As with most big cities, London has its fair share of tourists and tourist attractions.
While I’m all for doing what interests you most while traveling, I’ve put together a list of London attractions to avoid to help you figure out what not to do in London.
Instead, you should favor the many other museums and historical attractions the city has to offer, including amazing things to do in London at night, quirky things to do in London and things to do in London for couples in love.
Hey, sidenote! If you’re traveling to the UK or live in the UK, whether for a short period of time or as an expat, why don’t you join my Facebook group where you can ask questions, get advice or just look at pretty pictures of this part of the world! Just click here to request to join and I’ll add you!
Especially if you’re visiting London in the summer, there’s just so much to see and do that these aren’t worth it! Avoid these London attractions!
Attractions to Avoid in London
London Eye on a Cloudy Day
On a beautiful, sunny, summer day, the London Eye has an amazing view of the Thames and the rest of London and I can almost justify the 20+ pounds it cost to take a 30 minute Ferris wheel ride.
In fact, I’ve written entire articles on whether or not the London Eye is worth it.
But on a grey or rainy day, you’d probably be better off just taking pictures of it from down below.
With the rain beating against the window or fog clouding your view of the Houses of Parliament, London just ends up looking drab when it’s actually really beautiful.
Many study abroad programs include the London Eye as part of their orientation, and I’m not saying that it’s terrible, just that London weather means it’s usually not worth paying full price.
Here are some more things I would recommend doing in London:
View from the Shard
Similar to the London Eye, the Shard offers great views of London on a clear day. But the actual attraction, the View from the Shard, is massively overpriced at 30 pounds for an adult on the day.
Instead, go up to the bar for free and pay just the price of what you drink for pretty much the same view.
You can also get a bite to eat or afternoon tea in the Oblix, a wonderful restaurant Again, skip this altogether if the fog is clouding things down below.
You can also get a great view of London for free from the Sky Garden.
While you do need to book ahead, it’s one of the most quirky things to do in London and – did I mention it’s free?
In a city as expensive as London, we like free!
I love aquariums, but London’s isn’t particularly notable or impressively rated to warrant a visit when there are so many other things to keep yourself busy.
It might be better for a family who need things to keep the kids entertained for a few hours, but for a study abroad student or couples or single tourists in London, it’s not at the top of the list.
Instead, get yourself up close and personal to the actual shores of England by taking this best-selling day trip to Dover, England where you can put your toes in the water and see if you can spot any sealife while rockpooling.
If you prefer to stay in London, you could replace the trip to the London Aquarium with a trip to the ZSL London Zoo using this ski-the-line ticket – this is a fantastic city zoo filled with sloths, giraffes and other fun animals.
The main focus of ZSL is conservation, so you can be sure that the animals are treated lovingly and future animal programs are developed with the good of the animals and their fellow creatures in mind.
You can also go to a smaller zoo like the one in Battersea Park for children, or you can go on a river cruise down the Thames if you really want to learn about London’s waterways and the creatures that live in it.
Madame Tuessauds is an international wax museum with locations in cities across the world. It’s also one of the attractions in London with a constantly long line and one of my favorite things to avoid in London.
While I can appreciate the interest in a museum of its type, it seems far better suited for a city with less to do than London.
In a bustling city where something is always happening, it seems a bit like a waste to stand in a line with a bunch of real people to go in and stare at wax figures.
If this really is your thing and you’re just dying to go, you’ll want to plan it carefully so you have tickets in advance and don’t join the massive line that wraps around the block.
Unless it’s really your one true calling though, save your money and go see famous sights like the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey (using this skip-the-line ticket) and Hyde Park. You may just spot one of the celebrities in a real form, not wax!
I almost can’t think of a recommendation of what not to do in London more than the London Dungeon. This tourist attraction on the Southbank tries to recreate a medieval dungeon and is filled with actors dressed up in costume and lots of scare tactics.
Again, in theory, I have no problem with this form of entertainment as a concept. If you’re in the suburbs of Orlando, this might just be the kind of entertainment you’re after.
The real issue I take is that the London Dungeon is fake – it’s not a real dungeon or former dungeon, and while you might learn a bit of history as you go through the rooms, it’s just not what I would consider a “must-do” or even a “should-do” in London.
Instead, go to the Clink Museum which is an actual jail turned museum so you can learn about real torture devices and actual things that happened in the jail, or head on over to the Tower of London which has been used to house prisoners for centuries (well, not anymore, but you know what I mean).
If the reason you’re going to London Dungeon is because you want to be scared, try a Jack the Ripper walking tour where you can learn the creepy past of this famous London figure or go on a London ghost tour to see other haunted places in the city.
With so much to see and do in London, avoid the London Dungeon!
Shrek 4D Experience
Why anyone would go to Shrek 4D is so far beyond me. Actually, I do know – parents who live near London and have their kids with them might be interested in taking their children to this attraction on the Southbank.
But anyone else – visitors to London or people who aren’t in London often – no! Just say no! Avoid this attraction in London lest you find yourselves wandering around the giant advertisement for Dreamworks.
Sure, there are some cool effects, but Shrek is old news (though I do love him so) and there are better things to do in London town than spend time here. Like stroll around Southbank.
If you want something to do with the kids, check out these things to do in London with kids, or take them to the Harry Potter Studio Tour in Watford with this tour including transfers from London if you want to be on an actual film set with real props and behind-the-scenes filming experiences.
Or basically do anything else. Just not this.
Where Not to Eat in London
I’m not trying to be down on London, but I hate seeing visitors who come back with bad reviews of certain things they did when I wish I could have got to them ahead of time and steered them in the other direction!
I’m not going to specifically mention any particular restaurants to avoid, as I truly don’t have any in mind, but I do want to mention that, especially in London, the best fish and chips are going to come from a “chippie” or fish and chips shop rather than getting fish and chips at a restaurant.
Also, do your research on pubs before you go and try to find ones in less touristy areas. The more tourists, the worse the food is and the less authentic a pub will be.
And finally, if you’re in or around Leicester Square, be weary of some of the big name restaurants here for no other fact than, again, they’re geared towards the hundreds of thousands of tourists who flock the area.
Instead, search out local places that are a bit more off the beaten path or down side roads, or ones that come recommended by locals you meet instead of the restaurant with the biggest flashing lights and most extensive menu you can find.
Oh, and PS – if you’re trying to figure out what not to bring to London, check out my full London packing list that tells you exactly what you can leave at home so you’re not traipsing through the streets with your rain boots and money belts flapping around in the wind.