“Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.”
– Miriam Beard
Sightseeing in London can be a bit overwhelming. This city is so vast and dense with things to do that I think it’s impossible for even a local to do it all over a lifetime. From the Tower of London to Westminster Abbey, below you will find a list of the must-see sights in London.
1) Big Ben/Parliament
Address: Westminster, London SW1A 0AA
Tour Cost: Adults: 17.50 Euro, Children 5-15: 7 Euro, Children under 5 FREE
Tour Hours: 9:20am to 4:30pm (except Monday to Friday between 13 April and 6 May 2015, 12:40pm to 4:45pm)
Tour website: http://www.parliament.uk
Parliament is essentially the houses of power for the British government. There are some pretty fascinating conversations going on in this building on any given day. You can check the schedule on their website and see if any sessions are available for sit-ins. Big Ben is located just outside of Parliament. It is commonly mistaken that the clock tower itself is dubbed Big Ben, but in reality it’s just the bell inside. This has been a London staple for years and is located within walking distance of Westminster Abbey and the London Eye.
2) Westminter Abbey
Address: 20 Deans Yd Westminster, London SW1P 3PA
Cost of entry: Adults: 17 Euro, children 6-16: 9 Euro, 5 and under FREE. They also have specials for a family of 2 adults and 1 child for 40 Euro and for a family of 2 adults and 2 children for 45 Euro
Hours: vary, check their website for the dates you would like to go
Construction began on this Gothic style church in 1245 and was completed in 1272. Inside, you will find unmatched beauty, various art forms and architectural detail that will blow your mind. You will find the Abbey Shop to buy souvenirs, the Abbey gardens and a museum. Tip – Kids eat free all day every day in the Cellarium Café.
3) London Eye
Located on the South Bank is the iconic London Eye. It is Europe’s largest Ferris wheel and with almost 4 million visitors every year it is one of London’s most popular attractions. Hop in a pod and enjoy breath taking views of London until the city meets the horizon. I would recommend going to their main website to purchase tickets at a discounted rate. You can also head over to their website to find a variety of package options to choose from to customize your experience.
4) Tower of London
Address: London EC3N 4AB United Kingdom
Cost: Adults: 22.00 Euro, children 5-15: 11 Euro, 5 and under are free
Hours: Tues-Sat 09:00am-5:30pm; Sun-Mon 10:00am-5:30pm (these are summer hours, winter hours closing time will be 4:30pm)
Located on the North Bank of the Thames River is the historic Tower of London. Here you will find a plethora of history, mystique and beauty. The 949 year old castle holds stories of love, hate, murder, family and royalty like a soap opera stretched out over a thousand years. I would recommend reading up on the history of the tower before you go so you can thoroughly appreciate it while visiting. If reading isn’t exactly your thing then you’re in luck! There is a free tour called the Yeoman Warder Tour you can join in on and learn about the secrets and history these walls hold. This tour begins at the front entrance every 30 minutes and lasts about an hour. For a list of activities the tower holds click here, and for those of you who love to be scared try one of their twilight tours, for more info click here.
The tower is also home to the crown jewels which house 23,578 gems and the stories behind them. It also holds the largest diamond ever found (I know ladies…try not to cry when you have to leave). Inside you will also find the 800 year old Coronation Spoon, The Sovereign’s Sceptre with Cross (a 530 carat diamond!) crowns, crowns and more crowns!
TIP there is a Red Rover Cruise Tour dock outside the tower walls where you can catch a boat to the London Eye and various other place. It is a beautiful way to see the city as you float down the Thames river.
5) Red Rover Cruise Tour
The Red Rover cruise offered a chance to sit down and relax while floating down the Thames and soaking in the views of London. Our tour guide was hilarious and made the ride that much more enjoyable. The cruises take off every 30 minutes and have multiple stops. It is a great way to get around to some of the major sights off the Thames. Consider taking the cruise in the evening, I imagine the city lit up would be an unforgettable sight.
6) Hyde Park
The beautiful Hyde park covers about 350 acres in the middle of London. It’s such a calming atmosphere in contrast to the bustling streets, so calming in fact, that as you wander around you will see people (who are not homeless by the way) just taking naps in the middle of the park. We even seen some people with ducks snuggling up to them as they all slept. There were gardens within Hyde park that were beginning to bloom and a little cafe right off The Serpentine lake to enjoy some coffee at. Hyde park is also home to the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain and the Speakers’ Corner.
- THE BOAT HOUSE – Rent a rowing or pedal boat at The Boat House and enjoy the afternoon on the lake. It’s a beautiful sight to float down the lake and take in all that Hyde Park is. The Boat house is open April-October.
7) Trafalgar Square
Address: Westminster London WC2N 5DN
Often referred to as the heart of the city, Trafalgar Square is London’s largest square. Some of the most famous gatherings have taken place here, including the Bloody Sunday demonstration. Filled with statues, fountains, restaurants and shops it’s a great place for walking around and absorbing the British atmosphere. The National Gallery is located in the square and there are often musicians playing for tips out front. Across the street is a wonderful little coffee shop called Caffe Nero where you can people watch through the large windows and sip on your favorite beverage.
To experience more sightseeing around England check out these 10 great day trips from London by train!
London has an abundance of things to experience and enjoy. These are just a few London staples to make your vacation memorable and worthwhile!