Discover London’s must-see sights with my guide to the top things to do on a London city break. Whether you want a jam-packed escape filled with top London attractions or you’re travelling on a budget, I’ve got it covered.
Top Things to do in London
Free Things to do in London
Who knew you could have such an amazing time on a London City break without splashing the cash? Below is a selection of London activities that will cost you absolutely nothing to enjoy:
- Picnic in one of London’s parks such as Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, Green Park, and St James’s Park
- Watch the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace.
- Enjoy a riverside walk along the buzzing South Bank.
- Discover the city’s urban art at Leake Street Arches below Waterloo Station.
- Watch some free opera from the Royal Opera House’s Live at Lunch events.
Free Museums in London:
Bring a packed lunch and while away the hours in one of the impressive museums during your London city break.
- The British Museum: Home to the Rosetta Stone and Egyptian mummies, this is a great choice for curious families.
- The Natural History Museum: You’ll find dinosaurs galore here as well as other specimens from natural history.
- The Faraday Museum: Budding young scientists will love taking a walk through the history of inventions. Enjoy interactive displays and feast your eyes on Faraday’s magnetic laboratory, displayed precisely as it was in the 1850s.
- Westminster Abbey: As the site of Royal weddings, coronations, and villainous happenings, the Abbey is an exciting place to be. Walk in the footsteps of kings and queens as you discover over ten centuries of British history.
Best Places for Shopping on a London City Break
If you’re taking a city break with your friends, chances are, hitting the retail hotspots is a priority. When you’ve only got a couple of days in London, you’ll want to know exactly where to shop.
- Covent Garden: A vibrant hive of culture, shopping and cool places to eat, you could easily spend an entire day here. The famous Covent Garden market is huge and offers everything from fresh fruit and vegetables, to handmade crafts and gifts. The fabulous array of talented street performers add an exciting vibe to the area.
- Carnaby Street: A happening place to be in the 1960s, Carnaby Street is just as cool today and is home to cutting-edge clothes shops. You’ll also find plenty of bars and restaurants for taking a break to admire your purchases!
- Neal’s Yard: Tucked away in a corner of Covent Garden you’ll find one of London’s most attractive streets. With its collection of shops, beauty salons, cafes, and bars, Neal’s Yard is akin to a super-cute self-contained village. It’s also the perfect place to bring selfie-loving teens who love a colourful backdrop for their insta-stories.
- Camden Market: There are over 1000 stalls, shops, bars and cafes at this famous London market. You’ll find everything and anything here, but the real treat is the mix of characters you’ll run into while you browse.
- Oxford Street: One of the city’s busiest streets, Oxford Street is home to more than 300 stores. If you’re a bit of a style guru, you’ll be in your element with the huge number of designer shops.
- Bond Street: This is another popular area packed with designer shops, and there’s always the chance you could bump into a few famous folks. Browse exclusive jewellers such as Cartier and Tiffany & Co. or pay a visit to the world-famous auction house, Sotheby’s.
- Knightsbridge: Playing host to Harrods, Knightsbridge is the place to head for designer brands. For designer shops such as Gucci, Armani and Christian Dior, Sloane Street runs from Knightsbridge to Sloane Square and is definitely worth a trip.
- Dover Street Market, Mayfair: Offering designer labels in a quirky setting, Dover Street Market is a must for label lovers. Some call it pretentious while others embrace its upcycled Portaloo dressing rooms and industrial-style décor. You’ll find plenty of designer names at this six-floor building, including Prada, Stussy, Balenciaga, and Art School.
Top London Attractions for Families
When you’ve got children of different ages to accommodate, you’ll want something for everyone to enjoy during your London adventure. Here are some of the top things to do on a London city break that all ages of kids are going to love.
- The Tower of London: Nothing prepares you for the first time you get a glimpse of the Crown Jewels (especially as you do so on a travelator!) You can also learn about the grisly goings-on at the Tower during a Yeoman Warder Tour.
- The London Dungeons: This is an entertaining tour through the capital’s stomach-churning past. Meet both charming and sinister characters including Guy Fawkes and Sweeney Todd. Take a ride on the Drop Dead: Drop Ride.
- Big Bus sightseeing tour: See the major iconic sights of London, including Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, and Westminster Abbey. The imposing clock and tower of Big Ben is a breathtaking sight. Take a hop on and hop off tour around London and witness the incredible gothic architecture.
- Buckingham Palace: You can visit the royal residence in summer and at certain times in December, January, and Easter. Book an exclusive tour of the opulent staterooms and witness the impressive Changing of the Guard Ceremony.
- The London Eye: No trip to London should be without a ride on the London Eye, located on the South Bank. Step into a transparent pod and travel high above the London skyline in Europe’s tallest cantilevered observation wheel standing at 135m tall.
- Thames River Cruise: If you’re looking for a different way to see London, a Thames River cruise could be just the thing. Cruises range from hop on and hop off tours including tickets to tourist hotspots such as Madame Tussaud’s, to afternoon tea cruises.
Prior to your London city break, prebook tickets for events via a reputable site and pay less – you may even be able to queue jump with prebooked tickets!
If you enjoy discovering the culture and history of UK cities, head over to my blog about Bath.