September 11, 2019

The ultimate London bucket list

London is one of my favourite cities in the world.

I mean it probably helps that I live there. But honestly, there are so many things to see and do when visiting the capital, you’ll need weeks to fit in everything.

So visitors to London you’re in luck.

After six years in London, I’ve decided to put together this London bucket list to tick off during your trip. Some of these are familiar but others are quirky places that aren’t on the usual lists.

Buckingham Palace

Well if you’re visiting London, you have to visit the Queen’s house – or look at the outside of it! And make sure to see the changing of the guard at least once while you’re in London.

Buckingham Palace London

In summer, parts of Buckingham Palace opens up to tourists giving visitors the opportunity to feel like a royal. You can even have tea and cake in the gardens!

Every year there’s a different display. When I last went they had Kate’s wedding dress and a replica of the wedding cake eaten at William and Kate’s wedding.

It’s definitely worth a visit.

South Bank

There’s a few things to do on the Embankment but honestly it’s a good place to just wander around.

South Bank London

You’ll see the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye and if you keep walking St Paul’s Cathedral and the Tate Modern.

If you want to go on the London Eye (the view is good) then make sure to look at discount websites for good deals.

In summer, there’s a comedy festival that usually features a few familiar British comedy faces.

Afternoon tea at the Ritz

Sure, there are other afternoon tea places around but nothing beats the Ritz.

It’s actually one of the best value for money afternoon teas too. If it is showing as fully booked keep checking in the evening as some people cancel and more seats are released.

My favourite time to go is at Christmas and Father Christmas even turns up!

Read more: How I spent the festive period in the capital

Chinatown

London’s Chinatown is one of the biggest in the world and has an amazing selection of restaurants. Be sure to dry a sweet treat on dessert alley!

At the moment my favourite spots are Bubblewrap and Taiyakiya. Be sure to wash it down with a Wu Tea!

Read more: My favourite places to eat in London’s Chinatown

A concert

You have to try and see live music in London. It’s so much fun. Good venues are Brixton Academy, Shepherds Bush Empire and Koko.

If you want good value for money then there are lots of pubs in Camden that have live music. The Dublin Castle is always a good shout.

If you’re coming to London in summer then it’s worth looking into what day festivals are on in Hyde Park. I saw Bob Dylan there this summer and the tickets weren’t badly priced at all. Just don’t go to All Point’s East festival – the worst festival i’ve ever been to!

Read more: The best places to see live music in London

Climb the 02

It’s a bit of a novelty really but it is good fun and a rather good workout.

02 arena London

Make sure to try one of the sunset or sunrise walks. I got some beautiful pictures during the sunset tour and you could see for miles!

Read more: Climbing the 02 arena in London

Speedboat ride down the Thames

Skip the usual pleasure cruise down the Thames and have run zooming past some of London’s landmarks to the sound of the James Bond theme tune.

Yes that does happen. It’s so much fun!

Read more: My favourite ‘odd tourist’ experiences in London

See a show at the theatre

A trip to the theatre should be on your London bucket list

Going to the theatre in London used to be pricey but now with apps such as Today Tix you can go for as little as £17.50.

There are so many good shows in London such as Hamilton, Jamie, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and The Lion King.

The last show I saw was Hamilton and I absolutely loved it – make sure you enter their lottery for £10 tickets!

Find good food and street art in East London

Head to Shoreditch for some of the cool street art and find the great indoor food market on Brick Lane. Shop for music in Rough Trade East and buy some cool items of clothing in Joy on Brick Lane.

Spend an afternoon in one of London’s parks

Hyde Park is probably my favourite of the capital’s Parks but Regent’s Park and Kensington Gardens are also good options.

Hampstead Heath London should be on your London bucket list

If you’re open to travelling further out then Hampstead Heath is definitely worth a visit and the Pergola at the top is picture perfect.

God’s Own Junkyard

Nestled on an industrial state in Walthamstow, God’s Own Junkyard is a slice of Las Vegas – and it’s absolutely free to visit and take a look around!

It is home to iconic signs from movies such as The Dark Knight and Superman. It has also featured as the backdrop to fashion shoots by Vogue Magazine (and it’s no surprise why!).

God’s Own Junkyard is the work of Chris and Linda Bracey who spent over four decades collecting the signs. Chris sadly died in 2014 but God’s Own Junkyard continues to show off the best of his collection.

Read more: Finding Las Vegas in London at God’s Own Junkyard

Notting Hill and Primrose Hill

I have a love hate relationship with Notting Hill but you definitely should go. You can’t deny it’s pretty. Just watch out for all of the Instagrammers taking their outfit shots in front of doorways.

Notting Hill in London should be on your bucket list

Definitely stop by Portobello Road Market and look at some of the lovely antiques.

If you’re in London during carnival season then definitely go to Notting Hill Carnival.

Skygarden

Skygarden has the cheapest view of London, but you have to book in advance. It has great views of the Thames, the Shard and other major London landmarks.

There’s a great coffee shop at the top too. It’s one of my go to places to wow friends when they come to visit.

If you’re looking for something a little more quirky then you can do yoga at the Skygarden in the morning.

Explore the capital’s Instagrammable cafes

London is home to SO many Instagrammable cafes. There’s a few Elan Cafes, Peggy Porschen and one of my favourites, Palm Vaults.

Basically, there is something pretty on every street corner and you just have to look for it.

I tend to find the best ones by actually looking on Instagram myself as it’s easier to keep up with new openings.

Read more: ELAN Cafe London: Is it really worth the trip?

See a sporting event

Wimbledon centre court is a London bucket list item

London has so many sporting teams from Arsenal to Chelsea in football to the Harlequins in rugby. There’s also calendar sporting events to attend such as the London Marathon and Wimbledon.

For those who follow the blog, you’ll know how long I can talk about the joys of going to Wimbledon! And the Queue is almost as famous as the tournament.

Read more: How to see tennis matches at Wimbledon

Explore old Greenwich and see the painted hall

Greenwich in South London is known for its maritime history. It’s home to the National Maritime Museum, the Cutty Sark and the Old Royal Naval College.

The college has the painted hall which looks like something out the Vatican.

 

 

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Take the number 15 bus (preferably the old one)

I always said when I was at university that the number 15 bus had the best route.

The bus travels all the way from Tower Hill, past St Paul’s Cathedral, all the way to Trafalgar Square.

Now, it’s mainly served by an old Routemaster bus which makes it an even cuter journey. Try and get a seat at the front if you can for the best pics.

A bargain at £1.50!

Take in a museum or two

South Kensington has a vast amount of museums which makes it easy to spend the day hopping between them.

Natural History Museum London should be on your London bucket list

The Natural History Museum is the most famous of them all and well worth a visit but my favourite is the Science Museum because it has a great section of space and an awesome aviation section on the top floor.

If art and design is more your thing then the V&A hold some great exhibitions on fashion etc.

Wander around Camden Town

Camden is one of the most famous areas of London, known for its music venues and quirky market stalls.

While it’s not as rock and roll as it used to be (chains have moved in on the high street), it’s definitely worth wandering around the market especially the vintage shops.

 

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Went for a walk as there aren’t many people around. Camden was empty. A lot of these businesses are struggling already and they’re going to need our help when this is over. #camdenmarket #camdenlondon #camdentown #camdenlockmarket

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There’s also a load of great food stalls one of the most popular is a pasta stall that makes its food IN a giant block of cheese!

Visit Hogwarts at the Harry Potter Studio Tour

Sophie going to the Hogwarts Express and outside Privet Drive in London

On the outskirts of London, the Warner Bros studios allows you to disappear into the world of Harry Potter for the day.

It’s a permanent exhibit that shows some of the sets and props used in the films – they’ve even now set up Gringotts bank and the Forbidden Forest.

I went during the Christmas exhibition there and would definitely recommend. You can even try a Butterbeer and sit in Hagrid’s motorbike.

The gift shop is dangerous for all Harry Potter fans.

Read more: Exploring Hogwarts in the Snow at Harry Potter Studios

Scour some of London’s bookshops and book markets

London has some amazing bookshops. You’ll probably have seen pictures of Daunt Books in Marylebone on Instagram (don’t make the mistake and go to the wrong one like I did).

Daunt Books should be on your London bucket list

My favourite is Foyles on Charring Cross Road. They have every book you could think of and I go there a lot for my Chinese books. I’m also a fan of Owl Bookshop in Kentish Town too. Both bookshops have a lot of events on during the year so it’s worth looking out for them.

If you’re a fan of second hand books then don’t forget to go to some of the book markets in the city such as the one on the South Bank. And the Oxfam bookshop in Holborn is also a good place to find some great books.

See a film at an outdoor cinema

Outdoor cinemas have become incredibly popular in the capital over the past couple of years so are definitely worth adding to your London bucket list.

I went to a cracking one last year which was at the Roundhouse in Camden – we saw Bohemian Rhapsody and the area was transformed to look like a Los Angeles beach. There were comfy chairs and you could buy frozen cocktails. It was amazing!

 

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There’s quite a few around the city now – some in famous landmarks such as Somerset House and Regents Park. I would definitely recommend if you’re looking for something to do in the evening.

Slide or abseil down the Orbit tower

The Orbit Tower was built for the 2012 London Olympics and is within the Olympic Park itself. At the time, visitors were able to take in the sheer size of the Olympic Park and also see some of London’s landmarks from above.

After the Olympics, it was opened to everyone and they added a slide to it too. The slide is the world’s tallest and longest tunnel slide and I have to say it was both amazing and terrifying at the same time.

In the summer, you can also abseil down the tower – something wild there for your London bucket list. I did it for a video piece for an old freelance client a couple of years ago and it was scary but the views were amazing!

Read more: Abseiling down the Orbit tower in London

Visit an old English pub

It wouldn’t be a trip to London without a visit to a typical English pub.

There’s lots to choose from but one that always tops the list is the Churchill Arms in Kensington. It is always pictured on Instagram, famous for its floral decorations in summer and Christmas lights in winter.

The Churchill Arms pub in Kensington should be on your London bucket list

if you’re looking for something really old – then look no further than Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese. It was rebuilt after the Great Fire of London in 1666 and had famous visitors that included Charles Dickens and Mark Twain.

I’d also recommend the Mayflower on the banks of the River Thames, the pub on the supposed site of the launch of the Mayflower ship that took the pilgrims to the US.

So is there anything I missed on my London bucket list? Let me know! 

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