In a city as old as London, you can't escape reminders of London's horrifying history. It's survived mad monarchs, plagues and the Great Fire of London. Explore London's spooky side with these 13 scary things to do in London.
Dare to set foot in spine-tingling London scary attractions, go on a London ghost tour or get the chills at haunted hotspots. If you're visiting London on or around 31 October, you'll find many more spooky things to do on Halloween in London.
1. Historical horrors
No trip around London's scariest spots is complete without a visit to the Tower of London. Originally a palace, the tower was London's most notorious prison and became the go-to destination for torture and executions. Edward V, Richard of York, Arabella Stuart and the famed White Lady are just a few of the ghostly souls reportedly still imprisoned in the tower.
Learn more about death and destruction in London with the Museum of London’s permanent galleries. From war and fire to plague and Medieval feuds, you’ll uncover some horrific historical happenings.
You can handle torture devices, hear about the plight of prisoners and discover dirty details of Old Bankside at the Clink Prison Museum. Dating back to 1144, the prison’s walls have many gory tales to tell.
2. Scary attractions in London
Travel through more than 1,000 years of London’s horrible history at the London Dungeon, one of the most surreal of London's scary attractions. Jump out of your skin at live actors, spine-tingling rides and alarmingly realistic models, which bring London's dark past to life. Terrifying surprises lurk in every corner.
For more bone-chilling immersive experiences, avoid walls dripping with blood, creepy clowns and menacing spiders, and even become a zombie for the day at The London Tombs, part of the London Bridge Experience.
3. Heart-stopping London theatre
For seat-gripping scary theatre in London, enjoy Stephen Mallatratt's adaptation of dark thriller, The Woman in Black which has been haunting London’s West End for more than 25 years. Or hold onto your seat and be prepared to be very, very afraid as your senses are put to the test in terrifying show Ghost Stories.
Theatreland's resident poltergeist Joseph Grimaldi, the so-called King of Clowns, had been spotted lurking in the wings at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, desperate for one last laugh, before it closed for refurbishment. Let's see whether it has been exorcised once the theatre re-opens in 2020.
4. Creepy creatures
Get up close to London's creepy inhabitants, if you dare. Test your nerve on the Shark Walk at SEA LIFE London, where you'll walk across the top of the sharks' glass tank – or even swim with the sharks at the London aquarium as part of a VIP experience.
Arachnophobes beware… the In With The Spiders exhibit brings all your fears together at ZSL London Zoo. Watch out for black widow, huntsman and giant bird-eating arachnids.
5. Museum curiosities
Get under the skin of the human form with the fascinating Body Worlds exhibit, full of real bodies that have been preserved using plastination – study diseased organs or see your own internal in interactive exhibits. Or delve further into human anatomy as you try not to let your stomach turn at the thought of Victorian surgery once performed at the Old Operating Theatre Museum.
Find weird and wonderful exhibits at some of London’s quirkiest museums. The Grant Museum of Zoology holds a collection of more than 68,000 preserved animal specimens, including a brain collection. Visit The Wellcome Collection for shrunken heads and a Peruvian mummy. Or set foot in the curious Viktor Wynd Museum, where a two-headed kitten is among the odd items.
6. Ghostly apparitions
For a real haunted house in London, head to Hampton Court Palace, the beautiful former royal residence of Henry VIII. But all beauty comes at a price! The Haunted Gallery is a favourite for ghost-hunters on the lookout for Henry’s fourth wife, Catherine Howard. Dragged from the gallery to her ultimate death in the Tower of London, her screams are said to be heard echoing in the night.
Try to capture a selfie with one of the resident ghosts at Queen’s House in Greenwich, who are used to being caught on camera. In 1966 Rev and Mrs R W Hardy noticed, to their horror, a ghost on the pretty Tulip Stairs once they’d developed a photograph they’d taken on their visit.
Pay a visit to see the White Lady ghost in Sutton House & Breaker's Yard, one of the most haunted places in London. The apparition is not the only ghost to have been haunting this Tudor mansion – howling dogs and a woman in blue also appear in ghoulish accounts.
7. Twisted tours
For those who fancy a ride to London's dark side, hop on The Ghost Bus Tour London and uncover forgotten tales of intrigue and murder in the capital – just be sure to ring the bell when it's time to leave or risk joining your creepy conductor for good!
If you want to learn more about London’s most notorious killer, walk the streets once stalked by Jack the Ripper on an East End trail of terror with Jack the Ripper Ghost Walks.
8. Chills and thrills
9. Devilish treats
For a sinfully delicious treat (hold the tricks), visit one of London's best cake shops in autumn, where you'll find Halloween cupcakes, cake pops and more.
Adventurous eaters can head to Hoxton Street Monster Supplies which stocks Cubed Earwax, Toasted Bone Chunks and Petrified Mice for a truly gruesome treat.
10. Vampire hangouts
Tuck into black pizzas made from charcoal at vampire-themed Lost Boys Pizza, which regularly screens horror and cult vampire movies. Make sure to try one of its killer cocktails, you’ll give us fangs for it later…
If you want to avoid vampires altogether, and who would blame you, go to Garlic and Shots. With garlic in everything, it’s the only venue in London guaranteed to be 100% vampire free!
11. Haunted pubs in London
Jack the Ripper’s famed local bar, The Ten Bells, is a hotbed of paranormal activity. Customers and bar staff alike report hearing footsteps in empty corridors and experiencing unexplained cold spots in the bar.
North London’s The Spaniard's Inn is one of London's oldest pubs so it's no wonder it has a ghost up its sleeve. The ghost of infamous highwayman Dick Turpin (and that of his horse) are said to haunt the pub in which he once drank, and it has a bar named in his honour. The cosy pub is also mentioned in Bram Stoker's Dracula!
Another of London’s haunted pubs, The Viaduct Tavern, was built above former prison cells, which are now used to store barrels – one cell in particular is rumoured to be haunted. So much so, workers are often too scared to go down at night for fear of being locked in!
12. Victorian cemeteries
By day, Brompton Cemetery and Kensal Green are two of London's most beautiful Victorian garden cemeteries. Amid the stunning gothic mausoleums, you'll find headless angels guarding unmarked and crumbling tombstones. Take an official guided tour to find out the secrets of the cemeteries and look out for special events throughout the year.
For something a little quirkier, join one of the regular tours of the Victoria Pet Cemetery in Hyde Park. See the burial site of more than 1,000 pooches, cats and more beloved pets.
13. Below ground scares
Frozen, waiting for trains that will never arrive: ghost stations in London (abandoned underground railway stations) offer an eerie glimpse into the city's past. Go on a Hidden London Tour, which takes in hidden and disused stations such as Aldwych, which has featured in films the Darkest House, Sherlock and Atonement, and Churchill's wartime bunker, Down Street. Learn more at the London Transport Museum’s Hidden London: The Exhibition.
On the face of it, other than the eerie echoes of footsteps, Greenwich Foot Tunnel doesn’t seem a scary place. But put reports of ghosts of a young girl and Victorian couple into the mix, and this underground passageway between Greenwich and the Isle of Dogs takes on a whole new vibe.
Dig deeper into the story of a mysterious Roman cult at the London Mithraeum. The excavated site of the Temple of Mithras lies 7m (23ft) below the City of London and was uncovered in 1954, but only recently opened to the public.
If you're still looking for scary, gross and downright odd things, follow our guide to the weirdest things to see in London or discover more unusual museums. Also, check out our tips on quirky London attractions, restaurants and hidden spots.