Naturally, a single weekend won’t be nearly enough, if you have decided to explore London. However, the list of primary sights you will find below will provide you with a general understanding of the most important place in Britain’s capital and you will therefore be able to create your own guide to the city.
Get ready for the key landmarks of London:
The Buckingham Palace: Welcome to the official residence of the British monarchs – the Buckingham Palace. Experience the life of an authentic highborn – paintings, sculptures, rare fine china, creations of gold and silver, lavish jewelry, and one of a kind furnishing pieces are only a portion of the elements that form the luxurious interior. The palace is open to the public whenever the queen is elsewhere. Grant yourself a noble walk down the alleys of its garden – the largest private garden in London. Furthermore, every day, at 11:00 o’clock, you can witness the Changing the Guard ceremony. Here you can see additional information about the palace.
Tower Bridge: This is one of the symbols of London. The structure, which connects both shores of the river Thames, has lanes for pedestrians and vehicles, and is truly impressive with its Victorian Gothic architecture. To take a trip into the past, all you need to do is climb up the bridge’s towers, where you will find the original pumps and cauldrons, used over 100 years ago, to operate the Tower Bridge. You can find more information about the bridge here.
Tower of London: According to an old legend, if the ravens ever leave the Tower of London, England will fall. In all actuality, during World War II, when England had almost given in, there were very few ravens left in the tower. In the past, this emblematic structure was a prison ward, used for tortures and executions. Today, the symbol of the British Monarchy, the Crown Jewels, is kept in the Tower of London.
The British Museum: The collection kept here is one of the largest in the world and tells the tale of 2 million years of human history. You will find abundant exhibitions from America, Europe, and Asia, as well as amphorae, statues, sarcophagi, thousands of years old, coming from Ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt. Don’t be afraid of the mummies – although they are completely real, the only thing they could do to you is impress you. There is no entrance fee for the museum.
The Palace of Westminster: Another symbol of London and also where the House of Parliament resides. Flags hang from the highest tower of the palace, Victoria Tower, indicating the presence of the monarch and the Parliament’s sessions. The infamous clock – Big Ben, is also a part of the structure. During those nights when the Parliament is in sessions, the top of Big Ben is illuminated. You can find more information here.
Westminster Abbey: You’ll have the unique chance of walking in the steps of Catherin, Duchess of Cambridge! This is the location of her wedding to Prince William, which was held in 2011. As the most important religious structures in England, the Abbey has been the ground for many coronations, weddings and funerals. Here are the tombs of Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare, Charles Darwin and other symbolic individuals. Even though the Abbey is visited by millions of tourists every year, it is still a functioning church, which is why it is closed off to the public every Sunday. You can learn more about the Westminster Abbey here.
Madame Tussauds: The wax figure museum of London is the right place for some mischief. Become a red carpet star and walk beside Nicole Kidman and Rihanna; take a picture hand-in-hand with Leonardo DiCaprio or Princess Diana; stick your tongue out at Einstein and give David Beckham your best smile. Do you dare think of what will happen to you in the room of terror called Scream? Make sure your vocal cords are in their best shape, before venturing into this part of the museum. If you are not up to it, there are other options, such as taking a London cab to the ultimate time-travel experience – get close and personal with the Tudors, Shakespeare and Queen Victoria. An important tip to remember is that purchasing a ticket for both the wax museum and the London Dungeon will save you some money. You can find more information here.
Hyde Park: Walk down the green and flowery lanes of Hyde Park and reach the Serpentine Lake to enjoy a relaxing view of the swans. And, if you would like your opinion about a certain topic to be heard, stop by the Speaker’s Corner. During your walk you can also marvel at the Grand Triumphal Arch and the Marble Arch.
Natural History Museum: Get ready for a time-travel experience in this fantastic museum, where you will gain a new appreciation for how large dinosaurs actually were, by looking at their preserved skeletons. Further down, you’ll find extinct bird and insect species from millions of years ago. The Earth Hall experience will take you on a trip through our vast planet; you will experience earthquakes and will learn plenty about volcanoes. The museum presents an excellent opportunity to make science both interesting and entertaining. Besides, there is no entrance fee. Here you can find more information about the museum.
St. Paul’s Cathedral: It was in the St. Paul’s Cathedral that Prince Charles and Princess Diana made their promise of eternal love. The cathedral has been constructed in the form of a cross, but this is a design decision that you can only be seen from the air. Its dome is one of the largest in the world. High up in the cathedral, after you have climbed 258 steps, you will find yourself in the Whispering Gallery, where you can murmur something to someone at the other end of the gallery and you will still be heard. You can learn more about the cathedral here.
The London Dungeon: A terrifyingly whimsical museum. Here you will see actors recreating horrendous scenes from Europe’s past. The dark corridors are filled with the mystical silhouettes of ghastly wax figures, depicting victims of torture and painful death. Scared already? That’s not all! Get ready to be chased by Jack the Ripper. Will you be his next victim? More information about the museum can be found here.
Victoria and Albert Museum: This is where you will find one of the world’s largest collections of decorative arts and design. You can literally get lost in the museum, since it is composed of 145 galleries! Ceramics, jewelry, paintings, mosaics, furnishing – both retro and contemporary, as well as galleries dedicated to fashion. You will also see interesting photographs, mirrors, glass creations, textiles and so much more. Certainly, days are needed to see it all. More information can be found here.
A Boat Trip down the River Thames: Flow down the waters of the Thames and dive into the beauty of London! You will sail by the Westminster Bridge, Tower Bridge, the Parliament building and Big Ben, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Tower of London and will certainly enjoy unforgettable views.
Kensington Palace: Take a tour of the lavish apartments in Kensington Palace and enjoy the collection of Princess Diana’s dresses. The beautiful gardens of the palace, decorated by a swan lake, add to the experience. The gardens are also home to the Diana Memorial Playground, as well as a statue of Peter Pan. You can find more information here.
The London Eye: Are you ready to see London in its entirety? The London Eye, which is the largest Ferris wheel in Europe with its height of 135 meters, can offer 30 minutes of unforgettable cityscapes. You have the option of enjoying the ride both during the day and after nightfall, when you will be enchanted by the lights over the river Thames. You can find further information here.
Notting Hill Carnival: Don’t miss one of the biggest street parties in Europe – the Notting Hill Carnival. Enjoy the spectacular dance performances from Europe and South America. The celebration takes place on the streets of the Notting Hill neighborhood, starting on the last Saturday of August, until Monday. However, watch out for pickpockets! You can find more information here.
Shopping in London: Oxford Street has shops for every style and budget. You’ll find designer goods in luxurious galleries, such as Harrods and Harvey Nichols, as well as on Bond Street.
London Markets: You can find souvenirs and hand-crafted goods at the Apple Market in Covent Garden. Portobello, on the other hand, is the largest market for antiques in the world.
English Breakfast: If you are going to be waking up in London, then you will certainly have to eat a bountiful breakfast, just like the English do. The traditional English breakfast includes an omelet or sunny side up eggs, fried bacon, sausages, jam, and of course, a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice.
English Muffins: The English muffin is a special one. Those little cakes, resembling doughnuts, are a part of Britain’s tradition, and London is certainly the place to have a taste. Fruity, with nuts, sweet or salty – just pick your favorite flavor.
English Scones: They seem more like cookies than buns. Hard and prepared in various types of ways, scones are usually not very sweet. They could also have embellishment, such as raisins, blueberries, or cheese, and are sometimes fried, rather than baked. In any case, scones are the perfect addition to your afternoon tea.
Afternoon Tea: 5 o’clock tea is one of the Kingdom’s most cherished traditions. If you’d like to act like a true nobleman, sip black tea, with a bit of milk, in one of the traditional tea parlors in Britain’s capital. You can then discuss the weather.
London’s Nightlife: It is no wonder that London is known as the capital of nightlife. The central region of West End is the headquarters of nighttime entertainment. There are plenty of clubs, bars, restaurants, cinemas, as well as the famous Soho neighborhood. The best DJs in the world, live bands, cabarets, restaurants, pubs with stand-up comedy shows – London has something for everyone.