Attracting more than 25 million visitors every year, London is not only a tourist destination but is also the most visited city in Europe. The capital of United Kingdom, London is a main center of art and entertainment.
The city was founded by the Romans and it has developed and flourished over the centuries. Today, with a rich history and some of the most prominent culture, it has become one of the most diverse cities in the world. With some of the world’s best history, culture, art, entertainment, dining and shopping, there is always something to see and do in London that it’s impossible to be bored in the city. Given below is a list of the best rated tourist attractions in London:
Big Ben and Parliament
One of the most iconic landmarks and must-see attractions in London is the Big Ben and Houses of Parliament. Big Ben is actually the name given to the huge bell inside the clock tower that weighs more than 13 tons. Below the tower and stretching along the Thames, are the Houses of Parliament, which has been the seat of Britain’s government for several centuries. It also used to be the site of the royal Westminster Palace occupied by William the Conqueror. You can experience lively political discussions and real-time debates while taking a tours of the parliament buildings.
The London Eye
Located in the heart of London, along the South bank of the Thames river, the London eye is a giant ferris wheel that offers the highest viewing point in the city. Also referred to as the Millenium wheel, it was built to mark the millennium celebrations in London in 2000. The individual glass capsules of this huge observation wheel offers the most spectacular views of the city as you embark on a journey that lasts for half an hour.
The British Museum
The British Museum is one of the greatest museums in the world that houses a remarkable collection of antiquities and artifacts that span over two million years of history. Centered around the splendid Great Court, the museum brings together the treasures of world cultures under a single roof. The most famous exhibits of the museum include the Rosetta Stone, the Elgin Marbles from the Parthenon, the Egyptian mummies, the colossal bust of Rameses II, and the amazing hoard of 4th-century Roman silver.
The Tower of London and Tower Bridge
One of most iconic structures in Britain, the Tower of London offers plenty of things to be fascinated about, for those who wish to know about the country’s rich history. Built on the Thames by William the Conqueror to protect London and assert his power, this UNESCO World Heritage Site has been the setting for many important historical events in European history. Inside the tower there is the 17th-century Line of Kings with its amazing displays of royal armor and armaments. Other attractions include the well-known Crown Jewels exhibition, the Royal Mint, the Beefeaters and horrifying exhibits about the executions that occurred. The Tower Bridge that lies adjacent to the Tower of London is another key landmark of the city.
Buckingham Palace, built in 1837 is one of Britain’s most iconic buildings. It has been the London residence of the Royal Family ever since the accession of Queen Victoria. Drawing enormous crowds every day, the palace is also the site where you can witness the Changing of the Guard – a colorful spectacle of British pageantry. The display lasts about 45 minutes and usually takes place at 11:30 am daily from April until the end of July and on alternate days for the rest of the year. When the Queen is away at her summer palace in Scotland, visitors can buy tickets for tours of the the Queen’s Gallery, the 19 spectacular State Rooms, and the Royal Mews.
If you are visiting London, is a must-see living representation of British history. With a long affiliation with British royal family, Westminster Abbey welcomes over one million visitors every year, who want to know more about this stunning 700-year-old building. Officially known as the Collegiate Church of St Peter in Westminster, the abbey was founded by Edward the Confessor in 1065 as his place of burial. This is also the site where most sovereigns were crowned and buried. Today, it’s the most preferred location for Royal Weddings.
One of the largest and most famous parks in London, the Hyde park also holds historical importance as it has hosted a few protests and demonstrations. Covering a huge area of 350 acres, the Park is the largest open space in London and has been a tourist destination ever since 1635. One of the attractions in the park is an 18th century man-made lake known as Serpentine, which is popular for boating and swimming. Here you’ll find also find the Speakers’ Corner, a traditional forum for debates, protests, and performance artists, and Apsley House, a museum that houses magnificent collections of paintings.
Hampton Court Palace
Another great attraction by the side of river Thames, Hampton Court Palace, is one of Europe’s most famous palaces and the favorite royal residence of Henry VIII. The breath-taking magnificence of Henry’s State Rooms, amazing sights of the bustling Base Court, deliciousness of Tudor kitchens, the beauty of over 60 acres of captivating gardens are all attractions to soak in at one of the greatest palaces on earth. Other interesting sights include the State Apartments with their Haunted Gallery, Clock Court, the Chapel, the King’s Apartments and the Tudor tennis court.
The Victoria and Albert Museum
The Victoria and Albert Museum, also known as the V&A is the world’s greatest museum of art and design, featuring thousands and thousands of years of creativity, with collections that are matchless in their range and variety. A part of a South Kensington-based group of museums that includes the Natural History Museum and Science Museum, V&A was founded in 1852 and is spread in almost 13 acres, with 145 galleries housing over 5,000 years of art and related artifacts. The museum displays an outstanding collection of ceramics, glass, silver and jewelry, textiles and costumes, metalwork, sculpture, prints and photos.
Another one of London’s most popular tourist destinations is Piccadilly Circus, a busy square filled with gleaming lights and huge electronic screens. It is actually the point of intersection of several busy streets – Piccadilly, Haymarket, Regent, and Shaftesbury Avenue. Overlooking the square is London’s most famous sculpture, the winged Eros exquisitely balanced on one foot with a bow in hand.
Trafalgar square is a well-known tourist spot in London, which was built to commemorate the victory of Lord Horatio Nelson over the French and Spanish at Trafalgar in 1805. The Square is home to Nelson’s Column, the famous Fourth Plinth iconic stone lions, and plenty of pigeons. Trafalgar Square is surrounded by the Admiralty Arch, St Martin-in-the-Fields, and the National Gallery. Performances, shows, cultural events and other interesting activities often take place in the square.
St Paul’s Cathedral
St Paul’s Cathedral is without a doubt, one of the most spectacular cathedrals in the world. It is also the largest and most famous of many churches in London. With a fascinating history and an awe-inspiring interior, St Paul’s Cathedral sits on top of a Roman temple site. The impressive 365 ft dome and twin Baroque towers of St Paul’s cathedral are considered a masterpiece of English architecture. Proceed down to the crypt and you will discover the memorials and tombs of some of the greatest heroes of the nation.
Drowning in the joyousness of theatre land and opera, Covent garden is a world famous tourist spot and also one of the most busiest shopping destinations. The market halls of Covent Garden marks beginning of the neighborhood, with a large array of shops and restaurants in the adjacent streets. Here you can find many kiosks and specialty shops selling everything from beautiful handcraft items to souvenirs. The London Transport Museum and the Royal Opera House are the other major attractions in the area.
Comprising of the world’s largest collection of British art, the Tate Britain sits in Millbank on the north side of the Thames. It is part of the Tate network of galleries in England, along with Tate Liverpool, Tate Modern, and Tate St Ives. Opened in 1897, Tate Britain is the oldest gallery in the network, which houses a significant number of the UK’s art collection. Visitors can find masterpieces by Hogarth, Gainsborough, Millais, Whistler, Lucian Freud, Francis Bacon, and Damien Hirst. It also houses the largest collection of works by JMW Turner in the world.
A trip to London would not be complete without visiting Tate Modern, London’s national museum of modern and contemporary art that holds the national collection of British art from 1900 to the present day. Housed in the former Bankside Power Station on the banks of river Thames, Tate Modern is the most-visited art gallery in London. The museum displays some of the amazing works by artists such as Picasso, Bonnard, Bourgeois, Cézanne, Dalí, Matisse, Rothko, Pollock and Warhol. Admission to the Tate Modern is free.
Greenwich and Docklands
Greenwich, best known to tourists as the home of Cutty Sark has been a center of Britain’s naval power for centuries. It is also home to the huge National Maritime Museum and the classical buildings of the Old Royal Naval College. The Royal Observatory, which is the site of the Greenwich meridian line overlooks the Greenwich Park. Nearby is the the Palladian mansion, also known as Queen’s House and the Discover Greenwich Visitor Centre with exhibits that represents more than 500 years of maritime history.
The revived Docklands across the Thames river has been converted into an international center of business and recreation. Encompassing some of the best restaurants in London, the docks were once part of the Port of London, and at one time the world’s largest port. The waterside Museum of Docklands in the old Georgian warehouses is located at West India Quay and records the development of the docks as well as London’s port history.
Officially known as the Royal Botanic Gardens is situated in southwest London on the south bank of the Thames. With over 130 hectares of gardens and landscapes, it is a wonderful place to relax and spend some time. You can take stroll on a high treetop walkway and explore the tropical glasshouses. Be dazzled by the giant lily pads in the Waterlily House, travel through ten climatic zones in the Princess of Wales Conservatory and wander into an exotic rainforest in the Palm House. With so many more sights and attractions, Kew gardens provides hours of fun and excitement to people of all ages.
With so many galleries to visit, London is an ideal city for art lovers. One of the top art museums in the world, the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square houses more than 2,000 Western European paintings from the Middle Ages to the 20th century. Among its highlights are Michelangelo’s The Entombment, van Gogh’s Sunflowers, a cartoon of the Madonna and Child by Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli’s Venus and Mars, and The Waterlily Pond by Monet. The pictures in the collection belong to the public and admission to the gallery is free.