London Attractions - the best sights to see in London
London's top attractions and sights are world famous - Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and the Tower Bridge are instantly recognisable to billions, and visitors flock to Madame Tussauds, the Tower of London, the Tate Modern and the London Eye... to name just a few.
Of course, these big name sights are justly famous, and no visit to London is complete without visiting at least some of them. But beyond the major landmarks, palaces and great museums, London has many other wonderful places to visit.
We hope this guide will not only help you to enjoy the major London attractions, but also encourage you to explore the capital's beautiful parks and green spaces, wonder at its great churches, rummage around in the fascinating, colourful markets and visit some of the lesser known places and attractions. Take the time to seek out one of the many atmospheric old pubs, attend a lecture at a gallery or cultural centre, or visit one of the city's curious and charming small museums.
London is full of slightly hidden and attractively quirky attractions, and we guarantee that adding a few of them to your itinerary will be the highlight of your trip.
Top London Tourist Attractions
London's major attractions are known all around the world - the city is home to Tower Bridge, the world's most famous bridge, Big Ben, the world's most famous clock tower, and the British Museum, one of the world's greatest museums. From the Tower of London and its 1000 years of history to the modern landmark that is the London Eye, these are the 'must see' sites and attractions that should be on everyone's itinerary for a visit to London.
London is home to more than two hundred museums, ranging from the vast and wonderful collections of the British Museum to a tiny but elegant fan museum. From transport to furniture, armour to dinosaurs, London Museums come in all shapes and sizes and are almost all well maintained, well labelled and absolutely fascinating. Whatever your interests, the odds are that London has a museum or collection related to it. And best of all, many of the bigger museums and a good few smaller ones are completely free! More on London Museums
London's Palaces & Castles
Everyone knows that the Queen lives in Buckingham Palace, but London's royal palaces also include Kensington Palace and the Tower of London - home to the fabulous crown jewels. The Palace of Westminster houses the British parliament, and Lambeth Palace is the residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Foremost among the more outlying royal residences are Hampton Court Palace, a must-see for anyone interested in British history, and magnificent Windsor Castle which is an easy and enchanting day trip from the capital.
London's Parks & Gardens
London's large and beautiful parks and many green open spaces cover around 25% of its total area, making it one of the world's greenest capital cities. From elegant St. James' Park to the grassy expanses and mature trees of Hyde Park, from the formal gardens and lake of Regent's Park to breezy Hampstead Heath, the city's parks and gardens are used and loved by Londoners of all backgrounds and ages for recreation, relaxation and picnics. The gorgeous Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew are a World Heritage Site, and nearby Richmond Park has nature paths, riding trails and is home to a large number of deer.
London's Art Galleries & Exhibitions
From the contemporary works in Tate Modern to the fabulous collections of the National Gallery, London's art galleries span the centuries and embrace all styles. You'll find many of the world's most iconic and famous paintings on display, as well as cutting edge and avant-garde works that may or may not stand the test of time. The Royal Academy hosts blockbuster art shows, as do a number of other venues. London also has plenty of commercial galleries and there are several major annual fine and decorative arts shows and festivals, including an Affordable Art Fair.
London's Churches, Cathedrals, Temples and Cemeteries
St. Paul's Cathedral and Westminster Abbey are familiar the world over as venues for royal weddings, and London is packed with historic and architecturally significant churches, chapels and other places of worship, including many designed by the great architects Wren and Hawksmoor. London is a wonderful place to discover stunningly decorated Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist temples, as well as synagogues and mosques. London's historic burial grounds include Highgate Cemetery, resting place of Karl Marx and others from among the great and the good. These 19th century 'cities of the dead' are romantic and slightly spooky places to explore.
London's Historic Pubs
London's pubs (public houses) and alehouses - also known as 'boozers' and 'locals' - are a important part of the city's social fabric and are found in every neighbourhood, rich and poor. Despite the ever-increasing numbers of characterless chain pubs, there are still lots of gems to be found, with good beer and a convivial atmosphere. Some of these pubs have fascinating histories dating back to medieval times. Others boast literary and political associations or beautiful Victorian décor. The best ones are well worth seeking out, and many of the pub names and signs are interesting in themselves.
London's Animal Attractions, Zoos & Nature
London might not seem like the most obvious place for animal and nature attractions, but the capital's animal attractions are certainly not limited to pigeons, ducks and squirrels - there's lots to discover if you know where to look. London Zoo and the Sea Life Aquarium are well known, but there is also a delightful Children's Zoo in Battersea Park and an abundance of bird life and other creatures to be seen at the wonderful London Wetland Centre. There are a dozen City Farms you can visit around the capital, children's animal corners in several parks, and even a network of nature reserves across Greater London. And don't miss the pelicans in St. James' Park, the deer in Richmond park, or the bright green wild parakeets across west London.
London's Historic Buildings
With a history stretching back 2000 years, it is unsurprising that London is full of historic buildings, homes and properties. From the remains of the city's Roman wall to medieval gate houses, from modest dwellings to opulent and elaborate stately homes, there is a huge amount to see and enjoy in the city. Those interested in interiors will find wonderful examples from the 16th century to the mid-20th century, including important William Morris-related Arts and Crafts interiors. And in addition to the usual historic properties, London also has a quirky selection of other buildings to visit, including a windmill, glasshouses, and pump houses.
London Attractions for Kids
Kids love seeing London's iconic sights such as Tower Bridge, Big Ben and the Tower of London (don't miss the crown jewels!), and are delighted by the red buses, black taxis and tube trains. There are beautiful parks to play in and zoos and an aquarium to visit. Ride the London Eye, and climb high into the dome of St. Paul's. There's no need to avoid museums - most go out of their way to be child-friendly, offering children's trails, treasure hunts and special workshops and events. Best of all, many museums are free, meaning you can happily keep your visit short and sweet (and perhaps visit again later). More on London for Kids