A visit to London on holiday has many enriching touring opportunities. From world famous museums to historic palaces, London is filled with history. One of the largest, most famous cities in the world gives visitors hours or days of endless options to experience tradition, history and world renown globally popular places. There are so many things to see and do in London. Whether you choose a self guided tour, a walking tour, a boat tour or a limo hire tour, London is filled with opportunities that must be experienced.
Following are just 10 of the most popular attractions that must be seen on a visit to London.
1. London Eye
One of the most visible modern features of the London skyline is the Coca-Cola London Eye. The world’s tallest cantilevered observation wheel gradually rotates every 30 minutes and towering 135 metres above the city. This modern symbol of London contains 32 high tech glass capsules that over 360 degree views of the capital city as an interactive guide explains the magnificent sites. On a clear day views extend for 40 kilometres.
2. Tower of London
Originally built as a fortress, the Tower of London has a 900 year history as a palace, a zoo, an armoury a prison and place of execution and finally as a museum and the home of the Royal Jewelry. The medieval towers can be toured with the guidance of Beefeater clad tour guides. The tower features torture chambers, prison cells, medieval bedrooms, the legendary ravens and perhaps some ghosts.
3. Buckingham Palace
Built in 1837, Buckingham Palace is the London home of the Queen. When the Queen is in residence, the flag atop the palace is raised. Fifteen million visitors a year watch the Changing of the Guard ceremony in front of the palace. The ceremony occurs every morning at 11:30. Areas of the palace have been opened for tours. These include the State Rooms, the Queen’s Gallery and the Royal Mews.
4. The Houses of Parliament/Westminster
A London landmark, the Houses of Parliament line the banks of the Thames along with Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, White Hall and Tower Bridge. Westminster Abbey is the famous resting place of
British sovereigns as well as the home of many coronations and royal weddings. The site can best be viewed by taking a river boat cruise. There are building tours available as well.
5. Hampton Court Palace
Located along the Thames, Hampton Court Palace’s Great Hall dates back to King Henry VIII. It was at Hampton Court Palace that Queen Elizabeth I learned of the English defeat of the Spanish Armada. The palace features a chapel, the King’s apartments, the Tudor tennis court and beautiful gardens including the Privy, Elizabethan Knot, Broad and one of the world’s most famous maze gardens. There are stories of hauntings throughout the palace, particularly by two of the six of King Henry VIII’s wives.
6. Covent Garden
Originally a flower market, Covent Garden retains its prominence as a market area in London. Specialty items, hand crafts, souvenirs and other kiosks line Covent Garden along Long Acre and
extend to adjacent streets. The area is home to the London Transport Museum and the Royal Opera House.
7. Hyde Park and Kew Gardens
Hyde Park is the largest open space in London. Designated in 1635, 350 acres of parkland can be enjoyed by the public. Hyde Park features the Wellington Arch and Aspley’s House in honor of the Duke of Wellington. Aspley House, the former home of the Duke of Wellington is a museum filled with paintings and gifts from the Kings and Emperors of Europe.
Kew Gardens or the Royal Botanical Gardens located along the southern bank of the Thames in southwest London is filled with plants through its 300 acres. Designated in 1759, Kew Gardens
became government property in 1841. In 1897 Queen Victoria added Queen’s Cottage and Woodlands.
8. St. Paul’s Cathedral
The largest cathedral in London, St. Paul’s is located atop a former Roman Temple. The original structure was destroyed by the Great Fire of 1666 and rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren. Its
architecture is highly admired throughout the world.
9. Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square
The main squares where the busy streets of London meet are perhaps the most famous in the world. They form gateways to the Soho district where London’s theatre and main entertainment district are located. Piccadilly Circus is the intersection of Piccadilly, Regent, Haymarket and Shaftbury. The Winged Statue of Eros rises from its center. Trafalgar Square features the 56 metre granite statue of Lord Horatio Nelson. The column overlooks a fountain and honors the commander’s victory over the Spanish and French at Waterloo.
10. Museums and Theatre
As a major world city, London is the home to famous theatres and museums. The Theatre District features plays including Les Miserables, The Lion King, The Phantom of the Opera, Jersey Boys and
War Horse among many more. There are many museums to visit in London and they are free except for some special exhibits. The Natural Gallery is filled with famous artwork. The Natural History, the British Museum and Science Museums feature centuries of history and discoveries. The Tate and Madame Toussaud’s Museums feature more modern works of art.