Things to Do in Central London: A Comprehensive Guide to the Best Attractions and Activities

Central London is a bustling hub of activity that can be overwhelming to navigate without guidance. Dating back to 43 A.D., when the Roman army settled on the banks of the Thames during their occupation of Britain, Central London is steeped in history and has transformed into one of the busiest cities in the world. Despite the love-hate relationship that Londoners have with Central London due to its busy nature, it remains the heart of the city and a must-visit destination for tourists.

This insider’s guide provides a comprehensive list of the best things to see and do in Central London, as well as the top restaurants and hotels in the area. From historical landmarks to top shopping spots, this guide offers something for everyone and is a valuable resource for anyone visiting Central London.

Key Takeaways

  • Central London is a must-visit destination for tourists due to its rich history and bustling atmosphere.
  • This insider’s guide offers a comprehensive list of the best things to see and do, as well as top restaurants and hotels in the area.
  • From historical landmarks to top shopping spots, Central London has something to offer for everyone.

What Are the Central London Areas?

Central London comprises several areas, including Soho, Mayfair, Marylebone, Fitzrovia, Knightsbridge, The City of London, London Bridge, Paddington, and many others. Although there are no official guidelines, the boroughs of Westminster and City of London, along with the northern parts of Lambeth and Southwark, are considered the best bets. The official center of London is located in Westminster, marked by a plaque in Charing Cross. All road signs throughout Britain that indicate the distance to London start from this plaque, which is situated behind a statue of King Charles I.

Things to Do in Central London

Spot The Queenie at Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace is the official London residence of the British monarch. It is open to the public every summer, allowing visitors to explore the palace halls, visit the State Rooms and Throne Room, and see the carriages and vehicles used by the royal family. Tickets range from about £30 to £55 for adults, and some even include a visit to the Royal Mews. If you’re lucky enough to be there at the right time, you might catch the Changing of the Guard ceremony.

Soak Up the View from The London Eye

The London Eye is a giant Ferris wheel situated on the bank of the Thames river, offering unforgettable views of London from the sky. The 22-year-old structure stands 135m above the city, slowly rotating so you can take in the stunning 360-degree view of the city below. The London Eye offers special experience packages like private pods for groups and cupid’s pods for couples. A standard ticket will cost you £30 for 30 minutes of spectacular views.

Wax Lyrical at Madame Tussauds

Madame Tussauds is a wax museum founded in 1802 by Madame Tussaud herself. The franchise has spread its waxy reach to over 20 locations across the globe. Madame Tussauds stands as a tribute to her legacy and a celebration of the intricate artform of wax modelling. You’ll find famous movie, music, and sports celebrities, as well as the royal family here, all paid homage in wax.

Admire Artwork at The National Gallery

The National Gallery is a must-visit for art lovers. It was founded in 1824 and now holds an impressive collection of more than 2,300 pieces, some dating all the way back to the mid-13th century. The gallery is home to a wide selection of works by notable artists like Monet, Van Gogh, Michelangelo, Raphael, Botticelli, and da Vinci, to name just a few. Entrance to the main gallery is free. However, you’ll have to purchase a ticket for specific exhibitions and events.

Embark on a Harry Potter Walking Tour

The Harry Potter walking tour of Central London covers 18 famous spots that inspired the creation of J.K Rowling’s fantasy world of wizardry. London’s intricate architecture and history stand out on this tour, which stops at Shakespeare’s Globe, Trafalgar Square, Borough Market and many other iconic sites. This tour is a fantastic way to experience the capital’s top sights, even if you aren’t a fan of the famous franchise.

Explore The Natural History Museum

The National History Museum contains thousands of historical, biological, and cultural artefacts from around the world, boasting a wide selection of exhibits for the whole family to enjoy. Some of our favourite museum rooms include the dinosaurs gallery, mammals gallery, Earth’s treasury, and the zoology spirit building. The National History Museum also has a fabulous gift shop to pick up some memorabilia.

Marvel at St Paul’s Cathedral

St Paul’s Cathedral is a masterpiece of architecture and a must-visit for anyone who appreciates art and history. The 347-year-old church stands on the highest point in the City of London – and it was even the tallest building in London until the 1960s. As it’s still a functioning Anglican church, you might be lucky to hear hymns resonating around the cathedral while you admire the intricate design and art within its walls.

Picnic in Hyde Park

Hyde Park is the largest of the four royal parks in London. Established as a hunting ground by Henry VIII in 1536, it was eventually opened to the public more than 100 years later. And since then, Hyde Park has played a vital role in hosting many public demonstrations and celebrations. The park has hosted large concerts for internationally recognised bands like Queen, The Rolling Stones, and Pink Floyd. But we love that Hyde Park is a fantastic spot for a walk or picnic during the summer.

Enjoy a View from The Shard

The Shard is the tallest building in Western Europe, standing at almost 310 metres tall. Offering 360-degree views of London, you can see up to 64 kilometres on a clear day from the top of The Shard. Day visitors to the Shard should book an appointment at Shangri-La’s award-winning spa. The Shangri-La sits on the 34th level and occupies 18 floors of the Shard. Or, you can buy a ticket here to get direct entry into The Shard.

Wander the Streets of Soho

Soho is a vibrant area in Central London that offers a broad selection of things to do during both the day and night. Soho is most famously known for its unbeatable nightlife – bars, restaurants, and cafes it has in abundance. Other cool things to do in

Things to Do in Central London: Eating & Drinking

Brasserie Zédel

Located in the heart of Soho, Brasserie Zédel is a Parisienne style brasserie that offers a traditional French cuisine and an authentic dining experience. The restaurant is known for its outstanding food and atmosphere, and guests can also enjoy live music, cabaret, cocktails, and patisserie.


Ikoyi, located in Westminster, offers diners a taste of sub-Saharan West Africa using local and sustainable ingredients. The restaurant features lunch, dinner, and tasting menus that change daily. It is recommended to make a reservation ahead of time as the restaurant gets very busy. The menu focuses on fresh fish and shellfish with a selection of meat dishes, although it is not suitable for vegetarians or vegans.


Rules, London’s oldest restaurant, is located in Covent Garden and is the best place for elegant dining and a subdued atmosphere. The restaurant has served traditional English cuisine for over 200 years, focusing on the classic preparation of game, oysters, puddings, and pies. Rules has earned its prestige through remarkable service and has been frequented by many influential people, including Charles Dickens and other literary talents.

Hawksmoor Seven Dials

Hawksmoor Seven Dials is a restaurant that serves heavy steak dishes cooked to perfection. The restaurant is located in a perfect spot for a post-shopping energy boost and has generous portions.

Borough Market

Borough Market is a foodie heaven that offers an exciting shopping experience with a variety of foods from all over the world. Guests are recommended to allot plenty of time to explore the market as it is filled with options. Spend an hour marvelling at the food options and then reroute to your favourite spots.


Padella, located in Borough Market, is a reasonably priced restaurant that offers hand-crafted pasta dishes. The restaurant is a winner with its extensive wine menu, and there’s no reason to dine anywhere else.

Top Shopping Spots in Central London

Oxford Street

Oxford Street is a popular destination for shopping in Central London. It is a part of the largest shopping district in the UK and is home to over 300 stores, including many flagship stores. The route is served by four underground stations, making it easily accessible to visitors.

While Oxford Street is a great place to shop throughout the year, it is especially delightful during the Christmas season. However, visitors should be prepared for the crowds.

Bond Street

Bond Street is the go-to destination for high-end shopping in Central London. It is home to many prestigious brands and forms a part of the UK’s largest shopping district, connecting Piccadilly with Oxford Street.

Bond Street has been a popular shopping destination since the 18th-century when the bourgeoisie from Mayfair would frequent its stores for high-end items. Today, it is home to a variety of international brand names like Balenciaga, Cartier, Hermès, and more.

Covent Garden

Covent Garden is a popular hub for shopping, eating, and entertainment in Central London. It spans across nine streets and offers over 200 brands to choose from, ranging from large chains to indie beauty and homeware stores.

Covent Garden is always bustling with activity, including pop-ups and street performers, making it a favourite for both locals and tourists.

Seven Dials

Seven Dials is a hidden gem located in the heart of London. It is a junction in Camden where seven roads meet and is home to over 90 boutique and international brand stores.

In addition to shopping, Seven Dials is also a fantastic place to grab a meal or cocktails. Visitors can head to the street food market and try some delicious curry from Curry on Naanstop.

Compared to neighbouring Covent Garden, Seven Dials is a lot quieter, offering visitors a unique shopping experience at the boutiques here.

Where to Stay in Central London

St James Court – Taj Hotel

The St James Court – Taj Hotel is a luxurious 4-star hotel that offers guests a unique blend of historic elegance and modern amenities. Located within walking distance of Buckingham Palace and Hyde Park, this hotel is perfect for couples and families visiting Central London.

The hotel features a spa and two in-house restaurants, offering guests a variety of options for relaxation and dining. The rooms are well-furnished and fitted with top amenities, ensuring guests have a comfortable stay.

To check the rates and availability at St James Court – Taj Hotel, guests can visit the hotel’s website.

Montcalm Royal London House

The Montcalm Royal London House is a modern hotel located in the heart of London, offering guests spectacular views of the city from its rooftop bar. The hotel is well-furnished and fitted with top amenities, making it an excellent choice for guests looking for a comfortable stay in Central London.

The hotel features two restaurants and two bars, offering guests a variety of dining and entertainment options. The hotel is located approximately 10 minutes away from most activities in Central London.

To check the rates and availability at Montcalm Royal London House, guests can visit the hotel’s website.

Caring Hotel

The Caring Hotel is a charming and comfortable hotel located in Central London, just a short walk from Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. The hotel is an excellent choice for guests looking for a simple yet comfortable stay in Central London.

The hotel features well-furnished rooms that are especially great for families spending time in the city. The hotel offers guests a 24-hour reception, daily housekeeping, free wifi, and continental breakfast.

To check the rates and availability at the Caring Hotel, guests can visit the hotel’s website.

Practical Tips for Exploring Central London

  • Purchase an Oyster card or use your mobile phone to move around the city efficiently.
  • Save money by exploring the many free activities in Central London.