If you’re looking for a magical city trip packed with history, I couldn’t recommend London more. I’m convinced London is the perfect city trip for just about anyone. Whether you’re traveling with young kids, going for a fun couples trip, or just taking it solo, you’ll find a version of London perfectly fit for you.
My name is Brenna and I’m a travel blogger on Instagram (@travelbybrenna) and am obsessed with great design and unique stays. I’m also a huge foodie and love a great food market, restaurant, or quality coffee shop. I make Instagram guides for everywhere I visit with options in all of the categories above and more.
I recently spent a week in London and did hours of research ahead of time to make sure I could try out some incredible spots. These are my favorite things to do in London!
The 15 Essential Things to Do in London
Top Tip For Visiting London
Best Time to Visit London
I honestly think London would be incredible to visit just about any time of year. In the winter, you’ll get the iconic English Christmas experience with gorgeous lights all around the city. In the spring and fall, mild temperatures and beautiful colors. The summer holds typically mild temperatures and lovely long days, though it will be the busiest tourism season. We visited in late August and were surprised by the crowds, but that didn’t deter us from having an incredible time.
1. Have a traditional afternoon tea at Fortnum and Mason
Fortnum and Mason is the most famous traditional British afternoon tea experience. It’s expensive ($75 pp), but worth it if you come hungry. Food & tea is unlimited and there’s a beautiful selection of elegant pastries, finger sandwiches, desserts, and more.
The tea room sits atop a beautiful store filled with home goods, treats, and of course tea to take home. While my husband and I were there I couldn’t help but think that this would be a lovely experience for families especially those with young girls.
Address: 4-7 Royal Exchange, London EC3V 3LR, United Kingdom
2. Share incredible street food at Borough Market
Borough Market is the biggest and most important food market in London to visit by far. You can find just about everything here from cheese shops to fish and chips to curry. We stayed nearby for a couple of nights and visited here for lunch twice as we simply couldn’t try enough!
Address: 8 Southwark St, London SE1 1TL, United Kingdom
3. Have a traditional English Breakfast at The Wolseley
The Wolseley is an absolute must‑visit for a classic English breakfast. It has a stunning interior, excellent service, and delicious traditional British fare. Be sure to get a reservation ahead of time as it fills up fast!
Address: 160 Piccadilly, St. James’s, London W1J 9EB, United Kingdom
4. Ride the London Eye with a glass of bubbly
Riding the Eye felt essential to us, but since we were visiting in peak season, the lines were massive. We paid an extra $15 to do the “champagne experience” where you get to skip the line, have a glass of wine, and chat with a group guide throughout the ride. Our fabulous guide gave us tons of recommendations and helped us get our bearings on the layout of the city from above.
Address: Riverside Building, County Hall, London SE1 7PB, United Kingdom
5. Walk into a movie scene at Leadenhall Market
One of the most ornate and oldest markets in London, this is a must‑stop for a beer or even just a few quick pictures. It was the inspiration behind Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley, and stepping inside really feels like walking into a movie.
Address: Gracechurch St, London EC3V 1LT, United Kingdom
6. Catch views of the city from a rooftop garden
A rooftop bar, garden, and observatory with the best city view all in one? When I saw pictures of Sky Garden I was sold. It’s free to enter, but you do have to make reservations ahead of time. Our experience at the bar was just ok, however, the garden and views are unlike anywhere I’ve been, so I wouldn’t hesitate to visit just for views and pictures.
Address: 1, Sky Garden Walk, London EC3M 8AF, United Kingdom
7. Have a Martini at the bar which inspired James Bond
Duke’s is said to be the bar that inspired the writer of James Bond’s iconic Vesper Martini. This tiny, fancy bar inside a hotel offers its iconic martinis (stirred only) to walk-ins and hotel guests. We visited at 3 pm on a Monday and had no problem getting in, but during peak hours it’s known to have a significant wait.
Address: 35 St James’s Pl, St. James’s, London SW1A 1NY, United Kingdom
8. Enjoy a seasonal menu at Rochelle Canteen
Set inside a peaceful garden on old-school grounds, Rochelle Canteen offers modern British cuisine and is essential for lunch. It was our favorite sit‑down place we visited in the city. Everything was incredibly fresh. Be sure and order dessert, as ours was to die for.
Address: 16 Playground Gardens, London E2 7FA, United Kingdom
9. Sip a modern coffee at WatchHouse
WatchHouse has locations throughout the city and is a modern coffee shop with chic decor. The drinks are served on a platter with information about the beans & brew method you’re drinking. Coffee crafted with care and in a beautiful environment.
10. Stay in the beautifully-designed Hoxton Holborn
Now an international boutique chain, the Hoxton is based in London and has multiple locations in the city. We stayed in the Holborn location and were incredibly impressed with the gorgeous lobby, great service, & lovely cafe. Be sure to get a room with a size that fits your needs as they offer some that are extremely small – likely catered to solo travelers.
Address: 199-206 High Holborn, London WC1V 7BD, United Kingdom
11. Learn fascinating history at The Tower of London Museum
One of London’s most iconic museums, this castle has been around since 1066. Former home of many kings and queens and current home of the Crown Jewels, it’s seen a lot in the past Millennia. It’s worth stopping by if you have a few more hours for some history.
Address: London EC3N 4AB, United Kingdom
12. Tour the beautiful Westminster Abbey
We were super happy we did the Westminster tour ‑ you get to see where the coronations & royal weddings happen, learn a ton about how the history of the Christian faith developed in the abbey, and there are hundreds of incredibly impactful people buried here. The tour is self‑guided so you can take as much or as little time as you like, making it a great option if you get “museumed‑out” easily.
Address: 20 Deans Yd, London SW1P 3PA, United Kingdom
13. Go shopping in Shoreditch
If you love vintage stores and a more alternative, youthful scene, be sure to spend a day in Shoreditch. This area is packed with local shops, and fabulous restaurants, and there’s even a new development called BOXPARK which is built out of old shipping containers.
14. Have a casual bite and brew at Market Halls Victoria
Market Halls Victoria is a super fun food court with multiple bars and rooftop views. It’s close to multiple popular attractions and is the perfect place for lunch or a casual dinner. You can have anything from dumplings to pasta and don’t forget to grab a pint to accompany it!
Address: 191 Victoria St, London SW1E 5NE, United Kingdom
15. Take a stroll through Hyde Park
What feels like “The Central Park of London” is the perfect place for a bike ride or stroll. Stop through on your way to the famous Harrod’s department store or Kensington Palace.
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PS — Are You Booking a Trip Soon? Use My Booking Checklist!
These are the sites I use most to book my own trips. Using the links below is a great way to support Bon Traveler’s travel journalism at no extra cost to you. If you need help organizing your itinerary, get my free travel itinerary template here.
1. Book Your Flights
Use Skyscanner to find the best flights. It searches 100s of airlines and websites across the globe to ensure you’re not missing out on any route options or deals.
2. Book Your Accommodations
Use Booking.com for hotels and guest houses. They have the biggest inventory and consistently offer the best rates.
3. Book Your Tours & Experiences
4. Book Your Car
Use Discover Cars or Rentalcars.com to find the best car rental deals. I recommend comparing rental agency reviews on Google to ensure you are booking with the best company in that destination, as the reviews are often more accurate than the car rental search engines.
5. Don’t Forget Airport Lounge Access
Get a Priority Pass membership to gain access to 1,400+ VIP lounges and airport experiences worldwide. The Priority Pass app is the first thing I check when I have a layover. I’ve been a member for over a decade, and having a comfortable place to relax before and between flights makes air travel so much more enjoyable.
6. Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
I never leave the country without travel insurance. It provides comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong (ie. illness, injury, theft, and cancelations, etc.). I use it frequently for my travels to stay protected.
My favorite companies that offer the best coverage and rates are: