If you are excited for some night sightseeing in London, then you will have plenty of great places to see.
London has a lively entertainment scene after dark. There are also some family-friendly attractions that you can enjoy when the sun goes down. You may want to call it a night early at times if you have stunning views from your hotel room, but there’s no reason you can’t live it up after dark at least occasionally.
We put together a list of 10 spots for night sightseeing in London. Use these ideas to extend your trip beyond the daylight hours. We included a mix of adult and family-friendly opportunities because we know some parents do have the luxury of enjoying a little kid-free entertainment while on vacation
1. Piccadilly Circus
Let’s start off with one of the best things to do after dark in London for free. Piccadilly Circus is a traffic square or junction near the West End of London that is close to Soho, Leicester Square, Haymarket, Chinatown, and other popular neighborhoods.
You can venture from the traffic junction into any of those areas to enjoy the sights and sounds of London after dark, but the lights and bustle of the Circus are worth exploring as well. The square is always full of people out sightseeing, and that includes at night. Keep in mind that it does officially close around 11 pm.
The junction lights up from all sides, and there are a variety of restaurants and boutiques that allow you to stop off for a drink or do some shopping during select hours. You may also catch street performers if you visit during the spring or summer months. That makes your evening stroll even more enjoyable, and it doesn’t cost you a dime for great night sightseeing in London.
2. The Public Squares
If you don’t catch many live performers at Piccadilly Circus, you may catch them in action at Trafalgar Square, Covent Garden, and other public squares and green spaces throughout the city. They’re all free to visit day or night and offer a variety of live entertainment options, shopping venues, and cafes for refreshment even after the sun goes down.
As you tour London during the day, pay attention to the squares, gardens, and business districts close to your hotel or apartment. You can go back after dark to see what’s happening in the area. You never know what you’ll find, especially during the busy summer tourist season.
3. Tower of London – Ceremony of the Keys
Watch the Beefeaters secure the Tower of London for the night. This dramatic event has been taking place every night for more than 700 years, and the entire family can enjoy the entertainment. From military music to secret passwords and the key ring, there’s a lot to keep your attention throughout the event.
While this is a free London event, you need to reserve tickets in advance because there are a limited number of seats each night. The earlier you can reserve, the more likely you are to secure enough tickets for your full group on the same night.
4. The Shard
This massive glass skyscraper is a sight to behold in the daytime, but it’s just as magical when seen after dark. Book tickets for the View from the Shard experience to take in 360-degree views sweeping out over the city. Reservations are often available up until around 10 pm, but you may need to book well in advance to get nighttime tickets within the dates of your trip in you want this great night sightseeing in London opportunity.
5. The Black Cat Cabaret
The Black Cat is the spot to be if you’re an adult and want some excitement after hours in London. Think of it as a special theatre that brings music, drama, and excellent acting to the underbelly of London night after night. Some also think of it as the circus with an adult spin, so get ready to enjoy the excitement and perhaps a drink or two with the lights down low and the storytellers on the prowl.
Just like any other theatre, you should see what performances are hitting the stage during your trip to London and buy your tickets ahead of time. The best shows tend to sell out quickly because they’re popular with visitors as well as locals interested in the nightlife of London.
6. Bar and Pub Crawls
Are you up for a little adult time? If so, you can’t beat a group bar or pub crawl that takes you safely through the streets of Central London to explore some of the best drinking spots. This is a great way to take in the nightlife of London without wandering around clueless on your own. Guides will show you the best hotspots while giving you time to explore some areas on your own.
One of the best options is the London Bar Bus. It’s an open-top bus outfitted as a bar that rides around London, allowing you to take in the sights and sounds of the city from a safe perch. It’s commonly used as a creative date idea, but you can use it to simply have fun and tour London after hours without walking through actual bars or pubs.
The Historical Pub Walking Tour of London is another option if you want to go on foot and visit real pubs. It lasts for about 3.5 hours, but the start time is often in the afternoon so it won’t take you into the darker evening hours. You can always enjoy the tour then go back to your favorite pubs later.
You can also go on a self-guided pub walk through London by simply downloading an app that will serve as your guide. The app works offline and won’t eat up your data, and it includes GPS that will ensure you make it to each stop taking the quickest route available. This is a low-cost way to see some of the best pubs without paying for an official tour guide in London.
7. London Dungeon
This is a popular attraction for visitors of all ages, but the Dungeon Lates experience is specifically for adults who want to hear the most gruesome tales while enjoying some adult beverages. You get all the special effects and costumed storytellers that are included in the daytime London Dungeon experience, but it’s spiced up with new stories and a lot of adult-oriented fun.
Each Dungeon Lates ticket entitles you to two adult beverages and a special tour of London Dungeon that ends with a chance to socialize and relax in the Dungeon Tavern. Adults are given the opportunity to dress up and play along with the storytellers, so there’s no end to the fun if you choose to participate fully.
8. London Eye
Did you know that you can ride the London Eye after sunset? The final ride occurs before sunset in the summer, but you can ride in the dark if you visit during any other season for amazing great night sightseeing in London from the sky. You get the same magic and fun but with sky-high views of the city’s expansive nighttime skyline.
This is a great option if you want to add a little romance into your London vacation. It’s also a great way to spend time with kids who are old enough to enjoy a massive Ferris wheel positioned right by the Thames River. Even groups of friends and colleagues will enjoy the experience.
You should book your London Eye tickets in advance. You can buy a standard ticket or bundle the experience with select London attractions. That’s a great way to save some moolah on your London vacation.
9. The River Thames
You don’t have to stick to the London streets to have a great time after dark. Many entertainment groups offer nighttime river cruises that can include four-course meals, live music, and other options in addition to stunning views of the city and water.
Some dinner cruise options to consider include the following
Daytime cruises are also available, but there’s a special magic that comes with a nighttime cruise along the River Thames. It’s undeniably romantic for couples but is also a lot of fun if you want to eat, dance, and enjoy storytellers with the full family.
Some river cruises are more tuned to adults out for adventure or romance while others are geared toward families touring London with kids. Make sure to read the fine print of what’s included, the length of the cruise, and other little details that will tell you the best audience for the adventure. An age limit is a dead giveaway, but you may also guess the intended audience by looking at what they serve to drink and eat.
10. West End Theatre District
The West End is home to some of the best theatres offering live events throughout the year, including:
You can book tickets to an evening showing and make a night of it. Go for appetizers and drinks before the show and then stop by one of the many West End restaurants for dinner. You can also do that in reverse, enjoying dinner pre-show and drinks post-show. Consider taking a stroll through the West End to just enjoy the glow of the city under the stars as well.
You can find a variety of theatrical events hitting the stage during your planned trip dates online. If you have your heart set on a specific theatre, look up their website for shows, dates, times, and ticket information.
Where will you find yourself after dark in London? If you add a few of these night sightseeing attractions to your itinerary, you’ll enjoy great food, spectacular scenery, and tons of entertainment with the people who mean the most to you. What more could you ask for from a vacation?