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My latest solo travel guide focuses on lovely London. Keep reading to find out where I stayed in London, solo London travel tips and the best things to do alone in London.
It’s about time I wrote a guide on solo travel in London. I’ve spent nearly a month in London overall, so I’m basically a local 💁♀️. It’s one of my favourite cities to visit – there’s just so many cool neighbourhoods to visit and attractions to see. It’s also a great city to visit as a solo traveller. So here’s my guide to visiting London by yourself, including the best things to do alone in London. If you’ve ever wondered what to do alone in London, I have you covered.
Solo London travel tips
First up, here are a couple of travel tips for fellow solo travellers visiting London alone. Most importantly, be aware of your surroundings in busy places as there are pickpockets in London (like every other major city in the world). I also found I felt safe walking from the tube back to my hostel at night alone, as it was located on a busier street and there were always people around. However, I only did this on a couple of occasions. As always, do what feels right to you. All of the amazing things to do alone in London listed below are daytime activities anyway.
How to get to London alone
Hello, my name is Hayley and I am now a pro at travelling to London alone. So far I’ve arrived and departed from London by plane, train and bus. I’ve flown in and out of London from both Vancouver and Australia – check Skyscanner for the best flight deals. I’ve also taken the Eurostar from London to Paris and FlixBus to Bruges. Within the UK, I have taken National Express buses and the train from London as well. So yes, there are plenty of ways to get to and from London.
How to get around London
Public transport is fantastic in London, so take advantage. I used the tube most days and even caught a few buses. I simply relied on Google Maps to figure out which tube line or bus would take me to my destination.
The best hostel in London for solo travellers
In my opinion, the best hostel in London for solo travellers is Wombats City Hostel. I’ve now stayed there multiple times in a six-bed female dorm room (with ensuite). It’s conveniently located 10 minutes from both Tower Bridge and Brick Lane in East London. The hostel is also walking distance from two tube lines and two grocery stores. I like the large common areas at the hostel and the onsite bar. The bar hosts weekly events as well, which is the perfect place to meet other solo travellers in London.
I’ve also stayed overnight at the Astor Victoria as it’s walking distance from Victoria Coach Station. Let’s just say, Wombats is 100 times better. I had to walk up seven flights of narrow stairs to my female dorm, which isn’t the easiest with a nearly 20kg suitcase. I also thought the shared bathrooms weren’t the cleanest and the common areas at Wombats are so much better.
Here are my top hostelling tips & travel essentials for fellow solo travellers
Fun things to do alone in London
Here are lots and lots of things to do in London on your own. You won’t be bored in London after reading this list!
1. Walk along the Thames to see the best London attractions
If you’re wondering where to go alone in London, here are several ideas. On my first day in London in 2017, I ended up walking from my hostel near Tower Bridge to Oxford Street. It was a lot of steps, but I passed so many beautiful London attractions on the way. Firstly, there’s Tower Bridge and the Tower of London. I haven’t been to the Tower of London yet, but I’ve heard it’s worthwhile. Then there’s St Paul’s Cathedral before you make it to Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. It was pretty quiet until I got to Big Ben, which is always overflowing with tourists. Don’t forget Westminster Abbey either.
On another day, I walked on the other side of the River Thames to visit some Christmas markets. This is where you’ll find the Shard, the London Eye and Shakespeare’s Globe. A final, but nonetheless awesome option, is to take a cruise along the River Thames. I’ve included some options from GetYourGuide below.
2. See the Queen at Buckingham Palace
Can you even say you’ve been to London if you don’t visit Buckingham Palace? It’s fortunately located in central London, so there are other things to see and do nearby. If you happen to visit in autumn like me, don’t miss seeing all the falling leaves in St James’ Park and Green Park. It’s magical!
While we’re on the topic, check out my autumn packing list 😉
3. Do a free walking tour
Can you believe I’ve never done a free walking tour in London? I’ve done one in like every other country in Europe, but not London. Anyway, don’t be like me and join a free walking tour. It’s one of the best things to do alone in London (and any place for that matter).
4. Go shopping along Oxford and Regent Streets
Oxford and Regent Streets are hectic, no matter when you visit. But Oxford Street is home to all of my favourite English stores (a.k.a. Primark), so it’s always on my personal list of things to do alone in London. If you end up visiting London at Christmas, you also must see the Christmas decorations along Oxford and Regent Streets. While you’re in the area, head to Carnaby Street, which has more independent stores. I loved the handmade products and unique London souvenirs inside We Built This City.
Here are plenty of magical photos from London at Christmas time
5. Wander through Central London
There are so many cool places to visit and amazing things to do alone in London’s central area. This includes Covent Garden, Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus’ bright TV screens, Trafalgar Square, Chinatown and Neals Yard. I recommend taking your time to wander, take photos, pop into shops and eat of course!
6. Head to Harrods
One of my London traditions is visiting the gift shop at Harrods and as I mentioned earlier, shopping is one of the best things to do alone in London. I went there on my first visit to London in 2007 and have returned every visit since. The products are totally expensive, but they’re also so fun and such high quality. Over the years I’ve purchased an apron for my mum, bags, a diary and a pencil case. My latest gift to myself was a small cardholder/wallet, which I now use every day. Go on, treat yourself!
7. Visit one of London’s many free museums
One of the best free things to do in London by yourself is to visit one of the city’s many free museums. On my recent visit to London, I finally visited three: the National History Museum, The British Museum and The Victoria & Albert Museum. The British Museum focuses a lot on ancient history, which isn’t my personal favourite. However, The V&A Museum is the world’s leading museum of art and design, and I loved its art-related exhibitions. Its gift shop is also stocked with the best products. I walked from The V&A Museum to Harrods, if you want to combine those two activities as well.
8. Visit Notting Hill
Another one of the best free things to do alone in London is a stroll through its beautiful suburbs, like Notting Hill. An inner-London neighbourhood, Notting Hill is known for its colourful terrace houses. Some of the best streets to visit include Westbourne Grove, Lancaster Road and St Luke’s Mews. I visited Notting Hill for the Portobello Road Market, which is very crowded. However, it also has lots of interesting antique stalls and food options.
9. Stop by Kensington while you’re in the area
From Notting Hill, I walked to Kensington so I could finally see both the famous Churchill Arms pub and Kensington Palace. The Churchill Arms is an 18th-century pub that’s covered in greenery outside and is filled with Churchill memorabilia inside.
10. Go for a stroll through Hyde Park
Hyde Park is a huge park in the middle of London. I’ve personally spent time there sitting and reading my book by The Serpentine (the lake) and visiting Hyde Park Winter Wonderland. It’s close to so many London attractions I’ve already mentioned, like Kensington Palace, Harrods, Buckingham Palace and even Oxford Street. Don’t miss a peaceful walk through Hyde Park on your solo trip to London – it’s one of the best places to be alone in London.
Speaking of alone time, here are my top tips for travelling alone in Europe
11. Go to the movies
I’m one of those people that regularly go to the movies alone in my hometown, so going to the movies by myself in London doesn’t phase me. If you’re the same, I hear The Prince Charles Cinema and Electric Cinema are two great independent movie theatres to check out.
12. Do a day trip
Yes, one of the best things to do alone in London is to leave 😉. In 2019 I did a day trip to Oxford from London. It’s such a beautiful place filled with historic buildings. Check out this post for all the info on what I got up to on my day trip to Oxford. Other places to visit on a solo day trip from London include Cambridge, Brighton and Windsor. If you hop on an organised tour, you can even go as far as the Cotswolds, Bath and Stonehenge.
13. Visit the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London
If you are a big Harry Potter fan, one of the most fun things to do alone in London is to visit the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London. The award-winning tour takes you behind the scenes in The Making of Harry Potter. You get to stroll through the sets and see both authentic props and original costumes. It’s a must-visit London attraction for Harry Potter fans. Check out GetYourGuide for tickets and transfers. GetYourGuide does its own Harry Potter Guided Walking Tour of London as well.
14. Go to a West End musical
One of the best things to do in London by yourself at night is to go to a West End musical. I’ve seen quite a few now and I even went to two matinees alone on my most recent trip. Personally, I prefer matinees so I don’t have to be out in London after dark. Anyway, I thought the Waitress was amazing and I noticed I was sitting next to other people visiting the theatre solo as well. To purchase tickets, I recommend checking out TodayTix as they regularly have promotions.
15. Head up to the Sky Garden
The Sky Garden is definitely on my list of things to do in London when I return. It’s London’s highest public garden and it’s free to visit, which I didn’t realise. Check out the website to book your ticket. This is also one of the best things to do alone in London at night, as you can take in the city skyline all lit up. The Sky Garden is open until 6 pm weekdays and 9 pm on weekends.
16. Spend a Sunday in East London
Following my lovely solo Sunday in East London I had to add this idea to my list of things to do alone in London. The day started at Old Spitalfields Market, which is full of market stalls selling clothing, handmade jewellery and lots of food. I may or may not have picked up a delicious doughnut. Then I headed over to Shoreditch to do some street art spotting. Strawberry Tours offer free Shoreditch street art walking tours as well. My next stop was Columbia Road Flower Market. This is one of the best things to do in the morning in London, as it gets hectic in the middle of the day. I loved listening to the stall owners calling out. Don’t miss popping into Columbia Road’s independent boutiques either.
Finally, I headed to the Brick Lane Sunday Market. It’s an outdoor street food market on Brick Lane with so many food choices. However, I recommend getting a gozleme from the Turkish stall – so much food for such a reasonable price (photo evidence below). As you walk down Brick Lane, you’ll notice even more markets. This is a great place to visit on your own in London if you love vintage clothing and accessories.
Where to eat out alone in London
Dining alone isn’t a big deal to me – it comes with the territory when you travel solo for over three months. But if you’re concerned, I recommend visiting markets during the day. It’s one of the most fun things to do in London anyway! Wombats also have a kitchen, so I frequently picked up a ready-made pasta at Tesco or Sainsbury’s for dinner (I know, I know, living the life).
1. Brick Lane
If you’re looking at where to go out alone in London, head to Brick Lane during the day. I mentioned my visit to the Brick Lane Sunday Market above, but Brick Lane is also famous for its international cuisine. I visited The Monsoon with a local friend, where we sampled dishes like onion bhajees, butter chicken and special fried rice. Furthermore, I walked past Beigel Bake and the line was kind of intense. After some research, I learned that they are known for their salted beef bagels.
2. Old Spitalfields Market
3. Borough Market
I finally got myself to Borough Market on my most recent visit to London. Can I just say, it is worth the hype. The amount of food options is overwhelming, but I was very happy with my lunch choice. I got pesto and tomato sauce gnocchi from La Tua Pasta and it was perfection in a bowl. The fudge at Borough Market is also out of this world. Add this place to your things to do alone in London bucket list – you won’t regret it!
4. Bakeries and more bakeries
If you know me, you know I love a pastry or two. London is overflowing with bakeries, but some of the most popular are Fabrique (get the cinnamon bun), Dominique Ansel Bakery (known for its unique creations like cronuts), and Bread Ahead. Chilling at a cafe is one of the best things to do on your own in London – you can read, people watch and fill up on delicious food.
When you Google what to do in London, Dishoom always seems to come up. It’s hands down one of London’s most popular restaurants. I’ve never actually been to Dishoom, but I’ve only heard good things!
Looking for more travel inspiration? Check out this post, featuring my 10 favourite destinations of 2019 (London included).
I hope this post gives you plenty of ideas of things to do in London by yourself.
In my opinion, big cities are the best for solo travel anyway. Public transport is usually great, there are always plenty of things to do alone, and there are so many people everywhere that you never really feel alone. So if you’re looking at cities to visit for your first solo trip, I highly recommend heading to London. And thank you for making it to the end of this massive post! For more solo travel inspiration, check out my 15 favourite solo travel destinations around the world (you know London made the cut).
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