We all know that London is a very interesting destination during the day, but it’s with nightfall that the fun really begins for all the night owls.

There are more things to do, see and admire in London after dark.

Especially for the tourists looking for a different experience of this famous world capital, London at night is one that the tour guides will not usually present to you, but one that you can definitely see for yourself.

1. Shops

If time just doesn’t seem to be enough during the day for all the shopping you’re planning to do, the good news is that there are some select places in London that are open after hours, for late night shopping.

West End, Central London and Kensington High Street stores are usually open until 8pm or 9pm on Thursdays, while Chelsea and Knightsbridge shops stay open late (8pm or 9pm) on Wednesdays.

July also benefits from longer business hours, due to the summer sales.

Other recommended shopping areas include Oxford Street Shops, Selfridges, Westfield Stratford City, Westfield London, Canary Wharf Shops and Harrods.

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If you’re not sure where to start, follow a tour guide who can direct you to the best shopping areas to buy what you want.

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2. Pubs and Bars

Sketch is one of the most modern restaurants and bars in London and it certainly offers a distinct experience on a night out.

Its quirky décor and unconventional-looking staff contribute to the exceptional atmosphere, as well as its equally unusual drinks; sweet pepper juice and cotton candy shots are just a couple of the ones you need to try upon arrival.

However, classics such as Bloody Mary and Bellini are also available, as well as four restaurants to suit every taste and desire.

You won’t find many bars like the Ice Bar on Regents Street. With a -5 degrees temperature, the bar is famous all over the world and one of a kind in the UK.

It is frozen in its entirety, with all of its contents made of Swedish ice, from the walls, to the seats, tables and even shot glasses.

Guests are only allowed inside for 45 minutes for health reasons, since anything over that would pose a risk for hypothermia.

Great meals, interesting cocktails and impressive ice carvings can all be found at the Ice Bar.

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More Recommended Pub & Bars

Bar / Pub Opening Hours
Sketch Monday-Friday: 8am-2am
Saturday: 10am-2am
Sunday: 10am-12pm
Ice Bar Monday-Thursday: 3.30pm-10.15pm
Friday: 2.45pm-11.45pm
Saturday: 11.45am-12.30am
Sunday: 2pm-10.15pm
Prince George Monday-Thursday: 5pm-12am
Friday: 5pm-1am
Saturday: 2pm-1am
Sunday: 2pm-11.30pm
The Russian Monday-Wednesday and Sunday: 8pm-3am
Thursday-Saturday: 8pm-5am
Long Bar Monday-Wednesday: 11am-12am
Thursday-Saturday: 11am-1am
Sunday: 12pm-10.30pm
Mother Bar Daily: 8pm-3am
Big Chill House Monday-Wednesday & Sunday: 12pm-12am
Thursday: 12pm-1am
Friday-Saturday: 12pm-3am

3. Districts and Areas

Visiting London does not have to be limited to daytime hours, since the city offers equally beautiful and interesting places to see at night.

For example, seeing Piccadilly Circus during the day really does not do it justice, since this area is at its most impressive at nighttime.

Drop by after dark to be able to appreciate the full effect of the lights and billboards, for an atmosphere that will remind you of the hustle and bustle of New York’s very own Times Square.

Its business and dynamic pulse is unparalleled by any other place in the UK. Bars, restaurants and shops surround the area, as well as several of the city’s landmarks, which certainly makes this a location a must see for anyone who is visiting London, even if just momentarily.

Other areas worth visiting include Leicester Square and Soho.

Recommended Areas

Areas Opening Hours (Shops / Bars)
Piccadilly Circus Shops and bars generally open 9am-12am
Leicester Square Shops generally open 10am-12am
Some bars are open till 2am-3am
Soho Shops generally open 10am-7pm
Bars generally open noon-3am

4. Night View Areas

For a night view of famous London landmarks, such as Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, Piccadilly Circus, the Tower of London, Harrods, Tower Bridge, The London Eye, St. Paul’s Cathedral or Trafalgar Square, look no further than the London By Night tour, which will offer you this experience from their open top Double Decker.

For a one-of-a-kind opportunity at a unique aerial view, hop on the London Eye and witness the breathtaking view of London from up above and admire all its beautifully-lit icons.

It’s a different experience compared to daytime activities and the fact that the London Eye is a sight to behold in itself is, of course, a nice bonus.

The Shard is another very impressive-looking skyscraper and not only is it the tallest building in London – and in Western Europe – but it also offers a truly spectacular 360-degree view of the city and beyond.

You are able to eat and drink here, but most people come for The View from The Shard, which luckily, is also available at nighttime, up to 10pm. This attraction covers three levels, from floor 68 to floor 72 and features state-of-the-art technology for an optimal viewing experience.

Recommended Night Views

Night View Area Opening Hours
Trafalgar Square Always
London Eye 1 October-31 March: 10am-8.30pm daily
1 April-30 June: 10am-9pm daily
1 July-30 September: 10am-9.30pm daily
Greenwich Observatory Open daily: 10am-5pm
The Shard 1 April – 31 October: Daily from 10am till 10pm
1 November – 31 March
Sunday-Wednesday: 10am-7pm
Thursday-Saturday: 10am-10pm

5. Attractions

Head over to the Tower of London to witness the traditional Ceremony of the Keys, which happens every day at exactly 9:53pm.

The ceremony of locking the Tower of London up has been taking place for 700 years.

It is open to the public and free of charge, but please note that an application letter must be sent two months prior.

For those who love photography, make sure you get a nice snap shot of the Big Ben and Tower Bridge light up at night.

Recommended Attractions

Attraction Opening Hours
Chinatown Generally open 11.30am-12am
Tower of London 1 March – 31 October (summer season)
Tuesday–Saturday: 9am–5:30pm
Sunday–Monday: 10am–5:30pm November – 28 February (winter season)
Tuesday–Saturday: 9am–4:30pm
Sunday–Monday: 10am–4:30pm
Sea Life London Aquarium Mon – Sun: 10am – 7pm; Last Entry: 6pm

Tickets & Sightseeing Passes

6. Movies & Theater

If you fancy a late night viewing of your favorite movies, stop by Prince Charles Cinema, which features night-long film marathons on a regular basis.

Check out the website to see what films you can look forward to in the near future.

Theatre-goers also have the option of witnessing late-night performances, most notably at Soho Theatre, which regularly features shows that start later on in the night.

Modern theatre, comedy and even cabaret are just a few of the types of performances you can look forward to at this venue.

There is something for everyone and you are sure to find something to your taste and have an amazing time.

Recommended

Cinema / Theater Opening Hours
Prince Charles Cinema Generally open 12pm-12am
Soho Theatre Generally open 9am- 12am
Cine Lumiere Generally open 9am-11pm
Empire Leicester Square Generally open 11am-11.30pm
Palace Theatre Generally open 2.30pm-10.30pm

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7. Museums

Fun and learning new things at the museum sometimes continues into the night, with some very special exhibitions and galleries.

Most of the museums in London have late night opening hours once per week, and some of them even more often.

Ripley’s Believe it or Not is actually always open late, so you are free to wander and admire (or be horrified) by the strangest, most unbelievable exhibits you will see in London.

For those looking for a more serious late-night cultural experience, they can visit Tate Modern for an extra four hours on Fridays, and see modern art collections from around the world. Browse at a leisurely pace since you have until 10pm.

Other noteworthy museums at night include British Museum, National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery.

Recommended

Museums Opening Hours
Ripley’s Believe it or Not Daily: 10am-12am
Tate Modern Sunday–Thursday: 10am–6pm
Friday–Saturday: 10am–10pm
British Museum Monday- Sunday: 10am-5:30pm
Friday: 10am-8:30pm
National Gallery Monday-Sunday: 10am-6pm
Friday: 10am-9pm
National Portrait Gallery Monday-Sunday: 10am-6pm
Thursday-Friday: 10am-9pm

London Tours at Night

London by night is truly magnificent, but if you don’t want to explore the British capital by foot, you can choose one of the following tours.

Either guided or not, they will surely help you see the best of London by night.

London Night Sightseeing Tour

This night tour lasts 1 hour and a half and will allow you to explore London from a double decker. Includes attractions like the London Eye, Westminster Abbey and Big Ben.

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London by Night Independent Sightseeing Tour with Private Driver

Independent tour including areas like Embankment, West End and Soho. Also features hotel pickup.

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echo
For all new cities, I go overboard on my itinerary, just to see every major attraction. Countries I've visited include New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Cambodia, Japan and Thailand. Mostly Asian countries. Next target - Europe!