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The do list London 2018

The best things to do in London

Discover the city with our list of the best things to do and see in London, for visitors and locals alike. From free days out to unmissable restaurants, this is your ultimate London checklist for 2020

By Laura Richards
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The whirlwind (okay, more like a cylone) that has been 2020 means that we’re now seeing London with fresh eyes. While at first glance it may seem like your enjoyment of the city is now somewhat restricted under social distancing, there are actually still loads of brilliant things to do in London. From incredible art exhibitions and iconic attractions to secret spots, by day and by night (well, pre-10pm!), there are actually so many amazing things to do in London. This London bucket list (curated by our editors and always hotly debated in the Time Out ‘office’) is a good place to start.

Our city checklist will help you hunt out what’s still happening in London – including some actual real-life events – from hidden happenings to something new at one of London’s landmarks. In the absence of major West End shows, we’ve still got theatre for you to seek out. And without leaving the country you can travel the world through a hundred amazing cuisines. So grab your face mask, get together your group of six and go forth in a London that’s admitedly a little different, but still bursting with opportunities for a great day out. 

You can also find out more about how Time Out selects the very best things to do all over the world, or take a look at our list of the 50 best things to do in the world right now.

Written by Laura Richards, Ellie Walker-Arnott, Lucy Lovell, Emma Hughes, Anya Meyerowitz, Stephanie Hartman, Grace Allen, Katie McCabe, Charley Ross and Alexandra Sims. 

The best things to do in London

See a world-class exhibition at the V&A

Museums Art and design South Kensington

What is it? A cathedral to culture, the V&A is a world-class museum championing the very best of decorative art and design.

Why go? High-profile ticketed exhibitions often sell out, but the permanent exhibits are fascinating, free to visit (book a ticket and time slot through a new and socially distanced system) and include a mini pet cemetery.

Don’t miss: The world’s first all-porcelain courtyard created by architect Amanda Levete with 11,000 handmade tiles. When it catches the sunlight, the glittering ceramics make London look like 1960s Rome. 

Eat your way around Borough Market

Things to do Borough Market

What is it? Dating back to the thirteenth century, London’s oldest food market is a cornucopia of gourmet goodies.

Why go? It used to highlight British produce but nowadays you’ll find global traders and street-food vendors: enjoy French confit-duck sandwiches, Ethiopian stews and scotch eggs (elevated, of course).

Don’t miss: Once notable for its crowds, the market now has a Covid-safe capacity. Arrive early (get coffee from Monmouth), pick up from Neal’s Yard Dairy, Brindisa and Bread Ahead, and head for a riverside picnic.

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Tate Modern
Photograph: David Bank

See free art at Tate Modern

Art Galleries Bankside

What is it? A riverside icon on London’s South Bank dedicated to modern and contemporary art. It’s the younger, hipper sibling to Pimlico’s Tate Britain.

Why go? To be inspired and challenged – even by the architecture. Tate Modern is based in what was Bankside Power Station. Its 2016 Switch House extension added gallery space and incredible 360-degree views of the London skyline. Step inside to discover works by the likes of Warhol, Matisse and Bourgeois, all part of the free permanent collection.

Don’t miss: The Tate Boat (decorated with Damien Hirst dots) runs up and down the Thames between Tate Modern and Tate Britain every 30 minutes during gallery opening hours. Just tap in and out with an Oyster or contactless card as you would on the tube or bus.

Liberty
Photograph: EQRoy/Shutterstock

Buy fancy fabric at Liberty

Shopping Home decor Soho

What is it? Unapologetically eccentric and always original, Liberty is a whimsical department store near Oxford Circus. It was founded in 1875, but the mock-Tudor Marlborough Street incarnation – constructed with the timbers of two ancient warships – was built in the 1920s.

Why go? Although Liberty trades on its history, it squeezes fashion-forward innovation into its wood-panelled rooms. Browse silks, Liberty-print cottons and one-off designer collaborations.

Don’t miss: The Liberty Christmas Shop. Open for a sizeable chunk of the year, it’s a magical, glitter-covered, gift-wrapped festive grotto, perfect for selecting weird and wonderful decorations for your tree. Brussels sprout bauble, anyone?

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Columbia Road Flower Market
Photograph: Ed Marshall

Spend a Sunday at Columbia Road Flower Market

Shopping Markets and fairs Bethnal Green

What is it? One of London’s oldest and best-loved flower markets.

Why go? A weekend institution in east London, the Sunday flower market that lines Columbia Road is a hipster paradise and one of the best places in the city to buy flowers, bedding plants, cacti and even a banana tree if you’ve got the patio space at home and the upper body strength to carry it there. 

Don’t miss: The best blooms and bargains. The market goes on until 3pm in all weathers, but for the best buys you need to get there for 8am (or hold out to the end for a bargain on unsold stock). Head down side streets to find cute cafés, shops, antique dealers and galleries sticking to market opening hours.

london's best greasy spoon cafes, e pellicci
Photograph: Rex Features

Order a full English breakfast at E Pellicci

Restaurants British Bethnal Green

What is it? A good old-fashioned caff. Since 1900 this workers’ café has provided carbs and protein in eggy, meaty and pan-fried form to the good people of east London.

Why go? Traces of bygone eras, like art deco interior details and Formica tables have earned E Pellicci Grade II-listed status, but what diners love best is that the fry-ups, grills and Italian plates are still all dished up by the same family.

Don’t miss: As strange as it might sound, you’re going to want to chase down your fry-up with a helping of bread-and-butter pudding – it’s a customer favourite.

Venue says A classic east London café serving the local community for over a century.

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Christmas at Kew 2019
Photograph: Jeff Eden

Go leaf crunching around Kew Gardens

Attractions Parks and gardens Kew

What is it? Oh just 3,00 acres of beautiful green space, filled with stunning vistas, rare plants, Victorian glasshouses, a Chinese pagoda and a treetop walkway. 

Why go? This world-leading botanic garden is captivating any time of year. Right now, it’s a crunchy, autumnal paradise; its innovative annual lights trail Christmas at Kew is coming soon.

Don’t miss: The newly restored Temperate House is a horticulturalist’s delight, home to encephalartos woodii, one of the rarest plants in the world, that outlived the dinosaurs.

100 best bars and pubs in london, dukes hotel
© Rob Greig

Sip Martinis in the comfort of Dukes Bar

Bars and pubs St James’s

What is it? If you’re looking for a mind-blowingly strong and delicious cocktail in sumptuous surroundings, this hotel bar is the right place.

Why go? It’s Stanley Tucci’s go-to and was Ian Fleming’s when he was penning the Bond books. Cocktails are among the most expensive in the city, but bar snacks are fabulous. Stagger across the cobbles of St James’s on your way out (the drinks really are that strong).

Don’t miss: It’s famous for its theatrical presentation of Martinis, created from a trolley that’s wheeled to you.

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Portobello Road Market
Photograph: Richie Chan / Shutterstock

Hunt for antiques at Portobello Road Market

Shopping Vintage shops Portobello Road

What is it? The world’s largest antiques market, on a pastel-painted, picturesque shopping street in Notting Hill – now traffic-free for socially distanced browsing.

Why go? Although home to fruit and veg stalls too, Portobello Market is best known for the antiques and bric-à-brac stalls featuring at the Chepstow Villas end of the road. Don’t be fooled by the fold-out tables – this isn’t cheap tat and there are some serious treasures here. For more secondhand goodies, head further up the road, beyond the Westway.

Don’t miss: The market at its antiquey best. Sections of the market are open six days a week but for vintage treasures, brave the crowds and go browsing on a Saturday. 

Bathe in neon light at God’s Own Junkyard

Art Galleries Walthamstow

What is it? A whole lot of neon artwork on display at a salvage yard in Walthamstow. 

Why go? Its late owner, artist Chris Bracey, collected lights for nearly 40 years, as well as crafting and restoring them. Now on display at a salvage yard in Walthamstow, some are seedy – having advertised the 1960s strip clubs and peep shows of Soho – while others are heartwarmingly nostalgic.

Don’t miss: The glowing grotto’s ‘Rolling Scones’ café serves hot drinks (or something stronger to suit the electrified vibes).

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Soho
Photograph: Michael Ting / Shutterstock.com

People-watch from the pavements of Soho

Things to do Event spaces Soho

What is it? A West End neighbourhood with a somewhat sleazy history, that now teems with drinkers and diners on its pedestrianised streets.

Why go? Soho’s iconic and long-standing businesses need your support right now. Plus, the hedonistic spirit of the area lives on in its streets – despite a 10pm curfew. That’s why we’ve named it the coolest neighbourhood in the capital right now.

Don’t miss: Grade-II listed pub The French HouseCharles de Gaulle used it as a base in exile during World War II, Dylan Thomas and Francis Bacon both drank here and beer, famously, is only ever served in halves. 

The Glory
Al de Perez

Revel in a drag show at The Glory

Nightlife Alternative nightlife Haggerston

What is it? An LGBTQ+ performance venue with a basement disco and a full roster of shows, which acts as a platform for forward-thinking queer entertainment.

Why go? One of the brains behind The Glory is drag legend Jonny Woo, so no surprise that it does gender-ambiguous and adventurous alternative cabaret so brilliantly.

Don’t miss: Up-and-coming stars of the scene. It’s a genuinely mixed space where the vibe is less ‘anything goes’, more ‘everything encouraged’. Drop by for a drink and see how the night unfolds (typically, fabulously).

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Photograph: Haydon Perrior
Photograph: Haydon Perrior

Feast on amazing food in Chinatown

Things to do Chinatown

What is it? London’s small – and somewhat ill-defined – Chinatown is an intense hit of Chinese culture sandwiched between Soho and a shuttered Theatreland.

Why go? Bilingual street signs, colourful pagodas, lion statues and grand red-and-gold gates welcome you to an area packed with restaurants and shops – many of which took a hit in 2020. It’s now pedestrianised to encourage punters back to supermarkets like See Woo and fast-food spots like Chinatown Bakery.

Don’t miss:  Four Seasons, a restaurant famed for its Cantonese-style roast duck.

Barbican Conservatory
Photograph: diamond geezer/flickr

Get lost in the Barbican Conservatory

Cinemas Barbican

What is it? A large, leafy greenhouse within the iconic performing arts and exhibition centre.

Why go? This labyrinthine arts complex is part of a vast concrete estate – an icon of brutalist London architecture – that also includes 2,000 covetable flats and lots of confusing walkways. Which makes the fact that it’s also home to the second-biggest conservatory in the city a very lush surprise. The indoor garden has 2,000 plant species. It’s like stepping into the happy ending of a dystopian thriller, when the characters finally find signs of life on an abandoned planet. 

Don’t miss:  Inside, the focus is on world-class arts, taking in every imaginable genre. Its theatre venues are closed for now, but socially distanced concerts are back for the autumn.

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Get cultured at the Southbank Centre

Things to do Cultural centres South Bank

What is it? A riverside titan of arts and entertainment, the Southbank Centre includes three major venues – of which, the Hayward Gallery is now open again.

Why go? Its typically loaded events programme is paused, but it’s still great for a visit. Munch on vegan cake at the food market or pick up a rare first edition at the bookstalls. You could even go next door to take in a play at the National Theatre, which reboots in October

Don’t miss: While you’re there, head along the South Bank to the Globe and gawp at the hallowed Shakespearian playhouse – still currently closed to die-hard Bard lovers.

Have a Hawksmoor Sunday roast

Restaurants British Spitalfields

What is it? When it comes to Sunday roasts, London has something for every taste (if that taste is for comforting mounds of carbs in the colder months). But if meat makes your meal, head to Hawksmoor.

Why go? Holy cow, the British-reared rump of beef is delicious, cooked to a rosy medium-rare – first over charcoal, then in the oven. It’s served with potatoes roasted in dripping, greens, carrots and roasted shallots, plus lashings of bone-marrow gravy.

Don’t miss: Your slot. Make sure you arrive well before 5pm to ensure you don’t miss this crowd-pleaser. When the roasts are gone, they’re gone. 

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National Theatre, The Shed
© Philip Vile

Discover drama (and comedy) at the National Theatre

Theatre Public and national theatres South Bank

What is it? One of the UK’s most prominent performing arts venues, which sits proudly on the South Bank – and is about to make its comeback.

Why go? The NT got many of us through lockdown with its free-to-stream series of crowd-pleasing plays – now we can return the favour by buying a ticket to help the theatre survive All This.

Don’t miss: Its comeback production, Death of England: Delroy, or its foray into panto later in the year.

Perch up at the counter at Kiln

Restaurants Thai Soho

What is it? Oh, just London’s top restaurant. No biggie.

Why go? Pandemic silver lining: you can now book a table or space at the counter, rather than rocking up and trying your luck. Owned by Ben Chapman of Smoking Goat and Brat, with a kitchen headed up by Meedu Saad, Kiln serves up delectable dishes influenced by the food of northern Thailand, Myanmar and Laos.

Don’t miss: The plump Isaan-style Tamworth sausages, punchy jungle curries and signature clay-pot-baked glass noodles with pork and crab – the last is a steal at just £6.75.

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Natural History Museum whale
Photograph: NHM London

Meet ‘Hope’ at the Natural History Museum

Museums Natural history South Kensington

What is it? The magnificent South Kensington home of around 80 million plant, animal, fossil, rock and mineral specimens. This fascinating museum, which is also a world-class research institution, is full of wonders.

Why go? To come face-to-face with animatronic dinosaurs, a man-sized model of a foetus, a dodo, a giant sequoia tree, an earthquake simulator and glow-in-the-dark crystals. 

Don’t miss: A great big blue whale skeleton which hangs from the ceiling of the Hintze Hall and goes after the name ‘Hope’. 

Hang out with the plants at Sky Garden

Attractions Fenchurch Street

What is it? London’s highest public garden – three storeys of lush landscaped gardens on the thirty-fifth floor of a City skyscraper. 

Why go? Located on Fenchurch Street, right in the heart of the City, this beautiful venue caused quite a stir when it first opened. That’s because you can zip up 35 floors of the Walkie Talkie and be transported to a public garden with truly spectacular views. As well as all the lush greenery, you’ll find an observation deck, an open-air terrace, two restaurants, two bars and an uninterrupted panorama of the city’s skyline with the Thames snaking by below. Entry is free – you’ve just got to book in advance online. 

Don’t miss: Unbe-leaf-able prices! The restaurants at Sky Garden have been putting on half-price menus for a limited time since reopening. 

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Get a history lesson at the Tower of London

Attractions Historic buildings and sites Tower Hill

What is it? An actual medieval castle on the north bank of the Thames, and, officially speaking, Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and fortress.

Why go? For all that bling (and the ravens). You can’t help but gawp at the staggeringly priceless collection of diamonds, tiaras and sceptres that make up the Crown Jewels. Arrive early to beat the crowds and catch a glimpse of these precious rocks that the Royal Family still uses on official occasions. This 900-year-old monument is one of the country’s finest historical attractions and has enough to see to fill a whole day.

Don’t miss: A tour with one of the Yeoman Warders (aka Beefeaters) to get the Tower lowdown by someone who lives and works there. 

The British Museum
Photograph: Marc Haegeman

Decipher the Rosetta Stone at the British Museum

Museums History Bloomsbury

What is it? The British Museum is one of the UK’s most famous institutions, dedicated to human history, art and culture.

Why go? There’s so much to see at the British Museum –Parthenon sculptures, Lewis Chessmen, The Rosetta Stone. The world-famous Egyptian stone, the key to deciphering the hieroglyphs, is the most sought out item in the collection. If you think you’ve done it all, delve deeper by looking out for new acquisitions, or pop into one of the museum’s temporary exhibitions.

Don’t miss: The Mermaid in the Enlightenment gallery. It once belonged to Queen Victoria’s grandson Prince Arthur of Connaught and is said to have been caught in Japan in the eighteenth century. It’s not true, though... The head and torso of a monkey has been attached to the tail of a fish using the dark art of taxidermy to create what is possibly the capital’s most fascinating fake.

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Admire the views from The Shard

Attractions Towers and viewpoints Borough and London Bridge

What is it? London’s one and only 95-storey skyscraper, and the tallest building in Western Europe.

Why go? The Shard has established itself as a timeless London landmark despite being barely a handful of years old. As well as making the city skyline a whole lot spikier than it used to be, it’s an ace place from which to cop a look at London in all its glory.

Don’t miss: The very top. There are bars and restaurants all the way up, but at public visiting area The View from The Shard, the tower boasts floor-to-ceiling windows with amazing views. You can peer out over the city at 244 metres above ground level. It’s as if you’re perched over the capital on your own cloud — and it makes for one awesome snap. Say cheese!

Carnaby Street, Soho
Photograph: Claudio Divizia/Shutterstock.com

Browse cool brands on Carnaby Street

Shopping Carnaby Street

What is it? A buzzy shopping mecca tucked away behind Oxford and Regent Streets and full of independent brands, quirky flagship stores and some of the city’s best places to eat and drink. 

Why go? This pedestrianised street is one of London’s best shopping destinations. Creative Carnaby is known for being at the heart of the swinging ’60s in London, when the likes of Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Elizabeth Taylor were all regular visitors. Nowadays the area is home to shops like Monki and The Kooples as well as dining and drinking destinations Dishoom, Cahoots, Pizza Pilgrims and Le Bab. 

Don’t miss: Carnaby’s Christmas lights. Carnaby Street’s annual winter display is always much anticipated and never disappoints. It’s yet to confirm its return for 2020 – but we’ll keep you updated as soon as we learn more.

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© Will Rodrigues / Shutterstock.com

Walk the canals of Little Venice

Attractions Rivers, lakes and ponds Little Venice

What is it? A tranquil and photogenic pocket of London just north of Paddington, which is known for picturesque waterways and narrowboats.

Why go? Home to a community of boat-dwelling Londoners, Little Venice is a special spot. Wander through Rembrandt Gardens, feast on seafood at The Summerhouse or browse the plants and have a cuppa in the Quince Tree Café at charming Clifton Nurseries. Then hop on board a cruise travelling between Little Venice and Camden Lock, or wander east along the canal towpath to London Zoo or Primrose Hill. 

Don’t miss: The Puppet Theatre Barge. This intimate water-borne theatre is the setting for quality puppet shows that put a modern twist on traditional tales and kids’ classics. 

Spy Buckingham Palace from St James’s Park

Attractions Sightseeing Westminster

What is it? A 57-acre park in Westminster, which is basically the Queen’s giant front garden.

Why go? St James’s Park has undergone a lot of changes over the years. In King Henry VII’s day it was swampy and used mainly as a deer-breeding ground. King James I drained it and moved more animals in (including elephants, crocodiles and exotic birds). Today it remains as it was redesigned in the 1820s, all lush landscape and winding paths. Spot squirrels scampering around and pretty views of Buckingham Palace at the western end. 

Don’t miss: The park’s famous avian tenants – the pelicans. In 1664 the Russian ambassador presented a pair of pelicans to the king, and today the birds are still offered to the park by foreign ambassadors. Find them at the big lake in the middle.

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Have afternoon tea at Claridge’s

Restaurants British Mayfair

What is it? The most quintessentially English thing you can ever eat at one of the most traditional and elegant hotels in London. 

Why go? Forget brunch, afternoon tea is really where it’s at. With flattering lighting, the scent of fresh roses and classical musicians playing away in the corner, the Foyer at Claridge’s is a class act. This elegant art deco space is where chic A-listers and other ‘people with taste’ come to take tea. Expect tasty patisserie, sensational just-baked scones and incredible finger sandwiches. 

Don’t miss: The drink at the heart of the ritual. Sip on a fine bone-china cup of Claridge’s Blend, a bespoke tea designed for this very occasion. 

Visit the famous residents of Highgate Cemetery

Attractions Cemeteries Highgate

What is it? A magnificently gothic, overgrown, 53,000-grave cemetery (housing 170,000 dead) in north London.

Why go? A stroll through a graveyard may seem like a  macabre way to spend an afternoon, but the chaotically overgrown Highgate Cemetery really is something special. It was one of London’s seven great Victorian cemeteries but fell into disrepair. Today, you can go and witness it in all its crumbling glory. The West Cemetery requires booking in advance for a guided tour (£12) during the week (at the weekend just show up and join a tour). Entrance to the East Cemetery is £4 at the gate.

Don’t miss: The cemetery’s famous residents. Find the final resting places of, among others, ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide’ author Douglas Adams and poet Christina Rossetti. You can also visit Karl Marx. You can’t miss his spot – it’s topped with a massive sculpture of his head.

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Spot deer in Richmond Park

Attractions Parks and gardens Richmond Park

What is it? London’s biggest, grandest royal park.

Why go? For ancient woodland, open space and enchanting rural wilds in the city. This former royal hunting ground has changed little over the centuries, but modern-day visitors are more likely to be wielding a kite than a bow and arrow. Look out for wild red and fallow deer but be sure to keep your distance (especially during autumn’s rutting season).

Don’t miss: The Isabella Plantation for swathes of blossom in spring and summer. Rent a bike to really get to see the whole park. 

Science Museum
Photograph: Bikeworldtravel.com/Shutterstock

Explore space at the Science Museum

Museums Science and technology South Kensington

What is it? Founded in 1857, the Science Museum is one of London’s largest tourist attractions, and one of the world’s major museums.

Why go? From daytime play for little ones to lates for geeky grown-ups, the Science Museum is a happily noisy home of scientific discovery that’s free to visit for one and all. Head to Wonderlab: The Equinor Gallery, a state-of-the-art seven-zone area of the museum that’s ticketed, allowing you to see live experiments and shows away from the crowds, or Space Descent, an immersive VR trip through the cosmos with British astronaut Tim Peake as your guide.  

Don’t miss: Amazing objects that have shaped the last few decades, from the first Apple computer to Apollo 10, which orbited the moon in 1969.

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Feast on pasta at Padella

Restaurants Italian Borough Market

What is it? A carb-lover’s paradise near Borough Market, which more or less only serves pasta.

Why go? With a small menu of six antipasti and ten totally delicious pasta dishes, Padella’s whole ‘less is more’ formula has proven immensely successful. Ever since opening in London Bridge in 2016 it has been nearly impossible to get a table without queuing first.

Don’t miss: Padella’s sister site, Trullo. The hugely popular Islington restaurant was owners Tim Siadatan and Jordan Frieda’s first venture. You’ll recognise some menu items, like the famous pappardelle with beef shin ragú. Head there instead if you can’t stand the wait.

Admire the view from Primrose Hill

Things to do Primrose Hill

What is it? A grassy hill on the northern side of Regent’s Park, and the name of the surrounding swanky neighbourhood.

Why go? The picture-postcard view of the capital’s skyline might be your top reason for visiting Primrose Hill – but it shouldn’t be the only one. This well-kept annexe of Regent’s Park is also surrounded by posh cafés and nice shops and frequented by some of London’s friendliest dog walkers, making it a great place to people-watch.

Don’t miss: The sunset. When the sun starts going down, it really is all about that view, so set your camera to ‘panoramic’ and play ‘spot the landmark’ as London is bathed in awesome orange light.

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Visitors enjoy the Diagon Alley film set at the Making of Harry Potter tour at Warner Bros Studios
Photograph: Dave Catchpole

Visit Hogwarts at the Harry Potter Studio Tour

Attractions Hertfordshire

What is it? There are a whole lot of Harry Potter locations in and around London, but the Warner Bros Studio Tour in Watford is the most magical. 

Why go? The capital is heaving with Harry Potter hotspots. Locations like Diagon Alley were set here and scenes from the world-famous movie franchise were filmed here. There’s walking tours and photo ops at the actual Platform 9¾ in King’s Cross. But you can’t beat the Warner Bros Studio Tour: The Making of Harry Potter, just outside of the capital, to get up close with incredible props and sets from all eight of the HP films.

Don’t miss: The chance to fly your very own broom. Or drink butterbeer. Or wander in the Forbidden Forest. Or pose in the Great Hall. Or window-shop on Diagon Alley. Go!

Kerb Seven Dials Market
Victor Frankowski

Drool over dairy at the cheese bar in Kerb Seven Dials

Restaurants Food court Seven Dials

What is it? A 40-metre electric conveyor belt laden with all the dairy your heart could desire? No, it isn’t the stuff of fevered cheese dreams. This is real life – and you can dig in at Kerb Seven Dials.

Why go? Pick & Cheese is run by the team behind Camden Town’s fabled The Cheese Bar, and they really know their stuff. Here, they’ve put together 25 pairings, including coolea with hazelnut brittle and fresh ricotta with sherry cherries. Just take a seat and they’ll do the rest.

Don’t miss: The Basque-style burnt cheesecake. And the four-cheese toastie, and the whole baked Waterloo, and…

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Get lunch to go from Brick Lane Beigel Bake

Restaurants Jewish Brick Lane

What is it? A charmingly scruffy bakery that has been serving Londoners fresh bagels since 1977.

Why go? Ah, the salt beef beigel (or bagel). It’s salty, it’s beefy, the mustard will singe a layer of skin from the inside of your mouth (you have been warned) and it’s an absolute classic. Beigel Bake allegedly churns out 7,000 of the boiled bready beauties a day! That’s why they’re consumed by everyone from night-shift taxi drivers and party people to savvy tourists and local pensioners. At less than a fiver a pop, it’d be rude not to.

Don’t miss: Your place in the queue. Much like the fast-paced delis in New York, Beigel Bake offers fairly brusque service. Know exactly what you’re having before you order, and have your cash ready.

See Tower Bridge lift up

Attractions Sightseeing Tower Bridge

What is it? The capital’s most famous bridge, which crosses the Thames near the Tower of London.

Why go? The historical structure – not the star of childhood ditty ‘London Bridge Is Falling Down’ FYI – is a bit of a stunner. It lifts up in the middle when large vessels are passing underneath (lift times are available on its website) and it gained a daring glass floor on the high walkways in 2014, allowing visitors to look straight down to the road and river 42 metres below. Each of the six glass panels is 11 metres long and weighs more than 500kg. Try not to think about that as you’re walking across them. 

Don’t miss: Your chance to stand inside Tower Bridge’s Bascule Chambers. These underground caverns allow for the movement of the huge counterweights when the bridge is raised. The subterranean space is normally out of bounds but is sometimes used for concerts and events. 

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Pick up something to read at Daunt Books

Shopping Bookshops Marylebone

What is it? A totally beautiful, independent bookshop, founded by James Daunt in 1990. 

Why go? Daunt Marylebone, the small chain’s flagship store, might be London’s most beautiful bookshop. Occupying an Edwardian building on Marylebone High Street, it boasts an incredible galleried main room and stained-glass windows that feel like they’re from a long-lost world. All the books are arranged by country – regardless of content – which makes for a fun and unique browsing experience. Take home your books in a branded tote bag for the true Daunt experience. 

Don’t miss: The other amazing bookshops in London, like King’s Cross bookshop barge Word on the Water, tech-free Libreria in Shoreditch, Persephone Books on Lamb’s Conduit Street, which sells pretty reprints from female writers, and the stellar London Review Bookshop in Bloomsbury.

See a seasonal movie at Prince Charles Cinema

Cinemas Independent Leicester Square

What is it? The legendary Prince Charles Cinema in Leicester Square is central London’s coolest movie house.

Why go? It’s a breath of fresh air in tourist-trap central. The two-screen independent shows an eclectic mix of new releases, cult and arthouse titles. It’s comfy, cheap and very cheerful, and the programming is as good as it gets.

Don’t miss: Expect double bills, short seasons, singalongs and unusual screenings – epic 70mm presentations of ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ take place in one screen while people acapella-along to ‘Pitch Perfect’ in the other. 

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Mail Rail at The Postal Museum

Pretend you’re a parcel on the Mail Rail

Museums History Clerkenwell

What is it? Built by the Post Office a hundred years ago, this underground train line was once used to move mail around the city. Now a chunk of the network has been opened up for visitors. 

Why go? While everyone knows about the London Underground, the Mail Rail was shrouded in secrecy until recently. Shuttling letters and parcels across the city for nearly eight decades and delivering post through six-and-a-half miles of tunnels, it was taken out of service in 2003. But its tracks are now humming again, encouraging visitors to make like a letter and hop aboard the tiny electric tube train to discover a secret subterranean London.

Don’t miss: The Postal Museum’s calendar of events, from historical walking tours to papermaking workshops for kids. 

The Avenue Garden, Regent's Park
Photograph: The Royal Parks

Smell the roses in Regent’s Park

Attractions Parks and gardens Regent’s Park

What is it? A Grade I-listed Royal Park, which is home to London Zoo, a boating lake and lush rose gardens. 

Why go? Londoners’ nostrils have a pretty hard time of it, what with the traffic, the bin lorries and the lack of public loos. On balance, though, we really can’t complain, especially considering that we’ve got free and unticketed access to one of the country’s largest collection of roses in Regent’s Park. Queen Mary’s Gardens are home to around 12,000, of more than 85 varieties, including the unique Royal Parks rose. The fragrance is fantastic throughout the year, but visit in early June to see the blooms at their best.

Don’t miss: The Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre for further alfresco pleasures. It’s a magical way to enjoy excellent outdoor theatre from April to September.

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The Barbary
Andy Parsons

Book a 12 noon table at The Barbary

Restaurants North African Seven Dials

What is it? A tiny North African-inspired restaurant in Neal’s Yard.

Why go? Man, The Barbary’s good. Not just good – in our opinion, this atmospheric Covent Garden joint is one of the very best eateries in London. Its menu gallivants down the eponymous North African Barbary Coast (running from Morocco to Libya, atlas fans), with all the smoky, meaty, gutsy fare that encompasses. It’s also minuscule: all 24 seats are at a horseshoe counter that wraps around the teeny kitchen, so you can eyeball the chefs while waxing rapturous over the food.

Don’t miss: Your chance to secure a sat. The restaurant has a walk-in policy almost all of the time, but you can reserve seats online for up to four people at noon and 5pm. 

Get archaeological at the Museum of London

Museums History Barbican

What is it? As its name implies, the Museum of London is dedicated specifically to documenting the capital’s history.

Why go? Think you know London inside-out? Think again. A trip to the Museum of London will make you see the city in a whole new light. Discover what was here before it was even Londinium, or reignite your understanding of the Great Fire of 1666, before honing in on the revolutions, innovations and trends that turned us into a global metropolis.

Don’t miss: A Roman inscription from AD 160-170, featuring the first recorded use of the word ‘Londoners’. 

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Have bottomless brunch at Darcie & May Green

Restaurants Global Paddington

What is it? A funky floating restaurant by Paddington station.

Why go? London boasts plenty of great brunch spots, but how many of them are on an actual boat? Part of the Daisy Green group, Darcie & May Green is cute and colourful; it even has a rooftop bar. At £39.50 a head, the bottomless brunch deal gets you two dishes and as many glasses of prosecco or mimosas as you fancy in 100 minutes (there is a one-drink-at-a-time rule, mind).

Don’t miss: We love the sweetcorn and spring green fritters topped with feta, as well as the avo and perfectly poached eggs. Also good is the banana bread with berries.

Climb the roof at the O2 Arena

Music Music venues Greenwich Peninsula

What is it? Built as the Millennium Dome to mark the year 2000, these days the O2 Arena is best known for being a major live music venue.

Why go? It welcomes amazing artists from all over the world, so there’s that. But there is loads to do here even when the likes of Katy Perry or Jay-Z aren’t strutting their stuff. Think restaurants, bars, a bowling alley, a cinema, an Oxygen Freejumping trampoline park and new outlet shopping centre Icon. 

Don’t miss: The opportunity to scale the dome. Book a dusk slot for Up at the O2 – a 52-metre climb up and over the venue’s roof – and look westward for one of the most spectacular city views going. You’re welcome. 

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British Library Architecture
Photograph: Eloise Bergman

See the Magna Carta at the British Library

Attractions Libraries, archives and foundations Euston

What is it? The UK’s national library (not to mention the largest in the world).

Why go? The British Library’s collection includes well over 150 million items, in most known languages around the world. It receives copies of every publication produced in the UK and Ireland. And it’s also home to some extraordinary treasures, like the world’s earliest dated printed book, the Diamond Sutra, and one of Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks. The foundation of English law, the Magna Carta, manuscripts by Shakespeare and Dickens and copies of The Beano – they all have a home at the British Library.

Don’t msis: Original manuscripts handwritten by some of the world’s greatest musical talents in the Sir John Ritblat: Treasures Gallery. See early drafts by John Lennon of The Beatles hits ‘In My Life’, ‘She Said She Said’ and ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ written on a piece of Lufthansa-headed notepaper.

kyoto garden holland parlk
Photograph: Regis Lampert

Discover the Kyoto Garden in Holland Park

Attractions Parks and gardens Holland Park

What is it? Holland Park is one of London’s loveliest green spaces, home to sports facilities, play areas, woodland, an eco centre and the remains of Holland House, which was badly damaged during World War II.  

Why go? The park is also home to a remarkable hidden treasure: a traditionally designed Japanese garden. Created as part of London’s Japan Festival in 1992, the carefully tended Kyoto Garden has water features, and traditional Japanese trees and plants.

Don’t miss: The most photogenic time of the year. Visit the garden in autumn to catch it at its vibrant best.

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Bike along the South Bank on a Santander Cycle

Attractions South Bank

What is it? Santander Cycles (formerly known as Boris Bikes) is London’s bike hire scheme, designed to make cycling around the city hassle-free. 

Why go? Find a dock, jump on a bike and head off around town, skirting the crowds and covering much more ground than you would on foot. Our recommendation? Take a spin beside the Thames and spot a who’s who of London’s riverside landmarks on National Cycle Network’s Route 4. Packed full of highlights – the London Eye, the Globe, Tate Modern – the route combines quieter roads with traffic-free paths, letting you sightsee to your heart’s content.

Don’t miss: Anything. See something you’d like to explore en route? Just find a dock, ditch your bike and do as you please. You can pick up another when you’re ready to set off again. 

ArcelorMittal Orbit
© Matt Cetti-Roberts

Slide down the ArcelorMittal Orbit

Attractions Olympic Park

What is it? The UK’s tallest sculpture, Anish Kapoor’s curiously curvaceous 114.5-metre-high ArcelorMittal Orbit was one of the more unexpected sights at the Olympic Park in 2012. Then German artist Carsten Höller added the world’s longest and tallest tunnel slide to it. As you do.

Why go? We consider a good hurtle down the slide all the way to the ground a pretty thrilling experience. It’ll speed you from top to bottom in just 40 seconds. 

Don’t miss: Those impressive views. There are windows at strategic points so you can see out – if you dare to take the plummet without closing your eyes. 

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Cutty Sark
© National Maritime Museum/Tina Warner

Climb aboard the Cutty Sark

Attractions Ships and boats Greenwich

What is it? The world’s last surviving tea clipper, Cutty Sark was once the fastest ship of her age. That was over a century ago now, but she is still a spectacular sight, perched on her glass pedestal at the Thames’s edge in Greenwich.

Why go? The ship was nearly destroyed by fire in 2007, but reopened to the public in 2012 looking more handsome than ever. The £30 million restoration has seen her elevated three metres above the dry dock, allowing visitors to get closer than ever to its 65-metre-long gilded hull. Discover the ship’s history and explore the many cargoes that filled the Cutty Sark’s hold, from tea and whisky to wool and buffalo horns.

Don’t miss: The nearby National Maritime Museum. Continue your nautical education in Greenwich with a trip to NMM. The collection includes great works of art, incredible treasures and the actual blood-stained uniform that Lord Nelson was wearing when he was fatally wounded on board HMS Victory.

Patch Dolan

Take on the Crystal Maze

Things to do Quirky events Piccadilly Circus

What is it? It’s the TV show that used to be presented by Richard O’Brien. Only now there’s no Richard O’Brien, or TV. 

Why go? The rise in puzzle-oriented escape-game attractions around London has created a new kind of experience for mates who like something more challenging than a pub quiz, and we think this is the best of them: a lovingly recreated version of the TV show, complete with the glass dome and all the physical, mental and mystery challenges you’d expect. Even if your team loses, it’s a proper giggle.

Don’t miss: The crystals! You’re playing for those shiny, shiny gems, remember?

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Crystal Palace Park Dinosaurs
Photograph: Andy Parsons

Go on a dinosaur safari in Crystal Palace Park

Attractions Parks and gardens Crystal Palace

What is it? This south-east London park was once the grounds of an enormous glass exhibition hall known as The Crystal Palace, which burned down in the 1930s. 

Why go? For the dinosaurs. Yeah, you read that right. The park is populated with Victorian dinosaur sculptures, which are extremely anatomically incorrect. Hire yourself a pedalo and you’ll be able to admire the beasts which inhabit the shores of the lake from a brand new angle. You can even take a waterborne dinosaur selfie, which should win you a few Instagram likes. Other good reasons to visit the park include a maze and the ruins of the old Crystal Palace’s aquarium.

Don’t miss: Capel Manor Urban Farm, where, when you’re done with the concrete animals, you can find real meerkats, pigs, horses and more. 

Meet the Horniman Museum’s fat walrus

Things to do Forest Hill

What is it? An ethnographical and anthropological museum, opened by tea trader John Horniman in 1902, which is known for its taxidermied animals, among (many) other things.

Why go? Unlike a lot of museums, this south London gem allows visitors close contact with many of the artefacts displayed (some can even be held or tried on). Aside from impressive anthropology and natural history collections, the museum also has a pretty garden, and hosts events ranging from crazy golf to farmers’ markets.

Don’t miss: The chance to come face to face with the museum’s walrus. Anatomically incorrect after being stuffed to bursting point (thus losing his signature folds of skin) the rather bloated mammal is one of the museum’s most popular exhibits.

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Paul Winch-Furness - Photographer
Photographer Paul Winch-Furness

Play a round of crazy golf at Swingers

Things to do Sport events Marylebone

What is it? A 1920s-inspired crazy golf club in a former department store on Oxford Street. 

Why go? An ode to the English Riviera, the Swingers West End course includes a helter-skelter and big wheel, with beach huts and bandstands – plus lush palms for a ‘Miami Vice’-meets-Torquay vibe. Think of your best childhood seaside holiday, then add booze. Lubrication is provided on-course in the form of cocktails delivered by roving caddies, and you can refuel between rounds with street food by Made of Dough, Patty & Bun and Hackney Gelato. Striped blazers and straw boaters at the ready, old sport – we’ll see you on the first tee. 

Don’t miss: The original Swingers site, 16,000 square feet of crazy golf in an office block next to the Gherkin.

Indulge in brunch at Duck & Waffle any day of the week

Restaurants Contemporary European Liverpool Street

What is it? Sky-high dining destination Duck & Waffle is typically open 24 hours a day – but a 10pm curfew has gotten in the way of normal service. So instead, enjoy epic round-the-clock views of London’s skyline over brilliant brunch.

Why go? There’s something wildly indulgent about ordering bottomless brunch any day of the week. Enjoy dishes such as the signature confit duck leg, fried duck egg, maple syrup and waffles – with the most spectacular background views.

Don’t miss: Stay put with a champagne negroni to watch the sun come down over the city.

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Heidi the Asiatic Lioness at ZSL London Zoo
Photograph: ZSL

Show your support for London Zoo

Attractions Zoos and aquariums Regent’s Park

What is it? London’s world-leading zoo, in Regent’s Park. These zoological gardens have been entertaining visitors of all ages since Queen Victoria was on the throne. 

Why go? A visit to London Zoo and its exotic inhabitants has been a must for animal-mad Londoners since it first opened to the public in 1847. The 36-acre gardens have been designed to make animal encounters into an incredible experience. Hit the South American coastline to spy lively penguins or explore a huge, living indoor rainforest inhabited by sloths, armadillos, monkeys and more. 

Don’t miss: The zoo needs your support right now in tough times. Pay a visit or even volunteer to help out with the resident animals

Hunt ghosts at Hampton Court Palace

Attractions Historic buildings and sites Hampton

What is it? A grand Tudor pile that Henry VIII ‘acquired’ from Cardinal Wolsey. It was later home to royal Stuarts and Georgians too, who all left their mark on the palace.

Why go? The remarkable thing about Hampton Court Palace is that you can stand in the very rooms where history was made. Wander down the corridor where Catherine Howard was dragged screaming, see how George I’s chocolatier prepared the king’s favourite tipple and take a gander at King Charles II’s royal bog. There are also ace gardens and the UK’s oldest surviving hedge maze. 

Don’t miss: The wintertime Ghost Tours. These after-hours adventures, with tales of paranormal activity and regal apparitions, are frighteningly good.

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Cahoots
Rob Greig

Drink on the tube at Cahoots

Bars and pubs Cocktail bars Soho

What is it? Cahoots is a quirky 1940s tube-themed bar, deep beneath the streets of Soho. 

Why go? Tapping into Londoners’ fixation with public transport and all things retro, Cahoots models itself on a WWII tube station, complete with vintage signs, tiling and a replica Underground carriage upholstered in that famous geometric moquette fabric. Elaborate cocktails are detailed on newspaper-y menus and served by staff in full costume – it’s the only time you can legally drink on the tube, and in great style. Check out the newly-opened Ticket Hall & Control Room, a bar masquerading as an Overground train station next door. 

Don’t miss: A spot in the carriage – it’s the best seat in the house.

Imperial War Museum
Michelle Grant / Time Out

Hear the voices of war at the Imperial War Museum

Museums Military and maritime Lambeth

What is it? London’s Imperial War Museum was founded in 1917 with the intention of documenting Britain’s participation in the First World War. It’s now a powerful look at conflicts both past and present. 

Why go? The IWM’s First World War Galleries examine the politics and legacy of the 1914-1918 conflict, but also day-to-day life in the trenches. In photographs, artefacts like tins of food and a collection of letters (many from combatants who never came back), the museum tells a powerful story. There’s also the Holocaust Exhibition, featuring personal stories, incredibly moving testimony, clothes and artefacts from the death camps of Europe (not suitable for under-14s). 

Don’t miss: You can hear real voices from the First World War via the museum’s sound archive. As you might expect, it’s an emotional experience.

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London Transport Museum buses
Heike Bohnstengel / Time Out

Ride a Routemaster at the London Transport Museum

Museums Transport Covent Garden

What is it? A museum in Covent Garden which explores the history of the capital’s world-famous transport system in an interactive way that is fun for vehicle (and London) enthusiasts of all ages.

Why go? To see the first (steam-powered) Underground engine, sit in the driver’s cab of a red bus and guide a tube simulator through the tunnels of the Northern Line. Though no longer a constant feature of London’s roads anymore, the classic Routemaster bus can still be admired in the LTM’s vaults (and hey, there’s no waiting for it to turn up). Hop aboard for a taste of what it’s like to navigate London from the driver’s seat of a bus or tube train; kids even get their own fleet of miniature versions to play on.

Don’t miss: The posters. Design buffs should head straight for the classic poster displays. Many are design icons, though none is greater than Harry Beck’s original tube map.

Buy doughnuts at Maltby Street Market

Shopping Markets and fairs Bermondsey

What is it? A market in Bermondsey, only open at the weekend. It’s a foodie paradise with a community feel.

Why go? Whether you’re on your way home from a night’s clubbing or you’ve been up since 5am with your three-year-old, seek out the embrace of Maltby Street. Nestled around the atmospheric Victorian rail arches of the Ropewalk you’ll find around 30 artisan food and drink traders selling everything from craft beer to Mozambique-style peri-peri meats. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, Bad Brownie’s gourmet chocolate brownies are definitely recommended. If you’re on a health kick, grab a green juice from the good folks at Bumpin’ Rinds.

Don’t miss: St John Bakery for its famous freshly made doughnuts oozing with jam, or go full Proust with just-baked madeleines.

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Grab a seat by the fire at The Holly Bush

Bars and pubs Pubs Hampstead

What is it? A traditional eighteenth-century boozer right in the heart of Hampstead. 

Why go? Nothing beats sitting by an open fire drinking a decent pint in a charming old pub (reading Dickens while you toast your toes is optional). On a cobbled street above Hampstead village, The Holly Bush is a perfect spot for just that. The menu is reliably gastropub, but the low-beamed bar and eighteenth-century interiors are charmingly antiquated.

Don’t miss: Nearby Hampstead Heath. A stomp around in crunchy autumn leaves followed by a warming tipple beside The Holly Bush’s roaring fire might just be the perfect London day out. 

Go swimming at the Olympic Park

Sport and fitness Parks and gardens Olympic Park

What is it? The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford was created for the London 2012 Olympics, and there’s still plenty to do there these days. Go for a swim at the London Aquatics Centre, in a pool where Ellie Simmonds broke records and Michael Phelps won all those golds.

Why go? To swim in the pool of champions and by some kind of peculiar chloriney osmosis, perhaps become one yourself. You can use the ten-lane 50m competition pool, which is 3m deep, and the training pool, where you can just splash about if you like.

Don’t miss: The diving pool and dry-land diving facility for both newcomers and Tom Daley-level twizzlers. It’s all there and it’s the same price as your local community pool, so why not give it a go?

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SH full res comp
Photograph: ‘Arrivals + Departures’ © Somerset House

See outdoor attractions at Somerset House

Art Galleries Aldwych

What is it? An eighteenth-century neoclassical palace between the Strand and the river. It’s an art gallery, event space and music venue.

Why go? There’s loads to see and do all year round. In lieu of summertime gigs and outdoor cinema, find outdoor art installations.

Don’t miss: Arrivals + Departures, a thought-provoking art work at the building’s grand entrance. 

Get in focus at the Photographers’ Gallery

Art Galleries Soho

What is it? The UK’s leading centre for exploring photography. Camera keenies, this is your place.

Why go? This gem is tucked down an alleyway off Oxford Street and although modest, packs a punch when it comes to exhibitions. It’s all about lifting the lid on all walks of life. A visit is a must for any arty dabbler or committed photo fan. Also, it’s free every day before 12 noon. Oh, and the shop is excellent.

Don’t miss: The gallery’s calendar of courses and workshops. Learn about photography curation over ten sessions, explore the art of the photographic essay in two parts or sit in on a discussion about street photography. 

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Spot wildlife at Walthamstow Wetlands

Attractions Lee Valley

What is it? Europe’s biggest urban wetland nature reserve, which opened to the public in 2017.

Why go? The scenery is dreamy. It’s a peaceful oasis just a short tube ride from Zone 1. Bird-watching enthusiasts will be able to spot all sorts of different feathered friends, from kingfishers to peregrine falcons, wildfowl and more (54 species, in fact). Entry is totally free but permits are available if you take your birding seriously, and are necessary for angling too. 

Don’t miss: The Larder caf, which is housed in the wetlands’ Victorian Engine House, serving comforting classics like fry-ups, toasties, jacket potatoes and homemade soups. It’s the perfect place to warm up after a weekend stroll.

Eat amazing Turkish food on Green Lanes

Things to do Green Lanes

What is it? The lengthy thoroughfare of Green Lanes is home to one of London’s biggest Turkish communities. 

Why go? For the best Turkish food this side of Istanbul. Think amazing pastries, verdant vegetable shops, life-changing kebabs and thick coffee that will have your eyes on stalks. Green Lanes runs for six miles from Newington Green to Palmers Green, but you want to head to the stretch nearest Harringay Green Lanes station to soak up the atmosphere and feast on meze at Gökyüzü.

Don’t miss: Dessert. Pop into Antepliler’s sweet side for boxes full of honeyed, sticky baklava. 

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Sarcophagus at Sir John Soanes Museum
Photograph: Gareth Gardner

See the Hogarths at Sir John Soane’s Museum

Museums History Holborn

What is it? The former home of genius architect Sir John Soane, who in the nineteenth century turned his central London house into an eccentric museum, offering the public the chance to see his impressive collection of art, furniture and architectural ornamentation.

Why go? Among the museum’s biggest crowd-pullers is a series of paintings by fellow Londoner William Hogarth entitled ‘A Rake’s Progress’, which, in eight scenes, charts the downfall of a young man who inherits and squanders a fortune.

Don’t miss: The monthly late events the museum hosts which allow guests to explore the sprawling art collection by atmospheric candlelight.

101 Things To Do in London: London Eye
Photograph: Andrew Brackenbury

Take a ride on the London Eye

Things to do Event spaces South Bank

What is it? A giant ferris wheel on the South Bank, with equally enormous views of the city.

Why go? Turning at a stately 0.6 miles per hour, the London Eye is more like a graceful pirouette than a fast spin cycle, providing astounding views of the skyline and cityscape. Many of London’s landmarks are visible from this 135-metre-high wheel. Spot Big Ben, Tower Bridge and a tea-sipping Queen at Buckingham Palace.

Don’t miss: After-dark views. Book an evening spot to see the city sparkling at night. Even better, take a spin near Christmas for extra glitter. 

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David Sinclair

Spend an evening at Ronnie Scott’s jazz club

Music Jazz Soho

What is it? An iconic jazz club opened in a Soho basement in 1959 by saxophonist Ronnie Scott. He wanted to create a space where musicians could play in an intimate setting rather than big concert halls. And it’s even more initimate under social distancing.

Why go? To soak up the vibes. From Miles Davis and Count Basie to Nina Simone, all the legends have played at Ronnie’s. It moved to its present home on Frith Street decades ago and remains a must on any great jazz musician’s itinerary.

Don’t miss: Upstairs at Ronnie’s. Missed out on tickets to the main show? The upstairs bar has live music every night of the week.  

Hunt for treasures at Alfies Antique Market

Shopping Markets and fairs Marylebone

What is it? A huge (London’s largest, in fact) indoor antiques market in Marylebone, that is a total treasure trove for dedicated lovers of all things vintage.

Why go? It can attract a bit of a luxury-loving Chelsea crowd (Kate Moss and Keira Knightley have been known to browse here) but this Marylebone antiques emporium is a precious London timewarp. The multi-storey art deco building is a maze of milliners, furniture sellers and lovable misfits flogging bronze sculptures. Everything looks like it’s seconds from falling over.

Don’t miss: Alfies has a cracking rooftop space where you can have a coffee surrounded by your haul of vintage hat boxes and old custard tins.

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Catch a classic at BFI Southbank

Cinemas Independent South Bank

What is it? A four-screen cinema with a varied programme of films and events as well as food and drink options, from weekend brunch to weekday tipples. 

Why go? To make an evening (or day) of it under one roof. After work, arrive for dinner before a showing, see the film then head to the brand new riverside bar for a debrief over some movie-themed cocktails. Alternatively enjoy a leisurely breakfast beside the Thames before a lunchtime film. There’s also a recently opened bookshop, the Mediatheque – where you can discover treasures from British film and TV history – and an exhibition space, currently hosting ‘Musical Spaces’ which reveals the sets of big-screen musicals. 

Don’t miss The movie-and-meal offer for just £25 (£22 for members). Simply pick the film you fancy and call the BFI Bar & Kitchen to book your spot.

Bloomberg London
James Newton

Discover Roman London at the Mithraeum

Attractions Historic buildings and sites Bank

What is it? The recently revealed ruins of a Roman temple deep beneath the City of London.

Why go? What a surprise it must have been to discover a Roman temple during the 1954 construction of an east London office building. It took an excavation led by the director of the Museum of London (WF Grimes) to establish that the site was home to a Roman Mithraeum – a temple erected by worshippers of the god Mithras around the third century AD. The temple was relocated to a nearby 3.2 acre site, where it now stands, open to the public. Visitors can also view hundreds of artefacts left or lost by the very first Londoners.

Don’t miss: The contemporary art gallery, located on the ground floor of the London Mithraeum. The regularly changing exhibitions are designed to complement the site’s unique history.