London is undoubtedly one of the largest and busiest cities in the world. It is one of the world’s most visited cities as measured by international arrivals. People flock from all over the globe to spend some time in London and experience everything the city has to offer.
However, unlike cities like New York or Barcelona, London is not known to be a late, 24/7 city. There are countless activities to do and sights to see during the day, but you may wonder what there is to do when nightfall hits. Don’t worry; as limited as your options may seem, there is actually an abundance of activities for you to choose between. Here are the top 23 things you should do in London at night, categorized by cost:
Free of Charge
1. Walk around Harrods
Harrods is one of the most famous departmental stores in the world that primarily sells luxury goods. The twinkly lights that illuminate the building at nightfall give it an undeniably magical atmosphere. A trip to Harrods can be dangerously expensive if you splurge on luxury items.
However, just walking through each floor is enjoyable, and the best part is that you won’t even have to spend a single penny. If you don’t have enough time to see the entire store, the food market hall is one area that cannot be missed. It can be really fun to just admire all the fancy foods they offer, even if you don’t end up buying anything. Harrods closes at 9:00 pm daily, except on Sundays when it closes at 6:00 pm.
2. Attend the Ceremony of the Keys
The Ceremony of the Keys is a 700-year-old ancient ceremony of locking up the Tower of London. It takes place every night at precisely 9:53 pm and concludes at 10:05 pm. In the past, securing the tower was significant because it protected the monarch who resided there. Even though this is no longer the case, the Crown Jewels and other valuables are still there, making the ceremony still relevant. The event is free; however, due to its limited space and popularity, tickets must be booked up to a year in advance. Planning ahead is key if you want to attend this old traditional ceremony.
3. Gaze at the night sky from the Hampstead Observatory
The Hampstead Observatory is amongst the few observatories in London that allow public viewing of stars and the night sky. It is promoted by the Hampstead Scientific Society as one of most visible places to see space, including the moon, planets, and other astronomical objects. However, keep in mind that the opening times are very limited.
The Hampstead Observatory is only open from mid-September to mid-April, on Fridays and Saturdays till 10:00 pm when the sky is clear. It holds a 6-inch (15-centimeter) Cooke refracting telescope from the 20th century, perfect to get the best views of the city and its skies.
4. Visit the Sky Garden
The Sky Garden is an enlarged glass dome with 3 floors of landscaped public gardens. It is the definition of modern urban gardening. Like the Ceremony of the Keys, access is free, but it must be booked in advance due to limited space.
Their viewing platform at the Sky Garden is open till 6:00 pm on weekdays, and 9:00 pm on weekends. However, the bars in there are open till 1:00 am, so you won’t need to worry about getting kicked out too early.
5. Go to a late-opening museum
Entry to many museums in London is free. Recently, some of the most famous museums have established monthly late openings that provide after-hours access to the public on specific days of each month. Visitors can not only browse their exhibitions, but also take part in workshops or listen to talks organized by the museum. The Science Museum, (Victoria and Albert Museum)[https://trip101.com/article/indulge-in-art-and-design-at-the-victoria-and-albert-museum-london], and (Natural History Museum)[https://trip101.com/article/make-friends-with-the-dinosaurs-at-the-natural-history-museum-london] are amongst some museums that hold late-night openings.
6. Hear Big Ben chime
Many people will have heard of Big Ben, one of London’s most well-known names. Part of one of the world’s biggest four-faced chiming clocks, many people believe that the name Big Ben refers to the clock itself. Did you know though, that Big Ben is actually the name of one of the bells within the clock?
Housed within a grand tower that is attached to the Houses of Parliament, you will hear Big Ben chime every hour, on the hour. If you go at night, you can see the building lit up and also escape the crowds that visit during the day. If you are there at the stroke of midnight, expect to hear 12 ringing chimes that indicate the beginning of a new day.
Things for 30 GBP (43.90 USD) and under
7. Attend a show at The Comedy Store
British humor is its own unique genre that carries a strong sense of satire through the absurdity of everyday life. Sarcasm and self-deprecation are two major themes used by British comedians to bury emotions, which may seem insensitive to other cultures. However, when in London, you should at least try to embrace classic British humor.
Located near Piccadilly Circus, The Comedy Store is the most famous of all British comedy clubs and has played a key role in the growth of alternative comedy. They have approximately 400 chairs at the venue, perfect to attract a crowd while making sure the setting stays intimate. The Comedy Store’s shows ranged from 8 GBP (11.70 USD) to 24 GBP (35.10USD), depending on the show. There are also numerous other venues around London that offer comedy shows (many are even free of charge), so there is no excuse not to go.
8. Experience nightlife in Shoreditch
Shoreditch is said to be the trendiest and most hipster neighborhood in London. It has some of the best street art, from graffiti murals, and nightlife. Despite the spread of affluence, a lot of the area still maintains its original gritty and urban vibe, with many of the walls and storefronts plastered with graffiti.
The bars at Shoreditch have their own unique atmosphere; it will be worth bar-hopping around the area to get a full experience of part of London’s nightlife. Attracting a young and youthful crowd, Shoreditch is the preferred stomping ground of people in their twenties.
9. Join a panoramic night bus tour
London is a haven of impressive landmarks. It becomes even more magical when they are lit during the night. There’s no better way to enjoy its grandeur than to get aboard a double-decker open-top bus! The bus will take you past many of the sights of London. Listen to the live commentator as he entertains you with fascinating facts and amusing stories for the whole circuit of the journey.
The bus crosses Tower Bridge, drives past Tower of London, Palace of Westminster, and London Eye. Take a glimpse of Buckingham Palace with its elegantly-designed facade, perhaps the city’s most famous sight truly “fit for a Queen”. Check out Westminster Abbey, the heart and soul of Great Britain’s spiritual life. Be dazzled as we approach the vibrant Trafalgar Square and the city’s west end, Piccadilly Circus. From Miss Saigon, Mama Mia, Lion King, Wicked, Annie, Matilda … name it, London has it! And when you see that Big Ben? You’ll know that you have truly arrived in London!
Book this fantastic night out to secure the deal. Click ‘Book Now’ for last-minute and live availability. These prices could not be beaten!
Panoramic night bus tour
Price: from 26 USD
10. Explore the Sunset Safari at the ZSL London Zoo
The Sunset Safari is an exclusive event that takes place at the ZSL London Zoo on Fridays in June and July. Lasting for just 8 weeks, you will get to spend your night accompanied by some fascinating animal species and learn about them from the experts. You will also have the opportunity to taste global cuisines at the World Food Markets, and be entertained by animal-themed acrobats.
11. Visit the Shard
Set beside the River Thames and spread over 95 floors, The Shard, standing at 310 metres (1061 feet) is the tallest building in London and in the whole of Western Europe. Book this tour for an exceptional multi-sensory experience! As you go up to floors 68-69 and 72, learn about London’s history with the interactive exhibits. Being the highest point in London, you have spectacular 360-degree views of the city reaching as far as 65 km (40 miles). This tour is fully self-guided, and the directions are easy to follow. You are free to walk through exhibits, explore for as long as you would like, or even catch splendid views above the city with melting sun.
View from the Shard
Price: from 31 USD
12. Ride the London Eye
Taking a ride on the London Eye is an iconic London experience. The London Eye is nothing more than a giant Ferris wheel, located on the South Bank of the River Thames. The structure stands at 443 feet (135 meters), while the diameter is 394 feet (120 meters).
It is recommended that you pre-book your tickets online for lower prices and to skip lines. Tickets cost between 21 GBP (30.70 USD) and 38 GBP (55.60 USD), depending on which type of ticket you purchase. Up until the Shard was built, the London Eye provided the highest public viewing point in London. It is ranked as the most popular tourist attraction the UK.
13. Sing karaoke at Lucky Voice Soho
Soho is an entertainment district, located in Central London, with some of the best nightlife, including karaoke bars. One of the most famous karaoke bars there is Lucky Voice Soho. They offer private karaoke booths that allow you to belt out as many as songs until they close. Prices vary between each karaoke place, but generally it shouldn’t cost over 20 GBP (29.30 USD) per person. At Lucky Voice, it typically costs around 12 GBP (17.60 USD) per person.
14. Listen to live music in Soho
If you’re not as keen on singing, maybe listening to others sing sounds more appealing. London is home to countless live music performances, from blues and jazz to regular pubs with live bands. Along with karaoke bars, Soho is also the place to go if you’re looking for any type of live music. If you’re seeking blues tunes, Ain’t Nothin’ But … Blues Bar is recommended, and if you’re dreaming of jazz tunes, Jazz After Dark is ideal. This is perfect for a chilled-out evening if you’re just looking to get some drinks and hang out with your friends.
15. Take part in a London Walks’ tour
London Walks is the oldest urban walking company in the world. They take you on guided walks through the city of London and allow you to explore new areas. No booking is required for the walking events, but the last walk usually starts at 7:30 pm and lasts for around three hours. Various themed walks are available to suit different interests, for example the Jack the Ripper Tour and the West End Ghost Walk.
16. Visit one of London’s night food markets
Most of London’s night markets are only open during the summer months, from May to October. Some markets you may want to consider checking out include Dinerama (in Shoreditch), or Kerb Does Alchemy (in Southbank). Both markets offer all kinds of street food and booze.
Expect to find dishes like burgers, pizza, ribs etc. Dinerama is a 2-storey al fresco dining site that is home to 15 stalls offering various cuisines. The entrance is free before 7:00 pm, but it will cost 3 GBP (4.40 USD) after this time. At Dinerama, you will find London’s best beef ribs at Smokestak. The smell of grilled barbecue ribs wafting to your nose will be enough to convince you to try this delicious dish.
17. Join a pub crawl in central London
‘Pub’ is a word often used across the UK. It simply means a place or bar where you can buy alcoholic drinks & food and consume them at the premises. In these countries, pubs are next to each other that you can literally walk from one to the other. Thus, the slang term 'pub crawl’. Join with the rest of 300 partygoers for a fantastic night out in the city. This five-hour epic pub crawl guarantees five venues, with a free shot in each pub. The package includes entries to the clubs, drink deals and complimentary T-Shirt and pen. So, come along and meet new friends. It’s one sure fun that you do not want to miss.
Central London pub crawl
Price: from 13 USD
18. Catch an affordable musical
Going to the West End is on any theater aficionado’s to do list. Catching a show at London’s iconic West End doesn’t necessarily mean you have to burn a hole in your wallet. One such show that offers affordable tickets is Wicket.
The Wicked musical is based on Gregory Maguire’s acclaimed 1995 novel, ‘Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West’. It tells the story of two friends who met in a sorcery school in the Land of Oz: Glinda, the good witch and Eplhaba, the wicked witch. Score your tickets now and witness this absolutely fantastic spectacle. With its extravagant theatrical staging, special effects, a touch of funny storyline, Wicked has all the elements a great musical should have. Listen as the cast sings catchy music: Defying Gravity, What Is This Feeling?, Dancing Through Life, Popular, For Good and many more. It’s a perfect experience to share with the family, adults and kids alike. Headout offers competitive prices, live and last minute availability - so be sure to check their website to book an affordable show it when you’re next in London.
Price: 33 USD
More than 30 GBP (43.90 USD)
19. Watch a West End show
If you’re able to splurge more on tickets, be sure to check out some of the West End’s other shows. Synonymous with high-class commercial theater performances, the West End has become a popular tourist activity. While some shows come and go, many of the classics have been running for years.
London may be a busy city, but many stores and sights close around the evening, just in time for you to catch a show on the West End on any given night. Tickets can be quite expensive, but it’s definitely worth it. If you’ve never seen a show before, why not try one of the famous classics, such as Les Miserables, The Phantom of the Opera, or Wicked?
But if you’re a theater enthusiast who has seen multiple performances before, you may want to check out some newer productions. The West End has become such an engaging part of London’s culture that you will enjoy your experience no matter which show you decide to watch.
20. Enjoy a meal at Duck and Waffle
Duck and Waffle is one of London’s most famous fine-dining restaurants. It is located on the 40th floor of Heron Tower, near Liverpool Street tube station. Unlike most restaurants in London, this place is open 24 hours a day. Feel free to drop by anytime, whether that means getting brunch extra early at 5:00 am or getting dinner extra late at 1:00 am.
There is no better way to appreciate good food than with an amazing view. However, bear in mind that is a popular and pricey restaurant, so be prepared to book a table early and splurge on this meal. As the name suggests, their signature must-try dish is the duck and waffle.
21. Experience Shakespeare at The Globe Theatre
We all know that the UK was home to the great literary playwright, William Shakespeare. So what better way to celebrate his work than with a live performance of one of his works in his home country?
The Globe Theatre is a replica of an original Elizabethan theater that shows a variety of Shakespeare’s plays in the open air. The goal of these shows is to mimic the way a play would have been performed back in Shakespeare’s era, and take it right back to simplicity.
22. Gamble your night away at the Hippodrome Casino London
Even though the Hippodrome Casino London just opened in 2012, it is already one of London’s biggest and busiest casinos. They also claim to be London’s most popular entertainment venue. With three floors filled with games, from poker to roulette and blackjack, there really is something for everyone.
23. Enjoy a London showboat dinner cruise
The River Thames is the longest river in England and said to be the only river in Europe to have a national trail following its source near Gloucestershire to Charlton. Its name originated from Tamesa, an ancient Celtic name for river, which means “the dark one”. Join us for sumptuous four-course dinner (choice between vegetarian and non-vegetarian menus) while meandering through the River Thames. Sip on fine wine, enjoy live music, dance your itchy feet and sing to your hearts content. The cruise departs and returns at Westminster pier, passing along resounding landmarks like the Palace of Westminster, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, and many more. See all the sights from a different perspective. Surely an excellent way to relax and marvel the fantastic view of the London skyline.
London showboat dinner cruise
Price: from 100 USD
"But there's nothing to do in London at night ..."
Hopefully now you can see that the above statement is false, and that there is plenty to do in London at night! Next time you’re in London, don’t let your day end early in the evening once you think everything is closed. There is so much to do at all hours of the night that you should make the most of it and explore as much as your heart desires. Check out one, two, or all of the suggested activities and make your nights as fun-filled as your days. You will never be bored in a city like London!
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