These are The Best Things to Do in London at Night
Day or night, there’s always something to do in London. It’s the city that never sleeps, and nightfall brings a whole host of activities. It isn’t just clubbers who get all the fun either. Here are some of the cool, exciting and unique attractions to know about. From family-friendly tours and museum lates, to weird restaurants with hidden doors, after hours is when London gets interesting.
TOP 5 THINGS TO DO IN LONDON AT NIGHT
West End Show
There’s nowhere else in the UK that offers such an impressive world of theatre, musicals and ballet. Productions such as Cats, Starlight Express, Moulin Rouge, The Lion King, Mamma Mia!, and Swan Lake have visitors returning year after year. Some of the top theatres include Shakespeare’s Globe, Royal Opera House, Young Vic, Sadler’s Well, National Theatre, and Barbican.
Soho Food Tour
The capital attracts foodies from all around, and one of the best areas for food sampling is Soho. Burn calories and fill your belly at the same time on a guided food walking tour, or take to the streets on your own for a flavour of the UK’s most cosmopolitan city. The Berwick Street Market closes at 6pm so get there early for everything from burritos and souvlaki to Halal curries.
Get the best of London’s skyline at night on a romantic and fun-filled cruise on the River Thames. There are a number of different cruises available, including disco cruises, canapes and wine cruises, and luxury dining experiences ideal for couples or large groups.
One of the best places to go after dark is Piccadilly Circus. Whether you’re out on the town enjoying a bar crawl, exploring the theatre district, or just here to see the lights, Piccadilly Circus will not disappoint. It’s a must-visit for anyone in the capital for the first time.
Late Night Shopping
Some of the best late night shopping areas are Covent Garden (open until 7pm), Westfield (open until 10pm), Oxford Street (open until 9pm during the week and 10pm on Thursdays), and department stores such as Harrods (open until 9pm Monday to Saturday and 6pm on Sundays). Late night markets are Greenwich Market, Old Spitalfields Market, and Brixton Night Market
TOP FREE THINGS TO DO
Angel Comedy Club
Get laughs for free at the famous Angel Comedy Club. Located at the Camden Head in Islington, this cosy spot is known for bringing affordable fun to Londoners and anyone visiting the capital. It’s open seven days a week too. Perfect for a cheap night out with plenty of giggles.
Visitors have to pay to enter the Tower Bridge Experience, but it doesn’t cost a penny to walk across it for the best views of London. Catch sight of the illuminated city in the evening and the beautiful reflections in the water. Sometimes, the drawbridge is scheduled to be opened at night too, giving crowds a unique view of the bridge in action.
Houses of Parliament
One of the most underrated activities in London is visiting the Houses of Parliament. It’s completely free to watch parliamentary debates from the public gallery, and some of them run late into the night. Check the schedule to see when the House of Lords or the House of Commons is in session to witness a part of the British political history go down.
Bat Walk at London Zoo
The London Bat Group is a charity that manages the preservation and wellbeing of bats in the city. To raise awareness of the work they are doing, they organise free bat walking tours throughout the year. Guests are taken to a number of bat-dwelling locations and taught all about the different species living there.
BEST VIEWS IN LONDON AT NIGHT
Open from 10am to 8:30pm, the Coca Cola London Eye ride is the perfect place to experience a London sunset. Take flight through the heart of the city and watch in awe as the buildings light up after sundown. Private capsules for you and your friends are also available to hire from £450.
With the most spectacular 360 degree views and the offer of champagne, The Shard is one of the top destinations for big celebratory occasions. Birthdays, anniversaries and proposals all take place here. It is home to the city’s highest viewing platform, and there are six different restaurants and bars to choose from once you’re up there.
Another favourite for breath-taking views across London is the Sky Garden. One of the capital’s most glamorous venues, this tower features a choice of bars and restaurants. Public ticketed hours are 10am – 6pm during the week or 11am – 9pm at weekends. Visitor tickets are free, but booking is advised. Walk-in spaces are sometimes available, but reserve your place just in case.
The champagne can be a little on the steep side, but it’s absolutely free to get in and there’s a cocktail menu too. The bar closes at 11pm, giving you plenty of time to enjoy pre or post dinner drinks. Whether you’re popping in for an aperitif or a nightcap, make sure you book. The panoramic windows make it a popular haunt with locals and tourists alike.
Emirates Air Line Cable Cars
Don’t miss the city’s only cable car, now with extended opening hours. It runs over the River Thames between London’s Royal Docks and the Greenwich Peninsula, giving you a unique perspective of this historic area. Night Flights run as late as 11pm at weekends or 10pm on weekdays in the summer, and 11pm at weekends or 9pm on weekdays in the winter.
MOST ROMANTIC THINGS TO DO IN LONDON AT NIGHT
For the ultimate romantic meal, book a 3 hour bus tour with Bustronome. Enjoy a luxury 6-course dinner as you drive past major landmarks and monuments. The stylish buses feature comfortable, spacious and beautifully set tables for 2 or 4 people.
Helicopter Night Flight
Take in the city at night with a bird’s eye view with a helicopter night flight. Perfect as a gift for someone you love, for celebrations, or for proposing to the one you love.
Push the boat out with a champagne tasting in one of London’s best bars. At Champagne + Fromage in Covent Garden, you’ll get to try some of the finest artisanal French products. The tasting calendar holds evening tastings at 7:30pm for cheese and fizz fans.
WHAT TO DO WITH THE FAMILY
Experience the night sky with the 100-year-old telescope observatory in North London. It’s usually open to the public for free during the winter months, but closes in the summer due to the lack of darkness. The perfect place to take kids who are fascinated by space.
You don’t have to venture far to keep the kids entertained. Street performers are everywhere in Central London. Head to places like the Covent Garden Piazza (north of Trafalgar Square) or the Southbank (near the London Eye) for live singers, break-dancers, magicians and mascots, or funny human statues.
Hamley’s Toy Store
If you need somewhere for the little ones to burn off some energy, head to Hamley’s on Regent Street. This world-famous shop dates back more than two centuries and has toys galore spread across seven floors. It’s open until 9 pm, giving them a fun outlet just before bedtime.
Platform 9 ¾
For Harry Potter fans, Platform 9 ¾ is a bucket-list must. Located inside Kings Cross/St. Pancras Station, it’s the most famous platform in the world. It’s super busy in the day so the best time to go is at night. You can also visit the Harry Potter Store whilst you’re there which is open until 9 pm most nights.
MUSEUMS / GALLERIES
Natural History Museum
Museums aren’t just for daytime. This iconic London venue hosts themed nights on the last Friday of every month (except December), so you’ll get a chance to explore the exhibits after dark. There are also expert talks and intriguing science demonstrations.
The Science Museum
If you’re looking for an adults-only, intellectual event made for science nerds, don’t miss the late night exhibitions at The Science Museum on Exhibition Road in South Kensington. These nights take place on every last Wednesday of the month, are completely free of charge and attract up to 4,000 visitors at a time.
The Tate Lates are run in partnership with clothing brand, Uniqlo, and bring together amazing art, music, film and fun workshops into one big session. These evenings are held on the last Friday of every month and celebrate both establishes and up-and-coming creatives. Some events are free to attend.
BEST TOURS OF LONDON AT NIGHT
Double Decker Bus Tour
Hop-on Hop-off bus tours are the best way to see London by day or night. If you have time, make sure you do both to experience the city at its busiest and at its most beautiful. Take in the main sights and landmarks, with plenty of photo opportunities.
Harry Potter Tour
The Harry Potter Tour is one of the most popular tours for families in the capital. There are free tours by foot (both guided and self-guided). Go at night for added atmosphere and see film locations such as Westminster Tube, Cecil’s Court (aka Diagon Alley), St. Paul’s, Godwin’s Court (aka Knockturn Alley), The Palace Theatre, Millennium Bridge, Scotland Yard Place, and more.
Jack the Ripper Tour
Enjoy a spooky tour of Jack the Ripper’s past haunts in London’s East End. He’s the world’s most notorious unidentified serial killer. Walk the same cobbled alleyways and dingy backstreets where he murdered eleven women over the course of three years.
BEST LONDON RESTAURANTS
Bob Bob Ricard
Art deco interiors, Château d’Yquem by the glass, and a special button to summon champagne. These are all the things that make Bob Bob Ricard a unique dining experience. Enjoy an unforgettable meal for two for an average of £140.
Dans Le Noir
Another not-to-be-missed dinner venue is Dans Le Noir where diners devour their food in the dark. You’ll be led to your table by a waiter, so complete and utter trust is required. Meat, fish and vegetarian menus are available, and you’ll have to rely on your sense of smell and taste alone. What’s really remarkable is that the servers are all blind too. This is a fun and inclusive concept that modern millennial foodies and hipsters just lap up!
The Candlelight Club
Dine in a secret location Prohibition style. Dust off your vintage wardrobe as this pop-up event oozes everything 1920s, with great food plus drinking and dancing ‘til late. Ideal for dates as well as large groups looking for something a bit different. Events happen throughout the year, and there’s usually live jazz, retro DJ sets, or cabaret performances. More importantly, everyone dresses the part so make sure you check the dress code before turning up.
BEST BARS / NIGHTLIFE IN LONDON
Looking Glass Cocktail Club
One of the best speak easy cocktail clubs in town, Looking Glass is a cosy little basement that take you back in time. Located on a dingy side street off the main Shoreditch strip, this undercover bar is frequented only by those who know it’s there. With passwords for free drinks and a chic, creative cocktail menu, it’s a great meeting place for those who enjoy a posh tipple.
Probably one of the most instagrammed locations in London. Sketch is a weird and wonderful watering hole and restaurant spread across five mini venues. The Parlour Bar is one of the best bars to enjoy at night and the egg-shaped toilets will either have you scratching your head or snapping away for social media.
Discreetly tucked away by Old Street tube station, the Nightjar is a speak-easy style subterranean bar identifiable only by a doorman and a small sign. Inside, you can enjoy live jazz and blues while sampling some of the finest forgotten cocktails of bygone times. There’s also an extensive spirit list (as well as some vintage spirits that are impossible to source elsewhere), and a menu brimming with tapas dishes and sharing plates.