Last Updated on 11 July, 2023
When planning a trip to London most people think of exploring central London. While London has plenty of attractions to visit in South London, North London, East London and West London, in this post we are going to be focusing on what to do in the heart of the city?
Central London is filled with iconic landmarks, vibrant neighbourhoods, and cultural attractions that will captivate and inspire you. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a shopaholic, or a foodie, there’s something for everyone in this bustling metropolis.
Below, we’ll explore the best things to do in Central London, popular areas and neighbourhoods, recommended places to stay, and the top tours you shouldn’t miss. So, let’s dive in and discover the wonders of Central London!
So,What Is Considered Central London?
Central London refers to the innermost part of the city, where many of the major attractions, historical sites, and cultural hubs are located. It is home to renowned landmarks like Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, and the British Museum.
Central London encompasses various areas and neighbourhoods that offer distinct experiences and showcase the city’s rich history and vibrant culture. So within central London you might find parts of the city that are located within west, south and east London, which might seem confusing but hopefully the map below will also help.
Notable Central London Areas and Neighbourhoods
Central London is a diverse and vibrant hub of culture, history, and entertainment. With its rich heritage and iconic landmarks, this bustling city center offers a multitude of experiences to both residents and visitors. From the elegant streets of Mayfair to the artistic vibes of Fitzrovia, each neighbourhood in Central London has its own unique charm.
When considering where to stay in London you will find that many of these places feature on the list of London’s most desirable places to live as well as stay during a holiday in London. So, let’s explore some of the notable areas and neighbourhoods that make Central London a captivating destination.
Nestled between Regent’s Park and Oxford Street, Marylebone exudes a charming village atmosphere. This upscale neighbourhood is known for its elegant Georgian architecture, boutique shops, and quaint cafes. Explore the picturesque streets, visit the Wallace Collection, or indulge in some retail therapy on Marylebone High Street.
Fitzrovia is an artistic and bohemian enclave in the heart of Central London. This vibrant neighbourhood is a haven for creatives, with its art galleries, independent bookstores, and lively bars. Take a stroll through Charlotte Street, known for its dining scene, or visit the famous BT Tower for panoramic views of the city.
Home to the prestigious University of London, Bloomsbury is a haven for intellectuals and book lovers. Explore the British Museum, stroll through Russell Square, or visit the historic Bloomsbury Publishing House. The neighbourhood’s leafy squares and literary connections make it a delightful place to wander.
Pimlico is a residential neighbourhood known for its elegant Regency architecture and tranquil garden squares. Take a leisurely walk along the banks of the River Thames, visit the Tate Britain art gallery, or explore the vibrant cafes and shops of Warwick Way.
London Bridge is a bustling area on the southern bank of the River Thames. It is home to the iconic Tower Bridge, Borough Market, and the Shard. Explore the historical sites, indulge in gourmet delights at the market, or enjoy stunning views of the city from the Shard’s observation deck.
Located between the West End and the City of London, Holborn is a vibrant neighbourhood with a mix of commercial and residential areas. Discover its legal and literary history, visit the renowned British Museum, or explore the charming independent shops and cafes along Lamb’s Conduit Street.
Nestled between the City of London and the River Thames, Temple is a historic area known for its legal institutions and beautiful gardens. Explore the intricate architecture of the Temple Church, take a stroll along the Embankment Gardens, or visit the iconic Royal Courts of Justice.
Charing Cross is a bustling junction and transport hub that marks the geographical center of London. It is home to the iconic Trafalgar Square, where you can admire Nelson’s Column and the National Gallery. Explore the vibrant streets, dine in the charming restaurants, or catch a performance at the nearby West End theaters.
Covent Garden is a lively and vibrant district famous for its street performers, theaters, and bustling markets. Explore the elegant piazza, catch a show in one of the theaters, or indulge in retail therapy at the trendy boutiques and market stalls. Don’t forget to visit the Royal Opera House for a world-class performance.
St James’s is an upscale neighbourhood known for its prestigious gentlemen’s clubs, luxury shops, and royal connections. Take a leisurely walk through St James’s Park, visit the iconic Buckingham Palace, or explore the exclusive shops on Jermyn Street.
Westminster is the political and administrative heart of London. This iconic neighbourhood is home to the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, and Westminster Abbey. Explore the grand architecture, take a walk along the River Thames, or visit the Churchill War Rooms for a glimpse into the city’s wartime history.
Clerkenwell is a vibrant and creative neighbourhood known for its design studios, artisanal coffee shops, and historic pubs. Discover the contemporary architecture, visit the iconic Smithfield Market, or immerse yourself in the neighbourhood’s artistic vibes at the Barbican Centre.
Soho is a vibrant and eclectic neighbourhood known for its lively nightlife, entertainment venues, and diverse dining scene. Discover the trendy bars, visit the iconic music venues, or explore the independent boutiques and quirky shops. Soho’s vibrant atmosphere makes it a favorite spot for locals and tourists alike.
City of London
The City of London, also known as the Square Mile, is the historic and financial center of the city. Explore the iconic skyscrapers, visit St Paul’s Cathedral, St Dunstan In The East, or wander through the narrow medieval streets. The City is a blend of modernity and history, reflecting London’s status as a global financial hub.
St Katharine’s Dock
St Katharine’s Dock is a picturesque marina nestled next to the Tower of London. It offers a tranquil escape from the bustling city streets, with its yachts, waterside restaurants, and charming shops. Enjoy a leisurely stroll along the marina, dine al fresco, or take a boat tour along the River Thames.
Waterloo is a vibrant neighbourhood known for its cultural attractions, including the renowned Old Vic theater and the Southbank Centre. Visit the iconic London Eye, explore the vibrant Southbank, or enjoy a performance at one of the many theaters and music venues in the area.
Knightsbridge is a prestigious neighbourhood renowned for its luxury department stores and high-end fashion boutiques on Brompton Road and nearby Sloane Street. Indulge in a shopping spree at Harrods or Harvey Nichols, explore the picturesque Hyde Park, or visit the elegant Mandarin Oriental hotel.
Paddington is a lively and cosmopolitan neighbourhood with a mix of residential and commercial areas. It is famous for its beautiful canal, charming garden squares, and the iconic Paddington Station. Take a leisurely walk along the canal, visit Little Venice, or explore the nearby Regent’s Park.
Victoria is a bustling area that serves as a major transport hub and commercial center. It is home to the iconic Victoria Station, the Apollo Victoria Theatre, and the popular Victoria Palace Theatre. Explore the bustling streets, visit the nearby Buckingham Palace, or enjoy shopping at Cardinal Place.
Belgravia is an affluent neighbourhood known for its grand Victorian townhouses, picturesque garden squares, and upscale boutiques. Take a leisurely stroll through the charming streets, visit the exclusive shops on Elizabeth Street, or relax in one of the tranquil garden squares.
Mayfair is synonymous with luxury and opulence. This exclusive neighbourhood is home to high-end fashion boutiques, Michelin-starred restaurants, and grand Georgian townhouses. Take a stroll along Bond Street, explore the picturesque Grosvenor Square, or enjoy a leisurely afternoon in one of the charming garden squares.
Map of Central London Neighbourhoods
These are just a few of the notable areas and neighbourhoods that make Central London a captivating destination. Each district has its own distinct character and appeal, offering a unique experience to those who explore them. From the elegance of Mayfair to the artistic vibes of Fitzrovia, there is something for everyone in Central London.
So, when you’re planning your visit to Central London, make sure to immerse yourself in the charm and diversity of these neighbourhoods. Whether you’re interested in history, art, shopping, or simply soaking up the vibrant atmosphere, each area has its own treasures waiting to be discovered. Explore the iconic landmarks, wander the picturesque streets, and indulge in the local cuisine and culture. Central London is a true melting pot of experiences, and it’s yours to explore.
Now that we have a better understanding of Central London and its various areas, let’s delve into the top things to do in this vibrant city center.
Things To Do in Central London
Central London offers a plethora of attractions and activities that cater to different interests. Whether you’re a culture vulture, a history buff, or a fan of shopping and entertainment, you’ll find plenty of options to keep you engaged. Let’s explore some of the top things to do in Central London:
1. Buckingham Palace
A trip to Central London would be incomplete without a visit to Buckingham Palace, the official residence of the British monarch. Witness the Changing of the Guard ceremony and marvel at the exquisite architecture of this iconic landmark. Don’t forget to explore the beautiful gardens surrounding the palace. You can book tours to the palace and Changing of the Guard ceremony here.
2. Oxford Street
For all the shopaholics out there, Oxford Street is a dream come true. With over 300 shops, it is one of the busiest shopping streets in Europe. From high-end fashion brands to popular department stores, you’ll find everything you need for a fantastic shopping experience.
3. Covent Garden
Covent Garden is a vibrant district renowned for its lively atmosphere, street performers, bus and the famous Covent Garden Market. Explore the market’s stalls offering unique crafts, antiques, and delicious street food. Catch a show at the Royal Opera House or enjoy a drink at one of the many trendy bars and restaurants.
4. British Museum
Immerse yourself in history and culture at the British Museum. Home to a vast collection of artifacts from around the world, this museum showcases human history and culture spanning over two million years. Marvel at ancient Egyptian mummies, the Rosetta Stone, and the Elgin Marbles.
5. Tate Modern
Art enthusiasts shouldn’t miss the opportunity to visit Tate Modern, one of the world’s leading contemporary art museums. Explore the vast collection of modern and contemporary artworks from renowned artists, attend thought-provoking exhibitions, and enjoy the stunning views from the museum’s terrace.
6. The Shard
For breathtaking panoramic views of London, head to The Shard. Soaring above the city skyline, this iconic skyscraper offers an unparalleled perspective of the city. Enjoy a meal at one of the restaurants or bars on the upper floors and take in the awe-inspiring vistas. The Shard is also where you will find one of London’s hotels with stunning views by way of the amazing Shangri-La Hotel.
7. Borough Market
Indulge in a culinary adventure at Borough Market, one of London’s oldest and most famous food markets. Sample delicious street food, browse through the stalls selling fresh produce, and discover unique ingredients from all around the world. It’s a paradise for food lovers.
If you’re looking for a vibrant and trendy neighbourhood, Shoreditch is the place to be. Known for its street art, independent boutiques, and hipster cafes, Shoreditch is a hub of creativity and innovation. Explore the vibrant street art scene and immerse yourself in the trendy atmosphere.
9. Garden At 120
Escape the hustle and bustle of the city at Garden At 120. Located on the rooftop of 120 Fenchurch Street, this hidden gem offers a tranquil oasis with stunning views of London’s skyline. Take a leisurely stroll and enjoy the serene beauty of the garden.
10. Tower Bridge
No visit to Central London is complete without crossing the iconic Tower Bridge. Admire the impressive Victorian engineering and enjoy the panoramic views of the River Thames from the high-level walkways. Don’t forget to visit the Tower Bridge Exhibition to learn more about its fascinating history.
Stroll along the vibrant Southbank promenade and soak up the lively atmosphere and dine at the many cool bars and restaurants on Southbank. With its street performers, skate park, and diverse range of cultural venues an amazing food market, Southbank offers something for everyone. Visit the Southbank Centre, catch a performance at the National Theatre, or enjoy a riverside picnic.
12. London Eye
Experience breathtaking views of the city from the London Eye, the giant Ferris wheel on the South Bank of the River Thames. Take a ride in one of the glass capsules and enjoy a bird’s-eye view of London’s iconic landmarks, including Big Ben and Buckingham Palace. There are also plenty of amazing hotels near London Eye for those that want to stay with views of the Thames and London Eye from your room.
13. Piccadilly Circus
Known as the “Times Square of London,” Piccadilly Circus is a bustling intersection and a popular meeting point. Admire the vibrant neon signs, explore the surrounding theaters, and soak up the energetic atmosphere. It’s a great spot for shopping, dining, and entertainment.
14. Tower of London
Delve into history at the Tower of London, a historic castle located on the north bank of the River Thames. Discover the stories behind the Crown Jewels, explore the medieval architecture, and learn about the tower’s fascinating past. Join a guided tour to make the most of your visit. Be sure to check our our list of castles near London for more on this type of attraction.
15. London Museums and Galleries
Central London is home to numerous world-class museums and galleries. From the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square to the Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington, art and history enthusiasts will find endless opportunities to indulge their passions.
16. Thames River Cruise
Embark on a scenic Thames River Cruise and admire the city’s landmarks from a unique perspective. Choose from various boat tours that offer informative commentary and enjoy the picturesque views of iconic sites like the Houses of Parliament, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and the Tower Bridge.
Step into another world as you enter Chinatown in Central London. Indulge in authentic Chinese cuisine, explore the vibrant streets adorned with redlanterns and colorful decorations, and immerse yourself in the rich culture and traditions of this lively neighbourhood.
18. Trafalgar Square
Trafalgar Square is a vibrant public square in the heart of Central London. Admire the iconic Nelson’s Column, surrounded by majestic lion statues, and soak up the energetic atmosphere. Visit the National Gallery, located on the square, to explore an impressive collection of art.
19. Kingly Court Food Court
Foodies will delight in the culinary delights of Kingly Court Food Court. This hidden gem is tucked away in the bustling streets of Soho and offers a variety of international cuisines, trendy bars, and rooftop dining options. Treat your taste buds to a gastronomic adventure.
20. National Gallery
Art lovers should not miss the chance to visit the National Gallery, one of the world’s greatest art museums. Explore the extensive collection of Western European paintings, including works by renowned artists such as Van Gogh, Monet, and Rembrandt.
21. Big Ben
No visit to London is complete without catching a glimpse of Big Ben. Although currently undergoing renovations, the iconic clock tower and its distinctive chimes remain an enduring symbol of the city. Take a walk along the banks of the River Thames for the best views.
22. St Paul’s Cathedral
Marvel at the architectural masterpiece that is St Paul’s Cathedral. Climb to the top of the dome for panoramic views of the city, explore the stunning interior, and learn about the history of this iconic place of worship. Don’t miss the chance to attend a choral or organ recital.
23. Spitalfields Market
Discover a vibrant mix of food, fashion, and art at Spitalfields Market. Located in the trendy East End, this bustling market offers a unique shopping experience. Browse through the stalls selling vintage clothing, handmade crafts, and artisanal food products.
24. Duck And Waffle Brunch
Indulge in a delicious brunch with a view at Duck and Waffle. Located on the 40th floor of a skyscraper, this renowned restaurant offers panoramic views of the city skyline. Try their signature dish, duck confit on a waffle, and savor the culinary delights while enjoying breathtaking vistas.
25. The Courtauld Gallery
Art aficionados should visit The Courtauld Gallery, known for its exceptional collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist masterpieces. Admire works by Monet, Van Gogh, and Renoir in the elegant surroundings of Somerset House.
26. The Churchill War Rooms
Step back in time and explore the underground bunker that served as Winston Churchill’s wartime headquarters during World War II. The Churchill War Rooms provide a fascinating insight into the life and leadership of one of Britain’s most iconic figures.
27. Sky Garden
Experience the beauty of nature amidst the cityscape at Sky Garden. Located at the top of a skyscraper, this lush urban oasis offers panoramic views of London’s skyline. Wander through the landscaped gardens, enjoy a drink at the rooftop bar, and soak up the breathtaking views.
28. Hyde Park
Escape the urban hustle and bustle in Hyde Park, one of London’s largest and most famous parks. Take a leisurely stroll, rent a pedal boat on the Serpentine lake, or have a picnic amidst beautiful greenery. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Speaker’s Corner, where free speech and lively debates thrive.
29. Monument to the Great Fire of London
Climb to the top of the Monument to the Great Fire of London for panoramic views of the city. This towering column commemorates the devastating fire that swept through London in 1666. Challenge yourself to climb the 311 steps and be rewarded with a breathtaking view.
29. Leadenhall Market
Step into a world of Victorian elegance at Leadenhall Market. With its stunning architecture and charming atmosphere, this covered market is a delight to explore. Browse through the boutique shops, dine in the traditional pubs, or simply marvel at the enchanting surroundings.
31. HMS Belfast
Explore the historic warship HMS Belfast, moored on the River Thames near Tower Bridge. Step on board and discover what life was like for the crew during World War II and beyond. Explore the decks, engine rooms, and interactive exhibits that bring the ship’s history to life.
These are just a few of the many incredible attractions and activities that await you in Central London. Whether you’re interested in history, art, shopping, or simply soaking up the vibrant atmosphere, Central London has it all.
Where to Stay in Central London?
Choosing the right accommodation is crucial for a memorable stay in Central London. Here are a few highly recommended options:
- NYX Hotel London Holborn: Unwind at this luxurious hotel, offering a spa, gym, and proximity to popular attractions like Leicester Square and the British Museum. Learn more about NYX Hotel London Holborn.
- Sea Containers London: Enjoy a riverside setting close to iconic attractions like the London Eye and the Tate Modern. This stylish hotel features excellent amenities, including a world-class restaurant and a working cinema. Book your stay at Sea Containers London.
- Park Grand London Kensington: Culture enthusiasts will love this hotel’s proximity to the “Museum Mile” and its fitness facilities. Indulge in the world-class restaurant after a day of exploring art and history. Find out more about Park Grand London Kensington.
- Inhabit, Southwick Street: For a more intimate experience, this luxurious yet laid-back hotel is an excellent choice. It offers a vegan-friendly cafe and running paths to help you explore the beautiful surroundings. Discover Inhabit, Southwick Street.
With these exceptional accommodations, your stay in Central London is sure to be comfortable and convenient, allowing you to make the most of your time in the city.
Best Tours in Central London
Exploring Central London on a guided tour can enhance your experience and provide valuable insights into the city’s history and culture. Here are some of the best tours you can take in Central London:
- Historical Walking Tour: Join a knowledgeable guide on a historical walking tour to discover the hidden gems and fascinating stories of Central London’s iconic landmarks and neighbourhoods.
- Royal London Tour: Embark on a tour that explores the regal side of Central London, including visits to Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, and Kensington Palace.
- Harry Potter Tour: Delve into the magical world of Harry Potter by taking a guided tour that visits filming locations, such as Platform 9¾ at King’s Cross Station and the inspiration behind Diagon Alley.
- Thames River Cruise: Enjoy a relaxing cruise along the River Thames, taking in the stunning views of Central London’s landmarks while listening to informative commentary about the city’s history.
- Gourmet Food Tour: Indulge in a culinary adventure through Central London’s diverse food scene. Sample delectable treats from Borough Market, Chinatown, and other gastronomic hotspots.
- Street Art Tour: Discover the vibrant street art scene of East London on a guided tour that explores the ever-changing muralsand graffiti in neighbourhoods like Shoreditch and Brick Lane.
These are just a few examples of the best tours available in Central London. Depending on your interests, you can find specialized tours focusing on architecture, literature, fashion, and more. Joining a guided tour is a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the history, culture, and hidden gems of this vibrant city.
FAQs About Things To Do in Central London
1. What is considered Central London?
Central London refers to the innermost part of the city, where many of the major attractions, historical sites, and cultural hubs are located. It includes areas such as Westminster, Covent Garden, Soho, and the City of London.
2. What are some notable areas and neighbourhoods in Central London?
Central London is home to several notable areas and neighbourhoods, including Marylebone, Fitzrovia, Covent Garden, Soho, Westminster, and Kensington.
3. What are the must-visit attractions in Central London?
Some of the must-visit attractions in Central London include Buckingham Palace, the British Museum, the Tower of London, the Shard, and the Tate Modern.
4. Where can I find the best shopping in Central London?
Oxford Street, Covent Garden, and Kingly Court Food Court are popular destinations for shopping enthusiasts in Central London.
5. What are some recommended places to stay in Central London?
Recommended places to stay in Central London include NYX Hotel London Holborn, Sea Containers London, Park Grand London Kensington, and Inhabit, Southwick Street.
6. Are there any guided tours available in Central London?
Yes, there are numerous guided tours available in Central London. Some popular options include historical walking tours, royal London tours, Harry Potter tours, Thames River cruises, gourmet food tours, and street art tours.
There you have it, our guide to Central London. A vibrant and diverse destination that offers an array of attractions, activities, and experiences for visitors to enjoy. From iconic landmarks and world-class museums to bustling markets and charming neighbourhoods, there’s something for everyone in this bustling city center.
Whether you’re interested in history, art, shopping, or simply soaking up the vibrant atmosphere, Central London will captivate and inspire you. So, pack your bags, prepare your itinerary, and get ready for an unforgettable adventure in the heart of the British capital!