What to do in London










What to do after you visit the SoG

The SoG is located in Islington in the centre of London, close to Highgate and its famous cemetery, Clerkenwell with its trendy restaurants and shops, and Finsbury Park with its summer festival.

We want to make sure that you have plenty of ideas of what to do after you have visited us.

Exploring London

The city is a great place for walking – and eating. The Londonist has loads of ideas and you can download links to your phone.

London’s red buses are cheap and regular. Just two minutes walk from the SoG are bus stops for at least 10 routes. You can catch the No 55 to Oxford Street or the No 8 that goes around St Pauls and across the Thames.

Exhausted from the conference and short of time? Open top buses can drive you past all the memorable sights of London. River cruises can take you down the Thames to Greenwich and the O2. 

Finding out what’s on

Visit London is the official guide to the main theatre, concert and galleries.

Where Can We Go allows you to search by interests or by age.

The SoG runs talks, workshops and courses on most Wednesdays and Saturdays and some Thursdays. 

Discovering the unusual

A great image for Instagram or Facebook can make your holiday, especially if it’s off the totally tourist path. Get in the mood by saving the Gentle Author’s blog to your Favourites.

Ian Visits offers all the cheap or free events happening around the city. They focus on the unusual and the unexpected.

Time Out is online and publishes paper copies too.

Visit the Shard to see the city from above. Or walk along the Thames and then over one of the bridges to watch the city rush by you.

You don't need to have ancestors buried in London to enjoy a tour of one of the Magnificent Seven Cemeteries such as Highgate Cemetery, Brompton Cemetery, Nunhead Cemetery or Abney Park.

Check the SoG events listing for walks and visits, often to places that aren’t normally open to the public.

Checking other archives and museums

You can’t see them all. You’ll have to choose. The British Library, the National Archives, the Imperial War Museum and the Museum of London are probably all on your list.

Archives for London has a pdf listing that you could download before you arrive.

Culture 24 and Museum Crush list an amazing range of the archives, galleries and museums. Plus there is plenty of extra information about what exactly they hold.

Specially interesting for family historians

A visit to the SoG usually offers new ideas or avenues to explore as you research your family history. Here are some other places in London, where you might find new information or more about your family’s back story.

Freemasons Hall runs free tours and holds exhibitions. They welcome researchers and they have an online catalogue.

To learn more about your ancestors’ healthcare and illnesses, visit the archives and museum for the Royal London Hospital, St Bartholomew’s Hospital and Bart’s Hospital. Their catalogue is online.

For an image of surgery in Victorian times, take a look at the Old Operating Theatre, the oldest surviving surgical theatre in Europe. However, you need to be able to climb a narrow 52-step spiral staircase up to an attic.

To learn about Victorian education, visit the Ragged School Museum. You can sit at a desk, write on a slate or sit in the corner with a dunce hat on. However, they do not hold school records. Archives for London has a pdf listing that will help you find where records are held.

At the BFI (British Film Institute) you can view old film, old TV footage and still images. There’s every chance that you might see an ancestor in a news broadcast. You can search the collection online then ask for access to materials.

The Cinema Museum which is housed in the former Lambeth Workhouse, holds a wonderful collection of memorabilia and equipment and aims to preserve the history of cinema from the 1890s to the present day. You need to book one of their guided tours.

If you visit the British Library, check out their oral history collection. It may not be your ancestor but listening to people talking from the same town or village gives you a flavour of their accent, terms they used and maybe details of village life. You can search the collection online.

Sir John Soane, a famous 19th century architect, left his house to the nation, on one condition: it had to be left untouched after his death. So after almost 180 years, you can wander through the 4 floors, seeing exactly how he lived. Make sure you ask a volunteer to show you his art collection!

Denis Severs House offers a portrait of how a family of Huguenot silk-weavers lived, from 1724 to the early 20th century. The sights, smells and sounds of the house take you into their lives. You do need to book a place.

What to do in London

Events & Courses


Our large programme of online events is open to anyone interested in family history.

View and book



Our online bookshop sells a wide variety of family history and genealogy publications

Visit the bookshop

Free library tours


Find out what we have in our unique library to help you with your research.

Details of free library tours