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Too many things to do in London and not enough days in your trip to fit them into?
Make sure you schedule some night time activities in your London itinerary.
London comes alive after dark and you don’t want to miss seeing the city lit up in all its twinkling glory.
Here are our favourite things to do in London at night.
We have also included safety tips and night transport information.
What's in this article
- 1 Our top 3 activities
- 2 Best night views of London
- 3 London museums and galleries at night
- 4 Catch a show at London’s West End theatres
- 5 London’s Soho and Covent Garden at night
- 6 London pubs and bars
- 7 Restaurants in London
- 8 Best night tours in London
- 9 Stroll along the South Bank
- 10 Late night shopping in London
- 11 Is London safe at night?
- 12 Getting around London at night
- 13 What are your favourite things to do in London at night?
Our top 3 activities
- Book tickets to a West End show – click here for cheap tickets!
- Stroll along the Southbank
- Night bus tour of London – click here for more info
Best night views of London
There’s something about a city at night that gets my spine tingling. I love the sparkling lights and night time reflections.
Some of my favourite night time activities in London include taking in the views of the city.
Go to these places at dusk and watch London as the sun sets and its pretty lights light up the sky.
With views over the Houses of Parliament and down the Thames, the 30 minute rotation of the London Eye is simply breathtaking.
Time your ride perfectly for dusk and you will enjoy one of the most memorable experiences of your trip to London.
Top tip – Book skip the line tickets for the London Eye so you don’t waste time waiting Click to prebook London Eye tickets
For a truly special occasion or even just because you’re in London you can even sip champagne as you take in the views.
One of London’s best free attractions, the Sky Garden offers sweeping views of the city from its 34th and 37th stories.
Known to Londoners as the walkie-talkie building due to its shape, the sky scraper soars over Leadenhall Street and looks to the south over the river.
You can see the London Eye lit up from there and many other famous landmarks along the Thames.
If you are hungry or like dinner with a view there are three restaurants on site. I like to enjoy a sip of champagne at the bar.
Dining with a view is one of my favourite activities and you can’t beat the glamorous atmosphere at The Shard where you eat with the whole of London twinkling below your feet.
My favourite restaurants at the Shard are Aqua Shard and Hutong – both quite luxurious with incredible menus. You will need to book well in advance for all the restaurants in this iconic building.
Or, you can just take in the view.
The View from the Shard is open late all year round and has some of the best vistas in London.
You get some of the best views of the Tower of London from The Shard
Portrait Restaurant – National Portrait Gallery
For views that are a little more out of Mary Poppins or Peter Pan, I love Portrait, the National Portrait Gallery’s rooftop restaurant.
Here you dine and look out across Trafalgar Square and over the rooftops of London to the Houses of Parliament – read my full review
London museums and galleries at night
With so many London galleries and museums to explore, why not take advantage of late openings and visit them when they are not as crowded – after dark.
Many of these venues are open late on Thursdays, Fridays and even Saturdays – here’s a quick list for you to plan your time.
I always recommend checking their websites for special opening times during your visit.
Thursday late night openings
The National Portrait Gallery closes at 9pm | The Barbican Art Gallery is open until 10pm
Friday late night openings
The British Museum stays open until 8:30pm | the National Gallery – 9pm | National Portrait Gallery until 9pm
Tate Modern – 10pm | Royal Academy of Arts closes at 10pm | Victoria & Albert Museum shuts at 10pm
Saturday late night openings
Tate Modern is open until 10pm
Catch a show at London’s West End theatres
London is home to some of the most beautiful theatres and longest running shows in the world. From Cats, to Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables, if a show is successful in London it is likely to tour the world.
Your trip to London would not be complete without experiencing a show in the West End.
And there’s something for every taste too.
London’s Soho and Covent Garden at night
For several hundred years Soho has been the centre of London nightlife.
Though now the area is gentrified and home to fashionable restaurants, bars and clubs, this area was once home to music halls, grungey pubs and the heart of the red light district.
Soho also has a more recent colourful past as the place where rock and roll legends such as David Bowie and the Sex Pistols played and got their lucky breaks.
Venues such as The Marquee Club and Ronnie Scott’s have played a huge part in the British music scene. They have hosted bands from the Beatles to Oasis. So pay your respects to your rock heroes as you wander Soho.
Simply take a stroll around the streets of Soho and Covent Garden at night. It’s great for people watching and checking out the light installations. The light show above pays tribute to the area’s fashion legacy.
Make sure to stop by Covent Garden and Leicester Square where you always find some of the world’s most talented street performers.
And if you are interested in checking the local food scene, this Soho Food tour comes highly recommended – click for more info about the Soho food tour
London pubs and bars
When you think of London, proper British pubs immediately spring to mind right?
Sadly pub culture is on the decline in favour of European style bars but there are still plenty to visit on your London trip.
Pubs to visit in London
Cosy, warm pubs with patrons sipping their ale is one of those iconic experiences you must have when you visit London.
There are around 7,000 pubs in London and many of them have a long and fascinating past. These are the best establishments to visit in my opinion.
One of the oldest pubs in the city is Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese. Here you can drink in the same venue as Charles Dickens and Samuel Johnson once did.
How British right? Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese – you can’t make this up – isn’t it a fabulous name?
Another favourite near Borough Market and London Bridge is the George Inn – the last galleried inn in London. Dickens was here too and the pub was even mentioned in his book Little Dorritt.
This site has a great list of pubs by area in London so you can find one near where you are staying.
Or you could take a guided pub tour and find out the history behind the famous watering holes. Soho is a great area to do this thanks to the rich music history of the area.
You can drink in the same watering holes as the Beatles and David Bowie and hear stories about how they rose to fame.
Pubs start to get busy around 5pm as the working day finishes. They stay open until 11pm.
If you are travelling as a family I’d probably avoid this activity after dark unless you find a pub that specifically welcomes children.
There are countless bars in London, from the divey to the downright swanky.
I choose bars that offer a more upscale experience and an ambience where you can talk. Here are a few picks for heading out on the town.
- Bar Termini – classic Italian style in Soho – make mine an Aperol Spritz
- Pennethorne’s – elegant Somerset house bar with amazing cocktails
- The Gilbert Scott – great wine list in a stunning St Pancras venue
Some more suggestions here
If you like your bars noisy and crowded, head to Shoreditch or Camden where you find revellers spilling onto the streets.
Restaurants in London
From fine dining to cheap eats, there is something for everyone in London. I like to to have at least one special dinner out when I’m traveling and make a night of it.
Here are some favourite restaurants you should try from posh (and pricey) fine dining to fun restaurants showcasing international cuisine.
Note – you must book well in advance to secure a table at these popular restaurants. I recommend using the Open Table app to book many London restaurants online
Fine dining- £££
- Dinner by Heston Blumenthal – celebrity experimental chef does classic British fare with a twist. Must try dish: meat fruit (pictured above)
- Spring – elegant produce driven menu in stunning Somerset House – a former palace
- Chiltern Firehouse – celebrity favourite with a delicious European style menu by chef André Balazs
Fun world food – ££
- Dishoom – posh Indian dishes and lovely cocktails
- Barrafina – lovely Spanish tapas bar with great wine
- NOPI – Yotam Ottolenghi’s fun middle eastern brasserie
On those nights when you just want to wander and soak up the atmosphere, try this list of quick and tasty eating venues in London
Best night tours in London
If you’ve been following Untold Morsels for a while, you know that we are huge fans of taking tours on our travels.
London has some brilliant night tours that take you back in time, on a foodie journey of discovery or simply seeing the sights.
Here are some favourite London night tours:
Jack the Ripper ghost tour
Not for the faint of heart, this spooky tour takes you around the reported sites of the 19th century Whitechapel murders. It actually gave me the shivers!
Victorian era London was a dark and grimy place full of characters like the infamous serial killer Jack the Ripper.
The identity of the Ripper is an ongoing mystery and on the tour you get to make up your own mind about his identity.
London food tour
Some of London’s best eating comes from its immigrant communities – Indians and Pakistanis in particular have made their mark on British cuisine.
Join a London food tour and taste dishes from all over the world. From Chinese dumplings to fragrant curries and salty jamon from Spain, this food tour of Soho is a fun way to explore London’s eclectic food scene and learn about the city’s culture along the way.
Thames cruise with dinner
The Thames River weaves its way through the city of London past iconic landmarks and historic sites.
What better way to enjoy the lights of London at night than on a Thames river cruise.
Spot St Paul’s Cathedral and the Houses of Parliament along with many other favourite Londons sights as you relax over a 5 course meal.
Landmarks like the London Eye have special light installations that look amazing from the river. Some tours take you as far as Greenwich.
More night tour options
- Ride an open top London bus through the city at night – click for more info and ticket prices
- A night cycling tour of the highlights of London – click for more info and ticket prices
- Catpure London’s landmarks at night on this photography tour – click for more info and ticket prices
Stroll along the South Bank
Walk right next to the River Thames from Borough Market to the London Eye.
Along the way you pass the Tate Modern, Globe Theatre Millennium Bridge and National Theatre. It’s an area buzzing with people, restaurants and seasonal activities.
On the other side of the river, landmarks such as the Houses of Parliament, St Paul’s Cathedral, Somerset House, and the modern buildings of the city are beautifully lit. This is one of the best places to take night photos of London.
If you head east along the South Bank, it’s a shorter walk taking in beautiful views of the Tower of London with The Shard soaring overhead.
The South Bank is one of my favourite places to visit in London at night.
Late night shopping in London
If you are in London to do some shopping, many Oxford Street stores open until 9pm every day except Sunday and even later on Thursdays. Store hours do vary though so check online to make sure they are open when you plan to go.
Selfridges keeps these hours but my favourite store – Liberty of London – closes at 8pm and 6pm on Sundays.
In Knightsbridge, Harrods opens until 9pm except on Sundays while Harvey Nichols shuts at 8pm.
For affordable fashion and vintage items, Spitalfields Market over in the east of London opens until 8pm most nights.
Is London safe at night?
For the most part, London is a very safe place to venture out at night, especially if you are sticking to the main tourist areas.
Due to recent events, London has considerable police presence on the streets. The city also has a huge number of CCTV cameras acting as a deterrent for criminal behaviour.
Having said that, it’s always advisable to take precautions when travelling in one of the biggest cities in the world.
Use these tips for staying safe in London after dark.
- Plan your journey – make sure you are aware of the best routes to get to and from your destination
- Stick to major roads and streets in well lit areas
- Keep valuables such as cameras, purses, phones, jewellery and wallets hidden and well secured
- Make sure you are accompanied when using an ATM – try to use them in daylight hours
- Avoid walking alone or using headphones
- Hail a black cab if you are lost – you can use the MyTaxi or Gett apps for licensed black cabs
- The emergency number in the UK is 999
Getting around London at night
Since Uber lost their licence in London, I use black cabs at night if I am not near a tube station.
What are your favourite things to do in London at night?
London after dark is as fun as in the day time.
My favourite thing to do in London at night is sip a cocktail at Aqua Shard high above the twinkling city lights and Tower of London.
Remember, darkness falls quickly in London during wintertime – as early as 4pm! – so it’s a good idea to plan some of these night time activities if you are visiting from November to March.
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