The most famous bell in Europe, perhaps even the world, Big Ben is one of the iconic landmarks of London. The tower is the third largest bell tower in the world and is over 150 years old. It was recently renamed Elizabeth Tower as a tribute to Queen Elizabeth's 60 years’ of reign. Part of Westminster Palace, it was designed in the Neo-Gothic style. There is no elevator, but 334 steps lead to the top; however tours are only available to British nationals who organize a trip through their Member of Parliament. The skyline in this part of London is spectacular, so taking pictures of Big Ben with the London Eye in the background is very popular.
This majestic palace is the official residence of British monarchs and is usually recognized as a symbol of UK's monarchy. Originally built as a townhouse, Buckingham Palace was turned into a private residence for Queen Charlotte in 1761. The palace was reconstructed and enlarged during the 19th century and it has been used as a residence of the British monarch since Victoria's reign. It now serves as an exquisite example of Neoclassical architecture. On selected days, you can visit some of the state rooms and Queen's Gallery. Do not miss the Changing the Guard ceremony. Be sure to arrive early to see well. If taking a tour of the palace, you are advised to wear comfortable shoes and to bring as little belongings as possible, as you will go through an airport-style security check upon arrival. Note that while taking photographs is prohibited in the State Rooms, you can use your camera in the garden.
Designed by John Nash in 1830, Trafalgar Square is the largest square in London. With all the cultural events taking place here, including demonstrations and New Year's Eve celebrations, it is often considered the heart of the city. Nelson's Column stands in the center of the square with four lion statues around. It was built in 1848 to commemorate Admiral Nelson.
This fascinating bridge is not only one of London's icons, but also one of the best-known bridges in the world. Tower Bridge's construction started in 1886 and it took only 8 years to be finished. The views from the top are amazing as the towers feature a glass floor walkway. Another sight worth waiting for is to see the bridge open for ships. If interested, there is an exhibition in the twin towers, dedicated to the history and construction of the bridge. Apart from various short films and interactive displays, you can also see some of the original designs of the bridge. Be sure to check the Victorian engine rooms, too.
Also known as Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress, the complex was formerly used as a prison. Many notable figures were sent here, such as Sir Walter Raleigh with his wife Elizabeth Throckmorton and even Elizabeth I before she became a queen. It is now a famous tourist attraction and home to the Crown Jewels.
First monks lived here back in the 10th century. Henry III had the abbey rebuilt in 1245 when he chose it as his burial site, and managed to turn it into one of the most important Gothic buildings in the country. Many other notable figures are buried here and royal artifacts are on display in the museum. Nowadays it is a setting for weddings and other royal ceremonies. Also, Westminster Abbey has been used for coronations since 1066.
The elaborate Palace of Westminster is home to both houses of the Parliament of the UK - the House of Commons and House of Lords. It is an outstanding example of Neo-Gothic architecture dating back to 1097, when the oldest part of the complex, Westminster Hall, was built. Come see the centre of political life in London!
Home to one of the largest collections of works and artefacts coming from all over the world, the museum is dedicated to human history, art, and culture. Various collections can be found here, such as antiquities from ancient Rome, Greece and Egypt, artefacts from Middle East, or drawings by Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael and Michelangelo. Last but not least, the museum houses extensive collections of Asian and African arts and culture. Allow yourself a lot of time to explore the whole museum!
A famous road junction and public space in London's West End. It's famous for neon signs all around the square, the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain commemorating the works of Lord Shaftesbury, and the statue of Eros. Popular setting for protests and demonstrations for its size, the square also inspired many artists and musicians in their work.
This former fruit and vegetables market has turned into a popular shopping district where tourists swarm in crowds. You will find almost here everything - jewellery, clothes, sweets or arts and crafts. Enjoy the special atmosphere of the place packed with more than twenty restaurants and bars. The outdoor Farmers' Market takes place on the square from May to December.
With approximately 300 shops, Oxford Street is Europe's busiest shopping street and is home to a number of major department stores and many flagship stores. If shopping is your thing, then the shopping district it forms with Regent Street and Bond Street is sure to delight you! Located in the West End of London, the street is about 1.5 mi (2.5 km) long and used to be part of the London-Oxford road. It actually follows the route of a Roman road that linked Hampshire with Colchester. The area can be very busy with shoppers and tourists and gets quite polluted by the number of buses running along it. Christmas is a particularly busy and particularly pretty time on Oxford Street as, since 1959, it has been decorated with festive lights each year, usually switched on by a celebrity.
A phenomenally successful modern and contemporary art gallery housed in a former power station, one of the largest art galleries in the world. Well worth a visit! If you are carrying any bags, briefcases or umbrellas, you may need to leave them at the cloakroom. Large bags and suitcases must be left there, too. There is a café and a restaurant in the gallery, where you can refresh yourself. You can also find three shops selling books, gifts and more.
The gallery holds a collection of over 2,600 pieces - no wonder it is one of the most visited galerries in the world. It displays classic art including paintings by El Greco, Jan van Eyck, Rembrandt, Michelangelo, and many more famous artists. It's really huge and the entry is free, so art lovers should allow themselves plenty of time for their visit.
Explore the restaurants, bakeries, night clubs and enjoy the great atmosphere of Chinatown. Well worth a visit. If you happen to be in London at the time of the Chinese New Year, head to Chinatown for the largest celebration of this event outside Asia. However, there are also things to do all year around. Chinatown is home to around 80 restaurants, many of them serving authentic Chinese and Asian cuisine. You have a lot of dining places to choose from! While walking around Chinatown, you can find several blue plaques, commemorating famous people and events.
Long and broad promenade lined by tall leafy trees serves for ceremonial occasions. When the United Kingdom receives a state visit, the monarch and the visitor take a ride on this street which is decorated by flags of both states. The famous London Marathon finishes here, too. If you manage to visit the road at the time of one of these events, it will be an unforgettable experience. Closed to traffic on Sundays. Enjoy!
The tallest skyscraper in the UK and the fourth tallest one in Europe. There are 95 storeys, an observation deck called “the View from the Shard” (offering a spectacular view of London) and even a hotel. There are 11,000 glass panels covering the Shard. During the construction of the building, lots of recycled materials were used (more than 90%). The Shard was opened to public on February 1, 2013. There are a few things to consider before visiting. Firstly, the tickets are cheaper when booked online. Secondly, you should not buy the tickets too much in advance because of the immediate weather conditions on the day of your visit. Also, be prepared to wait in a queue.
Come see the modern replica of the theater where some of Shakespeare's plays were staged for the first time. The original theater was built in 1599 by the Lord Chamberlain's Men, Shakespeare's playing company. Book your tickets ahead! Take the guided tour to learn more about Shakespeare and the building.
The grand arch is a monument to Queen Victoria and will be transformed into a luxurious hotel. It becomes an important place during various ceremonies. When there is a royal ceremony such as wedding, funeral or coronation, the procession passes under the arch. Maybe you'll see one if you are lucky enough!
If you want to stand on two hemispheres at the same time, visit this place where the meridian divides the Earth! It is based at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich and it was established in 1851 by Sir George Biddell Airy, English mathematician and astronomer. The prime meridian with longitude 0º is the reference line for the Greenwich Mean Time; it means that every new year starts at this line! While in the area, be sure to visit the surrounding museum and observatory, and learn more about the Universe, astronomy and the meridian line itself. In addition, you can explore some of the oldest parts of the site including the Astronomer Royal's house.