125 Crazy, Fun & Interesting Facts About London, England

London, England is arguably one of the top-5 most famous and historically significant cities in the world.

Learn about the many things London is known for with these 125 fun London facts! These are categorized into general London facts, art & architecture facts, facts about the London Tube, more random interesting facts, historical facts, famous people, and finally, facts about London cuisine.

General London Facts

  • London is the capital city England (which is a country) and the United Kingdom (which is a state composed of four countries).
  • The City of London refers to a tiny, historic and central business district at the heart of London. It is one of the city’s 33 districts. It has a mere population of around 10,000, and is the country’s smallest ceremonial county. It is often called the Square Mile, as it is only 1.12 mi2.
  • Greater London covers an area of 1572 km2 (606 mi2), making it the largest city, physically speaking, in England, Britain (the island), and the UK.  It is more than twice as large as Manchester, and nearly three times as large as Birmingham.
  • London has a population of 9.5 million, the third largest in Europe after Istanbul and Moscow, largest in the European Union, and 35th largest in the world.
  • If all the surrounding suburbs and towns are considered, Metropolitan London has a population of 15 million.
  • Over a million people also commute into the city on a daily basis.
  • People from London are called Londoners.
Aerial view of central London and the Tower Bridge
The Tower Bridge across the Thames leads into the City of London.
  • The name London goes back to handwritten Roman tablets, on which the word Londinio is mentioned. Similar words are also mentioned in early Latin, Welsh, and Old English sources. The original word may have meant “place that floods” or “river too wide to ford.”
  • Cockney is the most common English accent native to London, and spoken mainly by the working class and in the East End today. People from outside of London often call Londoners Cockneys. There is even a punk band called the Cockney Rejects. Other common accents include Estuary English and Multicultural London English.
  • There are more than 300 other languages spoken in London. It has been called the most linguistically diverse city in the world. The most common languages besides English are Bengali, Polish, and Turkish.
  • London attracted 19 million visitors in 2019, 3rd in the world after Bangkok and Paris.
Two black men standing in front of the Tower Bridge in London
London is one of the world’s most ethnically diverse cities.
  • London is commonly abbreviated as LDN on social media platforms and in text messages.
  • The city’s Latin motto is Domine dirige nos, which means “Lord, direct us.”
  • Nicknames for London include The Big Smoke, The Old Smoke, or simply The Smoke, referring to the city’s infamous smog during the Industrial Revolution.
A layer of fog covering buildings in London
Air pollution has improved dramatically since 1900, but the city still has foggy days.
  • London has 11 twin or sister cities, including Beijing and Shanghai (China), Tokyo (Japan), Moscow (Russia), New York City (USA), Bogotá (Colombia), and Berlin (Germany).
  • Time magazine has called London one of the world’s 3 most influential cities, along with New York City and Hong Kong, while Forbes put London at #1.

Art & Architecture Facts

  • The Palace of Westminster (or Houses of Parliament) is the largest palace in England and is the meeting place of the House of Commons and House of Lords of England. Built in 1016, it was almost totally destroyed by fire in 1834 and rebuilt. It was also severely damaged during WWII.
  • Built in 1016, the palace was almost totally destroyed by a fire in 1834 and subsequently rebuilt. It was also severely damaged during WWII.
A view of Palace of Westminster across the Thames River
Palace of Westminster viewed across the Thames, with Clock Tower to the right
  • Big Ben isn’t actually the name of the tower. The tower is official the Elizabeth Tower, but common called the Clock Tower, and Big Ben is the name of its great bell. The tower is at the north end of the Palace of Westminster.  
  • Tower Bridge is one of London’s most famous landmarks, but it is not the “London Bridge” referred to in the famous nursery rhyme, London Bridge is falling down, which is 0.8 km (0.5 mi) upstream.
  • The London Eye, or Millennium Wheel, is the tallest Ferris wheel in Europe and 5th tallest in the world, at 135 m (443 ft). It is London’s most popular paid attraction, with over 3 million people taking a ride on it per year.
View of London's Millennium Wheel lit up at night
The Millennium Wheel, or London Eye, is a major London landmark.
  • The Millennium Dome is the 8th largest building in the world by volume and can be identified in satellite images. It is said to be large enough to contain all three of the Pyramids of Giza. After several financial and political issues, it closed, and is now a part of The O2.
  • There are about 256 statues scattered across London, only 17 of which are of women.
  • Cleopatra’s Needle is the name given to two ancient Egyptian obelisks. One of them is erected in London, while the other is in New York City. Neither of them is related to the Ptolemaic Queen Cleopatra VII, though.
  • The official smallest statue in London, the Philpot Lane Mice Sculpture, shows two mice fighting over cheese and is dedicated to two builders who fell during the construction of the Monument to the Great Fire of London. The workers had been finding over a missing sandwich, which had actually been eaten by mice.
The Shard skyscraper in London
The Shard is the UK’s tallest building.
  • The 72-story, pyramidal skyscraper The Shard in Central London is the tallest building in the UK, 2nd tallest in the EU (after Varso Tower in Poland), and the 7th tallest in Europe, at 309.6 m (1016 ft).  
  • London is home to six major orchestras. These are the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, London Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic, and the Philharmonia.
  • The University of London was among the first British universities to allow women to study and get degrees. Not long before London’s university was established in 1836, Cambridge and Oxford University were the only ones in the country.
  • London is home to more than 170 museums. These include the British Museum, the Imperial War Museum, and the National Gallery.
Interior of the British Museum
The British Museum is one of the world’s most important museums.
  • The British Museum is the world’s oldest national public museum. It opened its doors to the public in 1759, which makes it older than the USA’s Declaration of Independence.
  • England first considered building the British Museum when Sir Hans Sloane decided to leave his private collection to the state.
  • The British Museum became one of the earliest public buildings to install electric lighting, as it first relied on gas lamps, oil lamps, and candles to provide light.
  • The British Museum had to be evacuated during World War II. However, it was struck by several air raids that resulted in the destruction of more than 250,000 valuable books and manuscripts.
  • Many cats used to live in the British Museum, and one of them was called Mike. It guarded the main gate for more than 20 years.
Front of the National Art Gallery in London
Several significant artworks are housed at the National Art Gallery in London.
  • Some of the most famous works of art in London include the Sunflowers (Vincent van Gogh), the Water Lily Pond (Claude Monet), the Portrait of Shakespeare (artist uncertain), and Virgin of the Rocks (Leonardo da Vinci).
  • Subculture groups and musical styles that have originated in London include the Teds/Teddy Boys, mods, Swinging Sixties/Swinging London, punk rock (along with New York City), New Romantics. The word “rave” originated in London, and Drum & Bass music is heavily associated with the city.
  • Every year, more than 22,000 musical performances take place in London. In addition, around 200 festivals also take place.
A punk rocker with a Mohawk in Camden, London
Many subcultures have originated in London.
  • London is currently listed as one of the world’s busiest film shooting and production centers, with numerous films and TV shows being shot in London every year.
  • Some of the most famous films set in London include 101 Dalmatians, Oliver! (based on the Charles Dickens classic), A Hard Day’s Night (a Beatles comedy musical), American Werewolf in London, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, Four Weddings and the Funeral, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, The Muppet Christmas Carol, Sherlock Holmes, James Bond’s Skyfall, Shaun of the Dead, and The King’s Speech.
  • London has 13 professional football clubs, six of which are Premier League, with the most successful being Arsenal, Chelsea, and Tottenham Hotspur. Still, London’s teams aren’t as popular nationally or internationally as those from Manchester or Liverpool.

Facts about the London Tube

  • First opening in 1863, the London Tube was the world’s first electrified underground railway system, or first metro system.
  • Up to 5 million people ride the Tube (the London Underground) every day, or 2-3 million on average. It is the world’s 12th busiest metro system.
A sign for a London Tube station
The London Tube’s iconic logo
  • Over 1 billion Tube journeys are made per year. The busiest station is Waterloo, with over 100 million passengers per year.
  • The average Londoner spend 1.5 weeks total on the Tube per year.
  • Today the Tube has 11 lines serving 272 stations.
  • The average speed of the Tube is 33 km/hr (20.5 mph). The fastest sped it can reach is 100 km/hr (62 mph).
  • Almost half of the Tube actually runs above the ground and not underground.
Exterior of the entrance to Waterloo Station in London
Entrance to Waterloo Station, a railway station and the busiest Tube station
  • The Tube’s longest escalator goes down 60 m (197 ft), at Angel station.
  • Jerry Springer of the tabloid talk show The Jerry Springer Show was born in Highgate Station when it was used as a shelter during WWII bombing.
  • The style of metro system maps now common around the world originated in the London Tube. An engineer named Harry Beck made the first one, inspired by electrical circuit boards.
  • When the Tube was being built, some engineers suggested flooding it with water. Barges were supposed to float people from one station to another. But, of course, this idea was later dismissed.
Interior of a London Tube
Inside a London Tube car
  • Five of the Underground stations are named after famous pubs.
  • A special species of mosquitoes evolved in the London Underground. This species doesn’t hibernate, can live in dark places for long periods, and doesn’t need water to lay eggs.

More Random Interesting Facts About London

  • London is considered to be one of the world’s greenest major cities, with almost 40% of its area covered in green space or open water.
  • According to the United Nations definition based on the number of trees per square mile, London qualifies as a forest. It has over 8 million trees and is considered the world’s largest urban forest.
Some trees with London Eye in the background
London is technically considered an “urban forest”
  • Most of the world sets its time according to Greenwich Mean Time, with Royal Observatory in Greenwich, London marking the time zone UTC-0:00.
  • London still has Sheriffs, a tradition that started in the 7th century and hasn’t stopped ever since.
  • More than 80 billionaires live in London, representing more than 80% of the billionaires living in the UK.
  • There’s a London in France, another one in Canada, and ten cities called London in the US. There’s even an asteroid called London.
  • Great Ormond Street Hospital owns the right to Peter Pan. This includes book sales, toy sales, and film adaptations.
A raven on a rail at the Tower of London
One of the 6 ravens of the Tower of London
  • At all times, there should be six ravens in the Tower of London. Due to superstitious reasons, each raven has one of its wings clipped so it can’t fly away, and there’s an extra raven in case one of them does.
  • The Knowledge is a test for Black Cab drivers, where each one should memorize every single street and corner in the city. Apparently, most drivers spend years trying to memorize the streets.
  • London’s iconic red telephone booths were the result of a 1924 design competition for London Metropolitan Boroughs.
  • The equally iconic red double-decker buses of London weren’t always red. Originally, they had different colors to signify their route.
  • London’s buses travels more than 300 million miles per year, which is about 12 times the circumference of the Earth.
Two red double decker buses
Iconic double decker buses in London
  • The average speed of cars in the city center is about 12 km (7.4 mi) per hour. This is close to the speed of a cart or carriage driven by a horse.
  • Savoy Court in London is one road where people can actually drive on the right side of the road, unlike all the other roads in England.
  • 7% of London’s population uses a bicycle every day.
  • The Royal Standard is the Royal Family’s flag and it’s flown from Buckingham Palace only when the Queen is residing there.
  • The Queen needs permission from the Lord Mayor to enter the City of London.
A pigeon at Trafalgar Square in London
It’s illegal to feed the pigeons at Trafalgar Square.
  • In 2003, the London Mayor issued a law to prevent people from feeding the feral pigeons at Trafalgar Square.
  • The Lord Mayor of London is inducted into power in what’s known as the Silent Ceremony, where no words are spoken.
  • About 60 bird species nest in Central London. The city is also home to about 47 butterfly species.
  • More than 10,000 red foxes live in London. Most of them don’t mind raising their cubs in people’s backyards. Once, one of them broke into Buckingham Palace and killed some of the Queen’s pink flamingos.
  • Cock Lane used to be the only licensed street for prostitution in London. The lane was also thought to have a ghost in the 1700s.
Exterior of London Stadium at night
London Stadium was built for the 2012 Olympics
  • The London Dungeon features gory and gruesome exhibits on London history in a humorous way.
  • Harrods in London is the world’s most famous luxury department store. Current it is owned by the royal family of the small Arabian country Qatar, who also own several extremely valuable mansions in London.
  • London is the first city to host the Olympics three times. These were in 1908, 1948, and 2012, and all three were Summer Olympics.
  • The Wimbledon Tennis Championships take place in at the All England Club in London every year. It’s the world’s oldest tennis tournament, played for the first time in 1877.

Historical Facts About London

  • The oldest remains of prehistoric London were the foundations of a large timber structure that dates to the era between 4800 and 4500 BCE. It was found on the Thames’s shore downstream from Vauxhall Bridge, but its function still remains a mystery.
  • By the end of the 2nd century, Roman London, or Londinium, had a population of about 60,000 people.
A Roman era stone wall in London
Ruins of a Roman wall in London
  • After the collapse of the Roman Rule in the 5th century, the ancient city of Londinium was abandoned.
  • The Anglo-Saxons built a settlement around the year 500, which became the foundation of modern-day London. Called Lundenwic, it was located west of the original Roman city.
  • The importance of London grew in 1065, when St. Edward the Confessor built Westminster Abbey, making it the religious center for English rulers.
  • In the 11th century, London became the largest city in England. By the 1300s, it was home to more than 100,000 people.
  • The City of London lost almost one-third of its population due to the Black Death. Some of the mass burial sites used during the time of the Great Plague are still being discovered in London, including around 1000 buried bodies were discovered under Aldgate Station.
Looking down a modern street at St. Paul's Cathedral in London
St. Paul’s Cathedral is 325 years old.
  • The Great Fire of London took place in 1666 and destroyed most of the city’s buildings. However, only six people died directly because of the fire. Many more died because of infections and other indirect causes.
  • From 1720 and 1751, London went through what’s known as the Gin Craze, during which the average consumption of gin was about 2 pints per week per person, including children.
  • During the 18th century, one could enter the London Zoo for free one had a dog or cat to feed the lions.
  • In 1858, London become so stinky that the government had to pass laws to prevent people from slaughtering animals within the city and dumping sewage in the Thames.
Antique photo of London during the Industrial Revolution
London during the Industrial Revolution
  • Jack the Ripper, the famous East London serial killer (circa 1888-1891), was never caught. Instead, the police believed that his crimes were committed by a number of people, including Queen Victoria’s doctor, Sir William Gull.
  • London was the world’s largest city from 1831 to 1925.
  • From 1912 to 1914, famous London landmakrs such as Westminster Abbey and St Paul’s Cathedral were bombed by women’s groups seeking the right to vote.
  • When Hitler invaded Europe, several displaced governments moved to London. These included the government of Poland, Norway, Belgium, France, and Holland, which made London the capital of six different countries at the same time.
  • London was bombed for 57 successive nights during the Blitz from 1940-1941. The exact numbers are unknown, but estimates state that between 40,000 and 43,000 people were killed, and 2 million houses (60% of the city’s total) were destroyed.
A destroyed train station in London in WWII
Damage to a London railway station during WWII
  • Because of its help during World War II, Norway has gifted London a Christmas tree every year since. The tree is set up in Trafalgar Square.
  • In 1981, thousands of black youths rioted against the police in Brixton, with April 11 known as Bloody Saturday.
  • The Thames Barrier was completed in the 1980s to protect the city against tidal floods.
  • To mark the year 2000, the Millenium Bridge, Millenium Dome, and London Eye were built.
Aerial view of Millenium Dome in London
Millenium Dome was one of several new buildings built for the year 2000.
  • On July 7, 2005, Islamic terrorists set off four bombs in the city, killing 56, including the four bombers.  
  • In the 2016 referendum, most Londoners voted to stay in the EU.

Famous People of London

  • Poet and author William Blake (1757 to 1827) was born in London. In the poem London, he describes the city as impoverished and full of misery.
  • Charles Babbage (1791 to 1871), the famous mathematician, was born in London. He’s the father of the modern computer and invented the first mechanical one, which was known as the Difference Engine.
Portraits of three famous people from London history
William Blake, Charlie Chaplin, and Alfred Hitchcock were all born in London.
  • H. G. Wells (1866 to 1946), often called the “father of science fiction, was born in London and was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature four times.
  • Charlie Chaplin (1889 to 1977), famed actor and filmmaker of the silent era, was born in London and had a career spanning 75 years.
  • Alfred Hitchcock (1899 to 1980), film director and producer, was born in London. He’s known for his thrillers like The Birds and Psycho.
  • Some of the best-known actresses from London include Angela Lansbury, Helena Bonham Carter, Keira Knightley, Helen Mirren, Emily Blunt, and Emilia Clarke.
  • Famous modern actors from London include Daniel Day-Lewis, Michael Caine, Daniel Radcliffe,
  • Other celebrities from London are supermodels Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell, Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour, footballer David Beckham, Prince Harry, Prince William,
Portraits of six celebrities from London
More modern London celebrities
  • Famous bands from London include the Yardbords, Rolling Stones, Cream, Queen, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Fleetwood Mac, Deep Purple, Iron Maiden, Motorhead, The Sex Pistols, The Clash, Bad Manners, Sioux and the Banshees, The Damned, Culture Club, Pet Shop Boys, Blur, the Spice Girls, All Saints, Florence and the Machine, and One Direction.
  • Other famous musicians from London are Elton John, David Bowie, Rod Stwart, Geroge Michael, Seal, Fatboy Slim, Amy Winehouse, and Adele.
  • Australian singer Kylie Minogue lived in London for 30 years, but moved back to Australia in 2021.
  • Other celebrities with London homes include Madonna, Taylor Swift, and Claudia Schiffer.

Facts about London Cuisine

  • In the 1700s, pineapples were so exotic that people would pay to rent one for their dinner parties.
  • As of 2020, there are 181 McDonald’s restaurant branches in London.
Fish and chips on a board in a London restaurant
Fish and chips is the quintessential London meal.
  • Fish and Chips is the most famous and popular dish in London, and the first ever fish and chips shop was most likely in the city.
  • Until the 1980s, Fish and Chips were served in newspapers.
  • There is a huge number of Indian and South Asian restaurants in London, with some claims that London has more Indian restaurants than Delhi and/or Mumbai (this fact is unverified!)
  • Veeraswamy restaurant on Regent Street in London is the oldest still-running Indian restaurant in the UK, dating to 1926.
  • Fortnum & Mason, an upscale London department store, actually invented the Scotch Egg, which is made of minced meat wrapped around hard-boiled eggs. Londoners used to pack this meal for their holidays in the countryside.
Two hands holding a Scotch egg split in half
The Scotch egg is not a Scottish but a London invention.
  • Cockles are seasoned and cooked shellfish that are usually sold as street food in East London.
  • There are over 3600 pubs in London, with the oldest one being Seven Stars, dating to 1602.
  • The drink London Fog, which is made of Early Grey tea, steamed milk, and vanilla, was invented not on London but in Vancouver, Canada.