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Fun Things to do in London - Essential Living

Fun Things to do in London

Blog
27.05.22

Say what you want about the world today, but one thing is never in doubt – there’s just no city in the world like London. Countless tourists visit the capital year in, year out for culture, history, food and entertainment – not to mention a few sessions of setting the world to rights in a cab driver conversation or two.

Any list of fun things to do in London is sure to leave your diary bulging with potential days out, from evenings in the bright lights to hidden historical hideaways. But make no mistake – this article won’t be about going over the same ground as everybody else.

Big Ben? Big deal. The South Bank? So-so. Hyde Park? Ho-hum. We’re delving deeper into the fun things to do in London today. The science museums and O2 Arena are all well and good, but you didn’t come here looking for information about places you already know.

Need some fun things to do in London? Look no further than these inspiring ideas.

 

Ballie Ballerson

Ballie Ballerson

Cocktails are always among the most fun things to do in London. But how many times do we need to traipse around the same old highbrow hipster venues, putting on airs and graces?

Remember simpler times? Ballie Ballerson in Shoreditch does. Here, it’s not just about neon lights, mirrors and classy cocktails – but also sweet-shop snack favourites and the namesake ball pits.

That’s right – millions of balls to sink into, swim around in and feel like a big kid again – except with cocktails in hand. With two ball pits to jump into while you let the tipsy feelings take over – enjoy responsibly! – this is a Shoreditch night out that’s different from the norm.

Cecil Court

Cecil Court

Everyone knows one of the most popular fun things to do in London is shopping. However, this is also a city rich in history and mystery in equal measure – it’s there in every inch of the architecture.

Fancy a stroll through bookshops, art boutiques and more – all wrapped in sumptuous, untouched 19th Century architecture? Cecil Court is the London nook for you.

Tucked away a short walk south of Leicester Square tube station, Cecil Court is a sidestreet that time almost seems to have forgotten. Said to be the inspiration for Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley, it’s packed with bookshops and art galleries that specialise in creations that are off the beaten path.

Rare first edition prints, signed editions of popular books and mysterious, forgotten writings from centuries past litter the intimate shelves of the shops of Cecil Court. You’re sure to find your next nightly read – or the books you’ll use to line your backdrop for your endless Zoom meetings. We won’t tell anyone.

Not ready to flash the cash for first editions and artsy paintings? Not to worry. Plenty of baskets are dotted about Cecil Court outside the bookshops of old – packed with bargains well worth getting elbow-deep to rummage for.

The Star Tavern

Star Tavern

Fun things to do in London often end in a trip down the pub sooner or later – yet with thousands to choose from, where best to go? If in doubt, head down to Belgrave Mews West to visit The Star Tavern – where tall pints are poured and tall tales are swapped every night.

While countless London pubs can boast of playing a part in making history, The Star Tavern is the drinking establishment of choice for both high society and cheeky Cockney crooks alike. While nowadays it’s safe and pleasing to the eye, The Star Tavern has welcomed Bing Crosby, Peter O’Toole and Princess Margaret among its customers – oh, and the culprits of The Great Train Robbery too.

Indeed, right in these very walls was where Ronnie Biggs, Ben Boal, Lennie Field and their co-conspirators planned one of the most daring heists in history. The upstairs of the Star Tavern is decked out in suitcases, maps and playful plot devices as a nod to the more villainous past the pub once held.

 

Novelty Automation

Novelty Automation

Fun things to do in London often involve a touch of technology. There are VR rooms and video arcades all over the capital, as well as some of the world’s most immersive cinemas and performances.

For a gaming arcade so retro it barely uses screens, though, you need to visit Novelty Automation, a few minutes’ walk from Holborn tube station. Dedicated to mechanical automatons as creepy and cute as they are bizarre and satirical, this place challenges you to play carnival games of a whole different class.

Can you win at such mechanical games steeped in social commentary as buying a house, flying to another planet or safely operating a nuclear reactor? The pastimes here lean towards the poignant and peculiar, but they’ll certainly leave a lasting impression.

 

Twinings Cafe

Twinings Cafe

Don’t misunderstand – other brands of tea are available. Yet a visit to the Twinings Cafe on The Strand is a must in any list of fun things to do in London. Where would the fair capital be without a cup of tea or two a day, after all?

Twinings is a business that played a huge hand in historically bringing tea from Asia to Great Britain. Today, the Twinings Cafe hosts every variety of tea you could possibly hope for – as well as several you may never have heard of.

Naturally, there are few finer places in London to sit down for a hot brew, but you’ve got the chance to nourish your mind as much as your senses here. That’s because the cafe stands as a loving museum of sorts to tea and its impact on British life.

 

Swimming at Hampstead Heath

Hampstead Heath

Exercising is always one of the most fun things to do in London – but getting back to nature is often a way to feel that much more invigorated. How best to find natural spaces in a city as bustling as London? Look no further than Hampstead Heath.

Here, swimming is all outdoors, all year around. While the London weather isn’t always the most inviting, those who brave the elements are rewarded by naturally clean water, beautiful greenery all around and an active community of fitness lovers to meet.

The opening and closing times of Hampstead Heath tend to vary by season, especially for swimming. However, those of you who like to get some exercise in before work are in luck, as it usually opens as early as 7AM.

 

Climb the O2 Arena

Climb the O2

Sure, this venue is one of the most famous places to see stand-up comedy or music concerts – but the iconic shape of the O2 Arena has itself become one of the most fun things to do in London too. That’s because you can now climb it!

It’s not too long ago that trying to climb one of the most recognisable structures in London would have won you a night or two at Her Majesty’s pleasure. Luckily, nowadays it’s all above board, with guided trips to climb and conquer the external dome of the O2 Arena.

Specialised suspended pathways welcome the brave and the bold as you clamber ever onwards – and if you get to the top and feel more adventurous still, get ready for a treat. You can book yourself in to bungee jump off the top!

 

ArcelorMittal Orbit

Arcelormittal Orbit

The Shard? Everyone’s seen and done The Shard. If you really want to see the London skyline from its highest point, you need to head to ArcelorMittal Orbit at Stratford.

At almost 115 metres high, this structure has come a long way since the 2012 London Olympic Games – in fact, it’s now one of the most fun things to do in London.

The views alone are sensational, and there’s some great food and drink to be had – but it’s the way in which you get down from the top that often appeals the most to people.

The massive slide twists, turns and slinks down this outlandish creation in a long voyage that’s so invigorating you might want to pop back to the top for another go right away.

Still not enough excitement for you? How about trying your hand at abseiling down the side instead?

 

Portobello Road Market

Portobello Market

Online shopping? How quaint and 2010s-minded of people. The real London shopping experience comes from hitting the streets and seeing what treasures you’ll discover. For that, you need to visit Portobello Road Market.

Antiques and artwork rub shoulders with second-hand goodies, indie fashion, electronics aplenty and authentic London keepsakes in this astonishing melting pot of bargains.

Hone your haggling skills and prepare to discover the next must-have you never knew you needed – who knows what you’ll discover?

 

Regent’s Canal

Islington, North London

Need a day on the water as well as a change of pace? Regent’s Canal near Camden is a waterway of houseboats and weeping willows that’s happy to leave London’s hum of activity far behind.

Sometimes the best things to do in London are to just unwind and soak in the less frantic side of the city, and Regent’s Canal offers boat tours that lean towards the idyllic.

Pack a picnic, sun yourself on deck and let the capital roar on without you for an afternoon or so – a perfect pick-me-up when it’s time for you and your loved ones to reconnect.

 

The Rooftop Film Club

Film Club

If you’re keen to experience fun things to do in the city but also don’t want to give up on an excuse to curl up together for a good movie, the Rooftop Film Club might well be for you.

With locations in both Peckham and Stratford, this exclusive club shows golden oldies and hot new classics, tucked on top of buildings under the open air.

Stuffy cinemas are struggling for a reason, some people may say – and once you experience open air cinema for yourself, you might never look back!

 

Mudchute Farm

Mudchute Farm

Petting pigs, shearing sheep and getting back to nature in East London? Sounds impossible, yet Mudchute Farm is just the ticket. Set on 32 acres of carefully tended farmland, this is one of the most fun things to do in London if city life has begun to take its toll.

As well as a fantastic place to take the kids or simply retreat from the world for a while, the farm even hosts corporate events and team building exercises. Every which way you look at it, it’s a great way to cut down on the screen time and get back to your roots.

Better yet, it proves you don’t have to take a long drive out of London to get into the countryside spirit.

 

Trinity Buoy Wharf

The rippling water of the Thames, a secret city of containers turned into creative spaces – even studios to rent for professional creatives. Trinity Buoy Wharf has become a secret hotbed of some of the capital’s best creative talent, and visiting it is one of the most fun things to do in London if you need inspiration.

Events are hosted all year round, and weddings and moviemaking goes on here morning, noon and night. Even if you are just a casual visitor, you’ll find fantastic food and drink to be had here – together with wonderful views of the waterside.

 

Fun things to do in London are around every corner, when you know where to look. What’s your favourite?

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