There’s no question that London is a cultural capital with innumerable things to do every weekend, but sometimes you can get stuck in a loop of going to the same bars and making the same plans every week. Whether you’re taking the plunge with Dry January, taking your first tentative steps into a sober curious year or simply cutting back, you might be at a loss on how to inject some fun into your evenings or weekends. Luckily, there are countless alcohol-free things to do in London – including sober bars.
So, for those of you feeling uninspired and in desperate need of exciting experiences to get you out of the festive fog of alcohol, keep reading because we’ve compiled a list of incomparable plans for you to fall in love with London’s vibrancy all over again—sans a cheeky cocktail, a glass of vino or a pint of lager. You can skip the beer and the bars because many of London’s attractions are just as enjoyable without it and can even be enhanced by a clear head and sober perspective.
1. Soak up the natural delights of Kew Gardens
London’s very own slice of paradise, Kew Gardens always makes for an enchanting day out. The UNESCO World Heritage site is home to over 50,000 living plants and is full of hidden havens where you can inhale the mingling scents of many different flora and fauna. Take a wander over to the Japanese gardens for a moment of mindfulness in the Chokushi-Mon gateway, head up to the treetop walkway to discover the wildlife that thrives in the thick tangle of the canopy or go for a magical stroll through the bamboo garden.
Take a break from the hustle and bustle in favour of a night of magnificent live music and enjoy some relaxing downtime. Whether you’re in the mood for some otherworldly Sci-Fi and Fantasy Soundtracks, tributes to legendary acts like Coldplay, and Beyoncé or a cinematic journey conjured up by the mesmerising music of Joe Hisaishi —you’re covered. All of this with the addition of being bathed in the soft glow of candlelight in striking London venues, you don’t need a drink for that.
3. Treat yourself to a delightful and authentic meal
Who doesn’t love a good brunch on the weekend? And it doesn’t have to be boozy. You can get together with your friends, dish last night’s endeavours and get a taste of some of the best food London has to offer. But if you enjoy your bottomless brunches, London has plenty of those, too.
Or, what about a rich and hearty meal on Sunday? If you’re choosing not to drink, all that really means is you have a little extra cash to put towards your dining budget. Whether you opt for some of the more well-known spots or want to discover a hidden gem, you’re only a stone’s throw away from great food at any time. But with so much variety, it’s often difficult to actually make a decision on where you want to go. No worries! Here are just a few cuisine-specific guides to get you started: Breakfasts, Brunches, All You Can Eat Sushi, BBQ, Halal, Ethiopian, Brazilian, Turkish
As the name suggests, this multi-sensory experience will trigger your happiness hormone dopamine. And best of all, without the next day’s hangover! Dopamine Land is the perfect release you need after a long day of work, or it can also be a great day out with your kids.
To boost these emotions you will need to enter different rooms—“Into infinity and beyond” room, where you can see a colourful light show, a maze mirrored room, a digital forest room to take a break and recharge, and lastly, enjoy a good old pillow fight to get the giggles. All of them are designed to stimulate touch, sight, smell and even memory!
It may be that you’re looking to fill your months with some overseas adventures in place of boozy nights out. Well, Accidentally Wes Anderson: The Exhibition, found in South Kensington, is just the place to go to discover some fascinating inspiration for your travel wishlist. Featuring over 200 photos of real-life locations, you’ll experience hidden gems around the world as seen through the iconic lens of Wes Anderson – think symmetrical architecture, bold colours, magical natural landscapes and curious items in unexpected places. You’ll explore the idiosyncratic delights of everywhere from Norway to Morrocco – or even right here in London – and will no doubt be digging out your passport and searching for flights by the time you get home. Plus, you can use the money you saved on forgoing expensive pints and cocktails for your trip.
Leave your swimsuits and towels at home. A sound bath is purely sound waves and vibrations, an immersive session where soothing melodies wash over you and ease your body into a sense of relaxation and rejuvenation. Over the course of 75 minutes, an experienced practitioner will take you on a healing journey using shamanic drumming, percussion instruments, tuning forks and Tibetan and crystal bowls. Sink into comforting pillows and blankets as flickering candlelight dances across the room and embrace positive energies that will leave you feeling serene and re-energised.
I got chills, they’re multiplying! If you want to watch a show with amazing songs, fun choreography and gorgeous small-town Americana costumes, Grease the Musical is the one that you want.
After a whirlwind summer romance, leather-clad greaser Danny and girl-next-door Sandy are unexpectedly reunited when she transfers to Rydell High for senior year. But can they survive the trials and tribulations of teenage life? Brought to you by a fresh young cast, you can’t miss this version of the musical at the Dominion Theatre London.
Ok, so it’s technically a cocktail experience, but don’t worry, Avora: A New World Adventure hasn’t forgotten about us sober bunch who fancy a bit of planet exploration. You can embark on a spellbinding adventure with three delicious mocktails instead. After zipping yourself into a jumpsuit and drinking a colour-changing drink (not the weirdest thing you’ll encounter here), Local Avorians will guide you around the psychedelic paradise, inviting you to explore mystical woodlands blooming with exotic flora, sip ‘antidotes’ to help you acclimatise to the planet’s atmosphere and watch as the glowing wilderness bursts into vibrant life once night falls.
Get to know the London borough of Southwark in a fun and playful way with the All Gone South, Southwark & City of London Exploration Game. If you’re someone with a somewhat inquisitive mind, this city exploration game will guide you through the sights of London. The starting point is at St Paul’s tube station. You will be given clues to solve on your phone and work with other people to expose Southwark’s secrets. With this outdoor escape room, you’ll get to have fun and create memories without alcohol.
This is the perfect expert-led tour for footie fans. When watching a match, if you’ve ever wondered what happens behind the scenes of the enormous stadium, this is the right activity for you. You can step into the players’ spikes, by visiting the dressing rooms, the player’s tunnel, the press room, and much, much more. England is the joint oldest national team in football history, dating back to 1872 and Wembley is home of the England national team. At Wembley Park, you’ll learn all about the lengthy history of the stadium and team and get to see some trophies as well, including the original FA cup and the Jules Rimet trophy to commemorate England’s World Cup win.
11. Get lost in the magic of film
The cinema is always a great choice for a bit of booze-free escapism, and although it seems to be the trend that more and more cinemas are offering alcoholic options, classic is often best. Popcorn and an Ice Blast are all you really need at the cinema, but that doesn’t mean it can’t get better.
Everyman is a fan favourite because they have so many locations and have seemingly perfected the premium cinema experience, but there’s plenty of other amazing London cinemas to choose from. Or you could opt for a classic trip to Vue and treat yourself to some value-added tickets.
🎟️ Vue Cinema Tickets – valid for any 2D movie, on any day, at any time at participating Vue cinemas in London.
Who says the pubs get to have all the fun? This cheese crawl will take you on a journey around some dairy-filled hot spots around the city. With stops at Fortnum & Mason, the official cheese suppliers (among other luxury delights no doubt) for the royals, and London’s often overlooked gem Little Italy (but you might want to avoid the drunk cheeses if you’re dead set on an alcohol-free day) you’ll soon be belly full with all the gouda stuff.
13. Unleash your competitive side at one of London’s mini golf courses
One thing that London is not short of is opportunities for a bit of healthy competition. Crazy golf in particular has a way of making even the most laidback player grit their teeth and clutch their golf clubs in determination. You can challenge your friends to hit the ball around on several brilliant courses around the city. This includes the psychedelic wonderland of Plonk in Camden Market, where a group of film set designers put their minds together to create a fabulously interactive course and Swingers City which is found in a former WW2 bunker in Aldgate.
14. Swap cocktails for mocktails in a luxurious setting
No alcohol doesn’t mean you can’t still treat your tastebuds to a delicious concoction, or three, and enjoy the ambience of a striking restaurant while you’re at it. Thankfully, there are plenty of places around the city that have stepped up their mocktail game and offer a refreshing range of alcohol-free tipples to give you your sipping and socialising fix. Knightsbridge hang-out Sumosan Twiga is one of them, with tempting drinks such as the Crodino Spritz, their non-alcoholic twist on the much-loved Aperol Spritz, and the Maasai Mule, a refreshing mix of palette roots, watermelon, pomegranate, lemon and ginger.