Best things to do in London

London has long been the touch-down destination for Kiwis visiting the UK and Europe, tempting us to stay a few days, explore all the city has to offer and immerse ourselves in the British culture.  

Being a city of 10 million people and many boroughs, you could spend the rest of your life finding things to do in London, but we’ve highlighted some of the best things to do if you’re short on time. Jump into the London underground (or ‘tube’) and get exploring! 


Top attractions in London

Let’s get the well-known and slightly touristy things checked off first shall we? We think that these London attractions are the ones worth spending your time and money on:  

The West End for a show - This one is featuring on our list because they just don’t do theatre in New Zealand like they do in the West End. The best part is that there is something for everyone – research which kind of shows you like and check what’s playing during your next London trip, and try to nab a cheap ticket. 

Westminster Abbey - A truly historic site, Westminster Abbey is a must if it’s your first time in London. Known for its stunning Gothic architecture and as the site of coronations, royal weddings, and burials, a visit to Westminster Abbey offers a glimpse into centuries of British history and tradition. 

The London Eye - A pretty efficient way to get a birds-eye view of the entire city of London is to hop on the London Eye. On the slightly pricier side, we don’t recommend committing to this attraction if you have an aversion to heights!  

Afternoon tea at the Ritz - A very Royal-esque British experience – fancy high-tea! The Ritz is one of the most classic establishments in London to indulge in this tradition – treat yourself to delicate sandwiches, pastries, and scones, all served in the elegant Palm Court. The perfect way to indulge in a bit of luxury!  

The Tower of London - Home to the Crown Jewels and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Tower of London is a must-visit attraction. Book a tour and discover the iconic castle and its beautiful grounds. 


Posing for photo by the London Eye


Best markets in London

One of the best things to do as you stroll around the city is to mosey through some of the fantastic London markets. Do a spot of shopping, indulge in some street eats or just marvel at the sights and smells.  

Borough Market - Borough Market has risen in popularity over the last few years, and for good reason! From artisanal cheeses to exotic spices, this spot is a gourmet food lovers paradise. There’s an endless number of local eateries, offering street food, fresh produce and a great vibe.  

Covent Garden - Head to London’s West End (maybe before a theatre show? See above!), and you’ll be greeted with a bustling hub of activity and atmosphere. With historic market halls selling a diverse range of products – from handmade crafts to designer fashion.  Once you’re satisfied with your shopping efforts, stop for a bite at one of the iconic Covent Garden restaurants.  

Portobello Road - For a taste of quintessential London charm, head to Portobello Road Market in the trendy Notting Hill neighbourhood. Famous for its antique stalls, vintage boutiques, and eclectic street vendors, Portobello Road offers a unique shopping experience unlike any other. Whether you’re hunting for rare finds or simply enjoying the buzz of the crowd, Portobello Road Market is sure to please. 


Borough Market


Days out: London museums

London is home to some of the best museums and art galleries in the world. And a lot of them are free, like the ones we’ve listed below. Which is a good thing, given that every time you leave your accommodation in London, you seem to automatically spend at least 20 pounds (we still haven’t figured out how that works!). Below are some of the must-visit museums in London: 

The National Gallery - Situated in the heart of Trafalgar Square, the National Gallery is a treasure trove of artistic masterpieces spanning over 700 years of history. From iconic works by Renaissance masters like Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo to Impressionist gems by Monet and Van Gogh, the museum boasts an extensive collection that will captivate art enthusiasts of all ages. 

British Museum - Step into the British Museum and take a journey through human history and civilization. With a vast collection of artifacts from around the globe, including the Rosetta Stone and Egyptian mummies, the museum offers a fascinating glimpse into the world's cultural heritage.  

Tate Modern - Located on the banks of the River Thames, the Tate Modern is a must-visit destination for contemporary art lovers. Housed in a former power station, the museum showcases modern and contemporary artworks by Picasso, Warhol, and Hockney. What a treat to be able to explore the vibrant world of contemporary art without spending a penny. 


Friends walking in London


Free activities: London parks

If you’re looking for free things to do in London and the weather is looking pleasant (or even if it isn’t – don your raincoat!), sauntering through the leafy London parks is always a lovely pastime. So, if you’re looking for a cheap activity, head to one of these parks to soak in London’s natural side.  

Hyde Park - As one of London's most famous green spaces, Hyde Park offers a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city. Take a leisurely stroll around the Serpentine Lake, rent a rowboat, or simply relax in the lush gardens. If you’re visiting London at Christmastime, Hyde Park hosts the iconic Winter Wonderland festival!  

Primrose Hill - With its beautifully landscaped gardens, pathways and an epic view, Primrose Hill is a haven of tranquillity in the heart of London. An epic spot for a picnic, the parks diverse flora and fauna make for a lovely outing.  

Hampstead Heath - A beautiful spot for a nature walk and panoramic views of the city skyline, Hampstead Heath offers something for everyone to enjoy. Whether you're hiking, birdwatching, or simply enjoying a picnic, this vast expanse of greenery with sprawling meadows is the place to be.  

Richmond Park - Deer-spotting, anyone? Richmond Park is famous for its resident deer population, as well as its scenic walking and cycling trails. Explore ancient woodlands, grassy plains, and hidden gardens as you immerse yourself in this picturesque natural oasis, and although not in central London, it’s worth the journey. 


Explore more: London day trips

Got a bit of time and want a break from the concrete jungle? Explore the English countryside and beautiful landmarks whilst you’re visiting the capital. Below are some of the best day trips from London which can easily be visited on a tour bus or even public transport: 

  • Stonehenge 
  • Oxford
  • The Cotswolds
  • Stratford-upon-Avon
  • Brighton 

If you’d prefer to stay in the city, there are numerous London tours available, such as the ‘hop- on, hop-off’ bus that takes you around the must-see landmarks and attractions, as well as the unforgettable sightseeing cruises which takes you along the Thames – perfect during a sunny afternoon. 


Whether you’re a first-time visitor or if you’ve already visited few times, these ideas are a great place to get started on your next London city adventure planning! For even more unique things to do in London, explore our guide to the city’s alternative attractions

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