London is a world of history and excitement all in one giant city. If you’re feeling overwhelmed at all the choices, we’ve made a list of our Top 10 Sites in London. Check out our favorites and suggest your own in the comments.
1. Tower of London
While formally known as “Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress,” The Tower of London has a long history in London. One part of it was built under the reign of William the Conqueror but with additions over time it became a fortress and castle with a moat inside. The first thing you should see is the Crown Jewels due to their popularity and afterwards there are plenty of places to explore. You can also see Charles I and Henry VIII’s armour, a chapel, Lady Jane Grey’s graffiti before her death, and see the history of prisoners held behind these walls and the green on which many of them met their end. If you’re a history buff, don’t miss theCeremony of the Keys which requires advanced ticketing.
2. Churchill War Rooms
The Churchill War Rooms were built underground and began being used during WWII and the London Blitz. Since the war the rooms were extensively preserved and renovated to provide a glimpse into not only the war but also Winston Churchill’s own life. For those interested in WWII history, this museum is a must in understanding the mindset of the war on the British front. See a great blog article by one War Rooms visitor over on Heather on her Travels.
3. British Museum
You might think if you’ve seen one museum you’ve seen them all but that can’t be true unless you’ve been to the British Museum. The museum opened its doors in 1759 and holds some of the world’s most important artifacts, over 7 million to be precise. Inside you’ll find Asian, Greek, Roman, and Egyptian antiquities, the Rosetta Stone, mummies, Elgin marbles, and drawings by da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael.
4. Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey has been in the news lately as the wedding spot of Prince William and Kate Middleton but this spot is bigger than just a wedding location. Westminster Abbey is where coronation ceremonies take place and where important Brits are now buried. Beyond royals, Westminster Abbey was also the final resting place of Geoffrey Chaucer, William Blake, Charles Dickens, John Keats, Isaac Newton, and Charles Darwin.
5. Houses of Parliament
Formally known as The Palace of Westminster, the Houses of Parliament is home to both the House of Lords and the House of Commons. A tour of this building will leave you not only with an understanding of the English government but also a rich appreciation for the architecture and history of the buildings. While the palace has been damaged by fire and the London Blitz, it’s remained an icon in London for its ability to rise again. The clock tower of the palace might be its most recognizable feature, with Big Ben standing tall over the city.
6. National Gallery
If art is your thing, the National Gallery offers pieces of art from 7 different centuries. Raphael’s Portrait of Pope Julius II is featured here along with pieces by Rembrandt, Michelangelo, da Vinci, Salvator Rosa, Vermeer, van Gogh, Renoir, Seurat, and Monet.
7. Regent’s Park
This former royal hunting ground has since been transformed into a place to enjoy the day. Regent’s Park has a lake, gardens, tennis courts, botanical gardens, rugby patches, a summer theatre, a college, and the London Zoo. This is a favorite of locals and tourists alike and is a perfect way to enjoy the rare sunny day in London.
8. Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace is the official home of the British monarchy and has been since 1937. Most people visit the outside of the castle to catch the changing of the guard. Another way to view the palace is via a private tour. During your tour you’ll get the chance to view the Grand Hall, the public rooms and view the royal art collections. At the end of the tour, you’ll be treated to a glass of champagne inside the palace.
9. Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum is a perfect spot to visit if you have kids. Inside you’ll find the Blue Zone (Dinosaurs, sea life, and biology), the Orange Zone (Wildlife and Evolution), the Green Zone (Ecology and Evolution), and the Red Zone (Planet Earth, geology, and minerals). The museum is undergoing an extensive renovation to modernize exhibits so check out what’s new and what’s closed before going.
10. Tate Modern
While the National Gallery features art pre-1900, Tate Modern features contemporary and modern art. Tate Modern is the most visited modern art gallery in the world and for good reason. Each floor features varied themes like cubism, surrealism, pop art, and more. You’ll find works from Monet, Picasso, and Warhol among these collections. For kids, there are many interactive displays and a slide and for adults you can try out the interactive iPhone app. On your way to the museum, make sure to cross the Millennium Bridge, another piece of modern art in itself.