The best things to do in London and where to stay

Please note our writers visited London prior to the coronavirus pandemic

An insider’s guide to the top things to do in London, including the best London museums, art galleries, sightseeing spots and free places to visit, as well as insider tips for top London attractions from the Tate Modern to the London Eye – and the best hotels within walking distance, in Westminster, the City, Tower Bridge, London Bridge, St Paul’s, South Kensington and on the South Bank.
Buckingham Palace & Changing of the Guard
Buckingham Palace opens up its Sèvres-china-stuffed, gold-leaf-adorned State Rooms to the public from July to October each year. Expect priceless Rubens paintings, a piano Queen Victoria played, 350 clocks and even the odd secret door. Get a ticket that includes access to the Royal Mews, where the coach that has been used for every coronation since George IV in 1820 is on display. That said, many visitors are happy to settle for watching the Changing of the Guard outside the palace, a free event which typically happens four days a week at 11am (check exact timings in advance).
Insider tip: Sign up to the Palace newsletter for updates about exclusive tours that might even include a glass of champagne, and keep an eye out on the website for exhibitions and special events aimed at children. Multimedia guides are free (there’s even one especially for young ones); ask on the way in.