Are you wondering what to do in London alone? Then you’ve come to the right place.
I am not only a Londoner, born and bred, but I have also been a passionate solo traveller for many years. As I know my hometown like the back of my hand and have first-hand experience of the challenges faced by solo travellers, I can steer you towards the very best things to do alone in London.
Whether you are a culture vulture, a fervent foodie or a seasoned shutterbug, there is something for every traveller. Many of London’s famous attractions make the cut but I have also thrown in less obvious solo activities.
At the end of the article, you’ll also find London solo travel tips, including advice on choosing accommodation and safety tips for female solo travellers.
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My Top 10 Things to Do Alone in London
In a hurry? Let’s cut to the chase.
In no particular order of preference, here are my favourite things to do in London solo.
1. Enrich your mind at one of London’s major museums
Visiting a museum is an ideal thing to do in London by yourself. Better still, entry to the permanent exhibitions in most of London’s museums is free.
Lovers of fashion and design will adore the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A), and history buffs will flock to the British Museum. If you are itching to learn more about our natural world, check out the Natural History Museum.
Perhaps I’m biased because I work there as a volunteer, but I love South Kensington’s Science Museum.
Even if you are not a museum person, the buildings that these collections are housed in are works of art and London landmarks in their own right.
2. Visit one of London’s free art galleries
Is art more of your thing? If so, you’ll be spoilt for choice in London. Again, permanent exhibitions are usually free.
For artistic immersion, head to The National Gallery on Trafalgar Square.
Or pop into one of London’s Tate Museums.
Visit Tate Britain for a walk through British art history. Or if you love modern art, there’s Tate Modern housed in the husk of a disused power station on London’s South Bank.
More intimate galleries that I love are the Wallace Collection, the Queen’s Gallery and the Dulwich Picture Gallery.
3. Be dazzled by the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London
The Tower of London is a very popular attraction for very good reasons.
Over its colourful 1,000-year history it has been a fortress and a palace. It was used to store records of government and was the site of a royal menagerie, the Royal Mint and armouries.
READ THIS NEXT: 15 Insider Tips for Visiting the Tower of London
Today’s visitors arrive in their droves to gaze at the Crown Jewels, the gold and gem-encrusted ceremonial items worn by British kings and queens, and to revel in its sometimes gory history. It was from here that Anne Boleyn and Guy Fawkes were incarcerated and were led to their grisly fate.
Their stories and more are brought to life during the free 45-minute walking tour led by the famous Yeoman Warders, also known as ‘Beefeaters.’ Delivered with style and humour, this is one of the highlights of the Tower of London that can’t be missed.
4. Embrace your inner classic music aficionado at St Martin in the Fields
If classical music is more to your taste, St Martin in the Fields holds regular free 30-minute concerts. I love the church’s inexpensive café in its crypt and its terrace cafe, both of which are inexpensive lunch options if you are in the Trafalgar Square area.
Another good option for free lunchtime concerts is the historic church of St. James in Picadilly.
5. See London’s highlights on a self-guided tour
Forget about those hop-on-hop-off tourist buses clogging London’s streets. The very best way to see the capital is on foot.
One of my favourite things to do in London is to seek out its familiar, and less familiar, sights by doing a walking tour. And the beauty of doing a self-guided tour is that you can go at your own pace (and skip the less interesting bits).
Insider Tip! Best London Walking Tour Books
6. Or join a guided walking tour
Friends have highly recommended the street art tours in East London. However, armed with a little information, you can do this by yourself.
READ THIS NEXT: Street Art in Brick Lane, London: A Self-guided Walking Tour
7. Visit the Sky Garden
For the best free view in town, head to 20 Fenchurch Street, otherwise known as the Walkie Talkie building, home to London’s Garden in the Clouds.
The Sky Garden offers a 360-degree panorama of London’s iconic skyline. On a clear day, the views are sensational, from the Tower of London and Canary Wharf to the east, and St. Paul’s Cathedral and the London Eye to the west.
Advance booking is essential.
READ THIS NEXT: Visiting The Sky Garden, London
8. Or take in the view from The Shard
If your budget can stretch that far, buy a ticket for The View from The Shard.
Soaring to a height of over 310 meters above the River Thames, The Shard is the tallest building in the United Kingdom and the highest viewing platform in London. The panorama from its viewing platforms is hard to beat.
For the best prices, buy your ticket from The Shard’s ticket office.
But did you know that you can visit The Shard for free?
Aqua Shard, one of the building’s six restaurants, offers some of the best views in the building. Although you won’t reach the dizzy heights of level 68 and beyond, its double-height glass walls on floor 31 envelop you in London’s skyline.
Advance reservations are advised.
READ THIS NEXT: How to Visit The Shard for Free: A Local’s Guide
9. Take a riverboat along the Thames
Take a riverboat along the Thames for a leisurely day out and a chance to see many of London’s most famous bridges from a different perspective.
A one-day River Roamer ticket gives you unlimited travel on the Thames Clippers’ service.
This will allow you to hop on and hop off between 23 piers along the river and explore some of the city’s attractions. These include Battersea Power Station to the west, the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye, Tate Modern, the Tower of London, Tower Bridge and historic Greenwich to the east.
10. Lose yourself in Kew Gardens
Strolling around the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew is one of my favourite solo travel London activities.
Home to the world’s largest and most diverse collection of plants – over 50,000 plant species at the last count – Kew Gardens is one of the capital’s treasures.
The Temperate House and the Palm House offer a warm winter refuge for plants and visitors alike and are jewels of Victorian engineering.
Embrace your inner child by walking across the Treetop Walkway, suspended 18 metres above ground and offering a bird’s eye view of the forest. Or check out Kew Gardens’ art installation, The Hive, an immersive sight and sound experience.
Although there’s something to see in Kew Gardens all year round, I prefer the explosion of colour in springtime and the spectacular foliage of the arboretum in autumn.
Best Things to Do in London Alone During the Day
11. Explore London’s smaller museums
By ticking off the major museums on our travel bucket lists, there’s the risk that the smaller museums are omitted. If you are in a city for a limited time, this is inevitable as priority is given to the big hitters.
London is home to some wonderful, smaller museums which are perfect for mooching around alone if time permits.
Local’s Tip! My Pick of London’s Best Small Museums
London Cinema Museum – for a journey into cinema’s past
Horniman Museum – a quirky natural history museum in a beautiful setting, famous for its giant stuffed walrus
Museum of Brands – for a surprisingly fascinating insight into marketing and brands.
12. Join a tour or talk at The British Museum
The British Museum is one of my favourite hangouts and it has a stimulating programme of events year-round. These range from excellent free gallery tours, that are led by volunteers, to more in-depth explorations of cultural and historic subjects.
You can just turn up on the day for most of the free gallery tours. However, book online for the paid-for talks as these are very popular.
But if you miss out on the talks, don’t miss out on the museum. It truly has a world-beating collection, from imposing African statues to the glorious Lindisfarne Gospel from Northumbria’s Holy Island.
13. Dive into WW2 history at the Churchill War Rooms
Step back into the dark days of the Second World War by visiting the fascinating Churchill War Rooms.
This painstakingly preserved subterranean warren was home to Churchill and other top-ranking British officials during World War II. From here, the British government directed the Second World War.
The sense of history is almost tangible.
14. Plan your next solo trip in an old-fashioned bookshop
A bookshop is a perfect refuge for the solo traveller. Sadly, in these days of Amazon – other online retailers are available – bookshops are becoming rarer, and those with character rarer still.
Luckily for us locals, London has managed to cling onto many of its bookshops.
King amongst these is Daunt Books in Marylebone. Solo travellers will be bowled over by its extensive collection of travel publications, perfect for an hour’s browsing.
15. Bag a good spot for the Changing of the Guard
There are few things that Britain does better than pomp and ceremony, and the Changing of the Guard is an excellent place to experience this.
The Changing the Guard is when the King’s Guard transfers responsibility to the New Guard and spans three locations: Buckingham Palace, St James’s Palace and Wellington Barracks.
This 45-minute ceremony takes place on select days (typically Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays) and starts at 11 a.m. Times and days do change and you should check the schedule here.
This spectacle is completely free to watch. That said, to understand what is going on and to bag the best spots, it’s worth looking at this inexpensive walking tour with a local guide.
16. Take a stroll along the Victoria Embankment
There are so many London walks from which to choose but this one takes in many of London’s top sights.
The 2km Victoria Embankment river walk from the Palace of Westminster to Blackfriars Bridge is a perfect way to spend an afternoon by yourself.
If the weather is kind to you, take a break in the Victoria Embankment Gardens near Charing Cross Station. A café is open in the warmer months, and there are summer concerts on the garden’s bandstand.
Alternatively, if you are seeking open spaces, walk the Pymmes Brook Trail in North London.
17. Smell the flowers in Columbia Road Market
Visiting at least one market is a good use of time during your solo trip to London. There are so many to choose from: Portobello Market, Brick Lane Market, Old Spitalfields and Borough Market to name but a few.
But my favourite has to be the Columbia Road Flower Market, which is one of the best things to do in London by yourself on a Sunday.
On one day of the week, this East End road is transformed into a blooming wonderland, the air perfumed with the scent of flowers. Arrive early to get your pick of the blooms (the market opens at 8 am).
Or if you are after a bargain, arrive around 2 pm when the stallholders start to reduce their prices. The market closes at 3 pm.
This area between Shoreditch and Brick Lane is also packed with vintage shops, and fantastic cafes and delis. Perfect for Sunday brunch.
18. Borrow a four-legged friend for the day
If you are missing companionship, why not borrow a dog for the day? The innovative Borrow My Doggy pairs dog owners with dog sitters.
What could be better than having a canine companion to explore London with? And you get to help out dog owners.
19. Explore Maritime Greenwich
There are few better solo days out in London than taking the riverboat to Greenwich and exploring its collection of UNESCO-listed buildings. It helps that it has welcoming riverside pubs and restaurants.
Although it is most famous as the place of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and the Prime Meridian of the world, its buildings and historic landmarks showcase English artistic and scientific endeavours in the 17th and 18th centuries.
- The Queen’s House – first Palladian building in England.
- The Royal Naval Hospital – originally designed by Christopher Wren and further embellished by other architects, including Nicholas Hawksmoor.
- The Royal Park – expansive views over London and home to the Royal Observatory, Maritime Museum and Meridian Line.
- The Royal Observatory – the baseline for the world’s time zone system and for the measurement of longitude around the globe
20. Take a day trip from London
Thanks to extensive rail connections, it’s super easy to take a day trip from London.
With its broad shingle beach and cool bohemian air, Brighton is a very popular day trip from London. The university cities of Oxford and Cambridge are also great choices for a day out.
Even Liverpool, home of The Fab Four, is reachable as a day trip from London.
For something a little different, but no less historic, try Rochester in Kent, which was once the home of Charles Dickens. Visit one of the seaside towns in Kent or walk along the dunes of Camber Sands and explore the neighbouring town of Rye, West Sussex.
Finally, if you’re in the mood for a walk through ancient woodlands, I highly recommend heading to Epping Forest in the northeast corner of London, which is spectacular in autumn.
READ THIS NEXT: 31 Easy Day Trips from London by Train
But perhaps you want someone else to take care of all of the arrangements for you or want to benefit from the knowledge of a guide? There are some day trips from London where it makes sense to join an organised tour with a guide.
Here is my pick of the best
Stonehenge Half-Day Tour
Stonehenge is one of the most popular day trips from London but is not the easiest place to reach by public transport, requiring a train and bus/taxi journey. This half-day tour includes a return transfer and an audio guide.
>>> CLICK HERE TO BOOK
Windsor, Stonehenge and Oxford Tour
Three top destinations are bundled into one neat package here. You can choose to visit the interior of Windsor Castle and will benefit from a live guide.
>>> CLICK HERE TO BOOK
Full-Day Cotswolds Tour
Like Stonehenge, exploring the Cotswolds’ chocolate box villages can be tricky if you don’t have a car. This excursion visits four of its loveliest villages – Burford, Bibury, Bourton-on-the-Water, and Stow-on-the-Wold – and is led by a live guide.
>>> CLICK HERE TO BOOK
21. Learn a new skill
Learning a new skill as a solo traveller works well on so many levels. Apart from the potential enrichment resulting from the activity, it is a fun way to spend time in a strange city and a fantastic way to meet new people.
Check out obby to find classes that are available around London. There really is something for everyone, from calligraphy and cocktails (assume that the writing comes first!) to eco pouch making with sustainable designers.
22. Take a class at the School of Life.
London’s School of Life has an extensive programme of classes and workshops, focussing on helping attendees find fulfilment in key areas of their lives.
Speakers discuss a range of subjects from how to find love, to developing your emotional intelligence.
23. Start your weekend with a Park Run
If you are in London by yourself on a Saturday and have your running gear with you, why not take part in a Park Run?
These organised 5K runs are great fun as well as good places to meet new people as a solo traveller. Sign up for free on their website.
24. Unleash your inner Ginger Rogers at a dance class
If running isn’t for you, consider dropping into the famous Pineapple Studios in Covent Garden for a dance class.
From tap to hip hop, there are classes for all levels, throughout the day and well into the evening. Prices are from £10 for an hour’s session; advance booking is required.
25. Rent a bike to enjoy London’s parks
For something a little more leisurely, rent a bike to explore one or more of London’s wonderful parks. The Hyde Park loop is particularly good.
You can rent one of the distinctive Santander Cycles. Download the Santander Cycles app or go to any docking station with your bank card and touch the screen to get started.
For a fun way to explore London and to meet other solo travellers, join a guided bike tour of London that takes in the city’s highlights such as Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace, as well as some hidden spots.
26. Treat yourself to afternoon tea
There are few more quintessentially English culinary experiences than afternoon tea.
High tea, as it is also called, is usually served between 2 pm and 4 pm and typically includes crustless finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, sweets and pastries. These are arranged on a tiered platter and are served with your choice of tea (or coffee).
Put aside a few hours for this experience. To make it truly special, why not add a glass of champagne?
Afternoon tea is served in a large number of venues across London (start by checking here). But you can also combine eating and sightseeing on an afternoon tea bus or having high tea sailing along the Thames.
27. Pack a picnic for one of London’s parks
London is home to more than 3,000 parks, covering almost 18 per cent of the capital. The best known of these are its eight Royal Parks, which include Hyde Park, St. James’s Park and Regent’s Park.
These are the perfect spots for a DIY lunch or supper. Do as the locals do. Grab yourself a “meal deal” from a mini-supermarket (typically a sandwich, drink and fruit/bag of crisps for under a fiver) and pick the perfect spot in the park of your choice.
No dining companions are required.
28. Read a book over a flat white
Let’s be honest. Rain is not an impossibility in London.
Cosying up in a café is a good wet weather standby if you are alone in London. Order your coffee – and something decadent to go with it – open up your book or laptop or just people watch.
Solo Travel in London: What to Do at Night
29. Lose yourself in a good movie
Solo cinema-going should be the norm, not the exception.
Let’s face it; why do you need to go with someone else to watch a movie? Whilst a shared post-movie critique can be fun, it’s not as if you’re going to chat with one another during the film. Or I sincerely hope not.
I’m a total cinephile and go to the cinema on a weekly basis at the very least, often on my own. To my mind, hunkering down in a cosy cinema on a winter afternoon takes a lot of beating.
In central London, my go-to place for a dose of movie magic is Picturehouse Central. Big screens, comfortable seats, good café and thoughtful programming. Plus its Members’ Bar is one of the best spots in London to grab a drink!
For a boutique cinema experience, try the theatres in the Everyman Cinema chain.
As their screens tend to be smaller, this is not the best option for those big blockbuster movies. However, what the Everyman lacks in screen size, it gains in comfy sofas and armchairs, some with footstools, and waiter service to your seat.
For a journey into cinematic past, pick Prince Charles Cinema (off Leicester Square). This retro-styled cinema has a wonderfully eclectic programme at bargain prices for its central location, especially if you take up their cheap membership.
30. Browse the BFI’s Archives in the Mediatheque
Another favourite place to watch a movie is the British Film Institute (BFI) on the South Bank, which is also home to the uber-cool Mediatheque.
The Mediatheque comprises booths with comfortable seats where you can settle down with a film or TV programme from the BFI’s extensive and diverse archive collection.
And best of all, it’s absolutely free and open until 9 p.m.
31. Attend evensong at St Paul’s Cathedral
Welcome to another of my favourite places in London, the majestic St. Paul’s Cathedral.
If you are not pushed about scaling the cathedral’s dome, why not attend one of the choral evensong services? You can check the schedule here.
Not only is this completely free, but you also have the opportunity to hear the choir in this acoustically sublime setting.
32. Catch a play or musical
Another great thing to do in London by yourself is to go to the theatre.
London has so much going on theatrically, suiting all tastes and budgets. And as a single, it is easier to score a single ticket.
33 Experience Elizabethan London at The Globe Theatre
See Elizabethan theatre brought vividly to life in one of London’s most famous buildings, Shakespeare’s Globe, built a few hundred meters from the original Globe, where many of Shakespeare’s plays were first performed.
I’ve seen a few productions here and it is an unforgettable experience. In an attempt to reproduce the bawdy atmosphere of 16th-century theatre-going, “groundlings” stand in the central space in front of the stage. Applauding and jeering are actively encouraged.
As much of Shakespeare’s Globe is open to the elements, the theatre operates a summer programme only. Groundling tickets sell for as little as £5.
34. Dine at a supper club
The prospect of eating out alone is enough to bring even the most experienced solo traveller out in a cold sweat.
If you are visiting London alone and don’t fancy a table for one, why not try one of the city’s supper clubs?
These imitate spaces are where aspiring chefs test their offerings before committing to the rent of a permanent home. As such, you can eat very well for a fraction of the usual price.
Plump for one that offers long sharing tables, which are good places to strike up conversations with new people.
READ THIS NEXT: Solo Dining with Style: 21 Tips To Make Eating Out Alone Fun
35. Sip a G&T in a London pub
I’ve saved one of the best things to do alone in London until last.
Few things are as quintessentially British as a pub, and just because you are travelling alone doesn’t mean that you have to miss out on this experience.
One of my favourite central London pubs is the Fitzroy Tavern on Charlotte Street in Fitzrovia. This Victorian boozer oozes history and has been the haunt of many a London luminary over the years, including Dylan Thomas.
Head upstairs to bag one of the pub’s comfy armchairs. Write your journal, read a good book and order a glass or two of your favourite nectar. And you never know, you may soon make new friends.
Where to Stay as a Solo Traveller in London
Choosing the right place to stay as a solo traveller is an essential part of your travel planning.
London is a pricey city in which to stay, especially if you are travelling alone. You’ll pay a premium for staying within the central (transport) Zone 1; prices usually start to drop the further you venture.
Base yourself in one of these zone 1 neighbourhoods: buzzy Soho or Covent Garden, trendy Hoxton, elegant Mayfair, or Islington with its abundance of excellent bars and restaurants. All of these areas have good transport links.
Here are a few options to consider:
Wilde Aparthotels by Staycity Covent Garden
Centrally located on The Strand, one of London’s most historic streets, this aparthotel offers a range of rooms, including those with a kitchenette. I have used Staycity in France and was very impressed.
>>> CLICK HERE TO CHECK RATES & BOOK
These modern studio apartments in the heart of Islington have all you need for a successful solo trip to London, including a fully equipped kitchenette.
>>> CLICK HERE TO CHECK RATES & BOOK
Covent Garden Hotel
This wonderfully located hotel in the charming Seven Dials area of London is one of the boutique Firmdale Group properties in London. It’s not cheap but it is one of the best places to treat yourself (it also has a great bar and restaurant).
>>> CLICK HERE TO CHECK RATES & BOOK
9 Hertford Street
This one-bedroom apartment is a more affordable luxury choice, a stone’s throw from Green Park. Extremely elegant but also functional.
>>> CLICK HERE TO CHECK RATES & BOOK
>>> None of these places takes your fancy? Check out other great accommodation choices in London here.
London Solo Travel Tips
Getting around London
London is a surprisingly walkable city. The key is to pick a neighbourhood and stick with it.
That said, it’s very unlikely that you’ll avoid the need to use public transport in the capital.
The London Underground, or “Tube,” network is extensive and covers most areas, at least north of the river. But it’s hard to beat bagging the front seat at the top of one of the city’s red double-decker buses, which serve some of the areas the Tube doesn’t reach.
Contactless payment or pre-paid Oystercards make it easy to use the capital’s buses and trains
The London River Bus is a tourist activity in itself, providing a more leisurely way of getting from A to B. Additionally, iconic London black cabs, Uber and Bolt are readily available.
Cycling is increasingly popular, thanks to London’s growing network of bike lanes.
Solo Travel London: Safety Advice
London is one of the safest and best destinations for solo travellers in Europe, even for those who are taking their first solo trip.
For English speakers, the locals talk your language. This is one of the most diverse cities on the planet and one that is tolerant of all types of people.
Save the occasional wobble, London’s transport system is extensive and user-friendly. This is a very busy city at all times of the year, and this activity helps to keep things safe.
As in many cities, petty crime is not unusual. I have friends who have had their bags swiped on the Tube and valuables lifted by nimble-fingered pickpockets in pubs.
Remain vigilant. Keep your belongings close to you, stash your valuables at your accommodation and use an anti-theft backpack when you are out and about. I have this PacSafe backpack which has anti-RFID technology and a hidden pocket.
Take steps to keep safe as a female solo traveller.
A little bit of common sense goes a long way. If a street or an area doesn’t feel right, trust your gut and don’t go wandering alone. Avoid walking through London’s parks after sunset.
READ THIS NEXT: 17 Essential Safety Tips for Travelling Alone
How to meet people in London
My Italian friends love London but cannot understand why people don’t make eye contact on the Tube, let alone talk to one another. And here’s the thing; striking up random conversations with strangers on public transport or on London’s streets is a no-no.
It’s not that the natives are inherently unfriendly or rude; it’s just not the cultural norm. But the good news is that there are a number of better ways to meet people as a solo traveller in London.
Although my days of sleeping in a dorm are behind me, I’ll be the first to admit that hostels are great places to meet other travellers.
As I’ve mentioned, joining a day tour or activity, learning a new skill or taking part in a Park Run are all ways to meet people.
Perhaps you are an avid photographer or a keen walker? Then why not indulge your passion and meet other people using Meetup. This online tool lists events that cater to a vast range of interests.
The great British pub is always a good bet, especially if you prop up the bar.
READ THIS NEXT: 21 Easy Ways to Meet People While Travelling Alone
Saving money as a solo traveller in London
London has a not undeserved reputation as an expensive city. However, there are ways that you can save money when visiting London alone.
There are tons of free activities, from London’s first-class museums and galleries to its acres of parkland.
Eating out doesn’t need to cost a packet. Buy food supplies from small supermarkets dotted across London (e.g. Tesco Express) and stick to cheap and mid-range eateries.
London has two excellent sightseeing passes.
Use the London Pass for unlimited sightseeing across 90+ attractions over a set number of days. Alternatively, a London Explorer Pass allows you to decide how many attractions you would like to visit in a 60-day period.
Thank you for reading my solo travel London guide
I hope that these ideas and tips help you have the best London solo trip. If you are looking for more information about what to do in London, take a look at some of my other articles below.
Bridget Coleman is a Londoner who has been a passionate traveller for more than 30 years. She has visited 70+ countries, most as a solo traveller.
Articles on this site reflect her first-hand experiences.
To get in touch, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on social media.