London is such a fascinating, vibrant and eclectic city. Being so large and diverse, there are countless amazing things to see and do, so this post focuses on my top tourist attractions and spots to visit, particularly for first-timers.
This is part two of my London guide, check out: L O N D O N | Top 10 Travel Tips if you haven’t already. Of course, absolutely do whatever you wish to in London – these are just some of my favourite places and recommended things to do that I really enjoyed myself, to give you some ideas and inspiration.
This is easily my favourite museum I’ve ever visited and it’s a must-see for anyone!
Most famous for its impressive dinosaur displays, there’s an enormous range of exhibits showcasing specimens from all throughout history. You could easily spend an entire day here and best of all it’s totally free.
2. Tower of London
Officially known as ‘Her Majesty’s Royal Palace’ and ‘Fortress of the Tower of London’, visiting this historic castle is worth the money. Book online to save a little bit of money.
3. Big Ben
One of the most famous clocks in the world, Big Ben is the nickname for the Great Bell of the clock at the north end of the Palace of Westminster. Seeing one of the major iconic symbols of London with your own eyes is a must-do for any first time visitor.
It’s surrounded by museums, galleries, cultural spaces and historic buildings and being the largest square in London, it is thought of as the heart of the city.
5. Buckingham Palace
Seeing Buckingham Palace is an essential part of any trip to London. It has served as the official London residence of the UK’s sovereigns since 1837 and today it is the administrative headquarters of the Monarch. Make time to see the Changing of the Guard, for times and dates check the website here.
6. Westminster Abbey
Don’t miss seeing the gorgeous Westminster Abbey, one of the world’s great churches with a history stretching back over a thousand years. Admire the Gothic abbey from the outside or if you wish to visit properly, book tickets online for £20.
7. The British Museum
The British Museum is dedicated to human history, art and culture and houses an impressive collection of historical world art and artifacts including the Rosetta stone, iconic sculptures from Ancient Greece and Egypt and many more. Free to all visitors, you can again easily spend an entire day exploring the many rooms full of treasures.
8. Harry Potter studio tour
This attraction does of course depend if you are a fan or not – but if you are then this Warner Brother’s tour is an absolute must-visit! Well worth the £39, book your date and time slot in advance here to enter the magical world of Harry Potter and see the authentic sets, behind the scenes and making of the films.
9. St Paul’s Cathedral
St Paul’s Cathedral with its world-famous dome is an iconic feature of the London skyline. Head inside the seat of the Bishop of London to see the Anglican Cathedral’s beautiful interior and uncover fascinating stories about its history. Optional guided tours are £18, for more information visit their website.
10. Covent Garden
Just on the fringes of West End, Covent Garden offers excellent shopping, theatres, restaurants and pubs. Inside the marketplace, you can find the most wonderfully talented buskers who come to perform in the hopes of making it big.
11. Notting Hill
Notting Hill in West London is an iconic and captivating neighbourhood. There’s a reason why so many films are set here. It’s wonderful to walk through the quaint streets filled with rustic townhouses and especially great on a Saturday when Portobello Market comes to life.
12. London Eye
Also known as the Millennium Wheel, the London Eye is the world’s tallest Ferris Wheel.
It is officially the United Kingdom’s most popular paid tourist attraction and offers breath-taking views of London from high above the River Thames. Be sure to book your tickets and a time slot in advance online, as the queues can be hours long. Ticket prices start at £23.
13. Tate Modern
The Tate Modern is a free national art museum housed in the Bankside Power Station built after World War II. Enjoy a most impressive collection of international modern and contemporary art ranging from the 1900’s to the present day.
14. Camden Town
If you like alternative places then you will enjoy this area. Find unique fashion and accessory shops, great live music, eclectic dining, plenty of piercing and tattoo parlours and many cool pubs – my favourite is the World’s End pub.
15. Camden Market
16. Leicester Square
A famous pedestrian square in the West End of London, it’s the home of entertainment with plenty of great shows in the area. There are also many great restaurants and cool shops including the giant M&M’s World, which is a must-see.
17. Hyde Park
One of the largest parks in London, Hyde Park is a particular favourite to stroll through. The Royal Park covers 350 acres and is home to a number of famous landmarks including the Serpentine Lake and the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain. Aside from squirrel-spotting you can go cycling, open water swimming, boating and even play tennis.
18. Oxford Street
Oxford Street is known to be the UK’s favourite High Street, with more than 300 retailers from designer outlets to department stores and is the most visited shopping street in Europe. You could find anything you are looking for here and with the beautiful architecture and great nearby restaurants, it’s a must for any shopping lover. One of my favourite department stores is Selfridges.
19. South Bank
One of my favourite areas is South Bank along the river Thames. It’s perfect for a stroll on a nice day and there are plenty of entertaining things to see and do along the way.
It’s home to the London Eye, Shakespeare’s Globe, the London Dungeon, and the National Theatre just to name a few. You just can’t beat the views of seeing some of London’s most iconic buildings across the river.
20. Baker Street
If you are a fellow Sherlock Holmes fan then don’t bypass 221 B! On Baker Street is the Sherlock Holmes Museum where you can step back in time. Tickets for adults cost £15. It’s also very close to Abbey Road and Madame Tussaud’s if any of those interest you. (Next time I return I want to see Benedict Cumberbatch’s wax figure!).
21. Borough Market
One of London’s most well-known food and drink markets, Borough Market is fantastic for fresh produce and goods and a large variety of international food stalls.
Open from Wednesday to Saturday and located next to London Bridge, it’s perfect for a lunch stop or quick shop if you’re out and about in the area.
22. The Shard
The Shard is home to some of the best offices, restaurants and hotel rooms in London – along with breathtaking views. The 95-storey skyscraper is Western Europe’s tallest building. For the best views over London head to The View, the highest viewing platform. Book in advance online to save 15%. Prices start from £15.95.
One of the earliest established districts of London, Greenwich is a great place to spend the day. Many people enjoy seeing the famous Meridian timeline up close, from where you can enjoy magnificent views over London. There are beautiful parks, the National Maritime Museum, the Cutty Sark ship, Greenwich markets and plenty of great eateries and shops.
24. Kings Cross
Again, if you are a Harry Potter fan then head to the Kings Cross station to line up for your picture taken at the Platform 9 3/4 spot! There is also a souvenir shop selling plenty of merchandise if you can’t make it to the studio tour.
Visiting one of the world’s most famous department stores, Harrods is a must for any shopping lover. It’s incredible just for browsing (and drooling over) the high-end goods or spending all of your money in the cafe or chocolate section.
As mentioned, there are so many more wonderful things to do and top spots to visit, this is merely some of my favourites that I would recommend to someone going on a first or second trip to London.
Do you have a favourite place not mentioned here? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to read them.