When we think of a city in England we would like to visit, the first one to come to mind is London. Centuries of history have shaped London for the most part into a multi-ethnic urban city filled with numerous points of interest, entertainment and culture. Just be prepared as one visit could never take in all of it. Nevertheless, here are 10 London’s most famous destinations that should be on top of your list.
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1. Big Ben
See one of the icons of the world right before your very eyes, that of the instantly recognisable Big Ben. Interestingly, Big Ben refers to one of the bells in the tower and not the clock tower itself. It is now called Elizabeth Tower since the Queen’s celebration of her Diamond Jubilee. The clock has been faithfully telling the exact time since 1858. It is a great place for photo opportunities. According to legend, Big Ben got its name from the man who helped design it, Sir Benjamin Hall. Others claim its namesake came a famous boxer of the time, Benjamin Caunt.
2. British Museum
For archaeology buffs, nothing beats the British Museum. The museum is considered to be one of the most comprehensive world-wide, containing eight distinct departments. It’s a veritable treasure trove and contains the largest collection of Egyptian artefacts. The British Museum has been amazing the world since the 18th century by gifting knowledge amongst 8 million relics to the world free of charge.
3. Buckingham Palace
See one of the most famous residences in the world in London, at Buckingham Palace: one of the homes of the British royal family. The Palace first was used strictly for royalty in 1837, when the reign of Queen Victoria began. The Palace is not open for visitors except for the months of August and September, with guided tours are available. The sheer beauty of the interior will be unforgettable. Watching the Changing of the Guard is fascinating enough on its own by its grand parade. The Changing of the Guard takes place every day in summer and every other day in the winter.
4. London Eye
Capture of the spirit and the skyline of London and the Thames with The London Eye In order to get a bird eye’s view of the city, visit the London Eye. This enormous Ferris wheel takes a full half hour to make a full rotation and this is a great way to see the entire city of London no matter what the weather is. For extra beauty, try riding it at night in order to see London lit up. The London Eye stretches out to 135 metres and is one of the more popular attractions in London, bringing in 3.5 million riders a year. It is also considered a special part of London’s skyline and has become something of a symbol for the city.
5. Madame Tussauds
Everyone gets star struck at Madame Tussauds. You can get close to celebrities made of wax. The woman behind this unique museum was an art instructor at the Palace Of Versailles. However, during the French Revolution, her talents turned to creating the death masks of the deceased noblemen. Madame Tussauds came to London in the early 1800s with an exhibition of these effigies. She established a permanent headquarters here by the mid-19th century. Be photographed with Justin Bieber, The Beatles, Nelson Mandela, Lady Gaga and even the British Royal Family on a fun outing with friends or family.
6. Piccadilly Circus
Every city has its main square that is the centrepiece of attraction and in London, that square is Piccadilly Circus. The square has many different sights to visit such as the London Pavilion, Criterion Restaurant and Criterion Theatre amongst other things. A perfect photo opportunity comes in the form of the Greek mythology inspired Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain. There are also a wide variety of shops and department stores to visit that offer almost every single item imaginable.
7. St. Paul´s Cathedral
Standing tall since the year 1708 is St Paul’s Cathedral. The cathedral is noteworthy for being one of the few buildings that survived the Blitz of WWII. Many funerals, weddings and celebrations for notable figures such as Lord Nelson or Winston Churchill have been held within. The interior of the church is truly stunning and photographs of the art and architecture is allowed, but under strict conditions. Please note that tourists are not allowed in during Mass or other religious celebrations.
8. Tate Modern
Tate Modern contains contemporary art made up of paintings, photography, pop-art and sculptures dating from the early 20th century to the present day. Nearly every artist has a work represented here and includes Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollack, and Salvador Dali, amongst others. Entrance is free. The building itself stands out as a work of art and was the recipient of the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize. The structure was transformed from the former Bankside Power Station into an iconic London landmark. Impressive views of the London skyline can be had from the top floor.
9. The Tower of London
The Tower of London is a historic castle on the River Thames. It was built by William the Conqueror in 1066. The castle has been used as a fortress, as well as a prison. Several points of interest include the Traitors Gate where prisoners were brought into the Tower to await their fate and an exhibit of the infamous collection of over 23,000 gems that are known as the Crown Jewels. The grandest gem of all is the 105-carat Koh-i-Noor (“Mountain of Light”) diamond of India. Tour the premises with a Beefeater for a day to cherish.
10. West End
The London stage produces some of the best material in musicals, comedies and dramas. The West End has been the beating heart of London for greater than two centuries and is the theatre district with more than 40 venues to see a show in. Many of these theatres have mysteries behind them, including superstitions, murders and ghosts. Even theatrical quotes and superstitions originated from the London theatre district such as “never utter the name of Macbeth within any theatre” and “break a leg.”