll be sure to get an authentic experience.
12 American Bar At Savoy Hotel (World's Best Cocktail Bar)
Of course, we love the views, the art and culture of London but one item that definitely cannot be left off your itinerary is a great place to enjoy some drinks with old friends or new friends that you may have met on your trip.
The Savoy hotel offers a cocktail bar that is definitely worth mentioning.
American Bar is so great that it was named the World’s Best Bar at World’s 50 Best Bars in 2017. You won’t only get a delicious mix of cocktails, but also have a front row seat to some good music, as the bar features a live pianist who plays American Jazz.
11 The View From The Shard
Who doesn’t enjoy being able to enjoy spectacular views of the city they are in? Well, if you’ve done the previously mentioned London Eye and Sky Garden tours and are looking for something not quite similar but just as breathtaking, then the Shard should be the next item on your itinerary.
It is the tallest building in Western Europe so you know that you will definitely be in for views that are one of a kind. You also have the option of booking a champagne experience while taking in all the scenery so if you’re on a honeymoon or a romantic getaway, The View from The Shard should definitely not be missed.
10 Dinner By Heston Blumenthal
If you’re in a mood for an unforgettable dining experience, then perhaps heading to Dinner by Heston Blumenthal is just what you’d enjoy. Heston Blumenthal is a British celebrity chef who has earned much respect and accolades over the years, so who wouldn’t want this big name to prepare some good food for them?
The restaurant is a Michelin Star restaurant so you know that you are in for some elegant and sophisticated British cuisine.
The best part – it is opened during the day as well so you can also have lunch there. If you enjoy the fine things in life, then do yourself a favor and book a reservation at the restaurant.
9 Kensington Palace Tour
This is the second castle so far on the list of must-do’s on your trip to London. That probably says something about the spectacular castles that are in England. You might be wondering if it’s really necessary to see yet another castle but quite honestly – How on Earth are you going to come from London and say that you haven’t been to the official London residence of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, to name of few? It was the childhood home of Queen Victoria so imagine the old and glamorous history and culture you will be able to soak in while there.
8 Speedboat Tour
Speedboat tours of London have become increasingly popular in recent years and there is no wonder why. A speedboat tour is thrilling, exciting, fun and yes, it can get you a little wet but it will all be worth it.
A speedboat tour should be on your itinerary if you would like to see London from a completely different view.
You will be riding along the river Thames and just like with the bus tours, there a number of speedboat tours to pick and choose from but this time around, you’ll be having that tour in high speeds, guided by the driver.
7 Visit The Bletchley (A Code Breaking Cocktail Bar)
CNN reviewed this bar and named it “The Bar of The Future”. If that makes you a little curious, well, why not give it a try when you head out to London? The bar recently (2017) opened and has already made a few people sit up and take notice of its unique concepts.
The Bletchley offers customers unique, personalized cocktails. How? You ask? Well, The Bletchley uses WW2 Enigma machines and Sherlock Holmes’ deduction principles based on who you are and helps the mixologists create the perfect drink for you. This should be a fun night out experience and who knows, you may discover the perfect cocktail recipe for you.
6 Tower Of London Tour
London is filled with majestic castles that feed into our fantasies of what real-life royalty living should be like. The Tower of London, which is situated in central London, definitely forms part of those castles.
It was built all the way back in 1078 as a royal palace and defense system.
It houses the crown jewels and is also famous for having held a number of famous and infamous prisoners. It is one of England’s most iconic structures and just like with the previous castles, you’ll need to book your tickets in advance to have a tour of this magnificent historic monument.
5 Shaka Zulu Restaurant
Shaka Zulu is one of the most popular old figures of the South African Zulu tribe. The stories of his reign over the Zulu kingdom are simply captivating. If you’re not going to be heading to Africa anytime soon but would love to somehow experience a piece of it, then perhaps a trip to the Shaka Zulu Restaurant will be perfect for you.
The restaurant has African décor and offers customers a South African braai (barbecue) of Springbok, Zebra and other exotic meats, all while listening to enchanting African music and drums. One step inside this restaurant and you’ll forget you’re in Europe.
4 Live Opera At Bel Canto Restaurant
People from all walks of life, all around the world enjoy themselves some Opera. Besides the fact that the singers simply have the best breathtaking voices, Opera is largely associated with a classic and sophisticated experience. Well, Bel Canto has found a way to bring that sophisticated experience to you while you are having lunch or dinner.
Bel Canto is a restaurant that has opera singers as waiters.
These waiters perform for the customers every 15 minutes. This is perhaps the best way to fill up on some good food while having yourself a show that you’ll definitely never forget.
3 Explore The London Dungeon
Okay, so this is probably one of the most fun things to do while in London. Yes, the castles are spectacular and food and drinks are great but anyone who goes on any sort of vacation needs to have some fun, right? Well, visiting the London Dungeon will be sure to give you that. If you are a fan of history and the dramatic arts, then make sure to not miss this trip. The London Dungeon has a theatrical cast that will take you on a thrilling ride through London’s darkest history as it is re-enacted right in front of your eyes.
2 Visit A Traditional English Pub
So we’ve already mentioned how you have to sip on some afternoon tea and of course, not forget to get some classic English fish and chips when you're out in London. Something's missing, right? You know that a trip to London is simply incomplete without a visit to a pub.
London is filled with some of the oldest and traditional English pubs.
A visit to one offers you an authentic feel of the locals as pubs are a very prominent part of the British and Irish cultures. Visiting a traditional English pub is also a great way to socialize while in London and make yourself some friends.
1 Learn Some New Fascinating Things At The British Museum
When one thinks of Europe in general, one has to think of the magnificent art that has captivated the world for centuries with enchanting pieces of work. If you’re a lover of the arts then taking a trip to the British Museum should definitely be on your to-do list.
The Museum houses a vast collection of art and artifacts from all around the world so you'll be learning about much more than just English art. Since the Museum is understandably a great attraction to not only tourists but locals, make sure that you get your tickets early to avoid disappointment. There are also regular exhibitions throughout the year.
London is truly a fascinating city to visit and hopefully with this guide, you'll enjoy every minute of it.