15 Best Things To Do In London

best things to do in London

After our short stay in Paris we took a 2.5 hour train to London where we stayed for about a week and we’re excited to discover the simply endless amount of activities and things to do in London. When we travel we love to try fine dining, casual restaurants, sweets, baked goods, and many, many coffee shops–London brought this on all fronts. This is our guide and photo journal of our trip to London.

London has a staggering 80 Michelin rated restaurants, vs the 23 we have back home in Los Angeles. So we know we had to try some, but there’s no way we could put a big dent in the list, as there are so many other things worth eating that aren’t Michelin rated like casual fare. We had Indian food, Chinese food, many pastries, and food at outdoor markets.

Just like in Paris, I’m really happy to see a thriving coffee scene with many third-wave style shops that make drinks in the style I like. When we’re not eating, we still had a packed schedule of walking tours, museums, exploring the local neighborhoods, attending a musical, and shopping. Check out our list below for all of our favorite things to do in London.

1. Dine at one of many fine dining restaurants


cocktail at Humo
amazing cocktail from Humo

London is also a great place to experience many award-winning fine-dining restaurants. You’ll find many of these restaurants scattered throughout central London, and two spots I tried were nestled in Mayfair right next to Savile Row. Humo was a last-minute add-on to my trip, and I’m so glad I went. It’s an open-fire dining experience, so sit at the bar if you want all the action. Colombian and Japanese cuisine inspire Humo–a combo I have never seen before. You can choose a preset tasting menu or pick from the a la carte menu. It just received its first Michelin star, so getting a reservation two weeks ahead wasn’t too tricky.

Sketch’s Afternoon Tea

While we didn’t visit the main restaurant for Sketch, we did have a reservation for afternoon tea, and I would highly recommend this tea service if you want a different but elegant take on this British classic. The interiors are as impeccable as the fine quality of food and service–and don’t forget to visit the egg pods in the bathroom! 

During our visit, we were lucky enough to see Sketch’s collaboration with artist Mr. Doodle, who was creating art in the bathrooms and spaces. I felt like it really helped bring out the restaurant’s quirkiness.  

Core by Clare Smyth

dinner at Core by Clare Smyth

Our primary fine-dining experience was reserved for Core by Clare Smyth, which was highly recommended by friends. This restaurant is in the middle of Notting Hill and ideally situated in a townhouse lit by gas lamps from the sidewalk. This three Michelin-star restaurant had such a warm, welcoming atmosphere, and I especially loved all the servers, especially Lynn, who made our night memorable.

Core is a modern take on British cuisine, and my favorite courses were langoustine and wasabi pea dish and their creative take on the carrot cake featuring carrot sherbet. We even got to say hi to Chef Clare when we first came in–I loved this place! I would recommend making a reservation at least two months ahead of time. 

2. Try various ethnic cuisines 

bowl of bhel from Dishoom
bhel at Dishoom

London is also home to many, many types of cuisines besides traditional British foods–its national dish is chicken tikka masala. Dishoom was our most recommended spot, and I’m glad there are so many locations throughout London with available reservations. We visited the Shoreditch location and loved the okra fries, bhel (a mix of puffed rice, pomegranates, tamarind, and other spices), chicken ruby, and gunpowder potatoes. 

cross section of pork bun from Bun House
pork bun from Bun House

After eating so much European food, I truly needed a break and have some Asian food. I found Bun House, with ultra-soft bao filled with char siu, and Moto Japanese Sake bar, for small izakaya bites in Chinatown. These spots are affordable, open for lunch, and serve delicious food. 

lechon kawali with liver sauce from Donia
lechon kawali (pork belly) from Donia

There’s even Filipino food! Donia was a last-minute dinner that I had added about one week before our trip, and I was hesitant because we were already trying Filipino French food in Paris. Boy, I am so glad we went to Donia because it was our favorite meal. This place is a flavor bomb of modern Filipino diaspora cuisine, and some of my favorite dishes were the lechon kawali (perfectly crispy skin and tender meat), bagoong mayo with roasted potatoes, salted egg and tomatoes, and pipino cocktail made of fresh cucumber, coconut, and lime. I will head back to Donia on my next trip. Definitely make a reservation! 

3. Visit coffee shops & bakeries

coffee from Nagare Coffee
Nagare Coffee: capuccino, cortado, canelé

There are tons of great coffee shops for a good caffeine pick-me-up, so don’t waste your money on the coffee chains. Some of my favorite third-wave cafes were Nagare Coffee (a Japanese-inspired shop in Spitalfields), Rosslyn (next to London Bridge), and Otemesando (in Soho).  

cappuccino and pastries from Popham's
Popham’s cappuccino and pastries

There are also some insanely good pastries at spots like Popham’s (located in London Fields, Victoria Park, and Islington) and Arôme Bakery (in Covent Garden and near Mayfair). Our favorites at Popham’s were the bacon and maple spiral pastry, the hazelnut pastry, and, of course, their cortados. There’s plenty of seating inside and outside, but know that it’s very popular on weekends and full of lines. There’s also a cute home goods store next door at the Popham’s Islington location.

Arome Barkey's egg tart
outstanding egg tart from Arôme Bakery

We visited Arôme Bakery near Mayfair, which was also super popular. We loved the egg custard and cold brew. It’s also a popular place, and seating was difficult, so we walked to Paddington Street Gardens and enjoyed our pastry and coffee at the park. 

4. Visit London’s many historical sites

Big Ben in London
Big Ben

London is full of historical sites located near each other. Some of the most popular sites are obviously royalty-linked, like Buckingham Palace, the National Mall, Westminster Abbey, and Kensington Gardens. 

Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace

If you want to knock it out of the park quickly, sign up for a historical walking tour with a knowledgeable guide to introduce British history briefly. Here’s a list of some of the most popular sites:

  1. Buckingham Palace
  2. The National Mall
  3. Westminster Abbey
  4. London Eye 
  5. London Bridge
  6. Tower of London
  7. Big Ben
  8. Trafalgar Square
  9. Shakespeare’s Globe 
  10. St. Paul’s Cathedral 
  11. Cutty Sark
  12. Old Royal Naval College

5. Visit the Harry Potter Studio Tour

Gringott's Bank at WB's Harry Potter tour

If you’re a Potterhead, you must visit the Warner Bro’s Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter on the outskirts of London in Watford. I’ve been to Universal Studios’ Hollywood Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and to be completely honest, the Studio Tour in London blows it out of the water. Even though there are no theme park rides or characters walking around–the studio tour makes you feel like you’ve just stepped into the actual land of Harry Potter. 

And it makes perfect sense because the Making of Harry Potter tour is the actual Warner Bros. sets where they filmed the series. It’s packed full of special interviews, and documentary videos detailing all the special effects, costumes, and everything under the sun that it took to create the world of Harry Potter. There are rotating sets that you can step foot in depending on what season you visit. When I visited, they featured the Prisoner of Azkaban sets, costumes, divination room, and even the Knight Bus that picked Harry up at the beginning of the movie. 

My favorite set was Gringotts Bank. It felt so surreal walking into the marbled columns of this bank, lined with goblin mannequins ready to judge me. It is indescribable to walk into this space and feel like you were in a Harry Potter movie. I especially loved the videos after the exhibit that explained how they created the set out of plaster! 

There are also plenty of Harry Potter merch shops and cafes–you can even book an afternoon tea in the food hall. When you book tickets, I recommend booking a bus or private car accommodation to take you from central London to Watford as it’s about 45 minutes to 1 hour away. I planned for the Making of Harry Potter studio tour for an entire day because the whole experience is so vast you’ll want to examine every exhibit. You can easily spend up to 3-4 hours here.   

6. Enjoy English afternoon tea service – Sketch 

tower of sweets and savory snacks at Sketch's afternoon tea service
Afternoon tea at Sketch

I am never one to say no to afternoon tea and I’ve eaten at nine restaurants (and counting!) for afternoon tea. And what better place to do afternoon tea than London! There were so many options in town to book a tea service, but I am so glad I booked at the Gallery at Sketch because it looked fun. Sketch is known for its quirky, pop-of-color interior design set in a traditional 18th-century townhouse smack dab in the middle of the proper Mayfair district of London.  

Sketch is split into separate rooms (the Parlour, the Gallery, the Glade, the East bar & Pods, and even a three Michelin-star main room, the Lecture Room & Library). Afternoon tea is always held in the Gallery, which is plastered with all mustard yellow coloring (from the walls to the plush furniture). It’s pretty striking when you first enter. 

Mr Doodle drawing on bathrooms at Sketch

Now, onto the best part: the food and beverages. At 95£ per person, this afternoon tea service is not cheap; however, it is also all you can eat. Yes, you read that right. When they hand you the three-tiered plate of goodies filled with lobster rolls, croque monsieur, cakes, macarons, and more, any of these items are refillable. You can also pick as many beverages (tea, juice, and soft drinks) as you want. You’ll also have a scone service with clotted cream and jam, and a cake course. I have never been so full from afternoon tea. 

The tea service at Sketch is in my top two (let’s not forget the insane tea service in Kyoto at the Hotel Mitsui). It was exactly what you’d expect from a fine-dining restaurant, except a little bit more relaxed. It even included an unexpected string trio that played music during our service. I recommend booking the first time slot and coming early so you can enjoy the Gallery to yourself. 

7. Take a stroll in a park

parent and baby ducks in the park

London is a vast, bustling city, but if you ever need a breather, stroll in one of the many lush and expansive parks. One of the most famous is Hyde Park. It’s one of the largest parks, sitting at 350 acres, and filled with an abundance of activities like boating, tennis, horse riding, and swimming. Hyde Park, like all Royal Parks, is free to the public. 

Another Royal Park is St. James’s Park. This park is full of blooming flowers and is right next to historical and ceremonial sites like Buckingham Palace. St. James’s Park is where you’ll view many well-known ceremonies like royal weddings or popular tourist sites like the changing of the guard. 

One of my favorite parks we ran into was Paddington Street Garden during one of their summer celebrations. This park in Maryleborn is smaller than the previously mentioned, but it’s full of lush greenery and offers an excellent backdrop for sitting down and eating a pastry and coffee on a busy Sunday.  

8. Book a walking tour

guards dressed in red marching
Changing of the guard during historical tour

If you want to immerse yourself in London with the help of locals, take a tour. I like taking a historical walking tour on one of the first days of a trip to familiarize myself with the area, culture, and environment. One of my favorite spots to find tours is through Airbnb Experiences. There are plenty of options depending on what kind of tour you want. From food to history to photography tours, there are endless options. 

tour guide pointing out a graffiti mural

My favorite tour in London is through Alternative London’s Street Art Tour & Workshop in Shoreditch. Our guide, Josh, was a great art teacher who gave us a comprehensive history and understanding of London street art. We even happened upon a famous street artist creating on the streets of Shoreditch. After an hour-and-a-half walking tour looking at graffiti, tagging, stencils, and other forms of street art, we walked to Alternative London’s studio and got to make our own stencils to spray paint in the studio. It was one of my most memorable tours. 

9. See a live show

spotlight on actress at Mamma Mia! The Party

For Broadway lovers, spend a magical night in London’s West End! There are so many plays and musicals to see, like more popular shows like Les Miserables or Cabaret, where you can drink at the famous Kit Kat Club before the show. 

If you’re a Hogwarts fan, there’s also Harry Potter and the Cursed Child play at the Palace Theater. Be warned, though, that the London version is the full six-hour experience with a break in between. You’ll be able to find tickets online for any of these shows. I recommend going to the play or musical’s actual website to buy tickets or testing your luck on discounted tickets at kiosks like the TKTS booth in Leicester Square on the day of the show. 

I am not lying when I say that Mamma Mia! The Party was the main reason I wanted to visit London. As an ABBA lover with Mamma Mia movies constantly on repeat in our house, those viral TikToks got me hooked. This show is unique because the restaurant is in the middle of the stage, so you’ll have performers in between the aisles singing and dancing throughout the night. 

Mamma Mia! The Party is located within The O2 (about halfway towards the back of the outer ring). It is about a four-hour experience with a theatrical show full of talented performers and a Mediterranean dinner. Note that this is NOT the original Mamma Mia Broadway show, but a spin-off story. It’s a hefty ticket at ~170-200£ per person, but the show is Broadway-worthy. 

10. Try traditional British food

cross section of Scotch egg from Coach and Horses
Scotch egg at Coach And Horses

You can’t go to London (or the UK) without trying traditional British fare. I know there’s an unfortunate perception that British food is tasteless, but I’m happy to say my experience was the opposite. Just like in any city–you just need to know where to get the good stuff. I loved the well-seasoned, tender, and custardy Scotch egg from Coach and Horses.

basket of fish and chips from Chippy Mayfair

And the fish and chips from Mayfair Chippy were excellent quality. We ordered the cod, with an extra (free!) side of fried bits. I suggest getting a reservation at the latter so you won’t have to wait over an hour in line during their busiest times. 

traditional Sunday roast from Blacklock
Sunday Roast at Blacklock in Shoreditch

If you want a traditional Sunday roast dinner, there are so many options, and I stopped by Blacklock in Shoreditch where they only serve a Sunday roast on, you guessed it, Sunday! Their Sunday roast dinner features meat options of aged beef steaks, lamb legs, pork loin, and a veggie-friendly roast. You can also opt for the “all-in” option, where you can try all three types of meat if you’re dining with at least two people for 26£ per person. It also comes with all the fixings: Yorkshire pudding, duck-fat roast potatoes, seasonal vegetables, and Blacklock gravy. After spending many hours in the kitchen making our own Sunday roast at home, the price here is a steal. 

11. Visit a museum

mirror exhibit at the Tate Modern
Tate Modern

London is full of museums for history and art buffs to explore. Some of the most popular ones are the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery in Trafalgar Square, the British Museum, the Natural History Museum in Kensington, and Tate Modern in South Bank. 

We spent an afternoon at the Tate Modern, which is within walking distance from Borough Market. One of my favorite exhibits was of Mari Katayama, a Japanese multi-media artist who focuses her work on body image and features her prosthetics. The exhibit included many of her physical and media works over the course of her 20-year career. I really liked the layout of the space and felt like it wasn’t too overwhelming, like how other museums can feel for those of us who get overstimulated easily. 

Also, one of my favorite parts about museums is their gift shops! The Tate Modern has a really great selection of curated items and brands for souvenirs. You can spend an entire trip going to different museums every day, and the best part is that almost all of them are free admission. However, note that you may need to purchase tickets for special exhibitions, like the Yoko Ono exhibition at the Tate Modern. 

12. Explore Chinatown

Chinatown in London

Make sure to explore London’s Chinatown. It’s in central London, near Leicester Square and Piccadilly. Chinatown has existed since the 1950s and is home to many popular hot spots, such as Speedboat Bar (a Thai gastropub), Ronnie Scott’s jazz bar, and Four Seasons for roasted duck. 

It was the middle of our Eurotrip, and we desperately missed Asian food. Luckily, we were staying near Chinatown and headed to Bun House for dim sum. Bun House is a very affordable meal and feels like a modern Cantonese spot with its fluffy, hot custard bao, contemporary decor, and fast-style dining. I would recommend their char siu pork bun, crispy tofu, and mala waffle fries.  

plate of fried tofu from Bun House
Fried tofu from House of Bun

We also stopped by some quick Filipino-inspired desserts at Mamasons Dirty Ice Cream. This ice cream spot is also owned by the same restaurant group as Donia, one of our favorite meals on the trip. I didn’t have room for their halo-halo, so I opted for ube and black buko ice cream. They are softer than traditional ice cream because they’re based on Filipino Dirty Ice Cream varieties that are frozen in a steel pot on the streets of the Philippines. 

You can also find special events like Chinese New Year celebrations in the early Winter or Mid-Autumn Festival later in the year. You’ll know you’re in Chinatown when you enter through the brightly colored and gilded gates with red paper lanterns swinging from building to building. 

13. Visit one of many outdoor markets

ripe strawberries with chocolate

One of the most exciting things about visiting London is the plentiful markets in different boroughs. Some of the most popular are Borough Market, Portobello Market, Camden Market, Greenwich Market, and Spitalfield’s Market. These markets are bustling with crowds, and filled with food stands selling piping hot paella by the truckload, freshly shucked oysters, fresh produce, vintage clothes, and many other goodies. 

We visited Borough Market, one of the most famous markets in London, so you can imagine it was packed! We walked across London Bridge and entered through the stairs by the Southwark Cathedral. Once you pass the bridge, you will see signs pointing you where to go. Borough Market is made up of three parts: Green Market (specialist produce), Three Crown Square (bigger producers and merchants), and Borough Market Kitchen (street food).

Borough Market entrance

It’s a very large market with so many options, so we suggest looking up where you want to eat, but also exploring while you’re there. Our favorite food was the Black Pig, which sold their popular honey truffle and parmesan pork ciabatta—it’s a long line, but they serve it up super quick. There’s stadium seating nearby, too. 

These markets are all over central London. Just make sure to look up the times and dates they are open because certain markets close early or during the week. Each market can also sell specific items, like Portobello Market, which has a vintage flea portion on Fridays that stretches for miles. I was able to pick up a vintage watch for 30£ and some vintage head scarves for 7£ each. 

14. Sip cocktails from award winning bars

Jungle Bird cocktail at The Connaught Bar
Jungle Bird cocktail from The Connaught Bar

British people have a different type of bar culture, and it’s truly something to experience. Every London trip should include a pub visit, and we ended up in Greenwich at Coach and Horses for a pint and some light snacks. Other popular pubs these days are the Devonshire, which has a nonstop line outside, and the Mayflower Pub, one of the oldest pubs in London, dating back to the 16th century. 

If you’re a martini lover, stop by The Connaught Bar at its namesake hotel in Mayfair. It’s ranked 5th on the 50 Best Bars list in the world. The thing to order is their Connaught Martini, which is served via trolley and rolled to your table. It is personally made by their award-winning mixologist, Agostino Perrone, who asks for your favorite flavor notes. It’s quite a performance! 

We also loved their non-alcoholic options like the Faraway Collins, which has sarsaparilla, yuzu, and eucalyptus notes. Don’t make the same mistake we did and accidentally go to the wrong bar inside the hotel! The Connaught Bar is located past the lobby behind the staircase on the left. 

15. Go shopping 

Portobello flea market
Portobello flea market

There is an unending list of places to shop in London for all styles, items, and preferences. Piccadilly Circus, Covent Garden, and Carnaby Street are full of popular mainstream stores and timeless British brands like Barbour.


If you love a good thrift find or are keen on vintage pieces, you must go to the Portobello Flea Market on Fridays in Notting Hill or the plethora of stalls at Brick Lane Vintage Market in Shoreditch. There are also many brick-and-mortar stores for vintage shopping, like Pepper Tree London, where I got a handful of scarves for less than 20£, or Check It Vintage for all things Burberry. 

For luxury shoppers with unlimited budgets, there are also Harrods, Selfridges, and Liberty London department stores. I recommend strolling down Chiltern Street in Marylebone for polished, minimalist stores like Monocle, Labour and Wait, and Niwaki. 

Fortnum & Mason tea shop
Fortnum & Mason tea shop

If you need souvenirs, I always veer towards consumables. I loved making my own tea blend at Fortnum & Mason in Piccadilly or King’s Cross and picking up some candies at Marks and Spencer Food Hall in Mayfair. 

Like this recipe? Subscribe to my newsletter!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *