It’s always good to have a few exciting suggestions up your sleeve when the planning falls in your lap. Here’s our guide to some great days out you can have with your friends in London.
A wise person once said “It’s not what we have in life, but who we have in our life that matters.” and we couldn’t agree more. But then what do you do with these fine people once you’ve found them?
London’s got so much going on that sometimes we overlook the best activities, the ones that could totally finish that sentence that starts with “remember when we…”
From taking boat rides down the Thames, to checking out animals at a city farm, and from getting drunk at immersive cocktail nights to picnics in the park – we’ve put together a guide of all the best activities you can do with your best buds on a day out in London.
Fun Things to do in London with Friends
See the Views
Bored of doing the same old thing in London all the time. Maybe you need a change of perspective. How about one from up high? London has a plethora of places where you can see the city sprawling beneath you or framed on the distant horizon.
Primrose Hill is always a good one, and – weather permitting – a nice spot for a picnic, but if you want to enjoy that view with a glass of vino in your hand you can always get into Sky Garden for free, or go for an expensive cocktail at the top of London’s tallest building – The Shard.
Have a Picnic in the Park
When the weather’s good (and we’re ready to admit that’s not often in London) there’s rarely a better way to spend a day than to grab your pals, a few tinnies – or maybe some fizz if you’re the classy type – and hit the parks.
Ok liquid lunches are nice, but let’s not forget the food. Stop off at a deli, or local sandwich shop on the way and fill your picnic blanket with delightful goodies to stuff down or nibble as you slowly get drunk and brown under the glorious sun.
Take a River Boat Tour
Ever walked along the Thames and seen those people cruising along the river looking excitedly at the city as if they were seeing it for the first time? That could be you and your pals.
London basically grew up out of the waterfront and therefore has heaps you can see from a few laps up and down the river.
Plus you and your pals can compete for how many buildings you can name before the guide gets them. The loser can buy the first round at the pub when you set foot upon dry land once again.
Scour the Rails of Brick Lane’s Vintage Stores
Nothing says gal’s day out like a shopping trip right? Any shopping-obsessed friendship group will get a kick out of the rails in Brick Lane’s plethora of vintage stores.
Shopping is hungry work. When you’ve bagged some bargains, dip into one of the famed curry houses, pick up some street food, or take sides in the great bagel debate (more on that later).
Read Next: Vintage Shopping in London
Hit Some Food Markets
Maybe shopping isn’t your thing. Maybe you prefer to spend your hard-earned money on culinary treats and delightful bites. If that’s the case a day out at London’s food markets might be right up your alley.
Borough market is a classic, but gets too crowded for its own good at the weekend. Maybe give Maltby Street a go instead. They’re the new horse in the race, and have quickly made a name for themselves as quite the contender in the culinary scene.
There are a bunch of other food markets if these two don’t tickle your fancy. If the size of your waistline is of no concern, you could try hitting a few in one day.
Find the Soho Noses
Did you know there are life-sized noses attached to walls in Soho? We’re not kidding. They began as one man’s sly stab at the surveillance state, and have become a hidden part of Soho legend.
Rick Buckley wanted to see how long he could get away with sticking the facial feature around London before someone caught him on camera and discovered his identity. Some were removed almost instantly and Rick eventually owned up to his mischief, but seven remain.
They’re dotted around Soho. One is under Admiralty Arch. We’ll give you that for free. Recon you can find the rest?
Catch a Classic Film
Backyard Cinema at Christmas
We’re picturing it already: the freeze frame moment of you and your friends, arms linked and heads chucked back in laughter as you cradle monstrous boxes of pop-corn into the cinema.
A trip to the cinema is a classic, and London’s got more screens than even the most rampant cinefiles can count. There’s cinemas for luxury occasions, the good old mainstreamers, and heaps of independents too.
Our favourite: The Prince Charles. Leicester Square’s jewel in the crown of London film culture, showing only the best of new releases and using the rest of their screen time to show classics that would make for a memorable day out with your BFF.
Read Next: Brilliantly Cheap London Cinemas
Take a Walking Tour
Learning about London’s history can be a great day out with the gang. You’ll get a bit of exercise, and have plenty of new things to discuss by the end of the day.
There’s a million subjects you can learn about, in a range of formats – self guided by downloadable audio clips, lead by in-character actor and guide, pay-what-you-want with people just starting out in their tour guide careers.
And whether you want to learn about the Beatles or the bubonic plague, Shakespeare or Harry Potter, the architectural trimmings of palaces or the design of London’s sewers, it’s literally all available and waiting to blow your minds.
See a West End Show
How could we write about things to do in London with friends and not mention a West End show? Chances are you’re already a fan of the stage but if you’re not, a trip to one of London’s classic productions will undoubtedly make for a day out you’ll not forget quickly.
And you, yes you, theatre veteran. Don’t roll your eyes and gloss over this section so readily. Have you considered all the little avant garde places, and small-scale shows that come to London on a never ending rotation of excellence?
Check out our theatre guide. You might just find something you and you’re theatre-loving buddies haven’t seen yet.
Get Drunk at an Immersive Cocktail Experience
London’s in love with the immersive, and we’re in love with the way Londoners have gotten creative – and what that means for a night at a cocktail bar.
No longer are you restricted to a comfy chair in a dimly lit lounge, you can now drink moonshine in Western-style saloons, smuggle booze into Alcatraz for prisoners in orange jumpsuits to mix into bespoke cocktails for you, break Enigma codes in full war-era fancy dress.
There’s even an Avatar themed experience coming up where you’ll walk, drink in hand, through a night-to-day shifting replica of the Na’vi’s planet home. How cool is that?
Eat and Drink Yourself Silly by a Canal
London’s waterways don’t just start and finish with the Thames. The city has a network of canals, remnants from its industrial past, that criss-cross neighbourhoods and make for some pretty nice strolling. Some have even turned food hubs.
Hackney Wick is one of those places. You can stroll along the waterfront, dipping in and out of classic pubs, craft breweries, fancy restaurants and down-to-earth eateries until your belt is ready to snap and you’re being carried under either arm by your two bezzies.
Another spot for some similar vibes is Camden Lock, where a popular food market and spread of pubs spills onto the canalside, and people gather throughout the day to soak up the good vibes.
Break Out of an Escape Room
(c) The Game is Now
Nothing tests a friendship like being chucked in a room and forced to work together to escape. Who takes the lead? Who has the coolest head? Who’s the best problem solver? Do you ever want to be stuck in the same place with these people again?
All of these answers are up for grabs in a day out at an escape room, and London’s got ‘em in all shapes and sizes. Solve Sherlock Holmes mysteries, time travel, break out of Hogwarts. You name it, the chances are in London, you can escape it.
Shop at a Weekend Market
The city comes alive at the weekend with a range of pop-up markets that make excellent browsing with friends. Just moved into a new place together? How about hitting Columbia Road Flower Market and decking out the house with greenery?
More the types for a bit of food and some artisanal craftware? Hackney’s Broadway Market will tick those boxes for you. Want a bit of the above and a few vintage outfits to choose from too? Vinegar Yard is the place for you.
There’s truly too much to get stuck into in this space but check out our super-useful guide to the markets here.
Hit an Indoor Ski Slope
As far as activities to do in London with friends go, indoor skiing isn’t usually one that comes to mind straight away, but hell – talk about fun.
There are a few in London you can choose from, some offering lessons for first time skiers, others mixing things up with the introduction of a snowboard or two. One thing’s for sure, watching your mates slip and slide all about the place is a sure fire way to bring on the laughs.
You can read our guide to the slopes here
Go to a Football Game
London is the football capital of the world. On any given weekend of the season you can find some of the best footy teams and players in the world playing at a stadium in London.
Whether you want to go in for the big leagues (and spend the big bucks) or catch a lower division team is up to you, but there’s pretty much no chance you won’t get a good bit of friend-based enjoyment out of screaming your head off together at a football match.
Explore a Wetland
We all know, and have spent many hours traipsing around London’s wonderful parks, but by this time it’s getting a bit, like, been there done that. But have you guys been down to the wetlands yet?
There’s over 100 acres of it right on your doorstep where you can walk between the marshes, spot for rare birds, and get a bit of green time out of the city, with cups of tea and cake in the cafes to top it off.
If you want a day out that feels like a proper trip away from the hustle and bustle, the wetlands is one of the best places to go in London with friends.
You can find more information about it here
Grab a Chinese in Chinatown
You can’t beat a slap-up Chinese for good times with your friends. Throw in the razzle-dazzle and hanging red lanterns of Chinatown and you’ve got yourself a day out.
You can take a random pick for a restaurant or you can make an informed decision with our Chinatown guide, but order away, drinks to accompany, make a few unusual choices, push your friend to the limit with their spice threshold.
Then stumble back into the now night-time streets as the neon flickers on, bellies full and lips burning and soak in the vibes. Can’t beat it.
Pet Animals at a City Farm
A city farm? Yes you read that right. London has a bunch of farms in the middle of the city where you can see all sorts of animals – some of which have larger houses than you and your pals.
They really actually function more like petting zoos, which means the animals probably get more love and attention than you do too. It’s a tough life. At least you’ll have your friends there to keep you smiling when things get tough.
Go Antique Shopping at Portobello Road
Whether you’re a group of window shoppers, or the types to never leave a store empty handed you can’t beat an afternoon poking around the antique stores and curiosity shops on Portobello Road.
The place is a hot spot for antiques and an iconic London shopping destination with plenty of nice restaurants and pubs to recharge in when you’ve had enough of the shops.
Discover Barbican Conservatory
What did you think we meant when we said get your friends together and enjoy a bit of green? Barbican Conservatory of course.
It’s the second largest greenhouse in London (after the one in Kew Gardens we presume), and is packed with plants of all types and sizes that crawl, grow, and creep up the side of barbican’s brutalist concrete terraces.
If your lot are into plants, or just fancy seeing a vision of what the world will look like when nature comes back to claim it, you’ll get a kick out of this.
Catch Pelican Feeding Time in St. James’ Park
This one probably doesn’t qualify for a whole day out, but certainly makes for an entertaining 15 minutes, and being in the middle of St James’ Park can be tied in with any number of nearby sights for a full-on day of fun.
Pelicans have been living on Duck Island for so long someone should start to think about renaming the place. They get fed every day at the east end of the pond between 2pm and 3pm.
It’s not a sure thing when the park keeper will show up, but the birds always know when to congregate for lunch. Just hold tight to see them get stuck into a feeding frenzy.
Go For Afternoon Tea
What could be more quintessentially British than afternoon tea? And what could look better splashed across your instagrams than a big tower of cake and glasses of Champagne?
London has enough afternoon tea options to have the whole city eating cake. You can choose from the fancy hotels, quaint tea rooms, sky high options and modern takes on the old tradition. Check out our guide of the best.
Vegan? Not to worry, we’ve got you covered there too.
Take Sides in the Great Bagel Wars
Read on if you are unwilling to fall out with your friends. Stick around if you guys are the types to get stuck into heated debates that have the liability of raging for, well, ever.
On Brick Lane there are two bagel institutions, The Beigel Shop (orange) and Beigel Bake (white). They’re part of an ongoing beef that’s been dividing friends and family in London for generations.
The argument is simply down to which one you prefer, and usually centres around the two bakery’s salt beef bagels. We would tell you which one we prefer, but it’s probably best you decide for yourself.
See the Magna Carta at the British Library
It’s only one of the most important documents in history. And it’s only right there on your doorstep. You can see Magna Carta, the charter that stands as the foundation of all those movements seeking to curtail the power of rulers, at the British Library.
Incidentally they’ve got a pretty good bit of information about it, as well as other excellent exhibitions (check out the maps over the ages one) that would make excellent viewing for a history-obsessed friend group.
Play Some Golf
You don’t need to be a well-off businessman with your own set of clubs, or have ambitions beyond getting a few pints and having a laugh, when it comes to golf in London.
A cheeky round at Swingers with a few drinks from their bar, and maybe a bite to eat from their kitchen never fails to be a competitive laugh-a-minute day out.
And if it’s serious competition you’re looking for, check out Greenwich Peninsula Golf Range where you can drive balls as hard as you can and have it recorded by a computer that logs you against the whole range. All with a backdrop of Canary Wharf and table service food and drinks.
Practical Tips for Planning the Perfect BFF Day Out
- Prior planning prevents poor performance – no doubt you’ve got a few friends that will turn up late or leave everything to the last minute (we all do). That’s fine, but people like that need a pal to take the initiative.
- Turning up to activities without booking ahead is likely a recipe for failure. Make sure you book things in advance.