Historic landmarks, royal palaces and attractions galore, London is also full to the brim with fantastic eateries offering an array of international cuisines from across the globe, lively bars, gastropubs, and a wealth of museums and galleries to explore.
But the fun doesn’t stop when the sun goes down. In fact, it just gets better. The UK capital really is the city that never sleeps, with a variety of fun activities to enjoy until the early hours.
Whether you want to continue your cultural experience, try innovative, quirky and fun places to eat and drink, or simply want to soak up the lively and buzzing atmosphere of the capital in the dark hours, London offers one of the best nights out you’ll ever have.
Here are 27 fun things to do in London during the evening and even into the small hours.
1. The Tower of London, Ceremony of the Keys
Every night at 9.50pm, the Ceremony of the Keys takes place at the 950-year-old Tower of London. Although you need to plan ahead and get tickets, the event is free to watch. The brief ceremony, which has been taking place since the 14th century, is performed by the Beefeaters and marks the official locking of the Tower.
But don’t worry about being locked in for the night. Once the ceremony is over and ‘all’s well’, they’ll let you out through a small side door.
2. London’s Museums
If you fancy visiting one of London’s museums after dark, there are plenty to choose between. Many museums have a weekly late night opening and most are free of charge, such as the British Museum Spotlight Tour that takes place every Friday evening. The Science Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Natural History Museum all have monthly after-hours access and special evening exhibitions.
For a more atmospheric visit, you can take a candlelit tour of Sir John Soane’s Museum in Lincoln’s Inn on the first Tuesday of every month.
3. Art Galleries
Housing one of the world’s most extensive collections of modern art from 1900 to the present day, the Tate Modern is one of the most visited galleries in the capital. If you haven’t got time to fit it into your day, you can visit the Thames Side gallery in the evening. It’s open until 10 pm on Fridays and Saturdays.
The National Gallery, home to a world-class collection of art from some of the greatest artists in history including Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Renoir and Turner is open until 9 pm on Fridays. If you’re feeling creatively inspired, The National Portrait Gallery holds drop-in drawing classes on Friday evenings.
4. Haunted London Bus Tour
Step back in time and explore the dark and haunted streets of London from the safety of a vintage open-top double-decker bus. Then retrace the steps of Jack the Ripper in the sinister East End, and learn about the body snatchers while walking through the deserted Smithfield Market. Finish off with a comforting drink at the warm and inviting Sherlock Holmes pub.
5. Twilight Open Bus Tour
See the beauty of London lit up in the evening sky. Take an open top bus tour around some of London’s most popular landmarks such as the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, the Houses of Parliament and St Paul’s Cathedral, and see them illuminated in all their glory.
6. Walk along the South Bank
If you prefer to stretch your legs, a gentle evening stroll along the South Bank will give you a stunning view of the River Thames and London’s landmarks twinkling in the night sky.
7. The London Eye
A ride on the London Eye will give you spectacular far-reaching views along the River Thames and across the sprawling capital. But watching the sunset and the city light up from up high is a truly special experience. You can even buy ‘Day and Night Experience’ tickets to enjoy the ride during the day, then once again in the evening.
8. Views from the Shard
Europe’s tallest building also offers ‘Day and Night Experience’ tickets to see the fabulous views during the day, and the sparkling lights illuminating the River Thames at night.
9. The Sky Garden
Another fantastic place to get sunset and night-time views of the capital is from the Sky Garden at 20 Fenchurch Street. Spanning three storeys, London’s highest garden can be visited for free and the atrium stays open until late at night. The 360-degree views are lovely during the day, but at night they’re spectacular. Enjoy an evening cocktail at the Sky Pod or City Garden bars while you’re there.
10. Thames River Cruise
Enjoy a closer look at London’s illuminated landmarks while sipping champagne and savouring a delicious dinner on a Thames dinner cruise. Whether you want a sunset cocktail or want a five-course meal with music, entertainment and dancing, an evening cruise along the Thames is an unforgettable experience.
11. Late Night Shopping
Enjoy a spot of retail therapy among the bright lights of the West End. The department stores, designer boutiques and high-street brand stores on Oxford Street are open until 10 pm on Thursdays.
12. Piccadilly Circus
A popular tourist attraction during the day, Piccadilly Circus really comes into its own at night. Soak up the bustling atmosphere and the bright neon lights before taking a stroll around nearby Soho, Chinatown and Leicester Square.
13. Jazz and Italian Coffee in Soho
As well as its risqué red-light reputation, Soho is also famous for its vibrant nightlife. You’ll find some great bars and restaurants here, ranging from casual and quirky to high-end fine dining venues. Head to the iconic Ronnie Scott’s for a great evening of jazz before savouring a late night espresso at the buzzing Bar Italia.
14. Covent Garden
Covent Garden is just as lively and vibrant in the evening as it is in the daytime. Head to the cobbled central piazza and enjoy the amazing talents of the street performers, from the famous ‘living statues’ to magicians and musicians, before grabbing a bite to eat in one of the nearby eateries.
15. A West End Musical
London’s West End is famous worldwide for its theatre scene. Grab an early pre-show dinner, then enjoy one of the iconic musicals such as The Lion King, Les Misérables or Mamma Mia!
16. Hippodrome Casino
If you fancy a flutter in sumptuous surroundings, then a night at the Hippodrome Casino in Leicester Square is definitely on the cards. This magnificent venue has four gaming floors, six bars, a music and cabaret theatre, and a fantastic restaurant that claims to serve the best steaks in London.
17. The Globe Theatre
Enjoy a night of Shakespeare at the faithful reconstruction of the original Globe Theatre on Bankside. The Bard’s most famous plays featuring some of the world’s most talented actors can be seen at incredibly affordable prices. You can buy a standing ticket for just £5!
18. Comedy Clubs
Not only can you laugh the night away enjoying some top comedy acts, but you can do it for free! The Angel Comedy Club at Camden Head and the Top Secret Comedy Club in Drury Lane host a range of top-class stand-up acts and shows with free entry and incredibly cheap drinks for a great value night out. Comedy clubs are extremely popular and tickets sell out quickly, so be sure to book early to avoid disappointment.
19. Immersive Theatre
Alternatively, if you want to get in on the action, you can take part in an immersive theatre show. From murder mysteries and battle-against-the clock escape rooms to Agatha Christie courtroom dramas, there’s a range of thrilling shows and events that will have you battling your wits and visiting other eras in a fun night of escapism.
20. After Hours Shrek’s Adventure
The adventures of the loveable green ogre aren’t just adored by kids. Shrek’s Adventure London, near the London Eye, hosts after-dark adventures for adults only. Release your inner child with 10 live interactive shows peppered with hilarious adult humour and take a 4D bus trip driven by Donkey. Then finish up your evening with a tipple at the Poison Apple Pub.
21. Quirky Bars
London is full of quirky bars! Drinking out has never been such fun. Step back in time to 1920s Chicago and choose from a range of ‘prohibition’ cocktails at Bart’s on Sloane Avenue. Dress in a vintage outfit and dance along to music from the 40s and 50s in an underground station bar at Cahoots in Soho.
For a truly bizarre experience, spend a night out in a lavatory! The WC underneath Clapham Common station is a 100-year-old former toilet, and now serves a fantastic range of fine wines and cheeses on cubicle door tables, while offering live music on Sunday and Mondays from 8-10 pm.
22. Mad Hatters Tipsy Evening Tea
Many London venues serve Afternoon Tea. But how about an ‘Evening Tea’ with a difference! Every evening the Sanderson Hotel hosts the quirky Mad Hatters Tipsy Evening Tea with an Alice in Wonderland theme. Enjoy a delicious indulgence of savoury and sweet delights such as smoked salmon scotch eggs, vodka and cranberry tartlets and aged rum trifle, while sipping on speciality cocktails. The Hot Bouquet cocktail is a must try during cold winter evenings.
23. Pub Theatres
Enjoy a pint and a play in one of London’s pub theatres. Venues such as The Finborough Theatre in Earl’s Court and Upstairs at the Gatehouse in Highgate offer a great value night out featuring fringe theatre, comedy acts and edgy drama as well as discount drinks.
24. Haunted Pubs
Considering London’s long and turbulent history, it’s no surprise that there are a few haunted pubs around. Enjoy a pint and soak up the atmosphere while listening to spooky stories at the following pubs:
- The Ten Bells in Spitalfields was the famous stalking ground of Jack the Ripper. Unchanged since the autumn of 1888, the pub is said to be haunted by the ghost of a Victorian landlord who was axed to death there.
- The ghost of highwayman Dick Turpin is said to haunt the Spaniards Inn at Hampstead Heath, once his local pub.
- The Viaduct Tavern near St Paul’s, once a gin palace, sits on top of former underground prison cells. It’s said to be haunted by the ghosts of previous inmates.
25. A Brick Lane Curry
If you’re a curry fan, then a trip down iconic Brick Lane is a must for a great night out. The vibrant and colourful Bangla Town, full of the unmistakable aromas of heady eastern spices, really comes to life in the evening.
As well as the main strip, there are lots of tiny side streets to explore with a wealth of lively bars and restaurants, not to mention the famous curry houses. Cinnamon and Sheba are two of the best known, with a wonderful selection of authentic Bengali dishes.
And if you’re feeling peckish after a hard night’s partying, be sure to grab a hot and fresh beigel from the famous Brick Lane Bakery.
26. A Late Night Dinner
London really is the city that never sleeps. No matter how late it is, you can enjoy a delicious meal with views at the Duck and Waffle in Bishopsgate. The restaurant, located on the 40th floor of the Heron Tower, is open 24/7 and offers a special late-night menu featuring sharing plates of snacks, generous main dishes and champagne cocktails.
27. A Dino Snores Night at the Natural History Museum
A fun night out in London doesn’t just have to be for adults. Kids from ages 7 to 11 can enjoy the thrilling experience of a sleepover with the dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum. Once the doors have closed, set up camp in the famous Hintze Hall gallery and spend an action-packed night exploring a torch-lit trail and taking part in workshops and science shows before settling down to sleep (if you can) at midnight.
You can find more information on our range of London tours here. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to get in touch.