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Things to See in London: Top Attractions & Sights

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London is a bustling metropolis with more attractions than you can count! From palaces and castles that date back hundreds of years to modern skyscrapers, from museums and theaters to sports stadiums, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. We’ve selected the best things to see in the city, whether you’re into art, history, soccer, nature, or shopping.
Anneliese O'MalleyBy Anneliese O'Malley

The 10 Best Things to See in London

Discover the best sights and attractions in London.
Tower of London
1

Tower of London

The Tower of London is the oldest building in London - or at least parts of it are. Its long history includes time spent as a royal castle, the Royal Mint, a prison, an armoury, and a menagerie.
London Eye
2

London Eye

If you’re looking for the perfect view of London, then the London Eye, the world’s tallest cantilevered observation wheel, is a great option. Located directly opposite the Houses of Parliament and down the river from St Paul’s Cathedral and the Tate Modern, the leisurely 30-minute ride will give you plenty of time to soak up the sights.
Westminster Abbey
3

Westminster Abbey

All the great and the good are buried at Westminster Abbey, and you can visit them in their vaults, or in Poet’s Corner. It’s also a magnificent building to visit for its architecture alone and to imagine all the royal coronations that have taken place inside.
British Museum
4

British Museum

The British Museum was the first public national museum in the world and its collection is also one of the largest and most wide-ranging (thanks largely to the size and power of the British Empire). It’s the ideal place to spend a whole day seeing treasures and cultural artefacts from throughout history and around the world.
Madame Tussauds London
5

Madame Tussauds

You probably know about Madame Tussauds’ waxwork museums, which have become a global phenomenon, but London has the oldest and best. Take pictures with your favorite stars, characters, and members of the royal family, or take part in immersive Star Wars or Sherlock Holmes-themed experiences.
Diagon Alley | Flickr: Derek Hatfield CC BY 2.0
6

Harry Potter: Warner Bros Studio Tour London

This attraction is a short ride outside of London by train, but it’s an unmissable stop for any fans of the Harry Potter books and movies. At Leavesden’s Warner Bros. Studios you can see the original sets and props in The Making of Harry Potter studio tour.
The Shard
7

The Shard

The Shard is the UK’s tallest building, the 6th tallest building in Europe, and one of the best places to get a good view of London from above. It has an open-air observation deck on the 72nd floor where you can see up to 40 miles into the distance.
Buckingham Palace
8

Buckingham Palace

We all know what Buckingham Palace looks like, we all know that the Queen lives there. But did you know that you can get tickets for the palace’s interior? The palace’s State Rooms are open to visitors for 10 weeks every from July until late September or early October and on a handful of other dates throughout the year. If the timing of your visit doesn’t match the opening days then you can see the Royal Mews or the Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace all year round.
Stonehenge Formation
9

Stonehenge

This is another attraction that isn’t technically inside London but that is well worth a day trip outside the city limits. Stonehenge is one of the world’s best known prehistoric sites, and it’s also one of the most mysterious. On your way, you’ll also get to see some of England’s most beautiful countryside.
The National Gallery
10

National Gallery

Art-lovers should make sure not to miss the National Gallery, which overlooks Trafalgar Square. It’s packed with paintings from famous artists including Van Gogh, Monet, Constable, Turner, Vermeer, Caravaggio, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Da Vinci. The best part is that basic entry is free for all visitors, though you’ll have to pay for temporary exhibitions and guided tours.
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The Tower Bridge

Postcard-Worthy Sights

Most visitors will recognize London’s biggest sights from TV or movies, and they’re definitely great places to snap a picture. Big Ben (alright, the Elizabeth Tower with Big Ben the bell inside) is part of the Houses of Parliament. It’s currently undergoing restoration, so while you can’t visit the inside of the tower at the moment, you can still get a great picture from the South Bank or Westminster Bridge. Trafalgar Square is open to the public 24 hours a day, so you can snap Nelson’s Column or one of the lions any time you like - you can also learn more about it on a guided tour. Tower Bridge is also an iconic symbol of the city, especially when it opens to let a ship pass underneath. You can take a tour of the towers and the engine rooms in the Tower Bridge Experience. London Bridge in comparison is far less interesting to look at but has an equally long and interesting history. Discover all about it on a guided tour or, if you’re feeling brave, visit the London Bridge Experience for a gruesome theatrical tour of some of London’s gorier history. Finally, St Paul’s Cathedral can be seen from all over the city, but a visit to its interior is sure to impress most visitors. A climb to the different galleries in the dome is highly recommended since you can get a wonderful view of London from the exterior walkway.

4 Cool Gardens and Parks to Visit in London

It’s not just about the buildings - lots of visitors are surprised by how many green spaces there are in London. Escape to a park or garden to rest between stops on your itinerary, or take a tour to discover all their hidden secrets.
Hyde Park in Autumn | Flickr: Roman Boed CC BY 2.0 | Flickr: Roman Boed CC BY 2.0
1

Hyde Park

Hyde Park is the largest Royal Park in London, established by Henry VIII and now open to the public. Visit Speaker’s Corner to see political and social activists speak and protest, stroll around the Serpentine Lake, and explore the different statues and memorials.
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Kew Gardens in Winter
2

Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew

Kew Gardens is London’s best-loved botanical garden, with parklands, glasshouses, galleries, a palace, and several ornamental buildings to discover. It takes easily a whole day to see everything, but guides are available to show you the most interesting areas during the season of your visit.
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Chelsea Physic Garden in Summer | Flickr: stu smith CC BY-ND 2.0 | Flickr: stu smith CC BY-ND 2.0
3

Chelsea Physic Garden

London’s oldest botanical garden is almost hidden from view in the heart of town. It focuses on growing and researching medicinal and historical plants, including a number of endangered species.
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Regent's Park in Spring | Flickr: Loz Pycock CC BY-SA 2.0 | Flickr: Loz Pycock CC BY-SA 2.0
4

Regent’s Park

Regent’s Park is another of London’s Royal Parks, containing playgrounds, a lake, a theater, and London Zoo. It’s a great place to take a break from seeing museums or other attractions, especially in summer.
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Inside Royal Albert Hall

The Best Theatres and Concert Venues

London’s West End is famous for its exceptional theater and musical offerings, but there are also venues outside the city center that offer the chance to have once-in-a-lifetime experiences.The Royal Albert Hall is the place to go for classical concerts, although major pop and rock stars have also taken over the stage for unique musical experiences. The Globe Theatre recreates Shakespeare’s theater as it would have appeared during his lifetime, but the plays it stages are often a mishmash of old and new. It’s worth a visit if you want to discover what it was like to watch a play as a groundling. The O2 is in North Greenwich, and is London’s largest arena. It hosts, music acts, comedy, and sports events like the ATP World Tour Finals. Many West End theaters have been home to their shows for a long time, including Wicked at the Apollo Victoria Theatre (14 years and counting), The Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty’s Theatre (34 years so far), and the record-holder, The Mousetrap at St. Martin’s Theatre (68 years and counting.

12 Awesome Museums in London

There are hundreds of museums in London on almost any subject you can think of. Science, transportation, music, design, crime and punishment, and even the military are covered in the list below.
Fashion Exhibition at Victoria & Albert Museum
1

Victoria & Albert Museum

The V&A focuses on the history of design throughout the ages, with a focus on interior design and fashion. Their temporary exhibitions are also extremely popular.
Birds at the Natural History Museum in London
2

Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum is a sure-fire winner with kids, especially their dinosaur exhibition! It also hosts ‘Lates’ - unique themed events that take place after dark, just for adults.
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Museum of London | Flickr: Elliott Brown CC BY 2.0 | Flickr: Elliott Brown CC BY 2.0
3

Museum of London

The history of the city of London is long and complicated, but you can get a great overview at the Museum of London.
London Transport Museum | Flickr: Ian Muttoo CC BY-SA 2.0 | Flickr: Ian Muttoo CC BY-SA 2.0
4

London Transport Museum

This transport-themed museum will teach you all you ever wanted to know about London’s red buses, the Tube, and the city’s trains. Exhibitions are interactive and extremely popular with children.
Sir John Soane’s Museum | Flickr: stu smith CC BY-ND 2.0 | Flickr: stu smith CC BY-ND 2.0
5

Sir John Soane’s Museum

This unique museum contains the personal collection of a unique man, Sir John Soane. An architect and collector, visitors can see his Egyptian and Roman collections while exploring his somewhat chaotic Regency home.
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Museum of Brands | Flickr: Ann Lee CC BY-SA 2.0 | Flickr: Ann Lee CC BY-SA 2.0
6

Museum of Brands

This museum in Notting Hill explores the growing importance of brands in our lives through the ages. It collects packaging from a huge number of items for visitors to consider while also speculating on trends for a sustainable future.
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London Garden Museum | Flickr: Global Panorama CC BY-SA 2.0 | Flickr: Global Panorama CC BY-SA 2.0
7

Garden Museum

The Garden Museum can be found in a de-consecrated church in Lambeth and is dedicated to the history, art, and design of gardens. Since a 2017 redevelopment, the museum also contains two small gardens of its own.
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Jack the Ripper Museum
8

Jack the Ripper Museum

This museum on Cable Street is dedicated to the mysterious serial killer, Jack the Ripper, whose identity remains unknown to this day. Several Ripper-themed walking tours include a trip to this museum after visiting the streets of Whitechapel where the murders took place.
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Royal Air Force Museum | Flickr: Steve Lynes CC BY 2.0 | Flickr: Steve Lynes CC BY 2.0
9

Royal Air Force Museum

The RAF, or Royal Air Force, is a branch of the British Military and it has two museums, one in London and one in Shropshire. Fans of aviation will be excited to explore the different planes and vehicles displayed in the museum’s hangars.
The Clink Prison Museum
10

The Clink Prison Museum

The Clink was one of the oldest prisons in London when it eventually closed in 1780. Visit to learn all about crime and punishment throughout London’s history.
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Handel & Hendrix Museum | Flickr: Jon Konrath CC BY 2.0 | Flickr: Jon Konrath CC BY 2.0
11

Handel & Hendrix / Handel House Museum

It’s a strange coincidence that two very different musicians were neighbors in Mayfair, but this museum is dedicated to both George Frideric Handel and Jimi Hendrix who lived on Brook Street 200 years apart.
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Guarding the Museum | Flickr: Kim CC BY-SA 2.0
12

Household Cavalry Museum

This museum documents the history and traditions of the Household Cavalry, the two most senior regiments in the British Army. They are also the Queen’s official bodyguard and you can see them on guard at Buckingham Palace every day.

Art Galleries

London has long been a center for art and artists, and the capital city is full of galleries and art museums. Most of them are free to visit, so there’s nothing holding you back!If you want to see British art, then Tate Britain has a collection of British classical art unmatched by any other gallery in the country. The National Portrait Gallery features artists from outside Britain, but the majority of the portraits featured are of well-known Brits. The Tate Modern hosts international modern and contemporary art, while the Royal Academy of Arts has a small permanent collection and is best known for its Summer Exhibition which features work from new artists.
Inside the Tate Modern
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7 Attractions for Sports-Fans

England was the birthplace of many of the world’s most popular sports, including soccer, rugby, and cricket. Those with a keen interest in sports might enjoy a tour of one of London’s many stadiums, whether they are significant to sporting history or just belong to their favorite team.
Olympic Stadium | Flickr: Dan Brown CC BY 2.0
1

Olympic Stadium

Built for the 2012 London Olympics, this huge stadium in Stratford, East London is now the home stadium of West Ham United. It’s also hosted rugby matches, athletics events, and the first US Major League Baseball game in Europe.
The Emirates Stadium
2

Emirates Stadium/Arsenal Football Club Museum

Arsenal’s home stadium is in Holloway, in a state-of-the-art building that first opened in 2006. In addition to watching Premier League matches there, you can enjoy a tour and a visit to the Arsenal Football Club Museum, which documents the long history of the club.
Stamford Bridge | Flickr: Jason Bagley CC BY-SA 2.0 | Flickr: Jason Bagley CC BY-SA 2.0
3

Stamford Bridge/Chelsea Football Club

Stamford Bridge in Fulham is one of the city’s oldest stadiums, opening in 1877 as the home of the London Athletic Club. It’s been the home stadium of Chelsea Football Club since its founding in 1905, so there’s plenty of history to be seen on a tour of the venue and its museum.
Wembley Stadium | Flickr: jo.sau CC BY 2.0 | Flickr: jo.sau CC BY 2.0
4

Wembley Stadium

The home stadium of the England football team, Wembley Stadium hosts the biggest and best soccer games as well as being a huge concert venue.
View from the Oval
5

The Oval

The Kia Oval in Kennington has been a major venue for county and international cricket since it opened in 1845. Fans of the sport should definitely pay it a visit, whether to watch a Test match, a One Day International, or to take a tour of the stadium and pavilion.
Wimbledon
6

Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum

The most famous tennis venue in the UK, if not the world, is Wimbledon, which hosts the Wimbledon Tennis Championships every summer. Take a tour of the grass courts and visit the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum to learn all about the history of the sport in London.
Twickenham Rugby Stadium | Flickr: Maxwell Hamilton CC BY 2.0 | Flickr: Maxwell Hamilton CC BY 2.0
7

Twickenham Stadium/World Rugby Museum

Rugby is yet another essentially English sport, born out of its public school system and now popular from Ireland to Fiji, New Zealand, and Japan. Twickenham Stadium is dedicated to Rugby Union, and when it isn’t hosting major matches or concerts, you can take a tour of both the stadium and the World Rugby Museum.
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Palace of Westminster

History and Politics

The city of London dates back to at least the Roman Era, and there’s been plenty of drama ever since. If a museum just doesn’t do it for you then there are several places where you can see history recreated and politics in action.The Churchill War Rooms were built underneath Whitehall and used as the British government’s command center during World War II. It’s been recreated in great detail using original furnishings so that visitors can experience what it was like to work in the government during a time of crisis. The Palace of Westminster, also known as the Houses of Parliament, is where the two houses of the UK Parliament (the House of Lords and the House of Commons) meet and make laws. There are a limited number of tours available, but the building is also pretty impressive from the outside. The Royal Courts of Justice enforce the laws made by Parliament, and the building and its courtrooms can also be visited by the general public or by visitors on a guided tour.
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7 Places to Learn About Royalty

If there’s one thing that people know about England, it’s that the country has a Queen and a massive Royal Family with a long and complicated history. If you want to learn more about England’s royal history then you should make sure to visit one of these regal destinations in London.
Queen's House
1

Queen’s House

This former royal residence in Greenwich was built for Queen Anne, wife of King James I. It was also used by Queen Henrietta Maria, wife of Charles II, but she was made to flee during the English Civil War. Today it houses paintings and artifacts belonging to the neighboring National Maritime Museum.
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Royal Mews | Flickr: How I See Life CC BY-ND 2.0 | Flickr: How I See Life CC BY-ND 2.0
2

Royal Mews

The Royal Mews is on the grounds of Buckingham Palace and used to house the palace’s stables. Today visitors can see the royal family’s collection of carriages and cars which are used for state occasions.
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Queen's Gallery
3

Queen’s Gallery

This art gallery is also part of the Buckingham Palace grounds and houses a rotating display of art from the Royal Collection, which comprises of works that the monarchy owns on behalf of the British people, rather than for private enjoyment.
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Banqueting House in London | Flickr: traveljunction CC BY-SA 2.0 | Flickr: traveljunction CC BY-SA 2.0
4

Banqueting House

Banqueting houses were built purely for entertainment and eating, and Banqueting House in Whitehall was built for King Charles I at the Tudor Palace of Whitehall. It wasn’t popular, and the king was eventually beheaded outside the building. Today visitors can take a tour to see how later royals decorated the rooms inside.
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Kensington Palace
5

Kensington Palace

Kensington Palace is the current home of several branches of the Royal Family, including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Princess Eugenie, the Dukes and Duchesses of Gloucester and Kent, and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent. Visitors can buy tickets to see the State Rooms, which are open to the public.
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Hampton Court Palace
6

Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace was built by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey and gifted to Henry VIII, and it was famously one of the king’s favorite palaces. William III later tried to enlarge it in order to compete with Versailles, and the project created the iconic fusion of Tudor and Baroque architecture that exists today. The palace and its gardens are a major tourist attraction.
Windsor Castle
7

Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle is one of the current Queen’s favorite homes, and she’s often there at the weekend. You’re unlikely to see her since the private apartments have a different entrance, but you can definitely visit the State Apartments and learn all about the long history of the castle.

Day Trips from London

The big city has a huge amount to offer any visitor, but there are also several excellent places in England which you can reach on a day trip from London!Highclere Castle was the filming location of the TV show and movie Downton Abbey and the show Jeeves and Wooster and is the current home of the Earl of Carnarvon. Fans of theater and literature should definitely consider a trip to Stratford-upon-Avon where they can visit the birthplace of William Shakespeare. Fans of naval history would enjoy a trip to Portsmouth where they can visit the HMS Victory, Nelson’s flagship from the Battle of Trafalgar. Those who are interested in English country houses can also visit Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire, built by the Rothschild family as a weekend home for entertaining. The opulent house and gardens form one of the National Trust’s most-visited attractions.
Visit Highclere Castle (aka Downton Abbey) | Flickr: Richard Munckton CC BY 2.0
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Covent Garden

Shopping

London is a great place to go shopping, whether you’re interested in famous department stores like Harrods, Liberty’s, or Fortnum & Mason or markets full of independent creatives.In the center of London, Covent Garden combines boutique shops and market stalls, which Camden Market in North London offers edgy and indie buys for all kinds of subcultures, plus excellent street food and fresh fruit and veg.
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6 Attractions for Kids

It isn’t always easy to keep children happy during a city break, but London is home to several child-oriented attractions that are sure to perk up any kid.
Legoland Windsor Resort
1

Legoland Windsor Resort

This theme park is located in Windsor, to the west of London, and has rides suitable for children of all ages. They’ll also love the Lego theme since the park has plenty of opportunities for building and getting creative.
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Shrek's Adventure
2

Shrek’s Adventure

This attraction on the South Bank is based on the Shrek franchise and features a 4D film, live-action storytelling, and interactive games.
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SEA LIFE Aquarium London | Flickr: dconvertini CC BY-SA 2.0 | Flickr: dconvertini CC BY-SA 2.0
3

SEA LIFE London Aquarium

Aquariums can be restful stops on jam-packed vacations, giving parents the chance to slow things down and watch the fish swim leisurely around their tanks. The London Aquarium features an underwater tunnel, animal feedings, and a range of VIP experiences.
London Zoo
4

London Zoo

Located in Regent’s Park, London Zoo is the world’s oldest scientific zoo. Today it has a range of special programs for younger visitors including Junior Keeper packages and the chance to spend the night in the Bugs exhibition.
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ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

The sister zoo to London Zoo, ZSL Whipsnade Zoo is a short drive outside the city and combines a zoo area with a safari park. In addition to all the animals (including a baby rhino), there’s also the Hullabazoo Adventure Play area to entertain younger children.
Platform 9 ¾ | Flickr: bryan... CC BY-SA 2.0 | Flickr: bryan... CC BY-SA 2.0
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Platform 9 ¾

Harry Potter fans take note: the entrance to Platform 9 and ¾ at King’s Cross Station is a real place! Potterheads of all ages can visit the special attraction to take a photo of themselves disappearing into the magical world while wearing their house scarf. There’s also a special Harry Potter store at the station in case you get hungry for a Chocolate Frog!
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All Things Maritime

Part of London’s importance derived from its place on the River Thames, which was wider enough to be a major port, especially in the east of the city in the area still known as the Docklands.The Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich trained officers, and British sailors used the time at Greenwich (Greenwich Mean Time) to calculate local time around the world, which is how modern time zones were invented. Those with an interest in the sea, sailing, and the global history of Britain, should definitely check out some of these maritime attractions.The HMS Belfast is a floating museum ship that lets visitors see what it was like to serve on a Royal Navy ship during World War II and the Korean War. Its exciting and authentic interior makes it a great day out for kids and adults alike. Meanwhile, head to Greenwich to visit the Cutty Sark, the fastest tea clipper in the world. She sailed from 1869 until 1954 when she was first brought to Greenwich, where she was fully restored in 2012. While you’re in Greenwich you might want to drop into the Royal Maritime Museum, the largest maritime museum in the world or the Royal Observatory to stand on the Prime Meridian, the line that divides east from west.
HMS Belfast
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Anneliese O'Malley
Written byAnneliese O'MalleyAnneliese is a former Londoner, keen traveler, and total word nerd. As a Content Management Specialist she knows the TicketLens inventory inside out and curates, matches, and writes about the most interesting attractions worldwide.
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