London is crowned the world’s most visited city. It finally came true. But no wonder — there are numerous attractions for every person here. From museums, to theatres, concerts, parks, big sport events, and it’s rather safe compared to the high crime rates in Paris and New York. It’s only natural to become the most popular city, but it has to try even harder to keep the spot.
And what is there to do in London? What are all the millions of tourists doing when they visit? The list is too enormous, but I’ll try to share with you at least some of the more popular attractions.
The Free Ones
Let’s start with the free sights. You don’t have to bring a bag of money to visit the local attractions.
Whether you want to enjoy the beautiful neo-classic architecture or just watch the fifty five fountains dance in front of your eyes, Somerset House is the place for you. And if that’s not enough, you can visit some of the many concerts or come here during the winter and do some ice skating. Hire a tour guide and you might learn something new about the history of this place.
Did you know the location was filmed in many popular motion pictures? Just some of the names: James Bond: Tomorrow Never Dies; Shanghai Knights; Sherlock Holmes (The one with Robert Downey Jr.); Sleepy Hollow and many more.
Grant Museum of Zoology
According to TripAdvisor most people find it “excellent” or “very good”. Everyone is incredibly excited about the sight. Some even say it’s better than the National History Museum. What is interesting about the locations is that it started as a private collection and it all started in the 19th century. And everything is authentic. You can still see the old glass cabinets and feel like you’re entering a different era. The other unique feature — you can see the skeletons of some extinct creatures like the Dodo bird and the Quagga.
Maybe people love it so much, because there are less people in, it’s free and it’s quaint.
One of the oldest museums in the world, with millions and millions of items exhibited. They have collections from all the continents — mummies, The Rosetta Stone, the Nereid Monument, several items from the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus… Actually the items are far too many to enlist. You just have to realize that everything inside is with great historical importance. And the best part is that you can expand your knowledge for free.
From the distance it seems like some industrial building, but when you come closer you know there is definitely something arty going on in there. A wonderful idea to convert this old power stations in to the most visited modern art museum in the world. A little less than five million visitors every year is a very impressive number. So if you want to see some unique pieces which you can’t see anywhere else, why don’t you stop by?
Imperial War Museum
This is the perfect place for all the war enthusiasts. It’s located in the old Bedlam building. There are several big collections from the two World Wars. One of the most popular ones is “A Family in Wartime”. It shows how regular British people lived during the Second World War. “The Holocaust Exhibition” is another popular one. Since the photographs, films and documents could be quite graphic, it is restricted for children under the age of 14. But the kids shouldn't get upset, because there are some collection which are very appealing for them. Check out the “Secret War” section and you’ll see the equipment of actual spies.
Museum of London
If you are interested in the history of London, there is no better place. You can see how the area developed through the ages. From the first people who set foot on the land to modern days.
Pay To See
Enough with the freebies. It’s time to invest some pounds in the city.
Tower of London
You can’t go to London and miss visiting The Tower. This is one of the main attractions with millions of visitors queueing to see Queen Victoria’s crown and the armour of King Henry VIII. But it’s not only that. People love the armoury in the White Tower. Go and check out all the devices made for torturing prisoners. Or if you are a fan of the paranormal, The Tower of London is one of the most haunted places in the UK. It’s a must-see.
Charles Dickens Museum
After all the colossal museums you've visited you’d want something smaller, but with great historic importance. Even though Charles Dickens lived for only two years in this house, today this museum is dedicated to him. Here you can see how the author lived, you can see more than 100 000 items connected with his life, work and legacy. There are unique manuscripts, rare editorials and even some of his belongings are displayed.
I bet you didn't expect to see such a ridiculous thing on the list. If you are a tourist, you wouldn't need such services, but many people are moving to London or out of it (to surrounding areas). And as it turns out, this is the city with probably the highest search for move out cleaning. Even the big New York doesn't have so many companies per capita. Don’t know if this means if Londoners are lazy and don’t like cleaning, or simply the tenancy laws and agreements are too strict.
Another absolutely must-see. You can’t say you've been to London, if you haven’t seen Buckingham Palace. Well that’s not entirely true, because the palace is not usually opened for tourists. But every year they make a few exclusive tours around some of the rooms. There are limited places and it’s not very cheap. But the things you’ll see are mindbogglingly beautiful. You can still go to the palace and take a few pictures of it. That at least is free and the sight is still very stunning. And you can watch the changing of the guard here.
Houses of Parliament
Okay, okay… This is the absolute must-see. The most iconic structure of London. Also know as The Palace of Westminster, these are the buildings you see on every postcard, in every movie. You probably even have a T-shirt of The Elizabeth Tower, or as you probably call it — The Big Ben. Some of the parts are even a millennia old (The Westminster Hall), and definitely deserve your attention. There are tours with guides in different languages. You just have to go and see it.
The London Eye
A modern attraction which instantly became a symbol of London. If you want a great view of the city, this is the best way. The Shard has a nice observation deck, but London Eye is far more pleasant. The tour is 30 minutes long, you have touch screen monitors to explain what you are looking at. And if the weather is good, which rarely is, you can see more than twenty miles away from the top. Book the tickets in advance, because there will be a long queue.
The Royal Observatory
For all Londoners, seeing the night sky with all the stars is a privilege. So the planetarium is very popular sight. But it is just a little part from the whole Royal Observatory. Many people like to stand over the Prime Meridian and take photos — a unique experience. There is a little bit for everyone — for astronomers there is the largest telescope in the country, for historians — there are so many artefacts from different periods of time. You can see old telescopes, different timekeeping instruments, and if you go to Weller Astronomy Galleries you will be able to see a 4.5-billion-year-old meteorite.
Just to let you know, this is not the original Shakespeare’s Globe. It burnt down 4 centuries ago. This is a replica. It’s located at almost the same place and the architects tried to use as much authentic materials as possible. It’s like you have entered a time portal and you are brought back four hundred years back. Well, probably the touch-screen monitors are ruining it a bit, but it’s all made to give you more information. Go and visit it if you are a fan of history, theatre, literature and Shakespeare.
Another iconic sight. Another structure located on every post card. A symbol of London. What you can do there? Well, many people like to take pictures of it from different locations. But there is more to it. There is an exhibition inside which tells the history of the bridge — how it was constructed, how it used to work. You can even see the original steam pump engines in perfect condition. And you can climb to the top and enjoy the view of the river and the city.
If you are a cat lover, you’ve probably heard about this place, because it was all over the internet. Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium is the first cat café in London. Not everyone can own a cat in their home. Your landlord might not approve it or your husband might not be a cat person. But here you can pet cats all-day-long. The idea of this facility is to sit down after a hard day of work and watch how the kittens do their silly little things while you drink your favourite hot beverage. It’s a new way of therapy.
This is just a fraction of all the possible things you can do in London. There are plenty of other worthy attractions you must see. Just to give you an idea — The British Library, Victoria and Albert Museum, Madame Tussauds, Brick Lane Music Hall, watch and West End musical, The Royal Air Force Museum London, have the Faulty Towers the Dining Experience and hundreds of more.
London is the place to be.