12 best things to do in London

With an illustrious past, a dynamic present and an exciting future, no wonder millions of tourists from across the globe flock to this vibrant capital. London is packed with iconic landmarks, magnificent museums, an electric nightlife – served up with plenty of British charm.

When planning your trip and booking car hire in London, it can seem like there’s an unlimited amount of things to do on your trip to the Big Smoke.

That’s why we’ve rounded up some of the city’s finest attractions and unmissable experiences in our guide to the best things to do in London.

1. Horniman Museum and Gardens

100 London Rd, Forest Hill, London, SE23 3PQ

One of London’s best-known museums is also one of the country’s quirkiest. Forest Hill’s Horniman Museum and Gardens comprises a selection of natural history artefacts and examples of handicrafts from all around the world.

The truly eclectic collection ranges from traditional sand paintings to a huge number of stuffed animals, which showcase the true skill of taxidermy. There’s also a collection of anthropological items collected from the four corners of the world – 80,000 different pieces in total – as well as the colourful gardens to wander and Butterfly House to discover.

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2. Globe Theatre

21 New Globe Walk, London, SE1 9DT

Step into the world of Shakespeare at the atmospheric Globe Theatre. Sitting proudly on the bank of the Thames, this timeless building has long been linked with the works of the great Bard.

Though the original theatre was destroyed in the 17th century, the new Globe has been designed to the same specifications, resembling its Elizabethan predecessor. The world-renowned Royal Shakespeare Company regularly performs at the theatre, bringing the works of the great playwright to life for a modern audience.

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3. Changing of the Guard

Westminster, London, SW1A 1AA

In terms of pomp and pageantry, nothing matches the spectacle of Changing of the Guard. Held in the grounds of Buckingham Palace, this tradition is a favourite with visitors, who can watch the ritual unfold any day of the week between April and July, and at other times of the year on alternate days.

You’ll see soldiers from The Queen's Guard handing over the responsibility of protecting the Sovereign to the New Guard, who march there from nearby Wellington Barracks to participate.

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4. Abbey Road

St. John's Wood, London

Recreate one of the most-famous album covers in music history for yourself at the celebrated Abbey Road crossing, just across from the renowned studios. The London street is iconic for its appearance on the Beatles’ album, Abbey Road, in which the Fab Four are pictured strolling over the zebra crossing for the front cover.

Often imitated by visitors who frequent the area to pay homage to their idols, the chance to pose on the crossing also comes with the opportunity to step inside the studios. There you’ll find a gift shop and a wall where you can write a music-inspired message.

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5. Wellcome Collection

183 Euston Rd, London, NW1 2BE

Billed as 'the free destination for the incurably curious', the Wellcome Collection on Euston Road provides an in-depth look at science and medicine. It features intriguing exhibitions across its galleries that detail how they connected to art and our lives throughout history.

With a vast archive of medical journals and books, as well as film footage and interactive exhibits, the Wellcome Collection uses a range of off-beat lectures and exhibits to teach how medicine was studied and applied in the past, and how it will be in the future.

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6. Museum of the Home

Geffrye Almshouses, 136 Kingsland Rd, London, E2 8EA

Look at life through the ages at London’s Museum of the Home, previously known as the Geffrye Museum. As the name suggests, you’ll find exhibitions that are dedicated to the history of Britain’s interior design.

Discover Elizabethan bedrooms, housework tools from the 1960’s and more at this quirky and fascinating museum. Explore how our homes have evolved over the years, through decorative choices, new inventions and the traditions and cultures that have influenced British life behind the front door.

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7. Hyde Park

Hyde Park, London

Spanning 350 acres of Central London's landscape, Hyde Park is a preferred retreat for millions of visitors every year. With five Tube stations dotted around the edges and good road access, it's easily reached considering its location in the thick of the big city.

Pack a picnic at enjoy lunch on the lawns in this former royal hunting ground. Hyde Park features wonderful wooded walks, a boating lake and an impressive array of statues and sculptures to enjoy on an afternoon away from the city buzz.

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8. The National Gallery

Trafalgar Square, Charing Cross, London, WC2N 5DN

London's National Gallery is the fourth most-visited art gallery in the world and with more than 2,300 pieces to see. Don’t pass up the chance to gaze upon some of the most iconic works of art, in a grandiose setting that looks out upon Trafalgar Square.

Housing creations from the past seven centuries, the National Gallery's most notable works include 'Sunflowers' by Vincent Van Gogh and Constable's 'The Hay Wain'. There are countless themes and styles on display, by a huge number of world-famous domestic and international artists.

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9. Winchester Palace

Winchester Palace, Pickfords Wharf, London, SE1 9DN

Escape the hustle and bustle of London life with a wander through the charming grounds of Winchester Palace. The derelict remains of this 12th century palace provide plenty of atmosphere and a wonderful window into the life of the bishops who once lived here.

Explore the Great Hall, where guests enjoyed vast feasts and attended religious celebrations. You can also make your way through the former kitchens or gaze up at the remnants of the 14th-century rose window, which looks out onto a small garden.

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10. Natural History Museum

Cromwell Rd, South Kensington, London, SW7 5BD

Showcasing a collection of around 80 million specimens, catalogued and archived during its 130-year history, the stunning Natural History Museum is best known for its dinosaur exhibits. Meet incredible prehistoric animals, including three-horned Triceratops and fearsome Tyrannosaurus skeletons.

Dinosaurs aren’t the only impressive creatures on display at the Museum either, with mighty whale remains and well-preserved specimens from across the planet. Previous researchers include arguably the most important figure in our understanding of natural history, Charles Darwin.

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11. Nelson’s Column

A400 Trafalgar Square, London

Standing over 50 metres tall in London's Trafalgar Square, Nelson's Column was built in the 1840s as a memorial to one of England's most formidable leaders, Admiral Horatio Nelson.  Designed by E.H. Baily, a sandstone statue of Nelson stands atop a Corinthian column and faces south towards The English Channel.

The structure gazes down at the lands Nelson helped to protect from French forces during the Napoleonic Wars. There are also four striking bronze lions that sit at the column’s base, added in 1867.

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12. Bushy Park

Hampton Ct Rd, Hampton, TW12 2EJ

Take a walk through Bushy Park and spot local wildlife over lunch. Visitors can enjoy more than 1,000 acres of woods, gardens and waters including boating and modelling ponds, as well as the famous Chestnut Avenue – which marks the walk up to the palace. 

Be sure to keep an eye out for the impressive array of visiting birds and the resident deer herds that call this woodland park home, while you’re wandering the second largest of London’s Royal Parks.

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Open up Britain’s charming and exciting capital when you book car hire in London with Hertz online today.