It’s not surprising that London is one of the world’s top tourist destinations, attracting thousands of visitors each year. The country’s capital is a vibrant art and entertainment center, and 50 years after The Beatles, its music scene continues to rock.

London is home to one of the world’s greatest concentrations of cultural attractions. From the royal palaces to the people’s parliament, to the museums and cathedrals, and to the Ferris wheel and the row of shops, you could spend endless days exploring London’s best sightseeing locations without ever running out of unique things to see and do. Also, many of the best places to visit are completely free.

During your London trip, we suggest that you refer often to our list of the top tourist attractions in London.

Buckingham Palace and the Changing of the Guard

picture of Buckingham Palace

picture of Buckingham Palace guards

One of the most recognizable structures in Britain, Buckingham Palace is also the scene of the country’s most elaborate displays of admiration, the Changing of the Guard. Following a colorful, free display of precision marching and music, this colorful and free display of precision marching and music takes place in St James’s Palace, after which you can follow the band along The Mall as they march between locations.

Buckingham Palace was constructed in 1837 and has been the Royal Family’s London residence ever since. If you’re wondering whether the Queen is in, look for the royal standard atop the building. If it is flying, she is at home. Sometimes the Queen and members of the Royal Family come out on the balcony during special events.

When the Queen is away on her summer palace, visitors can purchase Queen’s Gallery, State Rooms, and Royal Mews tours.

One of the most expensive and most enjoyable ways to experience Buckingham Palace is a 4.5-hour tour including changing of the guard ceremony and afternoon tea. This tour is a very efficient way of seeing the highlights in a short period of time, and having a knowledgeable guide to explain the history makes the whole experience that much more enjoyable and relevant for first-time visitors.

Address: London SW1A 1AA, United Kingdom
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The Tower of London and Tower Bridge

From prison to palace, the Tower of London has gone through many different situations throughout the centuries. One of the most renowned British landmarks, this spectacular World Heritage Site provides hours of fascination for visitors curious about the country’s rich history. Within the massive White Tower is the Line of Kings with its impressive collection of royal weapons and armor.

Other highlights include the London Eye, the Tower of London, the Blackfriars Bridge, and fear-inducing displays about executions that took place there. The adjacent Tower Bridge, with its two huge towers rising 200 feet above the River Thames, is known as one of London’s most famous landmarks (fascinating behind-the-scenes tours are available).

Purchase the Tower of London Entrance Ticket Including Crown Jewels and Beefeater Tour in advance to make the most of your time, especially during the busy summer season. This pass guarantees the best price, keeps the lines short, saves time, and gets you in the door faster!

Address: Tower Bridge Rd, London SE1 2UP, United Kingdom
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Wembley Stadium


You don’t necessarily have to be a hardcore sports fan to appreciate all that the Wembley Stadium Tour has to offer, given that it was the venue for the 2012 London Olympic Games, and even the historic 1985 Live Aid concert.

As it is now officially constructed from scratch and completed in 2007, Wembley Stadium was built on the same site as the original Wembley Stadium, which hosted the 1948 Olympic Games and the 1966 World Cup Final. The new Wembley Stadium took over four years and £790 million to complete after the original stadium was demolished in 2003, and is now known to be the largest stadium in the UK.

Since 1978, however, the Wembley Stadium Tour has been around and attracted millions of sports enthusiasts from around the world.

Website: www.wembleystadium.com
Address: London SW1A 1AA, United Kingdom
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Royal Observatory

The place for the scientific research of stars and timekeeping for centuries – initially to the benefit of sea navigation. Here is where you will see the marked Greenwich Meridian Line from which the timezones of the world are measured. The amazing instruments with which astronomers made a discovery of our universe well in advance of their digital age can be seen as well or starred at a planetarium event.

Website: www.rmg.co.uk/royal-observatory
Address: Blackheath Ave, London SE10 8XJ, United Kingdom
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The British Museum

The British Museum, a major public museum where more than 13 million artifacts from the ancient world are on display. With the incredible pieces in this exhibition, it’s hard to know where to begin. But most tourists head for the museum’s most famous exhibits such as the Elgin Marbles from the Parthenon, the Rosetta Stone, the colossal bust of Ramesses II, the Egyptian Mummies, and the large hoard of the 4th-century Roman Silver known as the Mildenhall Treasure.

A well-stocked bookstore featuring an extensive selection of books on ancient history, archaeology, and art history, along with one that sells toys for children, along with one selling jewelry. For those able to linger longer, the museum offers lectures and workshops to assist in learning.

Website: www.britishmuseum.org
Address: Great Russell St, London WC1B 3DG, United Kingdom
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Tours

Big Ben and Parliament

Big Ben represents London most prominently. The tower is 318 feet high, and the bell is a gigantic bell. It is as well-known a landmark as the Tower Bridge and the chimes of Big Ben make the time signal for the BBC. The paper is about the history of the Houses of Parliament, the location of the Houses of Parliament, and the royal Westminster Palace occupied by William the Conqueror.

Tours of the parliament buildings provide a unique opportunity to see real-time discussions of current events and lively political discussions. Whitehall, the ceremonial heart of the British government, is lined with so many government buildings that the area is synonymous with the British government.

Address: London SW1A 0AA, United Kingdom
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National Gallery

London’s National Gallery is among the top museums in the world which represent a comprehensive collection of European painting from 1260 to 1920. The museum is known for its European paintings, with a special emphasis on Dutch and Italian paintings from the 15th and 16th centuries. Among the highlights of this album are a cartoon (sketch) of the Madonna and Child by Leonardo da Vinci, The Entombment by Michelangelo, Venus and Mars by Botticelli, Sunflowers by van Gogh, and Water-Lilies by Monet.

Website: www.nationalgallery.org.uk
Address: Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN, United Kingdom
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The London Eye

The London Eye was built to mark London’s millennium celebrations in 2000 and is the largest observation wheel in Europe. As you embark on a circular tour rising 443 feet above the Thames, its individual glass capsules offer the most amazing views of the city. The trip lasts approximately 30 minutes, often faster than the time spent lining up for your turn. Reserve your time in advance if you can.

If you don’t want to wait before boarding, buying a London Eye Skip the Line Ticket is the best way to skip the line. This advance ticket enables you to take a flight on the day you plan to visit at any time. Rent one of the private capsules, if you can afford it, and share the experience with friends and family!

The Emirates Air Line, a cable car system that crosses the Thames between Greenwich and the Royal Victoria Dock, is another fun way to see London as above. The journey takes 1 km and 10 minutes, long enough to enjoy spectacular views and take a few selfies from Memorable.

Website: www.londoneye.com
Address: Riverside Building, County Hall, London SE1 7PB, United Kingdom
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London Eye Standard Ticket
London Eye Fast-Track Ticket
London Eye River Cruise

Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square

The two famous tourist spots, Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square lie close together in the City of London and mark the gateways to Soho, the city’s lively theater and entertainment district. Trafalgar Square was built as a monument to Lord Horatio Nelson’s victory in 1805 against the French and Spanish. The Nelson Memorial, built of cast iron, stands in the center of the square’s fountains and reliefs, which were cast from French cannons. The national gallery, St. Martin-in-the-Fields, and Admiralty Arch surround the square.

Piccadilly Circus is a busy intersection in London where several streets intersect: Piccadilly, Regent, Haymarket, and Shaftesbury Avenue. Here at the center of London is the wings of Eros delicately balanced on one foot, bow poised. “It’s like Piccadilly Circus” is a famous expression meaning that things are noisy and chaotic.

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The Shard

The Shard has become one of the most recognizable and most visited landmarks in London since its opening in 2012. This remarkable structure, so-named for its resemblance to a shard of glass, standing 1,016 feet tall and encompassing some 95 stories, dominates the skyline but, thanks to its pleasing design, when seen next to neighbors such as Tower Bridge, it does not seem at all out of place.

The Shard is home to a stunning Shangri-La Hotel, three superb restaurants, all of which boast some of the most incredible views over London. For those not staying here, outdoor viewing is available from the upper levels.

The modern art collections have become home to a superbly transformed power station across the Thames. Art lovers can spend an entire day exploring both locations, conveniently linked by a high-speed ferry. Better yet, walk across the Millennium Bridge, a footbridge connecting the two banks of the Tate Modern River. The opinions are spectacular.

Website: www.the-shard.com
Address: 32 London Bridge St, London SE1 9SG, United Kingdom
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Westminster Abbey

Another site with a long association with the British royalty, Westminster Abbey, is located on a site that has been associated with Christianity since the early seventh century. Westminster Abbey is officially known as the Collegiate Church of St. Peter, which was founded by Edward the Confessor in 1065.

Throughout the time period of 1066 – 1751, most sovereigns were not only crowned in England but were buried in England as well. Today it is most famous as the place where Royal Weddings are held.

This Gothic cathedral has one of the highest Gothic naves in England, and its popularity as a tourist attraction makes it one of London’s most popular attractions. The highlights of the visit include viewing the numerous memorials within the nave, the tomb of the unknown warrior, the many memorials within the transepts, the Westminster Abbey museum and the beautiful gardens.

Website: www.westminster-abbey.org
Address: 20 Deans Yd, London SW1P 3PA, United Kingdom
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Churchill’s War Rooms

One of the most fascinating and evocative of London’s historic sites is the well-preserved nerve center from which Prime Minister Winston Churchill led British military campaigns and the defense of his homeland throughout the Second World War. Its spartan simplicity and cramped conditions underscore England’s desperate position as the Nazi grip tightened across Europe.

You’ll see the small room where Churchill slept. It was also used to broadcast his famous wartime speeches as an improvised radio studio. The simple details, such as the knitting wool marking the front lines on a map of Europe, could never be reproduced by any other museum.

The Imperial War Museum also runs two other related London attractions worth a visit. Located near the popular South Bank cultural district, the London Imperial War Museum has a fascinating display of military cars, weapons, and aircraft, which is easily the best part of a day. The other must-see is the well-preserved WWII cruiser, HMS Belfast, which served in the D-Day and can be explored on a guided or self-guided tour.

Website: www.iwm.org.uk/visits/churchill-war-rooms
Address: Clive Steps, King Charles St, London SW1A 2AQ, United Kingdom
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SEA LIFE London Aquarium

One of Europe’s largest displays of global aquatic life, Sea Life London Aquarium features one of the largest collections of Cownose rays in the world, a glass tunnel walkway encased in a giant whale skeleton, and a Shark Walk.

Visitors may see penguins, seahorses, octopuses, and crabs, as well as thousands of fish. In the UK and Europe, Sea Life has 30 attractions and Sea Life London Aquarium is the top destination for the brand.

Throughout the aquarium, there are theme zones and the first zone by the entrance always gets busy. Don’t worry, because usually, it’s not that crowded all the way through the aquarium.

To enter the aquarium, you have to walk through the shark tank, which certainly gets the adrenaline pumping. A lift/elevator with an atmospheric soundtrack is then available to take you down to the start of the exhibition.

There are plenty of displays near the ground and step-up platforms, so it’s great for children. Information about the exhibition is presented on video screens that rotate if more than one species is in the tank.

Website: www.visitsealife.com/london/
Address: Riverside Building, County Hall, Westminster Bridge Rd, London SE1 7PB, United Kingdom
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Natural History Museum

The spectacular Natural History Museum of London was established in 1754 and continues to be one of the world’s most visited places. Its enormous romantic facade is easy to spot, and you won’t want to hasten a visit. Many of the museum’s original exhibits are still on display hundreds of years later. Together they contain over 80 million objects, all ranging from botany to zoology, plus almost everything in between. One highlight of a tour is the preserved exemplars collected by Charles Darwin on his epic journeys.

Begin your visit with one of the official guided tours, from 30 to 50 minutes. The highlights to which you may want to return later to explore in more detail will be introduced. There are several fun events, from children’s workshops to late-night openings, on a regular basis. On-site shopping opportunities and a number of dining options are available.

Website: www.nhm.ac.uk
Address: Cromwell Rd, South Kensington, London SW7 5BD, United Kingdom
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Hyde Park

Hyde Park covers 352 acres and has been a popular destination for sightseers since the late 1630s. One of the park’s best features is the Serpentine, which dates back to the 18th century. Hyde Park is home to Speakers’ Corner and an ideal place for free speech – and heckling.

Another landmark in this neighborhood was Apsley House, which was purchased by the Duke of Wellington after his celebrated victory at Waterloo. Now a museum, it houses Wellington’s magnificent collection of paintings, including Velázquez’s Water Seller of Seville; along with royal gifts presented by grateful European kings and emperors. England’s greatest queen is memorialized at the Golden Gate.

Yet another beautiful London park to explore is Regent’s Park. This park is just a short walk from Westminster, and it is a delight to stroll around.

Website: www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/hyde-park
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ZSL London Zoo

London Zoo was the first scientific zoo. The collection of animals housed in the zoo included a variety of species, which were studied by eminent scientists of the time. Today, the museum is a great day out for the general public, especially for families.

The zoo is a modern zoo which despite being in the center of London, has maintained and upgraded its facilities to the same level as Western zoos.

The Zoo is located in a royal park which is close to Camden and is located in London.

The London Zoo is the largest zoo in the UK and has all animals and birds included. The zoo is a non-profit organization.

The London Zoo – What will I see?
The Zoo has a variety of animals from the smallest monkey all the way up to the tall giraffe. Similar to zoos in the world, London Zoo has undergone a number of changes to allow visitors a better view of the animals. The London Zoo is the location for the first Harry Potter film.

There is a sizable area of grass on a good day at the London Eye. The London Eye is now overly crowded at its location. Show up on time and you will have to wait and may have to queue and stand in line.

There are also various creatures such as birds, butterflies, and all the other animals in the world. In addition to daily shows, live feeds, and demonstrations, the zoo is a world-class attraction as expected.

Website: www.zsl.org/zsl-london-zoo
Address: Outer Cir, London NW1 4RY, United Kingdom
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St. Paul’s Cathedral

St. Paul’s Cathedral is located on the site of a Roman temple, the largest and most famous of the many churches in London – and undoubtedly one of the most spectacular cathedrals in the world. In the Great Fire of 1666, the previous church structure was destroyed and the reconstruction was designed by Sir Christopher Wren. Today, a masterpiece of English architecture is the twin baroque towers and the magnificent 365-foot dome of St. Paul’s. Be sure to walk the stairs with their spectacular views of the interior of the dome, including the Whispering Gallery, if you’re up to it, undoubtedly one of London’s top things to do.

Address: St. Paul’s Churchyard, London EC4M 8AD, United Kingdom
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Covent Garden

Covent Garden’s market halls are just the beginning of the neighborhood, which encompasses Long Acre’s shops and restaurants and other neighboring streets, Neal’s Yard and Seven Dials, as well as Central Square with its street performers. Covent Garden Market’s halls and arcades are lined with specialty stores and kiosks selling everything from fine crafts to tacky souvenirs.

The London Transport Museum, which is housed in the former floral market, is full of historic buses, trolleys and trams. This area is where you will find the Royal Opera House as well.

Website: www.coventgarden.london
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Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court is another great Thames-side attraction and is one of the most famous palaces in Europe. His Great Hall dates back to the time of Henry VIII (two of his six wives are supposed to be haunting the palace), and this is where Elizabeth I learned of the Spanish Armada’s defeat.

The Clock Court, with its fascinating astronomical clock from 1540, the State Apartments with their Haunted Gallery, the Chapel, the King’s Apartments, and the Tudor tennis court are other interesting features.

Also worth visiting are the gardens, especially in full bloom in mid-May – and include the Privy Garden, the Pond Garden, the Elizabethan Knot Garden, the Broad Walk. An area known as the Wilderness, and the palace’s famous Maze, of course. Although a bit farther outside the city center, when visiting London, Hampton Court is a must-do sightseeing trip.

Website: www.hrp.org.uk/hampton-court-palace/
Address: Hampton Ct Way, Molesey, East Molesey KT8 9AU, United Kingdom
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Kew Gardens

Located in southwest London on the south bank of the Thames, Kew Gardens – officially referred to as the Royal Botanic Gardens – is a wonderful place to visit as you enjoy the numerous plants grown in its 300 acres. The gardens, laid out in 1759, became government property in 1841. Queen Victoria added Queen’s Cottage and the surrounding forest in 1897. There are a variety of free tours with admission, and many cultural and musical activities take place all year round.

Website: www.kew.org/kew-gardens
Address: Richmond, United Kingdom
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The Victoria and Albert Museum

The Victoria and Albert Museum is part of a museum group based in South Kensington that includes the Museum of Natural History and the Museum of Science. Founded in 1852, The Victoria and Albert Museum has over 5,000 years of art and related artifacts to display.

It’s difficult to cover the entire museum in one visit, so the best plan is to choose a minimum number of the museum’s exhibits you would like to see. A V&A tour is highly recommended and free with options to include everything from daily introductory tours to the specific gallery or themed tours.

Check up on the fun “Friday Late” programs held on the last Friday of each month for more drink and food events, and late-night exhibitions.

Website: www.vam.ac.uk
Address: Cromwell Rd, London SW7 2RL, United Kingdom
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Soho

Soho has been known for a long time as the base of the sex industry in London. Although there are still some sex shops dotted here and there, the area is now the most popular nightlife spot, giving Soho a delightfully risqué vibe. With plenty of gay and lesbian bars to check out after the sun goes down, Soho is often considered the center of the city’s LGBTQ* community.

Soho has a number of theaters, jazz bars and restaurants to explore, in addition to bars and clubs, making it a cultural hotspot. Its close proximity to Leicester Square means that, after a play or stage show, it is also a great place to go for a few drinks.

Soho loses none of its charm during the day. Here you’ll find lots of music shops, small cafes and quaint bakeries. For perfect people-watching, stop for a coffee and pastry on Old Compton Street.

Baker Street

Baker Street, best known as the street that Arthur Conan Doyle’s infamous detective Sherlock Holmes lived on, is one of London’s cultural staples.

A Sherlock Holmes museum near the Underground station, especially popular after the ‘Sherlock’ BBC revival, can be found today.

Madame Tussauds, the internationally renowned wax museum where you can pose with your favorite celebrities, is just around the corner.

Then escape the crowds of Baker Street in the nearby Regent’s Park, or climb Primrose Hill for the most amazing view of the city from London.

Oxford Street

Oxford Street is not only the top shopping spot in London but also the busiest shopping street in Europe. It has 300 stores, and every day it receives over 500,000 visitors.

Shop until you go to designer stores and department stores like Debenhams and House of Fraser that are internationally renowned. Selfridges has complex and beautiful displays of windows that change with the seasons. These often feature interactive windows and work by acclaimed performers.

The Oxford Street Christmas lights illuminate your shopping spots around Christmas and add a little glitter to the evenings.

Harrods

Harrods is one of the largest and most famous department stores in the world, recognized for its celebrity-endorsed sales, food hall, and signature green bags. Harrods sells luxury and daily items across seven floors and 330 departments with more than a million square feet (90,000 sq m) of space.

At Christmas, to make the celebrations even more special, Harrods puts together a number of luxury Christmas hampers filled with goodies. Explore the building and get lost in London’s most exclusive department store while shopping for lavish perfumes, children’s toys, and even pets.

Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Square is a large city square commemorating the victory of Lord Horatio Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 against Napoleon’s navy. Within the square, the central monument is a single tall column on which the Nelson figure stands looking over London. Four colossal lions and a series of large fountains surround his monument. Trafalgar Square is one of the most famous city squares in the world and has become a social and political location for tourists and Londoners alike, far more than just an open plaza.

Shoreditch

Shoreditch has recently undergone extensive regeneration and is one of the most trendy parts of London. It is now one of the city’s hottest nightlife spots and one of London’s coolest places to stay.

It’s the perfect place to spend a day and an evening, packed with bars and eateries. Check out Trapeze, a circus-themed bar that serves out popcorn tub-style cups for endlessly inventive drinks.

There’s Far Rockaway for pop culture lovers, a chilled bar and restaurant filled with comic books, band posters, and a regular night in the 90s. Or for a blues night accompanied by sticky ribs and other American staples, visit the Blues Kitchen.

The Two Tates: Tate Britain and Tate Modern

London now has two Tate art galleries: Tate Britain and Tate Modern, once collectively known singularly as the Tate Gallery. The original gallery, consisting of one of the most important art collections in the world, opened in 1897 as the basis of a national collection of important British art and continued to make acquisitions, needing more space to display its collections properly. As a result, Tate Britain was established in Millbank, on the north side of the Thames, as the residence for its permanent collection of historic British paintings.

Greenwich and Docklands

Greenwich, the hub of Britain’s naval power for centuries, is best known to tourists as the home of the Cutty Sark, the last tea clipper to sail between Britain and China in the 19th century. The ship is located adjacent to the Discover Greenwich Visitor Centre and the Palladian mansion known as Queen’s House, with its exhibits showing more than 500 years of maritime history.

The history of the Royal Navy is illustrated by the impressive collections of the National Maritime Museum, the largest of its kind in the world. And one of the most unusual things to do in London is to stand astride the Meridian Line in the Meridian Building in the Royal Observatory with one foot in each hemisphere.

The revitalized Docklands across the river, filled with some of London’s smartest new restaurants, has been transformed into an international place of business and recreation. In the old Georgian warehouses, the excellent Museum of London Docklands brings to life the river, port, and its people from Roman times to the present through hands-on displays that are particularly interesting for children.

Camden

In north London, Camden is a well-known cultural neighborhood. The crowds here, known for their alternative culture, are full of goths, punks, rockabillies, and tourists alike. Camden has a vibrant community of body mods, and in this part of town, you will find a number of piercing and tattoo shops.

Camden Market is diverse and eclectic, with street food from international cuisines, and lots of stalls selling trinkets to take home with unique artwork. Rummage through vintage clothing racks, find a used book to take on your trips, or visit Cookies And Scream at one of the best vegan bakeries in the city.

Stroll down to Camden Lock after your shopping spree to relax by the Regent’s Canal, or walk along the water all the way to King’s Cross.

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