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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.

Royal celebrations.

Enjoy the Royal celebrations in London

With Her Majesty turning 90 on Thursday 21 April this year, there will be a series of very special events and exhibitions taking place in London marking this milestone occasion. To help you plan your break and make sure you don’t miss out on the celebrations – here’s our guide to what’s happening.

10 June
London St Pauls

10 June

Don’t miss the chance to catch a glimpse of the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh when they attend a special Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral on Friday 10 June. Although the service can only be attended by invitation, there are sure to be plenty of opportunities to see the Royal couple en route to and from St Paul’s.

11 June
Royal Horse Guards parade.

11 June

The annual Queen’s Birthday Parade – otherwise known as Trooping the Colour – will take place this year on Saturday 11 June. This magnificent spectacle of pomp and pageantry sees the Queen inspect the troops of the Household Division on Horse Guards Parade behind Whitehall. Be sure to bag your spot on the parade route, as Her Majesty leads the troops down The Mall to Buckingham Palace.

12 June
Royal Celebrations.

12 June

The climactic event of the Royal celebrations will see The Mall leading to Buckingham Palace transformed into an enormous street party on Sunday 12 June, for The Patron’s Lunch. Attended by the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, the Lunch is intended to honour and celebrate Her Majesty’s patronage of over 600 charities and organisations, who will be entertained by awe-inspiring circus performers, as they feast on picnic fare. The event will also be broadcast on big screens in St James’s Park and Green Park, so why not bring your own picnic and join in the fun?

23 July 2016 – 8 January 2017
Royal fashion.

23 July 2016 – 8 January 2017

Charting significant events in the Queen’s life, Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style from The Queen's Wardrobe is a special exhibition to be held at Her Majesty’s official UK residences. The largest ever public display of the Queen’s clothing and accessories – over 100 outfits will be exhibited at the Summer Opening of the State Rooms, Buckingham Palace, from 23 July to 2 October, and at Windsor Castle from 17 September to 8 January 2017.

Where to go for Royal history
Royal history.

Where to go for Royal history

With the British Monarchy’s rich history there are many places to visit in London where you can explore the heritage of today’s royal family.

Visit the grand homes of the kings and queens of England at Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace and Kew Palace. Look behind the scenes of a royal British tradition, the changing of the guard, at the Household Cavalry Museum. Or, hear tales from a Beefeater at the HM Tower of London before beholding the Crown Jewels.

House of Parliament.
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.

This year marks 400 years since the death of Britain's most famous bard, Shakespeare. To commemorate, 12 actors from Shakespeare's Globe have been attempting to visit every country in the world over the last 730 days.

Read their story here

Good old British grub.
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 pint of beer.
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.
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.

Beach chairs upon a 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.

24 hours in my favourite city

Find out why our Destination Manager Robyn Anderson loves London.

Borough Market
Borough Market.

Borough Market

Borough Market is without a doubt my favourite place to spend a Saturday morning in London. Get there early (as the chefs do), as by lunchtime it is full of tourists. Start with a coffee from Monmouth Coffee Company before heading under cover to the main market halls. Here you'll find colourful fruit and vegetable stalls, seafood, meat, real ales, amazing cakes (be sure to try some of the Portuguese egg custards) cheeses and breads. Once you are ready for lunch join the queue at Brindisa for the best chorizo, rocket and roasted pepper sandwich.

The View at The Shard
The View at The Shard.

The View at The Shard

The Shard, is just a short stroll from the market. On a clear day 'The View' is well worth a visit, it's fun trying to spot some of London's greatest landmarks – the River Thames, the Olympic Park, Canary Wharf, the Coco-Cola London Eye, The City, St Paul’s and Wembley can all be seen from the top. From this vantage point you really appreciate all that London has become and how big it is. On the way back down, why not pop into Aqua Shard for a glass of Champagne and the chance to rest your feet.

Stroll the South Bank
Stroll the South Bank.

Stroll the South Bank

A walk along the South Bank is a perfect way to see the River Thames and to mingle amongst the tourists and locals alike. Pop into the Globe Theatre or the Tate Modern before heading across the Millennium Bridge to St Paul’s Cathedral. Whether you decide to go in the Cathedral or not, it is still a sight to behold. It has held many of London’s key events, including state weddings, funerals and more recently the Diamond Jubilee service.

Regent's Canal
Regent's Canal.

Regent's Canal

Join the many Londoners, who now get around on the famous Boris Bikes, and take a cycle along the canal. It's a total contrast to the more well-known tourist areas of London, and offers a chance to see the rejuvenation that has taken place in this area over recent years. Collect your bike from one of the many docking stations over the city and see where you end up.

Notting Hill
Notting Hill.

Notting Hill

Made famous by the film of the same name, as well as the world-renowned carnival which takes place every August, Notting Hill has something for everyone. Whether it's a traditional pub, coffee shop or trendy restaurant you're looking for, you'll find it in Notting Hill. The Churchill Arms on Kensington Church Street (between Notting Hill Gate tube and High Street Kensington) is hard to miss with its mass of flowers growing all over the building, and once inside it is just as bizarre a scene. The front half of the pub is very traditional, but at the back there is a Thai restaurant, where the flower theme continues, and you can have some of the best priced Thai food in London – some of the tastiest too.

The West End
The West End.

The West End

A trip to London would not be complete without a walk around the West End, with all its sights and sounds. If you have time it really is worth taking in one of the many shows. From traditional favourites like The Phantom of the Opera, to new independent productions, the West End is sure to entertain.

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.

Five cool things to do with kids in London

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Stuck for ideas on how to entertain the kids in the school holidays? No need to fret.

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