While most people plan their travel days, some of us are savvy enough to realize: you also need to plan your travel nights! Every destination has something special that happens once the sun goes down, and London is no exception. There are plenty of things to do in London at night, for everyone from culture vultures to foodies to those who appreciate the ambiance of starlight.
As you plan your London itinerary, be sure to consider which, if any, nights will be good to try and enjoy some evening and nighttime activities in London. You may want to plan a mix of early nights and later experiences so you don’t wear yourself out on your trip, but I highly recommend planning at least a few London activities after dark – even if it’s as simple as a nighttime show at the theatre or pint at your local pub.
If you’re sold on the idea of staying up a lil later during a few nights of your London trip, read on. Below you’ll find some of my favorite things to do in London at night, based on my experiences both living in and traveling to London many times. Just don’t forget to set an alarm for the next morning so you can enjoy the day too!
Attend Museum Lates
Fancy a cultural night out in London? No problem. Numerous London museums and galleries stay open late on select nights. At first glance, visiting a museum might sound like an ideal plan for the art & culture vulture. However, it definitely is one of the top things to do in London at night, regardless of your interests.
Most London museums are swarming with people from the moment they open their doors. By visiting at night, you can skip the long lines and appreciate the collection at your own pace. I know this will sound cliché, but visiting a museum at night is also a perfect alternative when it rains for the third time in a week (it’s London, duh) and you’ve already been to all the pubs near your hotel.
Take in the View from the Shard
Few experiences are as memorable as soaking in views of the London skyline. The city has one of the most iconic skylines in the world, and one of the best ways to appreciate it is from the top floor of the Shard. London’s tallest building welcomes visitors to its 68th floor, where sublime views of the city are all around, thanks to the floor-to-ceiling windows.
Two lifts go to the 68th floor, and they whizz to the top at lightning speed. While going up the Shard is one of the best things to do in London in the evening, it definitely isn’t budget-friendly. Still, the experience is worth every penny. So don’t think twice and book your ticket!
Ride the London Eye
The London Eye is one of the most popular places to go in London at night. The ride isn’t that thrilling –it spins very slowly– but the wheel’s location ensures whoever goes up enjoys bird’s-eye views of the city.
A spin is 30 minutes long, giving you enough time to soak in the views with your own eyes and then snap a few pictures to look at when you’re back home. On clear nights, you can see as far as Windsor Castle. Make sure you check the timetables. The London Eye opens every day from 11 am till 6 pm, and, on special occasions also from 10 am till 9:30 pm.
Enjoy a Show in the West End
Watching a play is an unbeatable plan for the best things to do in London at night. London is a city with an impressive cultural offer, especially in the theater scene. Not a surprise considering England gave birth to Shakespeare, one of the world’s best playwrights.
The West End is to London what Broadway is to New York. The area conglomerates London’s best theaters and offers a varied portfolio, including plays, musicals, cabarets, and comedies. Soho Theatre is popular for its late performances running up to midnight.
Take a Twilight Tour at the Tower of London
Tower Twilight Tours have to be the spookiest things to do in London at night. The fortress has been part of London’s landscape since 1066 and hides some of the deepest secrets and stories inside its grounds.
Being faithful guardians of the Tower, Yeoman Warders know many of these stories and invite bold guests to hear them in their Tower Twilight Tour. As soon as they usher you into the Tower, the blood-curdling tales of torture and ghosts begin. Take my word for it; the guardians are also fantastic storytellers, and their stories will make you quiver.
Watch the Ceremony of the Keys
The Tower of London has another (less frightening) late-night alternative for visitors, the Ceremony of the Keys. The century-old ritual takes place to lock the Tower’s main gates.
It also has the Yeoman Warders as main protagonists, who march with the Chief Yeoman to the outer gate, lock it, and then walk back to lock the oak gates of the Middle and Byward Towers. If attending the Ceremony of the Keys is something you’d like to do, please, make sure you arrive on time. The ceremony begins at exactly 9:53 pm and ends bang on the stroke of the bell at 10 pm.
Go on a Jack the Ripper Tour
The streets of Whitechapel and Spitalfields were Jack the Ripper’s preferred scenario to commit his most atrocious murders. You’ll find numerous tours online, each with its personality and perspective on London’s most famous killer.
The tour is another of the fun things to do in London at night if you like true crime and enjoy a little bit of history. Guides are well-versed in each crime Jack committed and give excellent insight into Victorian London and the East End.
Pop into the Pub
Grabbing a pint at a pub is a fantastic plan on a London night. Even for locals! The city has pubs to spare, which speaks of the cultural importance pubs hold in British life. Far from being a place only to have a drink, pubs are a daily meeting point for the British after long days at work or university. They are famous for their friendly and laid-back atmosphere. You can easily perceive this in the alcohol they offer. Forget about fancy cocktails; the usual order is lager, ale, bitter, and spirits.
Grab a Fancy Cocktail
Perhaps you want to flaunt the fancy dress you bought at Harrods. London’s fancy rooftops will be the perfect scenario to do it if that’s the case. The city has tons of rooftops. The most famous and trendy ones usually sit in London’s top hotels.
Lyaness at Sea Containers is an infallible choice for excellent cocktails paired with river views. You can also check out Aqua Spirit. The sophisticated champagne and cocktail bar has two open-air terraces overlooking central London.
Ride a Late Thames Cruise
London looks its prettiest from the Thames. Luckily, tons of evening cruises pass by London’s most iconic landmarks. If you like to keep it simple, you can book a standard late-night cruise. City Experiences offers an evening cruise that includes a glass of sparkling wine and a selection of cold canapés served throughout the evening.
If you’d like to have a more elaborate experience, choose a dining cruise. The Bateaux London invites you to enjoy a delicious multi-course dinner while sailing across the Thames.
See the Bats in Hyde Park
I know! Who’d have thought a Royal Park would house thousands of bats and organize a tour for guests to see them. The Bat Walk tour invites people to hunt for bats in the heart of London. The tour takes an hour and a half, beginning at dusk, as London’s bats come out to play.
A guide will take you to Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park as he searches for bat species, like common pipistrelles, soprano pipistrelles, and noctules. By the end, you can play a fun quiz to see how much you’ve learned about London’s (royal) bats.
Stroll the Queen’s Jubilee Walkway
Taking a stroll down Queen’s Jubilee walkway is a fantastic plan before calling it a day. The walkway sits on the Northern bank of the Thames and stretches over 14 miles – Lambeth Bridge and Tower Bridge are roughly the two endpoints for this walk. It connects many of London’s major tourist attractions.
The walkway also has plenty of places to sit and relax, eat, drink, and shop along the route. The Queen’s Jubilee Walkway is slightly less popular than the Queen’s Walk on the South bank. Therefore, the path isn’t as crowded, and it’s easier to find spots for pictures.
Dine at Duck & Waffle
Dining out is a fantastic night plan, no matter where you are in the world. I don’t have to tell you that London’s gastronomic scene is fantastic and diverse. However, tonight you’ll make reservations at Duck & Waffle.
The restaurant serves traditional British fare, and their menu offers mainly dishes for sharing, so you can sample many flavors in one night. Their cocktail menu is also fabulous. To top the experience, the restaurant sits on the 40th floor and has floor-to-ceiling windows. Did anyone say dinner with a view?
Attend Lates at the Royal Observatory Greenwich
Spend a night under the stars at the Royal Observatory! The astronomers from the historic observatory in Greenwich host late events where guests can look at the stars and celestial bodies from the facility’s telescopes.
The tour also includes a live planetarium show, where you’ll learn all about space and its wonders. Bear in mind that the stargazing session is subject to the weather. If it isn’t clear enough, you might not be able to look through the telescopes, but you’ll still be able to enjoy the astronomers’ insightful talks.
Ok, this plan is a challenging one. London’s pretty lights are a stargazer’s worst nightmare. Still, the city has a few spots where you can glimpse the night sky. The key is to find secluded places that are a bit more elevated.
Blythe Hill Fields is an elevated open land in the London Borough of Lewisham. Many Londoners flock to the park when they want to appreciate the constellations on clear nights. Regent’s Park is also a good place to go stargazing in London and is a popular meeting point for members of Baker Street Irregular Astronomers.
As you can see, there’s plenty to do in London at night if you know where to go and what to do! Have any questions about these things to do in London at night? Let me know in the comments!