There are so many of London’s top attractions to see and visit, your sightseeing checklist could get very long indeed. So where should you start? I’ve comprised a list of 20 top-rated tourist attractions particularly for first time visitors. It would be a shame to visit the city and not tick off some of London’s top attractions!
1. Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace is the London residence and principal workplace of the reigning monarch of the United Kingdom. You can’t go to London and miss it. It’s one of London’s top attractions. Be sure to witness the changing of the guards too while you’re there. You can view the times over here.
2. London Eye
The London Eye is a giant Ferris wheel on the South Bank of the River Thames in London. It is the most popular paid tourist attraction in the United Kingdom with over 3.75 million visitors annually. It is quite expensive (prices starting at $40) and if you’re looking to visit a lot of popular tourist attractions, you might want to look at getting tickets as part of a package.
3. Tower of London
Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress, known as the Tower of London, is a historic castle located on the north bank of the River Thames. It was founded in 1066 and the castle was a prison from 1100 until 1952. I did on a Contiki tour for part of my stay in London, and all the tour leaders agreed that Tower of London was the best tourist attraction to visit.
4. Big Ben & Houses of Parliament
The Houses of Parliament and Elizabeth Tower, commonly called Big Ben, are among London’s most iconic landmarks. Technically, Big Ben is the name given to the massive bell inside the clock tower. Big Ben is the nickname for the ‘Great Bell’ of the clock. Don’t leave London without visiting Big Ben! It looks most spectacular at night when the clock faces are illuminated.
5. Tower Bridge
London’s Tower Bridge crosses the River Thames close to the Tower of London and has become an iconic symbol of the city. You can choose to walk across it and you can also get great photos from the grounds around Tower of London or Butler’s Wharf.
6. Piccadilly Circus
This bustling, energetic area of London has been likened to Times Square in the US, and it’s the perfect spot to start your sight-seeing. Piccadilly Circus is a road junction and public space of London’s West End in the City of Westminster, built in 1819 to connect Regent Street with Piccadilly. It’s certainly one of London’s top attractions for tourists.
7. British Museum
Established in 1753, the British Museum is a museum dedicated to human history, art, and culture, located in the Bloomsbury area of London. Its permanent collection, numbering some 8 million works, is among the largest and most comprehensive in existence and originates from all continents, illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its beginnings to the present.
8. Hyde Park
One thing that I always loved about London is how green everything is (most likely due to so much rainfall). The parks during Summer are so beautiful and vibrant, and Hyde park is among the most popular. While you’re there, it would also be great to check out Kensington Gardens, immediately to the West of Hyde Park.
9. St Paul’s Cathederal
Built in the 16th century, St. Paul’s Cathedral is the seat of the Bishop of London and a major London landmark. It’s both an architectural masterpiece with awe-inspiring interiors, and a symbol of hope, after being rebuilt many times since the original stood here in 604 AD.
10. Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum is the world’s most prestigious and pre-eminent museum of natural history. It’s where vast collections of specimens are kept, like dinasour skeletons! It’s one of my favourite museums in London.
11. Tate Modern
The Tate Modern is Britain’s free national gallery of international modern art and forms part of the Tate group (together with Tate Britain, Tate Liverpool, Tate St Ives and Tate Online). It is based in the former Bankside Power Station, in the Bankside area of the London Borough of Southwark.
12. Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey, formally titled the Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster, is a large, mainly Gothic abbey church in the City of Westminster. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a must-see living record of British history that dates back to the 10th century.
13. Camden Market
Camden Market is London’s most popular open-air market area with stalls, shops, pubs and restaurants. Lose yourself wandering the curious cobbled pathways – each one rich with history.
14. Covent Garden
Covent Garden is a district in London on the eastern fringes of the West End, between St. Martin’s Lane and Drury Lane. There’s shops, bars, theatre, street entertainment, bakeries, markets, hidden laneways, perfumeries and incredible restaurants. It has an atmosphere that will completely captivate you.
15. The Shard
The Shard, also referred to as the Shard of Glass, is a 95-storey skyscraper in Southwark. It’s currently London’s highest viewing point and the fourth tallest building in Europe standing at 309 metres. Ascending to Level 72, there’s an open-air viewing gallery, restaurant (talk about dining with a view…), and two boutiques.
16. Sky Garden
Sky Garden is a unique public space that spans three storeys and offers 360 degree uninterrupted views across the city. Visitors can wander around the exquisitely landscaped gardens, observation decks and an open air terrace of what is London’s highest public garden. It features Sky Pod Bar which is an all-day drinking and dining experience amongst the gardens, as well as Fenchurch restaurant and Darwin Brasserie.
17. Trafalgar Square
Trafalgar Square is home to Nelson’s Column, iconic stone lions, the famous Fourth Plinth and a whole lot of pigeons. It is a public space and tourist attraction in central London.
18. The Gherkin
30 St Mary Axe, better known by its nickname Gherkin, is one of the most eye-
19. The Royal Observatory
Visit the Royal Observatory Greenwich to stand on the historic Prime Meridian of the World, see the home of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), and explore your place in the universe at London’s only planetarium. It’s also a lovely place for a picnic on a sunny afternoon.
20. Kensington palace
A palace of secret stories and public lives has been influenced by generations of royal woman. Experience life as a 17th and 18th century royal courtier whilst making your way through the magnificent King’s and Queen’s State Apartments adorned with remarkable paintings from the Royal Collection.
And there you have it: London’s top attractions! Any you might add?