London is a fascinating city with lots of iconic landmarks and attractions to explore. There is a great mix of old and new and plenty of history and culture so whatever you are interested in, you will find something to enjoy. First time visitors can often find it tricky to know which attractions are worth seeing so we have created a list of some top attractions which you should absolutely not miss the next time you are in the city:-
The London residence of the Queen, Buckingham Palace is definitely one of those attractions you should plan time to see. It is centrally located, making it very easy to get to and although it can get busy, it’s worth hanging around to have your photo taken outside the wrought iron railings or to see if you can spot the Royal Standard being flown, a sign that the Queen is present. Buckingham Palace also opens its doors during the summer months so if you’ve ever wanted the chance to see inside, make sure you come to London between the end of July and the start of October.
Big Ben is a pretty hard landmark to miss and is perhaps one of the most famous in the city. People often refer to Big Ben as both the clock and the clock tower but in actual fact, the clock tower’s official name is the Elizabeth Tower, following the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012. The clock itself is Big Ben and is located close to the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey.
The London Eye
Whether you just take a look at this gigantic Ferris Wheel or you book tickets and enjoy a ride, the London Eye is certainly an iconic feature on the London skyline. It is the largest Ferris Wheel in the world and offered the highest viewing point over London until the viewing platform opened at The Shard. It’s still a fantastic option if you want a panoramic view across the city however and should definitely be considered as an attraction worth visiting.
Portobello Road Market
London has a number of fantastic markets which take place throughout the week but one of the leading markets is definitely Portobello Road. The main market days are Friday and Saturday when over 1,000 stalls are set up selling all kinds of items from new goods to vintage clothing and antiques. If you want a hotel near Portobello market then the Park Grand London Paddington is a good option; situated just 1.6 miles from Notting Hill it would take around 11 minutes to reach if you travel via Westbourne Park Road.
Another popular London location which is not too far from the Park Grand London Paddington hotel is Trafalgar Square, named after the Battle of Trafalgar in which the British navy beat Napoleon. There are a few attractions worth visiting inside the Square including Nelson’s column and the National Gallery. It is also often used for special events throughout the year, one of the more notable ones being the gigantic Christmas Tree which is gifted to London by Norway each December.
St Paul’s Cathedral
St Paul’s Cathedral is one of the most iconic landmarks in the city, dominating the London skyline. The current Cathedral was designed by Sir Christopher Wren and the building has some interesting quirks which are worth looking out for; these include the additions of the pineapples. If you look up at the two towers on the western side of the Cathedral you might be able to spot the pineapple and there is also something which looks a lot like a pineapple on top of the dome as well.
This remarkable suspension bridge is a real must visit; it crosses the River Thames and has been a firm fixture in the city since the 19th century. If you are lucky enough you might be able to see the two sides of the bridge lift, drawbridge-style to let taller ships pass through and down the Thames. From the bridge you can also spot a number of other London landmarks including the Tower of London and the Shard.
The Tower of London
The Tower of London is one of the most historical buildings in London and has a rich and varied history. It is over 1,000 years old and has been, at various times, a zoo, a palace, a place of execution, and it is now the home of the Crown Jewels. It is also possible to have a tour of the Tower of London by a Yeoman Warder, more affectionately known as ‘Beefeaters’. The Yeoman Warders still stand guard at the Tower and have long been an iconic symbol in London.
There are eight Royal Parks in London and Hyde Park is one of the most centrally located and largest. As well as offering a beautiful and tranquil space to enjoy, Hyde Park is also home to a number of other attractions including Speaker’s Corner, the Serpentine Lake and the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain. In the summer months it is possible to hire a rowboat or pedalo and cruise along the Serpentine or to take a dip in the Lido.
Changing of the Guard
If you have any interest in the royal pomp and pageantry of London then you must get along to see the Changing of the Guard. This takes place daily at 11am between April and the end of July, weather depending, at both Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle. Buckingham Palace is the most centrally located option for watching this 45 minute ceremony but it can also get a little busy so if you want to avoid the crowds then you may prefer to head out to Windsor Castle instead.