Essential London

Key sights, places and experiences for new Londoners

London is one of the greatest cities in the world. Centuries of trade, discovery and cultural innovation have built a vibrant capital that’s home to an incredible variety of people. Exploring all of London would take a lifetime – so here are just a few essential sights.

You're all on one campus but you're also integrated into London

One of the greatest perks of staying in London is that you have a lot of beautiful places to visit

LSE's campus is right in the centre of London, which means it's easy for you to explore different sights and areas of the city either by foot or public transport. 

It's even possible to fit in some key London experiences in your lunch break - read the LSE at lunch post on our student blog.

LSE's campus - open in Google Maps


Museums and galleries

London is famous for its museums and galleries, which range from vast traditional collections to state-of-the-art contemporary exhibitions. Many are free to visit as well, which makes them a great thing to do for budget-conscious students.

There are world-famous institutions like the British Museum, the Natural History Museum, the Tate Modern and the Imperial War Museum.

You can also visit less famous but equally fascinating attractions such as the Sir John Soane's Museum (just around the corner from LSE), the Photographers’ Gallery, the Cartoon Museum, the Wellcome Collection, and countless other specialist collections and exhibitions.

Top 50 museums and galleries in London on
Museums on
Top 10 museums in London on

Theatre, cinema, comedy and music

Theatre and comedy

Theatreland is an iconic part of London’s West End. In this vibrant area around Shaftesbury Avenue and also further afield, the city has hundreds of theatres showing musical theatre and drama.

Long-running shows like The Phantom of the Opera, The Lion King, Les Misérables and The Mousetrap are complemented by new plays every week, to create an exciting theatre scene that is a key part of London’s appeal.

Lots of venues also have stand-up comedy nights, hosting the UK’s funniest comedians.

See what's showing in London theatres at
Theatre listings on
Musicals and theatre on


From blockbusters to alternative documentaries, London’s cinemas are at the cutting edge of contemporary film. Whilst the Odeon in Leicester Square is the site of many world premieres, it’s also easy to find foreign and independent films just around the corner. The range of independent cinemas in the city all offer their own film experience, like audience participation at the Prince Charles, foreign language films at the Lumière, or luxury table-service at the Everyman chain.

Cinema listings and film reviews on
Film listings on


If you’re into music, London is the best city in the UK for gigs, concerts and festivals. Classical music fans can see world-class performances at venues like the Royal Albert Hall and the Royal Opera House.

Every genre of contemporary music will be found in gig venues and clubs across the city, from chart-topping artists at Alexandra Palace and the O2 Academy Islington, to up-and-coming acts in bars and studios. London also hosts lots of festivals – Lovebox and Wireless are particular favourites.

London gig listings on
London music guide on
London music listings on
Music festival and gig listings on

Food, markets and shopping


Food is a huge part of London life, with many of the city’s international communities expressing their cultural roots in restaurants. You can find cuisine from India, Ethiopia, France, Azerbaijan, Georgia, China, everywhere in between, and almost every fusion combination imaginable.

Plus there are hundreds of pubs which serve traditional British pub food. Every budget is catered for, from markets and pop-up street food carts to fine dining gourmet experiences.

The 100 best cheap eats in London on
The best food and drink in London on
50 things you need to eat in London before you die on


The city also prizes its markets, some of which have been held in the same spot for hundreds of years. Great for both shopping and people-watching, favourites include Portobello Road, for antiques; Brick Lane, for bric-a-brac; Spitalfields, for fashion, art and design; and Borough Market, for food.

Top 12 London markets on
The 10 best food markets in London noon
London markets on

Sports, parks and green spaces


Sport is an important part of London’s culture. The city is home to many football clubs, including Arsenal, Chelsea, Fulham, West Ham United, Tottenham Hotspur and Queens Park Rangers.

Sports fans can go to major fixtures at Wembley Stadium, Lord’s and the Oval for cricket, Twickenham for rugby, and Wimbledon for tennis. 

The 2012 London Olympics also highlighted the city’s and the country's sporting traditions, and Londoners make use of a wide variety of sports pitches, courts and clubs.

Sport in London on
Sports events in London in
Major sporting events of the year on

Parks and green spaces

It might be the largest urban area in the UK, but London contains a surprising amount of green spaces. Hyde Park, Regent’s Park, Hampstead Heath, Clapham Common, Kensington Gardens and many others are wide open spaces where Londoners picnic, stroll, and relax on a sunny day.

View some famous parks and green spaces and LSE's campus in google maps
Green spaces on
Best parks in London on
Major parks in London on

London landmarks

London is one of the most iconic cities in the world. Whilst every side-street and every tiny pub has a story, here are some of London’s most famous landmarks.

As you'll see in our tailored google map, a number are within walking distance of LSE's campus.

Top 10 London attractions on
Secret London: 14 odd attractions you never knew were there on
50 top London attractions on

Areas of London

London evolved as many villages became part of the urban area over hundreds of years.

The city still feels like a place of many parts, with many of the old village centres retaining their own character and identity.

Exploring London’s ‘villages’ is one of the great things about living here. There are lots of different areas to discover, but see a small sample of London’s diversity as you explore our tailored google map.

Read LSE alum Thuy's guide to the different areas of London - what you can see do and eat.

Siri's post on the student blog about exploring her neighbourhood
London areas on
Best areas in London on
London area guides on