London is a city that has so many attractions it’s difficult to choose the best ones to visit. Below are ten of the top ones and reasons tourists will not want to miss any of them.
1. Buckingham Palace – London home of the British royal family, Buckingham Palace is an unmissable sight for a London tourist. In August and September a few state rooms can be visited, but the Changing of Guards, in which the iconic unsmiling palace guards go on and off duty, can be viewed year round.
2. Oxford Street – This is not just a great shopping street in London; Oxford Street is actually the busiest street for shopping in all of Europe. The largest Marks and Spencer, the biggest record store in Europe and a number of flagship department stores are all located here. In addition to being a great place for shopping, Oxford Street is also historic; it was a road as far back as Roman times.
3. London Eye – The newest item on this list, the London Eye has nonetheless become a familiar symbol of the city. Europe’s tallest ferries wheel, it was completed in 2000 and overlooks the South Bank of the Thames. A revolution on the wheel takes about half an hour and offers a remarkable panoramic view of the city.
4. Palace of Westminster – This is also known as the Houses of Parliament where the British government meets and is an unmistakable part of the British skyline along with Big Ben. Both British and foreign tourists can line up for a ticket that allows access to the interior and to watch proceedings when Parliament is in session.
5. Madame Tussauds – The world’s most famous wax museum includes figures from history like William Shakespeare and Adolph Hitler, film stars such as Audrey Hepburn and contemporary celebrities including Lady Gaga. There is an area for sports stars and even a Bollywood collection.
6. Tower of London – The Tower of London has played a bloody role throughout British history including the presumed murder there of the two young princes who might have challenged Richard III to the throne and the execution of Anne Boleyn, one of Henry VIII’s wives. But the Tower was more than just a prison; at various times it was a royal residence, an armory and the location of the Royal Mint. The Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom have been housed at the Tower of London for more than 700 years.
7. British Museum – Nearly every era and culture gets some coverage in this massive museum which has more than eight million items in its permanent collection as well as a number of rotating special collections. From Egyptian antiquities to ship burials to ancient coins and more, the museum cannot possibly be taken in over a day or even a few days but is an unmissable London attraction.
8. Piccadilly Circus – This famous junction in the West End of London is a busy landmark near several notable buildings and a Tube station of the same name. The statue of Eros in the middle atop the Shaftesbury Memorial is a main focal point. Visitors to London will not want to miss this iconic sight.
9. St. Paul’s Cathedral – Some of Britain’s most famous citizens are buried in this church designed by the famous 18th century architect Sir Christopher Wren including Lord Horatio Nelson, poet John Donne and former prime minister Margaret Thatcher. The site itself has been the location of a church for nearly 1500 years. Today, the cathedral is not just a stunning piece of architecture but a vital part of British life as the setting for important funerals, weddings and celebrations such as the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
10. Harrods Knightbridge – The department store Harrod’s, nearly 200 years old, is closely associated with London and is something more than just a high-end department store with 32 restaurants, memorials to the deceased Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al-Fayed and a roster of historic customers including Oscar Wilde, Charlie Chaplin and Vivien Leigh. It is an unmissable experience even for those uninterested in shopping.
A London visit can seem difficult to plan simply because there is so much to do in the city, but a trip to England that includes these major attractions will be a satisfying one.