If this is your first time visiting London, it can be overwhelming! In such a big city, there is so much to do and see, it can be difficult to prioritize your London bucket list.
We have compiled a list of all the things we believe to be the best things to do, especially during the first visit to London.
You will get the chance to see the city from above, do some tourist things, and also get away from the city and into the local life as well!
Continue reading for more on the ultimate London bucket list!
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Don’t make these common mistakes in London!
1. Ride the London Eye
The Coca-Cola London Eye is a must-do for first-time visitors. It is the largest observation wheel in the world. One rotation around the wheel takes about 30 minutes. You will get an amazing view of the whole city!
You will be in a pod with about 10-15 people, but you can also reserve a private pod with champagne for just you and your partner!
The pods are air-conditioned as well, so if you visit during the summer time, you will be nice and cool up there!
Buy tickets ahead of time here, to make a reservation! Lines look long, but you will be surprised how fast it moves.
Don’t forget to bring your shades, it can be pretty bright up here!
2. Take a cruise on the River Thames
We got this as part of a package deal with the London Eye ticket, which saved us some money.
A guided cruise down the river was a relaxing way to view all the sights that London has to offer, including the Tower of London.
Tour guides are very informative and offer many fun facts about the city!
For example, the River Thames houses seahorses, dolphins, seals, and whales. Who knew!?
We opted to take the cruise during the morning of our first full day. It was a relaxing way to start off our vacation, and we were able to get a view of all the major sights right off the bat!
3. Visit Buckingham Palace
This is an obvious London bucket list item: take a visit to the palace of royalty! If you have time, check out the changing of the guard.
We missed seeing the changing of the guard and were pretty disappointed. If you have the time, try to see it!
You can take a tour of the inside, but sightseeing from afar was awesome too!
Try making the guards laugh!
There is a park nearby that is a great place to take a walk and get some fresh air and exercise.
4. Tour the Tower of London
The Tower of London has served as a palace, prison (see the old torture room), armory, and even a zoo!
Inside, you can also see the Crown Jewels! Here, you will stand on a people mover, so crowds don’t loiter by the jewels. The jewels are also heavily guarded, and no pictures are allowed.
There is so much history here, and you can spend hours walking around!
Buy tickets ahead of time to save time!
5. See the Crown Jewels
See the Crown Jewels for free while in the Tower of London!
You can see them for free with the purchase of a ticket to the Tower of London.
You stand on a people mover to keep you going. They are very strict and do not allow photography, but the jewels are amazing!
6. Eat lunch at the Sky Garden
The Sky Garden offers a 360-degree view of London from 38 stories up! You will need a reservation to get to the top, which is free! Just book it early, they sell out fast.
You can visit the garden for free, but we recommend booking a reservation at one of the 5 restaurants (months ahead) for lunch or dinner. There is a cafe and other sit down restaurants to choose from with different menus.
Check out the sky deck and all the beautiful plants! This is definitely something you need to have on your London bucket list!
Or, check out this list of other unique restaurants in London!
7. Take a picture in an old phone booth
Because you’re in London!
They are all over the place, you won’t have trouble finding one!
Don’t feel weird about posing with the telephone booth, all the tourists do it!
While you’re at it, get some cute telephone booth swag!
8. Visit the oldest pub in London
The Town of Ramsgate is a tiny, family-owned, local restaurant considered one of the oldest pubs in London.
The shepherd’s pie was to die for!
Next to the pub, you can talk a walk down some mossy steps to a rocky beach for some cool views!
9. Walk around Trafalgar Square
Here you can find some historic sculptures and some fun fountains.
You can also expect to see a lot of pigeons here, a classic London sight.
There are many shops and restaurants in the area to peruse!
10. Big Ben
Some other suggestions:
- DO NOT. I repeat: DO NOT. Rent a car. Especially if you are not used to driving on the left side of the road. (We got a flat tire, it was terrifying to drive, the roads are insane. Just don’t do it.
- Use the London Underground to get around. You can buy a pass and it is much easier than trying to drive.
- REMEMBER TO TAP OUT after riding the subway. If you don’t, your card will stop working next time.
- The beer is…warm. Just a fair warning.
- Natives might not understand you. Fun story: We were at a restaurant and Colin said “Oh, that’s fun” and our waiter had NO IDEA what he said. ha!
- Every trip to the bathroom is a new experience
- Wear comfy shoes: Cobblestone roads = ouchie feet
- Remember to ask for the bill when you’re done eating.