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- 1 10 Best Things To Do in London • Explore More of London
10 Best Things To Do in London • Explore More of London
Everyone can find something to enjoy in London, no matter their reason for visiting. Those interested in learning more about British history will enjoy the Tower of London. Admirers of art and theater will enjoy the National Gallery and the West End, while monarchy fans won’t want to miss Buckingham Palace. London is regarded as one of the most expensive cities to visit, but several attractions are free to visit, such as the Victoria and Albert Museum and Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. To take advantage of a local’s guidance, sign up for one of the city’s top tours.
London Travel Guide
#1 British Museum
Located in London, the British Museum is an architectural marvel and home to some of the world’s most remarkable antiquities. The best museum in London, according to many travelers. It’s free, too. Millions of artifacts at the British Museum, from the Rosetta Stone to the Parthenon Sculptures to Mesopotamian objects. An initial museum visit can be overwhelming due to the vast collection: Pick the exhibits that interest you most, and plan to return if you wish.
Consider taking a guided tour to understand better the museum’s exhibits – the approximately 80,000 objects on display out of a comprehensive collection of 8 million items. The daily eye-opener tours, LBGTQ-themed “Desire, Love, Identity” tours, and Friday evening spotlight tours are free. Additionally, you can book an “Around the World in 60 Minutes” tour for 14 pounds (around $20). Daily audio guides can also be rented for 7 pounds (about $10).
In awe of the museum’s vast exhibits, recent visitors suggest future visitors set aside several hours to appreciate it fully. Even if you’re not an amateur historian, you’ll want to stop by – the museum has something to offer everyone, according to past visitors.
Open daily from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.; the Great Court, the covered public square at the museum’s center, stays open until 5:30 p.m. on Fridays (and until 8:30 p.m. on Saturdays). Although admission is free, some exhibitions require a fee. Although walk-up entry is available, the museum recommends booking tickets online in advance. A gift shop and four eateries are located on-site, including a quick-service cafe, a casual pizzeria, and the more formal Great Court Restaurant. Food trucks are available for outdoor dining as well. The British Museum is accessible from the Tottenham Court Road, Holborn, Goodge Street, and Russell Square Tube stations. Many bus routes also stop nearby. Visit the British Museum’s website for more information.
#2 Tower of London
Despite its grim exterior (especially compared to Buckingham Palace), the Tower of London’s interior is always bustling with activity. The large complex has a long palace, fortress, and prison history. This history is explored in a variety of ways.
Don’t miss the famous crown jewels exhibition if the monarchy enchants you. The Imperial State Crown – which the queen still wears for each State Opening of Parliament – and the Sovereign’s Sceptre with Cross will be on display. Take a tour led by one of the Yeoman Warders (tower guards) for an oral history. You will be regaled with tales of the Tower’s bloody past during the hourlong tour (included in your admission ticket). The White Tower is one of the most recognizable landmarks in London and one of the most famous castles in the world. The Tower is home to the 350-year-old exhibition, “Line of Kings,” which displays armor worn by Henry VIII, Charles I, and James II. Keep an eye out for the Tower’s famous ravens, who are said to guard the building.
The majority of travelers say the high admission price and long lines at the Tower of London are worth every penny. People of all ages find it fascinating. Recent visitors highly recommend taking the free tour put on by the Yeoman Warders.
A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Tower of London is typically open Wednesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; it is open on Tuesdays for part of the year. Adult tickets cost 29.90 pounds (about $41); children aged 5 to 15 cost 14.90 pounds (about $20). Children younger than five are free. The Tower of London encourages visitors to book their tickets in advance through its website. If you have a London Pass, you can enter for free. In addition to bathroom facilities, the Tower of London is also home to many eateries and gift shops. The Tower of London is located off the Tower Hill Tube stop. Bus routes 15, 42, 78, 100, and RV1 stop near the Tower, with bicycle racks.
#3 Borough Market
Borough Market is essentially three markets in one (restaurants, bars, and shops dotted throughout). Three Crown Square has large producers and merchants, while Green Market has smaller ones. Everything from cheese to wine to produce can be found here. The Borough Market Kitchen hosts street-food vendors. Cooking demonstrations and classes are regularly held at the roughly 1,000-year-old market.
The variety of goods on offer here frequently amazes visitors. Many visitors notice that the vendors tend to be quite friendly. Many shoppers enjoy the atmosphere, but some complain that it can get crowded.
The market is open every day with hours of 10 a.m. through 5 p.m. Mon-Thurs, 10 a.m. until 6 p.m., Friday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. every Sunday. There’s no charge to wander among the stalls. Trains, the Tube, and buses stop at London Bridge station, adjacent to the market. Multiple bike racks and parking lots are close by as well.
#4 St. Jame’s Park
St. James’s Park is one of London’s eight royal parks. It is nearly 57 acres. Three palaces surround it: St. James’s Palace, Westminster (now the Houses of Parliament), and Buckingham Palace. One of the park’s major attractions is the semi-circular flower beds, the Memorial Gardens, beside Buckingham. The park is bordered on one side by the Mall, a royal procession route that bisects it, and on the other, the Horse Guards Parade, where the annual Trooping the Colour takes place. In addition to No. 10 Downing Street (the Prime Minister’s residence). There is also a portion of the 7-mile Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Walk in the park, which provides habitat for foxes, ducks, and its famed pelicans. Additionally, runners run through St. James’s park as the final leg of the annual London Marathon.
There is no doubt that the park is quite stunning and well-maintained. It is an excellent place for walking while admiring the many historical buildings nearby.
Every day, the park is open from 5 a.m. until midnight. (Some of its facilities, including its playground and public restrooms, have shorter hours, which differ depending on the season.) There are multiple Tube stations near St. James’s Park, including Charing Cross, Green Park, Victoria, and Westminster. Numerous bus lines serve the area as well. Parking is not available. There are two cafes and multiple snack bars (or refreshment points) on-site. There is a cafe, St. James’s, with a view of the fountain and lake. Visit the park’s website for more information, including a calendar of events.
#5 Buckingham Palace
Queen Elizabeth II’s London home, Buckingham Palace, is open for tours (except for the queen’s private quarters) during the summer and select dates during the winter and spring. During the tour, you’ll see the 19 staterooms where the queen and members of the royal family host state and ceremonial events. With chandeliers, candelabras, paintings by Van Dyck and Canaletto, and exquisite English and French furniture, these rooms display some of the most beautiful pieces from the Royal Collection. The State Rooms, where kings and queens entertained guests on official and ceremonial occasions, are also a part of history. The Throne Room, which served as the backdrop for the official wedding photos of Prince William and Kate Middleton, will be familiar to those who followed the wedding closely.
Visitors suggested taking advantage of the multimedia guide (included with admission and available in multiple languages) for summer tours so that you can hear the story of each room at your own pace. The palace advises you to set aside at least two hours to see the staterooms (and wear comfortable shoes), while recent travelers advised you to use the facilities before starting the tour; there are no public restrooms until you reach the garden. Except for the Garden Café, no food or drink (except for bottled water) is allowed inside the palace.
When the palace is open to the public during the summer months, visitors can tour the palace. Guided tours may be available the rest of the year. To find out the latest opening hours and tour times, visit the palace’s website. Ticket prices vary, but you can expect to pay about 65 pounds (about 90 dollars). Consider signing up for one of London’s best tours – several of them make a stop at the palace if you’re only planning to stop by quickly.
If you’d like to avoid the admission fees, you can still see Buckingham Palace by watching the legendary Changing of the Guard (also known as Guard Mounting), which happens at 11 a.m. Most of the year, Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays and daily during summer (except during inclement weather). You should get there early, as previous visitors reported that the area gets very crowded very quickly, making it difficult to see anything if you arrive just before the ceremony begins. Buckingham Palace is located near Green Park, Hyde Park Corner, and St. James’s Park Tube stations. Bus numbers 11, 211, C1, and C10 stop nearby. The palace is adjacent to St. James’s Park. To learn more, visit the Royal Collection Trust website.
#6 Covent Garden
Even though it is called a garden, Covent Garden isn’t just about plants and flowers. Instead, it’s a piazza and collection of urban streets with upscale shops, bars, restaurants, art installations, and more. It’s a bustling neighborhood in London’s West End. There are well-known brands like Ralph Lauren and Mulberry and independent brands. Covent Garden has a covered market area where vendors sell everything from antiques to crafts in addition to conventional shops. The dining options range from upscale restaurants such as Sushi Samba and Balthazar to casual pubs. Covent Garden’s open-air orientation has more than 1,000 seats for alfresco dining.
The Royal Opera House is also located in Covent Garden. Even if you don’t want to attend an opera, you can tour the lavishly decorated Royal Opera House. Architectural enthusiasts find the building’s glass atrium stunning and the tours informative. The general admission tickets cost 16 pounds (about $22) for adults and 12 pounds (about $16.50) for anyone under 16. (Check the opera house’s website for times and dates.)
Visitors say they enjoy the shopping and live entertainment in the area.
You can explore Covent Garden at your leisure, though you’ll probably want to prepare to spend some money in its tempting shops. An eponymous Underground stop on the Piccadilly Line is located in the area. Leicester Square, Charing Cross, and Embankment Tube stations are all within walking distance. Several bike racks are available. In addition to the opera house, several theaters and museums are nearby, making it easy to combine a visit to Covent Garden with other activities. Visit its official website to learn more about the area and find a detailed list of its shops and restaurants.
#7 Houses of Parliament
Visit the British Parliament and walk through halls where history has been made time and time again. There are guided and self-guided tours (recommended by recent travelers) that take visitors through multiple parts of the building, including Westminster Hall (the oldest building on the Parliamentary estate, which is more than 900 years old), the House of Commons Chamber, and the House of Lords. Even if you do not care to explore the corridors that make up the U.K.’s governing body, admiring the iconic structure’s impressive exterior is a must-do when visiting London.
Westminster Bridge offers the best view of one of the most photographed buildings globally. Suppose you’d like a picture of Parliament and the London Eye together, head over to Lambeth Bridge or the Golden Jubilee Bridge on the South Bank. Westminster Bridge connects two of the city’s most popular attractions (London Eye and Parliament), usually very crowded.
Most Saturdays year-round and most weekdays during Parliamentary recess, guided and self-guided tours are available. The self-guided tours, which include an audio guide (available in multiple languages), take about 90 minutes, cost 22 pounds (about $30) for adults and 9 pounds (about $12) for children ages 5 to 15. Tours (in English only) cost 28 pounds (about $38) for adults and 12 pounds (about $16.50) for children ages 5 to 15. Children younger than five are admitted free of charge, but they require a ticket. Parliament’s website provides the most up-to-date tour times and dates, subject to change. From the Circle, District, or Jubilee Underground Lines, hop off at the Westminster Tube station to get to the Houses of Parliament. Several bus routes stop nearby.
#8 Museum of London
This museum celebrates London’s long and rich history through permanent exhibits on the Great Fire of 1666, temporary special exhibitions, and collections of thousands of objects spanning thousands of years.
History enthusiasts often praise it for providing significant insights into the city’s past. Take your time to explore the museum. The staff is friendly and helpful.
The hours of operation are 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. from Wednesday to Sunday. Admission is free, but visitors should book tickets in advance to ensure entry. Tube stations Barbican and St. Paul’s are close by, and several bus lines (4, 8, 25, 100, 172, 242, 338, and 521) stop in the area. Additionally, there is parking beneath the building, bike racks, and a nearby Santander docking station. For more information, visit the Museum of London website.
#9 Westminster Abbey
A medieval church that has hosted several royal weddings and coronations offers a glimpse into London’s long and fascinating past. There’s a lot to see at Westminster Abbey – and the staff keeps you moving at a pretty quick pace – so do some research ahead of time to avoid missing your highlights. Consider visiting the Poets’ Corner if you’re a bibliophile. Geoffrey Chaucer, Charles Dickens, and Rudyard Kipling are buried here. Visit Elizabeth I and Mary Tudor’s shared tomb if you’re fascinated by all the intrigue surrounding British royalty.
If you prefer to explore the abbey at your own pace but want a little guidance on the history you’re seeing, take advantage of the multimedia guides, which are included in the admission price and available in 14 languages. Alternatively, you can take a guided tour (led by the abbey’s vergers) and see places inaccessible to the public, including Saint Edward the Confessor’s tomb. In addition to general admission, you will have to pay 10 pounds (around $14) for this tour.
Although most travelers agree that Westminster Abbey is a must-see attraction, some complain about the high admission price and the overwhelming crowds. Although photos are allowed in the church, they are prohibited in some areas, such as the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries. Visitors can usually visit Westminster Abbey Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. on Saturday from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. You may want to check the abbey’s schedule for any scheduled closures before you go. Adult admission costs 24 pounds (about $33), while children age 6 to 17 pay 10 pounds (about $14). The London Pass covers your entrance fee. During services, photography is strictly prohibited. (There is no charge for attending services.) The nearest Tube stop is Westminster on the Jubilee, District, and Circle lines. Visit the Westminster Abbey website for information about tour times and admission prices.
# 10 Portobello Road Market
Portobello Road Market is a favorite among both locals and tourists alike. The market is located on the long Portobello Road, which is considered the high street (or main street) of the posh Notting Hill neighborhood (made famous by the Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts movie of the same name). Market vendors sell everyday flea market items, including antiques, art, jewelry, clothing, and food. Portobello Market stands out (apart from its adorably colorful location) for its collection of antiques and quintessentially English items. Within a few blocks, visitors will find a wellie shop, scores of vintage tea sets, quality London souvenirs, and Banksy replicas. It is also billed as the largest antique market in the world. You can find the best fashion samples at the end of the market near the Ladbroke Grove Tube stop. Visitors will find the most concentration of locals in this area and find a wide selection of vintage clothing.
Recent visitors enjoyed the lively atmosphere, comprehensive items, and cheap food stalls at Portobello Market. Some urged visitors to check out nearby restaurants as many serve excellent British and international cuisine, despite praising the quality of the food available at the food stalls. Others recommended keeping an eye on their belongings. Portobello Market is crowded, but it is located on a narrow street, which makes it easy for pickpockets to strike.
Saturday is the only day Portobello Road turns into an entire market, open from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. Although some stalls are available daily, Portobello Road is quiet and bare during the weekdays and Sundays. To get to Portobello Road Market, take the Notting Hill Gate or Ladbroke Grove Underground stations. (Some shops and cafes are open on days other than Saturday.) Several buses stop near the market. Visit the market’s website for more information.
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