Top 10 Things to See In London: The London Travel guide, the top things to do in London, including the best London art galleries, sightseeing spots, museums, and free places to visit, as well as insider tips for London attractions from the London Eye and the Tate Modern and the best hotels within walking distance, the City, in Westminster, Tower Bridge, St Paul’s, South Kensington, London Bridge and on the South Bank.
Top 10 Things to See In London
1. Buckingham Palace and Admiralty Arch:
Buckingham Palace is Liz’s place. Royal Flag goes up when she is home so everybody knows to stay on their best behavior. Buckingham Palace has served as the official London residence of Britain’s sovereigns since 1837 and as such is a working building and not open to the public. The exception to this is the State Rooms which are open to visitors every year.
For visitor information see Royal Collection website, just follow the link below. Of the 775 rooms that make up, Buckingham Palace 19 are Staterooms, 52 are Royal and guest bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices and 78 bathrooms. The Royal Palace is 108 meters long across the front, 120 meters deep (including the central quadrangle) and 24 meters high
2. Tower of London:
The Tower of London is one of the world’s top tourist attractions. When it fulfilled a more ‘functional’ role the Tower of London was all about misery, torture, body stretching and head removal. Its ancient stones conceal dark secrets, stories of treachery, treason and the lust for power. The priceless Crown Jewels still glint within its fortified vaults. Beefeaters still guard and patrol its grounds.
The big difference now is you get to leave. In its distant past, there were few return trips to the Tower. The Ravens are the last remaining captives still held in the Tower of London. Myth has it that if the Ravens were to be released the Tower of London would crumble into dust. The traffic gridlock that such an event would create does not bear thinking about
3. London Eye:
The London Eye is the great big wheel opposite the Houses of Parliament. It is the largest Ferris wheel in the world. Good weather helps to make this worth queuing up for. London isn’t Paris or New York. Thank the German air force and a history of lousy town planning.
The skyline with St Paul’s, House of Parliament and Big Ben and some of the more recent buildings like City Hall and The Gherkin still give you much to look at. Then there is the River Thames snaking its way into the distance and towards the sea.
4. Houses of Parliament:
The Palace of Westminster, home of ‘Big Ben’ (or Clock Tower), is a neo-Gothic wonder from the mid 19th century. And it’s full of houses: namely the House of Commons and the House of Lords. Reserve ahead to watch antics during Parliament sessions. Parliament is open to the public. You can attend debates, watch committee hearings and tour the buildings of the Houses of Parliament.
You can view the art, admire the architecture and catch a debate of Honourable Member’s being not nice to each other. You can even climb the famous Clock Tower and see Big Ben. The Lord’s gallery is impressive and worth seeing. Westminster Hall is the only surviving part of the original houses of parliament. Westminster Hall is also where Sir Thomas More was sentenced and where the Queen Mother’s coffin lay in state before her funeral.
5. St Paul’s Cathedral in London:
Sir Christopher Wren’s much loved St Paul’s is part of the heart and soul of London. St Paul’s was targeted by the Luftwaffe during World War Two. It is miracle that it wasn’t destroyed by the intensive bombing and resulting firestorm. Most of the buildings that surrounded St Paul’s were not so fortunate. St Pauls contains the story of the men and women who risked their lives to preserve this historic, beautiful building. St. Paul’s Cathedral was built by Christopher Wren in 1710.
You will find the famous Whispering Gallery 30 meters above the cathedral floor. Venture below and you will find the tombs and memorials of English heroes such as Admiral Lord Nelson and the Duke Of Wellington. The hour-long Triforium Tour includes a quick peek at the library a climb up the 141 steps of the famous geometrical staircase. At the top, you are rewarded with spectacular views of London’s West End. Your tour finishes in the Trophy Room where you can view Christopher Wren’s original plan for the Cathedral which took the ambitious form of a Greek cross.
6. Victoria and Albert Museum:
The Victoria and Albert Museum or V&A in South Kensington is said to be the world’s greatest museum of art and design, with collections unrivaled in their scope and diversity. With 3000 years’ worth of amazing artifacts from many of the world’s richest cultures, the Victoria and Albert Museum is a must see.
The exhibits include ceramics, furniture, fashion, glass, jewelry, metalwork, photographs, sculpture, textiles, and paintings. This vast array of interesting and well-presented material tell an intriguing story of transformation through war, technology, and economic advancement, social and political change.
7. Trafalgar Square:
Trafalgar Square was built to commemorate Admiral Lord Nelson and named after the Spanish Cape Trafalgar where his last battle was won. If you are fortunate enough to be in London in December you should see a huge Christmas Tree in the Square courtesy of the people’s of Norway. The tree is a gift to the people of Britain for their role in their liberation of Norway at the end of the second world war.
One of the magical sights of London is to see the giant tree lit up by hundreds of twinkling fairy lights, carol singers grouped around, while floodlights illuminate the sparkling water in the fountains of the square. It’s a nice warm hearted gesture and full credit to the Norwegians for their continuing generosity.
8. Westminster Abbey:
Every year over one million people come to Westminster Abbey to explore its history, marvel at its architecture and artifacts and worship at its daily services. Westminster Abbey is a very special place with the current building dating back 700 years and its predecessors dating back to over a 1,000. Benedictine monks first came to the site of Westminster Abbey in the middle of the tenth century. They established a tradition of daily worship which continues on to this day. The impressive Gothic Church we know today was built by Henry III in 1245 and is a treasure trove of paintings, stained glass, textiles and other artifacts.
The Library and Muniment Room contain collections of historically important archives, printed books and manuscripts. It is easy to arrive at Westminster Abbey not quite know which way to turn. Audio guides are available in eight languages but for a small fee you can and should sign up to the highly-popular verger-led tour. For well over an hour you will be guided gently around Westminster Abbey to the Shrine (containing the tomb of Saint Edward the Confessor), the Royal Tombs, Poets’ Corner, the Cloisters and the Nave.
9. Windsor Castle:
WINDSOR CASTLE A must see for London visitors, Windsor Castle is the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world. In official residence is none other than her majesty the Queen of England and Australia. The magnificent State Apartments are lavishly furnished with treasures from the Royal Collection including exquisite and priceless works of art. Windsor Castle suffered a major fire in 1992 which visibly upset the Queen. The now renovated Windsor Castle draws in more subjects and non-subjects than ever.
Why? Well, 900 years of British history, a royal palace, a magnificent chapel, fine works of art including paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens, Holbein, Brueghel, Van Dyck, Canaletto, Gainsborough and more besides. It only takes about 30 minutes to get to Windsor from Paddington train station in central London. Windsor is also a lovely part of England. With Eton College nearby this is a wonderful way to see a little bit of the English Countryside. So that’s history, Royalty, a great castle, fabulous works of art and the English Countryside to see.
10. British Museum:
BRITISH MUSEUM: One of the world’s oldest museums, the British Museum is vast and its collections, only a fraction of which can be on public display at any time, comprise millions of objects. First-time visitors generally head for the mummies, the Rosetta Stone, Lindow Man, the Lewis Chessmen and the Sutton Hoo Ship Burial.
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