March 5, 2019 / 2 Comments
London’s a one of a kind type of city. Its attractions, from the Tower of London to Buckingham Palace, are world-famous and draw millions of visitors each year.
You’ll no doubt have a jam-packed London itinerary while visiting the capital; but there is no need to stop the activities at night. London’s a fantastic place to explore during the day, but there’s so much to see after the sun goes down as well.
We’ve put together this list of the best things to do in London at night to help you when visiting the capital and searching for after-dark attractions. Enjoy!
West End Show
Probably the best thing to do in London at night is visit a West End show. The West End is internationally famous for putting on some of the best theatre displays on the planet; second only to New York’s Broadway.
You’ll be able to see classics like The Lion King, Wicked and Dirty Dancing as well as some temporary shows which change on a seasonal basis.
Prices for West End Shows can range from just £25 to over £100. Book early to get the best deals; sometimes booking a package that includes dinner will save you money.
Ceremony of the Keys
The Ceremony of the Keys is a fantastic thing to do in London in the evening, and it’s totally free! The Tower of London is the country’s most famous castle and jail – it has held various notable residents (like Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s second wife) and has been rumoured to be haunted more than once.
The Ceremony of the Keys is basically the locking up of the Tower of London each night, but is done so in a lavish and somewhat eerie ceremony. It’s well worth checking out, but there’s just one catch – it must be pre-booked, and tours sell out well in advance.
Book your ticket 12 to 18 months ahead of when you’ll be in London to secure your place. The Ceremony of Keys is, however, free of charge.
It’s indisputable that the London Eye is one of the best attractions in the capital. Some people prefer to ascend it during the day, when all of the buildings of London can be clearly seen; but there’s something magical about going up in the London Eye at night, when the bright lights of the city stretch out beneath you.
During the summer, the London Eye spins until 8:30pm, and in the winter it closes at 6pm (bear in mind that in December and January it will be very dark by then!). Standard tickets cost £23.45.
Sky Pod Bar at Sky Garden Platform
London’s Sky Garden is a fantastic way to escape the chaos of the city, and get an awesome view to boot. It’s popular all day and night, but comes alive at around sunset. Watching the view over the capital as the sun descends is epic – you’ll be able to see all the city’s most famous attractions as well as hopefully enjoying a sunset spectacle!
What’s more, you’ll be able to sample elegant cocktails, wines and beers and make use of their impressive dinner menu.
Walk-ins at Sky Pod Bar are welcome in the evening; it is open until 11:30pm Sunday to Wednesday, midnight on Friday and 1am on Saturday. They operate a smart casual dress code – flip flops and trainers are not permitted.
Curry at Brick Lane
One of the things I love the most about London is its melting pot of cultures, due to the varying nationalities that have settled in the city over the centuries.
Indians first came to England during the days of the British Raj (from 1858 to 1947). They brought many of their own dishes, but adapted them to suit Western tastes. The famous ‘Indian’ dish, the chicken tikka masala, was actually invented in the UK.
This means that curries on Brick Lane might not be the most authentic Indian food, but they are still well worth a try. If you get there before darkness falls, you’ll be able to enjoy some of the street art on the road before tucking into a tasty dinner.
Shop at Oxford Street
Oxford Street and Oxford Circus have to be seen to be believed. Don’t go here if you like peace and quiet; they’re busy, brightly lit, and there’s about a million and one things going on. But they’re well worth checking out – especially at night when the city really comes to life, everyone’s out for pleasure and a million lights are shining in every direction.
Shops in Oxford Street are open until 8-10pm depending on the day. They include high street stores like Topshop and Primark (both of which are the largest in the country) and more upmarket stores such as Selfridges.
Walk along Southbank
After the sun goes down, Southbank is a fantastic place to be. Not only will you be able to see London’s attractions lit up, but you can enjoy the lively pub and restaurant scene of the city. Popular restaurants include Wahaca, a London Mexican chain that has its best branch in Southbank, or OXO Tower Restaurant which serves high quality food and wine.
If you’re searching for classy drinking and dining, look no further than the Shard. This iconic building is home to not one but six bars and restaurants. They’re set on different stories of the building, but each offers a spectacular view over the cityscape.
The restaurants and bars in the Shard are:
- Aqua Shard, offering contemporary British food
- Oblix, a casual dining experience
- Hutong, serving northern Chinese food
- Bar 31, an airy bar with a fantastic view
- Ting, a lounge serving up British food with an Asian twist
- Gong, the highest bar in the Shard on the 52th floor, serving cocktails
The variety of choice that restaurants in the Shard provide, as well as the iconic nature of the building, make dining or drinking here one of the best things to do in London at night.
Sleep at the Natural History Museum
Any fans of the Ben Stiller classic ‘Night at the Museum’ may be wondering how they themselves can stay in a museum – and indeed, whether they’re cut out for the challenge!
Sleeping at the Natural History Museum used to be a kids-only activity, but popular demand resulted in the museum’s event organizers creating a similar program for adults. ‘Dino Snores for Grown-Ups’ is the result of this. A ticket to the event includes a three-course dinner, gin tasting, access to the museum’s exhibitions, an all-night monster movie marathon, and more.
You’ll just have to hope that the creatures in this museum don’t come to life after midnight!
Go Ice Skating
If you’re visiting London during the winter, ice skating is a must-do. The best locations within the city are Canary Wharf, where you can skate between London’s highest buildings, the Natural History Museum, or outside the iconic Tower of London.
But you can also enjoy views of London at Skylight London ice rink or relish in the iconic backdrops of Somerset House or Hampton Court at their rinks. These ice-skating rinks are seasonal; generally only in operation during the winter months and most popular around Christmas time.
Stargazing at Greenwich Royal Observatory
One of the more romantic things to do in London at night is stargazing at the Greenwich Royal Observatory. This is where eastern and western hemispheres meet, and in the day activities like standing on the Meridian Line and going to the GMT museum are popular.
The Greenwich Royal Observatory regularly runs ‘An Evening with the Stars’ which invite guests to look through the 18 tonne Victorian telescope and see the stars. The event also includes meetings with some of the best astronomers working at the observatory.
Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre
A reconstruction of the original Globe Theatre in Tudor style, Shakespeare’s globe is open and celebrates the famous British playwright by putting on performances of his most-loved plays.
From Romeo to Juliet to Hamlet, all of Shakespeare’s most loved plays are hosted on this stage, making it the perfect evening’s activity for literature and history fans.
Thames Dinner River Cruise
Seeing London’s main attractions is one thing, but experiencing it over a luxury meal while floating down the River Thames is another.
Cruises take up to three hours and typically include entertainment – from live music to magic acts – while floating past the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye and more. It’s a really unique way to see the capital.
Drink at the Quirky Bars of Shoreditch
If you’re a fan of nightlife, look no further than funky Shoreditch for a night out. Home to all sorts of bars – from establishments specializing in table tennis tournaments to outside venues that are perfect for the summer – a night out in Shoreditch is a great way to let off some steam after a day’s worth of cultural activities.
There are so many great bars in Shoreditch, but my favorites have to be:
- Ballie Ballerson – a bar with giant ball pits, that does brunches serving unlimited pizza and prosecco
- The Book Club – a fun, multi-level bar/ club that is open until the early hours
- Nightjar – the best location in Shoreditch for creative cocktails
- Proceed Clockwise – featuring over 600 board games, this bar is perfect for those times when you really want to play drunk monopoly!
Catch a movie at the IMAX London
If you want to check out the most hi-tech cinema in Britain, look no further than London’s IMAX. It has a screen ‘almost as high as five double decker buses’, and an impressive state of the art sound system. Seeing a film at the capital’s most famous cinema is an entirely immersive experience, and one of the best ways to enjoy an evening in London.
Movies run throughout the day and well into the night and it is conveniently located right by London Waterloo train and underground station.
So, there you go – although London’s a fantastic place to be during the day, there are plenty of things to do in London at night. Try some – or all, depending on how much time you have – of these during your time in the British capital!
Claire Martin is a British travel blogger and freelance writer. She blogs about eco-travel and overland adventures on her blog Claire’s Footsteps; she has drove around the entirety of Australia and is currently planning an overland trip through Asia.