Searching for the best places to prioritise seeing during your travels to the United Kingdom. In London, the top attractions aren’t few and far between; it is full of historical attractions mixed with new and modern restaurants and bars. You will not get bored when visiting this city; it’s constantly evolving. You can go one year and the activities will have doubled, switched and levelled up a few years later.
London is notorious for hidden gems, good food and optimal British culture. There are hundreds of millions of years worth of history here if you include the Natural History Museum. The Romans were among the first to truly urbanise this patch of England and you can still witness first-hand some of their handiwork today.
If you’re looking to plan your stay in London, this article will enrich you with 20 of the best places you should consider putting on your list.
1. Buckingham Palace
You can’t come to London without visiting Buckingham Palace. The British monarchy has long been associated with Buckingham Palace. It serves as both the king’s official home and a functioning royal palace all year.
Throughout the summer, the gardens become a hive of activity as distinguished visitors are welcomed to enjoy a picnic and socialise in support of charitable causes dear to the monarch. It is a popular tourist destination in London, but scheduling your trip to take advantage of everything the royal home has to offer is essential.
Grand halls and staterooms are open for guided visits for ten weeks in the summer, from July to October. This is an opportunity to take a behind-the-scenes look at the magnificent chandelier in the white drawing room, the historic throne chamber, and the ballroom that has housed numerous notable people over the ages.
Address: Buckingham Palace, London, SW1A 1AA
2. Camden Market
There aren’t many food marketplaces in London that satisfy as many different palates as Camden Market. The market is a lifesaver for big groups and picky eateries alike. It has vibrant Pakistani street cuisine, freshly made crepes loaded with a variety of toppings, classic American burgers, Venezuelan arepas, and even Yorkshire pudding burritos stuffed with roast dinner components. There are many things to discover in this peculiar area of North London, in addition to the almost limitless culinary options.
Food isn’t all you get to see while at Camden; it is full of independent stalls selling one-of-a-kind pieces ranging from home decor to funky clothing items. Take a tour of the stands offering unusual goods, take a canal boat ride through the fabled lock, or have dinner on Primrose Hill while taking in views of the capital long into the warm evenings.
Address: Camden Market, Chalk Farm Road, London, NW1 8AA
3. British Museum
If you are familiar with the Bloomsbury district, it’s most likely because you have seen the intriguing artefacts on display at the British Museum.
The museum was founded in 1753 and became public in 1759. Centuries of expansions and modifications were needed to accommodate all the exhibits, which gave rise to the museum as it is today. One London site you will never truly “complete” is the British Museum, where you can always expect to witness dazzling gems worn by Persian civilizations amid Egyptian coffin travelling displays and collections.
Permanently on exhibit are artefacts such as the rosetta stone, which is a set of sculptures that originally graced the Acropolis in Athens and has a decree written in three ancient languages that is necessary to understand hieroglyphics.
Address: The British Museum, Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3DG
4. Hampton Court Palace
Hampton Court Palace used to be the aristocracy’s and royals’ second house. Though many of its well-known tenants, including Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII, are said to still haunt the halls in spirit, it’s now a taste of country grandeur only a short train ride from central London.
Discover how the Tudors celebrated under the Great Hall’s hammer beam roof and went about their private lives in the elegant staterooms. 750 acres of parkland and 60 acres of formal, well-manicured gardens make up the palace grounds, which were formerly used for jousting contests and garden parties intended to impress.
Hampton Court Palace is a magical site during the winter months. Shorter visiting hours mean less time to explore the interiors, but twinkling fairy lights illuminate the ice rink outside, and glittering sculptures are often placed around the grounds.
Address: Hampton Court Palace, Hampton Court Way, Molesey, East Molesey, KT8 9AU
5. Borough Market
If you’re a foodie, you should visit Borough Market. Because of the variety of produce and merchants scattered around the area, Borough Market is recognised by many as one of the greatest and oldest food marketplaces in London. More than a hundred vendors provide a wide range of products, including pots of the juiciest olives found outside of the Mediterranean, South Tyrol charcuterie, and East Sussex cheeses.
While many eager-to-please dinner party hosts peruse the deli stalls for last-minute inspiration, Borough Market is also great for on-the-go grub. Expect boxes of Iraqi-inspired street food, bowls of Malaysian slow-cooked curries and some of the best doughnuts in town from the Bread Ahead crew.
Address: Borough Market, 8 Southwark Street, London, SE1 1TL
6. Notting Hill and Portobello Road Markets
While on the topic of markets, Notting Hill and Portobello Road Markets are known for their part in the Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts film of the same name, and the Notting Hill district is a must-see in London outside of the actual bookstore.
Explore Portobello Market first, where a large portion of the street is occupied with rows of diamonds, vintage sunglasses, rare books, and pre-owned goods. On rainier days, head to the Museum of Brands for an insight into the history of advertising—it’s more fun than it sounds, trust us. Alternatively, visit the Electric Cinema for plush seats, Champagne and an extensive menu.
Address: Notting Hill, London
7. Hyde Park
Hyde Park is one of eight Royal Parks dotted across London and is a hub of activity year-round. Visit Lido Bar and Café or Serpentine Bar and Kitchen during your walk and enjoy a steaming cup of coffee and a decadent piece of cake while you gaze out the floor-to-ceiling windows at the passing scenery.
During Christmas, the park transforms into a playground for both children and adults, thanks to Winter Wonderland, from the festive fair to its Bavarian beer tents. In summer, several festivals take over the park, from foodie fairs to musical ones with superstar headliners like Adele. During the rest of the festivals, you can unwind with a relaxed day of sunbathing and picnic fun.
Address: Hyde Park, London
8. Kew Gardens
Look no further than Kew Gardens for a London attraction that makes you feel a world away from the bustle of the city.
This part of southwest London was designed with royal homes in mind. However, the 75-acre enclosed facility, which is today visited by millions of people every year, was first recognised as a single national botanical park in 1840 when the Royal Horticultural Society combined the gardens.
The complex has over 50,000 living plants, including rare and threatened species in Temperate House, the world’s largest Victorian glasshouse.
Address: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond,
9. London Transport Museum
One of the best attractions in London is suitable for children, recording more than 200 years of transit history in the city. Learn how the middle and higher classes got around the capital’s cobblestone streets in the early Victorian era, from the horses and carriages they could afford to the boats that carried labourers over the River Thames (there were only two bridges spanning the canal at that time).
Address: London Transport Museum, The Piazza, London, WC2E 7BB
10. National Gallery
The National Gallery is one of the greatest free attractions in London. The National Gallery was founded in 1824 and moved to its current location in Trafalgar Square in 1838, having previously been a collection at 100 Pall Mall.
Each year, millions of people walk through the great halls to see the more than 2,000 regular collection displays up close. Admission is free. Venus and Mars, a masterwork by Sandro Botticelli from the fifteenth century; Sunflowers by Vincent van Gogh; and The Water Lily Pond by Claude Monet are among the most famous paintings in the museum. Access to regular touring exhibitions is charged at a nominal price.
Address: The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London, WC2N 5DN
11. National History Museum
The Natural History Museum in South Kensington is one of the few institutions worldwide that has skillfully and magnificently distilled hundreds of millions of years of history into a sequence of exhibitions and halls.
A sample of moon rock that was brought back to the UK by President Nixon from an Apollo mission in the United States, along with a rare first edition of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, which is widely considered to be the most important book in the history of biology.
Address: Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, South Kensington, London, SW7 5BD
12. Shakespeare’s Globe
Shakespeare’s Globe has long been a mainstay of the riverbank in London, although it wasn’t always there or in the same shape as it is today.
The Globe Theatre, which was originally established in 1613 but had to close owing to the First English Civil War, is interpreted in the present theatre. It burned down in 1613. Founded by American actor and director Sam Wanamaker, the original Globe could accommodate 3,000 theatregoers; today, it only has 1,300 seats.
The theatre has welcomed celebrities, such as Gemma Arterton and Jonathan Pryce, in productions from William Shakespeare’s repertory since it debuted in 1997. It closes for the winter and is replaced by the nearby Sam Wanamaker Playhouse’s annual season of covered shows.
Address: Shakespeare’s Globe, 21 New Globe Walk, London, SE1 9DT
13. Havana Cigar Exchange
The Dunhill tobacco store opened a few years ago at the corner location, directly across from St. James’ Palace. Along with a superb assortment of Cuban and New World cigars, it has an excellent demonstration of the tobacco-making process.
Collectors can rent lockers; however, everyone is welcome to use the indoor smoking area so leave your nicopods at home and indulge in this rare experience within the UK. Although a sizable portion of cigars smoked in the UK each year are Cuban cigars, this does not indicate that cigars from other countries should be avoided. Havana Cigar Exchange is the place to locate cigars that are equally intriguing and tasty.
Address: 1A St James’s St, St. James’s, London, SW1A 1EF
14. Tate Britain
Without a doubt, finding an inexpensive day out in London is not always simple. Fortunately, free admission is available to some of London’s top museums and galleries, including Tate Britain.
Discover twenty galleries displaying 500 years of British art, from detailed portraits of 16th-century luminaries to photographs of 1970s Brixton by renowned photographer Neil Kenlock.
Apart from the collections that are open to the public, there are also frequent exhibitions. Fortunately, admission to them is also reasonably priced. Celebrations of JMW Turner and his peers, as well as significant loans of Van Gogh’s artwork revealing his connection to Britain, have been featured in previous exhibitions.
Address: Tate Britain, Millbank, London, SW1P 4RG
15. The London Eye
The London Eye became the world’s highest Ferris wheel when it was built to commemorate the turn of the millennium. The London Eye is still a famous feature of the city’s skyline, even if its height and scope have since been greatly surpassed.
With 32 sealed pods, it can accommodate 1,600 passengers in total. If it doesn’t stop rotating, a full rotation takes 30 minutes. Because of this, it is among the most popular paid attractions in the UK, drawing in over three million tourists annually.
Spending a few days in London? A multi-attraction ticket may include a ride on the London Eye. Save a tonne of money by combining your sky-high excursion with activities like a riverboat tour or a visit to Madame Tussauds.
Address: London Eye, Riverside Building, County Hall, London, SE1 7PB
16. The Shard
With some of the greatest views of London, The Shard is the tallest structure in Western Europe. As part of “The View from the Shard,” ascend to floors 68, 69, and 72 for expansive vistas extending up to 40 miles; the official experience includes access to the outdoor sky deck and a Champagne reception.
Then reserve a seat for a splash-out dinner at one of The Shard’s restaurants. Aqua Shard serves up modern British food and afternoon teas; Hutong serves customers upmarket Asian food; and Oblix offers classic grill foods in a classy eating environment.
The Shangri-La Hotel has restaurants and bars as well as the greatest views of the city and the highest hotel infinity pool in London from its rooms.
Address: The Shard, London
17. The Tower of London
Ever since William the Conqueror gave the order for its construction in the 1070s, The Tower of London has guarded the nation’s capital. Over the years, the stronghold has served as a pleasure palace for kings, queens, and the aristocracy.
Some people have even spent their last days imprisoned in the draughty apartments; Anne Boleyn was confined here before her execution in May 1536. Take in the displays of famous artefacts gathered over several centuries in innumerable rooms. Do not forget to make time to see the crown jewels, which are guarded by an armed garrison.
A family-friendly guided tour led by yeoman warders is an unforgettable experience. Hear the “beefeaters” bring the grisly details and stories of the attraction to life as they piece together a millennium of history in a few short hours. Tours depart every 30 minutes; locate the next meeting spot in advance to get up close and ask the experts questions.
Address: Tower of London, London, EC3N 4AB
18. Victoria and Albert Museum
The largest museum dedicated to applied arts, decorative arts, and design worldwide is the Victoria and Albert Museum. With almost two million pieces stored in the galleries and vaults, its permanent collection dwarfs those of other museums in London.
There are 145 galleries spread across 12.5 acres of total exhibit area, and admission is free. Permanent attractions include sculptures from Renaissance Italy, such as Giovanni Bologna’s Samson Slaying a Philistine, and the oldest dated carpet in the world, which was created for an Iranian shrine more than 400 years ago.
Address: Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, London, SW7 2RL
19. St Paul’s Cathedral
Few religious structures outside of Rome have the power to enthral and influence London as St. Paul’s Cathedral does. Although there has been a building on the site since the fifth century, Sir Christopher Wren is credited with creating the cathedral that is visible today.
Admire the decorative ceilings, winding staircases and spectacular view of the cathedral’s length from the nave – the best places for a quick photo.
Address: St. Paul’s Cathedral, St. Paul’s Churchyard, London, EC4M 8AD
20. The Houses of Parliament
For centuries, the UK’s top decision-makers have convened at the Palace of Westminster, also referred to as The Houses of Parliament. But the structure that stands now on the banks of the River Thames is by no means the original; a terrible fire destroyed the last palace in 1834.
When politicians aren’t swarming the House of Commons and House of Lords, there are guided tours of the historic buildings available, given by knowledgeable guides. Visitors will soon be able to return to the famous clock tower after the biggest restoration effort in Big Ben’s 160-year existence, officially known as the Elizabeth Tower.
Make sure you book a guided tour well in advance. Visits can be booked several months in advance by phone or online.
Address: Palace of Westminster, London, SW1A 0AA