There is just so much to see and do in London, it can be hard to know where to start. Many like to ‘tick off’ the big attractions first so, to help, these are the top places to see in London.
Every year, the British Museum is ranked as the top visitor attraction in London. It is an incredible museum of human history, art and culture with excellent temporary exhibitions too.
The British Museum opened in 1753 and has always offered free admission. There’s so much to see you can’t get round it all in one visit but give yourself a few hours and focus on the galleries that interest you most. The collection of Egyptian and Greek antiquities are always popular, as is the Rosetta Stone and Easter Island statue on the ground floor.
It can be good to plan your route through the museum or just stroll and see what wonders you find along the way. The Great Court is a stunning space and definitely has that ‘wow factor’. Look out for the ‘hands on’ desks in the galleries where volunteers and staff have exhibits out from the cases for you to handle.
Address: British Museum, Great Russell St, London WC1B 3DG
Tube stations: Holborn, Tottenham Court Road, Russel Square and Goodge Street
This wins on the best location as the National Gallery takes up the whole northern side of Trafalgar Square.
This is where you can see the national collection of paintings in the Western European tradition from the 13th to the 19th centuries. Masterpieces on display are by well-known artists including Botticelli, Raphael, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Cezanne, Hogarth and Gainsborough.
Another collection always intended for the education and enjoyment for all, the National Gallery is free to visit. It’s also a stunning building and the galleries feel opulent with the ornate gold picture frames and intricate skylights.
Address: National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN
Tube station: Charing Cross
This national gallery of international modern and contemporary art opened in 2000 in a disused power station by the river Thames. The architect for the Bankside Power Station, as it was known, was Sir Giles Gilbert Scott who also designed the iconic red telephone box.
Tate Modern displays artworks by theme rather than in chronological order and the displays change every 1-2 years. The galleries are large with white walls as you would expect in a modern art gallery but there’s also the large Turbine Hall area where interesting temporary displays can be seen.
It’s yet another great free attraction in London and very welcoming to families so do introduce your junior creatives to the wonders of admiring artworks.
With the Millennium Bridge connecting St Paul’s Cathedral and The City right to Tate Modern it’s easy to combine a day out at both major attractions.
Address: Tate Modern, Bankside, London SE1 9TG
Tube station: Southwark; Blackfriars and St Paul’s
St Paul’s Cathedral
You don’t need to follow a religion to find this iconic Baroque church a fantastic place to visit. St Paul’s Cathedral was designed by Sir Christopher Wren and is over 300 years old.
The Cathedral Floor is stunning with its glittering mosaics and stone carvings – especially under the dome – and down in the Crypt you can see tombs to remember well-known names. Visitors can climb the steps up to the world-famous dome for some great views of London from the Stone Gallery and Golden Gallery.
Multimedia guides and guided tours are included in the ticket price.
Address: St Paul’s Cathedral, St. Paul’s Churchyard, London EC4M 8AD
Tube station: St Paul’s
The millennium brought lots of changes to London including what we once called the Millennium Wheel but is now known as the London Eye. It’s a 135 metre high observation wheel with a prime location on the South Bank of the Thames, almost opposite Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.
There are 32 capsules that hold up to 25 people in each. The wheel doesn’t stop but keeps turning slowly and a full rotation takes about 30 minutes.
There are touchscreens in the capsules to help you identify the landmarks. You should be able to see Buckingham Palace, St Paul’s Cathedral, Canary Wharf and even the arch of Wembley Stadium.
Address: The London Eye, Riverside Building, County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road, London SE1 7PB
Tube station: Waterloo and Westminster
Buckingham Palace is the Queen’s official London residence. During the summer months, while the Queen is away, the State Rooms are open to the public and you can see the opulence of the rooms where the Queen meets visiting dignitaries.
The rooms you can see include the Throne Room, the Music Room, the White Drawing Room and the Grand Ballroom. There’s also an annual special exhibition where the Royal Collection archives are put on display.
Throughout the year you can also visit the Queen’s Gallery to see themed artwork displays, and the Royal Mews is open from February to November where you can see a working stable, state coaches and vehicles too.
Address: Buckingham Palace, London SW1A 1AA
Tube stations: Victoria, St James Park and Green Park
Tower of London
At almost 1,000 years old there’s a lot of history at the Tower of London. It’s been a castle, a royal residence, a prison and execution site and even a zoo.
You can see the Crown Jewels including some of the most extraordinary diamonds in the world, and take a guided tour with a Yeoman Warder (Beefeater). The White Tower is the oldest section and it now houses the Royal Armouries Collection.
Legend says if the ravens ever leave the tower (and the kingdom) will fall so do check for them by the Wakefield Tower. And don’t miss the Wall Walk which involves lots of steps but is well worth it as you get some great views from up there.
Address: Tower of London, London EC3N 4AB
Tube station: Tower Hill
Westminster Abbey is the nation’s coronation church and the burial and memorial place for historical figures from British history. Like St Paul’s Cathedral, it’s still a working church but also welcomes visitors. There are plenty of royal tombs to see as well as the Coronation Chair made for King Edward I in the 13th century.
Poet’s Corner has tombs and memorials for many well-known writers including Geoffrey Chaucer, Charles Dickens, Rudyard Kipling, Thomas Hardy, D H Lawrence, and Alfred Lord Tennyson.
You can download an audio guide to your phone or pay extra for a Verger Guided Tour. You can also see the college gardens which have been in cultivation for 900 years.
Address: Westminster Abbey, 20 Dean’s Yard, London SW1P 3PA
Tube station: Westminster
Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum is the most popular of the three major South Kensington museums, particularly for its dinosaur gallery.
Well-loved by families, there can often be a long queue outside before you can even enter the museum but visit outside of UK school holidays, or after 4pm, and you should be able to walk straight in.
Even before you see the exhibits from the natural world, the Victorian building is truly stunning. The terracotta Romanesque architecture is a ‘cathedral to nature’ featuring a series of animal and plant ornaments, statues and relief carvings throughout the entire building – with extinct species in the east wing and living species in the west.
Address: Natural History Museum, Cromwell Rd, London SW7 5BD
Tube stations: South Kensington and Gloucester Road
Houses of Parliament
The Houses of Parliament has the iconic ‘Big Ben’. This is where the House of Commons makes laws and checks the work of Government, and the House of Lords challenges the work of the Government, when needed.
There are guided tours and audio tours available on Saturdays throughout the year and during the summer (and a few other weeks) when Parliament doesn’t sit.
Tours include the chambers of both the House of Commons and the House of Lords, plus highlights such as the Queen’s Robing Room, the Royal Gallery, Central Lobby and Westminster Hall.
Address: Houses of Parliament, Parliament Square, London SW1A 0A
Tube Station: Westminster
Planning a trip to London this year? Our portfolio of London apartments is located in the heart of where you want to be! Shopping, sightseeing and fantastic dining will all be a part of your experience in this wonderful city where culture thrives and there’s always something new to discover around the next corner!
For more details, visit: http://www.frasershospitality.com/en/our-properties/london