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Things to do in London

Your bags are packed and your holiday accommodation is booked - now you need to decide what to do out of all the fantastic things there are on offer in London! Luckily for you, we have compiled an extensive list of fun and entertaining activities to help with your holiday planning. Explore the seemingly-overwhelming city of London. There is so much on offer, from fancy restaurants to fascinating tourist attractions and great galleries to exciting events. Head over to Ivy Lettings for more information about London.

Leisure Activities in London


There are plenty of leisure activities unique to London. Why not go rowing on the river Thames, rent a paddle-o in Victoria Park or horse riding in Green park. Well-known enjoyable leisure activities also consist of Madame Tussauds and the London Eye, or one of the many musicals and plays. On a clear day you can cool off in one of the many swimming pools both indoors and outside in many of the parks, including Hampstead heath and the serpentine.

Theater in London

In London’s West End you will find most of the city’s well-known theatres. Here you can see famous pieces like Billy Elliot or A Midsummer Night’s Dream. You will find the theatres’ respective programmes on their websites.

- Almeida Theatre, Almeida St, London N1 1TA
- Barbican Centre, Silk St, London EC2Y 8DS
- Donmar Warehouse, 41 Earlham St, London WC2H 9LX
- Her Majesty’s Theatre, 57 Haymarket, London SW1Y 4QL
- Lyceum Theatre London, Wellington Street, London WC2E 7DA
- National Theatre, South Bank, London SE1 9PX
- Old Vic, 103 The Cut, Waterloo Rd, London SE1 8NB
- Peacock Theatre, Portugal St, London WC2A 2HT
- Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square, London SW1W 8AS
- Shaftesbury Theatre, 210 Shaftesbury Avenue, London WC2H 8DP
- Shakespeare’s Globe, 21 New Globe Walk, Bankside, London SE1 9DT
- Soho Theatre, 21 Dean Street, London W1D 3NE
- Victoria Palace Theatre, Victoria Street, London SW1E 5EA
- Young Vic, 66 The Cut, London SE1 8LZ

Sport in London

In London you’ll find many opportunities to get active – from golf courses to stables to rock climbing halls. This means that you can use your holiday in London to learn a new sport or to refresh your skills. The wide variety of urban parks entices those who like to go jogging to stay fit to get a bit of fresh air.

Rock Climbing in London Both beginners and advanced climbers will find the perfect climbing wall in London. The various routes go up to 14.5 metres, and in the climbing halls you don’t just have to climb the walls, you can also take part in "bouldering". On these artificial lumps of rock you climb unharnessed and close to ground level. Falls are broken by soft mats on the ground.

- The Castle Climbing Centre, Green Lanes, Stoke Newington, London N4 2HA
- Westway Climbing Centre, 1 Crowthorne Road, London W10 6RP
- The Arch Climbing Wall, 6 Bermondsey St, London SE1 2ER
- Seymour Leisure Centre, Seymour Place, London W1H 5TJ
- The Reach Climbing Wall, Unit 6, Mellish Estate, Harrington Way, Woolwich, London SE18 5NU
- Mile End Climbing Wall, Haverfield Road, London E3 5BE

Golf Courses in London Golf is very popular in England. Small and large golf courses in London also offer non-members the opportunity to play. Here you can work on your handicap at your own pace, maybe prepare yourself for the next tournament or just play for fun.

- Palewell Pitch & Putt Golf Course, Palewell Common Drive, East Sheen SW14 8RE
- Richmond Park Public Golf Course, Roehampton Gate, Priory Lane, London SW15 5JR
- Hampton Court Palace Golf Club, Hampton Wick, Kingston-upon-Thames, London KT1 4AD
- Dukes Meadows Golf Club, Great Chertsey Road, London W4 2SH
- Central London Golf Centre, Burntwood Lane, London SW17 0AT

Swimming in London Outdoor or indoor, in London there are a number of public swimming pools that bring a spot of diversity into your holiday. You can choose between natural lakes and modern swimming centres.

- Brockwell Park Lido, Dulwich Rd, London SE24
- Fulham Pools, Normand Park, Lillie Road, Fulham SW6 7ST
- Hampstead Heath Swimming Ponds, Hampstead Heath, London NW5
- Hampton Open-Air Pool, High Street, Hampton, Middlesex, London TW12 2ST
- Hornsey Park Road Lido, Park Road, Hornsey, London N8 8JN
- London Fields Lido, London Fields Westside, London E8 3EU
- Parliament Hill Lido, Parliament Hill Fields, Gordon House Rd, London NW5
- Serpentine Lido, Hyde Park, London W2
- Tooting Bec Lido, Tooting Bec Rd, London SW16



London Events


Before you make your way to London, why not make a couple of future plans to make sure you won’t be out of the loop for some special events, shows or screenings. There area a wide variety of festivals, sporting and music events that happen here in the hub of everything! We have researched extensively to makes sure you aren’t surprisingly battling the crowds and are first in line for special tickets!

New Year’s Day Parade
The New Year's Day Parade takes place every year on the 1st of January at 12pm and over the years has become a marvellous spectacle with hundreds of thousands of spectators on the streets and millions of viewers at home. Over 10,000 participants from more than 20 countries pass through London’s streets and transform what would otherwise be a miserable grey day into an event for the whole family. From musical floats to dance groups and acrobats, you’ll see it all at this parade!

London Art Fair
The annual London Art Fair takes place in the Business Design Centre. 100 galleries present modern and contemporary British art. This event is an absolute must for art lovers and alongside the booths and stands a range of artistic projects are presented in order to give up-and-coming artists the chance to establish themselves. There are also discussions and lectures.

Chinese New Year
The Chinese New Year Festival takes place on a different date every year, usually sometime between the end of January and mid February. There are celebrations in every part of town with parades, fireworks and demonstrations. Museums and galleries also dedicate special attention to Chinese New Year. Watch as a gigantic dragon weaves its way through London’s streets, accompanied by dancers and acrobats. At the roadside there is a myriad of stands with Chinese specialties and souvenirs.

Pancake Day
Shrove Tuesday in Great Britain is a day on which people cook pancakes and then put on pancake races. If you don’t want to run in the race you can cheer from the sidelines. Shrove Tuesday is traditionally the day before Lent begins. In this past this meant that calorie-rich foods like milk and eggs were used up so that they wouldn’t spoil during fasting. Together with the different races there are also fresh pancakes in all possible shapes to be bought.

Kew Gardens Tropical Extravaganza
Kew Gardens' Tropical Extravaganza takes place from February until March. Orchids and other exotic, tropical plants can be marvelled at in the Princess of Wales glass house, the perfect way to warm your winter blues away. This festival is all about colourful plants from the tropics. If you want, you can get some handy tips from the organisers or take part in an array of gardening courses.

St. Patrick’s Day
The 17th of March is St. Patrick's Day and a giant parade takes place every year in London to mark the occasion. There are celebrations in Trafalgar Square and in many other pubs and bars. Find out about typical Irish customs, try some Irish fare and and have an entertaining day with lots of music and dancing.

London Marathon
The London Marathon is one of the most important marathons in the world. Every year around 30,000 participants run the 42.2 km, to raise money for charity or to achieve their best time. Places in the competition are usually booked out far in advance but from the sidelines you can still watch and cheer the runners on. 

The Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race
One of the oldest sporting competitions in the world takes place on the Thames every April. The traditional Boat Race between the two universities, Oxford and Cambridge, runs from Putney to Mortlake. More than 250,000 onlookers watch with baited breath to find out which university will win.

Trooping the Colour
Every June the Trooping the Colour military parade takes place in honour of the official birthday of the British sovereign. 1,400 soldiers and various music groups march to Buckingham Palace, where joins the parade and travels down the mall in a horse drawn carriage, although before she turned 60 she would ride on horse back. The ceremony begins at 11am.



Holidays with children in London


London is very family-friendly and there are a lot of fun, affordable things to do with your little ones. Just think of all the museums with free admission, amongst others the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum. Children love to explore and they will have a lot of opportunities to do so in London. Of course zoos and farms are another big attraction for kids as they can get up close to familiar and exotic animals. Some of them can even be patted and fed. Because children love stories, a visit to the theatre should also be on your agenda. For those who love adventure and adrenaline, theme parks are the place to be.

Museums for children

Think museums are just huge buildings displaying old, boring exhibits? You haven’t been to the interactive, exciting museums in London! Explore and learn together with your children!

The Natural History Museum houses five collections relating to Botany, Mineralogy, Palaeontology, Entomology and Zoology. It specialises in taxonomy and even displays some of the specimens collected by Darwin. Many dinosaur skeletons are on display, amongst others the famous Dippy, a Diplodocus carnegii skeleton. The skeleton and a life-size model of a blue whale and Archie, the giant squid preserved in wet storage, are some of the museum’s other attractions. The Museum of Childhood displays childhood-related objects from as early as 1872. One exhibition displays curious games and other outdoor activities for children. Exhibitions change regularly, and hands-on activities and events on the weekends keep the little ones busy and entertained.
     
The Horniman Museum houses several exhibitions as well as an aquarium with a huge variety of aquatic life. In the Natural History Gallery you will find exhibits with different taxidermy specimen displaying evolution and adaptation. More than 1.600 musical instruments from all over the world can be seen in the Music Gallery. One highlight is the Hands on Base Gallery, where visitors can touch, wear and explore thousands of objects, such as Mexican masks and Indian instruments. At the Science Museum you will find the world’s biggest collection of science, technology, industry and medicine exhibits. There is also a hands-on gallery for children, the Launch Pad, where they can build a bridge or fly a plane. The Pollock’s Toy Museum displays toy theatres, dolls, board games, teddy bears, mechanical toys and much more from all over the world and all time periods. The museum’s toy shop is also definitely worth a visit.

Zoos, Aquarien und mehr

The London Zoo was the first zoo to receive the status of “zoological garden”. Today it is home to around 15,000 animals, made up of over 700 species. The zoo was officially opened in 1828 and was originally meant to be used as a collection for scientific study. It was opened to the public in 1847. This animal haven is situated at the north end of Regent’s Park in Camden and has, amongst other things, a magnificent clock tower, its first structure, which was originally built atop the llama enclosure, today a kiosk. The same architect, Decimus Burton, also designed the Giraffe House, which was built in 1837 and is still used for its original purpose today. Other highlights include the huge aquarium; the Gorilla Kingdom, where you can get up close and personal with these mighty primates; and the Reptile House, famous as the location where Harry Potter spoke to the snake. Today the whole family can view giraffes, camels, lions and gorillas, but also meerkats, Galapagos tortoises and penguins. There are regular demonstrations and feeding times, which are particularly popular with children. Visitors can spend the whole day in the park, as there are also restaurants and cafés to gather strength. The zoo is opened all year round except on Christmas day.   

The friendly Battersea Park Children’s Zoo is the perfect place for families with young children. Watch the playful otters, visit monkey mayhem or the mouse house and pat a pygmy goat. A play area and a café to relax in will make this a memorable day for your whole family. Hundreds of species of fish and other sea creatures await your visit in London Aquarium. Touch real shark skin on the Shark Walk and observe stingrays and piranhas. Crocodiles can be seen in the Rainforest area and penguins in the Ice Adventure area. Learn about your favourite sea creatures, including sea turtles, octopus and sea horses.

If you are looking for a fun day out with horses or ponies, book a private or group lesson at Hyde Park Riding Stables. You don’t need to have any previous experience with horses as lessons are provided for all levels. Children ages 5 and up and their parents can enjoy the five miles of bridleways in Hyde Park. Experience country life on the Freightliners Farm in Islington. Pigs, goats, sheep and chicken live here alongside rabbits and guinea pigs. Children can even pat some of the animals. Admission is free, but donations are always welcome since the farm is a non-profit organisation and secures its income through fundraising. Visit London’s largest farm, Mudchute Park and Farm, on the Isle of Dogs and learn all about horses, donkeys, llamas and pigs. Rabbits, guinea pigs and ferrets live together in the Pets Corner. Ask farm staff if you can hold and stroke one of them.

Fun and Action

In the Discover Children's Story Centre kids will find themselves on an interactive indoor story trail where they are encouraged to invent their own stories. Finger puppets, costumes and drawing materials are provided to help inspire them. Outside waits another play area for little explorers with a monster tongue slide, a spacecraft to climb on, giant musical instruments to play on and a pirate ship.

The Puppet Barge is a floating theatre, which seats 55 people comfortably in a unique atmosphere and puts on marionette and rod puppet shows. The performances include traditional children’s tales with a modern twist, and the live animation has been highly praised by local press. The Polka Theatre entertains its young audience with in-house productions, workshops and storytelling sessions. It is designed especially for kids and encourages them to be creative.

The theme park Chessington World of Adventures is full of rides for all ages and has its own zoo and sea life centre. Nine theme lands welcome you and your family to a day filled with adventure and fun. Fight against mummies in the Forbidden Kingdom, explore the mythical land of Wild Asia and board a pirate ship at Pirate’s Cove. Check the internet for feeding times and shows to make your visit at Chessington extra special. The Thorpe Park is the perfect destination for adrenaline seekers. Height and speed are keywords for most rides, but there are also plenty of attractions for younger children, for example in the Octopus Garden.



London Day Trips and Excursions


When you visit a city like London not only to you enjoy the myriad of options, attractions and tourism but also the accessibility out of the city too. Whether you take a train down to Brighton, a coach to The university towns of Cambridge and Oxford or drive to Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of William Shakespeare. Everything is within reach. You can get family tickets at reduced rates for day trips with coach services and trains or surprise a loved one by stopping off in the romantic Paris which takes just two hours from St Pancreas. If you aren’t here for a long time, why not spend a day in a quieter part of greater London. Hop on the scenic bus to Richmond and take a leisurely walk, it’s so beautiful you will hardly believe an hour away in Oxford Street.

Tours in London

London Duck Tours
London Duck Tours offer guided tours on amphibious vehicles! Let the "Duck" show you around London’s great attractions and end the journey on a ride on the River Thames. Not suitable for children under three, the tour only takes place on certain days at certain times.

Original London Sightseeing Tour
Nothing garners a better first impression of this amazing metropolis than a city tour on one of London’s famous double-decker busses. Choose between three routes, disembarking at stops of your choosing and stay as long as you want. To continue the tour you simply just get on the next bus! Included in the ticket price are a boat trip and guided walking tours.

Boat Trips
Explore London from a completely different perspective - from the water. A variety of boat tours are on offer, both on the Thames and in other city canals. Glide over the water in old barges, get to know historic London or dash over the Thames in a modern speedboat. "City Cruises" offer various Sightseeing tours with commentary and refreshments on board starting at Westminster Pier, London Eye Pier, Tower Pier and Greenwich Pier. Explore the Regent's Canal on a 100 year old canal boat with "Jason’s Trip" starting at Jason's Yard (42 Blomfield Rd). Also "Jenny Wren" (250 Camden High Street) offers tours through Regent's Canal. Or have an exciting speedboat tour on the Thames with "London RIB Voyages" (London Eye Millennium Pier, South Bank).

Day Trips

Bath
Bath is in the west of England and is famous for its Roman baths, which were built in 43 A.D., when the Romans living there discovered the only thermal springs in England. During the reign of Elizabeth I, Bath became a resort town for England’s aristocracy. Many of the historic buildings here stem from Georgian times. The primary material used during construction is Bath Stone, a kind of limestone, which has given the town a sort of architectural unity. This is why Bath has been advanced to the status of World Heritage Site. Bath is a ninety minute train trip away from London. After you have arrived you should take a look at Bath Abbey with its intricate façade and explore the Roman baths. A good way to do both is on one of the free of charge guided tours around the town. Royal Crescent is one of Britain’s most impressive streets due to its 180m long crescent of 30 residential houses and with 114 iconic columns. Jane Austen lived close nearby in Gay Street, where you will also find the Jane Austen Centre.

Cambridge
Just an hour away from London by train is Cambridge, a quiet little town on the river Cam, above all known for its university. Once settled by the Romans and then the Normans, here you will find a number of historically significant buildings. The cityscape is dominated by university buildings with cobble-stone inner courtyards and well cared-for gardens, although you will also see the odd example of modern architecture. The university is made up of 31 colleges, of which King’s College and Trinity College are two of the most famous. The colleges were founded between 1284 and 1977 and can be visited during specific opening hours. The Botanic Gardens and the university bookshop are also worth a visit. During a walk around the town you should also make sure you see the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, one of the four Norman round churches in England, as well as the Bridge of Sighs, a replica of the Venetian bridge of the same name. Myths surround the so-called Mathematical Bridge, one of the most photographed places in Cambridge. The many parks in Cambridge are particularly popular with visitors, as well as boat trips along the river Cam.

Oxford
Oxford lies on the banks of the rivers Thames and Cherwell and is only an hour away from London by train. Oxford is home to Oxford University, Cambridge University’s eternal rival. The rowing teams of these universities battle each other every year in the world’s most famous boat race. Oxford is home to a colourful mix of immigrants and students who have added their own unique charm to this traditional city. The university buildings are normally open to visitors in the afternoons, and the town’s most well-known sightseeing attractions include the Radcliffe Camera, which can only be viewed from the outside, and the look-out Carfax Tower, built in the 11th century. The Bodleian Library was founded in 1602 and is therefore one of the oldest libraries in Great Britain and has a collection of over 11 million books. The oldest public museum in Great Britain is probably the Ashmolean Museum, and the Sheldonian Theatre and Christ Church Cathedral are also very popular with visitors. After a morning spent collecting historical impressions, visitors can relax in the Botanical Gardens or on a boat trip along the river.

Stonehenge
Take yourself away to a mystical place, thought to have been built as long ago as 3100 BC. Buses travel regularly from London to Stonehenge. The site is made up of a megalithic structure of large, concentric standing stones set in earthworks. Stonehenge is situated approximately 13 kilometres north of Salisbury and how exactly these massive rocks were transported from Wales to their present location remains a mystery. The entire site came into being in several stages of construction, and there is much speculation over the meaning of Stonehenge. However, whether it was a burial site, a sun temple, an astronomic calendar or a site of healing remains unclear. The stones themselves are surrounded by a fence and are under constant surveillance, which means that you cannot walk around the stones themselves. These measures were taken after Stonehenge repeatedly fell victim to vandalism and the authorities feared that the stones could be permanently damaged by visitors. Stonehenge was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1986.

Stratford-upon-Avon
The birthplace of William Shakespeare is located near Birmingham, easy to get to from London by bus or train. Stratford-upon-Avon is 800 years old and entices many visitors ti visit with its romantic and historic charm. There are many sightseeing attractions that have to do with the life of William Shakespeare, however, often the basis for the claims these sites make cannot be proven. In Henley Street you will find Shakespeare’s birth house, a half-timbered house from the early 16th century. Inside the house, visitors can view furnishings from the Elizabethan period. Because Shakespeare was upper class, there is a suspicion that he went to the Grammar School in Church Lane. In 1597 he bought a house for himself and his family and named it "New Place", where he lived until his death. Unfortunately, this building no longer exists, as it was torn down in 1759. The owner of the house back then felt harassed by the constant streams of tourists. Shakespeare was laid to rest in the cemetery of the Holy Trinity Church. Stratford-upon-Avon is also home to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company players, and a number of guided tours are on offer, both around the theatre and the town.

Windsor Castle and Eton College
Windsor Castle has been the residence of the Royal Family for more than 900 years and is only about an hour away from London. The castle was built upon steep limestone rocks and can boast of a more than 1000 year history. Construction on the castle took place continuously, depending on the political situation: in times of war it was fortified and in peace time new rooms were added. The entrance gate originates from the time of Henry VIII. Many paintings by famous artists, suits of armour and other artefacts can be viewed inside the castle, however, when the Queen is at home the state rooms are not included in the tour. Queen Mary’s doll’s house is an attraction in itself: even the toilets and lamps work in this accurate luxury villa. After your visit you can take a walk through Windsor Great Park on the southern side of the castle. One of the most exclusive schools in the world is located in nearby Eton – Eton College. The college was originally a school for poor yet talented choir boys, but today it is seen as an elite school where even the Princes William and Harry were pupils. On a tour through the school you can see, amongst other things, the school’s oldest, 15th-century classroom.

While you're visiting London why not spend a few days visiting the beautiful British countryside and the sea! West Country Lets specialises in hand-picked self-catering holiday cottages in Devon and the West Country. The region is easy to reach by car or train from London in about 3 hours.


London Shopping


London is one of the best places in the world for shopping, from colourful highstreets, to up market designer boutiques and curious markets your purse will certainly feel the pinch of temptation wherever you go in London. London wins over visitors with its uniqueness, which is also reflected in its multifaceted range of shopping opportunities. Browsing around for souvenirs for friends and family, you’re bound to find something. London’s many markets also ensure a unique shopping experience. Visit this exciting metropolis and take a piece of London back home with you.

Harrods

Harrods is the most famous department store in London and quite possibly the world. The store, located in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, has gained recognition due to its exclusivity and is one of the largest of its kind. The Harrods Company was founded in Knightsbridge in 1834 by Charles Henry Harrod. The original building was completely destroyed in a fire in 1883 and was entirely rebuilt between 1894 and 1903. Harrods has been owned by the Egyptian businessman Mohammed al Fayed since 1985. Al Fayed has built a fountain shrine in the Egyptian Hall in memory of his son Dodi and Princess Diana which has now become a tourist attraction. The groceries section of Harrods enjoys particular popularity with its ground-floor Food Halls and their art nouveau design.

A further highlight is the legendary façade illumination, which takes place by way of 12,000 light bulbs. Accordingly, the upkeep of the façade is extremely time-consuming, which is why Harrods employs special electricians who have to change approximately 300 of these light bulbs every day. Harrods is a luxury and therefore an expensive department store. For this reason, one has to fulfil certain criteria in order to be admitted entry. For example, a lot of value is placed on customers' appearance. This means that those wearing conspicuous, alternative clothing are not allowed in, i.e. punks or heavy metal fans. Customers with backpacks are also asked to carry them in their hands and not on their backs and large groups of young people are also asked to leave. Another reason for its fame was its position as purveyor to the Queen until 2001.

Harrods customers have included members of the Royal Family, such as Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip and Prince Charles. Other notable customers include Oscar Wilde, Sigmund Freud and A. A. Milne. Harrods is also a wonderland for children, whose hearts start to beat a little faster when they enter the "Toy Kingdom" department. The choice of play things in this section is also exclusive and expensive. You can, for example buy a "life like", motorised Jeep Cherokee.