London is one of the greatest and most visited cities in the world.
It is filled with fabulous hotels & restaurants, superb shopping districts, sporting and entertainment venues and of course there is so much to see and do. London is a city you can visit for a week and still only scratch the surface.
Where to stay: 43 Best Hotels in London
The BusinessClass.com guide to the 21 Best Things to See & Do in London:
1 Buckingham Palace
Home of the monarch, working royal palace, the hub of national and imperial celebrations, and backdrop to the Changing the Guard ceremony…Buckingham Palace has much to write home about. A classic icon of the United Kingdom, it commands centerstage in the capital city of London. The Palace is open for tours during summer and selected dates during November-December and Easter. A tour of the 19 magnificent State Rooms is rewarded with glimpses into the Royal Collection…think paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens and Canaletto, sculpture by Canova, Sèvres porcelain, and period English and French furniture.
The most impressive apartments that win the favours of visitors include the Throne Room (used for court ceremonies and official entertaining) and the White Drawing Room (a royal reception room for the Royal Family). In addition to the Palace, one can see royal carriages in The Royal Mews and antique art and photograph collections at The Queen's Gallery. Both of these are open throughout the year. One of the popular experiences at Buckingham Palace is the Changing the Guard ceremony.
Address: Buckingham Palace, London, SW1A 1AA
2 Tower of London
This impressive UNESCO World Heritage Site, built under William the Conqueror's reign, boasts multifaceted personas covering a long and colourful history of almost a millennium. The Tower of London has been reincarnated as an imperial castle, formidable fortress, treasury, mint, armoury, arsenal, infamous prison, place of execution, and even a zoo. Built by William the Conqueror, the tower complex sprawling over 18 acres is an architectural marvel with bastions and towers.
One of the most well-recognised elements is the famous White Tower, which houses a lovely Romanesque chapel from the 11th century. However, the highlight for most visitors is the Jewel House, home to a dazzling collection of Crown Jewels. It showcases over 20,000 gemstones still used in royal ceremonies today. The piece de resistance of the royal regalia is arguably the platinum crown of the late Queen Mother, set with the 106-carat Koh-i-Nûr (Persian for "Mountain of Light") diamond. The jewel collection also includes the famed Imperial State Crown, worn by the monarch at the State Opening of Parliament.
Address: The Tower of London, London, EC3N 4AB
3 Houses of Parliament & Big Ben
The majestic Houses of Parliament, located by the banks of the River Thames in Westminster, are one of the most photographed sites in central London. The Houses of Parliament, also known as the Palace of Westminster, includes the House of Commons, House of Lords and Westminster Hall. The Neo-Gothic building, dating from the mid-19th century, is decked with buttresses, towers and arches. A tour of the interiors offers a unique opportunity to get acquainted with the workings of the UK parliament and British politics.
Visitors can learn about the Gunpowder Plot to blow up England's Houses of Parliament, a historic event responsible for the birth of Guy Fawkes Day. The 96-meter tall Elizabeth Tower beside the landmark, adorned with four clock faces, is a significant attraction for Big Ben, a massive bell inside the clock tower weighing more than 13 tons. Visitors can climb 399 steps to reach the top for a spectacular view of the cityscape.
Address: Houses of Parliament, Westminster, London, SW1A 0AA
Address: Big Ben, Elizabeth Tower, The Houses of Parliament, Westminster, London, SW1A 0AA
4 Lastminute.com London Eye
The Lastminute.com London Eye stands 135 metres above the London skyline and is the tallest cantilevered observation wheel in the world. Constructed and launched in 2000, The London Eye has won multiple awards for its engineering achievement, architectural quality and tourism, and is the UK’s most popular tourist attraction. In total, 32 individual sealed and air-conditioned pods can house up to 25 guests apiece for a 30-minute rotation with striking views across some of London’s most iconic landmarks, including the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, the River Thames and Buckingham Palace.
On a clear day, seeing as far as 40 kilometres is possible. Pods can be booked in advance for group parties – including Champagne Experiences complete with a host serving chilled Pommery Brut Champagne, fast track boarding and a dedicated entrance. Private Pods can be hired for the exclusive use of between 2 and 25 guests, and Cupid’s Pod can be booked for two persons with romantic views of London, complete with a bottle of Pommery Rosé Champagne and a luxury box of Hotel Chocolat Pink Champagne Truffles and a private host. The London Eye is located on the South Bank of the River Thames, with Waterloo Station, Charing Cross, Westminster and Embankment Stations, and a host of other London attractions nearby.
Address: Lastminute.com London Eye, Riverside Building, County Hall, London, SE1 7PB
Book tickets here
5 Changing the Guard
Changing the Guard is a formal ceremony of the New Guard taking over from the Old Guard, showcasing all the pomp and glory of British pageantry. Aside from being a military tradition, the event also symbolises the relationship between the Armed Forces and the Imperial Head of State. The ceremony, also known as Guard Mounting, lasts approximately 45 minutes and takes place between Buckingham Palace, St. James's Palace and Wellington Barracks.
Soldiers about to finish their Guard shift at Buckingham Palace assemble in the courtyard at the front of the Palace. The New Guard marches into the courtyard, halts, turns to face the New Guard and then slow marches into position. The Old and New Guards display weapons in mutual respect for each other. The two Captains march forward, meet in the centre of the forecourt and touch left hands to symbolise the handover of responsibility for the safety of the Palace. The guards, dressed in traditional bright-red tunics and bearskin hats, exchange positions to the background of stirring band music ranging from traditional marches to pop songs.
Address: Buckingham Palace, London, SW1A 1AA
Where to stay: Mandarin Oriental, London
6 Afternoon Tea at The Ritz
London is an ideal setting to try a quintessentially British tradition, and there's no better venue than the glamorous Ritz hotel. One of the Leading Hotels of the World, located on Piccadilly in the heart of London's West End, the Ritz is a preferred outpost of British royals, Hollywood celebrities and industry bigwigs. The elegant Palm Court restaurant, nestled within the historic luxury hotel, sets the tone for a sophisticated Afternoon Tea service. Gastronomes can tickle their taste buds with a selection of finely cut sandwiches, fresh scones and delectable pastries under the glow of glittering chandeliers.
Tea connoisseurs will be delighted with the choice of 16 different types of tea. A glass of champagne is served for those who demand a little extra indulgence. Reservations are recommended since the hotel and the tea experience is in high demand. Afternoon tea is served daily between 11.30am and 7.30pm. Guests are expected to honour the formal dress code to enjoy afternoon tea in the Palm Court. Casual and sportswear are not permitted.
Address: The Ritz London, 150 Piccadilly, London, W1J 9BR
Where to stay: The Ritz
7 Churchill War Rooms
History buffs can take a deep dive into the life and times of Winston Churchill at the Churchill War Rooms located on King Charles Street in central London, close to 10 Downing Street. The underground command centre for the British Government was the site of top-secret critical decisions made during the Second World War. Here, the allied route to victory was plotted, and history took a sharp turn. Visitors can see the heavily guarded Cabinet Room, where Churchill and his team conferred with heads of the British Armed Forces. The Map Room displays the books, maps and calendars last used in August 1945.
Walls still hide the whispers of wartime secrets and intrigues. Churchill Museum boasts a vast collection of the statesman's personal memorabilia, including his baby rattle and the flag used to drape his coffin at his State funeral. The original Number 10 Downing Street door, which Churchill first walked through as Prime Minister on 10 May 1940, is also located in the Churchill Museum.
Address: Churchill War Rooms, King Charles Street, London, SW1A 2AQ
8 Westminster Abbey
One of London's most important UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Westminster Abbey is a spectacle of architectural finesse with vaulted ceilings and ancient murals. Founded by Benedictine monks in 960 AD, this place of worship has been the stage for many coronations and royal celebrations. The coronation ceremonies of all British monarchs have been held here since 1066 on the ancient Coronation Chair in St George's Chapel.
The Abbey has been the site for many royal ceremonies, including the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. It is also the final resting place of 30 kings and queens, with memorials to Edward the Confessor, Richard II, Elizabeth I, Mary Queen of Scots and more royal tombs. Literature fans can visit the Poets' Corner to see over tombs of over 100 poets and writers, including William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Geoffrey Chaucer and Charles Dickens. The West Door pay homage to the statues of 10 Modern Martyrs, including Martin Luther King Jr.
Address: Westminster Abbey, 20 Dean's Yard, London, SW1 3PA
9 St Paul's Cathedral
This 300-year-old masterpiece, designed by Christopher Wren after the Great Fire of London, is located on Ludgate Hill. The Cathedral of the Anglican Bishop is recognised by its gigantic dome, inspired by St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. At 364 feet, it is one of the largest cathedral domes in the world. One of the highlights inside is Wellington's Monument, a tribute to the revered soldier and statesman, Duke of Wellington. Visitors can look out for the monuments to the explorer Robert Scott, painter JMW Turner and John Donne, poet and former Dean of the Cathedral. The walls are adorned by artworks like William Holman Hunt's painting, The Light of the World, and the Henry Moore sculpture, Mother and Child: Hood.
The crypt contains the tombs and memorials of national heroes, like Admiral Lord Nelson, the Duke of Wellington and Sir Christopher Wren. The walkway around the dome's base has 257 steps leading to the Whispering Gallery, 119 more stairs to the exterior Stone Gallery offering city views, and 152 iron steps ending at the topmost Golden Gallery, promising a fabulous panorama of London.
Address: St. Paul's Cathedral, St. Paul's Churchyard, London, EC4M 8AD
10 Borough Market
With a legacy spanning 1000 years, this ancient market covering about 4.5 acres, is located at the southern end of London Bridge. Over the centuries, it has continued to be a gathering place for shoppers and foodies. The ceiling with overhead viaducts and steel beams encased in glass roofs adds vintage charm. The Art Deco entrance on Southwark Street, added in 1932, is incredibly photogenic. Over 100 stalls tempt visitors with gourmet food, artisanal cheese, speciality patisseries, wholesale greengrocers and high-end fresh, local produce like fruit and vegetable, meats, seafood, spices, nuts, preserves and condiments.
Global cuisine is well represented in takeaway stalls, street food vendors, experimental restaurants and bohemian eateries. From Indian curries to Ethiopian dishes, Caribbean stews to Lebanese wraps and German sausages to Spanish paella, there is something to appeal to every palate at one of London's oldest retail and wholesale food markets. Borough Market is a hotspot for celebrity chefs and has even been a backdrop for movies like 'Bridget Jones's Diary.
Address: Borough Market, 8 Southwark Street, London, SE1 1TL
11 The Sky Garden – Fenchurch Building
One of the contemporary attractions in London is the city's highest public garden, located between the 34th to 37th floors of the 20 Fenchurch Street building. The lush sub-tropical space is a blaze of vibrant Mediterranean and South African plants, fragrant herbs like French lavender, and other colourful blooms, including flowering plants in the Sky Garden African Lily, Red Hot Poker and Bird of Paradise. This urban jungle offers stunning vistas of London with floor-to-ceiling windows and a vaulted glass roof. Botanical urges satiated, one can head to one of the world-class restaurants that serve modern British cuisine.
Darwin Brasserie, the highest rooftop brasserie in the city, overlooks the Thames on Level 36 and specialises in British fare. Fenchurch is a stylish seafood fine dining restaurant on the 37th floor. Three snazzy bars, Sky Pod Bar, City Garden Bar and Fenchurch Terrace, whip up inventive cocktails. Online reservations are recommended since entry to the Sky Garden is free but limited.
Address: Sky Garden, 1 Sky Garden Walk, London, EC3M 8AF
12 The Shard – Viewing Area
More than 1,000 feet high with 96 stories, The Shard in London is almost twice as tall as any other building in the UK. Its facade, modelled after a shard of glass, is made up of 11,000 glass panels and creates an illusion of an iceberg rising in the river. The Shard is a vertical city with 27 floors for offices, 3 restaurants, 13 stories for residences, 18 levels for the five-star Shangri-La hotel and 5 observation floors. Visitors can soar to the top of the spire in the high-speed lift, which travels at 6 metres per second.
The viewing platforms offer 360-degree views for up to 25 kilometres across London, while the ultimate reward awaits at the Skydeck on the 72nd floor…a windy open-air platform with eye-popping views over the city. One can spot most of the landmarks from that height. There are several fine restaurants and bars to grab a drink or meal, like Ting, Aqua Shard, Hutong and Oblix. The View from The Shard is located near London Bridge Station.
Address: The Shard, 32 London Bridge Street, London, SE1 9SG
Where to stay: Shangri-la at The Shard
13 Covent Garden
Sitting at the heart of the West End, Covent Garden is one of London's most loved precincts with a jumble of entertainment options, fabulous museums, high-end dining, old-school pubs and world-class shopping. Originally the vegetable garden of the Westminster Abbey monks, the area got upgraded into a market in the 17th century, with theatre, opera and posh restaurants popping up nearby for the entertainment of the wealthy. Even today, the neighbourhood is known for street performances, from theatre, busking, magic shows and acrobatics.
The highlight of Covent Garden is the old market hall with a glass roof dating back to the 19th century. Die-hard foodies can spend the entire day, from breakfast and brunch to afternoon tea and dining, with a wide variety of options ranging from street stalls to plush restaurants. Culture vultures can delight themselves with West End musicals, classic plays and speakeasies comedies. Shopaholics will be spoilt for choice with international luxury brands and quirky boutiques for fashion, accessories, cosmetics, crafts, and knick-knacks.
Address: Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9DD
14 Take in a Show!
Whether you enjoy the opera or ballet, a rip-roaring musical, live concert - classical or pop or a play, London offers it all. The Royal Opera House and English National Opera will offer you stunning opera and ballet from all genres, Theatreland is home to The Lion King, Wicked, Les Mis and more, the O2 has hosted the good & great of music from Prince to Ariana Grande and of course, The Globe is home to the best of Shakespeare plays. Holland Park boasts a delightful open-air opera stage, while Wembley Stadium and Hyde Park welcomes some of the greatest musicians every summer for superb gigs.
With the Jazz Cafe and Ronnie Scott's for cool jazz and the Comedy Club for laughs - there is more to London that just the obvious. For the more risqué events, there are Burlesque Clubs - for adults only, of course! So, yes, in London, you can enjoy every kind of live event. Book in advance or get tickets from your hotel concierge desk.
Address: The Royal Opera House, Bow Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9DD
Address: Shakespeare's Globe, 21 New Globe Walk, Bankside, London, SE1 9DT
Address: Holland Park, Ilchester Place, London, W8 6LU
Address: Wembley Stadium, South Way, London, HA9 0WS
Address: Hyde Park, London, SW7 1NR
Address: The Jazz Cafe, 5 Parkway, Camden, London, NW1 7PG
Address: Ronnie Scott's, 47 Frith Street, London, W1D 4HT
15 Millennium Bridge
Built-in celebration of Y2K, the Millennium Bridge was the first bridge constructed in London after 100 years. The pedestrian-only steel suspension bridge has a structure length of 325 metres and affords fabulous views of some of the city's most well-known landmarks. It crosses the River Thames from Tate Modern and Shakespeare's Globe on the south bank to St. Paul's Cathedral on the North Bank. In fact, the bridge is designed to create a perfect frame for the south facade of St Paul's Cathedral.
When the Millennium Bridge first opened in 2000, a record 90,000 people walked its surface, causing a swaying motion and the nickname 'The Wobbly Bridge. But apart from admiring its architectural splendour, visitors have another reason to add the bridge to their London itinerary. For over a decade, artist Ben Wilson, "The Chewing-Gum Man," has been creating artwork out of pieces of chewing gum that litter the floor of the bridge, using layers of acrylic paint and lacquer. Ben's miniature masterpieces cover subjects as diverse as landscapes, quotes and abstracts.
Address: London Millennium Footbridge, Thames Embankment, London, SE1 9JE
16 Harry Potter Experience – Leavesden
The Warner Bros Studio Tour at Leavesden Studios, located at Watford, Hertfordshire, just 34 kilometres from London, is a favourite experience for fans of Harry Potter, the popular fantasy film franchise. The studio complex, located in a former aircraft manufacturing facility, is the only exhibition for authentic sets, props, special effects, costumes and behind-the-scenes secrets used to make all eight Harry Potter films in the series. Visitors can walk through the giant doors of the Hogwarts Great Hall before exploring epic sets like Dumbledore's office, Gryffindor common room, Forbidden Forest and Diagen Alley.
One of the tour's most memorable highlights is boarding the original Hogwarts Express at Platform 9 ¾. Gawkworthy models in the studio complex include an enormous Aragog and an oversized Hogwarts. The gift shop is a treasure trove of wizardry accessories, uniforms for each Hogwarts house, and replicas of wands used by every character. The Making of Harry Potter Tour at the Leavesden Studios is a deep dive into cinematic talent, imagination and artistry surrounding the epic film series.
Address: The Making of Harry Potter, Warner Bros. Studio Tour London, Studio Tour Drive, Leavesden, WD25 7LR
17 IFS Cloud Cable Car
Take a breathtaking ride 90 metres above the River Thames in the IFS Cloud Cable Car (formerly the Emirates Air Line Cable Car). Each flight lasts around ten minutes, with cabins arriving every thirty seconds linking the south and north sides of the Thames between Greenwich Peninsula and the Royal Docks. The cable car was first opened to the public for the London 2012 Olympic Games and has become a must-do attraction ever since. With spectacular 360-degree views of the London skyline, passengers can view the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, The O2, Canary Wharf, the Thames Barrier, The Shard, The Gherkin, Maritime Greenwich and St Paul’s Cathedral.
Each cabin can hold up to ten passengers and operates late into the night, making the most of those spectacular sunset views. Customers can book the VIP Fast-Track experience with priority boarding and a private cabin for a non-stop return trip to remember. Picknick food and non-alcoholic drinks are permitted onboard. The iconic O2 is just a short walk from the Greenwich Peninsula Terminal, with the nearest tube access via the North Greenwich Underground (Jubilee Line) and the Royal Victoria Docklands Light Railway (DLR) on the north side.
Address: IFS Cloud Royal Docks, 27 Western Gateway, London, E16 1FA
Book tickets here
18 Boat trip down the River Thames
As one of London's main highways in the Middle Ages, the Thames has been a significant lifeline of the city's fame and fortune. A relaxed boat trip down England's longest river is a great way to explore the city's rich heritage and admire its grand attractions from a different perspective. Visitors can choose cruises departing from Westminster Pier, Embankment Pier, Tower Bridge Quay or Greenwich Pier. The boat stop at Greenwich offers the chance to discover Cutty Sark, Royal Observatory and National Maritime Museum, home to the meridian line separating the east and west hemispheres.
Key landmarks to explore from the stop in Central London include the Houses of Parliament, London Eye, Tate Modern, Tower of London and Tower Bridge. For those who prefer high-octane action, there is the option of taking an exhilarating speedboat ride down the river Thames to the backdrop of exciting James Bond theme tunes. The Ultimate Spy Experience covers unique filming locations from James Bond movies, including MI6 and the O2 Arena.
Address: Thames River Sightseeing, Westminster Pier, Victoria Embankment, London, SW1A 2JH
Address: Ultimate Spy Experience, Embankment Pier, Victoria Embankment, London, WC2N 6NU
19 HMS Belfast
This iconic London landmark is designed to help visitors discover life on board a Second World War Royal Navy Warship. The nine-decked HMS Belfast warship is an intriguing floating museum on the River Thames. Now an essential part of the Imperial War Museum in London, the ship made history by firing some opening shots on D-Day, sailing in freezing conditions to the Arctic Circle and serving in the Korean War.
Revamped exhibition spaces in this floating city serve as backdrops for state-of-the-art displays and multi-sensory interactive experiences. One can hear stories from the 950 crew members who lived and served on board and explore the chapel, radio station and gigantic bakery. Navigating the narrow passageways and steep staircases of the only warship that survived the Second World War is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Address: HMS Belfast, The Queen's Walk, London, SE1 2JH
London's oldest and largest toy shop, founded in 1760, has survived multiple recessions and been bombed twice during WWII to delight generation after generation of children. A magical wonderland of toys, games, crafts and fun spread over seven stories, Hamleys is an institution by itself, with live demonstrations of toys and games and friendly staff to help visitors choose the perfect gift. One of the extraordinary experiences on offer is a Hamleys VIP tour, which includes an hour-long personal tour of the shop and a gift bag for each child.
From cuddly toys to educational games, doll accessories, and favourite brands like Lego and Playmobil, London's best-loved toy store is a household name globally. Throughout the year, familiar red flags wave outside the building, and staff members demonstrate the latest toy trends to lure children. At Christmas time, the top floor turns into Santa's grotto, and tickets sell like hotcakes to see Father Christmas himself.
Address: Hamleys, 188 - 196 Regent Street, London, W1B 5BT
21 Madame Tussauds
The first and original Madame Tussauds has been in its current Marylebone Road location since 1884. However, Madame Tussaud first brought her wax exhibition on tour to the UK from France in 1802. The exhibition building survived a fire in the 1920s and was struck by a bomb during the Second World War but continues to go from strength to strength with new sites opening around the world. Today, the world-renowned London attraction houses more than 190 lifelike waxwork figures, from sporting legends, musicians, and A-listers to royalty, big-screen superheroes and historical figures.
The immersive experience is taken to another level with the new Marvel Universe 4D cinema, where the audience gets closer to the action with their favourite Marvel characters as they battle to save the world from their nemesis Loki. Other notable features include a Star Wars zone with iconic sets from the franchise, the Chamber of Horrors showcasing some of London’s most infamous killers, Alien Escape, and a unique black cab ride through the historical and cultural events that have shaped London, plus so much more. Opening times are between 10 am and 3 pm daily, and the nearest tube station is just a short two-minute walk away at Baker Street underground station.
Address: Madame Tussauds, Marylebone Road, London, NW1 5LR
Book tickets here
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