12 Awesome Things to do in London for the First-Timers

(Last Updated On: February 26, 2018)

A visit to the dream city of London is a top bucket list item. Is it your first-time to London? Are you looking to decide on what to do in London? How about visiting the historical monuments and the world-class museums, or some fun activities, go on a shopping spree or indulge in some delicious foodie treat. Traveling as a couple or as a family you will never fall short of things to do in this wonderful city of London. Planning for a laid-back and luxury holiday choose from one of the best luxury hotels in London which offer an array of packages to combine your pleasant stay with the best London sightseeing options. As a first-timer to London make sure to add these top things to do in London to your bucket list.

Walk the Iconic Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge is a 19th-century Victorian Gothic style suspension bridge spanning the River Thames in London. Tower Bridge is an iconic symbol of the city and a popular London attraction. The two bridge towers can be visited and explored on the tour part of the Tower Bridge Exhibition housed in the twin towers.

Top Things to do in London - Tower Bridge London

The tour also includes access to the high-level walkway between the towers and a visit to the Victorian engine rooms. The high-level walkway offers a breathtaking panorama of the city. The exhibition walks through the history and construction of the Tower Bridge through pictures and interactive displays. For open times, and tickets check here.

Tour of the London Tower

The historic castle complex comprises of several buildings, the earliest being the White Tower built by William the Conqueror in 1078. The White Tower houses an impressive Royal Armories collections and the 11th century St John’s Chapel. The most popular draw of the London Tower is the priceless collection of Crown Jewels, which includes the Imperial State Crown. The Crown Jewels are still used by the Queen for important ceremonies.

Top Things to do in London - White Tower in London Tower

The castle originally built as a royal residence was used as a prison from 1100 until 1952 and has witnessed several executions. One of the top things to do in London is to take a tour of the London Tower with the Beefeaters (ceremonial guardians of the Tower of London). The tour walks one through the secrets and history of the London Tower amidst the fun interaction.

Ride The London Eye

The Coca-Cola London Eye is a giant Ferris close to the Big Ben on the South Bank of the River Thames. The 30 min ride on the air-conditioned glass capsules of the giant Ferris wheel offers breathtaking views of the city. The panoramic view covers almost all the major London tourist attractions including Buckingham Palace, Westminster, and Tower Bridge.

Top Things to do in London - London Eye

Buckingham Palace and Parade

Buckingham Palace is the official residence of the monarch of the United Kingdom. One can take a tour of the opulent State Rooms and the lavish furnishings of the palace. The palace is open to public only during summer. Another important point of interest on a visit to the Buckingham Palace is the iconic ‘Guard Changing Ceremony’.

Top Things to do in London - Buckingham Palace

The guard changing ceremony takes place daily in summer and alternate days in winter. The Changing of the Guard takes place in front of the Buckingham Palace at around 11.30 am and is a remarkable event to behold.

Westminster Abbey and Big Ben

The 13th-century Westminster Abbey is one of the exemplary Gothic buildings and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The abbey has been the coronation church since 1066 and is the final resting place of several monarchs. The abbey interior features remarkable stained-glass windows, paintings, monumental sculptures and important religious artifacts.

Top Things to do in London - Westminster Abbey and Big Ben

The Palace of Westminster is Gothic Revival style building located next to the Westminster Abbey and houses the Parliament of the United Kingdom. One can either join one of the guided tours or explore the Westminster Palace on your own with an audio guided tour. Big Ben or the ‘Great Bell’ is the name given to the massive bell of the clock tower of the Westminster Palace. The ‘Great Bell’ chimes every hour on the hour.

British Museum

The British Museum opened in 1753 houses a huge permanent exhibition and several temporary exhibitions of the history and culture humankind for over 2 million years. The British Museum has over 8 million objects of which only a small percentage is displayed in the museum. The museum collection comprises of classical Greek sculptures, Parthenon sculptures, Egyptian mummies, over 300 ornate objects from the Renaissance and Medieval periods, artifacts from great Mesopotamian civilizations amongst other. The entry to the British Museum and the guided tours are free. One needs to pay to access the special exhibitions and for the audio guides available in 10 languages.

Best Things to do in London with Kids

Warner Bros Studio Tour

The Harry Potter fans would not want to miss an opportunity to tour the Warner Bros Studio for an amazing experience of the Wizarding World.

Top Things to do in London - Warner Bros Studio Tour

The tour includes a walk through the facts and information on the making of the Harry Potter film series, fun visit to the sets of the film and a chance to explore the costumes and props used in the films.

London Transport Museum

The London Transport Museum is a great way to learn about the transport heritage of the city of London. The museum exhibits thousands of vehicles and artifacts representing the history and evolution of London transport system for over 200 years. The display includes different models of buses, trams, trains, taxis, and bicycles. The museum provides information on working and operation of the transport system through a wide array of the collection comprising of staff interviews, photographs, signboards, posters, fare charts, uniforms, Maps, film, and videos.

Madame Tussauds

Madame Tussauds is a wax museum displaying wax sculptures of various celebrities and famous people. The museum includes several sections including Hollywood, Bollywood, and sports. You will get an opportunity to click some pictures with members of the Royal Family, iconic characters from Star Wars Episodes and prominent World leaders.

London Shopping

There are a plethora of shopping options in London from branded shops to boutique stores and street shopping. Oxford Street with over 300 shops is one of the busiest shopping streets in the world and said to have over half a million daily visitors.

Top Things to do in London - London Shopping Streets

While the Bond Street and the King’s Road draws fashionistas for the popular designer shops, Oxford Street or Regent street are perfect if you are looking for some high-end shopping spree. If vintage items, antique jewelry or handicrafts is your thing then head to Camden Passage, Jubilee Market or Admiral Vernon Antiques Arcade.

Relax in the Parks

London is one of the greenest cities in the world with plenty of green spaces and some of the best parks. Some of the parks have sports and recreational areas, children play area, restaurants, and beautiful lakes home to waterfowl.

Top Things to do in London - St James Park London

The parks are also a great venue for concerts, events and the popular Christmas markets.

Take a Cruise on the Thames

A visit to the magical city of London is incomplete without experiencing a night cruise on the River Thames. We started from Tower of London to Westminster and back. The route covered almost all the major London attractions the Tower Bridge, House of Parliament, the London Eye, the Big Ben illuminated with enchanting colorful lights.

Top Things to do in London - Cruise on the Thames London

Cruising past the numerous bridges one by one and watching the iconic red buses, and the trains on the bridge is a marvelous experience.

Have you been to London? What are your favorite London attractions? Do share with us in comments.

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10 thoughts on “12 Awesome Things to do in London for the First-Timers

  • March 3, 2018 at 4:11 pm

    As a local this is a good list. As a local, I havent done all on this list and I have lived in the city for 36 years! 😀 I really should check out the Harry Potter tour as I live 5 minutes away from it 😀

  • March 3, 2018 at 7:47 pm

    I have yet to visit London but we are planning to go there possibly as our next trip so these are some great tips. I am definitely going to check out the Warren Bros Studio just for the Harry Potter stuff. How about art museums/galleries? Any you would recommend in particular?

  • March 4, 2018 at 3:07 am

    This is a solid London list. My daughter is going to London for the first time this summer and I’ll pass it along to her. I think I would add walking both banks of the Themes. Seeing the Globe Theatre and street performers is really something.

  • March 7, 2018 at 12:23 pm

    This is such a great guide to London for first timers. You have really gathered all the top sites in one post. I really, really want to go to Harry Potter in London!

  • March 7, 2018 at 1:37 pm

    I have cousins and nephews living in London and had long wanted to visit them, and of course, explore London! I would be most excited about the Harry Potter Tour. I finished all books and watched all movies. Obviously, I’m a fan! 🙂

  • March 7, 2018 at 6:03 pm

    This is lovely. I lived in London for a while, commuted for many years, and now live close enough that we go there regularly. So this is like seeing it again with fresh eyes. I’ve always loved the river cruises; they have such and interesting and funny commentary, and you see so much of London’s history focused around the river. And I’m also a massive fan of the area around Tower Bridge; every way you wander, there is something fascinating to see and investigate.

  • March 8, 2018 at 5:37 am

    Looks like a nice guide for first-timers! Still haven’t been to London yet, but hope to sometime in the next few years.

  • March 8, 2018 at 8:38 pm

    You’ve done a fantastic job picking the top 10 things to do in London. I lived there for almost 5 years and did most of this, maybe not the kid’s stuff but now I will when I go back :). The Westminster area is a great place to explore in general: walking along the river Thames, street artists, riverside pubs and street food.

    Also, in the area I’d recommend St Paul’s Cathedral (I don’t know if it’s still possible to climb up to the dome), the Dali Museum (I can’t remember it’s exact name), the Tate Modern (to get a taste of the bizarre London modern art scene) and Shakespeare’s Globe theatre (where you can stand in the stalls or watch a classic from wooden benches above).

  • March 9, 2018 at 2:35 am

    London is indeed an iconic as well as a historic city. There are so many sights and experiences to enjoy there. The visit to the Tower of London with an opportunity to see the Crown Jewels is a great experience. The other favourite experience would be a walk on the iconic London Bridge. With a wide array of experiences, London can become a little overwhelming for first-timers. This post would be a great help in prioritizing their itinerary.

  • March 10, 2018 at 11:07 am

    I love London, such a great city with so much to do I’ve done the London Eye, and visited Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey. Well worth doing


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