This week we’ve scoured the amazing world wide web, gotten help from our fellow traveling friends and put out a call to other travel writers to bring you their very best things to do, see and eat in London, England.
We hope this roundup of tips and tricks will give you some helpful hints and inspire you to travel to one of the world’s true great cities, London, UK.
Top London Tips
London is a big, busy city, and it’s easy to be overwhelmed by all there is to do and see in your first visit. Ceri at A Luxury Travel Blog gives some great tips for first timers to the city.
The maze of lines and connections in London’s famous Tube system can be overwhelming. Bucket List Journey writer Annette has some great tips for navigating the underground, including tips for using the Oyster Card and the Smart Card.
London’s main attractions are surprisingly walkable. We like the Kamino app, which will GPS guide you on hikes through the city designed by other travelers. You can take a funky Camden walking tour, a walking tour of literary London or even a quintessential London pub crawl.
Let’s face it: London can be busy. From picnics in the park, to village shopping and swimming in lidos and ponds, Dave and Deb at ThePlanetD have some great suggestions for getting away from the crowds.
Look like too much work?
If you’re looking for a fun tour that will help you navigate London, check out Viator, which offers a plenty of highly rated and popular tours. You can even opt for small group or private tours.
London’s a great big place, and it’s easy to miss some of it’s best attractions if you stick just with the guidebooks. Jen, The Trusted Traveler has come up with a pretty comprehensive list here of London’s 60 best that should be enough to satisfy any overplanner.
Even though London can be one of Europe’s most expensive cities, there are still a lot of great free things to do in the city. Michael from Changes in Longitude dishes on hidden freebies like the Evensong services at Westminster Abbey, and even crossing Abbey Road for Beatles Fans. Don’t forget to check out National Army Museum, the Royal Air Force Museum and the Wallace Collection. Victoria and Albert museum in the Borough of Kensington and Chelsea area of London is also highly recommended. All are free.
With a ride on the London Eye costing a whopping 20.95 £, it may just pay to take Alyssa from Alyssa Writes advice and find a cheaper place to see the London skyline. Her top picks include Alexandra Palace, Parliament Hill Hampstead Heath, and Greenwich Park in South-East London from the Royal Observatory.
You can save money in London by taking free guided city walks, traveling on the train and getting 2 for 1 entry to many attractions. Lucy at On the Luce also recommends picking up an Oyster card for the Tube.
London is almost as famous for being expensive as it is for iconic landmarks like Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London. Talon from 1dad1kid.com has tips ranging from food to ways to save on transit and admission prices.
How I Had a 10 Day London Vacation for $700
It’s an oldie for sure (written in 2011), but this post from Nomadic Matt is packed with tips, including some travel hacking advice, that can still save you good money in this pricey city.
The London Underground makes a quick, efficient way to check out some of London’s biggest attractions. Planned correctly, Allan at Live Less Ordinary says you can take in the Houses of Parliament, Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens and Trafalgar Square and more on a budget, and quickly as well.
Off the Beaten Track – Quirky London
Looking for more? Check out our top quirky and unusual things to do in London post!
If you’re an architecture buff, you’ll get a kick out of Jörg Rom’s images of the streets of London, including Camden Market, Picadilly and Portabello Road.
You’ll find the remains of Benedict Arnold, the most notorious traitor of the American Revolution just a stone’s throw from the murky River Thames. Michael at Changes in Longitude has even more for you if you’re in the mood for more Americana; check out The Benjamin Franklin House in London, where Franklin lived for nearly 16 years.
Looking to channel your inner Sherlock Holmes (or James Bond). Sarah and her kids from Family Travel Times dishes on the closest thing you may be able to find in modern London: ClueQuest. Cluequest lets you play secret agent for a few hours, as you use your deductive skills to make your way out of a series of locked room, using a series of clues.
If you’re looking for an alternative look at London, check out the East London Street Art scene. Amar from Gap Year Escape even has suggestions for a few places that you can buy graffiti art on Canvas in East London.
While most of London’s most famous sights are firmly above ground, there’s a whole secret world hiding beneath the city streets. Caz at yTravelBlog shares London’s subterranean secrets, including the Cabinet War Rooms, Chislehurst Caves and the London Tombs.
The Best Eats and Pubs in London
London is packed with great pubs that are perfect for grabbing the quintessential British pint. Annette from Bucket List Journey gives two thumbs up to the brew, but isn’t so keen on the mushy peas at the Princess of Wales Pub in Charing Cross.
If you’re looking for a bit of history with your pub food, The Grenadier, is a well-preserved pub that lets you experience what London used to be like. Liz at Travelogged says it’s a bit on the small side, and rumored to be haunted.
Vegetarians in London are in luck; with an ever growing range of vegetarian and vegan restaurants. Dale and Franca at Angloitalian dish on some of their favorites at tibits in London, where you can load up on a buffet that offers vegetarian, vegan and even gluten free options.
This may not be the first place you’d look for a souvenir, but your local London supermarket is probably full of great London eats to take back home. Kristin of Souvenir Finder suggests Branston Original Pickle, piccalilli, beef-flavored or prawn cocktail crisps, and British rhubarb in a can.
Set inside an Art Deco building, Angloitalian says that Borough Market has something for everyone, from traditional English pastries to international favorites, curries, and fresh veggies and fruits.
If you’re looking for somewhere upscale to eat in London, Carmen from Double-Barrelled Travel dishes on Dinner by Heston in Knightsbridge that offers up food based on old English cuisine.
Where to Stay in London
Newly redecorated, Dale and Franca at Angloitalian dish on this hostel that mixes affordable prices with funky decor that even incorporates Willy Wonka, Mary Poppins, Ali G, James Bond and Austin Powers.
Like any big city, accommodation in London can be pricey and hard to find. Erin from Travel with Bender dishes on her stay at Qbic London, a newly renovated option that proves that quirky, eco-friendly hotels can leave a good lasting impression.
Given that London’s accommodation options can be pricey, especially for couples and families, getting an apartment rental through a site like Airbnb can be a great option. Dave and Deb at The Planet D found out how great it was and give a nice rundown on things to look for when renting a place. Not only that, but if you sign up using this link, you can get $20 USD in Airbnb credits the first time you use them.
Apartment rentals can be a great alternative to hotels and hostels. You can get more space and privacy than at a hotel, and even have a kitchen to save a bit of cash on eating out. You can even get a great apartment in downtown and pay a lot less than a similar hotel.
Tip: If you’re looking at splurging in a more upscale hotel, check out Hotels Combined. They compare over 50 major hotel sites so you don’t have to do the work. It’s fast, has a huge inventory, and I’ve found it to be very reliable.
What to See and Do in London
It doesn’t get much more quintessentially English than attending a proper British afternoon tea. Annette of Bucket List Journey dishes on proper tea time etiquette.
A walk along the Thames is the perfect chance to take in some of London’s most iconic sights, including Big Ben, Westminster Bridge, Millennium Bridge and the London Eye. Kellie of Destination Unknown, an expat who has lived there nearly 15 years and now calls the place home, dishes on her favorite sights along this famous river.
The Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, just on the outskirts of London, make a fantastic break from the business of London. Jen at The Trusted Traveller says to just take the Tube on the District Line or the Overground, and enjoy the peace and quiet.
The London Eye, a giant ferris wheel, is one of London’s most iconic landmarks. Not only does it offer one of the best views of London and the River Thames, but Annette of Bucket List Journey notes that you can catch glimpses of the Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Hyde Park, Alexandra Palace, Hampton Court and many other landmarks.
It’s probably one of London’s most iconic sights, with crowds to match. Annette at Bucket List Journey shares some great photos, and a rarely seen look at an Irish guard escorting his Irish Wolfhound.
If you’re a football (or soccer, as we say in Canada and the USA) fan, then London is a fantastic place to get your game on. It’s a great way to get a deeper feel for the English culture, as their love of the game is legendary. Kristin at Souvenir Finder gives us the highlights.
London with Kids
Like most European cities, London is surprisingly walkable, making it a great destination with little ones. Kids will love the Changing of the Guard and the Royal Parks of London, and Jen of The Vacation Gals suggests taking kids to see the Millennium Bridge (which was destroyed by Death Eaters in the last Harry Potter movie).
If your kids are huge Harry Potter fans like ours (Cole’s Halloween costume for two years in a row), they’ll love tour of the former Leavesden Studios, located outside London. The Leavesden Studios were the production home for all eight Harry Potter movies, so you’ll be seeing a lot of the authentic props and sets used in the film. Lisa from Gone With the Family dishes on walking through the Great Hall (with tables set for dinner), as well as the Gryffindor House Common Room, and costumes and props used in the movie.
Want to see some of London in the USA? Check out our post for great tips for visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Florida.
Canadian Traveller has some fun, quirky, and even healthy picks for eating out with the kids. We’re itching to check out the rock and role vibe at Sticky Fingers, founded by Rolling Stones’ bass player Bill Wyman, and rosemary chips at Honest Burgers in Soho.
If you’re touring London with little ones, Alan of Wagoner’s Abroad suggests a hop on, hop off bus tour as a great choice. Open-top buses give you a great view of London’s neighborhood, and you can get off and on at some of London’s biggest sights.
London with kids is a lot easier when you’re armed with the basics about where to go, when the attractions are open, and what will interest kids most. David from My Little Nomads has a great list here, ranging from the predictable Royal Air Force Museum to the less likely National Portrait Gallery.
Look like too much work?
If you’re looking for a tour that will help you navigate London, Viator offers a plenty of highly rated and popular tours.
You can even opt for small group or private tours.
More Information About London
These guides should give you a helpful overview of London.
Photo of Big Ben by Grand Parc – Bordeaux, France.
Have you visited London? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!