The capital city of the United Kingdom is one of the fastest developing cities in Europe. London has a very rich and colorful history, therefore it has a lot to offer for its visitors. There’s much more than 13 things to see and do in London, but at this time, we’ll discover those places that you really must add to your bucket list!
#1 The Buckingham Palace
I think we should start with the royal family’s residence, shall we?
This stunning neoclassical architecture is the home of the British royalty. It’s situated in the heart of London, in the City of Westminster. The palace was originally built for the Prince of Buckingham in 1703. As it became the residence of the royal family in the 19th century, the building was enlarged for the court.
What to do at Buckingham Palace?
If you’re not planning to go inside, here are the things you can do!
First, on the square in front of Buckingham Palace, you’ll find the Victoria Memorial. which was made in honor of Queen Victoria.
If you want to see the Guard Mounting, make sure to arrive by 10:45 am!
Around the palace, you’ll find 3 parks, that are great for a nice walk in the heart of the city. These are the Buckingham gardens, the Green Park and the St.James’s Park.
You’re looking to see the home of the queen from the inside? You have the possibility to do so! The ticket for adults will cost £24.00 and you can book your ticket here. When you’re visiting the Buckingham Palace, you’ll see the State Rooms that were used for receiving guests and official visitors. You’ll also see the throne room and the Grand staircase. There is also an exhibition of Royal Collections of fine arts that include pieces of Rembrandt and Canaletto.
#2 Westminster Abbey
The magnificent Westminster Abbey is a mainly Gothic church, located in the City of Westminster.
Westminster Abbey is one of the United Kingdom’s most important religious buildings. It’s the traditional place of coronation and burial site for British monarchs. The building itself was a Benedictine monastic church until the monastery was dissolved in 1539. The building since 1560 has the status of a Church of England, a Royal Peculiar—a church responsible directly to the sovereign.
Since the coronation of William, the Conqueror in 1066, all coronations of English and British monarchs, at least 16 royal weddings and many more events were organized in Westminster Abbey,
If you would like to enter, the ticket will cost you £20.00. You can book your ticket here online so you don’t have to worry about queues.
#3 The Shard, London
The Shard is a 309.7 meter (95 stories) tall skyscraper designed by the Italian architect Renzo Piano. It’s the tallest building in the United Kingdom, also the tallest building in the European Union. We are not done, as the Shard is also the 5th tallest building in Europe!
On floor 31, 32 and 33 you can find restaurants and bars, which offers great drinks, and delicious dishes served near a breathtaking panorama to the city of London.
It’s definitely not a low-budget place to go! You also can’t really enter in gym clothes or flip-flops. Smart casual or casual, cocktail are the accepted dress codes, ladies and gentlemen! In case if you’d like to have a drink or eat here, to avoid the inconvenience, really pay attention to this!
In my philosophy, everyone deserves at least once in their lifetime to experience something elegant and beautiful like this! So, if you’re planning to visit London, and you want to add a luxurious experience to your trip, definitely get yourself a table in the Shard.
I’ve personally been at the bar Aqua Shard. We came with my friend for just a drink, as I wanted to catch the Tower Bridge before sunset. It was definitely a highlight of my first trip to London, and I did go back since.
Just to have an idea on prices, the glass of Pino Grigio I had was £11.00.
Tip: To make sure you’re getting a table near the window for the best view, book your table in advance!
#4 The Tower Bridge
Here’s a nother gem of London, the iconic Tower Bridge.
It’s a combined bascule and suspension bridge, built between 1886 and 1894. The bridge crosses the River Thames close to the Tower of London and also the Shard. Just as looking at it, it’s no question why it became an iconic symbol of the city.
It consists of two bridge towers tied together at the upper level by two horizontal walkways, designed to withstand the horizontal tension forces exerted by the suspended sections of the bridge on the landward sides of the towers.
You can walk over it and just enjoy the view, and the beauty of this stunning masterpiece, it’s completely free! But, if you wish to see the Tower Bridge Exhibition you’ll need to buy a ticket for it. The prices are normally £9.80 but you can find discounts. To find out more about the prices & book your ticket for the exhibition, clicking here!
#5 Hyde Park
The most spacious and beautiful park right in the heart of London! Hyde Park is actually it is the largest Royal Park in the capital. A must visit place for all first-timers in London!
There are many events are organized in the park, such as concerts, family events, and marathons. My personal highlight in Hyde Park, for all those who are visiting London in December, the Winter Wonderland!
You can do sports and outdoor activities here too, such as boating, tennis, football, horse riding and there is a senior playground too.
Hyde Park has beautiful wildlife, and don’t be surprised if while you’re sitting, a duck family will pass by you, or a squirrel will come to be friends with you.
You can find monuments, fountains, and memorials around. The one you can’t leave out from the list if you are with your kids: Peter Pan’s statue.
By clicking here you’ll find all the options and possibilities about what to do and what to see in the Hyde Park. Have fun!
#6 Kensington Palace
The Kensington Palace is also located in Hyde Park. It has been a residence of the British Royal Family since the 17th century. Queen Victoria also lived here.
Currently, it is the official London residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, which is Prince Harry. It is also the residence of other dukes and duchess and princes, princesses.
Today, the State Rooms are open to the public. The offices and private accommodation areas of the Palace remain the responsibility of the Royal Household. They are maintained by the Royal Household Property Section.
The palace also displays many paintings and other objects from the Royal Collection, therefore if you want to see more than the outside of the palace, make sure you add this to your plans.
The ticket without donation is £15.50, and you can book them online right here.
#7 Piccadilly Circus
The Piccadilly Circus is one of the main hotspots of London. It’s also one of the busyest places in the city. Imagine it as the British Times Square.
This is a road junktion, that’s connectiong the Regent Street with Piccadilly. The name circus is originating from the Latin, meaning circle, in the context of being a round, open space in a street junktion.
The zone of Piccadilly is where you will find dozens of shops, restaurants, pubs, more pubs, and even more pubs. There are also plenty of theatres in the area, such as the Prince of Wales Theater, and Piccadilly Theatre.
If you’re visiting with family, and the kids love M&M’s, definitely visit the shop nearby!
#8 Notting Hill
Notting Hill is my favorite neighborhood in London. I mean, as a person of colors, there’s no better place to go than on the streets of Notting Hill, where you can explore the beautiful and colorful terraced houses! There’s also the Portobello road market, with many beautiful hand-made pieces from all around the world.
And the food, oh my, the street food in Portobello market! You’ll find many different strands of different cultures, and you’ll really want to try everything!
To explore some beautiful cafes and shops, have a walk on the Westbourne Grove, or enjoy some latin music near the food market!
#9 Camden Town
Camden Town is again a very different, very colorful neighborhood in London. The main street is loaded with shops, one after the other, and they are also plenty of restaurants in all different parts of the world. The Spanish restaurant is really great, we had some delicious tapas here!
There are also markets, near the road, but also the famous Camden Market, where you can find many crafted and vintage goodies!
There’s one important thing I’d like to highlight for your visit here! Make sure not to wander around here in late hours, as it’s not safe. Also, even during the day, take extra care of your belongings!
#10 Tower of London
The place everyone should visit, you heard of Henry the VIII or not! The historic castle is located on the northern bank of Thames, in central London. This is really a must-see, to learn a bit more about British history.
The castle had many roles over history. It served as an armory, the home of the Crown Jewels of England, a treasury, a menagerie and it also served as also as a prison. 16th and 17th centuries there were people held here like Elizabeth I before she became queen. Also Sir Walter Raleigh, and Elizabeth Throckmorton. This use has led to the phrase “sent to the Tower”.
My favorite period of British history IS the dynasty of the Tudors, and especially Henry VIII. His wife, He was a very complex figure and all he did during his life made him one of the most famous kings of Britain. The king who established his own church, so he can marry and divorce freely, then had 6 wives. Two of them, Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard were executed in Tower Green, in the Tower of London.
The tickets for adults are £28.90, and to skip the lines, you can book yours on the official website of the Tower of London.
#11 British Museum
The British Museum is located in Bloomsbury, in Central London. The museum owns more than 8 million items in it’s permanent collection. This makes it one of the largest exhibitions in existance.
The collection of the British museum is really important as it’s owning a wide collection from the beginning of the human culture to nowadays. Not to forget, that it was established in 1753 as the first public national museum in the world.
Plan your visit
First of all, the main entrance of the museum is on Great Russell Street. The entrance is free although a small donation is suggested. There are some exhibitions and especially some temporary exhibitions that have separate fees, but it’s best to check out for these on the museum’s website!
The British Museum is really large, and as I have mentioned earlier, it has quite an imposing number of items in its collections, so it’s best to plan for a long visit. To stay up to date with opening hours and exhibitions, I really recommend visiting the official website of the British Museum before your visit!
#12 London Eye
The London Eye is located on the South bank of the Thames, very close to the Westminster and the Westminster Bridge. Fun fact, that it’s the most popular paid attraction in the UK! I wouldn’t guess that…
It’s Europe’s tallest cantilevered observation wheel, that became quite famous around the world. Currently, the tickets for adults are £27.00, and it’s really recommended to book your tickets in advance, to avoid crowds.
#13 The Palace of Westminster and the Big Ben
Unfortunately at the moment is no way anyone could soo too much of the Westminster or the legendary tower, Big Ben. It’s all under construction and covered at this moment (April 2020). However, the works are supposed to be done on the tower in 2021, so let’s see some details!
The Palace of Westminster is the House of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It’s located on the North bank of the Thames in the heart of London. The palace served as the home of the English kings between the 12th and the 16th centuries when a fire destroyed most of it.
To visit the Parliament, check for up to date openings hours and details on the official site of the UK Parliament.
Big Ben is basically the nickname of the tower clock tower of the Palace of Westminster. It’s official name now is the Elizabeth Tower, named after Elizabeth I. The magnificent tower was designed and built in a neo-gothic style, and it’s the most iconic building of London and the United Kingdom.
The ticket price to visit the tower and the parliament will cost an adult £15, and you’ll need about 1,5 hours for the visit.