The capital of the United Kingdom is almost unanimous according to Countryaah. It is very difficult to find someone who is not passionate about the city and its attractions. The only problem is that it is so big and offers so many things to do that it is even difficult to enjoy everything, especially on short trips. Thinking about it, we made this list with the best tourist attractions in London. They are not in order of preference, so don’t hesitate: when you’re in town, be sure to visit any of them.
London’s Top 11 Tourist Attractions
London Tower (and Tower Bridge)
From prison to palace, from safe to private zoo, the magnificent Tower of London has fulfilled many different roles over the centuries. One of the most emblematic structures in the country, this spectacular World Heritage Site is a paradise for visitors interested in British history, after all, a lot has happened there.
Inside the huge tower, built in 1078 by Guilherme the Conqueror, are historical weapons and royal armor, the Crown jewelery exhibition and exhibitions on the executions that took place at the site.
Tower Bridge, an adjacent bridge, with its two huge towers 65 meters above the River Thames, is one of London’s most popular tourist attractions in the world. A tip, especially for the busy summer period, is to buy the entrance ticket to the London Tower in advance, so it is possible to bypass the queues at the box office and still save, because tickets purchased online are cheaper.
Built to mark the celebrations of the turn of the millennium in the 2000s, the London Eye is the largest ferris wheel in Europe. Its individual glass capsules offer the most spectacular views of the city, at a height of more than 100 meters from the level of the River Thames. The trip takes 30 minutes, usually faster than the time spent in the queue. Just like in the London Tower, it is best to buy the advance ticket, which allows you to skip the line and climb the attraction at any time of the day.
Of London’s tourist attractions linked to nature, Hyde Park is the highlight, being the largest open space in London and a destination for tourists since 1635. One of the park’s darlings is the Serpentine, an 18th century artificial lake, popular for boating and swimming.
There you can also find Speakers’ Corner, a traditional point of demonstrations and speeches. Another landmark of Hyde Park is the Apsley House, the former home of the first Duke of Wellington acquired after his famous victory at Waterloo. Now a museum, it houses Wellington’s magnificent collections of paintings, including Velázquez’s “The Seville Water Vendor”, as well as gifts offered by European kings and emperors.
Buckingham Palace (and the changing of the guard)
One of the most emblematic buildings in the UK, Buckingham Palace is also the stage for one of the most iconic ceremonies in the world: the changing of the guard, which attracts crowds at 11:30 am in all seasons. Tip for those who want to check the exchange in a less crowded place: it also takes place at St. James’s Palace.
Buckingham Palace was built in 1837 and has been the residence of the Royal Family in London since the coronation of Queen Victoria. But how do you know if Queen Elizabeth will be there when you visit? Look at the flagpole! If the royal standard is raised, it is because the most illustrious resident of the house is there.
Another place with a long association with British royalty, Westminster Abbey has been in a temple associated with Christianity since the beginning of the 7th century. Officially known as the “Collegiate Church of St. Peter”, Westminster Abbey was founded by Edward the Confessor in 1065. Many of the British kings were crowned and buried in that church. Nowadays it is best known for being the favorite place for royal weddings.
Victoria and Albert Museum
The Victoria and Albert Museum (also known as V&A) is part of a group of museums in South Kensington that includes the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum. Founded in 1852, V&A contains 145 galleries that span around 5,000 years of art and artifacts. Exhibitions include sculptures, engravings, photos, ceramics, glass, fabrics, clothing, silver, jewelry and hardware.
National Gallery of London (National Gallery)
Ranked among the main art museums in the world, the National Gallery of London is an almost complete representation of European painting from 1260 to 1920. The greatest strengths of the Museum are in its collections of Dutch masters and Italian schools from the 15th and 16th centuries. Among its highlights are a preliminary sketch of Leonardo da Vinci’s “Madonna Litta”; “The Burial”, by Michelangelo; “Venus and Mars”, by Botticelli; Sunflowers, by Van Gogh and Monet’s “The Pond of Water Lilies”.
Big Ben and British Parliament
Nothing says “London” more emphatically than this 96 meter tower that houses the giant clock and its bell known as Big Ben (photo at the beginning of this text). It is as iconic a landmark as Tower Bridge. Just below the clock, extending along the Thames, is the Palace of Westminster, home to the British Parliament and home to the government of Great Britain for many centuries. Visits to parliament buildings offer a unique chance to see real-time debates and lively political discussions. The Parliament Square, known as Whitehall, is surrounded by many government buildings that his name has become synonymous with the British government.
Tate Modern and Tate Britain
Known as the Tate Gallery, these two galleries (Tate Britain and Tate Modern) are home to one of the most important art collections in the world. Opened in 1897 as the basis for a significant national collection of British art, the gallery continued to make acquisitions and needed more space to properly display its collections. The end result was the establishment of Tate Britain, at Millbank, on the north side of the Thames, as home to its permanent collection of historic British paintings. A transformed power station across the river has become home to collections of modern art. Art lovers can spend the whole day visiting the two museums, conveniently connected by high-speed ferries.
The British Museum
Exhibiting one of the best collections of antiques in the world, the British Museum contains more than 13 million artifacts from the ancient world! With priceless objects from Assyria, Babylon, China, Europe and elsewhere, it is difficult to know where to start. But most tourists head to the museum’s most famous exhibits first: Rosetta Stone, Elgin’s Marbles, Egyptian mummies, the bust of Ramses II and Mildenhall Treasure, a fourth-century Roman silver collection.
Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus
Two of London’s best-known sights, these famous squares are close by and mark the gates of Soho, London’s lively theater and entertainment district. Trafalgar Square was built to commemorate Lord Horatio Nelson’s victory over the French and Spanish at Trafalgar in 1805. The Admiralty Arch, St. Martin’s Church and the National Gallery surround the square.
Piccadilly Circus marks the irregular intersection of several busy streets – Piccadilly, Regent, Haymarket and Shaftesbury Avenue – and overlooking this somewhat messy tangle of traffic, is London’s best-known sculpture: the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain.
These are some of the best tourist attractions in London, but the city has a LOT more to offer. And put a lot on it! That is why the British capital is a great destination not only for travel, but also for exchange. Thus, with more time available, it becomes much easier to enjoy everything there. Have you ever thought about spending time studying in “Terra da Rainha”? The ideal to get this dream off the ground is to prepare well in advance and our expert mentoring can help you with that!