London Bucket List: Romantic, Fun & Free Activities

One of the greatest cities in the world, it is reckoned that 20 million tourists visit London each year. With that many people flooding in and wanting to be entertained, there had better be lots to do … and there certainly is!

London is big, fun and exciting and it has a very metropolitan feel. It can also be pretty romantic if you look in the right places. It also doesn’t have to be hugely expensive.

Here, HeyTripster’s local guide from London lists some of the fun activities in London, cheap things to do in London and there are also some cool things to do in London. I mean, it is a cool city, right…!?

There are certainly many places to see in London, so what are you going to choose? There are the traditional tourist places to visit such as Buckingham Palace, St Paul’s Cathedral and the Tower Of London, but what about some other activities that might be a little more out of the way but are still steeped in London culture and ambience and that will certainly enhance your stay? Read on…

1. Thames River Cruise

A cruise along the River Thames, past such attractions as Tower Bridge, Big Ben and the London Eye, is a great relaxing way to see London. How can you top that? By taking it at night. See the lights illuminate the city as the sun sets over the Thames and you relax with a glass of wine whilst waiters bring you a selection of finger food. The perfect romantic end to a day in the city.

Who: Thames Dinner Cruise, Tower Pier, EC3N

How: Book online to reserve your place here

Where: Boats leave from Tower Pier. Nearest London Underground is Tower Hill Station – Circle Line (yellow), District Line (green). Leave the station and head down to the river past the Tower Of London

Price: £32 for evening cruise

More Information

Open Hours: Cruise leaves at 18:15 and returns at 20:30
Location: View on Google Maps
Website: Visit

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2. London Eye

Built for the new millennium and officially opened by former Prime Minister Tony Blair on 31 December 1999, the London Eye was at the time the world’s biggest ferris wheel. It is Britain’s most popular tourist destination with over 3 million visitors each year.

The London Eye is a fun way to see the city, but can also be a romantic trip, too, as they offer a champagne experience. You can also hire a private pod (but do this with friends as the pod costs £450 for a maximum of 16 people…!)

Pre-book online as it is cheaper than paying there. If you like these kinds of tips why not take a look at HeyTripster’s trip plans designed by real Londoners.

Who: London Eye, Riverside Building, SE1

How: Book your experience online here

Where: South Bank of the Thames. Nearest London Underground is Westminster Station – Circle LIne (yellow), District Line (green), Jubilee Line (silver). Leave the station and head towards the Eye (you will see it!). Cross Westminster Bridge past the Houses of Parliament and climb down the steps by the lion statue to the river.

Price: £45 for champagne experience, £24.50 for a standard ticket.

More Information

Open Hours: Summer 10:00 – 20:30, Winter 11:00 – 18:00
Location: View on Google Maps
Website: Visit
Tripadvisor: View
Foursquare: View

3. Romantic Dining

Let’s be honest, pretty much any restaurant can be romantic if you’re with the right person. However, there are a few restaurants in London that certainly help with the romantic atmosphere. You may find extra options other than the following with HeyTripster’s trip plans designed by locals.

Oblix at The Shard

The Shard has a number of restaurants, but HeyTripster recommends Oblix. Situated on the 32nd floor, the views of London are simply stunning. As you would expect, you pay for the views and overall experience, as well as the renowned Marcus Evans being executive chef. But as a one-off it sure is worth it.

Who: Oblix at The Shard, London Bridge Street, SE1

How: Reserve a table online here

Where: The Shard, floor 32. Nearest London Underground is London Bridge Station – Jubilee Line (silver), Northern Line (black). Leave the station and walk through the passage at Joiner Street (which is the entrance to the mainline station) following the signs for The Shard.

Price: £25 – £100

More Information

Open Hours: Wednesday – Sunday 16:00 – 23:00
Location: View on Google Maps
Website: Visit
Tripadvisor: View
Foursquare: View

Clos Maggiore

Clos Maggiore offers not only a series of French inspired dishes, but a stunning setting in which to enjoy your meal. It also has a wine list like you have never seen before. It will take you twice as long to choose your drink as it will to choose your food!

Who: Clos Maggiore, 33 King Street, WC2E

How: Reserve a table online here

Where: Nearest London Underground is Leicester Square Station – Northern Line (black), Piccadilly Line (dark blue). Leave the station and walk along Cranbourne Street, continuing on into Garrick Street. Turn onto the cobbled pavement of King Street

Price: £30 – £100

More Information

Open Hours: Every day 12:00 – 14:30 and 17:00 – 23:00
Location: View on Google Maps
Website: Visit
Tripadvisor: View
Foursquare: View

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4. Rooftop Bars

There are a fair few to choose from, and most (but not all) offer great views of the city. But what you want from a rooftop bar is a lovely view, a good ambiance and to take home some nice memories. Eating and drinking with a bird’s eye view of the famous London landmarks is certainly one of the fun things to do in London. But where to choose…?

12th Knot

 

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12th Knot is certainly one to experience. Overlooking the Thames from the roof of the Sea Containers Hotel, the bar is vibrant and fun, employs live DJs and gives stunning views of the London skyline. You must be over 21 and ID may be asked for.

Who: 12th Knot, Sea Containers Hotel, 20 Upper Ground, SE1

How: Reserve a table online here

Where: Nearest London Underground is Blackfriars Station – Circle Line (yellow), District Line (green). Leave the station and cross Blackfriars Bridge. Descend the steps next to Doggetts to the riverside and turn left to the hotel.

Price: £10 upwards

More Information

Open Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 17:00 – 01:00
Location: View on Google Maps
Website: Visit
Tripadvisor: View
Foursquare: View

Sushisamba

 

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For a change of scene, try Sushisamba. As the name may suggest, it offers cuisine from Japan, Brazil and Peru. The bar is on the 38th floor of one of London’s tallest buildings so, of course, the views are marvellous.

Who: Sushisamba, Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate, EC2N

How: Book a table here

Where: Nearest London Underground is Liverpool Street Station – Central Line (red). Leave the station at the main entrance it shares with the overground service and turn left down Liverpool Street past The Arcade. Turn right into Bishopsgate and Sushisamba is on the crossroads.

Price: £10 upwards

More Information

Open Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 12:00 – 24:30
Location: View on Google Maps
Website: Visit
Tripadvisor: View
Foursquare: View

5. London Pubs

British villages were built up around a pub and a church. The city of London is no different (apart from the churches, perhaps…). With over 3,500 pubs in London, it can be difficult to decide where to buy your pint. Pretty much anywhere you go there is a pub on the corner. So which ones, then? For a sense of history, what about London’s oldest pubs?

The Seven Stars

The Seven Stars in Holborn is London’s oldest pub. Built in 1602, it is one of the very few buildings that escaped being burnt down in the Great Fire of 1666. That makes it over 400 years old! A drink in London’s oldest pub is a fun thing to do. You may find other options in HeyTripster’s locally designed and up-to-date London trip plans.

Who: The Seven Stars

How: No need to book, but they have a website

Where: 53 Carey Street, WC2A. Nearest London Underground is Chancery Lane Station – Central Line (red). Leave the station and head along High Holborn to Southampton Buildings opposite the Cittie Of Yorke pub. Follow the road round to Chancery Lane, turning left up to Carey Street.

Price: £5 upwards

More Information

Open Hours: Every day 11:00 – 23:00
Location: View on Google Maps
Website: Visit
Tripadvisor: View
Foursquare: View

The Blind Beggar

Away from the splendour of central London, the Blind Beggar Pub in the East End is London’s most famous public house. The pub was known to be a hangout of gangsters and crooks and many unsavoury incidents took place either inside or outside the premises (don’t worry, that’s all in the past…!). In 1904, a pickpocket called Bulldog Wallace stabbed someone in the eye with an umbrella and, most famously, in 1966 the notorious gangster Ronnie Kray – one member of the famous Kray Twins along with his brother Reggie – shot and killed a rival gang member George Cornell. There are still bullet holes in the pub walls.

Who: The Blind Beggar

How: To eat it is best to book beforehand here

Where: 337 Whitechapel Road, E1. Nearest London Underground is Whitechapel Station – District Line (green), Hammersmith & City Line (pink). Leave the station and turn left along Whitechapel.

Price: £5 upwards

More Information

Open Hours: Monday – Thursday 15:00 – 23:00, Friday – Sunday 12:00 – 24:00
Location: View on Google Maps
Website: Visit
Tripadvisor: View
Foursquare: View

6. City Bus Tours

If you want to see the city sights and don’t have a lot of time to do so, then a city bus tour is perfect for you. You will see all the London tourist places, the famous landmarks and it’s also a cool thing to do. And a cool way to explore the city is using a HeyTripster trip plan designed by a real local.

There are many such services and hundreds of places to see in London, but we recommend using Big Bus London. You can hop on and hop off whenever and wherever you like, there are audio guides in many different languages and the ticket also includes a free river cruise!

HeyTripster’s local guide’s tip here is to book a ticket through the website beforehand as you will get a discount price.

Who: Big Bus London

How: Pre-book through the website

Where: Stop number 1 is by Green Park. Nearest London Underground is Green Park Station – Jubilee Line (silver), Piccadilly Line (dark blue), Victoria Line (light blue). Exit the station and the bus stops are next to the Ritz Hotel.

Price: £30 for adults, £20 for children for a one day ticket

More Information

Open Hours: First bus 09:00, last bus 17:00. Buses are every 20 minutes.
Location: View on Google Maps
Website: Visit

7. Wine Tasting

Being one of the world’s biggest and metropolitan cities, London isn’t exactly flush with vineyards. That doesn’t stop the locals indulging in a bit of wine tasting, though.

Enjoy a fun and romantic evening sampling the grape and why not combine it with a meal or, at the very least, a good plate of cheese and biscuits?

There are a few wine tasting workshops and evenings available, but try the North London Wine School. They do not sell their own wines so everything they recommend is unbiased and completely customer focussed.

Who: North London Wine School

How: Book via the website

Where: Sir Richard Steel Pub, 97 Haverstock Hill, NW3. Nearest London Underground is Chalk Farm Station – Northern Line (black). Exit the station, turning left towards the crossroads. Turn left into Haverstock Hill, continue on past the church and the pub is on the end of the row of shops.

Price: £27 – £200

More Information

Open Hours: Normally starts at 19:00
Location: View on Google Maps
Website: Visit

8. Crazy Golf

 

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Yes, that’s right, crazy golf. In the middle of London. Everyone likes a game of crazy golf, and this is especially crazy. The course is completely luminous giving it a bit of an other worldly feel. The course was rebuilt during 2020 and now includes a fully licensed bar. Fun things to do in London? Well, here’s one.

Who: Plonk

How: Book for weekends here

Where: Unit 63, Camden Market, NW1. Nearest London Underground is Camden Town Station – Northern Line (black). Exit the station, turning right along the High Street past the Electric Ballroom. Cross the river for the entrance to the market.

Price: £5 – £12

More Information

Open Hours: Tuesday & Saturday 12:00 – 22:30, Sunday & Monday 12:00 – 19:00
Location: View on Google Maps
Website: Visit
Tripadvisor: View
Foursquare: View

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9. London’s Parks

Cities can be very expensive places, but there are an awful lot of free things to do in London. For example, there are many free museums in London, and if you would like to look at these, check out the HeyTripster London Museums trip plan designed by a local Londoner. So let’s look at a few other things that won’t burn a hole in your pocket, starting with the beautiful London parks…

St James Park

St James Park is, as you would expect for a Royal Park, a beautiful place to meander through, walk round the lake and have a romantic picnic. It is also right next to Buckingham Palace. The park was incorporated in 1603 at the crowning of King James I when it was landscaped and housed exotic animals like camels, elephants and even crocodiles. The animals were since located to London Zoo and the park became safe for the public. Visitors can still see the pelicans being fed at 14:30 every day.

Who: St James Park

Where: Birdcage Walk, SW1A. Nearest London Underground is St James’s Park Station – Circle Line (yellow), District Line (green). Leave the station and walk down Queen Anne’s Gate. The park entrance is at the end of the road.

Price: £0

More Information

Open Hours: Every day 05:00 – 24:00
Location: View on Google Maps
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Kensington Gardens

Kensington Gardens were originally part of Hyde Park, created in 1536 by King Henry VIII as a hunting ground. They were separated in 1728 and it became a park in its own right. The gardens contain a statue of Peter Pan – being the setting for the book Peter Pan In Kensington Gardens by JM Barrie -, the Albert Memorial in honour of Queen Victoria’s husband Prince Albert and the beautiful Italian fountains. The gardens of course are the gardens of Kensington Palace.

Who: Kensington Gardens

Where: Bayswater Road, W2. Nearest London Underground is Lancaster Gate Station – Central Line (red). The park’s entrance is opposite the station.

Price: £0

More Information

Open Hours: Every day 06:00 – 20:00, closing times differ throughout the year
Location: View on Google Maps
Tripadvisor: View
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10. British Library

Walk round a library? No thanks! Just hang on a minute – this is nowhere near as boring as it may sound. The British Library is estimated to contain anything up to 200 million books and manuscripts. These include an early copy of the gospel of John dating back to 250, the first copies of Magna Carta of 1215 and Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks amongst many other treasures. The library is an absolute treasure trove of many of the most important writings in history.

Who: The British Library

How: Check out the website

Where: 96 Euston Road, NW1. Nearest London Underground is Kings Cross Station – Circle Line (yellow), Hammersmith & City Line (pink), Metropolitan Line (purple), Northern Line (black), Piccadilly Line (dark blue), Victoria Line (light blue). Exit the station, turning right along Euston Road past St Pancras Station to the library.

Price: £0

More Information

Open Hours: Monday – Thursday 09:30 – 20:00, Friday 09:30 – 18:00, Saturday 09:30 – 17:00, Sunday 11:00 – 17:00
Location: View on Google Maps
Website: Visit
Tripadvisor: View
Foursquare: View

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