Around 15 million tourists visit London every year, attracted by the capital’s cultural history and vibrant entertainment industry. I feel very lucky to live so close to London and be able to explore the city on a fairly regular basis. London has a wealth of iconic buildings, museums, castles and Royal palaces as well as a buzzing food scene and thriving theatre district. It’s no surprise then that London is among the leading destinations in the world with six thousand hotels to cater for the influx of tourists. There are so many things to do and see in the capital but here are eight of London’s must-see sights.
1. Buckingham Palace
This iconic building has been the official residence of the Royal family since 1837 when Queen Victoria ascended to power. One of the popular free events to see is the colourful and musical Changing of the Guard procession. Visitors are also allowed to tour the Queen’s Gallery, State Rooms, and the Royal Mews in summer when the Monarch is away.
Visit the Buckingham Palace website
2. Big Ben and Parliament
Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament are one of London’s most popular landmarks. The 97m structure housing the clock is actually called the Elizabeth Tower with the bell in the Great Clock nicknamed Big Ben. It is attached to the Houses of Parliament which you can visit during the summer months and other times when Parliament is in recess.
3. Hyde Park
The park is the largest open space in central London and has been a leading tourist attraction since 1635. Other iconic landmarks on the Park include Apsley House, which was once the residence of the first Duke of Wellington. You can also visit the Speaker’s Corner, which is a traditional forum for heckling or free speech.
4. The London Eye
The observation wheel is the largest in Europe. It was built in 2000 as London celebrated the new millennium. You can view most iconic landmarks from the observation wheel on the half-hour circular journey. The London Eye attracts many visitors every day. You need to purchase advance tickets to avoid waiting in line for your tour.
5. Churchill War Rooms
This historic building will transport you to the early 1940s during the Second World War when the Prime Minister at the time, Winston Churchill, led military campaigns to defend his country from inside its walls. Some of the rooms include a tiny place where Churchill slept and the ragged studio where he would broadcast his war speeches.
6. Covent Garden
Covent Garden has many market halls and arcades as well as lively street performers which draw the crowds. It is the home of the Royal Opera House and the London Transport Museum complete with historic trams, tubes and buses (you can read about our visit to the museum here). Covent Garden is also home to some of the best restaurants and hotels in London.
7. The British Museum
The Museum has more than 13 million ancient artefacts from different parts of the world including China, Assyria, and Europe. The most popular exhibits in the Museum include the Mildenhall Treasure, the Rosetta Stone, the Egyptian Mummies, and the Elgin Marbles.
8. The Tower of London
Built by William the Conqueror in 1078, the Tower of London is currently the location of the Crown Jewels but in its long history it has been a Royal residence, menagerie and armoury. Many prisoners have been held there (with a number of them losing their heads). Learn about the history of the tower and see the famous Beefeaters who guard the Crown Jewels and guide tourists around the castle.
Visit the Tower of London website
What are your favourite London sights? What would you add to the list?
**Pictures courtesy of Pixabay and Wander Mum
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