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London, England…what an amazingly vibrant city. On a girls’ trip there in 2017, my mother, sisters, niece and I loved exploring the old town. We spent four, fun-filled days in London and only barely scratched the surface of all there is to experience there.
Certain well known landmarks and attractions draw first time visitors. And for good reason. They strongly represent the city, both historically and culturally.
As you explore the capital of England, check out these ten must visit places in London.
Ten Must Visit Places in London
Arguably, more than ten must visit places exist in London. However, this list is a great start to all that London offers.
Tower of London
What a surprise the Tower was to me. This extraordinary site on the north bank of the Thames River contains not one tower but many, 12 of which are open to the public. At the center of the complex is the White Tower, built as a royal palace by William the Conqueror in 1078. The White Tower later became a prison and served in that capacity until 1952.
The complex contains many buildings worth exploring including dungeons, battlements and the palace. The Tower ravens live here. Read about them HERE. Plus, the Tower houses many historical artifacts including the crown jewels.
Plan on at least half a day here. A full day is better.
Location: St. Katharine’s and Wapping, London
Visible from the Tower of London, Tower Bridge is one of the city’s most iconic structures. Although not the oldest London bridge spanning the Thames River…construction began in 1886…it’s the most stunning, architecturally.
The roadway lifts up, allowing ships to pass beneath. Walk across the bridge. Or a tour of Tower Bridge takes you to the top of the structure where magnificent views, and a glass floor, await.
Spend one to two hours exploring Tower Bridge or 30 minutes for a walk across it with stops for photos.
Location: the bridge is a seven minute walk from Tower of London
Royal weddings and special events take place within this medieval church. The Poet’s Corner, tombs of half sisters Elizabeth I and Mary Tudor and final resting sites of famous authors such as Geoffrey Chaucer and Charles Dickens reside within. Paid tours and free audio guides are available.
Plan on one to two hours to explore the Abbey.
Location: 20 Deans Yd, Westminster, London
Houses of Parliament and Big Ben
The House of Lords and the House of Commons comprise the Houses of Parliament in the Palace of Westminster. Guided and self guided tours take visitors through multiple areas including Westminster Hall, the oldest building on site, the House of Commons chamber and the Royal Gallery. Or you can simply take photos of the exterior, an activity that bestows upon the structure the title of “one of the most photographed buildings in the world”. One of the best vantage points is Westminster Bridge.
Big Ben, the most famous clock tower in the world, is located at the northern end of the Houses of Parliament. Learn more about this structure at Fun Facts About Big Ben.
Spend one to two hours inside the Houses of Parliament.
Location: Houses of Parliament and Big Ben is a one minute walk from Westminster Abbey
The London Eye
Across the Westminster Bridge is London’s most famous attraction, the gigantic Ferris wheel located near the Thames River. The Eye’s purpose is to present spectacular views of London’s South Bank. Therefore, the wheel turns very slowly, and reaches a height of 400 feet. Know that lines for The London Eye typically require a two hour wait. For many a pic from Westminster Bridge is enough!
The ride on the wheel lasts about 30 minutes.
Location: Riverside Building, County Hall, South Bank, London
The home of Queen Elizabeth II, Buckingham Palace is open to the public during the summer months and during selected times in winter and spring. During the tour, visitors get a peek into 19 different rooms including the Throne Room. When the palace is not open for tours, visitors can still view the massive structure, built in 1703, through the ornate gates and fence. The beautiful statue of Queen Victoria, pictured on the title meme, is located outside the fence near the gates. The changing of the guard takes place in the forecourt, at 11:00 am on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays.
If doing a tour, plan on 2 to 6 hours here.
Location: Buckingham Palace Road, Westminster, London
Located just 1 kilometer from Buckingham Palace, Piccadilly Circus is reminiscent of Times Square in New York City. It’s an active, high energy spot, the meeting place for five busy roads, and considered the hub of London’s hustle and bustle. Located near Piccadilly Circus are many restaurants, shops and pubs. At night the neon lights from huge billboards reflect off of the Eros statue located in the center of the circle. Which, by the way, is why this area bears the name Piccadilly Circus. It’s not an actual circus!
You can easily spend hours exploring in this area. We walked to Piccadilly Circus after our stop at Buckingham Palace. Hustle and bustle is correct! And I totally failed to snap a photo.
Location: West End in Westminster, London
Natural History Museum
London offers so many fine museum to wander about it. Honestly, we didn’t take the time to explore any of them during our short stay. However, first on my list when I get to return to London is this one, the Natural History Museum. Located in Kensington, this museum offers 70 million different specimens and exhibits, from dinosaur bones to simulations. Admission is free and there is an app to download that helps in navigating the massive building. Prepare for long lines if visiting on the weekend as the museum is extremely popular with families. The exterior of the structure is very photograph worthy as well.
Half a day probably isn’t enough time for this museum, however it’s a start.
Location: Cromwell Road, South Kensington, London
Jack the Ripper Tour
We experienced this tour on our first evening in London. What a great way to get to know the city and have fun with a group of people. We traveled in a double decker tour bus, busily snapping photos as we headed to London’s East End. The unsolved murders of the infamous Jack the Ripper continue to fascinate people. This unknown serial killer murdered and mutilated five women in the late 1800s. There are a variety of tours that include both riding and walking excursions in the Whitechapel area where Jack committed his crimes. We enjoyed this tour HERE. The night of our tour the overcast gray sky and light drizzle, created the perfect spooky atmosphere for learning more about Jack the Ripper.
Most tours last about two hours.
Location: tours depart from a variety of locations, however they all end up in the East End
This fun attraction combines theatrical actors, 360 degree sets, storytelling, 19 interactive shows, 1000 years of history, state of the art special effects and two thrilling underground rides. Get up close and personal with Sweeny Todd and Jack the Ripper and interact with historical figures who are master storytellers. And enjoy several photo opportunities that are unforgettable. In fact, my sisters, niece and I still laugh over those photos due to my sweet little mother’s hilarious expressions. This is primarily a walking experience, in dimly lit surroundings. Make sure walking and low lighting isn’t a problem for you. Otherwise, I highly recommend the London Dungeons.
Tour is approximately 90 minutes long.
Location: the Queen’s Walk, South Bank, London
Have You Visited London?
Please note, many of these sites and attractions in London are currently closed, due to COVID. I’m encouraged, however, that soon these places will open again and travel restrictions will ease. In the meantime, how fun to visit these places again, via my photos and memories.
Have you visited London, England? What place or attraction in the grand old city do you recommend from your must see list? Please share in the comments below.
Necessities for your trip to London:
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