So you've booked that plane ticket for a week in London, and you have totally no idea where to start? Fret not! We have a list of activities you can enjoy for your first visit there! London is a friendly city, with lots of things to do and see. Don't forget to take as many pictures as you want and bring back souvenirs and memories for keepsake!
1. Start with seeing the sights on a river cruise
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♪♫♪ We’re on a boat ♪♫♪ passing under Tower Bridge[/caption]
- Take a circular cruise starting at the Westminster Pier and find yourself sandwiched between two of London’s most iconic structures which sits on opposite ends of the River Thames: the house of Parliament and the Big ben on the north bank and the London Eye on the South Bank.
- Cruise past Cleopatra’s Needle, the Millennium Bridge, Bridge, St Paul’s Cathedral, Tate Modern, the City and Tower of London, the Shard, HMS Belfast and Somerset House.
2. Explore Westminster
- Hop off at Westminster Pier and walk to Buckingham Palace 10 minutes away to witness the Changing of the Guard that happens at 11.30am every day in April – July and alternate dates otherwise.
- Like the big furry black hats worn by the British Foot Guards? Learn about the five regiments stationed at the Guards Museum (and the Bearskins they wear!)
Be sure to check the timing of Changing of the Guard so you don’t end up like our friend, Mr Travolta here 😆
3. Grab a sandwich and have lunch at St James Park
- Take away sandwiches and puff pastries from the Buckingham Coffee Lounge or any nearby sandwich bars (some in this area carry halal sandwiches).
- Have lunch by the Blue Bridge in St James Park with stunning views of the Duck Island and Horse Guards.
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Eastern View from the Blue Bridge in St James Park in the Summer.[/caption]
Credit: Neil Howard
4. See some of the sights up close
- Walk to the House of Parliament and take selfies with Big Ben.
- Stroll over to Westminster Abbey where the royal British coronations and burials are held. William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens and Geoffrey Chaucer are also buried here.
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The intricate detail of the Westminster Abbey is breath-taking![/caption]
- Have dinner at Mango Tree for some contemporary Thai cuisine, just a 10-minute walk away. All meats are certified halal except for the duck.
5. Window shop in the heart of London’s shopping district
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If you come in December, Regent Street is illuminated with a beautiful light display.[/caption] Credit: By aurélien. [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
- Start at the Marble Arch which marks the beginning of Oxford Street famous for its large department stores and cheap brand names like Primark and H&M
- Veer off into Bond Street for the classic designer labels and then on to Regent Street which houses the world’s largest toy store Hamley’s
5. Explore Camden
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Colourful, hip and grunge.[/caption]
Credit: Easy Roommate
- Hop on a bus and get off at Camden Town.
- Get your souvenirs here with great bargains for English Tea in inventive London-inspired biscuit tins.
- See the Camden Lock street market for independent designer stalls selling anything from handmade clothes, photographs, art and jewellery.
6. Take a slow, sunset walk through Little Venice back home
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Little Venice lights up through the night.[/caption]
Credit: Zoltan Gabor
- Stroll along the romantic Regent’s Canal, with moored houseboats and the peaceful quiet to wind down the busy day.
7. See the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London
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See the Koh-i-Noor, the controversial diamond in the Queen Mother’s crown.[/caption]
- Be blown away by the giant fortress surrounding the Tower of London which officially serves as The Queen’s Royal Palace.
- See a spectacular display of the magnificent crown jewels, a few still regularly used by the Queen including some of the most extraordinary diamonds in the world.
8. Explore the Tower Bridge up close
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An exceptional vantage point of the Tower Bridge.[/caption]
Credit: Guide and Go
- Enjoy stunning views of London 42 meters above the Thames.
- Experience an interactive exhibition with films and hands on displays.
- Gawk at the impressive Victorian engine rooms that operate the drawbridge.
9. Breathe in the local flavour of Borough Market
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Variety of desserts to choose from.[/caption]
Credit: By Diliff (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons
- Take a short walk to visit one of London’s best markets to view the local traders in action.
- From fishmongers to butchers, florists and bakers, be spoilt for choice on what to have for lunch.
10. Start your day at the famous Trafalgar Square
Be prepared for the fickle London weather! Always bring umbrellas!
- Visit the Trafalgar Square which was once famous for its pigeon flocks and the site for the Nelson’s Column, a monument commemorating the fallen hero.
- See the famous bronze lions at the base of the column and fountain with statues of mermaids, dolphins and tritons. Secret fact: there are also sharks in the fountain – see if you can spot them!
11. Explore Covent Garden
- Take a 7-minute walk to Dishoom for lunch, with vegetarian food so popular, it’s nearly impossible to get a table unless you call ahead to book.
- Go around trendy Covent Garden on the West End to soak in all the history and culture.
- See the Royal Opera House, independent designer stores, Jubilee and Apple Market and pay a few pounds to see some very talented street performers.
12. Spend the morning in South Bank along the Thames
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The Southbank Book Market beneath the Waterloo Bridge.[/caption]
- Take a ride on the London Eye for breath-taking views of beautiful London city.
- Check out what’s on at Southbank Centre, one of Europe’s largest centre of the arts with plenty of free performances to check out every day.
- Stop by one of London’s best kept secrets: the Southbank Book Market to pick up some modern fiction for your plane ride home.
13. Stroll along the Southbank
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The Tube stations aren’t the only place for a display of talent![/caption]
Credit: Secret London
- Take a leisurely walk along the Southbank to see buskers and boats.
- Check out the Old Operating Theatre Museum and Herb Garret, which is an unusual museum showcasing surgical history, including one of the oldest surviving operating theatres.
- Visit Shakespeare’s Globe, the reconstruction of the Elizabethan-age Globe Theatre showing Shakespeare plays in open air.
A week in London may pass by very quickly, but if time is on your side, you can always check out 12 Unbelievable Museums In London You'll Regret Not Visiting!
If you have followed our guides, let us know how it was for you and if there's anything that you would like to add on to the list!