Things to do in London

With its diverse array of neighbourhoods, enchanting museums and vibrant food and shopping districts, it’s fair to say there really is no other city quite like London. Here’s our ultimate guide to things to do in London for those in need of a bit of inspiration.

Top 11 London City Hacks - Tips for Travellers

Ever wondered where to catch the best London views or find the coolest vintage markets? Watch our London city hacks video to discover our top 11 tips for travellers who are looking to save money, find unique attractions and free things to do in London, and navigate the city with ease.

Top London landmarks

Buckingham palace

Buckingham Palace

Home to the Queen and steeped in history, Buckingham Palace is a must see for any visitor.

St Paul's Cathedral

St Paul's Cathedral

The world-famous dome of St Paul's Cathedral is an iconic feature of the London skyline. Step inside and enjoy the cathedral's awe-inspiring interior.

The Houses of Parliament

The Houses of Parliament

Guy Fawkes once tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament and, whilst you won't find any gunpowder there anymore, it is still home to the UK government and some often explosive discussions between the

Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge Exhibition

Enjoy stunning views of London from the high level walkways of Tower Bridge and discover the beautiful River Thames in the Source to Sea exhibition.

Best things to do in London

Buckingham palace

Buckingham Palace

Home to the Queen and steeped in history, Buckingham Palace is a must see for any visitor.

cycling

Cycling in London

Santander Cycles (more commonly known among the locals as Boris Bikes!) is a public bicycle hire scheme in London.

Free London walking tour

Free London walking tour

Starts every day in Green Park at 11am. This free guided London walking tour is the perfect introduction to London history and the area often referred to as “royal London”.

Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace

Have a royally good time at this stunning location - its amazing history and luxurious rooms will make you feel like a king or queen! Don't miss the gardens and maze outside.

little chelsea eastbourne

Little Chelsea

This vibrant shopping quarter has all the vibe of its namesake. You'll find over 50 indie retailers for fab vintage finds, along with restaurants and cafes to relax in.

dungeon

London Dungeon

1000 years of London's gory history, 11 actor led shows and two scary rides make for a chilling experience and a great day out.

London Eye

London Eye

135 meters tall, the London Eye's sleek, modern, totally see through glass pods offer an unrivalled 360-degree view of London and beyond.

London Marathon

London Marathon

The Virgin Money London Marathon is the largest annual fundraising event on the planet. 26.2 miles is the distance our runners are going for young lives. We’d love to have you on our team.

Insider tips

You can get the best views of London by climbing up the observatory in Greenwich Park. I also love just strolling along the southbank, particularly at night when the lights are shining off the Thames and the bridges and St Paul's Cathedral are lit up

Amy - Our Big Fat Travel Adventure

I'm loving Brixton Market right now. There are so many places to eat and drink, I feel like you can travel the world in there without ever getting on a plane. And a lot of the places are BYOB (Bring Your Own Beer), so even better!

Vicky - Vicky Flip Flop Travels

Although Borough Market is the most famous, head down the road to Maltby Street Market in Bermondsey for some awesome food under the arches

Dan - Dan Flying Solo

If you're looking for contemporary art for free, check the tube stations. The tiled artwork in Tottenham Court Road station is my favourite but there are so many more examples

Katie - The Hostel Girl

Transport in London

Air travel in London

By air

The city is served by several major airports including Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton and Stansted as well as City Airport in London’s historic Docklands. All offer hundreds of daily flights to and from destinations around the world as well as quick transfers to the city via express train (£20-30), tube (£6 - Heathrow only), DLR (£6 – City Airport only) and coach (£15-25).

London underground tube map

By tube

London’s Underground or the tube as it’s more commonly known is the quickest and easiest way to get around town. The vast network of trains covers the entire city and the surrounding boroughs with services running from around 5am to just after midnight every day.

Iconic red London bus

By bus

Buses are a great way to get around London and see some of the fabulous sights along the way. They are convenient, cheap and run regularly and a single fare will only cost you £1.50. You can’t pay for your ticket with cash though and will need an Oyster Card, a Travelcard or a contactless payment debit or credit card to get on board.

London bicycles

By bicycle

Cycling is a great way to get around London and keeps you fit too. The city’s bicycle hire scheme is available all year round and has more than 750 docking stations and 11,000 bikes in circulation. It costs £2 to get access to a bike for 24 hours and the first half hour of each journey is free.

Find your perfect London accommodation

Popular neighbourhoods

    A high street street in Soho, London

    Soho

    Soho is a melting pot of culture, clubs, watering holes and restaurants. You’ll find an eclectic mix of tourists, media professionals and older Londoners filling up the bars and, with Chinatown and Old Compton Street at its heart, you’re sure to find fantastic Asian cuisine and some truly unique nightlife.

    Nearest hostels: YHA London Central or YHA London Oxford Street

    Road Sign to the World Famous Camden Market

    Camden

    Camden is the antithesis of genteel Kensington or the transformed Docklands. It breathes old London and fosters a vibrancy which is incredibly unique. Well-known for its creative atmosphere and strong music scene, Camden also boasts one of London’s most popular open air markets and a plethora of live music venues.

    Nearest hostel: YHA London St Pancras

    Graffiti art in Shoreditch, London

    Shoreditch

    Shoreditch is so achingly cool it almost hurts. Located in the historic East End, the neighbourhood has undergone a huge transformation from rundown industrial dinosaur to a creative hub for music and art. Interactive art galleries jostle for space with converted warehouses and fashionable, urban cafes against a gritty graffiti-covered backdrop.

    Nearest hostels: YHA London St Paul's or YHA London Thameside

    Facade of opulent British Victorian Edwardian terraced flat in red bricks in Chelsea, London.

    Chelsea

    If shopping is on your agenda then head to Chelsea, one of London’s most well-heeled neighbourhoods boasting a wealth of shops to suit all tastes. The Kings Road has everything from cowboy boots and home wares to fashion and food. Nearby Sloane Square is home to pricier, designer shops whilst the Chelsea Physic Garden offers the chance for peaceful repose.

    Nearest hostel: YHA London Earl's Court

    Tipping in London

    Although it is customary to leave 10-15% of the bill when eating out in London, restaurants will often add on a service charge of around 12.5%. Be sure to look out for this when you're checking the bill so you avoid tipping twice!

    Explore Outdoors

      Little Venice London

      Discover London's Little Venice

      You might be surprised to discover London’s own mazy network of canals in Little Venice, just a short walk north of Paddington. If you’re after a little oasis of calm amongst the hubbub of the city, take a stroll along the picturesque canal banks and watch the famous canal boats.

      White water rafting at Lea Valley Park

      White water rafting in Lee Valley

      Lee Valley White Water Centre, just ten minutes from the M25 in Hertfordshire, is only a short train or car journey from central London and can provide an exhilarating alternative to the usual tourist haunts. The white water centre was actually used in the 2012 Olympics and offers a variety of activities from kayaking and rafting to hydrospeeding.

      Kew Gardens

      Exotic wildlife at Kew Gardens

      Transport yourself to some of world’s most exotic wildlife locations by visiting the iconic Kew Gardens. The garden’s glasshouses all have different, carefully-controlled climates with a whole host of rare and interesting flora and fauna to marvel at.

      Hyde Park London

      Explore Hyde Park on two wheels

      London is home to some of Europe’s most stunning parks. Hyde Park is probably the most cycle-friendly in the warmer months so why not hire a Boris bike and take a leisurely ride through it? If you find yourself flagging, stop at one of the park’s many cafes and tea rooms and refuel with a delicious scone and a cuppa.

      Chart showing the yearly weather forecast for London

      Weather

      There’s nothing Londoners like better than discussing the weather but contrary to popular belief, London isn’t always rainy and cloudy. When the sun is out London is hot and inviting with both tourists and Londoners alike heading to Hyde Park or Greenwich Park for a bit of impromptu sunbathing. In wintertime, London can become a magical place even the cold can’t touch, with twinkling fairy lights, inviting coffee shops and Hyde Park’s renowned Winter Wonderland running during the colder months.

      Weird & wonderful things to do in London

        Hackney Farm

        Find a farm in the city

        Get up close to farmyard animals, discover how to plant vegetables and learn about living a happier healthier eco-friendly life at Hackney City Farm. Some say the farm is even haunted and with lots of tragic history surrounding the building it’s not surprising.

        Nearest hostel: YHA London St Pancras

        Climb a London landmark

        Climb a London landmark

        Greenwich’s O2 Arena is renowned for being the UK’s leading entertainment venue but did you know you can enjoy a guided climb across its roof? From the 53m high observation platform you can see the Shard, the Olympic Park and Canary Wharf so be sure to take a camera.

        Nearest hostel: YHA London Thameside

        Changing of the guard

        Changing of the guard

        Nothing says British pomp and pageantry like the changing of the guard. The old guard form at Buckingham Palace whilst the new guard, with its regimental band and corps of drums, marches from its barracks in Birdcage Walk to join them. Catch the symbolic exchanging of the palace keys for a truly unique London experience.

        Nearest hostel: YHA London Central

        Debates at Speaker's Corner

        Debates at Speaker's Corner

        Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park has been the site for many public debates and speeches for more than 200 years. Lenin, Marx and George Orwell have all been known to grace the podium so why not pop along on a Sunday morning and listen to a speaker expound their views.

        Nearest hostel: YHA London Central

        Best Budget Accommodation in London

        We have the best budget accommodation in London near the best attractions, landmarks and locations. YHA has 6 superb hostels in the city centre, including accommodation in Oxford Street, Earls Court, St. Pauls and St Pancras, so there's a fantastic selection of cheap hostels to choose from if you’re looking to stay central.