London is one of the most exciting cities in the world to visit thanks to its ancient history, impressive architecture, world-class museums, cuisines from around the globe, and pumping nightlife! But what are the best things to do in London at night?
I have been hitting London for nights out for over 20 years, and so can give you the low-down on some of the best areas, restaurants, bars, live music venues, and other quirky things to do.
Whether you’re a foodie, a culture vulture, love live music, or dancing until the sun comes up, there really is something for everyone in this city that never sleeps.
From historic pubs, and the hip bars of Soho and Camden, to night river cruises, theatre, museum sleepovers, and a whole lot more, this list of London evening activities is sure to have you booking that trip right away.
Here are the 15 best things to do in London at night.
1. See the Skyline from the London Eye
The London Eye is one of the city’s most famous tourist attractions, and one of the best times to go is in the early evening when London is bathed in a soft light.
As this top attraction is open until 6pm, if you go in spring or autumn you can get an impressive view of the sunset over the city.
See the River Thames, Westminster and the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, St Paul’s Cathedral, and many more top London attractions as you slowly rotate above the capital.
The London Eye offers a range of different experiences from a Champagne trip, to a pub pod, to offer that extra level of luxury! Click here for fast-track tickets to avoid the queues.
2. Take a Jack the Ripper Tour
Whenever I’m travelling and tell people I come from London, (well, nearby), the first thing that usually comes to their mind is Jack the Ripper and foggy streets, so it’s no wonder that Jack the Ripper tours are so popular with visitors.
Take a step back into London’s murky past on this fantastic tour, where you’ll also get to play detective for the evening. This two-hour walk around London’s famous East End will follow in the footsteps of the city’s most infamous resident.
On this tour, you’ll get to experience the narrow lanes that the Ripper stalked his victims from, the homes they were found in, police photos from the time, and a letter purportedly from the killer himself.
If you are looking for quirky things to do in London at night, a Jack the Ripper tour is definitely one of the best choices – if you dare.
3. Witness the Ceremony of the Keys
The Ceremony of the Keys is an ancient tradition that dates back over 700 years. Every night at 9:53pm precisely, there’s an exchange between the Tower of London guards, and the Yeoman Warder – a royal servant.
“Halt, who comes there” is the immortal cry that signals the start of the ceremony that has not changed in centuries, (save for the name of the reigning monarch).
This unique ceremony is one of the best things to do in London at night for those interested in British history and culture. The tour lasts from 9:30pm, until 10:05pm, and must be booked online in advance. The tour used to be free, but there is now a £5 charge ($6.00 US).
4. Take a London Night Bus Tour
This 90-minute tour on an open-top London double-decker bus is a great way to see the capital by night. The tour takes in some of the city’s most famous landmarks. See the Tower of London and Tower Bridge, Trafalgar Square, Picadilly Circus, Big Ben, and the Houses of Parliament, all from one of London’s most iconic modes of transport.
You will learn all about the history of London’s most famous attractions from a knowledgeable guide as you witness these famous places lit up against the night sky.
Click here to book tickets for one of London’s most popular sightseeing tours. The tour starts and finishes at the famous Ritz Hotel in Picadilly. If you are feeling opulent, then pop in for a cocktail while you wait, but it won’t come cheap.
5. Discover Some of London’s Secret Bars
This unique tour around trendy East London will take you to some truly hidden gems. Discover some of the area’s most historic bars that require a secret password to enter. Ever wanted to dive into a real “speakeasy”? Well, here’s your chance!
You’ll get to experience some of the best cocktails London has to offer as you navigate parts of the capital that few tourists get to see.
The three-hour experience starts at 6:30pm, and lasts until 9:30pm, although you have the option of staying later if you wish. This is one of the best things to do in London at night thanks to the friendly and knowledgeable hosts who will ensure you have an unforgettable experience.
6. Take a Thames Dinner Cruise
If you’re looking for a little bit of elegance on your trip to London, then this River Thames dinner cruise is just the thing. Enjoy a sumptuous four-course meal as you cruise through the heart of London, taking in some of the most famous sites illuminated against the night sky.
You’ll cruise past Westminster, the 02 Arena and Canary Wharf, all the way to the Thames barrier, before heading back up the river.
Enjoy being treated to live renditions of some of London’s west-end musicals by an onboard cabaret singer. And after your meal, dance the evening away as London’s landmarks glitter in the background.
Guests should arrive at the dock close to the houses of Parliament at 7:30pm, and a smart/casual dress code is recommended.
7. See the Stars from Hampstead Observatory
For the stargazers amongst you, a trip to the Hampstead Observatory is truly one of the most fun things to do in London at night.
From mid-September, through to mid-April each year, the observatory opens its doors to the public on a Friday and Saturday night between 8:00pm and 10:00pm.
Peer through the state-of-the-art Cooke refracting telescope as you search out constellations and planets in the night sky. Be sure to check out the website for different events at the observatory, and learn all about our universe.
For your best chance at stargazing, you’ll need to wait for a clear, moonless night. You don’t need to book in advance, and there’s no entrance fee, (although donations are appreciated), making this one of the best free things to do in London at night.
8. Take in a Show at the Old Vic
The Old Vic, (or Royal Victoria Theatre), is one of London’s most beloved theatres. First established in 1818, the 1,000-seat theatre is set within a Grade II listed building in London’s Waterloo.
Catching a show is one of the best things to do in London in the evening for lovers of arts and culture. From classics such as Shakespeare and Dickens, to more contemporary plays, there’s something for everyone at this London institution.
I was lucky enough to see a show at the Old Vic a few weeks ago called the 47th, and the production, acting and atmosphere made it a night to remember!
As the Old Vic is a registered charity, it’s easy to find seats to suit all budgets. The lowest tickets cost around £8.00/$10.00. If it’s prime seats you’re after, you can expect to pay a lot higher.
Be sure to check the official website for current listings.
9. View from the Shard
The Shard is London’s tallest building, and the seventh tallest in all of Europe! Clocking in at a massive 309.6 metres, (1,016 feet), this skyscraper resembles a shard of broken glass jutting into the London sky.
I actually watched the Shard being built as I lived in nearby Bermondsey at the time, and it really is an impressive piece of architecture. Located right over London Bridge station, this monstrosity of engineering can be seen from miles around.
The 72-story Shard is home to offices, hotels, a television studio, restaurants, and of course London’s highest viewing platform; the View from the Shard. If you’re looking for things to do in London in the evening, then this is a great way to see the city, and a fantastic place to watch the sunset.
The View from the Shard is open daily until 9:00pm, and tickets cost from £28.00/$33.00 for entrance to the viewing deck. There is also the option of a “Champagne welcome”.
But let me tell you a little secret. Save yourself the entrance fee and instead go for a drink in one of the bars on the 31st floor, or the Gong cocktail bar on the 52nd floor.
10. Explore Camden’s Music Scene
Camden is where I spend most of my time in London thanks to its great bars and music scene. During the day you can wander around the famous Camden Lock Market, before hitting some of London’s coolest venues for the night.
Pop into the World’s End for a pint – right across the street from Camden tube station – before descending into the Underworld, one of London’s oldest running rock venues. They have gigs and club nights every weekend so be sure to check the website to see what’s on.
☞ SEE ALSO: Weekend in London – The Perfect 2 Day Itinerary
The Hawley Arms is where the likes of Pete Docherty and the late Amy Winehouse used to hang out, and is an iconic London pub in the centre of Camden. It has a great roof terrace, perfect for summer evenings, and an excellent selection of beers, ciders, and cocktails!
Looking to party late into the night? Head to the Dublin Castle where you can listen to anything from live DJs, to 50s rock and roll, and everything in between.
If you like your music really heavy, then be sure to check out the Black Heart which has a great downstairs bar with lots of craft beers to try, and an upstairs stage hosting underground acts from around the globe.
11. Go Night Kayaking on the River Thames
If you are looking for something a little more adventurous than a Thames river cruise, Secret Adventures have an awesome night kayaking tour where you can paddle through the nation’s capital whilst marvelling at the illuminated landmarks as you go.
The tour takes in some of London’s top tourist attractions, such as the Houses of Parliament, St Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge, and more.
The tour starts in Battersea in central London, and finishes up in Greenwich, home of the Naval College, and handily next to the Enderby House Pub!
This is seriously one of the coolest London evening activities available, and is a totally unique experience to have in the city.
12. Sleepover at the National History Museum
When thinking of places to visit in London at night, the National History Museum doesn’t usually come to mind. But did you know they have a “Dino Snores” sleepover? And it’s not just for kids!
Spending the night at the Natural History Museum is a great way to learn more about our planet in a fun setting which includes a welcome drink and a three-course dinner.
Entertainment includes a live animal workshop, quiz, science show, and even a stand-up comedy performance.
You’ll sleep under the massive skeleton of a blue whale, and can indulge in a cooked breakfast to set you up for more sightseeing the next day!
Adult tickets cost £185/$220, and you’ll be at the museum from 6:30pm, until 10:00am the next day.
13. Go Clubbing at Fabric
If you are looking to dance the night away to top DJs playing a mix of house, techno, drum and bass, and dubstep, then head along to Fabric for a night you won’t forget.
The dress code is casual, so there’s no need to get dressed up, (although you can if you want to of course).
14. Pub Tour of Notting Hill and Kensington
Discover some of London’s best West End pubs on this cool experience that will have you sampling some of the best craft beers the city has to offer. Dive into historical Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian pubs that are full of old-world charm and character as you experience London like a local.
On this pub crawl you’ll get to see some of the houses of some of London’s most famous residents, from Agatha Christie, to Daniel Day-Lewis. Your knowledgeable guide is brimming with local trivia and will ensure a night to remember.
The tour lasts from 6:00pm to 10:00pm, but you have the option of staying later; combining a trip to some of our other top places to visit in London at night, such as Camden or Fabric.
Taking a pub tour is one of the best things to do in London alone at night, as you will be sure to meet lots of fun and interesting people, (not least your host). Find out more here.
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15. Prince Charles Cinema All-Nighter
How does a night at the movies, complete with pyjamas, popcorn and party vibes sound? With double, triple, and all-night viewings, the Prince Charles Cinema near Leicester Square, is a great London evening activity.
From cheesy 80s movies, to epic trilogies, there’s sure to be something to suit your tastes. Top Gun, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and Star Wars are all firm favourites at the Prince Charles Cinema.
☞ SEE ALSO: 10 Best Day Tours from London by Train (and Car)
FAQs About London at Night
Here are some answers to commonly asked questions about visiting London at night.
Is it Safe to Visit London at Night?
London is a very safe city, and if you stick to the main tourist areas, you don’t have much to worry about aside from keeping an eye on your valuables. As with any large city, there can be problem areas, so avoid dimly lit streets, and the outer suburbs. Especially if travelling alone.
How Can I Get Around London at Night?
The underground, or Tube as it is known locally, operates until around midnight during the week. After this time, the best way to get around is by night bus. The bus number will be preceded by “N” on buses and bus stops, and runs throughout the night.
On Fridays and Saturdays, the Central, Jubilee, Northern, Piccadilly, and Victoria lines are open 24 hours.
Another great way to get around the capital is by shared bike or scooter. Santander Cycles cost £2.00/$2.40 for a 30-minute journey.
Rideshares such as Uber are another popular way of getting around.
Where should I stay for good nightlife in London?
Soho has a lot going on at night. Whether you’re looking for a fun pub, or a club, you’ll find it in this neighbourhood. Soho is located in London’s West End, which is one of the best areas to stay if you’re looking to be in the action. And, some of the top Airbnbs are found here.
Now You Know What To Do in London at Night
London really is the city that never sleeps. With this list of great places to go in London at night, you won’t be stuck for ideas. How many people do you know that have been kayaking along the Thames at sunset, or slept under a whale in a world-class museum?
Whether it’s culture, food and drink, or dancing ’till you drop, now you know what to do in the nation’s capital after dark. London’s nightlife for tourists is unparalleled, so get ready to have some serious fun.
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