Best Things to do in London During Lockdown

19th December 2016 Joe Graham London Life, News and Events

Going to live in a new city isn’t easy, it’s a huge step into adult life. But with coronavirus, it’s even harder than usual. A new home, new friends, new surroundings and changing restrictions. If you’re studying in London, chances are you also want to see some of the UK capital between your studies. So, we’ve put together a list of the best things to do in London that are COVID-safe.

Walk Around

One of the best ways to see a city is to simply wander around, and London is no exception. Simply wander the streets and you will find many of the usual tourist sites and maybe even stumble across some hidden gems. For instance, if you wander along Southwark you will see the London Eye, the Houses of Parliament, the Elizabeth Tower (which houses Big Ben) and Tower Bridge. You can explore various parts of the city by foot, even from your front door. You can have a full day out without going inside any buildings and still see plenty of sights.

Walking the streets means you can ensure you keep your distance from those not in your bubble. Be sure to give people plenty of space and avoid crowded areas.

Visit Museums and Galleries

Thankfully, many of London’s Museums and Galleries have reopened, with Covid-restrictions in place. So, if you’re comfortable with going indoors and seeing some art or discovering some history, there’s something for you to do in London. Even better for students, many of these museums and galleries are free, so you won’t be eating into your student budget.

Free museums and galleries include the:

  • National History Museum;
  • Tate Modern;
  • British Museum;
  • Natural History Museum;
  • Victoria and Albert Museum;
  • Science Museum;
  • National Gallery.

You can find the full list on the Visit London website.

Before you visit any museum or gallery, be sure to check the restrictions in place. You may need to book a time slot and you’ll most likely need to wear a mask when visiting. If you aren’t happy with the restrictions in place or think you will not be able to comply, do not go.

Explore the Parks

London is a very green city, with 3,000 parks designated as a “public open space”. The area of these green spaces makes up 18% of London – more than railways and roads combined.

Some of the parks are well known and popular tourist spots, such as St James Park, Hyde Park and Greenwich Park. But there are also some lesser-known parks of London that are just as pretty, such as Phoenix Garden, Postman’s Park and Queens Wood.

The parks in London are great places to get some exercise, if you like running, or just get some fresh air. On sunny days, you could take some of your Uni work and enjoy your studies outside. Take a picnic and get to know your new friends that you are sharing your Uni life with. Check out the best summer parks to find a beautiful green space to relax in.

View of Greenwich Park

Like wandering the streets, in a park you can easily keep your space from other households, making this a great activity for lockdown.

Browse the Markets

London has plenty of markets for browsing. From food markets, to antiques, and everything in between. There’s something relaxing about wandering around a market and having a good browse. So why not head to the quirky Camden Market, or indulge your senses at Borough Market.

Be aware though, many of London’s markets have brought in extra restrictions because of the pandemic. So before heading out, check their opening hours and restrictions in place. You may need to wear a mask, even if the market is outside, and keep your distance. If you are not willing to comply to the restriction in place, do not go.

Stall at Borough Market


Take A Walking Tour

If you want to learn about the history of your new home, a walking tour is a great choice, and many companies are giving tours again in London.

There are plenty of walking tours to choose from. You can take a general tour, or a themed tour, such as Street Art or Jack the Ripper. Some walking tours are free (or tip-based), whereas others come with a fee.

Although walking tours are back on, they are working with restrictions. Numbers are reduced and you will need to book, even for free tours. You may also be required to wear a mask throughout the tour. If you do not follow the restrictions, it’s likely that you will not be allowed on the tour.

Alternatively, you can take a self-guided walking tour. Check out our one day in London itinerary for a start. Though be sure to check the opening hours of the places in the itinerary before you set off and any restrictions or bookings you may have to make!

Things To Do in London if You Have to Self-Isolate

If you can’t leave your accommodation due to local lockdown or having to self-isolate, you can still get your London fix from inside your accommodation. There are plenty of virtual things to do in London. You can view exhibitions in Buckingham Palace or take a virtual walk around the Tower of London.

For theatre lovers, whether you are having to stay in or not, you can stream various plays, ballets and more, as theatres currently remain closed. You may need to pay a fee to access the shows, but it’s worth it if you want a culture fix.

Practical Advice During the Pandemic

Like everywhere else in the UK, London is affected by coronavirus. Therefore, it’s vital you follow the latest advice and adhere to any restrictions. If you are going out and exploring the city be sure to:

  • Take hand gel with you and use it regularly;
  • Have a face mask and wear it where you are required, such as on public transport and shops (unless you are medically exempt);
  • Check opening hours of anywhere you are visiting;
  • Book ahead for museums, galleries, cafes etc;
  • Stay 2m from other people and respect other people’s space;
  • Download the NHS track and trace app and have it active when you are out;
  • Only mix within your bubble and with the maximum number of people allowed.

Keep up to date with local restrictions and guidance on the government website.

Advert for wearing mask on escalator

London is an exciting and historic city. As the largest city in the UK, there are lots of universities spread across the city. Although all the attractions may not be open yet, you can still do plenty of things in London regardless of coronavirus. It’s important that you enjoy your time in the capital as you study.

What’s your favourite London attraction? Remember to share it with your friends and let us know on social media! Also check out our range of student accommodation in London.

Joe Graham

Joe Graham

For more great posts from Urbanest about accommodation, London life, study tips and much more, visit the Student Journal.