London is one of the most historic cities in Europe. It’s got competition to be sure – Rome, for instance, probably has the honor of the top spot. But this is a city that’s been immensely important to civilization for a very long time, and which unlike some other major historical locations remains incredibly active today. This makes London almost unique. As much as it’s bursting with history, it’s also a distinctly modern city, and one everyone should visit at one point or another.
There’s a ton to do in London, and any list of recommended activities could easily stretch past 100 items. In fact, many around the internet undoubtedly do. Because that doesn’t really help anyone narrow down travel priorities though, this piece will narrow things down considerably, focusing on five of the best things you can do in town.
1. Explore Trafalgar Square
Trafalgar Square is a fairly large area, and has its own set of attractions, but it’s precisely for this reason that it makes for one of the best stops in London. For one thing, it’s a beautiful, massive town square full of interesting sights and people at any given moment. Additionally though, it’s home to a big enough collection of city highlights to warrant attention. You can see Her Majesty’s Theatre and The National Gallery, Nelson’s Column and Admiralty Arch, and even duck inside The Two Chairmen, one of the city’s best historic pubs. That’s not a bad list for a single stop.
2. See The Tower Of London
Really, when you visit London, you should make time for as many of its landmarks as you can fit in. If you have to pick and choose though, the Tower Of London can sometimes be the most impactful. It’s a legitimate fortress right in the middle of London, built in the 11th century and rebuilt in the 13th, and even today it makes for a majestic tour. Plus, it’s not exactly short on neighboring attractions. It’s located at one end of the iconic Tower Bridge over the Thames, and you can see The Shard, London’s most striking modern skyscraper, across the river as well.
3. Watch Live Sports
There’s really something special about sports in London. The main attraction tends to be the local football, and there are several high-level clubs you can catch in action around the city. There is also the Wimbledon tennis tournament, the annual rowing competition between Oxford and Cambridge, and the occasional cricket or rugby match. American football at Wembley Stadium has been a success as well for that matter. The city just loves its sports, and between these exciting events, an array of awesome stadiums, and excitable fans, it’s one of the most fun things you can do in town.
4. Tour The Popular Pubs
The common recommendation is to go on a designated pub crawl, and sometimes that can be a great way to explore the city at night and see different establishments. However, it can also leave you underwhelmed in a city that’s full to bursting with incredible bars new and old. So it might be a better idea to simply read up on the best of the bunch and try to fit a few into your itinerary. For our money, the highlights would include The Churchill Arms, Ye Olde Mitre, and The Flask, but again, there’s no shortage of terrific options.
5. See A Play
Not everyone gets excited about the theatre, but it’s almost hard not to in London. Between Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre (a replica of the original, but still a place for open-air shows in the heart of London) and the famous West End theatre district, you can catch some of the best performances in the entire world. The quality of production in London is really rivaled only by New York City, and many would give London the edge. No matter what’s playing, you’ll likely end up valuing the experience of seeing a live show.