Things to See in London
Make your London vacation a memorable experience. London is a fabulous city, rich in history and culture, grand architecture, spectacular bars, restaurants, fashion, and shopping, magnificent parks, theatres, museums and art galleries, and many hidden gems and jewels to keep you exploring this historical mecca.
A Spectacular View of the Parliament Buildings and Westminster Bridge as seen from a Sky Capsule of the London Eye
With more than 100 museums, world-famous orchestras and opera houses, around 50 theatres, tennis championships at Wimbledon, horse racing at Ascot, cricket at Lord’s and polo at Windsor, London has a lot of cultural events to offer.
Admire Grand Architecture on Your London Vacation
London is a city of grand and diverse architectural designs, and being built over a long period of time, its buildings are not based on any particular architectural style.
This makes a London vacation fascinating, as you can experience traces of pre – 1666 Great Fire structures and some buildings of Roman influence.
You will find examples of the Tudor period such as the Hampton Court Palace, England’s oldest Tudor Palace, built in 1515.
Some of the best examples of Victorian architecture are the railway stations such as Paddington and St. Pancras International.
Buckingham Palace and the Victoria Monument
Excellent examples of modern architecture in London are the stunning Gherkin tower on 30 St. Mary Axe, the distinctive slanted oval–shaped-shaped London City Hall in Southwark, and the recent new construction, the Shard.
The Gherkin Tower is really unique and seen from many parts of London
London offers spectacular views of the River Thames, and its bridges are also works of art.
A popular section of the Thames is along the Victoria Embankment because of its central location and with so many famous architectural structures along the river banks that you will want to see on your London vacation.
The Hungerford Bridge at the bottom of the above photo is a railway bridge sometimes known as the Charing Cross Bridge.
The pedestrian bridges that share the same foundation are the Golden Jubilee Bridges. The Waterloo Bridge is on the top right of the photo.The views of the River Thames and London are awe-inspiring.
Fabulous view of the Thames and Victoria Embankment from the London Eye google code here
There are various spectacular viewpoints, whether you are strolling along the banksides, crossing one of the unique bridges, or enjoying the breath-taking scenery from the top of the London Eye.
Visit Blackfriars Bridge on the River Thames
Taking a cruise on the River Thames is an excellent way of seeing the beautiful architectural structures, both ancient and of modern design. This cruise will truly give you the “big picture” of London.
Many of the older buildings in London are built mainly of the common yellow London brick or the more colourful orange-red variety of stone adorned with white plaster mouldings and beautiful carvings.
Architecture in London’s Knightsbridge District
London is a major music capital of the world featuring many orchestras, concert halls, opera houses, and churches and cathedrals with historical instruments.
If you enjoy concerts, try to visit the Barbican Arts Centre, Cadogan Hall, Royal Albert Hall, Royal Opera House and the Coliseum Theatre during your London vacation.
London orange-red variety of stone with white plaster mouldings near Harrods
Climate for Your London Vacation
London summers are generally warm but sometimes they can be hot with temperatures soaring beyond 30 – 32 Celsius.
Winters are cold and snow can be expected from December to February and occasionally in March and April but this is rare.
Visit the Famous London Eye on your London Vacation
The average temperature for London in the summer is around 24 degrees Celsius but the best time for a London vacation is in the spring to late summer from April to September because the weather is usually comfortable, and if you visit in April, May or September the city is not as crowded by tourists.
Contrary to common beliefs that it is always rainy in London, it actually receives less precipitation in a year than Rome or Bordeaux.
Tips for Your London Vacation
For more vacation ideas and help with planning your trip to London, here is list of useful references:
- Holidays in London – Discover more London vacation ideas of beautiful parks and fascinating historic landmarks
- Little Venice London Vacations – For a romantic adventure and an escape from the hustle and bustle of your London vacations, discover the hidden gem of Little Venice cruises on Regent’s Canal
- Day Tours of Leeds Castle – Plan a day trip to the idyllic, fairytale Leeds Castle in Maidstone, county of Kent, which has often been called “the loveliest castle in the world”
- London Sightseeing Day Trip to Canterbury – Time Travel into History with a tour of Canterbury Cathedral and other ancient surviving structures. This settlement dates back before the Stone Age
- Cheap London Flights and City Travel Advice – Useful tips for choosing London for flights, getting to and from the London airports, transportation around the city, the underground, and Eurostar train to Paris
The London Eye, Westminster Bridge, the Parliament Buildings and Big Ben
Places to Go in London
Famous Streets, Squares, Parks and Gardens in London:
One of the grandest and largest 19th century squares in London and location of numerous embassies and professional institutions.
The official home and residences of the most senior British cabinet ministers for over two hundred years.
Located in the exclusive Mayfair district of London, it is a large garden square and centrepiece of the Mayfair property of the Duke of Westminster, currently home to the Canadian High Commission in London.
A pedestrian only square in the West End of London, north of Trafalgar Square, east of Piccadilly Circus, west of Covent Garden, and south of Cambridge Circus and the centre of London’s cinemas, theatres and the prime location for major film premieres in London. Plan ahead to see a film at Leicester Square during your London vacation.
Piccadilly is one of the most imposing streets of London with luxury hotels and elegant shops. Piccadilly Circus is situated at an intersection which connects Regent Street with the major shopping street of Piccadilly and entertainment areas to visit in the West End on your London vacation.
Trocadero and Hay Market in Piccadilly Circus with the Criterion Theatre on the left
Three Horses Fountain at The Criterion Theatre in Piccadilly Circus
Piccadilly Circus is known for its video and neon signs and the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain and Statue.
Bright, flashing video screens and LED signs in Piccadilly Circus
St. James’ Square Gardens
Located in between St. James’s Street, Piccadilly, Pall Mall and Regent Street, this famous square is home to the London Library.
The road running from the Strand to Buckingham Palace and where all the Royal Ceremonies take place.
A major tourist attraction in central London home to the National Gallery with Nelson’s Column in the centre of the square, guarded by four lion statues.
National Museum at Trafalgar Square
Hyde Park London
Famous for its Speakers’ Corner, Hyde Park is one of the largest parks in central London and one of the Royal Parks you will want to see on your holidays in London.
One of the Royal Parks of London, it is located immediately to the west of Hyde Park and shares open spaces with Green Park and St. James’s Park to form a continuous “green space” in the heart of London between Kensington and Westminster.
London is a great city for parks.
Located in the north-western part of central London with a road called Outer Circle surrounding the periphery, this is one of the Royal Parks of London and home to the London Zoo.
Photo from a Long-Boat Water Taxi on Little Venice. On Regent’s Canal, this view is from the Prince Albert Road Bridge looking towards Camden Town
Regent’s Canal Near Park Road and Regent’s Park
There are several entrances to the London Zoo and one is by way of Regent’s Canal while visiting Little Venice London.
St. James Park
Take a walk in St. James Park and follow the geese at their leisurely pace.
Relax in St. James Park near Buckingham Palace
The oldest of the Royal Parks of London, St. James’s Park is surrounded by Buckingham Palace London to the west, The Mall and St. James’s Palace are to the North, Horse Guards to the east, and Birdcage Walk to the south.
Top 20 Things to See in London
- Buckingham Palace London and the Changing of the Guards
- British Museum
- Hampton Court Palace
- Houses of Parliament
- London Bridge
- London Eye
- National Gallery
- Natural History Museum
- Victoria and Albert Museum
- Saint Paul’s Cathedral
- Science Museum
- Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre
- The Tate Britain
- Tate Modern Museums
- Thames River Cruise
- Tower of London
- Tower Bridge Exhibition
- Westminster Abbey
- Windsor Castle
- Madame Tussauds
The Three Graces sculpture by Rudy Weller on top of the Criterion Theatre
Shopping on Your London Vacation
Major shopping district in the West End of London that runs north and south through Mayfair between Oxford Street and Piccadilly.
A three-block-long pedestrian only shopping street in London located in the Soho district, near Oxford Street and Regent Street.
Nearly 1 mile long (1.6 km), is London’s and Europe’s busiest shopping street and halfway along Oxford Street is Oxford Circus which is a busy intersection with Regent Street. Home to famous fashion designers and renowned art and fashion schools. London is an international centre of fashion.
Piggy’s Eatery at 1 Air Street, near Regent Street and Piccadilly Circus
Another major shopping street in London’s West End and is famous for its Christmas lights and decorations.
A covered shopping mall in London that runs from Piccadilly through to Burlington Gardens behind Bond Street. It is one of the first mid-19th century European shopping gallerias and precursor to the modern shopping centre.
King’s Road, Chelsea
To find more great shopping start at King’s Road and Sloane Square, the Duke of York pedestrian only district and then walk further away from Sloane Square.
Located in Knightsbridge, there is a feeling of adventure and intrigue in this luxury shopping centre. Harrods encompasses 4.5 acres and 7 floors of exquisite collections.
Harrods Department Store on Brompton Road in Knightsbridge
Wander around and explore everything from men’s wear, women’s fashions, perfumes, jewellery, children’s wear and Toy Kingdom.
Take a Tour of Harrods on your London Vacation
At Harrods, there are fabulous restaurants, bars and cafes, including a terrace bar, champagne bar, sushi bar, oyster bar, and you can also have a casual meal at one of the eateries.
Shop at Harrods and Treat yourself to memorable Souvenirs
Pamper yourself with a special treat at the luxury grocery market (the Food Hall) at Harrods. The Souvenir shop has wonderful gifts to take home for you, your friends and family members.
Visit Spectacular Art Galleries and Museums on your London Vacation
London is home to many art galleries and museums and many of these have free admission.
This list covers only the main attractions:
One of the most famous museums in the world, the British Museum contains 7 million artefacts of human history and cultures from around the world including antiquities and natural history specimens.
It is exciting to see the inscription on the Rosetta Stone from the Ptolemaic Period Egypt, 196 BC, to learn about how languages and communication have evolved over time.
At the British Museum you can view Egyptian sculptures like Statue of Ramesses II, the Sandstone Frieze from Faras, Sudan early 7th century AD, and objects from the Bronze Age Europe, Byzantine Europe, Roman Britain, Rembrandt, Shakespeare and more.
In Trafalgar Square, this art museum houses the British national collection of over 2,300 paintings dating from the mid-13th century to 1900.
Monument in front of the British Museum
Natural History Museum
Located at the corner of Cromwell Gardens and Exhibition Road, this venue is an elaborate neo-Romanesque/Byzantine style building with a collection of some 70 million items of life and earth science specimens within five main themes; Botany, Entomology, Mineralogy, Palaeontology and Zoology.
The Natural History museum is a world-renowned centre of research.
Grand Entrance to the Natural History Museum London
Victoria and Albert Museum
The Victoria and Albert Museum, also known as the VA, is the world’s largest museum of decorative arts and design with a permanent collection of over 4.5 million items.
These items include drawings and photographs, prints and printmaking, textiles, furniture, glass, ceramics, silver, ironwork, jewellery, costumes, medieval objects, Italian Renaissance items with the largest collection outside Italy, world’s largest collection of post-classical sculpture, East Asian collections and more.
The West Gate of the Famous Victoria Albert Museum opposite the Science Museum
On Exhibition Road in South Kensington, the wonders of technology are featured on five floors in a user friendly and entertaining way.
The Science museum includes a collection of over 300,000 items including the oldest surviving steam locomotive “Puffing Billy” (1813) in the Boiler House, veteran cars, a submarine and Apollo 10 command module, exhibits on the exploration of space and the development of computers.
The gallery houses national collections of historic and contemporary British art covering the period from 1500 to the present including Blake, Hogarth, Stubbs, Constable and Pre-Raphaelities.
The 20th century collection includes paintings and sculpture by British artists after 1860 and Impressionists’ work onwards. The Clore Gallery houses works of William Turner.
See the most-visited modern art gallery in the world on your London vacation. Constructed within in the former Bankside Power Station, there is no parking available.
Taking the boat to Bankside Pier to visit the Tate Modern Collection
The best way to get to the Tate Modern is either by public transportation; bus, taxi, Tube, by boat on the River Thames, or bikes provided by Barclays Cycle Hire.
London Bus Tours
A tour around London by double-decker bus is an ideal way to introduce you to the Royal city.
London Bus Tours from Charing Cross Train Station
The London bus tours cover a variety of routes and the tickets allow you to get on and off as often as you like at many different places around London. This is an easy way to get to know the city and enjoy the tourist attractions.
Departure points for these tours include:
- The Trocadero at Piccadilly Circus
- Haymarket near Piccadilly Circus
- Speakers’ Corner near Marble Arch
- Green Park Underground Station near the Ritz Hotel
- Pall Mall East/Trafalgar Square near the National Gallery
- Grosvenor Gardens near Victoria Station
- Victoria Street near Victoria Station
- Buckingham Palace Road by the Thistle Westminster Hotel
- Baker Street Underground Station
- Brompton Road near Harrrods
Best Selling London Bus Tours
Some of these tours also include a boat ride along the River Thames. Most of the buses leave from Victoria Coach (bus station) but will stop at designated hotels to pick up the sightseeing passengers.
Inside of busy London Victoria Station
London bus tours are a great way to do sightseeing outside of London too. The day trips are fabulous. Here are a few of the many bus tour destinations.
Top 7 Destinations for London Bus Tours:
- Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and beautiful Georgian City of Bath to visit the world-famous Roman Baths.
- Majestic London; Discover Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace and the Changing of the Guard, guided tours of St Paul’s Cathedral and the Tower of London, and a Thames River Cruise.
- Medieval Warwick Castle, Stratford upon Avon, the enchanting Cotswolds, Shakespeare’s Stratford upon Avon and a walk through the cobbled streets of Oxford.
- Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter.
- Magnificent Salisbury Cathedral, ancient and mysterious Stonehenge and a walking tour of Georgian Bath in the city of Bath.
- Leeds Castle, described as ‘the loveliest castle in the world’. While on this London bus tour you will also do some London sightseeing of Canterbury Cathedral and the White Cliffs of Dover.
- Bicester Village Shopping Express – Designer Outlet Centre with Shopping Express
London’s Westminster Abbey is walking distance from Victoria Embankment
St. Paul’s Cathedral in London – famous location of Princess Diana’s Wedding
Leeds Castle Portcullis beside the Moat
Experience a London Eye Capsule Party in the Sky
Inside the London Eye Sky Capsule with a view of Big Ben
The awesome London Eye is a great way to see London’s skyline. Your “flight” will take about 30 minutes and offers spectacular views of some of the capital’s most famous landmarks.
London England Hotels, Bed and Breakfasts and Inns
London offers a wide range of accommodations to suit travelers on their London vacation with different needs but finding a good yet inexpensive hotel for your London vacation is not easy.
A good alternative can be bed breakfast small family run hotels, but the price and quality of BBs can also vary considerably. Some places can be run down and messy so be careful.
Most BBs serve a hearty full English breakfast which includes an assortment of eggs, bacon, sausage, beans, tomatoes, mushrooms, and toast and sometimes pan fried potatoes.
There are many wonderful BBs on the outskirts of London but some districts are better suited to being close to London attractions.
The Shakespeare Globe Theatre on the Thames
Near Victoria Station you can find a wide variety of BBs while Ebury Street offers more luxurious accommodations. This area is near Buckingham Palace and other major sights such as Westminster Abbey, Parliament Buildings, Whitehall and the theatre districts.
Underneath the Modern Day London Bridge
The Paddington and Bayswater area is not close to the sights but has a lovely neighbourhood with excellent cheap restaurants and pub scene and is just a short haul to Soho, Covent Garden, the lovely Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens and does offer a cluster of quality BBs.
Kensington and Chelsea have elegant BBs which may be out of the budget traveler’s reach but also have a few accommodations that offer outstanding value in this graceful area at an affordable price.
Bloomsbury has quiet residential streets lined with BBs. It is close to the massive British Museum and walking distance to Soho and Covent Garden which have an exciting nightlife and shopping.
While it is not easy to find good but inexpensive London England hotels, it can be done. Often these are the small family run establishments but you simply have to do your research and read the reviews while you are planning your London vacation.
Romantic Restaurants on Your London Vacation
London has become one of Europe’s most exciting culinary cities. Dishes from more than 100 different countries can be sampled here.
Even the traditional British cooking has been enriched by the influence of dishes from around the world.
Enjoying Champagne and Fois Gras at Covent Garden’s Laduree Cafe
After a long day of walking, touring, shopping and visiting museums on your London vacation, discover the great variety of International Cuisine for splendid romantic experiences.
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