London vacation for one, anyone?
Solo travel is a growing trend across the UK as more and more visitors come to experience the country on their own.
Traveling alone certainly has its perks: more control over vacation plans, the opportunity to have a more authentic, local experience, more flexibility to change and adjust plans, building personal confidence, and a deeper connection to the destination – to name a few – and London is a great city for solo travelers.
Though the thought of traveling solo might be uncomfortable or even scary to some, it is truly something everyone should experience at least once – even if just for a day!
Whether you are planning a full solo adventure or you just need to fill in a few free afternoons, check out our guide of things to do in London on your own!
Tour The City
Riverboat tours, walking tours, bus tours — there are countless ways to explore London. Tours vary greatly in price, length, and area of the city that they explore, so do a bit of research in advance to pick the perfect adventure. Notable favorites include the ‘Changing of the Guard’ tour, which guarantees a front-and-center view of the famous Changing of the Guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace, the ‘Secret London’ tour, which explores hidden gems of the city, and the ‘Crime and Punishment’ tour, which explores London’s dark side. Of course, there are plenty of other options, including self-guided tour options, niche tours for specific interests, culinary and cocktail tours, and more. Rest assured that there are many ways to explore our beautiful city!
Go Harry Potter Hunting
It’s no secret that London is prominently featured in the wildly popular Harry Potter series. Whether you’re an enthusiast or a full-blown Harry Potter addict, seeking out a few of the film locations is an adventure that you won’t soon forget. The most popular spot in town in undoubtedly Platform 9 ¾ at King’s Cross. The platform cleverly features a half-hidden luggage cart that disappears into the wall and is a great spot for a photo shoot. We recommend going early, as this destination tends to draw a crowd. Other notable film locations include the Millennium and Brockdale bridges, the Australia House, which serves as Gringotts Bank in the films, and Leadenhall Market, which serves as the home of the Leakey Cauldron.
Shop And Sample At A Market
If you’re craving an urban adventure, meander over to a local London market to take in the sights, sounds, and flavors of the city. Markets are spread through neighborhoods across the city and the vibe and set up varies greatly from district to district. In general, you can expect a wide array of local purveyors, selling everything from handmade jewelry, art, and clothing to food items, decor, and much more. The food, in particular, is a tempting draw, as many markets host food trucks or local chefs for amazing street food and snacks. Borough Market, Leadenhall Market, Portobello Road Market, and the Camden Market are all popular, though the Maltby Street Market is our personal favorite.
Catch A Live Show
London is an artistic epicenter with a thriving theater and performance community. Indulge your entertainment bug by snagging a ticket to a live show. The city offers well over 200 professional theatres, ranging from high-end, historical venues to small, hole-in-the-wall local theaters. Trust us when we say there’s a show for every taste and budget! A few current favorites include Hamilton, The Book of Mormon, The Lion King, and Harry Potter and The Cursed Child – to name a few. Check out our post on London musicals for more live entertainment inspiration!
Explore Local Parks And Gardens
Outdoor enthusiasts are sure to feel right at home among London’s vibrant parks and gardens. The bustling city is packed with stunning spots to take a break and enjoy a slower pace. No matter what area of town you are, parks and gardens are plentiful and not more than a short walk or train ride away. Royal destinations, like the Buckingham Palace Gardens, Kensington Palace Gardens, and the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew top the bucket list for many garden lovers, though the city also offers several hidden gems that should not be overlooked. A trip to a London park or garden is a natural solo activity; many visitors enjoy going for a run, noshing on a local lunch to-go, or catching up on their favorite book.
Explore Local Palaces
Take a trip back in time by exploring London’s rich royal history. England is one of the few remaining counties ruled under a monarchy, a peculiar concept to many travelers. The royal family enjoys a lavish lifestyle and there are several ornate palaces and royal residences scattered throughout the city, many of which are open to the public for tours. A few notable royal destinations include Kensington Palace, St. James’s Palace, and Buckingham Palace, of course. London’s royal residences provide a fascinating glimpse into the royal lifestyles and history through art and antiques, exquisite gardens, and historical lectures.
Take A Seat On The London Eye
A tourist destination well worth a visit, the London Eye is hard to miss! The stunning ferris-wheel like ride towers well over 400 feet into the sky and is the largest observation wheel in the world. The ride has won several architectural and engineering awards over the year and is London’s most trafficked tourist attraction – and for good reason! There is truly no better way to take in the picturesque sights of the city. Tickets start at £25.20 (~$32) and packages that include other attractions are also available. Hours for the ride vary seasonally, though it is generally open mid-morning through dusk. We recommend purchasing a ticket online to guarantee entry at a specific time!
Visit A Museum
Seeking a little solo solitude? Museums are the perfect place to get lost in the city. From engaging history and science museums to stunning art galleries — and everything in between — the city provides an array of options for every interest. Are you a fiction enthusiast? If so, the Sherlock Holmes Museum and the Charles Dickens Museum are just for you. A history buff? Check out the Churchill War Rooms or the Imperial War Museums. Tech junkie? The Science Museum is an absolute must. The best part? Many museums in London, including the National Gallery and the National History Museum, are open to the public and are completely free to visit!
Go Souvenir Shopping
London is the perfect place to shop ‘til you drop for souvenirs and splurges. Whether you want to pick out a few items for friends and family back home or you simply want to treat yourself to unique city souvenirs, London offers some of the best shopping in the world. Portobello Road offers great vintage finds while Bond Street is known for exclusive, designer brands. Other popular shopping destinations include The Royal Exchange, King’s Road, Harrods, and Sloane Street. And if ‘stuff’ isn’t your style — fret not. London is also home to an impressive array of bookstores, perfect for the bookworm at heart.
Enjoy Afternoon Tea
It wouldn’t be a true trip to London without an afternoon tea experience, and the city’s selection does not disappoint. From customary, traditional English tea to unique, creative takes on the classic, there’s a tea experience for any budget or craving. For the ‘Crème de la Crème’ afternoon tea, splurge on a visit to The Ritz, which boasts first-class, white linen service, an impressive tea selection with varieties from across the globe, and decadent accompaniments. For tea with a tasty adult twist, experience the tea cocktails at Dandelyan, which was recently voted the best cocktail bar in the world (literally). Or, for a fun and interactive alternative, grab a seat aboard the London Bus Afternoon Tea Tour. The tea tour is also a great way to kill two birds with one stone – a lively city tour and a full London tea experience!
Treat Yourself To A Pint… Or Two
There’s nothing wrong with a refreshing afternoon pint or a nightcap to top off your solo London exploit. Sample craft brews at Beavertown Brewery, a favorite among visitors and locals alike. This quirky tavern is only open for six hours a week (2 p.m. – 8 p.m. on Saturdays) and is known for offering the cheapest craft pints in town. Other worthwhile pubs around London include The Rake, The Bottle Shop, Brew by Numbers, and The Old Fountain. Are you more of a wino or a cocktail pundit? Fret not – London offers several spots for every beverage of choice. Cheers to a wonderful solo adventure!
Are you ready to plan your solo London escapade?