Whether you’re a solo traveller exploring London for the first time, or a seasoned Londoner just wanting to take some time out for yourself, there’s plenty to do when you’re on your own in our beloved capital. Here’s our rundown of the greatest things to do alone in London:
1. Go for a wander around the British Museum
Culture vultures – this one’s for you. Despite the name, this sprawling building in London’s academic Bloomsbury district is only fleetingly concerned with British history. Instead, it aims to represent the entire sweep of human endeavour, from prehistoric man through Ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Absolutely marble-ous! Given its size, it’s the perfect spot to while away an afternoon. Better yet, it’s free to enter!
You’ll find the British Museum at Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3DG. Nearest stations are Holborn and Russell Square. The museum is open daily from 10am-5pm.
2. Gorge your way through some of London’s food markets
What better way to spend an afternoon alone in London than eating, right? If you’re anything like us, you won’t find it hard to work up an appetite at, well, almost any time of the day or night. But instead of going for a sit down meal – which can sometimes feel a tad awkward on your own – why not head to one of the many street food markets for which London is so well known?
The obvious choice here is Borough Market, which has been a place of food and commerce for over 1000 years, but when it comes to food markets, the world (well, the city) really is your oyster. You’ve got the likes of Maltby Street and Broadway Markets as well as Mercato Metrapolitano and Seven Dials, just to name a few.
3. Get your history fix at the Tower of London
Founded all the way back in 1066, this infamous UNESCO-listed building has been used as a historic palace, a fortress, and a prison over the years, so if you’re looking to get an extensive insight into London’s intriguing history, then this is the place to be.
Get up close to the Crown Jewels, meet the legendary Yeoman Warders – AKA ‘beefeaters – and be regaled with tales from the Tudors, the Stuarts and beyonds. Who knows, you may even spot one of the resident spooks – after all this is where Anne Boleyn and co. got their heads chopped off! Alternatively, you could just join a ghost tour, which starts at Tower Hill – you can grab your tickets for that here.
You’ll find the Tower of London at London, EC3N 4AB. Nearest station is Tower Hill. The tower is open from 10am-5.30pm on Sundays and Mondays and 9am-5.30pm on every other day.
4. Take a scenic stroll along Southbank
There’s sometimes nothing better than taking a leisurely stroll along the Southbank when you’ve got the day to yourself. As well as being a people-watcher’s paradise, there’s plenty of things to see and do along the riverfront. Rifle through a cute little book market, watch the skaters do their thing at the Undercroft, grab some grub at the pop-up food stalls dotted about, or gawp at the breathtaking views of our beautiful city.
Of course, this being Southbank, you’re just a stone’s throw away from some of the capital’s signature sites, including the Globe Theatre, the London Eye, and the Tate Modern. Speaking of the Tate…
5. Discover some eclectic modern art at the Tate Modern
Exploring the Tate Modern is a must for anyone who’s spending some solo time travelling around London Town. As one of London’s most-visited attractions, it sits on a prime spot in Bankside – opposite St. Paul’s Cathedral – and holds a repository of important and influential modern art, and it won’t cost you a penny to enter either. Win, win!
Everything you’ll find within the gallery is modern art, dating only as far back as 1900. Collections are split between the Boiler House, the central Turbine Hall, and the Blavatnik Building (formerly known as the Switch House). As well as all the free stuff, they also hold regular paid art exhibitions, and you can also enjoy private guided tours which you can sign up for here.
You can find the Tate Modern at Bankside, London, SE1 9TG. Nearest station is Blackfriars. The Tate Modern is open daily from 10am–6pm.
6. Enjoy some chill out time in some of London’s many green spaces
If you’re looking for things to do in London alone, then this one’s a pretty good bet. From scenic views and flower-filled gardens to Instagrammable-wonders, we’re pretty lucky with our green spaces in London it has to be said. And when you’ve got over 100 dotted about the city, you’re pretty much spoiled for choice!
From Victoria Park in the East to Kew Gardens in, well, Kew (you can grab your tickets for that here), there’s more than enough to keep you busy, especially given that Summer is (hopefully) just around the corner. So what are you waiting for? Slap on the suncream, grab an ice cream and hot foot to it!
7. Shop ‘til you drop and get the goods on a solo adventure
There’s no one to judge you on how much you’re spending when you’re on your own, so what better time to go shopping? We may be biased, but London is one of the best places to shop on the planet, and we’ve got everything here from high-end boutiques to hipster havens.
Oxford Street may be the obvious choice, but there are plenty of other spots for a shopping spree. Both of the Westfield shopping centres are worth a visit if you’re looking for high street stores, but you can head to these fabulous vintage shops if you’re looking for retro garms. For Carhartt WIP, COS, Fred Perry et al, Coal Drops Yard is the place to be.
8. Get cosy in a cute café or deli and while away the hours
After all that shopping, you’ll most likely need to recharge your batteries – and what better way to do so than with a hit of caffeine and a sweet treat? London Town is full-to-the-brim with cute coffee shops and delightfully delicious delis, selling everything from gourmet coffee to gluten-free chocolate cake. Settle in with a good book and some headphones and you’ve got yourself more than sorted for a few hours.
9. Treat yourself to a pint or two at a riverside pub
When the sun is shining – or actually, even when it’s not – Londoners flock to a vast array of Thameside pubs for some outdoor drinking and dining. And although east and north London offer their own pretty canalside pubs, our city has always been built around the riverside, and some of these charming spots are *ahem* awash with history and can be considered among the oldest pubs in London.
Top picks along the length of the Thames include the Trafalgar Tavern in Greenwich, The Mayflower in Rotherhithe, The Anchor on Bankside, and The Dove in Hammersmith – we’ll cheers to that!
10. Catch the latest blockbuster or indie movie at the cinema
Next up on this roundup of the greatest things to do alone in London is catching a flick at the cinema Whether you’re looking to watch that next multi-million pound blockbuster in the ODEON IMAX, or you’d rather catch an independent gem at a tiny little spot in Hackney, there’s something for everyone in our capital city. Plus, you can now grab cheaper tickets with both Odeon and VUE, so heading to Hollywood needn’t break the old bank.
11. Amble through town on an alternative walking tour
If you’re wanting to unearth some of London’s hidden gems and secrets, then don’t miss out on joining an alternative walking tour. We’ve got everything here from the ‘Secret Old London Walking Tour’ – where you’ll be able to see the memorial to Braveheart himself, Mel Gibson (ok actually William Wallace), and will also discover where the Great Fire of London, well, burnt itself out – to other walking tours including the ‘Gangster London Walking Tour’, a magical Harry Potter-based walking tour and ‘The London Cheese Crawl’, which ends up with an artisanal cheese board in Covent Garden. Try and say no to that! Get your tickets here.
12. Get your live music fix at a gig or two
We know we may be biased here, but London may just well be the live music capital of the world. Our beloved city has hundreds of amazing gigs and concerts planned for the rest of the year, from scream-your-head-off rock gigs to proud pop extravaganzas,and everything in between. A live gig is also the perfect way to meet some new mates, so grab a pint, get your lighters up, and we’ll see you in the front row!
13. Cook up a storm with a group cooking class
Another delicious entry to this roundup of the best things to do alone in London is a cookery class, because what better thing to do than go from zero to hero in the kitchen?! Cook up a storm and meet some new mates whilst whipping up some Mexican street food (with bottomless wine on the side) – you can sign up here!
14. Take a day trip to the seaside
Fancy escaping the concrete jungle for the day and getting yourself a refreshing dose of vitamin-sea? Well it’s easier than you may think because there are some superb seaside towns all within easy reach of London.
Take yourself off on a little solo adventure packed full of sandcastles, soleros and seaside strolls. Doesn’t that sounds delightful?
15. Catch a wonderful West End show
Ready to get so absorbed in some on-stage action that you completely forget you’re on your own? Well, London’s West End is one of the greatest theatre districts in the world and is home to many beloved musicals. Be transported to a Greek island at Mamma Mia!, rewrite history (or rather, her-story) at Six The Musical, or hear the untold story of the witches of Oz at Wicked.
It’s far easier to snap up a last minute ticket if you’re on your own too. Bonus!
16. Bury your nose in a bookshop
There are very few things more peaceful than getting stuck in to a good book and London certainly isn’t short on cosy bookshops to facilitate this.
Rare bookshops, floating bookshops and everything in between; London has it all. So, if you’re looking for a way to while away an afternoon alone in London, getting lost browsing some bookshelves sounds like a pretty good way to do it, right?
17. Pay a visit to Columbia Road Flower Market
If you’ve decided to spend a Sunday fun-day by yourself, you’re guaranteed a bunch of fun at Columbia Road Flower Market. Wander through the hustle and bustle of this (very busy) market and be dazzled by the dahlias and captivated by the chrysanthemums.
A Sunday morning spent browsing some beautiful blooms really is the ultimate way to romanticise your own life and after all, like Miley told us – we can buy ourselves flowers…
You’ll find Columbia Road Flower Market at London, E2 7RG. Nearest station is Hoxton (overground). The market is open every Sunday from 8am-3pm.
18. Admire some of London’s prettiest streets
Surely I can’t be the only person who loves wandering around London, admiring the beautiful houses and picking out the ones I’d most like to live in when I’m rich and famous (I’m nothing if not a realist, okay?).
The only thing that makes this activity better is doing it by yourself because you don’t have anyone there to tell you that your idea of living in a gorgeous house in a beautiful London Mews is unrealistic.
Grab yourself an overpriced flat white and spend an afternoon wandering enviously around some of most beautiful off-the-beaten-track roads that London has to offer, you won’t regret it (okay, you might).
19. Let your creativity flow at an art class
Our penultimate entry on this list of the best things to do alone in London is a bit more of a hands-on activity. Channel your inner Picasso at one of London’s many painting classes and workshops.
Whether you’re a total novice or a semi-professional, there will be a class that suits you perfectly. Brush & Bubbles, for example, offer sip and paint classes, where you’re given a nice glass of prosecco to sip on whilst you paint – surely that will give you all the dutch courage you need to chat to the people around you and really let loose with the watercolours.
Make some new friends and learn a new skill at the same time? Sounds like a win-win to me.
20. Mosey your way through Chinatown
Rounding off this list of the best things to do alone in London is a visit to Chinatown, the largest Chinatown in the entire UK. Offering lots of yummy food options, all the saucy dumplings and dim sum you could want and some Chinese supermarkets to inspire you at home, it’s brimming with foodie delights and is a fantastic thing to do solo in London.