As England’s capital and one of the world’s largest, London is a bustling city boasting modern landscapes amid mid-century charm. Diverse cultural groups have made the capital their home, too, and visitors are bound to find attractions showcasing such.
With a plethora of worthwhile destinations, including the Buckingham Palace, Michelin-starred restaurants, and four UNESCO Heritage Sites, visitors will find it hard to choose what to do. Luckily, we’ve rounded up ten of the best ones for you.
Things To Do in London
1.Visit the Trafalgar Square
One of London’s most beloved public squares, the 18th century Trafalgar Square is coveted for its iconic centrepieces, including plinths, bronze lions, a 16-foot statue of Admiral Nelson, London’s smallest police station, and two fountains adorned with mermaids. Spectacular LED lights make for a dramatic scenery at night – one romantics will surely find hard to resist.
Maximize your visit to this Westminster square by dropping by surrounding attractions, such as the National Gallery, and St. Martins-in-the-Fields Church, well-known for its underground cafe. Christmas time is an excellent time for sightseeing, with carols and a festive Christmas tree on display. Every Chinese New Year, dragon dances are also held here. Don’t miss it!
2. Get high on Europe’s tallest ferris wheel
Within a short walk from Westminster, you will find Europe’s tallest ferris wheel: The London Eye. Visited by millions each year, the 135-meter high fixture affords visitors expansive views of London’s skyline while seated inside an air conditioned capsule. Drop by anytime between 10 am to 8:30 pm.
3. Explore Victorian engine rooms at the Tower Bridge
Built over the River Thames and spanning 213 feet high, the Tower Bridge offers visitors one of the most splendid vistas of the city as they explore Victorian engine rooms inside the bridge’s exhibition. The rooms showcase steam engines with interactive wheels and pistons that used to lift the bridge’s bascules. Films and photos also serve as mementos of the bridge’s olden days. Take a thrilling walk on a Glass Floor in the high-level walkways that connect the two bridge towers.
4. Do a tour of London’s former Royal Palace
While the Tower of London holds a dark reputation for being a former prison and a place of execution, it provides a unique look into the country’s history – particularly as a royal palace – since its founding in 1066 by William the Conqueror. This UNESCO Heritage Site has served as an armory, fortress, home to the Royal Mint, and London’s first ever menagerie.
There are also seven ravens that live in the tower, which are an important part of London’s folklore. However, one of its most coveted collections are 23,578 precious jewels – the Tower Jewels – housed inside the structure since William the Conqueror’s time. These include the Imperial State Crown, which features over 2,800 diamonds.
5. View thousands of plant species in Kew Gardens
UNESCO Heritage Site hunters will find London to be a thrilling playground, with four of them built inside the city. One of them is Kew Gardens (also called the Royal Botanic Gardens), a 121-hectare botanical garden that hosts the “largest and most diverse” living plant collection in the world. Since its establishment in 1840, the garden has grown 30,000 types of plants in climate-controlled nurseries and glasshouses, including those from threatened environments.
Visitors can explore 27 different areas aboard the Kew Explorer land train, including the Arboretum, which features more than 14,000 trees that have been standing since the 18th century. Other notable structures in the garden are a 10-storey 17th century pagoda, the world’s largest Victorian glasshouse, and an 18-meter high treetop walkway perched amid a glade.
6. Have a photo taken with Big Ben
Another UNESCO Heritage Site, the Elizabeth Tower is among London’s most prominent icons, particularly because of the Great Bell named Big Ben that runs the tower’s clock. At 13.7 tons, Big Ben is the biggest of five bells installed inside the tower and in all of London for over two decades. It takes 334 steps to reach the belfry, positioned at the top of the 315-foot tall neo-Gothic tower.
7. See St. Paul’s Cathedral
St. Paul’s Cathedral has played host to London’s most esteemed events, including national celebrations, royal weddings (notably Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s), and funerals, such as that of the Duke of Wellington and Margaret Thatcher’s.
Several impressive structures, including a 19th-century nave, a 16th-century grand organ, and the world’s “second largest cathedral dome”, can be found inside. Another famous feature is the Whispering Gallery, whose walls let you hear the slightest whisper from any point in the church. There’s also a crypt containing more than 200 memorials and statues of historical British personas.
The 365-foot cathedral was once declared as the tallest structure in the capital. It rests on London’s highest point, affording visitors a scenic view of the city. Those with a London Pass can enter the cathedral for free.
8. Appreciate modern architecture and the London skyline at The Shard
At 800 feet high, The Shard holds the title as Western Europe’s tallest structure. Tourists go here for an unbridled view of the London skyline up to 40 miles away. Aptly named for its splinter-like shape, The Shard was designed by world-famous Italian architect Renzo Piano, who’s known for his contemporary masterpieces, such as LACMA, Kansai Airport, and Centre Pompidou.
9. Relive ancient history at the British Museum
With around 8 million artifacts spread out across 94 galleries, the British Museum is among the world’s largest museums and UK’s foremost. Some of the collections, such as olden implements and mummies, date back to as early as 2,000,000 B.C. Another population item is the Rosetta Stone, whose Egyptian hieroglyphics were inscribed during Ptolemy V’s timed. Ancient giant statues originating from Egypt and Hawaii are found on site, too.
Due to the sheer volume of antiquities, most travelers recommend either taking on a guided tour or doing a multi-day tour to be able to cover the museum’s most prized objects.
10. Marvel at a UNESCO-acclaimed 17th-century settlement
Though Greenwich is usually associated with Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), there is something far more precious in this historic settlement: Maritime Greenwich.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the settlement consists of several 17th to 18th century buildings that are dedicated to English art. Among them is the Queen’s House, England’s “first Palladian building” and the basis for many classical homes in the UK.
There’s also the Old Royal Observatory along the River Thames, which served as the scientific base of various British scientists like Robert Hooke and John Flamsteed. The Observatory also serves as the basis for global time zone.
Completing the collection is Wren’s Royal Hospital and the Royal Park, a baroque-style landscape that surrounds the entire complex. For those with kids, be sure to try London’s sole cable car when you visit!
READ RELATED POSTS:
About the Blogger: Gretchen Filart is a travel writer, editor and a regular contributor at Dream Holidays Guide Blog.