Founded by the Romans, the capital of England, London stands on the River Thames and is the most populous city in Great Britain. The city is a confluence of the new and the old and is also one of the major tourist destinations in the world with numerous attractions of all sorts, including great heritage and architecture. London is among the major cities in the world attracting over 15.3 million international tourists in a year and is also one of the most important cities in the field of finance, commerce, entertainment, fashion, education, healthcare, tourism, and media. The City of Westminster and the City of London are the two ancient cities that are now merged together to form the capital. These cities are together known as Greater London
Best Time to Visit London
The winters from December to January and summers from June to August are considered the peak season for London. The city is packed with tourists, and booking flights and hotels in advance is an absolute necessity. During summer, temperatures average between 18-30 degrees with the main advantage of summer being the longer daylight hours that make sightseeing easier, the gardens that come to life, the green spaces, and the various music festivals. During winters the temperatures drop to less than 3 degrees Celsius, another favorite time of the year where London is most crowded. Although not very common here, it snows occasionally during the New Year time. During the winter months, apart from the New Year time, the airfares to London are a bit cheaper, but during the holiday seasons rates can be expected to increase by almost 60%, and thus bookings are recommended. Another tip while traveling to London is that the city is prone to storms almost any time of the year so while visiting London always carry an umbrella. The winter months of January (towards the end) and February can be categorized as the offseason and one could save around 30% on flight tickets. Tourists traveling during this season can also experience shorter queues accompanied by heavy rains and snowfalls too.
Best Places to visit in London
#1 in Best Places to Visit in London
The London Eye was built to mark the millennium celebrations in London in the year 2000 and is Europe’s largest observation wheel. The circular tour rising 443 feet above the river Thames, offers the most spectacular views of the city. The wheel was designed by a husband-wife team of David Marks and Julia Barfield, this was the winning entry at a competition to design a landmark for the new millennium. The London Eye is a huge observation wheel carrying 32 exterior glass-walled capsules. As the rotation rate is slow enough for the passengers to walk on and off the moving capsules the wheel does not usually stop to take on passengers. The wheel is lit up during the night in glittering lights and is also the centerpiece of London’s annual New Year’s firework display. It’s no wonder that the London Eye is one of the top tourist attractions in London. It is also the ideal place to get a bird’s-eye view of the city’s contemporary architecture which includes The Shard and the Walkie Talkie.
While here don’t forget to check out the London Eye 4D Cinema experience which is included in the London Eye ticket price. The film is approximately four minutes long and is a fantastic way to entertain you before your trip. The 4D effects are amazing and this is the place where you can get the only 3D aerial footage of London. If you have got time and would like to have the cruise experience then head to the London Eye River Cruise, which is a 40-minute circular route river cruise passing city landmarks with a commentary & multi-language audio guides.
#2 in Best Places to Visit in London
Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, London is the original waxwork museum formed in 1830. This is the global museum chain for historical icons and life-size replicas of celebrities, including revolutionaries, YouTube artists, controversial figures of people like Adolf Hitler, and also popular movie characters. From sculpting figures and faces at the tender age of 6, Marie Tussauds started the waxwork museum which is among the highly loved tourist attractions in London. You can meet Meghan Markle or have your picture taken with the Queen or take a selfie with Benedict Cumberbatch here.
Some of the popular zones in the museum are: The Star Wars Experience – Which may be the most exciting exhibit currently at Madame Tussauds London, be a part of the experience to understand why the world loves this incredible movie franchise so much. Marvel Super Heroes 4D Experience – Gives visitors a chance to meet their favorite superheroes like Spiderman and the Incredible Hulk and The Royals – No visit to London is complete without some sort of Royal activity. The museum has figures of Prince Harry, Prince William, the Duchess of Cambridge, and of course, the Queen herself.
#3 in Best Places to Visit in London
Buckingham Palace is one of Britain’s most iconic buildings and is also London’s most popular display of circumstance and pomp, the Changing of the Guard. This free and colorful display of music and precision marching draws crowds at 11:30 am regardless of the season at St. James’s Palace. The guard changes on alternate days throughout the year except between May and July when the guard changes each morning. The Palace has served as the living and working quarters of the royal family since the reign of Queen Victoria. The Duke of Buckingham in 1703 constructed the original Buckingham House on a privately-owned property which was later transferred to the crown. Today, the palace has become a quintessential symbol of Britain owned by the British state and also is among the top places to visit in London. A union between the modern-day and history, Buckingham Palace is both Prince Philip and Queen’s weekday home and also the workplace of approximately 800 people. Since 1993, during August and September, the palace’s staterooms have been open to the public.
Buckingham Palace has an amazing art collection with 775 rooms of which 78 are bathrooms. If you’d like to know if The Queen’s home then just try checking out the flagpole atop the Palace: when the flag is flying day and night, she’s there! During special state occasions, members of the Royal Family may also show up on the central balcony. Taking a tour of the palace is an efficient way of seeing most of the highlights in a short period of time.
The British Museum
#4 in Best Places to Visit in London
The British Museum was established in 1753 in London and is a museum of culture and human history. Its collections are amongst the most comprehensive and largest in the world, with more than thirteen million objects documenting and illustrating the tale of human culture from its beginnings to the present. Two million years worth of antiquities, artifacts, and sculptures – including the hieroglyph-busting Rosetta Stone, the Elgin Marbles, and Egyptian mummies – call the British Museum home. Don’t be surprised if your family’s history lover goes missing for a while as the Museum houses more than 13 million objects making it among the best places to visit in London for history buffs. If you’re thinking that the British Museum may only have artifacts from old England then you’re in for a surprise!
The English were incredible warriors and the museum is full of treasures that the soldiers would bring back from distant shores. Those treasures include the earliest known image of Christ, an Easter Island statue, and the Rosetta Stone. The collections of Greek and Egyptian antiquities are definitely among the largest and best known in the world. Some of the most crowd-pulling exhibits that tourists headfirst for are: the Egyptian mummies, the controversial Elgin Marbles from the Parthenon, the colossal bust of Ramesses, the spectacular 4th-century Roman silver known as the Mildenhall Treasure, and the Rosetta Stone
Tower Of London
#5 in Best Places to Visit in London
Built by William the Conqueror in 1078, the Medieval Tower of London for almost 1,000 years has played an important role in the British monarchy. Standing guard by River Thames and the Tower Bridge, the medieval compound has served as an execution site, a royal palace, and a prison, making the history of the Tower of London grim but fascinating. Originally resented as a symbol of domination and oppression, when the White Tower was built by William the Conqueror, has given the whole castle its name. The main tower would glow in the sun and was indeed originally white, appearing extremely powerful and dominant on the landscape for those trying to enter the city via River Thames. Although it has lost its white color these days, nonetheless, it’s still an incredibly well-preserved fortress.
The tower has held many famous prisoners, including Sir Walter Ralegh: held for 13 years in the Bloody Tower, where he spent his time growing tobacco on Tower Green and writing “The History of the World” which was later published in 1614. From prison to palace and treasure vault to the private zoo, the Tower of London has played many roles down the centuries. This World Heritage Site is also home to several spooks (allegedly), iconic beefeaters, and the Crown Jewels. Because of the many different roles taken by the tower through history, legend has it that the royal ghosts haunt Britain to this day!
#6 in Best Places to Visit in London
Another historical tourist attraction in London immediately opposite the Tower of London which is recognized as a major British landmark is the Tower Bridge. Many tourists traveling to London mistake this bridge for the London Bridge which is actually the next bridge along the river. The Tower Bridge was completed in 1894 and is quite possibly the most famous bascule (see-saw) bridge in the world and one of the most iconic tourist attractions in London. The bridge opens in the middle so that the tall boats on the Thames can pass through. To catch a glimpse of the bridge opening check out the lift times posted on the Tower Bridge website, and walk 42 meters above the Thames across its high-level glass floor walkways. The bridge has been designed in harmony with the Tower of London showcasing a Victorian Gothic style of architecture, to abide by the city’s laws at the time.
The Victorian engine room that controls the mechanics of the bridge can be observed by the visitors in the Tower Bridge Exhibition, opening at the center so that large boat traffic can pass through. The bridge connects Southwark on the south bank of the Thames and Tower Hamlets, by The Tower of London, on the north side. Despite its iconic significance, the bridge is fully accessible and in regular use to both motorists and pedestrians.
#7 in Best Places to Visit in London
Planning a trip to London without witnessing the world-famous Clock is incomplete. Big Ben is London’s most iconic national timepiece consisting of the Elizabeth Tower and the House of Parliament. The name Big Ben actually to the 13-ton bell housed within the tower (St. Stephen’s Tower), not to the clock tower itself, and gets its name from Sir Benjamin Hall, the man who first ordered the bell. The current-day Big Ben bell was constructed the first bell of 16 tons cracked irreparably in 1858. The 150-year-old Clock Tower has appeared in many films and is one of the top places to visit in London.
The 318-foot tower housing the giant clock is known throughout the globe as the time signal of the BBC. Stretching along the Thames, below it, are the Houses of Parliament, which was once the site of the royal Westminster Palace and has been the seat of Britain’s government for many centuries. The Clock Tower was the official name of the tower in which Big Ben is located, later changed to Elizabeth Tower to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II in 2012. The clock has become a cultural symbol in the UK and is a focal point of New Year celebrations, with television and radio stations airing its chimes to welcome the New Year
The Warner Bros Studios Tour
#8 in Best Places to Visit in London
Located just outside London at Leavesden, the Warner Bros Studios Tour is one of the United Kingdom’s largest fully working studio. The studio has witnessed many films being shot here, like the entire Harry Potter series, Star Wars movies, Batman movies, and the Mission Impossible films. Your visit to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour starts with a departure from London to the town of Watford in Hertfordshire in a double-decker bus. Once you hop off the bus head inside to immerse yourself in all things, Harry Potter. The Making of Harry Potter allows visitors to walk around independently to see real sets that were used in the movies, including Dumbledore’s office and the Great Hall. Check out the Ollivanders wand shop, Eeylops Owl Emporium, Gringotts Wizarding Bank, the storefronts of Flourish and Blotts, and Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes which will surely amaze you!
Visitors can also learn about makeup and special effects that brought beloved characters like Dobby and spells to the screen. The tourists can enjoy an up-close view of the original Hogwarts Express train and click pictures, the experience ends at Platform 9 ¾, where you can pose with a luggage cart as it disappears into the wall. So while planning your next trip to London don’t forget to add Warner Bros. Studio Tour London to your list of best places to visit in London.
#9 in Best Places to Visit in London
The National Gallery is an art gallery situated right in the heart of Trafalgar Square, displaying some of the most spectacular artworks in the world. The Gallery displays Western European paintings, more than 2000 of them from the Middle Ages to the 20th Century. Showcasing works of renowned artists like Leonardo da Vinci, Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Botticelli, Turner, etc. It’s free to enter and is open seven days with a roll call of Western European masters awaiting you. No wonder this is among the best places to visit in London for art lovers! And if you’re hungry for more art then head to the National Portrait Gallery which is right next door.
If you’re someone who likes to mix art and adventure, then you can also join the Winter Survival festival of printmaking, poetry, and skilled drawing workshops over the weekend. There are also audio guides and free guided tours available in various languages with added free family activities for children of all ages. The National Gallery has also hosted the first UK exhibition of Joaquín Sorolla, a well-known impressionist from Spain, an exhibition dedicated to celebrating the animated scenes of Spanish life and vivid seascapes.
#10 in Best Places to Visit in London
Home of the Prime Meridian and Greenwich Mean Time, Royal Observatory is located at the top of the steep hill overlooking the National Maritime Museum. The Royal Observatory contains the Astronomy Centre, the Meridian Courtyard, Flamsteed House, and Peter Harrison Planetarium (London’s only planetarium) and is managed as part of the National Maritime Museum. One really interesting thing about the Greenwich Royal Observatory is that tourists can stand on the world’s prime meridian, with one foot in the western hemisphere and the other in the Earth’s eastern hemisphere! This is the place where the great scientists of the time precisely mapped the stars to help navigate at sea. Even to this day the Royal Observatory continues to be closely associated with universal time, global time zones, and longitude.
Greenwich is popular as the home of the Cutty Sark, the ship is located adjacent to the Discover Greenwich Visitor Centre and is the last tea clippers of the 19th-century to sail between Britain and China. The exhibits showcased here have more than 500 years of maritime history, and also the Palladian mansion popularly known as Queen’s House. The National Maritime Museum is the largest of its kind in the world, the impressive collections here illustrate the history of the Royal Navy. This is definitely among the top tourist attractions in London for space and planet lovers as you get a chance to walk in the footsteps of the Astronomers Royal, experience the past, present, and future wonders and discover their stories
Victoria and Albert Museum
#11 in Best Places to Visit in London
Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) is named after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, this museum is considered the world’s largest museum of decorative arts and design. Its priceless collection includes paintings, drawings, ceramics, sculptures, fashion, and books from ancient times to the present day. Like most of the other museums in London, admission to the Victoria and Albert is free. The V&A is over 3,000 years worth of artifacts from many different cultures around the world, which also includes the most exhaustive collection of British design and art from 1500 to 1900. While here don’t forget to make a stop for some tea at the café, which is located in the V&A’s original refreshment rooms, Poynter, Gamble, and the Morris Rooms. These rooms were the world’s first museum restaurant and were intended as a showpiece of modern craftsmanship, design, and manufacturing. This is also among the top places to visit in London for tea lovers!
In recent times, the Victoria and Albert Museum has undergone a dramatic program of restoration, renewal, and expansion. Designed by AL_A architects, the highlights include exhibition space and the new Exhibition Road Quarter entrance. And also the Jewellery Gallery, where tourists can marvel at Queen Victoria’s diamond and sapphire coronet. The stunning British galleries and Europe 1600 – 1815 galleries, illustrate the story of Britain and Europe through the lens of art and design.
St Paul’s Cathedral
#12 in Best Places to Visit in London
Sitting on the highest point in the City of London, Ludgate Hill is this Grade I listed building. St Paul’s Cathedral acts as the center of worship for the Anglican Church and is the seat of the Bishop of London. The present church dates back to the 17th century, designed and built by Sir Christopher Wren in the English Baroque style as part of a major rebuilding program after The Great Fire of London. For more than 300 years St Paul’s Cathedral has been a feature of the city’s skyline and is one of the most recognizable sights of London. This is the second-largest church building in the UK with its doors opening for sightseeing from 8.30 am. The price of admission is £18 which includes entry to the three galleries in the dome, the cathedral floor, and crypt.
Admission also includes guided tours and multimedia guides. However, on Sundays, the cathedral is open only for worship. In AD 604, the first Christian cathedral here was dedicated to St. Paul, during the rule of King Aethelberht I. After this cathedral burned, in 962, its replacement was destroyed by Viking raiders. Which was later followed by the burning down of the third cathedral in 1087. Beginning in the late 11th century, the fourth cathedral, now known as Old St. Paul’s was constructed.
Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square
#13 in Best Places to Visit in London
Originally called the Piccadilly House, Piccadilly Circus, is not a circus. It used to be a ring-shaped public area or a circle but has now become square shaped overtime after the construction of Shaftesbury Avenue. Piccadilly House was originally the residence of Roger Biker, who was known for making Piccadils, which are stiff-neck frilled collars worn in the 17th century by the gentrified. Piccadilly Circus is the uncommon intersection of several busy streets – Shaftesbury Avenue, Piccadilly, Haymarket, and Regent – overlooking this is London’s best-known sculpture, the winged Eros which is delicately balanced on one foot, “It’s like Piccadilly Circus” is the best expression to describe this busy and confusing scene.
Famous as a neon-lit gathering place and also a traffic hub, Piccadilly Circus attracts tourists from around the world, many of whom like to sprawl on the steps of the aluminum statue of Eros. From 1923 giant electric billboards were set up after the installation of the intersection’s first electric advertisements in 1910. If you’re looking to spend some time shopping or having an amazing time at some of the well-known nightclubs, then Piccadilly Circus is one of the best places to visit in London.
Trafalgar Square is a prime and central location in the city, located in the city of Westminster it is a public square with many museums, galleries, and cultural spaces around the square. Trafalgar Square was initially designed by a popular architect John Nash in the 1820s, distances to other places are measured from the Square. Climb atop one of Trafalgar Square’s huge bronze lions and go wild! Nelson’s Column which is a memorial to Admiral Horatio Nelson who lost his life in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 is guarded by the big cats. With its close proximity to the National Gallery and glorious fountains, the square is always buzzing with visitors and activity.
#14 in Best Places to Visit in London
London Dungeon is located along London’s South Bank and is one of the 6 dungeons in the whole of the UK. This themed thrilling attraction site recreates the most grotesque, horrible, and gruesome events from the capital’s history in a gallows humor style or black comedy. Opened by Annabel Geddes in 1974, this attraction was originally built as a wax exhibition of macabre and gory history. Until the mid-90s these places evolved to feature walkthrough theatrical shows, like Jack the Ripper and the Great Fire of London. In 1992, the place was acquired by Vardon Attractions, which through management later became Merlin Entertainments. Merlin rebranded the Dungeon as less historically-accurate, more as an interactive horror attraction, and based around bad-taste humor. After 39 years, in 2013 the London Dungeon moved from its premises to County Hall, South Bank so that it could be grouped with other Merlin-owned attractions such as the London Eye.
The brand new multi-million-pound attraction has a unique mix of talented live actors who perform in stunning special effects, two exciting thrill rides, the edge of your seat surprises, and stunning special effects with an intention of bringing 1000 years of authentic London history to life. Some of the standouts here are Guy Fawkes’ dramatic plot to blow up Parliament, walking beneath London’s foreboding medieval gates, and travel back to Jack the Ripper’s bleak Whitechapel to name a few. London Dungeon should definitely be on your list of top tourist attractions in London for thrill-seekers.
#15 in Best Places to Visit in London
Officially known as the Collegiate Church of St. Peter in Westminster, Westminster Abbey is one of the defining landmarks of the city, having played a vital role in the nation for nearly a whole millennium. This Gothic abbey church was founded by Edward the Confessor in 1065 and is filled with tombs of some of the country’s greatest politicians, kings, and poets; you are literally surrounded by history in this place. The abbey is an amazing way to feel part of the nation’s past, open to the public on most days unless there is a royal wedding taking place. This World Heritage Site is the traditional place of coronation, weddings, and burials, making a name for itself as one of the most notable religious buildings in the United Kingdom. Most of the present building dates back to when Henry III decided to rebuild an old abbey in the Gothic style from 1245 to 1272. Later between 1503 and 1512, the building was significantly expanded with the addition of the Chapel of Henry VII.
#16 in Best Places to Visit in London
Hyde Park established in 1536 by Henry VIII is one of London’s largest green spaces. With a large meadow that plays host to many public celebrations and concerts, vibrant flower gardens, and more than 4,000 trees Hyde Park is possibly the most famous park in London. The park also has a historical significance, having hosted a number of protests and demonstrations including protests by the Suffragettes (a woman who advocates for women’s right to vote). An 18th-century man-made lake popular for swimming and boating, Serpentine is one of the park’s highlights. Another thing that I personally like about Hyde Park is the Speakers’ Corner, a traditional forum for free speech and heckling.
Apsley House is another Hyde Park landmark, the former home of the first Duke of Wellington which was purchased after his famous victory at Waterloo. Presently a museum, it houses gifts presented by grateful European emperors and kings, along with Wellington’s magnificent collections of paintings which include Velázquez’s The Waterseller of Seville. The park is a great place to spend some quality time with friends and family, with some amazing water statues and features making it among the must-see tourist attractions in London.