Looking for things to do in the City of London? The Bumper Crew has it covered! The City of London is one of our favourite places to hang out, especially on a Sunday, because what’s strange about the City is that it has a low residential population, so come the weekend, it can be like a ghost town.
It’s quite an unusual thing to experience in one of the most densely populated cities on the planet (Greater London as a whole, that is). You can wander around and explore the streets in peace. But beyond that, there’s fascinating history, a unique juxtaposition of architecture, and plenty of things to do in the City of London to occupy you for a while.
The City of London is quite an interesting place for a few reasons, which get complicated quite quickly, so here’s a quick rundown. Firstly, The City of London is not to be confused with London. ‘The City’, as it’s often referred to, is a part of Greater London, but it’s not a London Borough (there are 32 boroughs). The City of London is actually a county and a government district. In fact, it’s the oldest local government in Britain and has powers that exceed the London boroughs, such as having control of its own police force. You’ll notice their uniforms have red and not the usual blue hashed patterns.
Things to Do in the City of London
You’ll find a Google Map link below each of the things to do to help you navigate your way around, plus website details and whether or not you need to pay to enter. So, read on to discover the best things to do in the City of London!
1 | Explore the Tower of London
Bottom line up front – the Tower of London isn’t technically in the City of London, but it’s close enough and a place you can’t miss if you’re visiting the City. We visited when we had The London Pass, and it was, without a doubt, the best attraction we visited that weekend.
If you don’t know what it is, it’s an ancient fortress that has stood for over 900 years, serving as a royal palace, prison, and even a zoo. And if you’d like to know more about it, you can read our guide to visiting the Tower of London for more details to help plan your visit.
💷 Paid entry
2 | Visit St Paul’s
St. Paul’s Cathedral is one of London’s most iconic landmarks. There’s no doubt about that. It’s a masterpiece of architectural design designed by Sir Christopher Wren, and its grand dome still dominates the city’s skyline today. Built after the Great Fire of London, Parliament declared it officially complete on 25 December 1711. The cathedral’s interior boasts stunning mosaics, intricate carvings, and elegant chapels. If you visit as a sightseeing ticketholder, you will see the Cathedral Floor (the ground floor) and the Crypt, and you can climb the Dome. This will take you to the two Dome Galleries – the Stone Gallery and the Golden Gallery- which provide spic views over London.
💷 Paid entry
3 | See Reflection Garden
Right next to St Paul’s is a hidden gem in the City. There aren’t many hidden gems left, but this is one of them, and it will present you think one of the best views of St Paul’s you will get anywhere in London. Reflection Garden is best avoided during lunch on a warm, dry day – it gets pretty busy! Come back in the evening when it’s a little more peaceful – you will thank us. You will also be able to get a fantastic shot of St Paul’s reflected in the pool.
4 | Have Coffee at Host Café
And the next place on our list of things to do in the City of London falls not far from the Reflection Garden. It’s one of the best cafes in London, not because of the coffee (which is excellent) but because of the unusual and impressive setting that is St Mary Aldermary Church. Walk in, order your food, then pull up a pew, as they say.
But in this case, you can sit in the church pews. There are normal tables and chairs, but you are also welcome to sit in the church pews with your bite to eat and drink. Host Cafe is the perfect place for a bite to eat and rest before exploring the rest of the City.
5 | Visit Leadenhall Market
Leadenhall Market is one of the best markets in London. Not because it sells amazing stuff. It’s not a market in the traditional sense, like back in the day when it started as a meat, poultry, and fish market in the 14th century, but because it’s an architectural marvel.
Leadenhall Market has grown to be one of London’s most iconic landmarks, and today, you’ll find the market full of trendy shops and eateries, but the cobbled alleys and ornate roof structures create a charming location for your next Instagram post and remind you of a by-gone era.
6 | Climb up Monument
The Monument is a towering structure built to commemorate the Great Fire of 1666, hence its full name – The Monument to the Great Fire of London. Robert Hooke designed The Monument in consultation with Sir Christopher Wren, and it stands near the fire’s starting point. The Monument serves as a permanent reminder of the Great Fire, built to commemorate one of the most significant events in London’s history.
Completed in 1677, The Monument is a Doric column rising 202 feet high, symbolising rebirth and resilience, and you can climb its 311 steps for 360-degree views of the city. Be warned, the steps are pretty narrow and can feel like they go on forever. Ha. But don’t let that put you off – the views are worth it. You don’t need long to visit The Monument – 30 minutes or so, but it’s worth a visit nonetheless. And you can visit The Monument with The London Pass if you’re considering using that while in the capital.
💷 Paid entry
8 | Visit London’s 2nd Largest Conservatory
The Barbican Conservatory is the second largest conservatory in London, after Kew Gardens’ Princess of Wales Conservatory, and is an absolute must-do in the City of London, in our opinion. It’s an unusual place, with its mix of brutalist architecture and plant life. It’s not open all the time, and you need to book tickets in advance, which is a bit of a pain but worth the hassle. We loved the Barbican Conservatory so much that we wrote a post about it, so if you’d like to know more about the place and how to book your tickets, read our guide to visiting the Barbican Conservatory.
💷 Free – ticket required
8 | Visit Sky Garden
Sky Garden, situated in London’s iconic Walkie-Talkie building, has grown to be one of the most famous gardens, if not the most renowned garden in London. Boasting some epic views, the lush garden spans three floors and features a ton of exotic plants and trees. You can wander through landscaped terraces, enjoying the fusion of nature and architecture. Designed for relaxation and leisure, Sky Garden also houses dining options, offering a unique culinary experience amidst the stunning backdrop.
Not only is Sky Garden great, but it’s also free, which makes it a highly desirable place to visit, which presents a problem because you need a ticket to get in. And tickets can be pretty hard to get hold of, especially for weekend visits. Sky Garden free access tickets are released every Monday and bookable up to three weeks in advance, so get on early to stand the best chance of getting hold of some.
💷 Free. ticket required
9 | Visit the City’s Largest Public Rooftop Space
The Garden at 120 is the lesser-known, smaller and less dramatic version of Sky Garden. Interestingly, it’s the largest public rooftop space in the City of London. But the benefit it has over Sky Garden is you don’t need to book – just turn up, get to the top and enjoy the views. The Garden at 120 is a good alternative to Sky Garden if you don’t manage to get tickets. Inside, you’ll find great views across the city, loads of plant life and a restaurant and bar. And if you’d like to know more, read our guide to The Garden at 120.
10 | Visit Bank
We’ve lumped Bank into one location to visit because there are a few things to do there. Bank usually refers to Bank Station, but for the purpose of this, we’re talking about the area near Bank Station.
Firstly, soak up the incredible architecture surrounding you before stepping into The Royal Exchange. The original Royal Exchange was London’s first purpose-built centre for trading stocks. Today, you can step inside the third edition of the building (the first two were destroyed by fire), where you will find the fancy Fortnum’s Bar & Restaurant, along with other fancy brands to indulge in.
Next, step over the road into the Bank of England Museum, which is bolted onto the Bank of England. The museum is small, so you don’t need long in there, but it has a fascinating item you can get your hands on – a bullion bar. That’s right. You can hold a piece of gold weighing around 13 kg, which is worth somewhere in the region of £600,000 – £650,000. Sadly, it’s in a cage, so you can’t walk away with it. Ha.
11 | Explore St Dunstan in the East
St Dunstan in the East Church Garden is a somewhat unique space in the City because it’s a garden set within the ruins of a Christopher Wren church. It’s a pretty cool space, but it’s a little overrated, thanks to Instagram, which is why it’s last on this list of things to do in the City of London. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth visiting, and thankfully, it’s not far from all the other great things to do, so it’s worth planning your visit to walk through it. You might even grab your next Insta post there. Ha! Inside, you’ll find a few benches and some lush greenery draping down the ruined walls.
Things to Do in the City of London Map
Things to Do in the City of London FAQs
When is the best time to explore the City of London?
It’s best to visit the City of London on a weekend. Because it has a low residential population, the City of London gets quiet on a weekend which offers a great opportunity to explore the things to do in the City of London when it’s a bit more relaxed.
Is the City of London worth visiting?
Yes, it is! The City of London is one of the best districts in London. There are plenty of things to do, plus a history, unlike many other places. There is something in the City of London for everyone, from history buffs to plant lovers, shoppers, and everyone in between.
How big is the City of London?
The City of London covers just 1.12 square miles. From east to west, the boundary is roughly from Temple to the Tower of London. And from south to north, it’s from the River Thames to Barbican.
What’s the difference between the City of London and London?
The easiest way to understand the difference is to consider the City of London as a district within Greater London – Greater London being all the districts and boroughs together.
Things to Do in the City of London
- Explore the Tower of London
- Visit St Paul’s
- See Reflection Garden
- Have Coffe at Host Café
- Visit Leadenhall Market
- Climb up Monument
- Visit London’s 2nd Largest Conservatory
- Visit Sky Garden
- Visit the City’s Largest Public Rooftop Space
- Visit Bank
- Explore St Dunstan in the East
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