London is an incredible city to visit, and one place that’s equally buzzing with culture, incredible neighbourhoods, the most beautiful palaces to visit and, of course, oodles of history that’s just so epic to explore. That being said, if it’s your first time in the city, it can be hard to whittle down all the best things to do in Central London before arriving.
You’ll be spoilt for choice!
So, to help you plan your trip to London, and get the most out of the time in the city, we wanted to share some of our favourite spots that are ideal for your first trip to Central London.
With these, you’ll be able to see lots of the top places in London and experience the character of different Central London neighbourhoods; like the bustling Camden Town, or the gorgeous Covent Garden (to name just a few).
Take a look, below, at some of the best things to do in Central London before you visit. This way, you can book your favourite London tours and entry tickets and take all the faff out of planning when you get to London.
1.) Explore Westminster
Westminster is probably one of London’s most famous places to visit. Housing the likes of Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament (actually named The Palace of Westminster) and so much more.
Now, one of the best ways to explore Westminster is by foot, and by booking your guided tours for the places you want to visit.
To avoid the queues, book this guided Westminster Abbey tour that’ll get you straight inside. Not only that, you’ll have a certified guide detailing some of the most important pieces of history within the Abbey itself.
Alternatively, if you don’t fancy a guide, book these Westminster Abbey tickets before arriving in London. This way, you can be guaranteed entry and won’t have to stress about getting the tickets once in London.
If you want a bit more help in seeing the best places in Westminster, book this guided walking tour that’ll take you around the main spots. You’ll get to see
Plus, it includes entry into the Churchill War Rooms, the bunker that kept Winston Churchill and the Government safe during WWII.
2.) Visit Camden Town
It’s a hive of activity, filled with hundreds of market stalls, canals and eclectic venues and stores that make this area so special.
For the best time, book these tickets to head on the canal boats that depart from Little Venice and get you right into the centre of Camden Town itself.
Whilst you’re here, be sure to visit all the markets (Camden Lock and Camden Market being the biggest) that are totally cool.
You can find anything and everything to buy. Also, keep your eyes peeled for Amy Winehouse Statue and stop by Poppies Fish and Chips for some of the tastiest you’ll find in the city.
Finally, don’t forget to book a gig at the Camden Roundhouse. It’s one of our favourite venues in London and totally worth visiting if you plan your dates well.
3.) Buckingham Palace and the changing of the guards
Trust me, no one visiting the city of London for the first time would want to miss the famous changing of the guards’ ceremony at Buckingham Palace.
It’s one of the best things to do in Central London, especially if you’re already planning on going to Buckingham Palace. To make things easier, book this tour changing of the guard tour that will get you to the right place at the correct time. Plus, it’ll gain you entry to Buckingham Palace, too.
Alternatively, book these Buckingham Palace entry tickets that will get you right into the State Rooms, where you’ll get to take a look around one of the most famous palaces in the world.
4.) Explore Picadilly Circus
So, people seem to either love or hate Picadilly Circus and Leicester Square – it divides opinion. That being said, it’s one of the most popular spots to explore in central London and totally easy to visit whilst you’re here.
Of course, you’re going to see the flashing billboards of Picadilly Circus (which was the inspiration for Time Square in New York).
As you wander around, make sure to book a Westend show at the TKTS Booth that’s in Leicester Square itself. They sell available tickets for shows (on the day) at a discounted price.
What’s more, they’re the official reseller and you won’t be gauged by inflated pricing from other places selling same-day tickets.
5.) Visit Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge (not to be confused with London Bridge), is easily one of the world’s most famous bridges to see.
Within walking distance, after visiting the Tower of London or heading to the top of the Shard, visiting Tower Bridge can’t be missed.
Before arriving, book this money-saving London pass that allows you into over eighty different attractions across the city. It’s one of the best things to do in Central London if you want to save money during your visit.
It’ll get you right inside Tower Bridge, to the top of the Shard, inside the Tower of London and so many more.
6.) See London from a double-decker bus
Probably one of London’s most famous forms of transport, the double-decker bus is an iconic part of Central London.
For a ride on an open-top bus, book this hop-on-hop-off tour that’ll save you loads of time and get you to some of London’s most iconic spots. You’ll get to wander around all the different areas of London and hop back on and straight to the next place.
This works great if you’re only in London for a few days – it saves loads of time!
Alternatively, book this black cab tour of London that we love. Their fully customisable and private, meaning it’s just you and the driver. We loved our tour and it’s so great to find all the hidden gems in London (alongside some of the city’s most famous places).
Just be sure to book the black cab tour in advance. Tours can fill up fast.
7.) Take a tour of the Tower of London
The Tower of London is one of Central London’s most famous places to see. It’s world-renowned and houses thousands of years of history.
Not only is it beautiful and steeped in history, but the Tower of London is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s preserved for us all to see.
Make sure to book this Tower of London entry ticket before arriving. You’ll even get to see the Crown Jewels, which houses one of the largest diamonds and most iconic crowns in the world.
Afterwards, cross Tower Bridge and book these tickets to visit the very Top of the Shard. It’s one of the tallest buildings in Europe and you’ll get to see views all across London.
9.) Take a ride on the London Eye
The original… and the best! Heading inside The London Eye is easily one of the best things to do in Central London. Especially if it’s your first visit to the city.
Standing at a height of up to 135 meters, London’s eye is one of the largest wheels in all of Europe. You can enjoy an aerial view of London right at the top of the wheel.
To avoid the queues, book these fast-track London Eye tickets that’ll have you inside the capsule in no time at all. Top tip: Book a sunset time, and see London bathed in orange hues that transform the Houses of Parliament.
10.) Visit Covent Garden
Covent Garden might just be one of London’s most iconic areas. Filled with the historic market hall and the Royal Opera House, it’s one of the best things to do in Central London, no matter what time of year you visit.
Whilst exploring the best spots in Covent Garden, check out the London Transport Museum, stroll through Jubilee Market and stop off at all the little stores and restaurants that line the streets.
Getting peckish? We totally love eating at Clos Maggiore, which serves up some of the tastiest French fusion food in London.
Oh, and don’t forget, you can walk directly from Leicester Square to Covent Garden in around 10-15 minutes. There’s no need for taxis or the tube to get here.
11.) Visit the Harry Potter Studio Tour
The Harry Potter Studio Tour might just be the best place in the world for Harry Potter fans! and it’s based right here in London.
Yes, it might not be smack-bang in Central London, but it’s totally easy to book these Harry Potter Studio Tour tickets that also include transfers from Central London. This way, by booking these tickets, you won’t have to stress with all the faff of getting there on your own.
One step into the film studios will take you right into the beating heart of the magical world of Harry Potter. From mythical rooms to offices, there is so much to discover and it’s totally magical.
Once here, you’ll get to go through to Platform 9 ¾ and jump onboard the Hogwarts Express (which is epic). Plus, you’ll get to wander down Diagon Alley!
Trust me, if you’re a lover of Harry Potter then you will be totally excited to step into this studio tour.
12.) Visit London’s museums and galleries
The museums in London are huge, housing collections and various artefacts and art that are all free to see. Unlike lots of cities, the UK doesn’t charge an entry fee for museums.
This all means you can visit the Natural History Museum, the British Museum, the Tate Moden and so many more for free.
Just be sure to plan your visits in advance, you can spend hours and hours just exploring one of these museums. They’re incredible.
13.) Book a Thames River Cruise
If it’s your first, fifth or fiftieth time in London, booking a river cruise in London is totally amazing. It’s easily one of the best things to do in Central London that takes you across the length of the city.
Make sure to book this Westminster to Greenwich boat tour. It’s such a great way to explore London and sail right beneath the Tower of London.
We totally love this evening cruise that combines champagne and nibbles, too.