22 Awesome Experiences You Simply Can't Miss When Exploring London
There's a reason London is one of the world's most visited cities. Steeped in as much tradition and enchantment as its high-quality, premium teas, this vibrant metropolitan area is full of history, yet never grows old. With new events, experiences, and exhibitions constantly popping up throughout each zone, you'll find plenty of excitement around each corner, no matter what kind of adventure you're seeking. And the best part? All you have to do is pack your bags, because we're sharing everything you need to know for a royally fun time ahead!
Devour delicious, worldly cuisine at Borough Market.
There's no better place to kick off your London adventure than at the beloved Borough Market. Established in 1885, this historic haven has since become one of the oldest, largest, and most popular food markets in the entire city. Specializing in high-end fresh produce, as well as deliciously prepared artisan cuisine, it's the perfect place to grab a bite to eat before embarking on any explorations.
Brace yourself, though. With over 100 tempting traders to choose from, you're guaranteed to have a tough time deciding where to stop first. My advice? No matter which stall wins you over, buy a few tasty treats for later!
Have a picnic overlooking the Thames River.
Because the market is always overflowing with food-lovers, inveterate gastronomes, and wide-eyed visitors, it can become quite crowded on any given day. So if you're craving some elbow space while you eat your goodies, consider getting your food to go and enjoy a picnic overlooking the Thames River. There's a lush patch of grass right in front of the Tower Bridge that's only about a five-minute walk from the market, which makes for a great lounging spot.
Walk across Tower Bridge's thrilling glass-floor walkway.
Speaking of Tower Bridge, head this way if you're looking for a thrilling experience. Standing high above the Thames River at 138 feet, it is here you can walk across a glass platform and experience London from a bird's-eye view. Not only will you have fun spotting all the double-decker buses zipping across the bridge below, but if you time your visit just right, you can even witness the raising of the bascules.
Take a leisurely stroll along the South Bank.
Rich in culture and entertainment, it's no surprise why this dynamic area has become the heart of London's cultural scene over the years. From restaurants and cafes to historic pubs and pop-up shops, the South Bank sparkles with allure for all ages.
Plus, it offers stunning views of the city's downtown, as well as other notable landmarks.
Marvel over the uniqueness of the Millennium Bridge.
Acclaimed to be one of the most striking of the Thames bridges, architecture-lovers will adore the uniqueness of the Millennium Bridge. This bustling crosswalk is the capital's first-ever dedicated pedestrian footbridge, making it another must see when exploring the city.
Along with its rich detail, what makes the Millennium Bridge so special is how it is perfectly aligned to create a terminating vista of the south facade of St. Paul's Cathedral.
Feast on the beauty of St. Paul's Cathedral.
Once you've made the walk over the Millennium Bridge, don't miss the beauty of St. Paul's Cathedral up close. Thanks to its vast dome and opulent architectural structure, this historic church is an standout feature in the city's skyline and is known across the world.
Revel in the spectacular skyline (for free!) atop One New Change.
Very few people are aware of the view that awaits atop One New Change. This sixth-floor rooftop-terrace is a superb place to escape the bustling sidewalks and revel in the skyline from up above. And the best part? It's free to the public and open daily!
Peruse the shops and stalls at the lovely Leadenhall Market.
Another must-see destination to visit while in London is Leadenhall Market. Situated in the heart of downtown, this ravishing retail hub dates back all the way to the 14th-century. Today, it offers a sensational shopping experience, all within a gorgeous Victorian-market setting.
And don't worry if your stomach starts to growl after all the perusing around. There are plenty of restaurants, cafes, and pubs nestled among the shops and stalls. Doughnuts, Cronuts, cookies — you'll find them all here!
Take a spin on the famous London Eye.
If you're on the hunt for more thrills, boarding the famous London Eye will do just the trick. While it can be a bit on the touristy side, this giant Ferris wheel climbs high above the city — 443 feet to be exact! — and provides views of some pretty impressive landmarks, from Big Ben and the House of Parliament to Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace.
To make your spin even more memorable, you can even splurge on your experience by purchasing the Champagne package. With this ticket, you'll not only have a glass of bubbles awaiting at your arrival, but you can skip the long lines and start your journey faster.
Tour Buckingham Palace.
Serving as both the office and residence of Her Majesty, the queen, Buckingham Palace is another attraction that's worth exploring. In fact, it is one of the few working royal palaces that still remains in the world today.
During your visit, you'll be able to learn more about the royal family, as well as tour 19 magnificent staterooms, including the setting for ceremonial occasions and official entertaining.
Witness the Changing of the Guard ceremony.
Whether or not you can squeeze in an official tour, be sure not to miss witnessing the captivating Changing of the Guard ceremony. Also known as the Guard Mounting, this event takes place every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday at 10:45 a.m. outside the palace and lasts around 45 minutes.
But because this ceremony is free to observe, it can draw quite the crowd, so arrive early if you hope to secure a spot with a good view!
Sip afternoon tea at Sketch.
If spending time at Buckingham Palace makes you fantasize about afternoon tea — at least, that's what happened to me — look no further than The Gallery at Sketch. Although you'll probably become tickled pink by the playful interior the moment you walk in, just wait until you taste the adorable bite-size sandwiches and savory treats!
But let's say this is one dining experience you simply don't want to end. If that's the case, head over across the hall to The Glade and keep the good times rolling. This room is a magical setting inspired by all the enchantments that stem from a wooded forest. While there are plenty of options for delectable cuisine here, you will also find a handcrafted work of art along the walls.
Chow down on tasty, traditional-style fish and chips.
Let's face it: you can't get more British than fish and chips. So if you're wondering where the best place to go is for this traditional meal, stop your search and head straight to Golden Union. Known as the quintessential British Chippy, this eatery is admired for serving the freshest fish and finest homemade pies since 2008.
Besides its traditional style and retro decor, you won't find any frills here — just delicious, tasty food and fast, friendly service!
Meander around the energetic streets of Soho.
Just as Britain's famous agent James Bond does, the eccentric neighborhood of Soho leads a double life. While it serves as one of the city's most adored shopping destinations by day, its red-light roots come alive at night.
So whether you're in the mood for a little afternoon browsing along the energetic streets or are ready to revel in the risque vibes once the sun goes down, the choice is yours!
Although art tours are given daily throughout this up-and-coming East-End district, don't fret if you can't carve out time to join one. Even if you only have a few minutes to explore, you'll find plenty of colorful delight stamped throughout Rivington Street, Fashion Street, and Great Easton Street.
Take in the intoxicating aromas at the Columbia Road Flower Market.
If you happen to be exploring the city on a Sunday, don't miss the Columbia Road Flower Market located in East London. Oozing beauty and intoxicating aromas, this market houses vendors selling everything from blooming bouquets to bulbs, shrubs, and herbs. And as you can imagine, it's the perfect spot to stop and smell the roses . . . or, in this case, every flower under the sun.
As if the sweet scent of fresh flowers wasn't enough of a reason to venture to this part of the city, the market also encompasses a handful of local art galleries, antique shops, and bakeries.
Fuel up on caffeine with a cup of joe from an authentic London taxi.
Be sure to hunt down the Black Cab Coffee Co. Not only will you get a satisfying caffeine boost, but where else can you drink coffee served from an authentic London taxi?
Escape the crowds by spending a relaxing afternoon in Hyde Park.
With its massive size and tranquil vibes, Hyde Park is the ultimate destination for anyone seeking a slice of serenity. Although it's nestled cozily in the center of the city, its 350 acres of vibrant green space will make you feel as if you're miles away.
Plus, there are a ton of classic red phone boxes lining the park. You know, in case snapping a photo in front of one is on your bucket list!
Discover second-hand treasures at the city's only floating bookshop.
There's no doubt book-lovers will go nuts over Word on the Water. This beloved 100-year-old Dutch barge sells all kinds of second-hand treasures, including classical literature, contemporary fiction, and a wide range of children's books. Yet before you head this way, make sure to check out the store's Facebook page for its latest location, as it is a floating shop and moves regularly.
Wander throughout the fashionable neighborhood of Notting Hill.
With color, charm, and countless cobblestone streets, the fashionable neighborhood of Notting Hill is an enticing corner for an aimless wander. Known as one of the London's most iconic areas, this pocket of the city is a great destination for culture fanatics and anyone seeking a quintessential experience.
From the hidden alleyways and swanky Victorian homes to the classic cars lining the streets, get ready to have your heartstrings tugged at over and over again when roaming around.
Uncover unique keepsakes at the world's largest antique market.
No matter how long you have to explore the Notting Hill district, there's one attraction you simply must make time for: the Portobello Road Market, aka the world's largest antique market. Home to over 1,000 merchants selling collectible keepsakes, vintage goods, and thrifty treasures, there's a very slim chance you'll leave here empty-handed.
In fact, visitors from all across the world flock to this pastel portion of Portobello Road to uncover unique finds. And although this mile-long market is open seven days a week, if you're yearning to witness the exciting chaos in full swing, make sure to visit on a Saturday, as this is when the main festivities take place.
Bonus: In need of a place to stay?
If you're in need of accommodations, consider this cozy garden-level flat. Tucked away in the buzzing borough of Finsbury Park, this delightful Airbnb apartment is spacious, clean, and conveniently located near public transportation. What's more? Because it's situated outside of city center, this home away from home will deliver the ultimate local experience.
*While the cake pictured above is not included with your stay, you can get your own six-layered, rainbow-colored slice at Hummingbird Bakery!