They say that New York City is the city that never sleeps, but London can certainly give "The Big Apple" a run for its money.
From the glowing neon lights of Piccadilly Circus, to the way the London Eye and Houses of Parliament glow in the darkness, you'll soon find that London is a city best explored at night.
Because of this, many companies offer tours that are specifically designed for the later hours so tourists can discover just how beautiful London is as soon as darkness falls. From pub crawls and ghost tours, to evening bike rides and cruises along the River Thames, if you're looking for something to do in London during the nighttime, you won't have to look for very long.
Going on a night tour is also a great way to spend those first jet-lagged hours in London if you're wide awake at night, and you can always count on companies selling night tours on holidays like Christmas Day, New Year's Eve and Valentine's Day as well.
If you're hoping to go on a night tour at some point during your stay in London, here are some of the many London night tours you can choose from:
Night bus tours
See London By Night's bus tour has been a fan-favourite for many years, as you can sit back and relax on an open-top bus, and let the many glowing London landmarks pass you by. During your trip you will see the illuminated St. Paul's Cathedral, the Tower of London, the Tower Bridge, and the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, and much more. The bus will also drive through London's West End district so you can enjoy the glowing lights of Piccadilly Circus and Harrods as well.
The See London By Night tour takes place during the winter months (or between October to March) at 7:30 p.m. and 9:20, as well as during the summer at 7 p.m., 8 p.m., 8:30 p.m., 9:15 p.m., 9:45 p.m. and 10:15 p.m. from Green Park (next to Piccadilly's Ritz hotel). However the tour does not run on Christmas Day and New Year's Eve.
This English-guided tour lasts for about an hour and a half and costs:
- £18 for adults
- £10 for children between the ages of five and 15
- Free for children under the ages of five
- £50 for families (consisting of two adults and two children).
Golden Tours' London By Night bus tour is another option for those looking for a night bus tour around London, and certainly provides some stiff competition to See London By Night.
Their tour will lead you past Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace, St. Paul's Cathedral, the London Eye, the Tower of London and Big Ben on an open-top bus, and they also offer a Christmas tour by night as well. If you're hoping to visit other attractions during your visit to London, you can also combine your night tour with a ticket to the London Eye (£35) as well as tickets to the Tower of London (£34).
The tour lasts for about one hour and 45 minutes, however if you plan on taking this tour during the summer months, be prepared that the tour will mainly be operating in the daylight.
Tickets for this tour cost:
- £18 for adults
- £11 for children between the ages of five and 15
- £50 for families (consisting of two adults and two children)
But if you want to explore London by night and see all of its creepy and haunted attractions, then The Ghost Bus Tour can offer you the best of both worlds. Not only will you see many of London's major landmarks illuminated at night, but you'll also hear about some of the most haunted tales in London's history; from Sweeney Todd of Fleet Street to the Cross Bones Graveyard of Southwark, and even the Westminster Abbey tombs and the black dog of Newgate Prison.
The company also offers great discounts to group bookings, so if you're travelling in a group of 12 or more people, this tour is the way to go. The tour takes place from Sunday to Thursday at 7:30 p.m. and 9 p.m., on Fridays at 6 p.m., and on Saturdays at 6 p.m., 7:30 p.m., 7:45 p.m., 9 p.m. and 9:15 p.m.
Tickets for this tour cost:
- £21 for adults
- £15 for children, seniors and students
- £57 for families
- Free for children under the ages of five (as long as they are sitting on an adult's lap)
River Thames Night Cruises
There's a handful of companies offering some evening or night cruises up the River Thames, so you can enjoy a meal or a glass of wine as you drink in the sights of London's many riverside landmarks. Sometimes there's on-board entertainment like jazz singers, however this depends on the company.
The City Cruises' Showboat tour is one of these companies that has live, on-board entertainment, and there's even dancing until "late" as well. For this three-hour cruise you will be given a four-course meal as well as sparkling wine upon arrival, and half a bottle of wine is given to each guest.
The boat departs from Westminster Pier at 7:45 p.m., and returns to the same pier at 11 p.m. Purchasing your tickets online beforehand is much cheaper (£80 per adult), but if you want a window seat so you can enjoy unspoiled views of the London landmarks, tickets cost £85 per adult. You can also book a table of four for £320, and there are discounted tickets for children as well.
Riverlights is another popular company offering evening cruises up and down the River Thames, and they also have a live jazz performer who will be crooning out classic hits during this two-hour cruise. All customers will be given sparkling wine upon arrival, but dinner is not included in the total price. The boat departs from Thursday to Sunday at the Westminster Pier at 6:30 p.m., and returns to the same pier at 8:30 p.m. Tickets for this tour cost £29 for adults, and all passengers must be over the age of 18 to board the boat.
Evening bike tours
Although not technically at night, the Thames River Evening Bike Tour provides the perfect opportunity for you to watch the sun set as you cycle along the paths next to the River Thames. This summertime-only tour includes visits to several of London's most iconic landmarks, and it even includes a quick stop in a classic London pub (with drinks included). The tour takes four hours, and costs:
- £34 for adults
- £32 for students
- £32 for children (between the ages of four and 17)