As a solo traveller and someone who lives alone, I’m used to looking for solo activities. In my experience there is a lot to be said for doing things alone – you get to pick exactly what you want to do without worrying about someone else’s preferences. I highly recommend a bit of solo travel to anyone who has the opportunity.
I live in East London and have family and friends nearby, but I’m also an introvert who needs a fair amount of time by myself. So, I’m in a great position to recommend things to do in London alone – I’ve done a lot of them.
London is the perfect city to explore on your own, and it doesn’t matter what your budget is. You can stay in a hostel and visit many of the excellent free attractions, or you can relax in a 5-star hotel and dine at Michelin-starred restaurants. It’s also very easy to get around London, with an excellent public transport system.
So, whatever your budget and however long you are visiting for, here’s my round-up of the best options for solo visitors to London.
1. Explore the South Bank
This is one of my favourite ways of spending a few hours in the city. Grab a coffee and go for a walk. The path along the South Bank between Waterloo and Tower Bridge takes you past several London landmarks on either side of the river including the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye and The Shard.
Depending on the season you’ll find stalls selling summer drinks and festive classics. There are lots of restaurants and cafes to stop in at, and often musicians and street performers along the way.
London is a very safe city to walk around in, and I’ve walked the South Bank alone in the evening lots of times.
2. The Tower of London
The Tower of London is one of the oldest buildings in the city, with the White Tower dating back to 1078AD. It has a fascinating history of famous prisoners and has also been used as a royal residence. It is also the place where the British Crown Jewels are held, which makes it a very popular tourist destination.
3. Watch a West End Show
London is full of theatres, and they are busy enough that a person sitting alone won’t attract any attention. You can choose from famous musicals such as Hamilton, film adaptations such as Sunset Boulevard, or comedies like The Play That Goes Wrong.
If you know what you want to see, then you can book tickets directly with the theatre. It’s also worth considering a last-minute ticket and just seeing what’s available as a cheap ticket. I recently went to see Choir of Man at the Arts Theatre and had a fantastic time.
4. Visit the Natural History Museum
I really believe that London’s Natural History Museum is one of the best museums in the world. And best of all, it’s completely free. It’s an enormous place so I recommend that you plan in advance what you want to see so you don’t run out of time. Also, make sure you wear comfortable shoes. Personally I love the dinosaur collection and the Treasures of the Earth gallery.
5. The British Museum
Another famous and free London museum, the British Museum has a huge collection of objects spanning thousands of years, from prehistoric times to ancient Greece and through to recent history. If you like museums this is another great one to visit, and I’ve been there several times alone myself.
6. The Tate Modern
The Tate Modern is in a former power station on the south bank of the River Thames. In fact, if you take up my number 1 suggestion, you’ll walk straight past it.
As well as modern paintings and sculptures, the museum is also known for the Turbine Hall which provides space for large installations which frequently change. There is always something new to see, so it’s a great choice if you are interested in modern art.
The main collection is free but there are also temporary exhibitions that you might have to pay for if you want to see them.
7. Hyde Park
Hyde Park is one of London’s more famous parks and spans 350 acres. Known for the Serpentine Lake, it offers leisure activities like boating and swimming. The Diana Memorial Fountain is another popular stopping point.
Speaker’s Corner is known for lively debates – just be advised that people can say anything they want as long as the speech is considered lawful. Police will only intervene in limited circumstances such as hate speech.
It has the same rules as anywhere else in the UK, but the tradition of Speaker’s Corner means that this is a place where people regularly congregate specifically for this purpose. If you are easily offended or become intimidated by a lively discussion, this may be one to avoid.
8. Harry Potter Tours
If you are a Harry Potter fan, London is a great place to indulge in your interest. Several locations around the city were used for filming that you can visit, such as Westminster station and the Millennium Bridge.
You can also go to the Warner Brother Studio tour to see some of the original costumes, props and sets. The tickets can be expensive, but I’ve been myself and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
Another option, if you are feeling a bit lonely, is to join a Harry Potter walking tour to meet like-minded visitors as you explore the city.
Book your Harry Potter Walking Tour here!
9. Camden Market
Camden Market is a great place to go shopping for vintage clothing and quirky souvenirs. As a teenager, Camden Market was one of my go-to Saturday destinations. There are also lots of food stalls around, and I also recommend the famous hot chocolate from Chin Chin.
The umbrella street in the photo above isn’t a named street, but a part of Camden Market. If you use Google maps to head to the Wizard Store in The Stables market, you’ll get to the right place for the ideal Instagram shot.
10. London Eye
This is quite a touristy thing to do, and there are other places to get great views of the city, but if you fancy going on the London Eye you can definitely do it alone. The capsules have the capacity for around 25 people, so even if you weren’t on your own you’d still be sharing the pod with strangers.
11. Borough Market
If you are a foodie, then a visit to Borough Market is a must-do. London has many markets but this is one of the best-known ones, dedicated to a huge range of food stalls and several restaurants. If you don’t know where to start, you can also join a food tour to make the most of the experience.
Book a Borough Market food tour here!
12. Victoria and Albert Museum
The Victoria and Albert Museum (usually referred to as the V&A), is a treasure trove of art and design. Housing a diverse collection spanning 5,000 years, it showcases everything from ancient textiles to contemporary fashion. Like many London museums, the V&A is free to visit, but it’s also known for additional paid exhibitions on various subjects such as fashion icons, costume design and architecture.
The main V&A is in South Kensington. There is also the Young V&A in Bethnal Green, but that’s designed more for children than adults so make sure you go to the right one!
13. Attend a concert at the Royal Albert Hall
The Royal Albert Hall is primarily known for classical concerts, particularly the annual BBC Prims festival. Other events include screenings of films accompanied by orchestras playing the soundtrack live (these sell out extremely quickly).
One event I’d love to go to at the Royal Albert Hall is Letters Live, where interesting letters are publicly read by well-known actors, comedians and other public figures. Some letters are heartbreaking, others are comical. Several previous readings are also on YouTube – one of my favourites is Taika Waititi reading a very funny letter to the New Zealand Police about a speeding ticket.
Overall, most events at the Royal Albert Hall completely sell out, so it won’t be obvious that you are alone, and whichever performance you attend will be engaging enough that it wouldn’t matter anyway.
14. Walk Across Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge links the north and south sides of the River Thames next to the Tower of London. It’s London’s iconic bridge – the drawbridge that raises to let ships through, with the classic towers and blue metalwork. The bridge has two levels, the main level for both vehicles and pedestrians, and an upper level.
The upper level acts as a museum, with steps leading to the walkway with glass floors and access to the Engineer Rooms to learn more about the history of the bridge. The main bridge is free to just walk across, with excellent views of the Tower and The Shard.
15. Explore Covent Garden
Covent Garden is a perfect place to explore by yourself. There are several licensed street performers – musicians, magicians and living statues. The Covent Garden Market has lots of small shops, both independent vendors and well-known brands. There are lots of restaurants and cafes as well, which are also great for people-watching.
16. Columbia Road Flower Market
The flower market is open each Sunday, and turns a fairly average street into a multi-coloured garden. The market offers an array of flowers, from exotic orchids to classic English roses, catering to every taste and preference. You’ll also find shops and cafes on the street to meander into.
17. Explore Shoreditch
Shoreditch is one of London’s most vibrant and creative districts, with plenty of street art to keep your eyes occupied. The Boxpark Shoreditch, a unique retail space made from shipping containers, is great for shopping and dining. Vintage markets and independent boutiques cater to fashion enthusiasts. For history buffs, the Geffrye Museum displays English home life over centuries. If you are looking for a part of London with a bit more buzz than areas like Westminster and Covent Garden, head over to Shoreditch.
18. Changing of The Guard
Seeing the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace is a quintessential London experience. This traditional ceremony symbolizes the transfer of responsibility for protecting the King’s residence. The guards, in their iconic red tunics and bearskin hats, accompanied by a military band, perform precise and ceremonious drills.
The event happens several times per week, typically around 11:00 AM, but it’s wise to check the schedule in advance as it can vary. Arriving early ensures a good viewing spot, or pick an alternative spot on the route to see the guards marching towards the palace.
19. National Gallery
Located in Trafalgar Square, the National Gallery houses a vast collection of European paintings from the 13th to the 19th centuries. Masterpieces by artists like Van Gogh, Da Vinci, and Turner are highlights, and the free entry makes it accessible to all. There are also frequent special exhibitions and events, both free and paid entry.
Whether you’re a seasoned art lover or a curious visitor, the National Gallery is a perfect place to explore on your own. I also highly recommend the National Portrait Gallery, just around the corner.
20. Visit Greenwich
Greenwich is known for its maritime history, royal heritage, and green spaces. Key attractions include the Royal Observatory, where you can stand on the Prime Meridian Line, dividing the eastern and western hemispheres. The National Maritime Museum delves into Britain’s seafaring past, while the Cutty Sark, a restored 19th-century tea clipper, stands as a testament to the age of sail.
Greenwich Park, one of London’s eight Royal Parks, offers sweeping views of the city. The Greenwich Market is perfect for browsing artisanal crafts and tasting local foods. A Thames river cruise to Greenwich adds another dimension to the experience, showcasing London’s riverfront sights.
21. Go shopping on Oxford Street
First of all, it’s best to visit Oxford Street on a weekday. On Saturdays, the road is completely crammed with people and it can be slightly intimidating. On weekdays it is much more chilled out.
I would recommend you get off the Tube at Tottenham Court Road, head over to Kaffeine for a flat white, and then wander west along Oxford Street. Pop into the stops that spark your interest, and then at the other end of the road, head into Selfridges to browse in one of the UK’s most iconic department stores.
22. Get The View From The Shard
The Shard is the tallest building in the UK, and a very obvious part of London’s skyline. The building is a mix of restaurants, bars, a hotel and a viewing platform. A visit to the View From The Shard gives you 360° views of the city, and the upper viewing gallery is open-air.
It isn’t something I would do regularly, but I have enjoyed a glass of champagne from the bar while looking out over my city. A fun way to start a day of sightseeing.
23. The British Library
The main library is for research purposes and you have to join as a member to go into it, but there is a section open to the public – the Treasures Gallery. This gallery includes originals of documents such as the Magna Carta and Domesday Book.
A copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio, letters from Jane Austen and an original manuscript of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland are also on display. If you are a bibliophile, then I highly recommend a visit to see these treasures.
24. Walk Along Regent’s Canal
The River Thames is the most famous of London’s waterways, but it isn’t the only one. There are several canals around the city, and Regent’s Canal is one of the prettier ones. Take the Tube to Paddington Station, and start your walk along the canal in Little Venice, walk past Regent’s Park and London Zoo.
Eventually, you’ll hit Camden Locks and can venture into the markets to grab some souvenirs and food. It’s a path that a lot of people walk on their own so you won’t feel out of place.
25. Imperial War Museum
The Imperial War Museum in London offers a profound look into the complexities of conflict. The museum covers British and Commonwealth involvement in major conflicts since World War I. Exhibitions are immersive and thought-provoking, blending personal stories with historical artefacts. Key displays include the sobering Holocaust Exhibition and the World War I galleries.
Given the solemn nature of the museum’s subject, this is a good one to visit alone, allowing you to explore without distraction.
26. St Paul’s Cathedral
St Paul’s Cathedral is one of the most famous buildings in London. You can get a ticket for sightseeing entry, but it is also free to attend a service in the Cathedral. Check the website to see what time the services are, or book a sightseeing ticket if you prefer.
27. Sky Garden
Sky Garden is an unusual combination of skyscraper and garden. Located at the top of the ‘Walkie Talkie’ building, it’s London’s highest public garden, offering 360-degree views across the capital, including landmarks like the River Thames, The Shard, and the Tower Bridge. The space is beautifully landscaped with a variety of plants and flowers.
Entry to Sky Garden is free, but booking in advance is recommended. There’s also a restaurant and café, making it a perfect spot for a bite with a view.
28. Walking Tours
Walking tours are a great way to see the city and meet other travellers. There are tours on virtually any topic you can imagine – food, street art, architecture, film and more. If you would rather focus on the sights than a map, a walking tour might be a good choice for you.
You’ll find a large selection of walking tours here on Viator!
29. Notting Hill
Notting Hill is famous for its vibrant, pastel-coloured townhouses and the bustling Portobello Road Market. This market, a treasure trove for antiques, vintage clothes, and unique trinkets, is perfect for leisurely solo browsing. The area’s cafes and independent bookshops offer cosy spots for relaxation.
The neighbourhood’s cinematic fame adds to its allure, making locations like the famous blue door from the film “Notting Hill” a fun find. Its annual Carnival transforms the streets into a lively celebration of Caribbean culture, a must-see if visiting in late August.
30. Kensington Gardens
Kensington Gardens is one of London’s Royal Parks. This expansive green space, once the private gardens of Kensington Palace, offers a tranquil retreat with beautifully landscaped areas.
The gardens also feature the Italian Gardens, a 19th-century ornamental water garden. Strolling through the avenues lined with mature trees and around the Serpentine Lake provides a serene escape amidst the city’s hustle.
31. Leicester Square
This bustling central London square is famous for its movie premieres and the iconic TKTS booth, offering discounted theatre tickets. The area is surrounded by cinemas, including the historic Odeon Leicester Square. Street performers often entertain crowds with music and acts, adding to the lively atmosphere. Nearby, you’ll find Chinatown, with its authentic eateries and vibrant decorations.
The square’s proximity to Covent Garden and Piccadilly Circus also makes it a perfect starting point for further exploration. If you are heading to Covent Garden, then I recommend you use Leicester Square Tube station. The Covent Garden station can be extremely busy with queues to get into the lifts up to ground level.
32. Concerts at Wigmore Hall
Wigmore Hall is a classical music venue, but as it is less well known than venues such as the Royal Albert Hall and Barbican, it is easier to get same-day tickets. It hosts a range of concerts, featuring both established and emerging classical musicians. The repertoire extends from early music to contemporary pieces, often including song recitals.
33. Tour the Royal Courts of Justice
One of the more unusual tours you can do in London is a visit to the Royal Courts of Justice – one of the most senior courts in the British justice system. This Victorian Gothic building, opened in 1882, is a masterpiece of architecture and home to the High Court and Court of Appeal of England and Wales.
Guided tours are available, allowing visitors to explore grand courtrooms and learn about legal history and proceedings. Depending on the day and what is in session you can even head to the public viewing gallery of a real courtroom to observe proceedings of a live trial after your tour. This is an experience that must be booked in advance, and the courtroom session is not guaranteed as there may not be any trials in session when you visit.
34. Spitalfields Market
This historic market, located a short walk from Liverpool Street Station, has been trading since the 17th century. The market hosts a variety of stalls selling everything from unique handmade jewellery to vintage clothing and contemporary crafts. The area is also known for its diverse range of food stalls, offering a taste of cuisines from around the world.
You’ll also find artwork such as the elephant sculptures dotted around the area, which also act as a way to generate funds and awareness of an elephant orphanage in Kenya.
35. Attend a Talk at the Royal Institution
Admittedly this won’t appeal to everyone, but for those interested in science and technology, a visit to The Royal Institution might be ideal. The RI hosts guest lecturers covering a variety of topics, including AI, astronomy, chemistry and physics.
Some talks focus on new discoveries and developments, others aim to share their passion for a subject using comedy and practical demonstrations. The RI is particularly known for the Christmas Lectures which are broadcast around the world.
36. Visit Kew Gardens
Kew Gardens is a UNESCO World Heritage site that spans over 300 acres, showcasing an impressive array of plants and flowers from around the world. The iconic Palm House is a must-see, housing a tropical rainforest climate. The Treetop Walkway allows you to walk among the tree canopies.
Seasonal attractions like the Orchid Festival and Christmas lights make repeat visits more interesting. The gardens also host art installations, educational displays, and historic buildings like Kew Palace.
One of my favourite ever London days was exploring Kew Gardens during a Chihuly installation, looking for all the glass sculptures in and around the plants.
37. Eat at Brick Lane
Brick Lane, in east London, has several markets nearby and is a hotspot for locals and tourists. It is also known as a dining destination, particularly the range of curry houses along the street. Take a book with you, and go and enjoy an amazing meal at one of the Brick Lane restaurants.
There is also a beigel shop open 24/7 – Beigel Bake. The salt beef beigel is famous, and people line up at all hours of the day to buy one (particularly after the pubs have closed…) Before I started this blog, my family business used to be a supplier for Beigel Bake, so I know it pretty well.
38. Victoria Park Market
As I live in east London, Victoria Park Market (or Vicky Park), is a food market that runs every Sunday. There are street food market stalls as well as fresh produce, fresh bread, and lots of sweet treats. You can even buy alcoholic drinks to enjoy as you explore the different stalls or grab a coffee from the Wake The Dead van.
Buy some food, and find a grassy area to enjoy a picnic on a Sunday afternoon – it’s a great way to spend some time on a sunny day. Check out their Instagram page to see who’s trading each week.
39. Visit the Royal Academy of Arts
The Royal Academy is often overlooked, but it still has a lot to offer. Located in the heart of Piccadilly, this prestigious institution is known for its diverse range of exhibitions, showcasing both historic and contemporary art. In addition to the free displays, there are also regular paid events as well as workshops and lectures.
The Academy, led by eminent artists and architects, organizes the famous Summer Exhibition, in which anyone can submit their artwork, most of which is for sale. This event has been running every year since 1769.
40. Explore Hampstead
Hampstead is one of those areas of London which was once a separate village, but as London has expanded it has become part of the city. This history means that certain parts of London have a village feel to them, and Hampstead is one of those areas.
The area is rich in cultural attractions like the Freud Museum and Keats House, the former home of the poet John Keats. Known for its artistic heritage and picturesque streets, the village offers a delightful blend of boutiques, cozy cafes, and historic pubs.
Hampstead Heath, a sprawling green space, is perfect for leisurely walks, offering stunning views of London from Parliament Hill. It’s a great part of London to meander around, away from the more hectic city centre.
41. Attend an event at the Barbican
The Barbican is a cultural centre that houses a concert hall, theatre, art galleries, and a cinema, offering a diverse program of arts and events. The Barbican Centre is renowned for its music concerts, particularly classical and contemporary, as well as international theatre productions and film screenings.
Its Conservatory, an unexpected tropical oasis with over 2,000 species of plants and trees, is a hidden gem which is free to visit and often hosts art installations. It’s worth checking out the website to see what is currently on, both for free exhibitions and paid events.
42. Thames River Cruise
Taking a Thames River cruise solo is a fantastic way to see London from a different perspective. Gliding along the river, you’ll witness iconic landmarks like the Houses of Parliament, the Tower Bridge, and the London Eye. Many cruises offer commentary, providing historical and cultural insights into the city.
As a solo explorer a dinner cruise will probably be less appealing to attend on your own, but daytime sightseeing cruises are a great solo activity.
43. Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
The Olympic Park, created for the 2012 London Olympics, is a sprawling and dynamic public space in East London. It’s also a short walk from my home so I’ve spent a lot of time there. It boasts sporting facilities, artistic installations, and beautiful parklands, as well as the Westfield shopping centre.
I’ll admit that I haven’t yet tried the ArcelorMittal Orbit, the UK’s tallest sculpture offering panoramic views and a very tall slide, but the bright red sculpture is a very obvious part of the area. The park is still being developed with new blocks of flats being added, and the V&A will be opening an outpost of the museum in the park in 2025.
44. Take a Day Trip To Oxford or Cambridge
Yes, this isn’t IN London, but it is definitely something you can do from London. There are lots of great places you can get to by train or car for a day trip from London, including the famous university towns of Oxford and Cambridge.
TIP: if you are driving to one of these cities, look up the Park and Ride schemes, which are often cheaper and easier than parking in city centres.
What To Do If You Are Self Conscious
London is a big and busy city. The locals are busy getting where they are going, and the tourists are busy looking at maps and taking photos. So, I say this with kindness – no one is going to notice or care that you are alone.
Spending time alone in public without feeling self-conscious can take practice. But as someone who’s eaten at restaurants alone, gone to the cinema alone and road-tripped around 48 USA states alone I can promise you this – anyone who judges you for being on your own does not deserve your attention.
And have something to read when you are in a restaurant – that’s my other main tip!
Ultimately, the more you do on your own, the more comfortable you will become with it. My travel philosophy has always been that I would rather go somewhere on my own, than never go because I am waiting for someone to go with. London is safe, easy to get around, and there are plenty of other people on their own exploring the city.
One of the best things about solo travel is that you can pick exactly what you want to do. You can see 5 West End shows that your friends and family might complain about. You can skip the shops if you want to save money. Whatever your preference, the list gives you plenty of options to fit your ideal London experience.
So, if you are visiting London in the future, consider adding some of these suggestions to your itinerary.
Is London safe for solo travellers?
Yes, London is generally safe for solo travellers. However, like in any major city, it’s important to stay aware of your surroundings, especially at night. Stick to well-lit, populated areas and keep your belongings secure.
What are the best ways to get around London alone?
The London Underground (Tube) is efficient and covers most areas. Buses are a great alternative, and walking is safe in central areas. Taxis and ride-sharing services are also readily available.