"When a man is tired of London he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford."
- Samuel Johnson
Nothing can sum up London than above statement which still stands true. London is the world's most cosmopolitan city attracting rich, famous, politicians, sportspersons, and not to mention tourists from all over the world.
Combining grandiose imperial buildings with some of the most bedazzling attractions and nightlife you’ll find anywhere on the planet, London is one of the world’s greatest cities. Your main challenge will not be finding things to do. Rather, it will be deciding which stellar attractions you’ll have to miss out on, and finding enough time to sleep!
If you’re into literature, London has been the setting or inspiration for endless classic novels; Sherlock Holmes, 101 Dalmatians, Harry Potter and many more. If you’re interested in history and the British Royal Family, then you’ll love the palaces and castles, including Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London, and everything in between. If you love art and sculpture, then you’ll find endless things to delight. Kids will love the Science Museum and the Zoo. If you just want to have a good time, then see one of the big name musicals in the West End or one of London’s many incredible restaurants. Night owls will love the bar and club scene.
The Queen’s house is arguably the most grandiose building in London. Visitors come to see the spectacle of the Changing of the Guard, and the inside of the Palace is increasingly open for visitors too. However, Buckingham Palace is often used for state functions, so make sure it’s open when you intend to visit. Even if you don’t want to go into the palace, the exterior is well worth a look, and this is a lovely corner of London to wander around.
A relatively new attraction, but enormously popular, the London Eye is an enormous ferris wheel by the side of the Thames. It gives you an excellent view of the city, and is an experience you will never forget.
See the medieval Great Hall, the incredibly opulent House of Lords, and the familiar House of Commons – which is much smaller than it looks on the television. British citizens can request tickets and tours through their MP, while the Palace also regularly plays host to tour groups of overseas visitors.
The Big Ben is one of the most famous landmarks in London and in the world. Big Ben is also one of the most visited attractions in the London.
Tower Bridge is one of the most iconic structures in London.It is also one of the most beautiful bridges in the world. It has a functioning draw bridge which is raised several times a day to allow boats on the river Thames to pass.
With extensive displays on the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans, the British Museum is enduringly fascinating. There are also exhibits covering every other culture from the Japanese to the Incas, and many short term specialist exhibitions too. It’s worth remembering that, in a city that can be almost awe-inspiringly expensive, the British Museum is free.
A sort of a theme park for adults, Vinopolis is a wine tasting museum. Start your visit with a tutored tasting, and, once you’ve mastered gargling and nosing set yourself loose on wines from across the world. There’s also whisky and various other drinks on offer, too – you will have an absolute blast!
The Tower of London
Always one of London’s key attractions, contemporary interest in the Tudors means that the forbidding Tower is at the top of many people’s ‘must see’ lists. Join a tour by a Yeoman Warder, see the ravens and the crown jewels, and pause for a moment by Tower Green, where many famous nobles were executed.
Nearly all of London’s attractions have an area pitched at children, but these are all places that your little darlings will particularly enjoy.
The Science Museum
This is an amazing museum that houses exhibits on every element of science and engineering, and you can happily spend several hours wandering the halls. However, the main attraction for kids is the hands-on area where they get to learn and play at the same time – many happy hours can be spent there!
Meet lions, wild dogs, hippos and other beasts both big and small at London’s world-renowned zoo. If you’re travelling with children, then there are daily activities that you should try to catch, including the Penguin Beach and talks about lions, owls and other amazing creatures.
General attractions and activities
Theatres – The West End is one of the major hubs for big musical productions – including Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Legally Blonde, Wicked, the Lion King and many, many more. If you’re feeling a bit more classical, then you can also see an orchestra, an opera or a ballet. If you want to see a performance but are on a very strict budget, then you should check out some of the fantastic buskers at Covent Garden.
Immigration and an increasing interest in food means that London is a fabulous place to eat out. You can find all sorts of cuisines on offer at the hundreds of restaurants, including South African, Hungarian and other unusual establishments, as well as more mainstream Italian, Indian and French places. Head to Chinatown for Chinese, Brick Lane for curries, check out some Michelin starred joints if you’re feeling flush, and book far in advance for big name restaurants like Nobu and the Ivy.
Famous shops like Harrods, Fortnum and Masons and Hamley’s are worth a visit even if you don’t have a massive shopping budget. Covent Garden is full of shops selling handmade souvenirs and crafts. For mainstream shopping, then get yourself to Oxford Street – although try to avoid it on a Saturday afternoon as half of London will be doing the same thing! Camden Market is the place to go for unique clothing and accessories, and is much favoured by students.
When to visit London
Weather in Britain is notorious for it's unpredictability and no where else it is more visible than in London. Weather in London can be quiet unpredictable and you will have to plan according to the weather.
Weather-wise, July, August and September are usually sunny and pleasant. The rest of the year, the weather can be changeable – you may get gloriously clear spring or autumn days, or it may be dull and drizzly. Winter is cold and snow is not unknown in December or January. However, extreme weather conditions are rare, and rarely disrupt the life of the city.
Although summer is the busiest season, London doesn’t really do off peak – just slightly smaller queues! The theatres, museums and historical sites are year round attractions, and you will always find more than enough things to do.
London is a year round destination. In the summer, the parks become thronged, and there are many, many outdoor attractions and concerts to go to – the most notable is probably the Proms in Hyde Park.
Whatever time of year you go at, it’s worth avoiding using the transport system at peak times – usually around 8am and 5.30pm. Londoners are generally polite and helpful, but can get rather short-tempered with tourists whose unfamiliarity with the tube and buses slow their daily commute.