London is a leading travel destination and sees 30 million visits each year. As one of the world’s most historic cities, it has a firm place in art, literature, film, and music. Home to The Beatles, the Queen, and countless iconic figures, it’s a city that bursts with things to do in every corner. With a bit of everything for everyone, here are some of the best places to visit in London.
William Shakespeare is one of the most famous London residents in history and is a beloved playwright the world over. The original Globe Theatre was the home of his productions and was erected in 1599. Fire and demolition ruined the original building, but faithful fans of Shakespeare have brought the Globe back to life. Shakespeare’s Globe now features world-class productions of the Bard’s works in front of live audiences. While at the Globe visitors can take a tour to learn the story of its reconstruction, watch rehearsals and get an up close look at the world of Shakespeare’s theatre.
Tower of London, Tower Hill
The Tower of London is a historic castle that has been a home, a prison, and a fortress. Its build was ordered by William the Conqueror and it’s stood strong for over 900 years. Once home to Henry VIII’s wives Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard before their death, the castle was also the prison of Prince Edward and Richard who reportedly died in the Tower. Today the Tower attracts visitors from all over the world who want to learn its sordid history and also view another famous occupant: the Crown Jewels. The collection of 23,578 gemstones is a sparkling reminder of the elegance of the royal family and never fails to dazzle. A variety of tours and activities are available at the Tower.
Westminster Abbey, Westminster
An imposing gothic church in the middle of the city, Westminster Abbey is one of the best places to visit in London. The church has been the witness to a thousand years of London’s history as a site for coronations, weddings, and funerals. Westminster Abbey is the final resting place for 30 monarchs. Guests can tour the royal tombs of figures like Henry VI and Edward the Confessor. Art lovers can’t miss a trip to Westminster Abbey though as the church holds a remarkable collection of art in stained glass and paintings. A new experience is now available after being closed for 700 years: The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries, a medieval space located above the Abbey. Guests will find interesting artifacts and art, including the Royal Marriage License of Prince Harry and Duchess Kate.
The British Museum
The British Museum is free and open daily to visitors, making it one of the best places to visit in London if you’re on a budget. The museum has millions of objects and contains exhibits for human culture from the beginning of time to now. As the third most popular art museum in the world, it’s a must-visit for any London traveler. Collections include the Department of Ancient Egypt and Sudan, Department of Greece and Rome, and Department of the Middle East. Exhibitions rotate and focus on mixed media, correspondence, books, art, history, and more.
Where you get a pulse-pounding ride and get a view of all of London? The ArcelorMittal Orbit, the world’s longest and tallest tunnel slide. Measuring 178 meters long, the slide was created for the London 2012 Games and stands in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. It’s a twisting turning sculpture that offers you glimpses of London interspersed with rides in total darkness. When you’re done riding, you can head back to the top to snap photos. The summit is an experience itself with 360-degree views of London’s most iconic areas like Big Ben, Canary Wharf and Wembley Stadium.
Found in the West End of London, Piccadilly Circus is one of the best places to visit in London because of the diverse attractions it offers. It’s home to multiple theatres and offers a grand place to see a show. You can also get a picture with the famous Piccadilly Lights, shop at the famous Lilywhites Department Store, or walk around Ripley’s Believe it or Not! Museum.
Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens
If you don’t visit an English garden, did you really see London? Kensington Gardens was one of the private gardens of Kensington Palace and is now a beautiful public space. There are a number of food kiosks and cafes including the 150-year old Italian Gardens. Children and families will enjoy the Diana Memorial Playground while art fans can stroll through the Serpentine Galleries to view their latest exhibits.
Abbey Road Studios
The most famous recording studio in the world and known for its work with The Beatles, Abbey Road Studios is one of the best places to visit in London for music fans. You can cross the legendary crosswalk just like The Beatles did for their famous photo shoot, write a message on the graffiti wall, and attend special events.
Buckingham Palace is the residence of the British royal family since 1703 and is a treasured piece of history for London. Known for its famous stoic royal guards and the opulent furnishings of the Windsor family, it’s open for select tours throughout the year. Special exhibits on Windsor history are also offered. As the Palace is a working palace and used for official affairs, you have to wait for tour availability, which makes it all the more exciting once you’re inside the walls of this home. Highlights include the Throne Room, Ballroom, Picture Gallery, and more. Stay and watch the changing of the guard as one group of guards takes over the shift. This ceremony is held throughout the week and is a must-see for any London visitor.