Things to Do in the City of London
Attractions in the City of London
We all know that London is a city, but not many know about the City of London, the local government district and the primary CBD of London. Containing the likes of the London Stock Exchange and the Bank of England, the attractions in this district are pivotal to the UK’s economy but are also relevant to its history and modern character.
- St Paul’s Cathedral
One of the most recognisable attractions in London, this is one of the key sights in the whole city. Built-in 1675, the cathedral has held the memorial services of Winston Churchill, the Duke of Wellington, Admiral Nelson and Margaret Thatcher, as well as the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer. The cathedral itself is also infamous for the “St Paul’s Survives” picture was taken during the Blitz in WWII, where it dominated the skyline above the smoke and fire.
While it costs £20 for entry for tourists on the door, it is free for worshipers.
- Barbican Centre
Music, theatre and film can be enjoyed here, with various events taking place throughout the week. From jazz festivals, art shows, Shakespeare, modern plays, new film releases, and exclusive highlights, there is so much to see and experience here every day, every week. Overall, this is an art lover’s dream as well as an essential cultural attraction in London.
While level G is free, along with a few other parts of the centre, films and performances will vary in cost based on what the visitor picks.
- Bank of England
Established in 1694, the Bank of England controls the monetary and fiscal policy of the UK. While this may seem dull, the exterior is more than worth adding to any selfie collection. But there’s also a museum where visitors can pick up a bar of gold, learn why people started to use paper money and why the bank notes are difficult to copy.
The museum is free to enter, although it will be quite impossible for tourists to go anywhere else in the structure for obvious reasons.
- The Gherkin
180m high, this is one of the key buildings in the city and one of the city’s many examples of modern architecture. Getting a selfie will be difficult, but the exterior is more than worth getting a picture of due to its lavish style. But the real opulence is the restaurant inside. While it is undoubtedly expensive, the views are simply to die for. Imagine eating at the top of the Gherkin with stunning views of the city.
Walking in and around the building isn’t possible for travellers. Only the restaurant and private event spaces can be enjoyed.
- Leadenhall Market
A covered market, many goods, and trinkets can be found here to brighten up any visit to the city. Just a short walk from the Walkie-talkie building, this old fashioned looking market has its own share of boutique items as well as a few bars and cafes for busy city workers and visitors to enjoy at their leisure. Independent stores and family-owned treats can be found throughout the streets ready to provide something amazing.
Guests and travellers should be aware that some of the fancier shops are going to cost more than average selections.
- Temple Church
Built by the Knights Templar as their headquarters, this is a great trip through history and especially the Crusades period. The church itself has strong links with the Magna Carta (with two of the preliminary charters issued by John I in here) as well as the USA (Five members of the Inner/Middle Temple signed the Declaration of Independence, seven the Constitution). Aside from its history, there is the unique interiors and exteriors that give it its character.
It’s £5 for entry (£3 for senior citizens and students), while those that want to say a prayer have free access.
- Millennium Bridge
Connecting the City of London with Bankside, this bridge was once nicknamed the “wobbly bridge” by Londoners after a few days of being opened. While the “movements” have since been taken care of, the bridge itself has stunning views of St Paul’s Cathedral which is in line with the bridge’s centre. This leads to an amazing photo at night with the lights all on.
- The Monument
Built to honour the dead and the devastation of the Great Fire of London in 1666, it is now a key selfie to have on any London visit. Climb to the top of the landmark and see more breathtaking views of London. Long before the huge skyscrapers and tall structures were erected in London, The Monument could be seen from all parts of the city. Those that don’t like heights are advised not to climb the structure and instead just to look up in awe.
Admission is £4.50 for adults, £2.30 for children, £3 for students and £3 for senior citizens. Joint tickets with the Tower Bridge Exhibition are also accepted.
Museums in the City of London
Everyone loves a good museum. The old and dusty beacons of knowledge are always a primary stop on any journey. While London itself is home to a vast variety of museums and art galleries, the amount varies from district to district. But the City of London district, while it doesn’t have as many museums as some, still has a few museums that are worth checking out.
- Museum of London
See the evolution of London throughout the centuries from ancient times right through to the 21st century. From the city’s pre-history, Roman invasion, the Black Death, the Civil Wars, the Great Fire of London and trading epicentre of the British Empire, the whole history is on display for curious visitors to explore and glean at their leisure. Also, temporary exhibitions broaden pivotal events that have shaped London’s place in Britain and the world, both in pop culture, technology and trade.
The museum is free to enter, but visitors are encouraged to donate.
- Dr. Johnson’s House
Samuel Johnson’s home grants a fascinating insight into the lexicon’s life. The 300-year-old townhouse is where he compiled his extensive Dictionary of the English Language, as well as other works. The collection includes items that are relevant to him and private collections of his numerous admirers. Looked upon as a hidden gem in the big city, this is certainly worth a visit during lazy afternoons or wet Sunday.
Tickets cost £7 for adults, £3.50 for children, £6 for students and £15 for families.
Food and Drink in the City of London
As one would expect, to eat in the City of London district is to experience some of the most extravagant and delicious foods. Why? Because this is where some of the biggest names in business hang out when they’re peckish, and they’re not going to just settle for something small and tasteless. Whether it’s at the top of the Gherkin or in a stylish diner down a busy street, there are plenty of options.
With mirrored ceilings and 7th-floor views, this is a prime location to enjoy Michelin-starred seafood that really hits the spot. Straight from the British seas, the fish is as divine and tasteful as one can imagine from locally sourced foods. Visitors will soon understand why it is a favourite of gastronomes, romantics and power lunchers alike. It’s best to book a table to avoid disappointment.
Address: 3 South Pl, Finsbury, London, EC2M 2AF
- Bad Egg
Whether it’s a hearty weekend brunch or an all-day feast, this laid back yet sophisticated joint is fast becoming one of the go-to restaurants in London. Featuring a bottomless brunch (the first in London to do this), as well as other hits like the Korean Burger, Hanoi Ribwich, Turkey Hash and Vegan Chilaquils, any time of day and any day of the week is a special time to visiting this ultra-cool and ever-popular restaurant.
Address: CityPoint, 1 Ropemaker St, London, EC2Y 9AW
- Beany Green
Experience the rich and flavoursome foods of Australia in this inner-city oasis based in Broadgate Circle, close to Liverpool Street station. From its very own bottomless brunch to the open kitchen style and huge heated balcony, the restaurant is both popular with locals in the week and the weekend thanks to its cool Aussie vibe and dishes like the chargrilled harissa chicken breast, tandoori roasted salmon and award-winning banana bread sandwiches.
Address: 41 Broadgate, London, EC2M 2QS
- Blacklock City
Stacking some of the best sources of meat that the UK has to offer, this is a dream come true for those that love succulent rages of meat. Beef, lamb, pork - they’re all here in chop form! Before feasting, there’s a fine selection of starters to put visitors in the mood for what’s coming up, along with a dessert menu for “after chops”. Not to be missed, this may be a messier option, but some nights out are more than worth a bit of a mess.
Address: 13 Philpot Ln, London, EC3M 8AA
A great burger joint based in the Bloomberg Arcade, this is where a few of the city workers head out for a bite to eat at the end of a long day (sometimes in the middle of a hard day too). Whether it’s a double cheeseburger, blue burger, or a double bacon cheeseburger, the burger joint has all the usual favourites along with sides that include sweet potato fries, house fires, and angry fries. When the burgers are all taken care of, there’s nothing like washing it down an oreo milkshake or a square root beer.
Address: 16 Bloomberg Arcade, London, EC4N 8AR
This French venue offers exquisite food right from the heart of the Burgundy wine region. With both traditional and modern twists being served here every day, Londoners and travellers can harvest and indulge in hearty and scrumptious foods. Plus, visitors can wash it all down with a glass of wine.
Address: 48 Gresham St, London, EC2V 7AY
- Café Sou
Specialising in coffee drinks, omelettes, baguettes, and rillettes, this a light treat for those that want to fill the gap, but leave space for something later. A fine addition for anyone wanting to explore foodie options in the centre of the city.
Address: 27 Poultry, London EC2R 8AJ
Shopping in the City of London
Even the most business-like and corporate of areas has a few shopping tricks up its sleeve. While they may not be huge shopping areas, they can often be boutique stores or even just a few luxury brands that are immensely popular with the big shots. The City of London has its own shopping areas and key stores that bring the corporate and business district to life.
- One New Change
A shopping centre comprising 60 stores, including restaurants and eateries, is a popular pick for those that right in the centre of the district. Some of the stores and famous brands here include All Saints, Calvin Klein, Dune, Gap, H&M, Hotel Chocolat, Hugo Boss, Nespresso, Pandora and many more. It would be wrong to miss this place off any shopping list in the City of London.
- The Royal Exchange
This old fashioned structure houses plenty of boutiques and luxury brands, whilst also having a few fancy dining options too. Some of these luxury brands include the likes of Aspinal of London, Bamford Grooming Department, Boodles, Bremont, Crockett & Jones, Mulberry, Omega and Watches of Switzerland.
- City of London Jewellers
Those that want a few expensive trinkets to take home with them will do best to shop here. From engravings to repairs and gold buying, there’s something for every jewellery lover to get out of the services. They are the only jeweller on the square miles that make and engrave, so it’s best for travellers that are staying in the area to choose this place over any other jewellery store.
- Oliver Sweeny
Those that want gorgeous designer shoes and a variety of other clothing accessories can choose this retail chain for their indulgence. With immaculately styled clothing collections and so much more to be bought and admired, this is one of many great fashion and clothing chains in the city.
- Hays Galleria
This mixed-use, Grade II building houses shops as well as restaurants, and of course fine views of the River Thames. Visitors that want to shop and eat in a glamourous, Victorian structure will be more than happy here, perusing the brands and fine foods that are on display, and a few art installations that are dotted about.
- J.W Hooke
One many tailors in London, this is a family run business that has been open for 25 years. Providing quality bespoke garments for their range of customers, visitors can come here and get themselves fitted for the perfect suit or get alterations and repairs. Not too far from Bank station, this is more than convenient for those living in the city.