London Guide

London is one of the great tourist destinations of the world, and there is an unlimited supply of things to see and do. One could live here for years and not see it all, but here is a partial suggested list of the main attractions worth your time.

Banqueting House
Designed and built in 1622 by the renowned architect Inigo Jones as part of the Whitehall Palace, the Hall is the only part to survive a fire in 1698. It boasts magnificent ceilings painted by Rubens and is usually open to the public, except when in use for a state banquet or concert. (Westminster tube)

Bluewater shopping centre occupies 240 exciting acres, with over 320 shops and restaurants plus a 12 screen multiplex cinema, three unique leisure villages and breathtaking civic architecture. Bluewater couldn't be easier to get to, being the hub of an extensive transport network, and offering 13 000 free parking spaces. There's always something special happening at Bluewater - find out for yourself what the ultimate shopping experience is like. (Bluewater)

British museum
Perhaps the greatest museum in the world and the entry is free (donation is requested). They have a huge collection of ancient artifacts including a spectacular Egyptian section and the famous and controversial Elgin Marbles – the collection of friezes and statues from the Parthenon in Greece. There is also a bookshop, children’s gif-shop and general gift-shop. Work is continuing to create a spectacular Great Court in the centre of the Museum building. (Holborn)

Brixton market
On weekends the right named Electric Avenue comes alive with a Caribbean atmosphere and masses of fresh fruit, exotic vegetables, music, food and flowers. (Brixton)

Buckingham palace
Buckingham Palace is the London residence of the Queen. A selection of rooms is open to the public in August and September. The changing the guard still takes place every day at 11:30am from April to July and every second day for the rest of the year. (Green Park)

Camden market
This is the biggest of London’s markets with a seemingly endless array of shoes, clothes, antiques, second-hand and retro clothing, bootlegs, and more. (Camden Town)

Carnaby Street
A fashion centre since the sixties with the latest shoes, clothes and accessories! (Oxford Circus)

China town
Known as Tong Yan Kai, just off Leicester Square. Great for food and atmosphere! (Leicester Square)

Covent Garden
What used to be a fruit and vegetable market has been transformed into a charming shopping centre with lots of different boutiques and shops and restaurants, as well as street performers, theatres and the piazza. (Covent Garden)

Downing Street
The home of the Prime Minister is at Number 10. Since the end of the street was fenced off in the 1980’s there has been no direct public access. (Charing Cross)

Globe theatre
A recreation of the London theatre, which originally stood in the seventeenth century. There are regular performances from May to September and audiences can experience Elizabethan theatre in an authentic setting. The exhibition tells the story of rebuilding Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. (London Bridge)

Home of the Royal Observatory, lovely gardens, vibrant weekends with arts, crafts and antique markets and the centre of Greenwich Mean Time. Also found here is the 1869 ship Cutty Sark, a maritime historical wonder. River cruises leave from Westminster Pier every half-hour from 10am to 4pm. (Westminster)

Hampton Court Palace
The grandest Tudor residence in England outside London. Built for Cardinal Wolsey it was presented to Henry VIII who used it as a royal residence. The hallway leading to the Royal Chapel is rumoured to be haunted by the ghost of Anne Boleyn. King William of Orange and Queen Mary also used the Palace frequently and had Christopher Wren design the extensions. The palace is justly famous for its beautiful architecture, sumptuous interiors, formal gardens and maze. (Surrey)

Much more than just a shop, Harrods is one of the most famous stores in the world, although it may also be the most expensive! The interior décor is stunning, particularly the famous Egyptian escalator. The food halls are magnificent. Please note that backpacks are not allowed in the store. (Knightsbridge)

Highgate Cemetery
A beautiful old cemetery with lots of ivy, vines and ancient graves. The cemetery is divided into two parts. The West cemetery is accessible only by guided tour and is said to have been inspirational to Bram Stoker when he was writing Dracula. It includes the magnificent Egyptian Avenue. An entry fee is payable to both parts of the cemetery but you can wander freely through the East cemetery. Among the famous graves is a formidable monument for Karl Marx. (Highgate)

Houses of Parliament & Big Ben
The home of British parliament is a superb piece of neo-gothic architecture. Visitors can attend sittings of the House of Commons to get a glimpse of democracy in action. The bell in the clock tower next to Westminster Bridge is the real Big Ben, although most people think it is the name of the clock. Its famous chimes sound out the quarter hours and the bell tolls on the hour. (Westminster)

Kensington Market
Offers Punk, Gothic and Techno supplies. It is closed on Sundays. (Kensington High St. tube)

Kensington Palace & Gardens
The Palace is the birthplace of Queen Victoria, the London home of Princess Margaret and the last residence of Princess Diana. Tours are available to some of the rooms; tea and treats can be purchased in the Orangery. The palace is attached to the beautiful Kensington Gardens, which join Hyde Park. (Queensway or High Street Kensington)

Kew Gardens
Beautiful Victorian gardens, spectacular greenhouses and rare plants. (Kew Gardens )

Kew Palace
The smallest Royal palace is situated in the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. It is open daily from April to September. (Kew)

Best theme park in the UK. (Windsor)

Leicester square
Centre of cinemas, theatres, and the home of a popular half-price ticket booth. (Leicester Square)

London Dungeon
Great horror museum, featuring the history of London's plagues, tyranny and torture. Also a good Jack the Ripper exhibition. (London Bridge)

London Zoo
One of the oldest zoos in the world, located in Regents Park. While architecturally significant, unfortunately most of the zoo was constructed at a time that the prime aim of zoos was to show off the animals with little regard to their comfort or well-being. The aim now is conservation and education and the zoo works towards both quite admirably. (Baker Street, Camden Town)

Madame Tussauds
Since 1802, this Wax Museum has been drawing in the crowds. The displays include replicas of sporting greats, entertainment celebrities and members of the Royal Family. A particularly gruesome Chamber of Horrors is also featured but not recommended for the faint-hearted. (Baker Street)

Millennium Wheel (London eye)
This giant Ferris wheel is the biggest in the world and at 200 metres high it’s taller than Big Ben. It offers a fabulous view of London. Each capsule accommodates 25 people and a full circuit of the wheel takes 30 minutes. (Waterloo, Westminster)

National Gallery
Facing Trafalgar Square is one of the world’s best art galleries located. Free entry (donation requested) and a wonderful gift shop. Visit the gallery houses, a magnificent collection of paintings from 1260 to 1920, including many classics. (Charing Cross)

Oxford Street
Famous shopping streets, big store names and department stores including Selfridge’s and the flagship store for Marks & Spencer. (Oxford Circus)

Regent Street
Famous shopping street featuring the beautiful Liberty store. (Oxford Circus, Piccadilly Circus)

Portobello road
London’s famous Notting Hill weekend market selling antiques, handmade gifts and lots of clothes. This market can be very busy on both Saturday and Sunday. (Notting Hill Gat, Ladbroke Grove)

Rock circus
Wax models of famous pop and rock stars plus animatronic performances. (Piccadilly tube)

The place for dining out in London with a truly huge choice of restaurants. Also plenty of clubs, pubs and shops. Soho’s reputation for showing London’s seamier side is also evidenced by the presence of strip joints and sex shops. (Piccadilly tube)

St. Paul's Cathedral
Christopher Wren's masterpiece built after the previous cathedral was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666. The cathedral is an architectural masterpiece with an enormous dome. To reach some of the best views of London visitors can ascend 530 steps to the Stone Gallery. (St. Paul's, Mansion House)

Tate Gallery
This gallery displays only a small part of its large collection of British and modern art, so pieces are regularly rotated. Pre-Raphaelite masterpieces along with works by Blake, Hogarth, Constable and Turner make this a must for anyone interested in British art. The gallery also boasts a very fine gift shop and basement café. (Pimlico)

Tower of London
Originally built by William the Conqueror this ancient fortress has stood guard over London for more than 900 years. Its many famous prisoners have included Mary Queen of Scots, Elizabeth I, Sir Walter Raleigh, Anne Boleyn and Rudolph Hess, many of whom ended their stay here by being beheaded. It is home to the Crown Jewels and the famous ravens. (Tower Hill)

Tower Bridge
Just a little over 100 years old and one of London’s most famous landmarks the bridge crosses the Thames next to the Tower of London. The bridge can be raised for the passage of river traffic. The tower Bridge Experience takes you inside the bridge to see the engine room and up onto the walkways for a fabulous view of London. (Tower Hill)

Westminster Abbey
A spectacular and ancient church, where many kings, queens, churchmen, statesmen and famous writers are buried. The tombs of Queen Elizabeth I. and Lady Margaret Beaufort are not to be missed. There are so many stunning chapels and tombs it can be slightly overwhelming. Don’t leave without visiting the Chapter House and the College Garden. (Westminster)

Windsor Castle
Just outside of London, this is another home of the Royal Family. (Windsor)

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