“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.” This quote, by the illustrious 18th century writer Samuel Johnson, may seem like a hyperbole. But to the more than eight million people who call it home (not to mention the millions who make it their vacation destination each year), London is a life force – spanning thousands of years of culture, history, and architecture. Whether you’ve paid a visit to the city known as the Smoke many times or are eyeing your inaugural trip, here is our list of the Top 10 Must-See Sites in London: classic, modern, multicultural, and everything in between.
1. London Eye
The London Eye provides spectacular views of the city
Open to the public since March 2000, the London Eye – also known as the Millennium Wheel — is the UK’s most-frequented paid attraction. And it’s no wonder: with 360 degree views from each of the 32 capsules, the Eye provides what many consider to be the best panorama of London. Unlike most Ferris wheel structures, all of the glass pods are attached to the metal frame; in other words, you won’t feel the swinging sensation associated with most observation wheels. Additionally, each rotation lasts about 30 minutes, so you’ll have plenty of time to take in (and photograph) the scenery, which stretches up to 40 kilometers away.
The Eye is a hugely popular attraction, especially for tourists, so be prepared for a long queue. Each cabin (which can fit roughly two dozen people) has air conditioning, heating, and bench seating. Although the Eye maintains its slow pace for passengers boarding and disembarking, it will stop for elderly or disabled guests. General tickets are £20.95 for adults, £15 for children 4 to 15 years of age, and £17.50 for seniors (discounts are available if you book your tickets online) as of July 2014. We recommend you spend a little extra and spring for the day and night experience, which allows you to view the heart of the city in the midday and nighttime hours. The Eye is open from 10am to roughly 8:30pm year round (extended summer hours apply), with closings for Christmas Day and a week in January. Located on the South Bank of the River Thames, the attraction is accessible via bus, boat or Tube. Take the Bakerloo, Jubilee or Northern trains to the Waterloo Underground station for a short walk to the wheel. Interested in seeing the views from the London Eye before you go? Take a look at the London Eye! Read the entire story here…»
For the better part of the past two decades, the Harry Potter books and films have enriched the lives of millions of readers across the world. They have also introduced foreign readers and moviegoers to the wonderful country that is England. From the gorgeous film locations showcasing some of the country’s most magical places to J.K. Rowling’s amazingly detailed stories about life (both magical and non-magical) in Britain, Harry Potter has provided a wonderful introduction to the United Kingdom, and to its capital London.
London has played a big part in the Harry Potter universe. It’s the fictional home of some of the most astonishing places in each book, such as the Ministry of Magic, Platform 9 ¾ and Diagon Alley. London was also emphatically used in the Harry Potter movies to bring the magical universe of these novels to life. Today, you can still find many of the wondrous Harry Potter locations from the books and the movies in London. These locations aren’t just great fun to visit for Harry Potter fans, but also provide visitors with the chance to discover some fantastic lesser-known landmarks in London they wouldn’t necessarily see otherwise. We’ve compiled a list of our top 10 Harry Potter locations in London to inspire you to go on a magical exploration of the city!
1. Platform 9 ¾ at King’s Cross Station
Harry Potter’s Platform 9 ¾ at King’s Cross Station in London
To start off with the beginning – and ending – of Harry Potter’s magical journey, head to King’s Cross Station on Euston Road. King’s Cross is the station where students board the Hogwarts Express on Platform 9 ¾. Unfortunately, J.K. Rowling was actually thinking of London Euston Station when she was writing the books, so you won’t be able to find the secret barrier between platforms 9 and 10. You will, however, find a lovely plaque stating Platform 9 ¾ on a wall with a disappearing luggage cart at King’s Cross. Here you’ll have the chance to take a picture (complete with a Gryffindor scarf) and to check out the adjacent Harry Potter shop where you can buy merchandise from the books and films. Incidentally, the beautiful Victorian building of next-door neighbor St. Pancras Station was used as the exterior of King’s Cross Station in the Harry Potter films.
2. The Reptile House at the London Zoo
Another defining moment for Harry took place at the London Zoo in Regent’s Park in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. While visiting the Reptile House with the Dursleys, Harry found out he could talk to snakes, and accidentally released a huge boa constrictor. The first Harry Potter film also shot this scene in the Reptile House, and you’ll find a plaque beside the tank that held the snake in the movie, but in reality is home to a black mamba. Also be sure to explore the other parts of the London Zoo, which is a great attraction for kids. For more family-friendly activities, see Visit London with the Kids. Read the entire story here…»
Londoners already know what many tourists coming to London will quickly find out: there are more free things to see and do in this city than you could ever dream of! London has a reputation for being an expensive area, but if you know your way around you’ll be able to experience free culture, landmarks & more! In this article we’ll list our top 10 free things to see and do in the beautiful city of London. We hope you’ll make good use of them on your next visit to the capital of England!
1. Explore London’s Free Museums
The British Museum, one of London’s top attractions, is completely free to visit!
One of the best things about London is that most of its museums are completely free to visit. Even a world-class museum such as the British Museum charges no entrance fee. Home to gems such as the Rosetta Stone and the Parthenon sculptures, the British Museum is one of the top attractions in London!
Other great free-of-charge museums include the National Gallery, the Museum of London, and the Tate Modern. You can easily spend an entire day in any of these museums, especially during a rainy day! Visiting London with kids? Here are some museums suitable for the entire family: the National History Museum, the Science Museum London, and the V&A Museum of Childhood.
For more tips on how to save money on a trip to London with the kids, see Money Saving Tips for a Family Trip to London. Read the entire story here…»
The London Eye and Sea Life London Aquarium are just two examples of attractions in London the kids will love
Planning a family holiday with kids can be difficult. You have to think about the right accommodation and of course a kid-friendly destination. If you’re looking for a place that will keep your kids entertained effortlessly while also allowing you (and your partner) to explore a new destination some much-deserved culture, look no further! London is the prefect destination to bring the kids on a family holiday. From kid-friendly museums to sprawling parks, and family events, London really has it all!
In this article we’ll give you an idea of what a family holiday in London can be like and also provide you with many kid-friendly activities in London. Read the entire story here…»
The London Eye, Thames River and Palace of Westminster
A recent addition to the London skyline, the London Eye has now become an indispensable landmark in the city. Millions of people visit the huge Ferris wheel every year, and if you’re coming to London in the near future, chances are you’ll become one of them! In this article we’ll highlight the popular London landmark, which is the most-visited paid visitor attraction in the UK, and provide you with some inside tips to make the most of your visit! Read the entire story here…»
The National Gallery in London boasts one of the finest art collections in the world, a must-see on any trip to London.
But until February 5, the National Gallery is home to one of its biggest blockbusters ever. The exhibit, “Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan” focuses on da Vinci’s work from the years of 1482 until 1499, when he firmly established himself as the renowned da Vinci we know today while working for the Duke of Milan.
The National Gallery in London
On display are 7 of the 14 known da Vinci paintings (like both the Louvre and National Gallery’s Virgin on the Rocks), 60 da Vinci drawings (more than half of which are from the Royal Collection including10 of his work for preparation of “The Last Supper”) as well as works from da Vinci’s pupils and a reproduction of “The Last Supper” by his pupil Giampietrino. All of this makes it perhaps the easiest way to see Leonardos since the 15th century.
But with the show brining in such important pieces of art, the show has unprecedented demand. With tickets already sold out, the best way to get a ticket is through the 500 tickets distributed at the beginning of the day. But there is no need to worry about overcrowding in the gallery, as the museum has limited the capacity to 180 people while the gallery can hold 230. Due to the fragile nature of the art, the show will not be traveling and it’s possible this will be the only chance you’ll have to see so many da Vincis in one place. Read the entire story here…»
221B Baker Street, London
This month, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows will hit the theaters.
There are few characters most closely associated with London than Sherlock Holmes. Given the amount of Holmes’ sites in London, you wouldn’t know he was a fictional creation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Upon arriving at the Baker Street Tube station, the Metropolitan Line walls are covered in scenes from Holmes stories and if you exit on Marylebone Road, you’ll come upon a 9-foot statue of Holmes in his famous deerstalker hat.
Just around the corner on Baker Street is perhaps the most famous address in London, 221B Baker Street. And although Holmes may be fiction, the address is real. There sits the Sherlock Holmes Museum, a faithful recreation of what Holmes’ and Watson’s flat rented from Mrs. Hudson would have looked like as described in the books, complete with a blue historical marker denoting the years Holmes’ would have spent in the home. Upton entering the building and walking up the 17 steps (as mentioned in “A Scandal in Bohemia”) you are surrounded with ‘artifacts,’ wax figures of characters, and other potential belongings of Holmes. Usually an actor playing Holmes or Mrs. Hudson will greet you in the museum as well. Below is a gift shop complete with deerstalker hats and pipes you could imagine Holmes using himself. Read the entire story here…»
London Olympic Stadium under construction
The excitement for next year’s summer Olympics is in full swing in London, even though many of the venues are still being finished.
The Olympic Park is in the East End of London in Stratford where most of the venues will be held. As mentioned, many aren’t completed yet and you can’t access the on foot. But there are several ways to see the stadiums being built.
The only way to get inside the Olympic Park is to take a free tour on a bus. This takes you for a guided sneak peek at the Olympic site as construction carries on. The tour lasts an hour, but there’s no opportunity to get off the bus, but it moves slowly to allow for plenty of photo opportunities. Reservations are required and can be arranged for through the London Olympic 2012 site.
If you can’t snag a reservation for the bus tour, seeing work progress on the site is still possible. The View Tube has been much more popular than expected. Built from recycled shipping containers, the View Tube gives great views from above the Olympic Park with detailed maps and information about the site. It’s open every day from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. Read the entire story here…»
Football and London go together like fish and chips. And on August 13th, the Premier League, the top league in English football, starts play.
While many Americans are unfamiliar with European football (soccer to Americans), attending a game is unlike any sporting event in the world and should be experienced. Luckily, London has five teams in the Premiere League, the top league for English soccer.
Recently, the two most successful teams in London have been Chelsea and Arsenal. Chelsea finished last year second in the Premiere League and won the league the year before. Founded in 1905, they play in the historic Stamford Bridge in Fulham. Led by players like Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard, and John Terry, they’re expected to contend for the championship again this year. Read the entire story here…»
Abbey Road Photo
As Beatles fans surely know, Paul McCartney is touring North America this summer. But while not everyone will be able to see the legend perform, they can all see places in London he made famous.
The most popular Beatles site in London is certainly Abbey Road. The mythic road is located in the St-John’s Wood and Regent Park areas. While you can’t get access to the recording studio, you can get a great look at it from the outside. But the Beatles are probably more known for their iconic “Abbey Road” album cover where the four Beatles are walking across the zebra stripes outside the studio. It should be warned that Abbey Road is a busy London street and the drivers aren’t always happy to stop for tourists posing in the middle of the road. But that said, it’s possible to recreate the famous shot. Whether you do this barefoot as Paul did or not is up to you (you can leave your shoes on the sidewalk, you probably won’t be the only one doing so). Are you afraid to have your shoes stolen and want to walk all the way barefoot to Abbey Road, check out accommodations in the St-John’s Wood and Regent Park areas. Read the entire story here…»