London is a great city to explore no matter what time of day, with plenty of things to do and places to discover whether you’re an early bird or night owl. However, seeing London by night is certainly a different experience to during the day, with the city really coming alive with twinkling lights and masses of people making the most of the capital’s many evening activities, from a night at the theatre to partying 72 floors above the city and plenty more.
So to help you discover the coolest London evening activities and attractions I’ve put together this rundown of the best things to do in London at night.
First things first, is London safe at night?
Like any large city, London is very safe at night as long as you use common sense. If you are a nervous traveller just stick to the more central or touristy areas where there will be plenty of people around at all times, keep an eye on your belongings (especially cameras and phones) and generally keep your wits about you. You’re highly unlikely to encounter any trouble in London at night unless you’re the one causing it!
What’s the best way to travel around London at night?
London is a 24 hour city and it’s very easy to travel around at night. You can jump on the night tube (check which lines run all right), a night bus or grab a taxi or uber at any time of day (or night).
Best things to do in London at night
Fun things to do in London at night
Spend a night at the theatre in London’s West End
Along with Broadway in NYC, London’s West End is known for being home to some of the world’s best theatre, from world-famous musicals to pioneering plays, making a trip to the theatre one of the most fun and popular things to do at night in London for both tourists and locals alike.
Centred around streets such as Shaftsbury Avenue, Dury Lane and the Strand, which are noticeably lined with the architecturally impressive Victorian and Edwardian playhouses, there are around 40 theatres in the West End which make up the district referred to as ‘Theatreland’.
Plus, it’s easy to have a full night out in London’s West End, with numerous restaurants offering special ‘pre-theatre’ dinner menus (or buy a theatre and meal combo package) and plenty of bars to enjoy a post-theatre tipple or two.
How to book the theatre in London:
Or if you’re visiting on a budget and not too bothered about what show you see, pop by the TXT’s booth in Leicester Square on the day you want to go to the theatre and get cheap last minute tickets.
Have dinner at one of London’s most quirky and unusual restaurants
From a supper club on an old abandoned Victoria line tube carriage to restaurants with unusual hidden entrances and an all-singing and dancing waiting staff, there’s plenty of unique places to eat in London for a fun night out.
Dinner at one of London’s quirkiest restaurants makes a great surprise night out for a special occasion for a friend or loved one.
Go to a Silent Disco in the Shard
While ‘The View from The Shard‘, the viewing platform inside London’s tallest building, is one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions by day, what many people don’t realise is that it’s also home to one of the most fun and unusual evening activities in London.
Every Saturday night, London’s highest viewing gallery (72 floors up!) hosts a silent disco, where guests can dance along to their favourite music with a cocktail in hand while enjoying some of the most amazing panoramic views across London by night. An extremely unique London experience!
How to book tickets:
The silent disco runs on Saturdays from 10pm – 2am (last entry at 1am) and tickets should be booked in advance. Tickets cost £37.50 per person – which is only a little more than the usual day tickets.
Romantic things to do in London at night
Enjoy a late night dinner at Duck & Waffle
Dinner at Duck & Waffle is definitely one of the best late night things to do in London, given that the restaurant is open 24/7 so you can go as late (or early the next morning) as you’d like.
The luxury restaurant is located on the 40th floor of the Heron Tower in the city and has floor to ceiling windows so you can make the most of the panoramic views over London at night while enjoying your midnight feast.
Duck & Waffle’s menu consists of modern British and European cuisine, with different dishes available depending on the time of day but all featuring one main item; the restaurant’s signature crispy duck leg confit served on a waffle with a fried duck egg and mustard maple syrup.
Take an evening cruise down the River Thames
Just picture it; standing on the upper deck of an open-top boat with a glass of prosecco in hand, watching the sites of London by night go by as you sail down the River Thames. Is there anything quite as romantic?
Here are a few of the best evening cruises in London for a romantic night out…
The London Showboat – take a romantic dinner cruise on the River Thames past the illuminated sites of London at night as you feast on a 4-course meal with drinks and live cabaret performance.
Jazz Dinner Cruise – similar to the London showboat, this cruise comes with a 3 course meal, a glass of Pimms and live music by the ChiJazz quintet.
Sunset cruise with bubbles and canapes – keep it sweet but simple with prosecco and canapes on this London sunset cruise.
Cosy up with a movie at Electric Cinema
Head to the Electric Cinema on Portobello Road in Notting Hill for London’s most romantic cinema experience.
The unique London cinema has beautiful red velvet sofas and beds where you can cosy up with your other half to watch the latest releases while enjoying a cocktail or glass of bubbles from the cinema’s fully-licensed bar.
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Free things to do in London at night
Visit London Museum Lates
Explore London’s top museums after dark with the always popular Museum Lates, one of the coolest free things to do in London in the evening.
You can take a step back in time and walk with dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum (think ‘Night at the Museum’), attend special themed evenings at the fascinating Science Museum, stroll around the beautiful covered square at the British Museum or see London’s largest art collections after hours at the National Gallery and TATE Modern.
Plus, many of the Museum Lates also have pop-up bars where you can grab a drink to take around with you and other fun special events such as the Science Museum’s free silent disco.
Most the Museums Lates happen once a month so you’ll need to check the individual websites (or check out this article on Visit London) to see what’s happening and when.
Get the best views over London at night from the Sky Garden
A visit to the Sky Garden is one of the best free things to do in London no matter what time of day, with some of the best views over the city, but visiting at night is a whole different experience and one of my favourite ways to see London at night.
The Sky Garden is London’s highest public garden and is located on the 43rd floor of the Walkie Talkie skyscraper in the City of London. The large plant-filled atrium is completely free to visit and has floor-to-ceiling windows with amazing panoramic views out to the twinkling lights of London below.
There are also two luxury restaurants and a bar within the garden if you do feel like splashing out a little more and spending the evening having dinner and drinks in one of the city’s coolest locations.
While the Sky Garden is completely free, you do need to book a date and time slot in advance.
Watch free comedy at the Top Secret Comedy Club
Another of the best London evening activities is a free comedy show at one of London’s worst kept secrets – Top Secret Comedy Club.
Located in Drury Lane in the heart of London’s West End, Top Secret Comedy Club has hosted stand up performances by some of the worlds top comedians. But for those looking for a free or cheap night out in London, this Comedy Club also offers completely free performances by up and coming comedians or those sampling new material.
The best places to visit in London at night
Another fun thing to do in London in the evening is to simply take a wander around and admire the sites of the city by night. Here are a few of the coolest places to visit in London at night…
No visit to London is complete without a wander down Southbank, home to the London Eye, London Aquarium and looking back over to Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament in Westminster on the opposite bank. Plus Southbank is just as amazing to visit at night, still bustling with life with a number of restaurants and bars just a short walk along the river from the colourfully illuminated London Eye.
Albert Bridge, Chelsea
Albert Bridge is a majestic Victorian suspension bridge which connects Chelsea on the north bank of the River Thames and Battersea on the south. Other than the somewhat better known Tower Bridge, Albert Bridge is the only Thames road bridge in central London never to have been replaced and is therefore now an important Grade II* listed structure.
But other than it’s beautiful architecture and historical importance, Albert Bridge is also one of my favourite things to see in London at night thanks to the twinkling lights which light up every section of the bridge and make it visible from the surrounding areas.
Once you’ve seen the bridge, pop into one of Chelsea’s many charming traditional pubs just a short distance away from the river.
London sightseeing at night – London night tours
A great way to see London by night if you’re not as confident exploring the city alone is on an organised tour…
Best night tours in London
Sunset Bike Tour – cycle along the River Thames from iconic Tower Bridge in the East all the way to Soho in the West, taking in the many sites of London as the sun sets over the city.
90-Minute Open-Top Night Bus Tour – if you’d rather sit and relax than cycle or walk, jump on board an open-top bus tour around London’s top attractions by night.
Themed night tours in London
Jack the Ripper Interactive Guided Walking Tour – an interactive Jack the Ripper walking tour around Victorian East London where you won’t just get to see the famed killer’s crime scenes but you’ll get to investigate them for yourself too.
Comedy Horror Show: London Ghost Bus Tour – one of London’s spookiest sightseeing tours where you’ll get to see the sites of London while learning about the city’s more gruesome history.
Check out these other London posts you might find useful:
- 15 hidden gems in London not to miss
- 22 free museums in London you need to visit
- Mistakes tourists make in London and how to avoid them
- When is the best time to visit London?
- Where to stay in London – area and accommodation guide
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