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London - Twenty (or so) most popular places to visit

 

 

General London The 'Must Sees' Getting around Museums Theatre/Entertainment
Art Galleries London by River South Bank Shops Outwith London

 

 

Start here:

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

London A-Z  before you go. Excellent maps covering the whole on London.

 

Firstly, a quick rundown of the most important places to see:

 

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.


Westminster Abbey  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 knocker!

 

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 bargained for.

 

Covent Garden. Cornucopia or what?  shopping, eating and off-the-cuff performances to name but a few.  Just go, enjoy the flavour.

 

Buckingham Palace.  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!

 

Madame Tussauds 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 few times.

Westminster from the London Eye

 

What a view!

The London Eye Ferris 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.

Tower of London

Crown kept in Tower of London

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.

Take 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 your friends!.

Open: Monday-Friday: 09.00-21.00
Saturday, Sunday, Bank Holidays: 10.00-17.00
To purchase tickets by telephone, please call: +44 (0)870 756 7070. You can buy online.

 

(If 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.)
 

Tate Modern  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.

 

 Kensington 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
Kensington Gardens
London
W8 4PX
England

Information line: +44 (0)870 751 5170

Kensington Palace

 

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
Monday-Friday: 09.00-21.00
Saturday, Sunday, Bank Holidays: 10.00-17.00

 

Hampton Court

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.

The Banqueting House

 

Address: The 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.
Monday-Friday: 09.00-21.00
Saturday, Sunday, Bank Holidays: 10.00-17.00

 

 

Other stuff:

 

Tower Bridge - The Tower Bridge Exhibition

 

Check out movie locations in London

 

Highgate Cemetery - Karl Marx, George Eliot to name but a few VIP graves.

 

Charles Dickens Museum - not just for Dickensian fans

 

Some events in London through the year


Tourist info:

 

General London

Getting around

Museums

Theatre/Entertainment

Art Galleries

London by River

South Bank

Shops

Outwith London

Events

 

 

   

 

 

Hotels in the West End area W1


 

Hotels in Kensington area W8


 

Hotels in the Buckingham Palace, Belgravia & Pimlico area  SW1


 

Hotels in the Earls Court area SW5


 

Hotels in South Kensington & Knightsbridge area SW7

 

 

 

   

 

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