London has a lot to offer, so as a tourist, it is very easy to feel overwhelmed. We want you to have a stress free time in London so here are our highlights and helpful visiting tips:
Buckingham Palace, where the famous Changing of the Guard has been taking place regularly for hundreds of years, is probably the first attraction many tourists visit, since it is the most remarkable of British landmarks. Open daily only during the summer (approx. end of July – beginning of Sep) when the Royal Family are away. If you visit in that period make sure you book your ticket in advance, as there’s little chance to find anything available on the day.
The Palace of Westminster (The Houses of Parliament) with the famous Big Ben is the most photographed building in all of London, even if it cannot be visited inside for the most part of the year. Open only during the summer (31 Jul – 5 Oct ), must book.
If you were to visit just one London paid attraction, it should definitely be the Tower of London. The famous guards in the Tower – The Beefeaters – have plenty of bloody stories to tell, and the collection of crown jewels is breathtaking. Skip the line by buying your ticket in advance. Open daily. Next to it, the hundred years old Tower Bridge is the most remarkable example of Victorian engineering. There is an exhibition in one of the towers of the bridge and you can see the engine rooms as well. Open daily.
Two very different cathedrals are on every tourist’s priority list – St Paul’s Cathedral with its impressive history, is the first cathedral in London, much loved by the entire nation. It has access to the very top of the dome, giving you the most amazing view over London. Skip the lines by buying your tickets in advance.
Westminster Abbey is unique because is the official royal church, and famous people like Isaac Newton or Charles Darwin are buried here. Buy your tickets in advance but be prepared for some queueing as there is only one entrance for all visitors. Both churches are open for visits Mon to Sat, as Sunday is a day of worship, so no visits are allowed.
Wonderful attractions like Madame Tussauds – the wax figures museum, the London Eye – the largest observation wheel in the world or the London Dungeon, the horror museum, or London Aquarium, are like magnets for tourists. All are very busy, so it is essential to buy your individual tickets in advance as they put you ahead of the crowds and they save you a lot of time. You can also buy special combined tickets for these attractions, which come with great discounts and a high level of flexibility. All open daily.
The Kew Gardens or the London Zoo are perfect for a sunny day out so you can enjoy London’s great outdoors. They are both quite large, so leave a few hours to see them properly.
Other attractions worth visiting are the Windsor Castle and Hampton Court Palace (both half an hour train journey from London), Kensington Palace, the huge concert venue Royal Albert Hall, home to the famous BBC Proms, Shakespeare’s theatre or the WWII battlecruiser HMS Belfast.
Most of these are open daily except for Christmas, from 9-9:30am to around 5pm, with a few like London Eye or London Dungeon staying open till 7 or 8pm.
If you are planning to visit several of them, the best way of saving time and money is to buy a London Pass.
London has an impressive collection of over 100 museums and galleries, most of them being free and open to the public every day of the year.
The 4 miles long galleries of the British Museum bring the world under the same roof. Fragments of the 7 wonders on the ancient world, the Rosetta Stone or the Elgin Marbles give you just of glimpse of the remarkable collection.
The Museumland in SW London houses 3 of the most popular places – the Victoria and Albert History Museum, The Natural History and The Science Museums.
Tate Gallery of Modern Art opened in 2000 and has since taken its prestigious place among the modern art museums of the world.
The Museum of London traces more than 2000 years of London’s history and The Transport Museum in Covent Garden houses a collection of period trams, tube trains and buses. The National Gallery in Trafalgar Square houses one of the finest classic painting collections in the world, and The National Portrait Gallery contains the world’s largest collection of 10,000 portraits.
Other museums and galleries not to be missed: Wallace Collection, Sommerset House and the Courtauld Institute, Tate Britain, The Maritime Museum, Imperial War Museum, Churchill Cabinet War Rooms, the Bank of England Museum, Guildhall Gallery, and many more.