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Last Updated: August 2023.
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 a night owl.
However, experiencing London at night is certainly a different experience from during the day, with the city 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, there’s something to do in London after dark for everyone.
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).
What you'll find in this post
Things to do in London at Night: Top Picks
1. 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 popular things to do at night in London for both tourists and locals.
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 that 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 tickets to 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.
2. Have dinner at one of London’s most unique and unusual restaurants
From a supper club on an old abandoned Victoria Line tube carriage to a Mexican restaurant with a hidden entrance in a s*x shop and an Italian pizza joint with an all-singing and dancing staff, there are plenty of unique places to eat in London for a fun and unique 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.
Check out my full list of London’s coolest and most unusual restaurants.
3. Go to a Silent Disco in the Shard
‘The View from The Shard‘ is the viewing platform on the 72nd floor of London’s tallest building. And with its fantastic panoramic views, it’s no wonder why it’s one of the capital’s most popular tourist attractions.
But what many people don’t realise is that the towering skyscraper is also home to one of the most fun and unusual evening activities in London.
On occasional Saturday nights throughout the year, London’s highest viewing gallery hosts a silent disco!
You can dance along to your 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 start at £29.50 per person. Find out about upcoming dates and book here.
4. Watch the Ceremony of the Keys
The Ceremony of the Keys is an ancient ceremony in which the gates to the Tower of London are locked by the Yeoman Warder each night. The ceremony has been taking place since the 14th century, making it one of the oldest continuous military ceremonies in the world.
A small group of guests are allowed into the Tower grounds to watch the mysterious ceremony each evening, which takes place between approximately 21.30pm and 22.05pm.
How to book tickets:
Tickets to the ceremony cost £5 and they need to be booked in advance. Tickets are released on the first working day of the month for the following month at midday. (i.e. July 1st for August). With limited availability, the tickets do sell out as soon as they’re released, so you’ll need to be quick!
5. Enjoy fantastic 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, boasting spectacular views over the city skyline. But visiting after dark is an entirely 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 free to visit and has floor-to-ceiling windows with amazing panoramic views of 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 and spending your evening enjoying dinner and drinks in one of the city’s coolest locations.
How to book:
While the Sky Garden is completely free to visit, you do need to book a date and time slot in advance. Time slots book up pretty quickly, so it’s best to book at least a few weeks in advance.
Want more? Check out these other great London viewpoints that you can visit for free.
Things to do in London at Night: Date Night
6. Enjoy a late-night dinner at Duck & Waffle
Dinner at Duck & Waffle is definitely one of the most romantic things to do in London at night.
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 some delicious dishes.
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.
Plus, the restaurant is open 24/7, so you can go as late at night (or early in the morning) as you’d like.
7. 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 dreamy?
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 a 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.
Enjoy being on the water? Check out these fantastic London boat restaurants too.
8. Cosy up with a movie at Electric Cinema
Head to the Electric Cinema on Portobello Road in Notting Hill for London’s most unique cinema experience.
The historic London cinema is decked out with beautiful red velvet sofas and large 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 fully-licensed bar. Definitely one of the most romantic things to do in London in the evening for couples.
Things to do in London at Night: Nightlife
9. Head on a night out in vibrant Soho
There’s truly nowhere better for a night out in London than lively Soho.
The central London neighborhood is known for its many traditional pubs, quirky bars, and vibrant late-night nightclubs. You’ll find a party happening here every single night of the week.
Soho has long been the heart of London’s LGBTQ+ scene, with the city’s highest concentration of gay bars, drag clubs, and other inclusive evening venues.
Enjoy some casual drinks at the historic Admiral Duncan pub or the Duke of Wellington, then step your night up a notch with cheap cocktails and cheesy hits at the famous G-A-Y bar. Or keep things a little classier with a night on the dancefloor at modern Ku Bar & Club.
10. Go for a drink at one of London’s quirkiest bars
While grabbing a pint at the local pub is certainly one of the most popular evening activities in London, it’s always fun to mix things up with somewhere new every now and again.
London certainly has it all when it comes to cool, quirky, and downright unusual drinking establishments. From adult-only ball pits at BallieBallerson to virtual reality arcade games at Otherworld and Flight Club’s high-tech dart boards. Plus hidden speakeasies, sing-a-long saloons, and floating pubs galore.
For more, check out my full post on the coolest and quirkiest bars in London.
11. Step back in time at a Retro Arcade Bar
Looking for somewhere to enjoy a late-night drink in London that’s not your standard bar or club? Check out NQ64, a small chain of retro arcade bars with two London locations; Soho and Shoreditch.
The quirky arcades are decorated with neon-splattered graffiti and filled with classic arcade games. There’s everything from Pacman and Space Invaders to Guitar Hero and Dance Dance Revolution.
You’ll need to purchase tokens to play the arcade games. 15 tokens cost £5, which is good value considering most machines are only 1 or 2 tokens to play.
You’ll also find several vintage gaming consoles, such as a Nintendo Gamecube, where you play the likes of Mario Kart, Mario Golf, and The Legend of Zelda. These are completely free to use!
The arcade bar has a fantastic selection of craft beer and signature cocktails, with tables and booths to sit and enjoy your drinks. You can simply turn up and hope for a seat or pre-book an area.
The arcade bars are open til 3am every night of the week (except Sunday when it’s open until midnight), making this one of the best late-night activities London has to offer.
Things to do in London at Night: Culture
12. Visit the 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 at night.
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.
Many of the Museum Lates 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 of the Museum 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.
Things to do in London at Night: Shows & Theatre
13. See a show at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre
Regents Park Open-Air Theatre is a unique outdoor theatre nestled amongst the beautiful greenery of Regent’s Park. The theater is a cool spot to enjoy a live performance on a summers evening in London.
Open between May and September, the theatre has a packed schedule of classic and contemporary shows, including plays, West End musicals, drag performances, and family-friendly shows.
14. Watch a classic movie under the stars
During the warm summer months, there’s nothing quite like spending your evening sitting next to one of London’s most iconic landmarks, watching a movie on the big screen as the sun sets over the city.
Luna Cinema has outdoor movie screenings at Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace, Regent’s Park, Kew Gardens, Regent’s Park, and Wimbledon Park. You can watch anything from cult classics to new releases, as well as special sing-along showings that are always a massive hit.
15. 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 world’s top comedians.
But for those looking for a free or cheap night out in London, the Comedy Club also offers completely free performances by up-and-coming comedians or those sampling new material.
Things to do in London at night: Sightseeing
16. Take an evening sightseeing tour in London
A great way to see London by night if you’re not as confident exploring the city alone is on an organised tour…
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.
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.
17. Get boozy on a London beer bike tour
The original Beer Bike Tour is one of the most unique ways to explore central London at night. The unusual vehicle holds up to 15 people and has you pedalling through the streets of Picadilly and Soho, past the area’s many famous sights, with a beer in hand.
But don’t worry, it won’t be completely up to you to steer through the busy central London traffic. A dedicated onboard guide/bartender will also be there to help out.
18. Take a stroll down London Southbank
Although touristy, London Southbank is still one of my favourite places to go in London at night.
The riverside area is home to the London Eye and London Aquarium while looking over to Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament in Westminster on the opposite bank of the river.
The area is just as popular in the evening as it is in the daytime, still bustling with life with a number of restaurants and bars just a short walk along the river from the colourfully illuminated London Eye.
Between the Bridges is my favourite evening riverside venue on the Southbank. The unique spot has several bars, street food stalls, and regular events such as live DJs, drag shows, karaoke, and more.
Even if you’re not looking for somewhere to eat or drink, Southbank is still a lively area filled with buskers, street performers, and an all-around good atmosphere for an evening stroll. You’ll also sometimes find markets and pop-ups along the riverside, particularly during the festive period.
19. Check out Albert Bridge in Chelsea
Albert Bridge is a majestic Victorian suspension bridge that connects Chelsea on the north bank of the River Thames and Battersea Park 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.
Aside from its 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 that 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.
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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