Art Travel

15 Best things to do in London at night

From walking, river or open-top bus tours to seeing a show at The Globe or in Theatreland, there are lots of things to do in London at night. 

The aim of this guide is to help you decide which places to go in London at night interest you most. Will it be an ancient ceremony at the Tower of London, a shopping trip, taking in the views, fine dining or late night photography? Read to find out! 

Table Of Contents


Top things to do in London at night

Watch a West End show

‘Theatreland’ in the West End of London comprises an area bordered by The Strand, Kingsway and Oxford and Regent Streets. Taking in a show is an essential for any visitor who loves theatre, and there are around 40 venues to choose from.

2022 West End shows

Some of the most popular shows for 2022 include Frozen, Wicked, Moulin Rouge, The Life of Pi,  Back To The Future, Pretty Woman, Dirty Dancing and Mamma Mia – musts for fans of the movies. 

Pride and Prejudice (sort of), and The Great Gatsby are more focused on literature. Music lovers, meanwhile, may enjoy musicals based around Tina Turner or Bob Marley, while Agatha Christie devotees will love The Mousetrap or Witness for the Prosecution.   

Click here for London theatre tickets

One of the most popular things to do at night in London is to go to the theatre.
One of the most popular things to do at night in London is to go to the theatre

Take a night walking tour of London

This two hour tour takes you back in time to Victorian London, when Jack the Ripper roamed the streets of the East End. Led by an expert Ripperologist, this guided walk will lead you around the Whitechapel area, seeing Spitalfields Market and Brick Lane along the way. You can even have a go at solving the murders that remain a mystery as you go. 

If you like getting spooked, this two hour night walking tour of London includes spine-chilling stories about spectres and ghouls as well as strolls down the city’s back alleys. The route takes you from the Tower of London to St Paul’s Cathedral via one of London’s oldest churches. 

Learn all about London’s so-called ‘living dead’ when you take this three-hour tour from Green Park, where you can see the Death Tree. Listen out for nightingales in Berkeley Square before wandering along New Bond Street, calling at Fortnum and Mason and St James’s Park before the tour ends.

See the Cutty Sark on the banks of the Thames as you’re told the story of those who lost their lives while sailing the seas. This one-and-a-half-hour tour also takes in the streets of the UNESCO World Heritage Site and a stroll around the grand Greenwich Park. Dip into the Trafalgar Tavern, a 19th-century haunt of Charles Dickens, perhaps sipping a pint before the tour ends in central Greenwich. 

Read – Best sightseeing and themed walking tours of London

Cutty Sark at night.
Cutty Sark

Take a night bus tour

Witness the dazzling spectacle of the city lights at night with this 90 minute tour of London’s key sights. Landmarks you’ll spot along the way include the Tower of London, Big Ben, the London Eye, Tower Bridge, Harrods and Trafalgar Square.  

Lasting around an hour-and-a-quarter, this amusing yet spooky bus trip around the city will tell you all about some of London’s most gruesome moments. Complete with a creepy conductor, technical tricks and actors on board, this is a fun way to delve into the city’s murky past. 

You don’t have to pick between Jack the Ripper and Sherlock Holmes with this three hour bus tour. You’ll travel by open top bus to Smithfield Market to follow in the famous murderer’s footsteps, before visits to Westminster Abbey, the Old Bailey and the Sherlock Holmes Pub.  

Read – Guide to London bus tours

London tour bus
Enjoy London at night on an open-top bus tour

Take a night boat trip

This three hour dinner cruise on the Thames includes a four course meal and cabaret entertainment. After a welcome glass of fizz, you’ll dine in style before seeing a singer perform West End hits. En route you’ll pass the O2, Canary Wharf and the Thames Barrier.  

Setting off after sunset, you’ll be serenaded by live jazz and pop tunes while sipping sparkling wine and nibbling on delicious canapes. Highlights include the Houses of Parliament, Canary Wharf, Tower Bridge and the London Eye. 

During this three hour cruise aboard the Millennium Diamond, you’ll dine on a three course meal and witness a performance by the ChiJazz quintet. While floating along you can see the London Eye, Canary Wharf, Tower Bridge, Westminster and the Tower of London. 

Read – Best London boat trips and cruises

Enjoy a night-time view over London 

View from The Shard

This direct evening entry ticket to The Shard allows you to marvel at the sweeping views from the 72nd floor. Outside, the highest viewing platform in Europe awaits the brave at heart. With no time restrictions, you can spend as long as you like at this iconic modern building. 

Standard or fast-track London Eye flight

The London Eye is the UK’s most popular paid attraction and the 30-minute trip is a must for many visitors. See the twinkling city laid out before you as you move slowly through the night sky.

Look out for London landmarks such as Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and even Windsor Castle when the evening sky is clear. 

London Sky Garden

The most elevated garden in London offers visitors superb views over the British capital. Also known as the ‘Walkie-Talkie’, this venue on Fenchurch Street is free to enter on weekdays between 10 am and 6 pm or at weekends from 11 am to 9 pm. There’s a bar and restaurant on site. It’s advisable to book before you go, which you can do here

Shard
The Shard at night

Late-night openings at London museums

The city’s museums are some of the best places to visit in London at night. Here are a few suggestions.

The British Museum

The British Museum offers late night opening on Fridays between 5 pm and 8.30 pm. Find out more or book tickets here

Natural History Museum

At the Natural History Museum, you can also visit after hours to see the exhibitions. Book your tickets or discover what’s on here including evening exhibitions at the Natural History Museum

V&A Museum

Friday Late is a monthly event at the V&A, held on the last night of all months but December, January, February and May. The museum also has an evening events programme

British Museums
The Natural History Museum and V&A both offer late-night openings

Late-night openings at London galleries

Various art galleries across the city are open to visitors later in the day, making this one of the more cultural London evening activities on offer. Here are some of the most popular. 

The Barbican

The Barbican is open later on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Check current opening times here

Tate Britain

Late at the Tate allows you to explore modern art during the evening. Discover what’s on here

The National Portrait Gallery

This gallery is open until 9 pm some Thursday and Friday evenings. Check the latest schedules here

British Art Galleries

The Tower of London Ceremony of the Keys

This ceremony has been taking place at the Tower of London for 7 centuries. It enacts the locking up of the fortress each evening when the Yeoman Warder brings Queen Elizabeth’s keys to the sentry.

Booking is essential and spaces fill up very quickly. Taking place between 9.30 and 10.05 pm, only ticket holders will be escorted in and out of the building, and no facilities – even toilets – are available.

FInd out all you need to know here.  

Visit the Tower of London at night for the ceremony of the keys.
Visit the Tower of London at night for the ceremony of the keys

Polish your night-time photography skills

Night-time Southbank photography tour

If you want to go beyond the usual vacation snaps, why not practice your night photography skills with this evening Southbank photography tour? A professional tutor will supervise as you capture stunning shots of The Shard, St Paul’s Cathedral and three other locations.  

There are many great things to do at night in London including enjoying the view of the city from the London Eye.
Enjoy the view from the London Eye in the evening or simply enjoy taking some beautiful photos
Big Ben at night

Savour dining out at a smart London restaurant

When you want to dine out somewhere special, there are lots of options available in London. Our favourites include the following.

Duck and Waffle

Situated in Heron’s Tower on Bishopsgate, Duck and Waffle on the 40th floor is open 24 hours, serving European and British cuisine.  

Dishoom

There are Dishoom restaurants in Covent Garden, Shoreditch and King’s Cross, and it’s the place to go for Indian-style dining. 

Kerridge’s Bar and Grill

Located at the Corinthia hotel, Kerridge’s offers finely executed yet laid-back British fare from one of the country’s best chefs. 

Sketch

Sketch can be found in a historic Mayfair townhouse, and is as much about music and art as food. It’s a highly recommended venue for afternoon tea or evening cocktails as well as fine dining. 

London Pubs

See a show at Shakespeare’s Globe

Shakespeare’s Globe is a reproduction of the original Elizabethan theatre the Bard’s plays were performed in. Located on the Southbank, it’s even better to book tickets for a show than just to see it from the outside. 

Globe Theatre at night

Take a late-night shopping trip

You can take late-night shopping trips all over London, and for many this is one of those fun evening activities in London not to miss. The best places include the area around Oxford and Regent Streets in the West End, well-heeled Knightsbridge (home of Harrods) and Covent Garden. 

Oxford Street

Visit a proper London pub

Visiting a London pub is a quintessential part of any trip and one of the most popular things to do in London in the evening. Seek out your own cosy inn for a fish and chips supper and a pint, or take an organised walking tour.   

From Southwark to the West End to the north of the Thames, this historic tour of London’s watering holes allows you to follow in the footsteps of Charles Dickens. This gentle two-mile stroll includes The Strand at the very centre of London and charming Covent Garden. 

London Pubs 1

Seasonal things to do in London at night

The best places to go in London at night can vary according to season, as follows. 

Summer nights

During the longer days of spring and summer – when it’s sometimes light until 10 pm – you can enjoy the likes of open-air concerts and cinema screenings, or perhaps take a sunset safari at London Zoo.

Winter nights

During the festive season in particular, London really can come alive by night – despite it getting dark early. In December, some of the best things to do in the evening in London include seeing the Christmas lights and winter wonderland, ice skating and pantomimes. Read more about what to do in London in winter and London in December!

London really sparkles during December, and this tour by open-top bus lets you see the festive lighting in all its seasonal finery. Highlights include the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree, the London Eye, Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace and Westminster. 

London Christmas lights 1

Top tips for exploring London at night

Fun things to do in London at night are made even easier when you’re in the know. Here are some pointers.

London Transport

London’s transport network is a great way to get around. The tubes, trains and buses are generally on time and you can also travel by tram or boat in some areas. 

Read – Guide to getting around London on public transport

Safety

Britain is a pretty safe country, but of course thefts and more serious incidents do take place. Keep your valuables safe at all times, especially in crowded areas where there could be pickpockets. Invest in a secure way of carrying them or lock them up in the hotel safe. 

Pace yourself

When you’ve had a packed day, it’s best not to plan a full evening of activities as well. Your trip should be about enjoyment above all, rather than rushing around to tick boxes.  

Looking for itinerary ideas? Our 3 day London itinerary includes all the must-see landmarks and attractions.

Which things will you do in London at night?

As you can see, there are lots of night activities available in London. Whichever you try, stay safe, take it all in and above all – have fun!  

South Bank walk to Tower Bridge at night

More things to do in London

We have lots of great resources to help you plan your visit to London: