A trip to London is your opportunity to visit one of Europe’s most important cities and everything in it. London is great for a weekend or a whole week due to how many important places and monuments there are.
From Hyde Park to the Tower of London via Trafalgar Square, the centre of London and the surrounding area is home to architectural, historical, and cultural marvels. There are so many things to see and do that you couldn’t possibly do it all.
In this article, we’ve got some of the most important places to visit in the English capital that you won’t want to miss during your next trip. Here’s our guide to London’s unmissable sights!
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Top Destinations in London: Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace is the official residence of Queen Elizabeth II and one of London’s most popular tourist attractions. This heavily-guarded palace has hosted historic events, visits from heads of state, and royal baptisms.
The palace is open to tourists from the end of July to September. There 19 official apartments with an exhibition on the royals that changes regularly. The guided tour lasts around 4 hours.
Tip: The flag on the palace indicates whether or not the queen is there. The Royal Standard of the United Kingdom will be flown when she’s there. When she isn’t there, the Union Flag will be flown.
You can visit the outside of the palace and take photos. The best time to get photos is during the Changing of the Guard which takes place every day at 11:30 AM.
Piccadilly Circus and Soho
Piccadilly Circus is the crossroads of the British capital. With its giant screens and advertising boards, it’s regularly compared to Times Square in New York City. Every year, over 100 million tourists visit here and the famous streets such as Regent Street, Shaftesbury Avenue, and Covent Street.
You can do plenty of things here:
- See Shaftesbury Fountain.
- Buy sweets at Kingdom of Sweets or M&M’s World.
- Go shopping at the Lego Store.
- Eat at Planet Hollywood or Shake Shack.
- Catch a show.
- Spend the evening in the nearby pubs.
Just next to Piccadilly Circus, you’ll find the famous Soho area, the heart of London and home to wonderful buildings, shops, and theatres where you can enjoy a show. Don’t hesitate to walk on Carnaby Street or enjoy a meal in Chinatown.
London’s Monuments and Tourist Attractions: The British Museum
The British Museum is one of the most famous museums in London. This is a history museum that’s home to 7 million objects from all over the world.
The exhibitions cover a large range of human history from Mesopotamia to contemporary European history. With 6 million visitors a year, this is the United Kingdom’s most popular tourist attraction.
Entry is free, much like most of London’s museums, and you can admire Egyptian antiquities or spend your money on wonderful souvenirs.
Covent Garden is an area of London’s West End and home to many tourist attractions. It gets its name from the fruit and vegetable market that is now the area’s main attraction and has since been renamed the Apple Market.
There are also tourist attractions such as:
- Saint Paul’s Church
- The Royal Opera House
- The London Film Museum
- Many theatres including the Lyceum Theatre
- The British Transport Museum
The area is also home to plenty of restaurants so don’t hesitate to wander around the market or take in a show.
Visiting London: Westminster Abbey and Big Ben
London is a city rich in history and each area of London has its own story to tell. Westminster has the most monuments per square metre. Among them, the Palace of Westminster, Westminster Abbey, and Big Ben.
No trip to London is complete without visiting Westminster Abbey, a religious building and a UNESCO world heritage site. It’s here where most British monarchs are buried and crowned.
The Royal Family also organises marriages here including the wedding between William and Kate. You can spend the whole day visiting this place. You’ll need to buy tickets for a guided tour, though. It’s a great way to learn more about the United Kingdom’s history.
Alongside the abbey, you’ll find Big Ben, the famous clock overlooking London. The tower is 96 metres in height and weights 13.5 tonnes. Visits to Big Ben are reserved for UK residents only. That said, you can always take a photo from the outside.
Camden Town is an area to the north of London’s centre. This is the alternative side of the city. Thanks to its markets, unusual shops, and street food, the area is very popular with tourists.
There’s plenty to visit.
- Camden High Street, the main street in the area.
- Inverness Market
- Camden Buck Street Market
- KERB Street Food Market
- Camden Lock Market
- The Stables Market (home to the famous Cyberdog store)
All we need to say is that you won’t get bored in Camden Town. Just make sure you bring your wallet and make sure you spend a few hours here to get the most out of it.
However, like all popular tourist destinations, beware of pickpockets.
London Attractions: Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge is definitely London’s most famous bridge. To fully discover London, you have to include this in your trip along the Thames. You can also visit the engine rooms to learn more about the history of this famous place.
You might want to attend the opening of the bridge. The lower part of the bridge will open to let larger boats and ships pass underneath. However, there isn’t a schedule for when this happens.
Tower Bridge is located between the City of London and the south bank of the Thames. If you’re looking at a map of London, you’ll see that the Shakespeare’s Globe and the Tate Modern are not far from it.
Other Unmissable Attractions in London
There are plenty of other places of interest in London. Let’s start with the London Eye, the big wheel that overlooks the city from the south banks of the Thames. The Shard also offers great views across the city.
The Eye is a popular tourist attraction that gives you a panoramic view of London from 135 metres in the air. However, it’s very popular and we recommend booking in advance and opting for a queue-jump ticket when you can.
We also recommend Madame Tussauds, one of the most popular tourist attractions in London. This is the world’s most famous wax museum and since 1835, has been welcoming tourists to see replicas of the world’s most famous people.
What would London be without a bit of magic?
The Making of Harry Potter - Warner Bros. Studio Tour London can be found in Leavesden, just outside of London. You can see the sets and costumes used in the films!
If you’re a Harry Potter fan, you won’t want to miss King’s Cross Station, which includes the famous Platform 9 3/4 and a shop for muggles to buy souvenirs of the world’s most famous wizard.
In London, there are also tonnes of museums. Each museum in London offers something interesting to see from antiquities to contemporary art exhibitions. Here’s a quick list of museums that may be of interest:
- The National Gallery
- The Victoria and Albert Museum
- The Natural History Museum
- The Tate Britain
- The Tate Modern
- The British Museum
You can also visit the Tower of London, a historic fortress on the banks of the Thames. This building is home to the British Crown Jewels nd another popular tourist destination.
Finally, if you like walking around and looking at antiques, you may want to visit Portobello Road. In Notting Hill, this market stretches on for 3km and is open on Fridays and Saturdays.
Now that you know a bit more about London’s most popular destinations, you can start planning your trip. To learn more about London, check out our other articles. You can even brush up on your English with a private tutor on Superprof!