Top 20 Things to Do in London
As a Londoner who’s always searching for hidden gems, here’s my personal list of favourite things to do in London.
In the video (and list below) you’ll find some hidden gems alongside the iconic sites. When it’s one of the bigger attractions, I’ve tried to pick out a little detail or aspect you might not have appreciated! Hope you enjoy it and would love to know your suggestions in the comments too!
I’ve split my top 20 things to do in London into groups; museums, religious sites, green spaces and then miscellaneous. Also I’ve included a bespoke google map at the bottom so you can decide where to visit geographically!
Let’s get stuck in!
Watch the video here;
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1. The Garden Museum
Set in the 14th century tower and church of St Mary’s in Lambeth. The Garden Museum does what it says on the tin but has the added bonus of a panoramic London view point. It’s epic and tower-only tickets are just £3. Find out more here.
2. Victoria and Albert Museum Cast Courts
Free to visit and the World’s greatest museum of art and design, it’s practically impossible to not find something inspiring at the V&A. One of my favourite things to do is visit the Cast Courts, a 19th century room for of replicas which are works of art in their own right. It’s like a trip to Italy without the faff of flying!
3. Marianne North Gallery, Kew Gardens
There’s plenty to see at Kew Gardens, the epic green houses are obviously high on the list, but you shouldn’t miss this gem of a gallery. It’s over 800 painting by Marianne North, a Victorian artist who travelled the world painting plants. Find out more about visiting here.
4. Sir John Soane’s Museum
Sir John Soane was an architect in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. His home was a work of art in itself and is packed with his collectables. Free to enter and they now allow photography! Find out more here.
5. Two Temple Place
A Victorian mansion less than 5 minutes from Temple Station. Not only is it beautiful inside but they host interesting art exhibitions each year. Plus it’s all free! Find out more here.
6. St Paul’s Cathedral
7. St Mary Aldermary
Built by Christopher Wren (same architect as St Paul’s) this City church has one of the most amazing ceilings in London. Made of plaster in the 17th century, the craftsman was Henry Doogood and he definitely did a good job!
8. Saint Mary Magdalene, Paddington
9. Westminster Abbey, Henry VII Chapel
Near the top of every first time visit, it’s surprising that Londoners have often never been inside Westminster Abbey. This was me a few years ago, until I became a Blue Badge Guide I had never been before! Now I lead private tours inside this amazing space, rebuilt in the 13th century.
One of my favourite places within the Abbey is the early 16th century Henry VII Chapel. Not only is it beautiful, but it is packed with history. You can read more here.
10. St Bartholomew the Great
This overlooked church can be found in the City of London, not far from St Paul’s Cathedral. Founded in 1123, it’s now open for free and is well worth visiting. I’ve recently written about the 7 best sneaky bits of St Bart’s history here.
11. Neasden Temple
Standing outside this temple in North West London, you can hardly believe your eyes! This is the first traditional Hindu Mandir in Europe, built with thousands of tonnes of stone and marble. Read more about it here.
12. Fitzrovia Chapel
This sparkling Victorian Chapel was the former Middlesex hospital chapel. Now the hospital’s gone it’s rather stranded amidst a new development but from the inside it’s one of London most jaw-dropping interiors. Find out more here.
13. Redcross Gardens
5 minutes from Borough Market is this peaceful gem. With a little pond and set in front of Victorian cottages it’s an oasis in Southwark. Read more about its history here.
14. Barbican Conservatory
Set inside the brutalist concrete jumble of the Barbican Centre, there’s a literal jungle that’s free to visit! Find out more in the short video below.
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15. Postman’s Park
One of the City’s Pocket Parks, this one is special. It has the memorial to heroic self sacrifice, an art installation from George Frederick Watts which celebrates the everyday heroes that tragically lost their lives while saving others.
16. Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park
One of the underrated ‘Magnificent Seven’ cemeteries, Tower Hamlets has over 250,000 burials and is full of surprising, emotional and inspiring stories. It’s also set in 27 acres of woodland area so is beautiful to visit anytime of the year. Find out more here.
17. Borough Market
With a history going back to 1014, Borough Market is the biggest foodie hub in the capital, bursting with international food stalls, restaurants and grocery shops. But one overlooked aspect is this part of its architecture;
You might think it looks familiar to the current Floral Hall and there’s a reason for that. This 19th century cast iron gem started life in Covent Garden! It moved here in 2003 and is Grade II listed.
18. Trinity Buoy Wharf
Combining a lovely riverside walk, an epic view and a bit of history, take a trip to Trinity Buoy Wharf in East London. Find out more here.
19. Painted Hall, Greenwich
The Sistine Chapel of London, Greenwich’s Painted Hall is just staggering. Built in the 17th century as a dining hall for retired sailors, it was painted by Sir James Thornhill. Find out more here.
20. The London Library
You wouldn’t guess that behind a fairly normal 18th century facade in St James’s is 17 miles(!) of book shelves. The London Library is the world’s largest independent lending library and runs regular public tours. Find out more here.
Phew! You made it! Browse all top 20 things to do in London on a map below;
It was hard to only choose 20 places and I still seem to have a never-ending list of things to do in London! What are your favourite you’d like to add? Let me know in the comments!
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