The Best Things To Do In London
One of the most beautiful cities in the world, visitors come from all over the globe to see the architecture, culture and history of this magnificent destination. There’s something for everyone to enjoy – whether you love shopping and seeing some of the finest theatre productions, or visiting castles and other notable historic points of interest that are on your must-see list, London is a city for everyone. While many think of London as just the city centre, there’s a lot to explore when you arrive in the city. Though there is a good amount of high-density buildings and attractions, head out to the skirts of London for that quintessential English countryside experience – top recommendations include Kew Gardens and the Hampton Court Palace.
Like some of Europe’s finest cities, everywhere you look in London you’ll find visions of the old world – many of the buildings throughout the quaint streets are steeped deep in history. Everywhere you turn, a landmark is not far away – from the famed Big Ben to Westminster Abbey and Tower of London. There’s no end to what you can see and do in London during a stay of any length. While this beautiful English city is very well known for it’s history and charm, there’s still plenty of modern innovation to enjoy as well. The diverse population also gives London a plethora of new sights, sounds and flavours scattered throughout the numerous neighbourhoods and streets. Even throughout the famed museums and historic landmarks, you’ll often find some wonderful collection of art and culture on display – blending London with the rest of the world!
When you want a spectacular view of the city and surrounding area, head over to the London Eye, which goes at a comfortable pace of 0.6 miles per hour to take visitors 135 metres above ground for stunning panoramic views. From the top of the wheel, you’ll see a good part of the River Thames and the city centre, in addition to Buckingham Palace. The London Eye can be experienced day or night – for something a little more romantic, book a champagne trip for a unique experience at sunset!
HERE ARE OUR TOP PICKS FOR THE BEST THINGS TO DO IN LONDON…
Tower of London
Don’t lose your head when you tour the Tower of London! Cross the drawbridge and enter another era, as you discover The Tower’s rich history going back to 1066. Experience it all and explore the battlements; from the displays and stories that take you through the centuries, to the Crown Jewels and the lodgings of kings. You can even see where torture and executions were held! There is just so much history to see at the Tower of London!
The world-renowned, Stonehenge, is easily accessed from both London or Bath, and makes for the perfect day trip from either city. Start your crusade at the visitor centre, where you can purchase an audio tour and meander through the Neolithic houses to see how people lived 4500 years ago. Then head to the Stone Circle, and as you wander around the perimeter, admire the mystery and power of this ancient symbol – it will truly amaze!
When you visit London, a trip to view Buckingham Palace is a must. It’s imposing architecture and central location act as a magnet to royal watchers and visitors alike. Queen Victoria was the first sovereign to live at the palace, and it has remained the official residence since then. See the Changing of the Guard, and for ten weeks of the year, visits to the State Rooms are available.
The London Eye is a magical way to get your bearings in London. The views are spectacular on this Ferris wheel, which is one of the tallest structures in the city. As you relax over the thirty minutes of this “London Tour”, you will see much of the city and sometimes as far as Windsor Castle. Make it a special day and opt for the Champagne Experience!
Take your time walking along the Thames River, or take a cruise, and soak in the history. The longest river in England, the “Thames” has historically been the hub of trade and commerce, and the pathway to invasions and wars. London’s history is intertwined with this great river, but time changes, and while still busy, the boats are have changed to cruises’, rowers and yachts.
Big Ben & Houses of Parliament (Palace of Westminster)
Take a break from the hustle and bustle of London town to visit the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. Westminster Palace is the historic building that is home to both Houses of Parliament and when parliament is sitting, you can observe from the public galleries! As for Big Ben, this magnificent structure is one of London’s most iconic tourist attractions, and as such, should not be skipped – a visit to London is just not the same without a visit to Big Ben too!
A visit to Westminster Abbey is to experience the magnificent pageantry of the Royals; since 1066 this Abbey has been an integral part of the life and death of members of the Royal Family, and provides a fascinating insight into their history. As you tour, remember that 38 monarchs have walked the aisle for their coronation, seventeen are buried here, and even Princess Diana’s funeral was held here! Walk the halls and discover historical art and fascinating historical culture; it’s a day you won’t regret!
Piccadilly Circus is the central meeting place of London; where everything comes together, merging into one very fine square. Don’t be surprised if you see clowns lecturing to the crowds that throng around the beautiful statue of Eros – the winged messenger of love. Sit for a while on the steps that surround the statue, and absorb the excitement that streams in from famous thoroughfares such as Regent Street and Shaftsbury Avenue; it’s here you will feel the beating heart of the city!
The Changing of the Guard
An iconic British tradition, the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace is a must-see event if you’re ever visiting London. Just wander down or take a walking tour, but don’t miss it! The pageantry of this military ceremony and the uniforms of the Guards will live in your memory of London forever. Check the website for schedule details, as it is subject to change throughout the year.
As you wander around the streets of London, or cruise the Thames River, you will most certainly come across the London Bridge. As you view this relatively new bridge, remember that citizens have crossed the river at this precise location since 50AD. The structures have changed over the centuries, but the traditions have not!
Hyde Park is world-famous, but it is also very much a favourite of the locals. As the weather warms up, you will see Londoners migrate to the park on weekdays and weekends, to picnic and soak up the sun. Once the hunting grounds for Henry VIII, today you will “hunt” concerts, and art displays, and as you wander through these picturesque gardens, you will come across the Princess Diana memorial fountain where you can stop and pay your respects.
Around one mile from Tower Bridge, at Whitechapel, Brick Lane is a must-visit destination for leading retro fashion and art. This historically multicultural community has developed a reputation for the vintage fashion of the East End, and believe it or not, curry. And while Brick Lane will always have its vintage stores and boutiques, try to make the Saturday morning markets, with many more artists, designers and collectors on display!
Soho, once an infamous red-light district, has now transformed itself into a cultural hub of London. Intertwined with famous streets such as Oxford, Regent, and Charing Cross Road, you’ll enjoy the many pubs, nightclubs, restaurants, cafes and shops that line the streets. Soak in the history and enjoy a pint or two while you listen to a live band!
In the heart of Central London, Borough Market is a place where locals have been bringing their food for centuries. Over the years it has developed into a foodies’ paradise; people flock to the market on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays for what seems like a never ending menu, including all the weekly staples, as well as a variety of stalls serving up flavours that you may never have experienced! Make sure you take time for a visit – and come hungry!
Natural History Museum London
Plan a day to visit the Natural History Museum London and re-discover the enchantment of learning through fun. Admission is free to this museum, which is in the inner suburb of Kensington. Through interactive displays and simulators, you will see creatures great and small – from dinosaurs to beetles – experience an earthquake, and learn about the evolution of the human body. Spend a day here; this museum is a mecca for the curious!
For the curious and the lovers of engineering marvels, the Science Museum is a must. From steam trains to space travel, there are over 300,000 items on display, as well as the interactive displays and the hands-on experiments! You can see Stephenson’s Rocket, and take in a film in the I-MAX 3D cinema. But it’s not just the big “toys” that people come for; there is also a magnificent collection of the intricate mechanisms of items such as watches and clocks!
Take a break and sit for a while at the famous Trafalgar Square. Take in the mood of the city and listen to people give speeches from their impromptu “soapboxes” on issues of the day. Next door to the National Gallery and St Martins in the Fields, and of course Nelsons Column, this is the perfect place to soak in the history of London.
In the heart of London, Covent Garden has evolved in harmony with the city; its name dates to the thirteenth century when it was just a simple fruit and vegetable garden! Today, it’s a hub for theatres and the opera, as well as speciality shops offering gourmet foods, both local and international. Wander the laneways immersing yourself in the history, stop to watch the street performances, and enjoying the spectacular atmosphere on offer!
Take time out from the hustle and bustle of London and join the locals enjoying the calm splendour of Regent Park. Meander through the park smelling the magnificent roses throughout, or let the young ones enjoy the treehouse playground while you unwind for a while! If you’re in the mood for a picnic, a great spot is Primrose Hill; here you can enjoy views of the city while lounging on the green grass!
Warner Bros Studio London
Fans from all over the world gather to re-discover the wizardry of Harry Potter at Warner Bros Studio, London. Twenty miles north-west of the city, over a period of ten years, a substantial part of the series was filmed at these studios. See the costumes, and sets such as the Great Hall and Diagon Alley! Or, visit the classroom where potion pots hold examples of props used in the films. You can even discover how the special effects brought the movies to life!
A visit to Kensington Palace is to visit a working Royal Residence; home to members of the royal Family since the 1600’s. The historical parts of the palace are open to the public, so absorb the history of the palace rooms and explore Queen Victoria’s reign. Make sure you see “Diana: Her Fashion Story”, for a beautiful display of the dresses and outfits favoured by the late Princess Diana during her time.
Visit Warwick Castle and be transported back to the days of William the Conqueror; a day of history mixed with so much fun! A short trip from London, you can see real knights’ armour, explore the State Rooms and Great Hall, brave the dungeons to experience of the terrible deeds of the past, see the birds of prey, and even enjoy a banquet in the evening with stories of the castle’s secrets! There is just so much to do!
Westminster Bridge is one of London’s oldest and most famous bridges, linking the Houses of Parliament to the South Bank of the Thames River. The bridge is an integral part of city life, and as you tour the city on foot, by car, or by cruise, you are sure to pass it along the way. Illuminated by night, take in its history; it has carried Londoners since 1739!
Set in the picturesque Regents Park, London Zoo has been a crowd-favourite since the 1840’s. With over 800 species of animals set in natural environments, this is a great day out. Meander along the nature trail, or make the day extra special and meet giraffes, meerkats or penguins! In addition, the zoo is always holding special events, such as evening dinners and tours, so keep an eye out for these one-off experiences while you’re in town!
Nostalgia at Abbey Road; a magnet for all Beatles fans looking to mimic the famous four striding across the pedestrian crossing. This simple crossing on a typical London road was made famous by four talented musicians and remains ever so popular, even today. As you cross, smile at the web cam so your friends can witness the event, and make sure you visit the Abbey Road Studio where the album was recorded way back in 1969!
Slow down for a while as you visit the British Museum; catch your breath and absorb the history of the world at one of the largest museums in the United Kingdom. With so many exhibits to see, the displays range from ancient Egypt, to Roman sculptures, and modern day British history. Enjoy the talks and films, as well as childrens’ activities and family events. As one of London’s most popular attractions, you’ll be glad you came!
Visit the birthplace of English Christianity – Canterbury Cathedral – and you will be immersed in the history and grandeur of this ancient land. Canterbury Cathedral is the oldest church in England that is still in use, and with its expansive use of stained glass, you can gaze upwards with awe and experience some of the finest craftsmanship in the land! This UNESCO World Heritage listed church – dating back to the year 597 – also houses the shrine of St Thomas Becket!
Churchill War Rooms
In England’s darkest hours, the lights shone bright in the Churchill War Rooms, where Prime Minister Winston Churchill led the development of strategies to defend the country in WWII – this is true living history! Kept secret until 1984, you can relive the intense meetings of the war cabinet through stories, speeches and photos. Learn about the life and legacy of this great man as you tour the maze of rooms that made up the Cabinet War Room.
West of London lies Highclere Castle, famous for the filming of Downton Abbey. This medieval castle was refurbished in the 1840’s and displays the splendour of centuries past; explore the magnificent State Rooms, the bedrooms upstairs, and the common rooms downstairs, as well as the gardens and woodlands which surround it. This castle often holds events to make the experience even more memorable, so check the website prior to your arrival to see what is scheduled!
In picturesque Kent, a visit to the Leeds Castle will take you back to medieval times. Set on 500 acres, this Norman stronghold is in magnificent condition, with state rooms full of tapestries and paintings of a bygone era. Watch displays of falconry and find your way through the maze; there is so much to see and do here that if you feel like staying the night, you can even book the “Knight’s Glamping”!
The National Theatre was designed and built in the 1960’s, and its contrast to the historical architecture of the city has been controversial. However the architecture is judged, there is no doubting the quality of the productions presented here! Located on the South Bank of the Thames River, take some time to see a show – you won’t be disappointed!
South Bank is the London district where the action never stops! Culturally diverse and vibrant, and buzzing throughout the night, there is never a dull moment here. Being so popular, it can get busy, but South Bank is so spacious that you can generally still wander the walkways with ease. It’s these walkways that bring so many people to South Bank; they famously link so many of the city’s attractions together in one place! So, If you can’t decide which attraction to see, just come on down; they’re all waiting for you here at South Bank!
Entering the Tate Modern Art Gallery, you quickly realise this is no ordinary building. Set in an old power station on the South Bank of the Thames River, the entrance is a massive hall where the old turbine was once held. As you move to the displays, the children will love the playful artworks – this gallery displays great works by many great artists, but also wants the whole family to enjoy it!
The London Shard
What a magnificent view from the London Shard – up to 40 miles – with a 360-degree uninterrupted picture of the city and its surrounds. The Shard is the tallest building in the European Union and is designed to reflect the light and colour of the sky; a true work of art. Tickets to the observation levels specify the date and time, and on arrival you can stay as long as you like, or if the weather turns bad, you can come back later in the day when it clears up!
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