You could visit London several times and still not know it all. Charming neighborhoods, magnificent museums, street markets, monuments that are World Heritage Sites, bucolic parks? London has more than a hundred tourist attractions, 9 million inhabitants and 35 million tourists a year. Here is a selection of what you have to see and do in the city.
1. Visit Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament
Located at the center of political and religious power in England for over a thousand years, the Whitehall and Westminster district, these two attractions are one of the must-see attractions in London. Westminster Abbey is known as the "Church of the Royal Family" for serving as the pantheon of British monarchs and the site of their coronations since 1066. There is a lot to see in Westminster Abbey so don't make the mistake of overlooking it on your visit to London.
The Palace of Westminster, a World Heritage Site, houses the Houses of Parliament, where today the politics and future of the country is still decided and where you can see the tower where the greatest symbol of London is hidden, Big Ben, the bell that gives time to its great clock. Check the types of tickets for Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament, the opening hours of Westminster Abbey and the ticket prices for Westminster Abbey.
2. Ride the London Eye
Admire London from the sky aboard one of the largest Ferris wheels in the world, located in the heart of London. Its inauguration in 2000 earned it the title of 'Millennium Wheel' and its 135 meters of height made it the tallest in Europe and, until 2006, in the world.
The London Eye is the best place to enjoy an amazing 360ºpanoramic view of the city and take as a souvenir the best photos of its skyline and some of its wonders, such as Big Ben, Westminster Abbey or St. Paul's Cathedral, in the 30-minute ride aboard one of its 32 glass capsules (one for each neighborhood of London). If you want to see the city illuminated, do not rule out going up the London Eye at night; the experience will leave you speechless.
Check the types of tickets for the London Eye, the London Eye opening hours and the prices of the most famous London Ferris wheel. This is one of the most popular attractions in the British capital, so you might be interested in combined tickets for the London Eye and a Thames River cruise or combined tickets for Madame Tussauds and the London Eye; it's a way to save some much-needed lira on this trip.
Enjoy breathtaking views from The Shard
In addition to the London Eye, if you are not afraid of vertigo and you are attracted by strong emotions, the best place to see London from almost the sky is the viewpoint of The Shard, the tallest building in Western Europe, which with its 310 meters high has changed the skyline of the city.
Want to know how to climb the panoramic observatory of this imposing skyscraper? In the post The Shard Tickets you will find all the details to get your tickets. And if you want to know more, you can also read this post about The Shard's restaurant.
3. Step inside the Tower of London
This historic castle located on the north bank of the River Thames, in the center of London, is officially Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress. Built in 1066, this portentous Norman medieval fortress has served in its more than nine centuries of life as a center of uninterrupted power of British and European history and that is why it was declared a World Heritage Site.
The tour of its architectural ensemble, consisting of more than seven buildings and areas of interest, everything there is to see in the Tower of London will take you no less than 3 hours and you will discover the fascinating story of how it has changed its function over the years. Check out the types of Tower of London tickets, Tower of London prices and places to eat after your visit to the Tower of London.
4. Take a night walking tour
Get ready to have a scary time with a night tour of London that will show you the less 'pretty' side of the city of London through its blackest history and places like the Tower of London and its bloody tower, the first Psychiatric Hospital, the Plague Pits, the haunted areas of the East End and the stories of how and where one of the most famous serial killers in history, Jack the Ripper, operated. See all the information here.
5. Cross Tower Bridge
Built in 1894 over the River Thames, Tower Bridge is the most famous bridge to see in London and owes its name to its proximity to the Tower of London. You can access this stone drawbridge and see the operation of the steam engine that lifts it and climb to the top and walk on a glass walkway while enjoying great views of the city.
6. Get lost in Notting Hill
This neighborhood, famous for movies like Mary Poppins, which sang of its bustling Portobello Market, or for the film of the same name, starring Julia Roberts, is a delight for a Saturday morning stroll, when all the stalls of Portobello Street are set up among its beautiful colorful houses.
7. Visit St. Paul's Cathedral
The second largest cathedral in the world impresses with its great dome and its 111 meters high to which you can ascend and get magnificent views of central London or descend to its crypt, where the remains of Nelson or the Duke of Wellington rest. Undoubtedly, visiting St Paul's Cathedral is something you must do before leaving London.
8. Take a walking tour of the historic center of London
If you love to get to know cities by getting lost in their streets, a walking tour through the old part of London will be very stimulating to discover the history of the city through places like Covent Garden, the Monument to the Great Fire of London, St. Paul's Cathedral or Tower Bridge. I leave you here linked the article I wrote about London Tours.
9. Visit Buckingham Palace
What has been the official London residence of the British Royal Family since the 19th century and is now inhabited on occasion by Elizabeth II is lavishly decorated with chandeliers, elegant furnishings and treasures from the royal collection throughout rooms such as its Throne Room, where photographs are often taken at royal weddings.
You can visit Buckingham Palace as part of the attractions included in the London Pass or learn more about it with a palace tour.
Attend the Changing of the Guard in London
Visiting Buckingham Palace and attending the Changing of the Guard is one of the most typical things to do in London. It is a very colorful military parade at the main entrance of the palace where you will see regiments of guards on foot and horseback accompanied by an orchestra that enlivens the ceremony with music.
Those who perform the changing of the guard in London are a special section of the British army called the Queen's Guard (those in the red uniform with the huge fur hat) whose mission is to protect the head of state, that is, Queen Elizabeth II.
If you want to know all the details about this curious spectacle, do not miss the article How to see the Changing of the Guard and Buckingham Palace in London.
10. Tour the city by sightseeing bus
Another way to get around London is aboard one of its many tourist buses, which you will see circulating at all hours in the center of the city. With them you can admire the city from the heights, comfortably seated and get on and off (its famous "Hop on-Hop off") as many times as you want in each of its hundreds of stops along all that can and should be seen in the wonderful metropolis of London.
There are several tour bus companies, among which are Big Bus Tours, The Original Tour, Vintage Tour and Golden Tours, associated with Big Bus with the London Pass. All of them work in the same way and include physical guides or audio guides in several languages, although they differ in their routes and number of routes, in prices, which are always cheaper if purchased in advance and online, and in certain services and offers included.
11. Stroll through Hyde Park
Another must on a trip to London is a park, as strange as it may seem. It is the largest and most famous park in the city and in it you can stroll among a huge lake, various monuments, a rose garden and the gardens and Kensington Palace, whose interior can also be visited.
12. Meet Harry Potter's London
Harry Potter London Tours. For true fans of the most famous magic saga in history or for anyone who wants to have a good time, especially if you are traveling with children, Harry Potter tours are one of the most fun things to do whether visiting the real places that inspired the stories of the Harry Potter saga or buying Harry Potter souvenirs in specialized stores.
If you're hungry for more, how about booking tickets to the Harry Potter Studios Park? Just do it in advance so you don't run the risk of finding the tickets for the Harry Potter Park in resale. In this attraction you can walk through Hogwarts Castle or the Forbidden Forest as if you were inside the movies. And, if you're wondering, getting to Harry Potter Studios from London is quick and easy so don't hesitate!
13. Get cultured at the British Museum
Inaugurated in 1759, it houses an extensive collection of key works in the history of mankind, from the Rosetta Stone in its Egyptian Room to the marbles of the Parthenon in Athens or a Moai from Easter Island.
14. Walk through Trafalgar Square
It is one of the most popular squares to see in London and where you can admire the Nelson's Column of 50 meters high built in honor of this admiral and the victory in the Battle of Trafalgar.
15. Take a cruise on the Thames
They ply the waters of the London River and I consider them a must on at least one occasion to see another perspective of the city. These comfortable Thames river cruises have different possibilities, from the simple one-hour tour to more premium ones such as a Thames river cruise with dinner included.
There are Thames river cruises for all price ranges. You can also take a flexible ticket that lasts a day and allows you to get on and off the boat as many times as you want during the day, allowing you to move comfortably from end to end of the city while resting from long walks.
16. St James's Park
Located near Buckingham Palace, it is one of the Royal Parks of London and the most loved by its citizens due to the beauty of its gardens and its fun children's areas.
17. Visit the Natural History Museum
This impressive museum exhibits spectacular recreations of all the species of the earth, highlighting its amazing scale reproductions of dinosaurs and an amazing skeleton of a blue whale.
18. Hypnotize yourself with the lights of Picadilly Circus
This small square at the intersection of several streets is very popular for its bustling life as a meeting point for locals and outsiders and is characterized by large video screens, neon billboards and the famous fountain with the sculpture of Eros. From Piccadilly Circus you can reach one of the most famous shopping streets in the city, Oxford Street.
19. Take a tour from London
If you are lucky enough to have a long trip ahead or you have already visited London on previous occasions, you can take advantage of your trip to discover other wonders within walking distance of the capital. There are excursions from London for all interests and with several modalities to go only to one place or take advantage of the day visiting several of them as is the case of the excursion to Stonehenge and Bath.
You can discover the most famous and mysterious megalithic complex on the planet with 5,000 years old, visiting Stonehenge on an excursion from London; the renowned and picturesque university towns of Oxford and Cambridge; the medieval Warwick Castle and its wonderful gardens or the one that has been home to the British royal family for over 900 years, Windsor Castle.
If you prefer, you can tour the bucolic English countryside of the Cotswolds; one of the most beautiful cities in the country, Bath; and discover the Magna Carta in Salisbury or where Shakespeare was born, in Stratford-on-Avon.
You can get to these places by bus or train, but there are some guided tours that will be more instructive, very comfortable and even cheaper than going on your own.
Stonehenge from London, a must-see visit
If you ask my opinion, if I have to choose an excursion it is Stonehenge. Because of the historical value of this complex, getting to Stonehenge from London is worth it either on your own or with an organized tour. There are many things to do in Stonehenge that will leave you with a good taste in your mouth, but without a doubt the best is to visit Stonehenge during the summer solstice. If you can choose the time to visit Stonehenge do not hesitate because the experience will leave you speechless.
20. Take a bike tour of the city
Exercise, fun and places to enjoy is what this bike tour offers you, where you will learn about the history of the city and more than 12 of its main attractions, such as Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, the street performers of Covent Garden or Trafalgar Square.
21. Visit Madame Tussauds
It is known as "London's favorite tourist attraction" and one of the best to visit with the little ones thanks to its amazing wax reproductions of 250 of the most popular characters in the history of cinema, politics, music, sports or show business.
And now, in addition to everything there is to see at Madame Tussauds London, there are several immersive experiences about Sherlock Holmes, Star Wars, Marvel and the history of London aboard the Spirit London Ride. Check out the types of tickets for Madame Tussauds
22. Shop in Candem Town
To get a different souvenir of the city of London you must visit this picturesque and popular neighborhood that houses the largest market in the city with over 1,000 stores and street stalls where you can eat while listening to live music. If you dive around the area you will surely find some of those secret places in London that do not appear in any guidebook.
23. The best art, at the National Gallery
This renowned art gallery houses an impressive collection of paintings by geniuses such as Van Gogh, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Velázquez and Goya, among many others.
24. Visit Shakespeare's Globe
If you have seen the famous movie 'Shakespeare in love' you can get an idea of what you will see in this visit to the reconstruction of the original Elizabethan theater where Shakespeare's most famous plays were performed and where you will learn about playwriting in 16th century London, including an afternoon tea experience.
25. Enter the London Dungeon
If you know a little about the history of the city of London, you will already know that it has more than one dark episode... You're probably familiar with the characters of Jack the Ripper or Sweeney Todd, but have you heard of the Gunpowder Plot or the Great Fire of London? If you buy tickets for the London Dungeon museum you will find interactive shows that will tell you about all these events and other equally chilling ones. Get ready to be scared for a cost of about 30 euros in the dungeons of the English capital.
26. Be amazed at Sea Life Aquarium
Are you traveling to London with children or do you like animals? In either case, a visit to the Sea Life Aquarium is a great choice to complete your trip to London. This is not only the largest aquarium in England, but also has themed areas, interactive activities and an amazing glass tunnel from which you can see the more than 500 species that live in the Sea Life Aquarium. Tickets start at 34 euros.
27. Attend a musical at the West-End
Who hasn't heard of London musicals? Living one live is an experience you will hardly forget. Among the best musicals of the West-End of London you have some as reputable as Les Miserables or The Phantom of the Opera. If you can afford it, don't hesitate to make it one of your plans for the London night: the show is worth it and for many of them you won't even need to know English, as the music and the staging will transmit more than words.
28. Eat like a king in London without spending a lot of money
Although it may not seem like it, it is possible to eat well in a city as expensive as London without going broke even if you are looking to eat near the London Eye or eat near The Shard. Being one of the most cosmopolitan cities on the planet, the gastronomic offer is very varied and there are restaurants accessible to all budgets.
So you do not fall into the typical "tourist trap" in the article The best gastronomic tours in London I give you a list of 10 great restaurants where you can enjoy eating during your trip. You will see options for all tastes!
29. Don't compromise on comfort when you arrive
When we arrive in a new city we can't wait to get to our hotel, drop our bags and visit things. Unfortunately, before that there is one more annoying thing to go through: the airport. London has four airports and all of them are far from the center. Do you know how to get from Stansted airport to the center of London, from Luton airport to London, from Gatwick airport to the center and from Heathrow airport to your hotel in London?
You will not be short of public transport, but my advice is to hire a private or shared transfer in advance. The advantage? Not having to wait for your arrival and move with maximum comfort.
30. Choose the best time to visit London
When is the best time to go to London? This is a difficult question as every season of the year has its charm; whether you go to London in summer, winter, spring or autumn you will find that the city has its charm. However, seeing London at Christmas is one of my favorite options because of the decorations that dress the city at this time and the many festive activities you will find there. In any case, if you are not convinced the most useful thing to do is to take a look at these posts in which I tell you what to do in London in each of the months of the year:
- London in January
- London in February
- London in March
- London in April
- London in May
- London in June
- London in July
- London in August
- London in September
- London in October
- London in November
- London in December
Finally, if after reading all that London has to offer you have been overwhelmed and have doubts about how to make the most of your stay, I recommend you to visit these posts about what to see and do in London according to the days you are going to spend in the British capital. Have a good trip!