Top 10+ Things to Do in London for First Time Visitors – Must See & Do Attractions

July 5, 2016 9:41 pm

Looking for some of the top things to do in London? We’ve rounded up some of the most popular attractions and things to do so you can make the most of your trip and pack your sightseeing list with the best.

Our list includes:

  • The Coca-Cola London Eye
  • Madame Tussauds London
  • Wembley Stadium Tour
  • The British Museum
  • The London Dungeon
  • And lots more…

Save on Admission to Top Things to Do in London

Many of these top things to do in London are included on the London Explorer Pass®.

Make your own sightseeing itinerary and choose as you go from lots of top London attractions and things to do and save up to 35% off combined admission vs. paying at the gate.

See all available passes, attractions, and prices – learn more.

Looking for more structured itinerary ideas to follow? Then check out our popular One Day in London or 3 days in London itinerary for first-time visitors.

The Coca-Cola London Eye

London Eye

ake a spin on London’s most popular attraction, the Coca-Cola London Eye (also known as the Millennium Wheel), for an unbeatable bird’s-eye-view of the city.

You’ll get 360-degree views of London from the top at 443 feet above ground level atop Europe’s tallest observation wheel and each pod features interactive tablets that lend more information and details about the landmarks you’ll see during your spin around the wheel.

Looking for some more of the best places to take photos in London? Check out our blog on other famous London landmarks to visit during your trip.

Insider tip: plan to get there right when it opens (usually at 10:00 am) to avoid large crowds.

Getting In: Coca-Cola London Eye tickets are available on the London Explorer Pass.

Madame Tussauds London

Madame Tussauds London

Visit the original wax museum that started it all – Madame Tussauds London. This amazing museum combines the art of wax sculpture with British celebrity culture for an experience that’s completely unique to London. Visitors can see their favorite celebs and snap photos with famous historical figures, like Her Majesty the Queen of England and other members of the Royal Family, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cara Delevigne, Muhammad Ali, and more.

You can even get up close to two of Britain’s most popular vloggers, Zoe Sugg and Alfie Deyes.

Getting In: Madame Tussauds London tickets are available on the London Explorer Pass.

SEA LIFE London Aquarium

Things to do in London in the Summer

Situated on London’s trendy South Bank, SEA LIFE Aquarium is London’s largest aquarium and home to a large variety of sea life, including sharks, octopi, colorful fish, turtles, penguins, and more.

Don’t forget to look up when you go through the underwater tunnel, Shark Walk, in the Pacific Ocean tank that takes you underwater with views of sharks swimming around overhead.

This is a great place to visit with kids. Want some more ideas? Check out our blog on other things to do in London with kids.

Getting In: SEA LIFE London Aquarium tickets are available on the London Explorer Pass.

DreamWorks Tours: Shrek’s Adventure!

DreamWorks Tours Shreks Adventure

Fans of the Shrek movie franchise will have a blast experiencing the themes, characters, and adventures in a new way with this 4D experience.

This 75-minute 4D bus ride will take you through 10 live fairytale themed shows with captivating special effects. You’ll see all your favorite characters from Shrek including other figures from the Dreamworks Universe, making this a pretty comprehensive encounter with your kids’ favorite characters like Po from Kung Fu Panda, the penguins from Madagascar, and the characters from How to Train Your Dragon.

Getting In: DreamWorks Tours: Shrek’s Adventure London tickets are available on the London Explorer Pass.

The London Dungeon

London dungeon with London Explorer Pass

The London Dungeon is notorious for its more-than-slightly terrifying interactive experience.

Costumed actors recreate gory historical events with 18 different shows that highlight some of the darker moments of London’s history. An unbelievable mixture of special effects and illusions make this one of the most popular attractions in London.

Getting In: The London Dungeon tickets are available on the London Explorer Pass.

London Eye River Cruise

See London from the River Thames on a relaxing, fully narrated 40-minute sightseeing cruise. You’ll cruise along the Thames, which runs right through the middle of London, and get views of iconic sights along London’s skyline like Big Ben, the Tower of London, Houses of Parliament, the Coca-Cola London Eye, and more.

Getting In: London Eye River Cruise tickets are available on the London Explorer Pass.

Hop-On Hop-Off Big Bus London Tours

London Big Bus in front of St Pauls Cathedrals

One of the best ways to get around and make sure you see all of the top sights is a narrated sightseeing bus tour. You’ll have the flexibility to hop-on or off at any of the over 50 included stops.

Use it to plan your attraction visiting itinerary, or stay on for the entire loop for a comprehensive tour.

Popular stops along the way include:

  • Hyde Park Corner
  • Piccadilly Market
  • Trafalgar Square
  • The Coca-Cola London Eye
  • St. Paul’s Cathedral
  • London Bridge
  • Parliament Square
  • Buckingham Palace
  • And more

Getting In: Hop-On Hop-Off London Sightseeing Tour tickets are available on the London Explorer Pass.

Wembley Stadium Tour

Nothing draws a crowd in London like a football match. Sports fans will want to visit Wembley Stadium – the most famous stadium in the world and home to the English soccer team for a fully-guided tour.

You’ll get access to areas of the Stadium not open to the public, like the Player’s Tunnel, English changing rooms, press conference room, and more. Your guide will walk you through historic moments that took place on the field you’ll even get a chance to see a realistic replica of the FA Cup.

Getting In: Wembley Stadium Tour tickets are available on the London Explorer Pass.

TV & Movie Walking Tours

Take a guided stroll around London to see the real life sights from your favorite British TV shows and movies, like Doctor Who, the James Bond movies, and Sherlock Holmes.

You’ll get to see iconic sights where the shows have been filmed and get to check off some iconic landmarks and famous London neighborhoods, too.

Getting In: A number of some of the Best London Walking Tours are available on the London Explorer Pass.

Fat Tire Bike Tours of London

London Bike Tours with the London Explorer Pass

Go to the places in London the tour buses can’t and get in a little exercise on a London bike tour.

This guided biking excursion takes you to some of the most popular sights throughout London, including: the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, the Royal Parks, Kensington Palace, Trafalgar Square, and more while expert guides fill you in on the history of each site.

Bike tours are one of the best ways to get to know the city and experience London like a local.

Getting In: Fat Tire bike Tours of London are available on the London Explorer Pass.

St. Paul’s Cathedral

Designed in 1710 by one of the most famous architects of the time, Sir Christopher Wren, St. Paul’s Cathedral remains one of the most iconic architectural structures in London with its notable dome and surrounding spires.

Serving as the seat of the Anglican Church in England, there’s a lot of history behind St. Paul’s Cathedral. Take a  self-guided tour with one of the multimedia tablets provided or plan your visit around the daily scheduled tours (subject to availability).

You’ll get to climb up the 528 steps to the top of the dome for sweeping views of London, including the River Thames, Tate Modern, and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.

Getting In: St. Paul’s Cathedral tickets are available on the London Explorer Pass.

The Sky Garden

The Sky Garden is a lush, indoor garden open to the public with three stories of perfectly landscaped greenspaces and floor-to-ceiling 360-degree views of the city.

Getting In: Admission is free but you do need to book your free tickets about three days in advance with a time slot to visit. Tickets are available three weeks in advance and can be booked up to an hour before you go, depending on availability.

The Royal Parks

London has one of the highest values of green space per capita in the world. With 47% of of London classified as green space, it’s hard to ignore the thousands of green spaces and parks scattered throughout the city.

Make the most of the very green city and plan to spend some time getting to know London’s greener half. Locals love to stroll, picnic, relax, play games, and more in these lovely spaces, so you’ll certainly fit right in.

Pack a picnic and head to Hyde Park, near Kensington Palace or Green Park near Buckingham Palace. Or, explore the beautiful grounds of Notting Hill, one of the more upscale areas of the city.

Getting In: Admission to the Royal Parks are free.

Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre

The original Globe Theatre was built by William Shakespeare’s playing company, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, in the late sixteenth century but was destroyed in a fire in 1613. A reconstruction of the theatre was built on the same site in 1614 but was later closed in 1642 due to a ban on theatrical performance and spectating.

The current structure, called “Shakespeare’s Globe” was built in 1997 and stands as a testament to the importance of the theatre industry and to one of its most playwrights, William Shakespeare.

Getting In: Admission to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre is not available on the London Explorer Pass.

King’s Cross Railway Station

Harry Potter fans will know it as the home of Platform 9-3/4, where you can get a picture of yourself pushing your luggage cart through the brick wall. “Best to do it at a bit of a run.” – Mrs. Weasley. Certainly one of the most popular things to do in London for Harry Potter fans.

Other than platform 9-3/4, there’s lots to see at King’s Cross, look up at the intricate ceilings and admire the architecture, or hop on a train and take a trip to nearby destinations like  Yorkshire or Scotland.

Getting In: There is no ticketed admission to visit the King’s Cross Railway Station.

British Museum

Dedicated to documenting the history of human culture, the British Museum is one of the largest and most comprehensive museums of its kind with over 8 million works and artifacts on display, perhaps most famously, the Rosetta Stone.

Free guided tours are offered daily or you can choose to take an audio tour with a headset full of pre-recorded expert commentaries that coincide with the exhibits.

Getting In: Admission to the British Museum is free.

Abbey Road

Snap an iconic tourist photo of you and your crew crossing the famous crosswalk (in London referred to as a “zebra crossing”) on Abbey Road.

Most recognizable from the album cover of Abbey Road, by The Beatles, it’s also home to Abbey Road Studios, formerly EMI, a recording studio.

Submit your photo to and you could be featured on their site!

Just be careful when crossing, it’s actually a pretty busy road!

Getting In: There is no ticketed admission to visit this location.

Remember to Save on Admission

There you have it. Our list of some of the most popular and top things to do in London for your upcoming trip.

Whether you’re in London for a couple of days or a couple of weeks, the London Explorer Pass is a great way to see the city and save up to 35% on top things to do in London.

Plan to visit some of these top attractions during your trip. Whether you are traveling with young kids, teens, or just adults, we’re sure you and your family will have a great time.


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