This post was most recently updated on March 15th, 2019
London is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. A trip to this capital city will not be complete if you don’t visit the London tourist attractions listed below.
London Tourist Attractions
1. Buckingham Palace
This palace will top every list featuring the best London tourist attractions. The Buckingham palace has been the residence of the nation’s Royal Family since 1837. Your trip to the Buckingham Palace should include a visit to the State Rooms. The common people were allowed to take a trip to the palace’s State Rooms for the first time in 1993, but just for a period of eight months. However, the immense success of that venture made public visits to the State Rooms a regular affair. The other items, which must be a part of your tour plan includes The Royal Mews, Green Park, The Victoria Monument and The Queen’s Gallery. Your visit to the palace must be timed in a way so that you can witness the Changing of the Queen’s Guard ceremony. From April to July, this 40-minute spectacle takes place every day at 11.30; during the other times of the year, the event is held on alternate days.
2. Tower of London
It’s a historic castle situated in central London (to be more precise, on River Thames’ north bank). The UNESCO has declared the Tower of London as a World Heritage Site. Since the time it was built, the Tower has been used for a number of purposes, for instance, as a menagerie, a treasury, an armoury, an office for keeping public records, the site of the Royal Mint, and last, but definitely not least as the home for the nation’s Crown Jewels.
3. Trafalgar Square
The name of this square at the centre of the city of London has been derived from the Battle of Trafalgar. At the centre of the Trafalgar Square, you will find the Nelson’s Column. The column is 151 feet tall and has an 18 feet statue of Admiral Horatio Nelson on it. The four corners of the square, on the other hand, house four plinths, each with a statue of a war veteran.
4. Big Ben
The Big Ben is probably the most talked about tourist attraction in London after the Buckingham Palace. It’s located at the north-east of the Palace of Westminster and is currently the world’s third-biggest freestanding clock. Many might find it surprising, but “Big Ben” is actually the name of the bell that hangs in the clock. However, nowadays, both tourists and locals use the term to refer to the overall structure. Construction of the tower ended in 1856, which is as many as 13 years after it was started. This chiming clock stops very rarely and is widely known for its accuracy and reliability. In spite of the fact that the common people are not allowed to enter the premises of the tower, the clock is one of the most-visited tourist destinations in the city. It makes a charming sight even from a distance, particularly during night times when it gets illuminated.
5. Westminster Abbey
The Westminster Abbey is the site of marriage, coronation, and burial of the British monarchs. It has been playing these roles since 1066. The abbey is home to over 600 memorials and monuments and more than 3,000 people have been buried in the Cloisters and the Church. The current building dates particularly from the 13th to 16th centuries and is one of the biggest testimonies of the legacy of the Royal Family. Tourists come to the Westminster Abbey not only to see the amazing mixtures of Gothic styles the building features but also to witness pieces of history like The Coronation Chair, The Royal Chapels, Lade Chapel, Royal Tombs etc. You will also find the experience of worshiping at the abbey’s daily service enthralling.
6. St Paul’s Cathedral
The St Paul’s Cathedral was built by Sir Christopher Wren, one of the most celebrated architects of his time. The construction started in 1675 and ended in 1710. It’s said that this building is one of Wren’s finest works. The grand interior of the cathedral will leave you awestruck. You will be particularly mesmerized to see The Whispering Galley, located 30 m above the floor of the cathedral. The most talked about feature of this gallery is its acoustics. Another big attraction of the place is the superb serving of traditional, homemade cakes.
7. HMS Belfast
The HMS Belfast, which is currently a museum ship, used to be a light cruiser of the Royal Navy. It has been moored permanently on the River Thames and is governed by the British national museum organisation Imperial War Museum. This museum ship will introduce you to the stories of people who lived aboard this warship. You will get to explore all the nine decks of the HMS Belfast and know the experiences sailors had during the World War II and beyond. If you want to gather more hands-on experience about the life of naval officers, don’t forget to visit the famous Life at Sea exhibition and the ship’s Operations Room.
8. Tate Modern
It’s a British national museum featuring international modern art. Here, you will get to see international contemporary and modern art created by famous artists such as Rothko, Dali, Matisse, Picasso, Warhol, and so on. The Tate Modern was inaugurated in 2000 and took very little time to become the world’s most famous modern art museum. On average, the museum gets 4.6 million visitors each year and as much as 60% of them are 35 or younger. It would be wrong to categorize the Tate Modern as an art gallery. Other than being home to some fascinating artworks, the museum also houses several spectacular, thought-provoking installations covering a range of topics in its Turbine Hall.
9. National Gallery
The National Gallery, which is located in the north of the Trafalgar Square, is an art lovers’ paradise. It was established in 1824 and is home to some of the most amazing Western European paintings ever created. Right now, there are more than 2,300 paintings on display. These works of art cover every form of European painting practiced between the 13th and the early 20th centuries. Here, you will get to see works of Leonardo da Vinci, Van Gogh, Cezanne, Turner, Renoir, Rembrandt, Botticelli, Gainsborough and many other legendary artists. The National Gallery hosts audio-visual events, special lectures, exhibitions at regular intervals.
10. Science Museum
The Science Museum is one of the biggest attractions of the Exhibition Road in South Kensington. The museum started its journey in 1857 and right now is home to more than 300,000 objects. Some of the most famous objects you will get to witness during your visit to the Science museum include the documents of the very first typewriter, the first ever jet engine, Stephenson’s Rocket, etc. The museum also houses innumerable interactive exhibits. Each floor of the Science Museum houses different kinds of exhibits. For instance, while the Welcome Wing of the museum showcases digital technology, its 4th floor will tell you about practiced medicine and its history. The museum’s 5th floor, on the other hand, houses a gallery boasting medical practices and instruments used in different parts of the world during the ancient times, as exhibits.
11. Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum is home to a series of interactive natural exhibits categorized into four colour zones, Orange, Red, Blue and Green. The museum has more than 78 million items on show, which includes the world’s finest historical artefact collection. Some of the highlights of the museum include the Mammals’ collection, the Dinosaurs’ collection, The Power Within’ segment, the Earth’s Treasury’ gallery, etc. One item you should never miss seeing during your visit to the Natural History Museum is the 26 m Diplodocus skeleton adorning the Central Hall.
12. Tower Bridge
This Victorian structure inaugurated in 1894 features walkways that run 140 ft above the River Thames. These walkways were constructed to make crossing the Thames a less time taking job. The Bridge, on the other hand, was raised for allowing tall ships to move through without any obstruction. When walking through the glass sided alleys of the Tower Bridge, you will witness some of the most breathtaking views the city of London will ever offer you.
13. Greenwich- Cutty Sark and Observatory
When in London, you must pay a visit to Greenwich. Two of the hottest tourist destinations in this London district are the Cutty Sark and the Royal Observatory. The Cutty Sark, which was launched way back in 1869, is the only tea clipper we currently have. Cutty Sark’s work life ended in 1954, after which it was kept in a dry dock built specially to accommodate the ship. Three years later, the display facility was opened by Her Majesty The Queen’.
The Royal Observatory in Greenwich was constructed with the aim of solving the issue of locating longitudes when at sea. However, since 1948, the job of locating longitudes is carried out from the Herstmonceux Castle. The shift took place as the night light and increased pollution of the city made working at the observatory building extremely difficult. Right now, the building is home to the National Maritime Museum. The Green Meridian passing through the observatory marks the centre of our planet.
14. Kensington Palace
The Kensington Palace is a royal residence located amidst the serene Kensington Gardens. It first became the royal abode of Mary II and William III way back in 1689. The most famous residents of the Kensington Palace, however, are Queen Victoria and Diana Princess of Wales. Some parts of the Palace are still occupied by the British Royal Family. However, a few fascinating historic segments of the Kensington Palace has been opened to the public. One highlight of the palace is the collection of some breathtaking works of painter and architect William Kent.
15. Hyde Park
The Hyde Park is a royal park covering an area of 390 acres. It was seized by Henry VIII way back in 1536. At present, the park houses a lake called the Serpentine, more than 4,000 trees, and a meadow. You can even practice horse riding during your visit to the Hyde Park. The park’s Marble Arch corner is home to the Speaker’s Corner, a zone dedicated to public speaking.
16. London Zoo
London Zoo is the oldest and one of the most famous zoos our planet has. It started its journey way back in 1828. Initially, it was a centre of scientific studies on animals, but later in 1847 it started allowing public entry. Right now, the zoo is home to as many as 755 species. Some of the most prominent ones among them are Sumatran tigers, death adders, Sloth bears, Asian lions, Komodo dragons etc.
17. British Museum
This museum of human culture and history was founded in 1753. However, it started allowing public entry six years later. The British Museum is home to more than 7 million exhibits. Some of the most famous belongings of the museum include The Sutton Hoo, The Rosetta Stone, Egyptian antiquities, ancient Roman and Green sculptures and other artworks, etc. In addition, here, you will also get to see as many as 9,000 banknotes, medals, and coins.
18. The Globe Theatre
The Globe Theatre was constructed in 1599 by the playing company of William Shakespeare. However, the building was destroyed in 1613 and another Globe Theatre was built in the same place in 1614. The second building also got closed in September 1642. The Globe Theatre we now get to see in London is actually a reconstruction of the legendary building and is called “Shakespeare’s Globe”. It was opened in 1997 around 230 metres away from the original theatre’s location.
19. Hampton Court
The Hampton Court Palace, a palace located on the bank of Thames, houses the captivating royal history of over 500 years. One of the highlights of this palace is its private collection of art. It is believed to be the world’s biggest collection of its kind. During your visit to this London destination, you will be accompanied by guides dressed in exotic period costumes. The Hampton Palace hosts a number of events all through the years including a globally famous flower show.
20. Kew Gardens
Kew Gardens or the Royal Botanic Kew Gardens is located in the Kew district of London. Here, you will get to witness as many as 30,000 different living plants. No other place on this planet has such a huge collection of this kind. That’s not all. The Kew Gardens is also home to the world’s biggest collection of preserved plant specimens; the number is as high as 7 million. Some of the must visit areas of the garden are the Waterlily House, Queen’s Garden, Woodland Garden and Bamboo Garden.