What are the best things to do in Central London? Here are the unmissable spots!

Think you know Central London? Well, think again. We’re going beyond the postcard pictures to explore the side of this city that guidebooks don’t dare to show you.  

This article is your ticket to the innermost part of the city. We’ll uncover the best things to do in Central London like the hidden gems, secret local hangouts, and experiences that will make you feel like you’ve stumbled upon the city’s best-kept secrets.  

Historical exploration

Visit the HMS Belfast

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Location: The Queen’s Walk, London SE1 2JH, United Kingdom

Contact: +44 20 7940 6300

Opening hours:

  • Monday to Sunday – 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM

Website

This behemoth of a ship docked on the Thames isn’t your typical museum. It’s a nine-deck exploration of wartime grit and surprisingly cosy sailor life (less “Mutiny on the Bounty”, more cramped bunks and surprising camaraderie).

Imagine yourself barking orders from the operations room, deciphering wartime messages that once crackled through the airwaves. Then, head down to the mess decks, where you can practically feel the chill of those daring Arctic voyages. 

Best of all, this nautical adventure won’t break the bank! Adult tickets start at a reasonable £28, making it a savvy choice compared to some of London’s pricier attractions. 

Wander through the magical Leighton House Museum

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Location: 12 Holland Park Rd, London W14 8LZ, United Kingdom

Contact: +44 20 7361 3783

Opening hours:

  • Wednesday to Monday – 10:00 AM to 5:30 PM

Website

A hidden jewel in Kensington, Leighton House Museum was the extraordinary home of Lord Frederic Leighton, a Victorian artist whose idea of “cosy” involved shimmering mosaics, lavish textiles, and a golden-domed Arab Hall that’ll take your breath away.

Exploring this house is like walking through a vibrant storybook. You’ll marvel at the vibrant Silk Room, feel dwarfed by the grandeur of Narcissus Hall, and discover the creative world of a true art superstar.

Best of all, it’s a refreshingly uncrowded experience. For a mere £14 (adult ticket) you’ll set foot on a unique and unforgettable corner of London.

Discover the hidden gems at Sir John Soane’s Museum

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Location: 13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London WC2A 3BP, United Kingdom

Contact: +44 20 7405 2107

Opening hours:

  • Wednesday to Sunday – 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Website

One of the best Egyptian museums in London, this place was once the home of a renowned architect with a passion for collecting… well, everything! From Egyptian relics to stunning artwork by Turner, his house bursts with treasures and architectural curiosities.

Here, you can explore a world of hidden wonders at every turn! The house itself is a work of art, with secret passages, a light-filled dome, and ingenious design tricks that put modern homes to shame. And guess what? This quirky adventure is absolutely free! 

Ride the Mail Rail at the Postal Museum

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Location: 15-20 Phoenix Pl, London WC1X 0DL, United Kingdom

Contact: +44 300 030 0700

Opening hours:

  • Tuesday to Sunday – 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Website

First things first: you’ll be squeezing into a tiny train built for mail, not tourists.  Then, whoosh! You’re off through dimly lit tunnels that once formed a secret postal network under the city. 

But hold on, the Postal Museum itself is no slouch either. Get hands-on with interactive exhibits, see if you’ve got what it takes to sort mail (spoiler alert: it’s tricky!), and uncover a whole world of postal history – wartime deliveries, the rise of the postcard, you name it.

This whole quirky adventure won’t break the bank (£16 for adults, concessions and family discounts available). Plus, children under three can enter for free!

Arts and culture

Catch a vintage film at the Prince Charles Cinema

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Location: 7 Leicester Pl, London WC2H 7BY, United Kingdom

Contact: +44 20 7494 3654

Website

From cult classics to modern masterpieces, arthouse gems to sing-along extravaganzas (think “The Sound of Music” in full costume!), the Prince Charles Cinema celebrates film in all its glorious forms. 

This is the kind of place where movie buffs unite, and laughter, cheers, and the occasional well-timed heckle fill the air.

Tickets are surprisingly affordable, making it a refreshing change from overpriced multiplexes. Standard screenings start around £11, with weekday showings even gentler on your wallet. 

Enjoy a concert in the historic Wilton’s Music Hall

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Location: 1 Graces Alley, London E1 8JB, United Kingdom

Contact: +44 20 7702 2789

Website

Here, intimacy is key.  You won’t be a speck in a massive crowd – you’ll be practically nose-to-nose with the performers, feeling the raw energy of the music wash over you.

Plus, Wilson doesn’t discriminate in music tastes. Their program is a glorious mishmash –  from soulful folk gigs and captivating cabaret to laugh-out-loud comedy and spine-tingling classical performances. 

Ticket prices here are surprisingly reasonable for such a unique experience, typically ranging from £12 to £25. 

Discover contemporary design at the Design Museum

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Location: 224-238 Kensington High St, London W8 6AG, United Kingdom

Contact: +44 20 3862 5937

Opening hours:

  • Monday to Thursday – 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Website

At the Design Museum, you can time-travel through design history! See how the clunky, car-sized computers of the past morphed into the sleek smartphones we can’t live without. 

This place isn’t afraid to tackle the future by showcasing mind-bending concepts that are shaping tomorrow’s world. Think clothes that change colour at your whim and maybe even a flying car or two (okay, maybe not the flying car, but you get the idea).

But what they’re really known for is their permanent collection, “Designer Maker User”, which is completely free! Special exhibitions might have a ticket price, but they’re like VIP passes for deep dives into specific designers and hot-topic trends.

Immerse yourself in the art displays at Tate Modern

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Location: Bankside, London SE1 9TG, United Kingdom

Contact: +44 20 7887 8888

Opening hours:

  • Monday to Sunday – 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM

Website

This place exhibits what most people might make you say, “Wait…is that art?” (it probably is!). Tate Modern is where the rules get broken, and your imagination runs wild. 

Of course, they also have the classics. You’ll find masterpieces by icons like Picasso, Matisse, and Warhol hanging alongside the boundary-pushing works of today’s rising stars.

And their special exhibitions? Those are where things get interesting, with deep dives into specific artists, movements, or sometimes completely out-there themes.

And the best part? Exploring the main galleries won’t cost you a penny! It’s like a world-class art party with free admission. Need a break from all that mind-bending brilliance? Just head to the top of the Blavatnik Building, where you’ll see one of the best panoramic views of London

Dining and drinking experiences

Dine under the stars at the Sky Garden

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Location: 1, Sky Garden Walk, London EC3M 8AF, United Kingdom

Contact: +44 333 772 0020

Opening hours:

  • Monday – 10:00 AM to 11:00 PM
  • Tuesday to Thursday & Sunday – 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM
  • Friday to Saturday – 8:00 AM to 12:00 AM

Website

Perched atop the 35th floor, the Sky Garden offers views that make you feel like you’re on top of the world. You can watch London transform as the day turns to night, all while indulging in delicious food and drinks.

If you want an elegant fine-dining experience, just head to Fenchurch Restaurant for modern British delicacies. However, if you’re craving classic comfort food with a breathtaking backdrop? Darwin Brasserie has you covered. 

And for drinks and lighter bites, the Sky Pod Bar or the City Garden Bar are perfect for sipping cocktails amongst the greenery. 

Participate in an underground supper club with The Underground Supper Club

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Location: 10 S Access Rd, London E17 8AX, United Kingdom

Contact: +44 333 772 0020

Opening hours:

  • Thursday to Saturday – 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM

Website

You won’t be dining in some generic restaurant with The Supper Club Tube at the Walthamstow Pump House Museum. Instead, you’ll be stepping into a vintage 1967 London Underground carriage! 

Think nostalgic tube posters, that familiar (but less smelly these days!) train upholstery… but instead of facing grumpy commuters, you’re about to embark on a six-course adventure through the flavours of Latin America, courtesy of Chef Beatriz Maldonado Carreño.

Chef Beatriz whips up innovative takes on traditional dishes, like reimagined ajiaco (potato and guasca soup) and ceviche de bacalao (marinated cod) that’ll tantalise your taste buds. Prices start at a cool £59, which includes a welcome cocktail to kick things off.  

Sample innovative cocktails at The Alchemist Bevis Marks

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Location: 6 Bevis Marks, Aldgate, London EC3A 7BA, United Kingdom

Contact: +44 20 7283 8800

Opening hours:

  • Monday to Wednesday – 11:00 AM to 12:00 AM
  • Thursday – 11:00 AM to 1:00 AM
  • Friday – 12:00 PM to 2:00 AM
  • Saturday – 10:00 AM to 2:00 AM
  • Sunday – 11:00 AM to 11:00 PM

Website

Forget your sugary margaritas – The Alchemist’s mixologists are like wizards, conjuring up concoctions that change colour, bubble-like potions, and might even emit a wisp of smoke (don’t worry, it’s all part of the magic!).

Their playful drink list reads like a whimsical storybook. Instead of a boring vodka tonic, you could be sipping on the “Bubble Bath” (complete with a foamy surprise) or watching the “Colour Changing One” transform right before your eyes. 

With late-night service, resident DJs spinning everything from disco to deep house, and a dimly lit, mysterious atmosphere, it’s the perfect spot for an evening with your friends or a unique date night. 

Experience futuristic dining with interactive tables at Inamo

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Location: 11-14 Hanover Pl, London WC2E 9JP, United Kingdom

Contact: +44 20 7484 0500

Opening hours:

  • Sunday to Monday – 4:00 PM to 11:00 PM
  • Tuesday to Thursday – 12:00 PM to 11:00 PM
  • Friday – 12:00 PM to 11:30 PM
  • Saturday – 11:00 AM to 11:30 PM

Website

At Inamo, your table is your playground, and your taste buds are in for a wild ride. Instead of boring old menus, you’ll have a touchscreen table that lets you order your pan-Asian feast with a few taps. 

Feeling competitive while you wait? Challenge your friends to a quick game right there on the table! Ever wanted to spy on the chefs? Boom! Their “chef cam” lets you peek behind the scenes of your delicious meal.

And hey, the food’s not just a gimmick, it’s actually legit. Think sushi so fresh it practically does a backflip onto your plate, sizzling stir-fries bursting with flavour, and playful Asian tapas that’ll make you want to try them all.

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