There is a little bit of every corner of the planet in London. Therefore, it is one of the most mesmerizing cities in the world. Modern architectural wonders like the Shard line ancient alleys dotted with historic monuments, luxury stores and award-winning theaters.
Picturesque streets wind around renowned attractions like Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, and St. Paul's Cathedral.... Thus, visitors marvel at its beauty and exhaust their phones' photo storage!
With so many impressive tourist attractions and captivating things to do, it is no wonder that London is one of the most visited cities in the world.. The metropolis welcomes more than 20 million tourists each year. That's because Britain's bustling capital offers something for everyone: shoppers, adventurers, historians, families.
How about going to a major museum (many free), a picnic in the park, visiting a palace, or strolling through a lush garden? Maybe see a show, ride through the woods, take a flight on the London Eye, or have a traditional afternoon tea at Harrods.
So here is our list of some of the best attractions and things to do in London to enjoy this phenomenal city.
1. Visit Buckingham Palace and watch the Changing of the Guard
One of Britain's icons, Buckingham Palace is also the setting for London's most popular display of pomp and circumstance, the Changing of the Guard. Attracting crowds all year round, the display of precision marching and music also takes place at St. James's Palace. Soon after, you can follow the band along The Mall as they march between venues.
2. See the Royal Jewels at the Tower of London and walk across Tower Bridge
From prison to palace, treasure chest to private zoo, the magnificent Tower of London has fulfilled many different roles over the centuries. As such, this spectacular world heritage site offers hours of fascination to visitors curious about the country's rich history.
Inside the massive White Tower, built in 1078 by William the Conqueror, is the 17th-century Kings Row with its remarkable displays of royal armaments and armor.
Other highlights include the famous Crown Jewels exhibit, the Beefeaters, the Royal Mint, and macabre exhibits about the executions that took place there. Finally, the Bloody Tower features stories of ancient torture, and you can learn about the mystery of two princes who disappeared many years ago.
3. Experience the culture of the British Museum
Displaying one of the finest collections of antiquities in the world, the British Museum contains more than 13 million artifacts from the ancient world. So, with priceless objects from Assyria, Babylon, China, Europe and elsewhere, it's hard to know where to start at this huge attraction.
Thus, most tourists head first to the museum's most famous exhibits: the controversial Elgin Marbles from the Parthenon, the Rosetta Stone, the colossal bust of Ramesses II, the Egyptian mummies, and the spectacular 4th century Roman silver stock known as the Mildenhall Treasury.
In addition to a well-stocked bookstore with titles on ancient history, archaeology, and art history, there is a store selling games and souvenirs for children, and another selling replicas of sculptures and jewelry.
4. Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament
Nothing says "London" more emphatically than the 97-meter tower that houses the giant clock and its resounding bell known as Big Ben. Therefore, it is as iconic a landmark as Tower Bridge. In addition, the Big Ben toll is known around the world as the BBC time signal.
Below it, stretching along the Thames, are the Houses of Parliament, seat of the British government for many centuries and once the site of the Royal Palace of Westminster occupied by William the Conqueror.
5. The National Gallery
It is almost impossible to visit London without catching a glimpse of the impressive National Gallery. This iconic, columned museum is situated on the edge of Trafalgar Square. This is because it is home to incredible masterpieces that make it one of the best attractions in London.
Ranked among the best art museums in the world, the National Gallery in London represents an almost complete panorama of European painting from 1260 to 1920. The highlights are its collections of Dutch masters and Italian schools from the 15th and 16th centuries.
Among its highlights are a preliminary sketch of Leonardo da Vinci's Madonna and Child, Michelangelo's The Entombment, Botticelli's Venus and Mars, Van Gogh's Sunflowers, and Monet's The Water Lily.
6. Visit the Sculptures at the Victoria and Albert Museum
The Victoria and Albert Museum is part of a group of museums based in South Kensington that includes the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum. Founded in 1852, it covers about 52 km² and contains 145 galleries covering some 5,000 years of art and related artifacts.
Also, don't miss a chance to luxuriate in the John Madejski Garden, which is so beautiful and serene that you'll forget you're in the center of one of the world's greatest cities.
So if you're nearby, get in on one of the fun "Friday Late" programs held on the last Friday of the month (except March and December), popular for its food and drink experiences as well as evening exhibition openings.
7. Stroll around Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square
Two of London's best-known sights, Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square are not far apart. Even more, they mark the gateways to Soho, London's lively theater and entertainment district.
Finally, the walk from one to the other is very pleasant, filled with eclectic boutiques, tasty cafes, ice cream parlors, and winding streets that evoke a bygone era. A time when only horses and carts passed through these historic streets.
8. Take a trip to the top of The Shard
Since its opening in 2012, The Shard has taken its place as one of London's best known and most visited landmarks. At 310 meters high and some 95 stories tall, this remarkable structure - so named for its resemblance to a piece of glass - dominates the skyline.
Surprisingly, thanks to its pleasing design, it doesn't look out of place at all when viewed alongside neighbors like Tower Bridge. Moreover, its office space occupies the lower levels. Even more, The Shard houses the impressive Shangri-La Hotel and three magnificent restaurants, all boasting some of the most incredible views over London.
9. Be inspired by the two Tates: Tate Britain and Tate Modern
Inevitably, art lovers, when visiting London, have to visit its most impressive art museums: the two Tates. Located on opposite sides of the Thames are the Tate Britain and the Tate Modern.
Encompassing one of the world's most important art collections, the original gallery opened in 1897 as the basis of a significant national collection of British art, and continued to make acquisitions, needing more space to properly display its collections.
The end result was the establishment of Tate Britain, in Millbank on the north side of the Thames, as the home of its permanent collection of historic British paintings. An extraordinarily transformed power station across the Thames became home to the modern art collections.
Visitors can spend a full day visiting both sites, conveniently connected by a high-speed ferry. Better yet, cross the Millennium Bridge, a footbridge that connects the two banks of the river near the Tate Modern. The views are spectacular.
10. Go underground to Churchill's War Rooms
Among the most fascinating and revealing historical sites in London is the perfectly preserved nerve center from which Prime Minister Winston Churchill directed British military campaigns and the defense of his homeland during World War II.
Its simplicity and narrow condition underscore England's desperate position as the Nazi clutches tightened across Europe.
You will see the small cubicle where Churchill slept and the makeshift radio studio where he broadcast his famous speeches. Simple details, such as Clementine Churchill's knitted wool marking the front lines on a map of Europe, bring the era to life as no other museum could. Audioguides are available (a complete self-guided tour takes about 90 minutes), and a café and bookstore are set up on site.