Get a map before you go, find the places you want to
visit and work out a route - it will save time later but be prepared for a
change if something more interesting should come up. You're bound to come across
someone who'll tell you somewhere better to go!
Want to find your way around then explore the
before you go. Excellent maps covering the whole on London.
Firstly, a quick rundown of the most important places to
Tower of London where you
can take in the Beefeaters and Crown Jewels. Westminster with Parliament, Big
Ben and Westminster Abbey. Trafalgar Square (just because everyone's been
there). National Gallery. Buckingham Palace. Covent Garden. British
Museum. Imperial War Museum. Tate Galleries. St Paul's Cathedral. London
Eye Ferris wheel. Greenwich. Madame Tussauds. Science Museum. Soho. Piccadilly
Circus (because everyone goes there)
Work out what you want to see area by
area to save time.
If you want to feel you've 'arrived'
the first day then here's some ideas for a walk from Westminster,
the heart of London. How many films have you seen showing Westminster from
Westminster Bridge? Well get a photo from there first, send one back to
your friends on your mobile. Stare at Big Ben for that feeling of having 'arrived'. Zoom in now and wander past Westminster Abbey
up Whitehall and take a peek at 10 Downing Street (through bars!). Keep an eye
open for the Horse Guards, especially if you're there at 4pm and see the
dismounting ceremony. Next into Trafalgar Square where Lord Nelson dominates the
scene. Here we have the National Gallery and St Martin-in-the-Fields Church. Hop
on now to Leicester Square, the home of theatres and cinemas, down to
Piccadilly Circus which has become somewhat seedy and then continue on through
Soho up Shaftesbury Ave.
where all our monarchs are crowned and buried, at least since 1066. The
acoustics are brilliant - watch out for an organ recitals and such like.
Houses of Parliament and
Big Ben The seat of ruling can be viewed by all!. You can visit both
the Commons and the Lords. There are tours in high season if you're interested call
020 7344 9966
If you have time then the
Cabinet War Rooms are worth looking at. This was the underground HQ of our fight
against the Nazis 1939 - 1945. Some things have not been changed since the end
of the war.
Downing Street. Number 10 is
where it all happens but you'll have to be satisfied with peeking through the
railings. Gone are the days when you could stand outside and admire the door
While on Whitehall you may as
well stop and see Horse Guards. At their most interesting at 11am when
inspection takes place and again at 4pm when their have their dismounting
ceremony (when do they get to go to the loo?!).
Trafalgar Square. Another
place where you can feel you have 'arrived' Lord Nelson dominating this large
open space at the top of his huge column. Pigeons no longer abound but I suppose
we'll get used to that. This is one of 'the places' to be on New Years Eve - if
you like cuddling perfect strangers that is!
National Gallery is a must if
you like art at all. Host our best
collection of paintings - Turner, van Gogh, Rembrandt to mention just a few.
Join the 'quickie' or overview tours at 11.30am or 2.30pm.
If you need a lunch break
and a bit of peace from the hurly burly of Trafalgar Square then try the free
lunch time concerts here to St Martin-in-the-Fields - Built in the 1720's
and famous for its concerts. on Mon.Tue or Friday at 1.05.
Piccadilly Circus. They
say that if you sit in Piccadilly long enough you'll see everyone you ever knew.
Soho - well, what can we say.
Take a look, it's amusing, titillating, seedy. It's Soho. Careful not to get
done if you go into any of the shows, it may be more expensive than you
Covent Garden. Cornucopia or
what? shopping, eating and off-the-cuff performances to name but a few.
Just go, enjoy the flavour.
What can one say - this is home. If you want a visit you can do it in August and
Sept. Call 020 7321 2233. It's very popular so save time and book.
Changing of the Guard. This
can be seen at 11.30am April to August and every even numbered day 'off season'.
You could see the Royal Mews while in the vicinity. This is the
Queen's stables and is in daily use. You can see the wonderful coaches too.
Hyde Park. Acres and acres of
greenery with a man-made lake to boot. The merest hint of sunshine and we're out
there stripping down as far as we dare!
Waxworks. A load of fun once you get in.
Wren's most famous church is
St Paul's Cathedral.
The cathedral where the wedding of Prince Charles and the late Princess
Diana took place in 1981. See the crypt, anybody who's anybody's there! Have a
spooky time in the whispering gallery at the top of the dome. At 1pm every day
you can hear Great Paul, the largest swinging bell in Europe, being rung for
five minutes. If you climb the Golden Gallery you will have a fine view of
London. St Paul's was first built in 604 but burned down (it was made of wood) a
wheel is a wonderful way to see London
all in one go. On the South Bank. You can't miss it!
Tower of London
Founded by William the Conqueror in 1066-7 and enlarged and modified by
successive sovereigns, today the Tower of London is one of the world's
most famous and spectacular fortresses. Discover its 900-year history as a
royal palace and fortress, prison and place of execution, mint, arsenal,
menagerie and jewel house. The most famous of London's sights.
The Crown Jewels are what most people seem to go for so it would be a good
idea to either get there early and go straight for them or go as late as
possible hoping the queue has gone down.
the Beefeater tour - lasts about an hour - join it at the gate. Closing
time in season is 18.00. Tel: 020 7709 0765. Get your tickets at any TI
and avoid the queues. If you like a bit of pageantry then see the Ceremony
of the Keys at 21.30. You'll need an invite - to get one write to Ceremony of
the Keys, HM Tower of London, London EC3N 4AB. Send an sae giving names and
addresses of people attending plus date requested (and probably a back-up date
just in case). You'll need to write few months ahead - this should impress
Saturday, Sunday, Bank Holidays: 10.00-17.00
To purchase tickets by telephone, please call: +44 (0)870 756 7070. You can buy
you're ready for lunch now then pop over to the Katherine Yacht Harbours
situated next to Tower Bridge and the Tower of London, St Katharine Docks has
been the focus of worldwide trade and commerce for over 1,000 years. Once a
working dock, today, it is one of London's undiscovered treasures, an attractive
waterside environment with a mixture of shops, restaurants, offices and luxury
apartments as well as yachts and motorboats which come each year to use the
berthing facilities at this, London's premier marina.)
Just across the river from St Paul's - go via
the wobbly Millennium Bridge. This could be a controversial visit but art is a
matter of opinion. If you like a mixture of art then you'll enjoy Picasso,
Matisse, Monet and Warhol and many others plus extreme exhibits that make you
think. The audio guide is a good idea at around £1. If
you're highly into Tates then try the river bus which connects the Tate Modern
with Tate Britain
Natural History Museum
just across the way from the V&A. Wonderful stuff
from origin of the species type things to meteors. All kids learn about
dinosaurs at school, there is a super example that is amazingly life-like. Well
worth a visit.
The British Museum
There is so much packed into this museum - something for
everyone. A must.
A few other places not top of the list but worth a look:
Harrods. Knightsbridge. I have yet to meet anyone who
bought either toothbrush or an elephant from Harrods but that is their range! A shopaholics
delight - huge and magical.
Palace has been a royal home for over 300 years and parts of the
palace remain a private residence for members of the Royal Family today.
The magnificent State Apartments and the Royal Ceremonial Dress
Collection, which includes dresses worn by HM Queen Elizabeth II and
Diana, Princess of Wales, are open to the public.
Kensington Palace State Apartments
Information line: +44 (0)870 751 5170
Hampton Court Palace
Once the home of Henry VIII - it was given to him by Cardinal Wolsey (not
wanting to lose his head no doubt)
Hampton Court Palace promises a magical journey back through 500 years of
royal history. Discover the magnificent State Apartments of Henry VIII and
William III, explore 60 acres of immaculate riverside gardens and lose
yourself in the world-famous maze
but don't go in if you're in rush - it may take all day to get
out! If you're not in a rush then go in by boat - if you're pressed for
time then hop on a train from the railway station.
To purchase tickets by telephone, please call: +44
(0)870 753 7777
Saturday, Sunday, Bank Holidays: 10.00-17.00
City of London: St Paul's
Cathedral. Goldsmith's Hall has exhibitions open to all. Museum of
London. The Barbican. Bank of England. Threadneedle St. The Stock
Exchange. Emperor Claudius founded London in AD43 so it's pretty old! St Paul's Cathedral. The patron
saint of London is St Paul. The first St Paul's was built in 604 but being made
of wood burned down. Oddly enough this was to happen a number of times. The one
we see today is thanks to our famous architect Sir Christopher Wren.
The Banqueting House
is all that
remains of Whitehall Palace, the sovereign's principal residence from 1530
until 1698 when it was destroyed by fire. Renowned for its architecture
and painting, the building is also famous for being the scene of Charles I's execution.
Banqueting House, Whitehall,
London, SW1A 2ER
Information line: +44 (0)870 751 5178
Children under 5: Free
Tickets can be purchased on the day at the palace ticket office.
To purchase tickets by telephone, please call: +44 (0)870 751 5180.
Saturday, Sunday, Bank Holidays: 10.00-17.00
Tower Bridge -
movie locations in
Highgate Cemetery - Karl Marx, George Eliot to name but a few VIP graves.
Charles Dickens Museum - not just for Dickensian fans
events in London through the year
London by River