London Bucket List: The Ultimate Guide

Having a London bucket list is probably a smart organization for your trip. I remember my first trip to London and just thought I could wing it and “see it all!” I sure was wrong! I ended up seeing almost nothing because I planned poorly and wasted my time. Having a London bucket list when planning allows you to narrow down what you want to see and do, and can help with your research efforts.

So I wanted to put together a London bucket list guide from various writers around the globe of their top places to visit to share with you. Sometimes places can be overlooked or even forgotten, so I found a lot of great places for you to check out.

I would recommend prioritizing your London bucket list from the must do items at the top to wish list at the bottom. If you get to them all, wonderful. If not, you at least got to the ones that were most important for you!

London bucket list must visit places!

Planning The Ultimate London Bucket List

 

Westminster Abbey

London bucket list must visit places!

Westminster Abbey

If you’re planning on spending one or two days in London, a trip to Westminster Abbey should be on your London bucket list. This is just around the corner from the Houses of Parliament, and is one of the most important religious buildings in the UK.

Of course, you don’t have to be religious to come here. The building, which has been here in some form or another since the year 960, is a spectacular Gothic construction, and every single British monarch since 1066 has been crowned here. It’s also played host to 16 royal weddings. You can practically feel the history seeping out of the walls.

Westminster Abbey is also one of the most sought after places to be buried, although space is a little tight, and you have to do something pretty special to get a spot in here these days. It’s the last resting place of Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin and, more recently, Stephen Hawking, as well as various other notable writers, politicians and members of the royal family.

It’s not free to visit, unless you attend a service, and photography isn’t permitted inside. But we think it’s very much worth coming here nonetheless!

Finding The Universe

Walking along the Embankment

London bucket list MUST visit places!

Embankment

One of our favorite things to do in London is the walk along the Embankment from Westminster Bridge, all the way to Tower Bridge. This walk will take you through the main iconic sites of the city, and is pretty romantic too.
Starting by Westminster Bridge, you have the views of Westminster Palace and Big Ben. You walk towards the Millennium Wheel and on wards to Waterloo, passing the main theaters – Royal Festival Hall and the National Theater. The view from Waterloo Bridge is in our opinion the best in the city – on one side you see Big Ben/Palace of Westminster and the Millennium Wheel, on the other you see the City, Tower Bridge, St Paul’s and Canary Wharf.
Continuing on from Waterloo Bridge you pass the OXO Tower and reach Tate Modern. This is a free museum and full of interesting works to check out. Here you can cross the Millennium Bridge to St Paul’s Cathedral, and return to continue the walk.
The final leg of this walk is towards Tower Bridge. On the one side you’ll see the Shard – Europe’s tallest building; on the other, Tower of London, where the Crown Jewels are stored. We particularly love this walk because it can be done at any time of the year, and whether covered in snow, sunshine or even rain, it’s always beautiful and should be on any London bucket list.
Tower Bridge
London bucket list MUST visit places!
One of the most iconic London attractions, Tower Bridge is no doubt London’s most famous bridge. It boasts theatric-looking Gothic towers, colorful flying flags, baby blue detailing, castle-like adornments, and panoramic views of the surrounding city.
But there’s more to this astounding London site than just its beautiful design… even though it’s seen by millions of people everyday! From the outside, it’s no doubt a pretty bridge to look at, but did you know you can actually go inside the bridge? Not only will you have the opportunity to view London and Tower Bridge from a different perspective, but you’ll have the chance to read up on the history of the bridge itself.
The Tower Bridge Exhibition is the best way to experience what this London attraction has to offer. You’ll walk through its grand Victorian staircase, step across and look through its magical glass floor, and find panoramic views from the wondrous walkway. And even better? Tower Bridge is right next door to the historic Tower of London. So, once you’re done viewing Tower Bridge, you can just step over to the Tower of London and get the most out of your day! When planning your London bucket list, you definitely can’t miss out on the marvelous Tower Bridge.
Buckingham Palace
London bucket list MUST visit places!
Buckingham Palace is one of the most famous and well-known palaces in the world and most visitors want to get a look at this famous building. It is the primary London workplace and residence for the reigning sovereign of the United Kingdom, currently Queen Elizabeth II. The Queen lives most weekdays of the year at Buckingham Palace but often spends weekends in Windsor Castle or Sandringham House for weekends and holidays.
The palace was originally built for the Duke of Buckingham, which is how it got its current name. But it was later acquired by the British Royal Family as a royal residence and has been expanded.
Buckingham Palace is a popular place for tourists and we definitely recommend it in our itinerary as something to see on your London bucket list. During most the year, visitors can only see Buckingham Palace through the gate. But many visitors come to see the famous Changing of the Queen’s Guard ceremony at the forecourt of Buckingham Palace which usually takes place each day around 11am. If you want to see the guard ceremony, show up early to get a good viewing spot. Also be sure to check the ceremony times in advance as sometimes they do change or are not performed due to security, weather, or royal events.
The public can tour the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace during part of the summer, generally during August and September. We definitely recommend booking your ticket well advance if you want to tour the palace.
Somerset House
London bucket list must visit places!

Somerset House

One must see location when visiting London is the beautiful Somerset House. Located on the south side of the Strand in central London, it’s easily accessible by local tube station Temple (Circle and District Lines) and is not far from the bustling Covent Garden.
Developed on the site of an old Tudor palace, Somerset House is an architectural beauty boasting a beautiful courtyard and stunning interiors open for public viewing. Yearly used as an exhibition hall from a variety of art to fashion collections, each visit is a unique experience in itself.


If you find yourself in London during the summer you can have the opportunity to explore the grounds during the day and when evening comes, watch a film screening at the annual ‘Film Four’ Somerset House Movie screenings, where the famous courtyard gets modified into a beautiful outdoor cinema and showcases a variety of films old and new. If Winter is your season of visit, don’t worry you can have a completely different experience. As you can embrace the spirit of the season and go ice skating at the again transformed courtyard.
Borough Market 
London bucket list must visit places!
Borough Market is a London institution — popular with tourists, but also loved by locals. It’s a big food market tucked under the railway arches near London Bridge station. You can pick up fresh fruit, breads, cakes and cheeses, but also a huge number of ready-to-eat street food. It’s the kind of place where you can sit down in the shade of Southwark Cathedral with a plate of paella or Ethiopian cuisine — or a glass of bubbly and a plate of fresh oysters. A must for your London bucket list.

It’s also surrounded by plenty of restaurants, ice cream shops and pubs, with Londoners spilling out onto the streets with pints of beer during the summer. There’s a fun, buzzy vibe, and if you enjoy food and people watching it’s a delightful place to visit. It can get crazily busy at lunchtime and on Saturdays though, so if you can visit at other times you’re less likely to get caught in the crush. Still, I really enjoy visiting even at busy times.

Borough Market is open during the daytime Monday to Saturday, but there are only a few stalls open on Mondays and Tuesdays. It’s closed on Sundays except in December.

Temples and Treehouses

Leadenhall 
London bucket list must visit places!

Leaden Hall

London has a lot of beautiful markets, but Leadenhall takes the cake for being the most elegant. Leadenhall is a must visit on your London bucket list. It houses a few retail stores selling flowers, cheese, meat, and other fresh fares. There are also a few shops for books, clothing, pens, and such and there are sandwich bars, pubs, and restaurants that get busy at night. What makes Leadenhall attractive is the glass roof and cobbled walkways in a Victorian setting that sets it apart from other must-see places in London. The market is a go-to for locals and not as known to tourists as the other markets, thus, it doesn’t get so crowded.
 
If you are an architecture buff, this will be a delight to see, what with the beautiful facade dating back from 1881, it itself is a historic sight. There’s also a small alleyway with books hanging from above, which was really enchanting for a book lover like me – every corner is picturesque. Walking down Leadenhall is like stepping back in time, it is by the way existing since the 14th century, getting a feel of how the locals live there now and through the years, doing their daily business, and even having their shoes shined from an old-school shoe polisher.

Brick Lane

If you are looking for a cool area to explore and enjoy something unique and fun, then go check out Brick Lane on the weekends. A lively street during the week, the weekends at Brick Lane are full of wonderful food markets and street food.

Clothing and craft pop up design co-ops and studios to explore, outdoor markets and really cool places to shop, eat, hang out and of course people watch. If you’re looking to find a nice eater, you’ll find so many eateries and food stalls with a global presence even for picky eaters, or check out the many Indian restaurants that make Brick Lane a foodie choice for Indian cuisine. If you’re visiting around London, make sure to check out my post on the best things to eat in London on where to go and eat in this fabulous city.

Travel Photo Discovery

Kayaking Under Tower Bridge 

London is a huge city with lots of unique things to do. Whether you are into architecture, food, theatre, art or adventure there is something special for everyone on the great London bucket list.

I am an outdoor enthusiast, who loves cycling, hiking and kayaking. Would you have thought it can all be done in such a bustling city like London? During my time in London, I did something really cool and this should be on everyone’s bucket list who visits the city. I took sightseeing to a completely new level. I took part in a kayaking trip along the Thames. London’s most famous attractions are along the river, so I was able to see the Houses of Parlament, the London Eye, St Paul’s Cathedral, Gherkin, Skygarden, HMS Belfast, Tower of London, Tower Bridge and Cutty Sark.

We started from Battersea and paddled all the way to Greenwich and we covered this 17 km in under 3 hours. It wasn’t too exhausting as we went with the tide and we were in double kayaks. The highlight of the trip was definitely paddling under Tower Bridge.

Travel Hacker Girl 

Regent’s Canal

London bucket list must visit places!

If you need a place where you can be with yourself and actually hear your thoughts in a crowded city like London, you can find a place for that and that would be a Regent’s Canal. While taking a long and quiet walk along the Regent’s Canal you will have the opportunity to see London from a different angle and enjoy the amazing landscapes changing in every step you take.

Do you ever hear of Regent’s Canal? If not, don’t worry! I found it on my third time in London because this place is still one the best-kept London’s secrets. It starts at Little Venice and ends in Docklands in a very center of the British capital linking a diverse London’s attractions, like the London Zoo, Primrose Hill, and Camden.

If you are not big fans of walking, take a boat or kayak and enjoy the romantic ride. Or just visit some of the design shops, bookstores, waterside bars, and restaurants. For sure you will not regret it, and Regent’s Canal should be on everyone’s London bucket list.

OmTripsBlog

Notting Hill

London bucket list must visit places!

Notting Hill is one of London’s most famous neighborhoods, and rightly so! It has been immortalized in film, song and art worldwide and is known for being one of the city’s most picturesque, colorful and quintessentially British areas. Even though it may seem a little cliché to visit, rest assured that Notting Hill is well worth adding to your London bucket list!

Start your day off with the lemon ricotta pancakes at Granger & Co (175 Westbourne Grove) and then take your time wandering through Notting Hill’s beloved Portobello Market. Locals recommend going early on Saturday or Sunday mornings to avoid tourist crowds, which can get quite hectic!

Be sure to take a peek at Notting Hill’s many beautiful mews homes and colorful streets – a couple favorites are St. Luke’s Mews and the area right behind Notting Hill Gate. Kensington Park Road is another gem!

If it’s a rainy day, reserve a seat and go see a movie at Electric Cinema, Soho House’s gorgeous, plush theater (191 Portobello Road). Afterwards, grab a traditional British pub dinner with a modern twist at Cock & Bottle (17 Needham Rd) which is a cozy, lively library bar that is well-loved by the locals!

Passport Voyager

Eltham Palace

London bucket list must visit places!

Located in South East London, Eltham Palace is one of those hidden gems in London that not many people know about but that should be on everyone’s London bucket list. It’s actually not a palace at all, but a mansion that started off as a palace in the 11th century and has gone through a number of modifications through the ages to its current shape – possibly the finest Art Deco mansion you will find in London.

A 20th century architectural masterpiece, Eltham Palace has been used as a filming location in a lot of movies and series such as The Crown. The Entrance Hall is no doubt the highlight of the building with its bright domed roof and it’s wood veneer walls decorated with marquetry. The bedrooms are decorated in the Cunard style, taking inspiration from the cruise ships of the time.

But it’s not all about the Art Deco here. There is a very impressive remnant of its medieval past. The Great Hall with its hammer-beam roof, which has been lovingly restored to its former glory, also deserves a visit.

The last occupants of Eltham Palace, the Courtaulds, were keen travellers and a map room has recently been discovered at the property. A room a lot of us would dream of having.

Brogan Abroad

National Gallery 

London bucket list must visit places!

When you’re planning your London bucket list, you should try to visit at least a few museums. Like the British Museum and many other museums in London, the National Gallery is free of charge. It’s the perfect activity for a rainy day! You can find the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square in the centre of London.
The museum was founded in 1824 and houses a collection of over 2,300 paintings! The oldest paintings are from the mid-13th century. The newest paintings date from around 1900. Many of the paintings are world-famous, such as The Arnolfini portrait by Jan van Eyck (1434) and Titian’s Bacchus and Ariadne (1522-3). In addition to the collection, there are always free or paid exhibitions.
Even if you don’t like paintings, the National Gallery is worth a visit because of the architecture of the building. The current building, built in 1832-8, was designed by the same architect who designed University College London and several colleges in Cambridge. It’s a very imposing building. Moreover, the interior of the building is just as stunning, especially the Central Hall.
Adjoining the National Gallery, you can find the National Portrait Gallery. In this gallery, you can find portraits of historically important and famous people, such as William Shakespeare.
Churchill War Rooms
One of the five branches of the Imperial War Museum, the Churchill War Rooms are hidden beneath the streets of Westminster and house one of the secrets of World War II. It’s here that Sir Winston Churchill and his inner circle directed and ran the war.

These are the Cabinet War Rooms – it’s where hundreds of people worked in complete secret in bunkers and where now, you can see where it all took place.  There are displays on the lives of those who lived and slept here, historic moments are documented and original equipment is displayed. There’s even the toilet where allegedly Churchill retired to in order to make telephone calls to Eisenhower.

Here, too, you’ll find an all-encompassing history of Churchill’s life and legacy. There are excerpts of his most famous speeches, memorabilia and photographs along with details of his personal life.

History was made In these rooms, they are atmospheric, even with the quantities of visitors who wish to come through them.  I’ve traveled to many places throughout Europe and Asia charting the major instances of World War II, coming here to the nerve centre of operations in Britain was moving and informative.

Asocialnomad

Afternoon Tea

London bucket list must visit places!

If you visit London and don’t have afternoon tea, have you even been to London? There was a time when afternoon tea meant perfect manners and pinkies up. Women wore fancy dress while eating tiny sandwiches and dainty amounts of clotted cream and jam.What I found on a recent trip to London is that afternoon tea can be trendy, quirky and a whole lot of fun! Afternoon tea is an absolute on all London bucket list trips. 

All around London are opportunities to discover classic London favorites prepared in a new way for those seeking to partake in an unusual afternoon tea. The possibilities are endless and there’s a tea for every craving: whether sweet or savory, Disney or alcoholic drinks, there’s something in London for everyone. You’ll feel as though you won the Golden Ticket at The Charlie and the Chocolate Factory tea at One Aldwych. And the B Bakery Gin Bus is the perfect way to see the highlights of London from a red Routemaster bus, while sipping on trendy gin cocktails and eating delicious baked goods.Mrs. Potts and Chip make an appearance at Kensington Hotel’s Tale as Old as Time Tea… try the grey stuff (it’s delicious)!

Book ahead to avoid disappointment because these unique afternoon teas in London book up quickly!

The Sweet Wanderlust

Big Ben/Elizabeth Tower

London bucket list must visit places!

As of right now, tours to Big Ben/Elizabeth Tower are suspended until work is done in 2021. That being said, you absolutely can and should take a visit to this amazing landmark. Sitting 16 stories above London, and in business since May 1859, it is the largest four-faced clock in the world-and it chimes!

The real, official name for the clock is the Queen Elizabeth II Tower and was renamed on her Diamond Jubilee. Upon reaching the 160th birthday of the historical landmark, the decision was made to fully renovate the mechanisms inside.

If you would like to visit this amazing place, you absolutely can-but you must be a UK resident, over the age of 11, and capable of climbing the stairs yourself. You must also wear sensible footwear, and you may not have any heart conditions or be in the later stages of pregnancy.

If you are curious about where Big Ben’s name came from-it’s the largest bell in the belfry. All in all, it is an amazing sight to see and stunning at night, especially. You should go for the sheer historical significance of the landmark, and to listen and hear the chimes go off through the city of London. Afterward, there are many delicious eateries that you can enjoy in the vicinity!

NomList

The London Mithraeum | Bloomberg Space

Immerse yourself in Roman London at the recreated Temple of Mithras during your London bucket list trip!

Discovered by chance in 1954 in the ruins of a bomb site, The Temple of Mithras is a roman temple dedicated to the Roman god, Mithras. Built around AD240, it is one of the UK’s most significant archaeological sites.

After being discovered the ruins were moved 100 yards down the road but have now been returned to almost their original spot – now the basement of Bloomberg’s European HQ in the heart of the city.

Descending seven meters below ground – the original pavement level in the third century – you are transported back in time. An atmospheric light show recreates the columns of the temple and sound effects offer a glimpse into the secret rituals of the cult of Mithras.

Around 600 (out of 14,000) artefacts discovered at the site are on display giving you an insight into the lives of the first Londoners. Included are writing tablets with the first known reference to London (or Londinium as the city was called then) and the earliest financial document in the City of London.

Entry is free however booking is recommended. Access to temple and the immersive experience is every 20 minutes.

Emma Online

Thames River Cruise

London bucket list must visit places!

How would you like to see the biggest landmarks in London, all the while floating down the most famous river in England on a guided tour? Taking a cruise along the Thames was one of the highlights of my trip to London!  You literally have iconic buildings and sites on both sides of you as you make your way down the river. Starting with Big Ben and the Parliament building, the London Eye, St. Paul’s Cathedral, The Shard, H.M.S Belfast warship, Tower Bridge, etc.. Oh, and don’t let a cloudy overcast London day deter you, because that makes picture taking even better(might not be as crowded plus no ugly harsh shadows-yay!).

Most of the Thames cruise ships start from the port right next to Big Ben and Westminster bridge, you can’t miss it. They even have hop on/hop off options that you can go between all throughout the day. The ship I was on had port stops at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, the Tower of London and lastly Greenwich, where you could get off and visit the Royal Observatory and the Prime Meridian line among many other things to see and do there!

It definitely makes for a great day in London going on the cruise and stopping to see the sites you like along the way. And of course if you want, you can simply stay on the ship and enjoy the cruise for a few hours! The best way to see London bucket list items from a boat!

Camera & A Canvas

SkyGarden

SkyGarden is our top London bucket list item because it’s got one of the most beautiful views of the London skyline, and even better, it’s FREE! Even though admission is at no cost, they make you do a little bit of work for it. But it’s a small price to pay for the beautiful views.
Be sure to get tickets online a week in advance, this is when they are released, and they “sell out” quickly! The tickets are so difficult to score even many locals haven’t yet visited SkyGarden. If you’re able to get tickets you’re not only lucky, but you’re also in for a treat!
The SkyGarden is located at the observation deck of the 3-storey tall building known affectionately as the “Walkie-Talkie” at 20 Fenchurch Street. The building is 525ft (~160m) tall with public spaces where you can get amazing bird’s eye views of London. There is also a botanical garden at the top along with a bar and a restaurant. If you’re feeling peckish or you’ve got a hankering for a drink, it’s got a couple great spots!
We loved that they had decals on the windows telling you which buildings are within view for easy finding. SkyGarden is definitely our bucket list choice for seeing budget-friendly sky-high views.
Harrods Food Hall
London bucket list must visit places!
Visiting Harrods Food Hall has been a dream of mine for years and a top London bucket list item. As a foodie this place is the jewel in the crown of food establishments. Set on the Brompton Road the Harrod’s food hall was officially unveiled in 1982 by HRH Princess Anne, and it features the store’s original and restored tiling.

This stunning setting is home to a series of Food Halls including a boulangerie, patisserie, fromagerie, butchers which includes everything from the finest cuts of beef to woodcock, pheasant, and grouse. A fishmongers hall with an actual statue made out of fish. There’s charcuterie, chocolates, fancy cakes, teas and coffees imported from over the world and several eateries where you can indulge in sushi, French cuisine, steak, lobster and so much more.

The Halls are simply stunning and beautifully restored to their original features they make you feel like you have stepped back in time, making this a perfect stop on your London bucket list. Harrods Food Hall puts a new meaning to the saying “you eat with your eyes first.”

Shopping at Harrods is a wander down the roads of the rich and famous and what they eat. You can see wagyu beef that costs $185 a kilo, caviar, oysters, and $2,000 wines.  You can spend nearly $25 on a sandwich!

xyuandbeyond

Dinner at Shangri-La at the Shard 
London bucket list must visit places!
If you are looking for a memorable dining experience with a spectacular view of London’s landmarks then you should definitely try the TING Restaurant and Lounge of the Shangri-La Hotel. Set on the 34th to 52nd floors of London’s tallest building The Shard, the restaurant offers sweeping views of the Thames River, the Tower of London and Tower Bridge. The views alone are a top London bucket list item.
Decorated with plush furnishings which beautifully complement the contemporary Chinoiserie design, the atmosphere is quite relaxing. TING’s à la carte menu offers a selection of Asian specialties, European classics and Middle Eastern dishes. If you are a cocktail lover you should definitely try one of their Signature Cocktails — a perfect pairing to the delightful dishes.
A knowledgeable sommelier will assist you with your choice of wine — to make sure that you are served with an elegant and refined variety to complete the overall dining experience. At the end leave some space for dessert — the flavours are absolutely divine. The prices are quite reasonable given the luxury ambiance and the prime location. The service is impeccable and the views are splendid.
Passion For Hospitality

Other Notable London Bucket List Items

  1. London Eye
  2. Ride a double decker bus
  3. Natural History Museum
  4. Views from St. Paul’s Cathedral
London bucket list must visit places!

Natural History Museum

 

London bucket list must visit places!

St. Paul’s Cathedral

London bucket list must visit places!

London Eye

Planning to extend your trip beyond London and into Europe? Check out our European bucket list that is full of great things to do on the continent.

Have w wonderful time planning your London bucket list stops and enjoy your trip!

The Ultimate London Bucket List Guide!

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