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Things to do in London

London is a unique place – it is at once multicultural, trendsetting and bustling. Yet you can find areas of blissful relaxation, steeped in history, unchanging for decades. Plus, world famous attractions, incredible shopping, a raucous nightlife and some of the most diverse dining in Europe.

Tour London’s symbolic architecture – Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey. Or lounge at one of the many green spaces in the city, from the sprawling Hyde Park to the quaint Kyoto Garden in Holland Park. London’s museums are free to enter, and are amongst the best in the world. There are huge galleries, both classic and contemporary – a trip to the Tate Modern is must. Night owls will find something refreshing on every corner, and London has an incredible array of cuisine from almost every nation.

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Explore London’s bohemia

Looking for something a bit different for that special someone in your life? Hit the streets of East London for eclectic boutiques, vintage clothes and other unique gifts for you and your loved ones this Christmas.

Top tip: for the best buys get off the tube to Shoreditch High Street and walk towards Columbia Road in Hackney, stopping off at the infamous Brick Lane market on your way.

Foyles bookshop.

Pick up your favourite British classics at Foyles bookshop

Foyles has enjoyed its title of Britain’s biggest independent bookshop for more than 100 years and homes a collection of over 200,000 titles. In addition to its 6.5km of shelving, the store boasts a wide range of magazines, printed music, films, and even has its own Jazz Café and Auditorium.

Skating.

Get your skates on at Somerset House

Built in the 18th century, Somerset House is famed for its concerts, art displays and creative events. Each winter its beautiful entrance evolves into an open air ice rink, with family friendly skating during the day and exclusive club events during the evening.

Don’t miss out: Check out this year’s calendar to secure tickets for the popular evening events.

London West end.

Shop your way through London’s West End

No winter trip to London is complete without a venture to London’s most iconic shopping area. Regent Street and Bond Street are renowned for their historical department stores, including Hamleys, Liberty and the hugely popular, Selfridges.

Top tip: Some stores are open until around 10pm throughout December, visit them later in the day to beat the queues.

Tate Modern.

Get in the spirit at the Tate Modern

From 19 November, cute wooden chalets fill the space between the Tate Modern and the Thames for this traditional Christmas Market. Perfect for unique gifts, handmade Christmas decorations and warming winter snacks and beverages, this market will get you feeling festive in no time.

Top tip: The Tate has loads of great free exhibitions running through the winter months, head to their website for their full calendar.

Bus travelling passed St Pauls Cathedral.

Historic London

London was once the centre of the world, being the heart of the British Empire. In its heyday, its riches were unmatched and this can be seen in the architecture of the city. Westminster Abbey and St Paul’s Cathedral represent its religious grandeur, and the Tower of London and the Houses of Parliament its governing power. Its cultural prowess can be seen in Tate Britain, the museums of Trafalgar Square and Shakespeare’s Globe on the Southbank, amongst many others.

Traditional British pub food.

Authentic London

Hackney Carriages (black cabs) and jellied eels, London’s traditions go back many years. Visit Portobello Rd in west London for its weekly market, where you can buy anything from fresh fruit to antique candlesticks. Experience a taste of old London at a pie and mash shop, or get a bag of chips from Sea Shell in Lissom Square, one of the city’s oldest fish and chip shops. Don’t miss out on a trip to the traditional pub, where a pint of London Pride and a pickled egg is all you need.

 

A vintage bric-a-brac stall in a London market.

Secret London

London is full of well-known secrets (MI6 building on Vauxhall Bridge) including some great bars, museums and shopping opportunities. A cool museum to visit is the Magic Circle, where you can learn the truth behind many secret tricks. There are many ‘speakeasy’ bars for those in the know, and some of the best shopping can be found in charity shops in more affluent areas. Visit the amazing St. Dunstan-in-the-East’s secret garden for an otherworldly time.

Hyde Park signpost.

Green London

Considered one of the greenest cities in the world, London has many beautiful parks and grassland areas. Hyde Park is the largest in the centre and stretches from Oxford Street to Kensington Palace, followed by the wonderful Regent’s Park. Green Park and St. James’s Park boast great views of the Mall and Buckingham Palace. Further afield you can find Hampstead Heath, and the beautiful Richmond Park, where Charles I escaped the city. And that’s just the big parks.

Deckchairs on Brighton beach.

Best of British

London is a multicultural place, and being British can mean many things to different people. You could in the same day admire the lavish palaces of the Royal family, go for a roast dinner or make your way to a football game. But then you could equally swap this for a delicious curry, a day at the horse races and a good moan about the weather. Don’t forget to visit the seaside – it’s easy to get to Brighton, Eastbourne or Southend-on-Sea, home to the world’s longest pier.

Top things to do in London

Discover our most popular sights, tours and activities in London

#BALondonCitySecrets

We took to the streets to get the best insider tips direct from the people who love the city. From delicious Caribbean food at Brixton market to world-class jazz in a tiny Soho bar or a hip tea shop in Stoke Newington – we've got some brilliant #BALondonCitySecrets to share with you.

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