When I think of the greatest cities in the world, for me London is a tough one to beat! It is a city I still count as home having living there on and off for most of my adult life! Even my decades of having lived there I still don’t think I have scratched the surface of what London has to offer! If this is true for a resident, it can be hard for a tourist with limited time in London to know the best things to see and do! In this guide me and other Londonphiles have put together the Ultimate London Bucket List by area to help you conquer the best that this city has to offer!
“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life” – Dr Samuel Johnson
Central London bucket list
The Changing of the Guard is a must for any London itinerary no matter how long you have in the capital Even if you are traveling with children or toddlers!The Changing of the Guard is a formal ceremony held at Buckingham Palace! The ceremony is the switching over of the whole group of soldiers who have been protecting the palace for the last 24 hoursand will be a parade complete with marching and music! Contrary to popular belief it is not held daily so you will need to check the Household Cavalry website to check detailsand make sure you don’t miss our!
Want to know the best place to watch the changing of the guard? Check out this post!
and after seeing the changing of the guard you must …
Visit Buckingham Palace and it’s state rooms
Buckingham Palace is arguably one of the most popular sites in London, but in most cases, guests can only admire the exterior. However, if you visit during a select time of year, you can visit the inside of this working royal palace, which is one of Queen Elizabeth II’s homes.
Offered for ten weeks in the summer (as well as a few select times during the year, the Buckingham Palace state room tour will let you visit the state rooms and gardens. Tickets are available online, and are timed. So, you’ll want to make sure you purchase early so you can get the time that works best for your family vacation.
The tour is self-guided, and you’ll receive an audio tour device as you enter the palace. There are two choices – a family tour and an adult tour. The family tour is recommended for kids under the age of 12, but my 12 year old and 14 year old loved it.
They recommend planning to spend about 2 hours on the tour, although it took our family about an hour. If it’s a nice day, you’ll probably want to spend a few minutes outside in the gardens.
See more about a Buckingham Palace Visit here.
Nominated by Family Travel Magazine
Visit Daunt Books
London has a rich literary history and a trip to Daunt Books, one of the most beautiful bookshops in London is an absolute must for book lovers. There are a few Daunt Bookshops around London but you’ll want to head to the one on Marylebone High Street where you’ll find amazing wooden bookshelves laden with new and old titles. This is the original Daunt Books and is infamous because of its beautiful gallery, which features a balcony that circles the room and a skylight above that fills the room with light.
You can shop here for new releases but Daunt stocks an amazing array of classics. There are Penguin Clothbound Classics, Everyman Classics and more. What’s unique about this store though is that books are arranged by country rather than genre or title, which is perfect for literary travellers. There are some cushioned chairs in the gallery where you can while away a whole afternoon perusing titles or cracking into a new read.
This is a great place to shop for gifts for book lovers in London too so don’t forget to pick up a Daunt tote bag while you’re there! Every bookworm in London seems to have one.
Nominated by What’s Hot Blog
Westminster Palace is something truly unique in London. It’s both (or was) a real palace with the footsteps and throne of the royals inside it, and parliament where the decisions of the UK government are made. It’s an unmissable tour that takes you straight under the skin of the nation’s history and plus it’s stuffed with incredible artefacts.
Not a lot of people know that, although you can join a paid tour which you’ll really enjoy, if you’re a British resident you can take a free tour on any weekday. Tours for residents are part of an ongoing effort to help people feel connected to their own political process – and they really are inspiring. I’ve learnt so much about democracy.
Inside Westminster there are statues worn down by centuries of hands touching them – because they’re thought to be good luck for speakers in the Commons. Once you get parliament itself, you get to stand in seats on the left and right (as per your political leaning!) and look up at the ornate speaker’s gavel. Don’t even think about sitting down, these chairs are sacred.
Step out and you’ll be captivated by massive halls, beautiful paintings and furnishings that have stood the test of time.
Nominated by Live in 10 Countries
Get Cultural at National Gallery
Our family loves to visit art museums, and the National Gallery, London is definitely one of the most impressive. It is the fourth most visited art museum in the world with over six million visitors in 2016, and there is no admission charge for its permanent collection. Even though it houses a relatively small collection of about 2,300 paintings, almost all are world-famous and on permanent display. Also, the interior and exterior architecture is absolutely exquisite.
National Gallery, London is conveniently located at Trafalgar Square near the Charing Cross Tube station. We used the side entrance, which is more stroller friendly than the beautiful main entrance. We had no issues with accessibility while exploring the museum. And, I was able to find a bench to nurse my daughter while my husband and sons explored a few galleries.
Traveling with three kids aged 7, 5 and 10 months, we did not try to explore the entire museum but focused on the Impressionist collection. The Impressionist galleries contain many famous paintings by Claude Monet, Pierre Renoir and Vincent Van Gogh. Seurat’s Bathers at Asnières particularly fascinated my boys, who were not familiar with pointillism but enjoyed viewing the painting from different distances. A visit to the National Gallery, London should definitely be on any family’s bucket list.
Nominated by Catherine at www.wegowithkids.com
Walk to the Top of the Monument
London is full of history and historical monuments, so why should you add The Monument to your list? Let me tell you…
Firstly, it offers fantastic views, without huge prices (think the Shard or the London Eye) or huge queues! True, you need to walk (up 311 steps to be precise) to the viewing platform, but kids of a certain age (and adults) may well enjoy this. We did when we went, going up and up the spiral stairs. Plus, you get a certificate of achievement at the end – and you’ll know that you have been up the tallest isolated stone column in the world. It’s purposely 202 feet/61 metres high – if you pushed it over, it would land exactly where the Great Fire of London started, at the bakery on Pudding Lane.
Secondly, the Monument epitomises London’s history. It was built to remember the famous Fire, which devastated the city in 1666. Designed by Sir Christopher Wren and Robert Hooke, it’s rather simple, yet gorgeous, and if you visit, make sure you take a look at the decorated texts and illustrations around the bottom too.
On top of all that, it’s the kind of outing that you can add onto so many others, as it doesn’t take long to visit.
Nominated by Sarah at www.familytraveltimes.co.uk
It might be cliched, it might be touristy, but there’s no way you’re going to London and not getting on the London Eye – the most famous Ferris wheel in the world. The city’s most popular attraction after the British Museum was at one point the best way to see all of London until the Shard’s observation deck took the top spot.
Today, the London Eye still manages to give bang for the pound with its exceptional viewpoint from where you can see the Thames, the British Parliament, Big Ben, St Paul’s Cathedral, Tower of London and more – in short, a visit on the London Eye is the best way to get an idea of London’s top attractions all at once.
It helps that owners Merlin group runs a tight ship and makes the process of visiting this landmark attraction as pain-free as possible. Tickets booked online help save some time and money. And while there is no best time or hour to visit the Eye given London’s famously temperate weather, it’s best to hop aboard during day-time for the 30-minute ride when you can see much further than during the night
Nominated by Constant traveller
Watch Street Performers in Covent Garden
When I used to work in Covent Garden the street performers in Covent Garden irritated the hell out of me. Now I am a mum I know how much my little will enjoy the street performers and we will become one of those families that used to irritate me. From magicians to comedians, there are street performances for everyone!
London is an incredible destination for families, and the amount of things to do goes on forever. History and museums are a big part of a visit, but even if you find yourself suffering from ‘museum fatigue’, London’s British Museum is a must-visit attraction. Pace yourself because they have everything here and you won’t get to it all, but you’re sure to find something interesting. Remember, admission is free and you can always return if you’d like.
Artifacts from all over the world from the beginning of civilization can be found here. The Rosetta Stone, pottery from Greece, temples from Rome, and chess sets from Medieval Britain are all on display. Our favorite section of the museum is Egypt and Mesopotamia. Mummies are the star attraction for the kiddos and is the coolest reason I think to explore the British Museum. The museum’s ancient Encryption collection is spectacular with several mummies including Cleopatra and even mummified cats! The collection also includes papyrus scrolls, tools, art, sculptures, and treasures from thousands of years ago. The museum holds the largest collection of ancient Egyptian artifacts outside of Egypt, so do yourself a favor and check it out. You’ll be glad you did!
Nominated by Along for the Ride
Walk the Jubilee Walkway
As one of the ways she celebrated 25 years on the throne, Queen Elizabeth II opened the Jubilee Walkway in 1977. A 15 mile (24 km) paved pedestrian path that connects most of London’s famous sights, the walkway often hugs the Thames River as it meanders through England’s capital city. The promenade is broken into five distinct loops, so you can explore as much (or as little) as you like. Plus, many of the items on your ultimate London bucket list are likely along the way.
Camden Loop. Completed in 2003, the Camden Loop is the newest stretch of the Jubilee Walkway. Stroll along this three mile promenade to see Brunswick Square, the British Library, and the British Museum.
City Loop. Connecting the Museum of London and beautiful St. Paul’s Cathedral, the City Loop is the shortest of the five loops on the Jubilee Walkway.
Eastern Loop. Because it includes the Millennium Footbridge featured in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, this five mile stretch of the walkway is my favorite. Along the route, you’ll also pass the Tower Bridge, Tower of London, and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.
Jubilee Loop. From Buckingham Palace to Parliament Square, this stretch of the Jubilee Walkway is focused on the British monarchy.
Western Loop. A compliment to the Eastern Loop (and including a few of the same points of interest), the Western Loop is the longest. Although it is six miles long, this section of the walkway will treat you to the most comprehensive collection of iconic London sights including Westminster Abbey, the London Eye, and Covent Garden. Don’t let the length of the Western Loop deter you. There are ample restaurants, cafes, and pubs along the way in case you need a little rest or refreshment.
Scenic, packed with history, and honoring one of the most amazing women in history, the Jubilee Walkway should be on any London bucket list.
Nominated by Everyday Wanderer
Shakespeare’s Globe is a theatre on the south bank of the River Thames. It’s a reconstruction of the famous Globe Theatre, where Shakespeare acted and produced his plays in Elizabethan times.
The original theatre burned down in 1613 after the actors decided to fire a cannon at the thatched roof during a performance! It’s now been painstakingly reconstructed based on historical references, and it’s an interesting building to explore — circular shaped, with no roof, and as well as seating and boxes there’s a big space in front of the stage where audience members stand to watch the show, as if at a music concert. It’s built from wooden oak beams with a mossy thatched roof and decorated with brightly-coloured opulence.
These days you can visit Shakespeare’s Globe to see a play, or take a 30-minute tour where you can learn funny and surprising details about Shakespeare and the theatre.
Nominated by Temples and Treehouses
Watch the Mousetrap – The West End’s Longest Running Play
If you are looking for a unique cultural activity in London then really there is only one choice – seeing the Mousetrap by Agatha Christie at St Martins Theatre!
The Mousetrap is the world’s longest running theatre play having reached 25,000 performances in November 2012! When you enter the foyer to see your performance you can see the counter to see what number performance you are seeing!
It is a traditional British murder mystery by the British queen of murder mysteries Agatha Christie and tells the story of a group of people isolated from he outside world as a murder is committed! There is a huge twist ending, so be sure to keep the secret as the performers ask at the end of every show!
Walk Along the London Southbank
London’s Southbank is loosely defined as spanning Westminster Bridge in the west to Blackfrairs Bridge in the east. It has a history as fascinating as London itself. It’s been a marsh, slum, prostitution center, bear baiting venue and potter’s field.
Today Southbank is a beautiful area of interesting and unique attractions as well as performing arts.
Cross the Thames at Westminster Bridge and you’ll come to The Sea Life London Aquarium, education masquerading as entertainment for the whole family. Right next to it is the London Dungeon, as tacky and touristy as they come, but great fun.
Next up is Southbank Center, a world-class entertainment complex, The Royal Festival Hall, housing the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Also in Southbank are The Hayward Gallery and The Southbank Center housing Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room.
The National Theater is nearby showcasing everything from Shakespeare to contemporary plays. Further down is The Tate Modern showcasing contemporary art and Shakespeare’s Globe where you can see The Bard’s plays performed just as they were in the 1600s in almost the same location.
Finish off your Southbank tour by strolling through Borough Market, a wonderful and eclectic food market selling everything from game to seafood to produce. Come hungry.
Nominated by Travels with Talek
The Borough Market is London’s most renowned food market, and offers a fabulous selection of mouthwateringly delicious food all under one roof. Hot and steaming roasted pork belly sandwiches, homemade venison scotch eggs, enormous pans of seafood-laden paella, large vats of bubbling Malaysian curry, piles of oozing fragrant soft cheeses, plus fruits, vegetables, spices, sausages, salami, croissants, chutneys… it’s a complete assault on the senses and a wonderful place to take a wander – particularly if you are hungry.
Borough Market has existed here in some form or another since the 13th Century and over 100 individual stalls are still based here today, dishing up a vast array of British and international produce. The market employs a ‘food quality panel’ of impartial experts whose job it is to ensure the quality of taste, provenance and quality of the food on offer meets the market’s high standards. The majority of stall owners make, grow or rear the produce they sell themselves, and competition is fierce, so you can be sure you won’t leave here disappointed.
Bear in mind though that it the market is hugely popular, so be prepared to queue for your meal if you arrive over lunchtime.
Nominated by Mum on the move
Rib Ride Down the Thames
The Thames Rib Boat experience is a definite must for older children and thrill seekers! A great chance to see London from a different perspective! A fast paced ride through all the sites along the Thames with amusing commentary to boot! A sure fire James Bond experience.
Tower of London
If there is one sight in London that must make the ultimate London bucket list, it is the Tower of London. Dating back to 1078, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is one London tourist attraction not to be missed. It is a fascinating place to visit, whether you are travelling solo or as a family.
The Tower of London was a royal residence for the likes of Henry VIII and was also once home to the Royal Mint. The Tower also previously served as a jail, a treasury, an armoury and a menagerie and today is the home of the Crown Jewels.
Today it is one of London’s most popular tourist attractions. Sitting on the northern banks of the Thames, beside Tower Bridge, the Tower of London is a site to enjoy and take your time in. And I highly recommend joining one of the free guided tours with the Yeoman Warders, or Beefeaters. Safe-guarders of the Crown Jewels, their guided tours are fascinating, and each has their own unique style. I’ve joined two different Yeoman Warder tours and learned something new each time.
And if you think it’s not a place to bring children, think again. Older children will be fascinated by the history of the Tower, will be awed by the Crown Jewels and will enjoy seeing the armoury in the White Tower. You can even enjoy the Tower of London with a toddler.
Nominated by Adventures and Passports
You can buy your tickets in advance, including Crown Jewel exhibition here!
Tower Bridge is one of the most famous landmarks in London, says Nancy from Map and Family. But it also has a lot to offer for a day out. Spanning the river Thames beside the Tower of London, the beautiful Victorian iron and granite construction is not just a road bridge, it lifts to allow ships to pass through too.
The bridge was an incredible feat of engineering when it was first built in the 1890s. Nowadays visitors to the Tower Bridge exhibition can learn about the divers who set the foundations and see the steam engines which powered the bridge lifts in the days before electricity. One of the best parts of a visit is the chance to cross the Thames along the covered walkways, 42 metres above the river. There are panoramic views of London from up there plus glass floor panels with a view down to the bridge beneath your feet.
The bridge lifts around 850 times a year, it’s fun to watch and you can check the Tower Bridge website, www.towerbridge.org.uk, for timings.
There’s lots to do on the riverbanks on either side of Tower Bridge too. The Tower of London stands on the north side of the bridge and to the south on Bankside you can see the Shard and HMS Belfast which is moored nearby. You could even walk along the river to Shakespeare’s Globe stopping off for snacks or ice cream on the way.
Nominated by Map and Family
The Sky Garden
To get amazing aerial views of the London skyline while your feet are still planted firmly on the ground, the Sky Garden at 20 Fenchurch Street is the perfect place to visit. You’ll get panoramic views from a height that’ll make your ears pop – 37 storeys up on the roof top of the ‘Walkie-Talkie’ building. Inside you’ll find a mini tropical jungle of New Zealand tree ferns, palms from Sicily and an array of flowering plants brought in from exotic locations around the world. Beyond the wall to ceiling windows you’ll come eye to eye with The Shard and see the city of London laid out like a 3D map. Boats chugging along the bustling Thames, matchstick people and toy-like buses crossing London Bridge, look down on St Paul’s Cathedral, over the moat of the Tower of London and outward to the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf. And the best part – admission is free! The Sky Garden is open to the public, although ticket numbers are limited and available in one-hour time slots which you can book online. The Sky Garden is a great addition to any London bucket list and it makes the perfect excursion for layovers as well as longer itineraries.
Nominated by What the Saints Did Next
St Paul’s Cathedral
There are so many wonderful things to do in London with kids but one of our absolute favourites is visiting St. Pauls Cathedral and climbing up the dome. Situated near the River Thames, St. Paul’s Cathedral is one of the capital’s most iconic buildings. Designed by Britain’s famous architect Sir Christopher Wren and completed in 1708. Sitting on the highest point of the City, it has a long history, surviving both fire and the Blitz.
Climbing to the top of the dome takes a little effort but is definitely worthwhile. There are 259 steps that take you up to the Whispering Gallery, which runs around the inside of the dome. From here you can look down to the Cathedral floor and all the people below. The Whispering Gallery gets its name from the fact that if you whisper against its walls the sound is audible on the opposite side! A fun thing to try with kids. Continuing upwards, up small twisting staircases, you reach the Golden Gallery, 528 steps in all. From here you have views right across London as this is an outdoor gallery.
As well as climbing the dome in St. Pauls, there is an excellent family multimedia guide which takes you around the main sights within the cathedral with quizzes, activities and interactive games. Our boys were fully engaged with this for well over an hour. Don’t miss the crypt, below ground, before exiting the cathedral.
Nominated by Go Live Young
The Churchill War Rooms
Did you know you can tour the very rooms where the Allies planned World War II? At the beginning of the aerial bombardment of London, the government chose a dusty, rat-infested basement to become the War Rooms. Here Prime Minister Winston Churchill and his staff ran the war. Today you can wander the dark halls and see the rooms just as they were in the 1940s. You can get a good feel for what it was like to hunker down here during those frightening days, when the fate of countries hung on the decisions made in these very tunnels.
The heart of the bunker is the Map Room, where the planning took place. Stick pins and string mark the plotting of troop movements. The Cabinet War Room was the scene of more than 100 crucial meetings. Telephones, pencils, paper, and even ashtrays are still in place. A museum on the life of Churchill is next to the War Rooms.
The Churchill War Rooms are under the Treasury building in the Westminster area of London. This historical treasure is well worth a visit if you’re anywhere near London. The War Rooms are open every day from 9:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Nominated by Exploring Our World
Ride an Underground Train at the Postal Museum
The Postal Museum is one of London’s most unique museums giving visitors an insight into the way that post used to be moved around the capital. Due to road congestion, the Post Office built a small driverless railway under the streets of London to deliver post to sorting offices between Paddington and Whitechapel. The tunnels lay empty until June 2017, when the new Postal Museum opened offering a unique 15 minute journey through the tunnels on the Mail Rail train itself. Taking a train ride underneath the streets of London learning about how post used to be delivered is definitely one to be added to any London bucket list!
The museum is fairly small in comparison to some of the large museums in London, but this means it is more manageable for smaller children. Children are given a Jolly Postman activity sheet upon entry so they can answer questions and do activities based on the things they see in the museum. There are some really fun activities for children including designing your own stamp!
However, the best thing about the Postal Museum is the Mail Rail itself! The Mail Rail journey is about 15 mins long and is loads of fun. The journey is really interactive with people who used to work on the railway telling their story. The carriages have see-through roofs so you can get a fully immersive view of the tunnels, and when it stops in stations videos are projected onto the station walls giving you more info about what used to go on in the tunnels. And, at just 15 mins long it is a great length of time for young children. We were very impressed with the whole experience, and the children loved it too.
Nominated by Kiddie Holidays
West London bucket list
Natural History Museum
London has no shortage of great museums but one of our favourites has to be the Natural History Museum. Home to Dippy the Diplodocus, Hope the Blue Whale and, of course, a brief refuge for Paddington Bear, the NHM is one of the capital’s best. The Natural History Museum is one of three major museums along Exhibition Road in South Kensington but is architecturally definitely the most stunning. It was designed to be a ‘cathedral to nature’ and the Hintze Hall at the main entrance is incredibly impressive. This is where you’ll find Hope and it’s also where the museum’s popular Dino Snores experience happens, one of London’s best museum sleepover experiences. There are a number of permanent exhibitions at the Natural History Museum including the fantastic gallery where animatronics brings dinosaurs to life including a very realistic Tyrannosaurus Rex. The museum is home to over 80 million items, meaning you can visit as many times as you like and there will always be something new to see. Best of all, entry is free!
Nominated by Globetotting
Everyone has heard of Notting Hill – even if you’ve never been to London before you’ll have heard of the film with Hugh Grant & Julia Roberts. Fans of the film can track down the locations featured in the film, including the book shop which inspired Hugh Grant’s book store, but Notting Hill isn’t just bumbling Englishmen and movie stars, far from it! Notting Hill is one of the prettiest neighbourhoods in London and is full of beautiful houses with colourful doorways and pastel-painted walls to delight any Instagrammer or fan of picture-perfect buildings. Even just strolling around helped me to fall in love with London!
Portobello Road in Notting Hill has a bustling market, especially on a Saturday, when a kilometre-long stretch of the street fills with stalls selling everything from antiques to fresh fruit and veg. Here you’ll also find streets of cosy cafes and boutique shops selling all sorts of oddities. Art-lovers will enjoy the independent galleries here, some specialising in street art like Graffik Gallery. You can visit Notting Hill any time of year, but the neighbourhood really comes to life in August for the Notting Hill Carnival, a celebration of Caribbean culture with street parades, colourful costumes, live music and delicious food!
Nominated by Tales of a Backpacker
Go Shopping at Harrods
Shopping in London is a fun item to add to any itinerary especially at Harrods. One of the most exciting shopping establishments in the world is Harrods. Located in the Knightbridge area of London is the million square foot, seven stories tall Harrods. Omnia Omnibus Ubique is Harrods motto which means “all things for all people, everywhere”. That pretty much describes Harrods in one sentence.
Love designer items? Here you can experience holding, touching, viewing items possibly you never thought you could. Designer purses, shoes, clothes and jewelry adorn the display tables and cabinets.
However, there is more to Harrods. There is a children’s floor with toys that are demonstrated will surely attract any children with you. Find on another floor furniture so intricate and unique you will want to decorate your entire home. The fine art section is my favorite with original Picasso’s, Chagall, Chihuly glass and other famous artists. The food you can sample, and purchase will send you into a spiral of deliciousness at Harrods. Sushi, coffee’s, teas, cakes, cookies, truffles, chocolates and more.
If Harrods is a little pricey for you, don’t worry. There is a section to check out if you are wanting a souvenir, everything you can imagine is in this department with the name Harrods. Notebooks, bags, stuffed animals, pens. As you can see, Harrods is worth the trip while in London.
Nominated by A Sherrie Affair
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
A UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of London’s most popular gardens, the Kew Royal Botanic Gardens is a fantastic place to visit any time of the year. Located just 30 minutes from Central London, the botanic gardens are said to be the largest and most diverse collection of plants in the world.
The gardens are spread over a vast area and are home to approximately 60,000+ plants. There is so much to see and do that it makes perfect sense to spend the entire day at the gardens to make the most of what it has to offer. Some of the key attractions at Kew are the large glasshouses – the Temperate House (the largest glasshouse in the garden) and the Palm House (with a rainforest climate and beautiful tropical plants) being my favourites. Also very interesting is the Princess of Wales Conservatory where you can see varieties of cacti, colourful orchids, ferns and other unique plants. There is a ‘Treetop Walkway’ which soars high into the tree canopy and offers an excellent view of the gardens and then there is the Japanese Gateway, The Great Pagoda, The Hive and so many other interesting garden walks.
If you are tired of walking then you can enjoy a relaxed, guided tour around the gardens on a land train. There are a number of restaurants and cafes within the garden and you can even enjoy a picnic in most places inside the gardens. Overall, it is a really fascinating and well-maintained garden. There is something for everyone – lovely gardens, history, nice walks and a good picnic.
Nominated by The Globe Trotter
Even before having kids I loved going to Hampton Court Palace. I loved touring the palace and going to some of their special events like their flower show or ice skating. When a family friend suggested meeting at Hampton Court Palace, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew that they had an awesome maze but what I hadn’t realised was that they have a new playground called the Magic Garden.It is INCREDIBLE! It’s an enclosed space with people on the gate so very safe for Things who might run off / get lost. And there’s sooo much to do. There are slides, splash fountains, a dragon for climbing, a sandpit with a river, an AstroTurf area for sitting / rolling down the hills… the Things were happy as clams for nearly 2 hours and only stopped because they were hungry!As for food, you can take picnics or buy food at the palace. There’s a cafe inside the garden or a few other or there’s another cafe in the grounds.Our kids were little when we went but with older kids there’s loads more you can do inside the palace like digital missions and family trails.
You can get your entrance tickets via Viator online HERE
Nominated by Emma at Wetwipes and Wanderlust
North London Bucket List
Visiting Camden Market is a must-have on your London bucket list. This popular tourist attraction in the Camden district consists of six different markets. Each one has its characteristics and flavor, but the entire area has a fun, vibrant, and funky vibe which is exactly why it attracts 250,000 visitors each week.
In the two most famous markets, Camden Lock Village and Camden Lock Market, you can find just about anything from clothing and jewelry to books and souvenirs. If you’re looking for a vintage and retro atmosphere, then you’ll love The Stables Market. The former stables and horse hospital are now the biggest market in Camden, with over 450 shops and stalls. Here you can find vintage clothing and antique furniture as well as other second-hand items.To continue clothes and accessories shopping go to the outdoor Buck Street Market, and for the most unique and iconic shop facades head to Camden High Street. Last but not least, you can enjoy the Inverness Street Market which is slightly quieter than all the other ones. Apart from shopping and exploring the different markets, the entire area also includes a large variety of food stalls, restaurants, and bars, making it the perfect spot to spend a few hours.
Nominated by Or at My Path in the World
Explore Hampstead Heath and Kenwood House
London is one of the greenest cities I know, full of parkland. Though many tourists visit or accidently stumble upon the most central parks, not as many venture up to Hampstead Heath. This massive ancient heath is a massive 370 acres with hills, ponds, grass for sunbathing, and woodlands for rambling. It doesn’t get as busy as the central London parks, so it’s great place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.At the southeast of Hampstead Heath, you can climb Parliament Hill for panoramic views of the London skyline. On the north side, is Kenwood House, an English Heritage stately home with an impressive art collection, gardens and a cafe.Hampstead Heath is about 20-minutes’ walk from Hampstead, Highgate, and Golders Green London Underground stations. You can get closer to it by taking a London Overground train to Hampstead Heath railway station.
It’s free to enter the heath, but Kenwood House costs £12.70 for an adult and £7.60 for a child. Entry is free for English Heritage members and guided tours of the house are available.
Nominated by Chris a Being a Nomad
Explore Primrose Hill
“Confession: I initially found Primrose Hill by complete accident, while jogging through Regent’s Park in Northwest London. I just happened to look up at the right moment and noticed the entire city stretched out before me! This has to be one of my favorite things about London: you can fill your itinerary with world class, bucket list-worthy sights, and still discover surprise gems along the way. Primrose Hill is one of those gems, and absolutely deserves a spot on everyone’s London bucket list!
Primrose Hill is both the name of the scenic hill in Regent’s Park and the name of the surrounding neighborhood. The neighborhood is full of cute shops and a quant market, but if nothing else, you must check out the view from Primrose Hill itself. The panoramic cityscape from Primrose Hill is almost unmatched, as far as London horizons go, in large part because of its serene setting! Primrose Hill gives you the best of both worlds, providing a spectacular view of a world-famous skyline, from the serenity of a lovely green space. While I discovered the view from Primrose Hill on a morning run, I wholeheartedly plan to return for a proper picnic. I honestly can’t think of a more charming picnic spot in London than on Primrose Hill, watching the distant hustle and bustle of downtown from the coziness of a delightful city park. As if there weren’t enough reasons to want to hang out on Primrose Hill, it also won’t cost you a cent! London isn’t cheap, but the priceless view of a Primrose Hill picnic is free.”
Nominated by Glam Granola Travel
Walk the Abbey Road Crossing Like The Beatles
The Beatles is one of England’s most famed bands, known worldwide. Though they are from Liverpool, the band spent time together recording and living in London while they took the world by storm. When exploring London, Beatles fans can easily take a moment to visit Abbey Road and recreate the iconic Abbey Road album photo. You know, the one with the band walking across the street in a single file line.
The zebra crossing [or, cross walk] is located out front of Abbey Road Studios, near the St. John’s Wood tube station. At the station, there is also a Beatles themed coffee shop on the street corner. Now, it is important to note that while many people seek out this attraction, Abbey Road is still a fully functioning road that’s frequented with cars. Ask someone to take a video or photo of you walking across the street, facing away from the recording studio for the full effect of mimicking their photo. Be sure not to hold up traffic! For those die-hard Beatles fans, Sir James Paul McCartney’s London home is a short walk away from the studio and zebra crossing.
Nominated by Things My Eyes Have Seen
South London Bucket List
If you’re looking for a hipster market that’s full of yummy street food, cocktail bars, vintage clothing shops, and some unique exercise classes… then pop to Pop Brixton.The guys behind this space set this up initially to help small local businesses, so the space is always buzzing with creative people and unique startups. There’s even a co-working space if you’re a digital nomad in London looking for somewhere to do a spot of work! They host a ton of different special events – ranging from photography exhibitions, to wine tasting, tai-chi, or even urban gardening. Or if you just want a glass of wine or wood-oven pizza with a friend or on a date, the relaxed vibes make it the perfect spot.Located at the very bottom of the Victoria line (in Brixton) it’s often somewhere that only London locals visit – but it’s definitely worth a trip if you’re looking for somewhere a little less touristy.
Nominated by Hats Off World
East London bucket list
Discover the Street Art of Shoreditch, London
Exploring the East End of London, wandering through the little alleys, along the famous Brick Lane, and discovering the Street Art of Shoreditch, London is an excellent activity to do in this amazing city. The area is vibrant, the people a little quirky and the urban art adorning the walls, doors and is enthralling.
Many are political statements as this was once a working class area, though is now becoming a little more gentrified, with many trendy cafes and bars. Yet it still has that grungy aspect that makes it appealing. Smell the curry wafting through the air as you wander Brick Lane in search of more and more street art. Some of the best places to see the best street art in Shoreditch, London are Rivington Street, Brushfield Street, Hanbury Street, Fashion Street, Great Eastern Street, and of course Brick Lane.
Nominated by Short holidays and GetAways
East London food tour including Brick lane
One of my favourite London experiences is going for a food tour – and in terms of cultural and culinary diversity, the East End is hard to miss! I have lived in London for several years and I have seen the East End develop from a forgotten backwater of the city into the most buzzing part of town, and exploring it through food is just so much fun. The tour we joined was organized by Eating London, and focused on the area surrounding Brick Lane and Shoreditch, which is also known for having some of the best examples of street art in the city. The tour started with a traditional English breakfast, a bacon sandwich in one of my favourite parts of town, and over the course of the following three hours we tried English and French cheese, salt beef bagels, Indian curries and naturally the true English favourite, fish and chips. There’s a fair bit of walking but the tour is suitable for families, and teenagers especially will enjoy the colourful examples of street art encountered along the way.
Nominated by Crowded Planet
You should definitely add the historic Old Spitalfields Market to your London bucket list! The “old” in its name isn’t there for nothing – this market dates back some 350 years! There’s no bad time to visit as it’s open seven days a week, unlike some markets which only are open on specific days. This gorgeous market is dreamy from the outside, with its traditional Georgian facade typical of the area. However, on the inside of the market, the vibe is rather new and vibrant and skews quite hipster.
There is something for everyone at Spitalfields Market: vinyl shops for audiophiles, antiques for vintage lovers, linens for textile fiends, clothing shops for fashionistas, and of course – more food than you could ever hope to try, with 43 different food and drink stalls. The market is a testament to the diversity of London, which can be seen in the many different cuisines represented by the food vendors. It’s at the gateway to East London, one of my favourite areas to stay in London, so you can easily visit Old Spitalfields Market before then visiting some of the other markets in London, like the Sunday markets around Brick Lane.
Up at The O2
The Up at the O2 attractions allows you to walk over the top of The O2 Aren lz. With the Up at The O2 Experience visitors can walk on a path suspended 2 meters above The O2. On the viewing platform at the top, 52 meters high, you have time to take in 360-degree views of London and even enjoy a glass of champagne if you like. It’s an experience you will never forget and definitely worthy of your London bucket list.
It may look dangerous, but don’t worry it’s completely safe. You have a guide with you and you wear a safety harness. At the beginning of the climb, you are going up at a 28-degree incline, then it levels off as you approach the top. Going down, in a way it’s more difficult than going up. The incline is slightly steeper at 30 degrees. If you are worried about looking down, you might want to try going down backwards. Don’t let your fears stop you, It’s quite a unique experience!
Even kids can do The O2 climb provided they are over the age of 9, at least 1.2 meters tall, and accompanied by an adult. The whole experience takes about 90 minutes. It’s a popular attraction so it’s best to book in advance.
Nominated by Two Traveling Texans
Straddle the Greenwich Meridian Line
When visiting London, you must pay a visit to Greenwich and straddle the famous Greenwich Meridian Line. This is your chance for your soul and body to be in the Eastern and Western hemispheres of this planet at exactly the same time!
Because just as the equator divides the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, this is the exact place where the Eastern and Western hemispheres span from.
Greenwich has been the centre of World Time since 1884; hence the UK being GMT +0. This line was created specifically as nations and countries were becoming more connected through railways and communication networks. A worldwide time system was needed for everything to operate smoothly.
Why was Greenwich chosen to be the centre of the world?
Greenwich was chosen to be the centre of world time as 72% of the world’s commerce at this time used sea charts which solely relied on Greenwich as the Prime Meridian.
To go and visit the line, head towards the Royal Observatory in Greenwich. It is open from 10am to 5pm daily and currently costs £13.50 to get in. Heads up though: refurbishments are currently going on. The line is currently closed and will not be open again until 15th February 2019. Once it is, make sure to get this on your London Bucket List.
Nominated by TeaCake Travels
Newly restored after fire, the Cutty Sark will have children in awe. Being able to climb aboard and see under this ship is a visit not to be missed. The National Maritime Museum is a nearby and great accompaniment.
Please note: while the Maritime Museum has free entrance the Cutty Sark charges admission! It is best to book your tickets in advance!
The Cutty Sark opens daily from 10am until 5pm, with tickets admission for adult at £12.15, while child over 4 (Age 4 -15 years) costs £6.30 and free for anyone under 4.
Slide Down the Orbit Slide at the Olympic Park
If you’re looking for something a bit more exciting to do on your trip, take a look at the ArcelorMittal Orbit Slide. The ArcelorMittal Orbit tower was built for the 2012 London Olympics and is the UK’s largest piece of public art – it’s nearly twice the height of Big Ben. In 2016 a new attraction was added; the world’s tallest, longest tunnel slide that snakes and twists around the tower, hurtling you 178m to the bottom in just 40 seconds.
First, you take a lift up to the viewing platform, which has amazing views across the City of London. When it’s your turn to slide, you’ll be given knee, elbow and head protectors, then it’s time to launch yourself down the narrow silver tube. You pick up speed really quickly, and the turns and switchbacks in the dark mean you never really know which way you’re facing or even really whether you’re upside down or the right way up.
Sliding down the Orbit is an exhilarating experience, and both scarier and more intense than any theme park ride I’ve been on – I’d thoroughly recommend it to thrillseekers looking for something to do in London that’s a little outside the norm.
Nominated by Helen on Her Holidays
Bilingsgate Fish Market
For early risers, Billingsgate Fish Market offers an alternative and authentic London local market experience away from the beaten track. Billingsgate was once the largest fish market in the world, and is still the UK’s largest inland fish market. Hundreds of tonnes of fresh fish are sold in its giant trading hall every day. In the stalls and cafés at the side of the hall, you can also buy ready-to-eat seafood snacks of all kinds. Here’s the catch: you can only visit Billingsgate in the early hours of the morning. From Tuesday to Saturday, its doors open at 4am and close at 8:30am – although the best produce is usually gone before 7a We like to arrive around 6am on a Saturday for the perfect balance. It’s not unreasonably early, you can still pick up some great deals, and the crowds are fairly busy. Jostling your way through as the traders shout their deals-of-the-day over a packed hall is all part of the experience You can reach Billingsgate on the Jubilee underground line or DLR from 5:30am; if you want to arrive any earlier, you’ll need to take a taxi or the N15 night bus. Before visiting, put on warm clothes and bring cash, as card payment isn’t accepted on most stalls.
Nominated by Alex at Career Gappers
London food and drink bucket list
Afternoon Tea Bus
If you’re looking to give a unique spin to two great British classics; the traditional afternoon tea and red double deck bus tours, you have to add an afternoon tea bus tour to your London bucket list.
The tour starts at Victoria Station and drives past Harrods, the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Natural History and Science Museums, the Royal Albert Hall and then drives up and around Hyde Park. From there it drives past Notting Hill and goes to Marble Arch, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square and Big Ben before then returning to Victoria Station. The bus tour lasts around 2 hours, depending on how much traffic there is, and in London, that can be quite a lot!
As the bus drives around London you will get to enjoy some British afternoon tea classics such as cucumber sandwiches, watercress sandwiches and lemon meringue tarts, but also some more original treats such as smoked salmon blinis, tiny chestnut mushroom quiches, and mini chocolate cupcakes. These will all be displayed on your table when you take a seat, once you’re finished eating the sandwiches and cakes warm scones will be served.
If you’re looking to have a really special experience in London the afternoon tea bus tour gives you the opportunity to tour around some of London’s most famous landmarks, while enjoying a lovely traditional British meal
Nominated by Image by Greta Travels
Cereal Killer Cafe
If you’re a foodie or a child of the ’90s, Cereal Killer Cafe is a must on your London bucket list! Located in Brick Lane, one of the most eclectic and diverse neighborhoods in London, this little hipster gem offers a wide variety of…you guessed it…CEREAL from around the world.
As an American, they had American cereals I’ve never even heard of and they even have their own magical concoctions of cereal like “Unicorn Poop” and “Salty Balls”… mmm. If those aren’t exciting enough for you, you can also get flavored milk with your cereal with flavors like banana, chocolate, mint, and bubblegum.
Not only can you quell your sweet tooth with a big bowl of flavored milk-soaked sugar puffs, but you can also find such delicacies as PopTart ice cream sandwiches, fried tater tots, cereal milkshakes, and decadent stacked hot chocolates. It’s over the top, but so much fun.
The best thing about Cereal Killer Cafe is probably not the cuisine, but the decor. If the mosaics made from cereal aren’t enough to capture your heart, then the Pac-man arcade game just might! The huge collection of ‘90s paraphernalia is incredible and will take you right back to your Nintendo-playing, troll-doll-collecting past. Even if your kids can’t remember the 90’s, they’ll still love this quirky, sweet stop!
Nominated by Wanderlust Crew
Afternoon tea at Sketch
London, the ultimate European capital of cool, is one of the most awe-inspiring cities on the entire planet. You could spend an entire life time here and still not see everything that this city has to offer.That’s why you need an ultimate London bucket list to guide you and help you decide where to go and what to do during your trip to London, especially if you’re traveling to London alone . And one London attraction that should be at the top of your list is the Instagram famous restaurant, Sketch. Known for it’s extravagant decor and amazing food, Sketch is the perfect place to stop and grab breakfast, lunch, dinner, or afternoon tea, after exploring all that London has to offer. While I was here, I had the parmesan scrambled eggs and they did not disappoint. They were smooth, rich, and creamy, and I literally had to stop myself from licking the bowl clean.m I also loved eating amidst a veritable wonderland of over the top decor that had me clicking about 10,000 different photos, even when I was in the bathroom. Before you go though, be sure to make reservations since Sketch is extremely popular and books up quickly, especially for afternoon tea. Also, tables are only guaranteed for about an hour so keep that in mind when dining at this culinary oasis of London.
Nominated by Girl With a Passport
Have a Cocktail at the Bletchley Bar
World War 2 may have finished nearly 65 years ago but that period of time and the Blitz are an intrinsic part of London’s identity. Part of getting to know London is gaining an understanding of that time period and its effects on the city. A fun way to do this is at The Bletchley Bar. The Bletchley Bar calls itself an immersive cocktail bar. It is named after Bletchley Park, home of the code breakers during World War 2 and the basis of the movie The Imitation Game. Entry to the bar is through a rather nondescript door in Chelsea. Walk down the stairs and you will feel like you have gone back in time. 1940s music plays and all staff are in character! At the door you will receive an army jacket to where as well as an enigma machine and your first codes to break! A drink is served on arrival but after that you will need to break the code correctly to get the next round. There are clues all around the bar and the fun use of enigma machines and old style telephones.
It is essential to book The Bletchley Bar as it has set seating times.
Nominated by Boutique Adventurer
Bonus Places for your London Bucket List
Looking for more inspiration for things to add to your UK bucket list? Check this post out!
Harry Potter Studio Tour
If you’ve always felt like you don’t exactly belong in the muggle world, you need to add Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter to your London bucket list. During this epic experience, Potterheads will be able to check out the real live sets where the Harry Potter movies were filmed. In addition to sets, you’ll see props, scale models, photos and even some of the movie magic that went into the making of Harry Potter.
You can easily spend an entire day here walking through the Great Hall, visiting the Burrow, braving the Forbidden Forest, touring the Dursley’s home on Privet Drive, riding the Hogwarts Express or Night Bus, and wandering around Dumbledore’s office. I’ve been twice, once in 2012 and again in 2018, and was blown away both times. New exhibits were added and I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face on either visit.
This is the place to go if you or someone in your party is into Harry Potter. Expect to spend a few hours here and try to go at off-peak times to avoid massive crowds. The studios are actually in Leavesden, just outside of London, but it’s easy to get there by train and shuttle bus or through an arranged tour from Central London.
Nominated by Teaspoon of Adventure
It is imperative to book these tickets in advance with plenty of notice!
How many of these London Bucket List items have you done? Do you have a favourite? What else is on your London Bucket List?