Planning a trip to London can give you attraction fatigue even before you arrive in the city. London is filled with sights that could take visitors weeks to see them all.
From our different travels to London we have assembled a short guide to help you unravel the city and discover the best it has to offer.
London is the largest city in Europe and for thousands of years the principal residence of the British Monarchs. Besides being a major business center of Europe, tourists flock into town each year to visit its renowned museums, jam-packed sights and historical landmarks.
West End and Westminster
These two interconnected areas of London are where you will find the city’s most sought-after sights.
The West End is considered the heart of London and is famous for its noteworthy collection of theaters, museums and galleries, bustling streets and high-end shopping. On the other hand, Westminster is less focused on entertainment, but most notably contains the seat of government and the Royal Residences as well as the quintessential London sights that many come to see.
Tourist favorites such as the Buckingham Palace, St. James’s Park, the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery as well as the always busy Trafalgar Square are all found in Westminster.
Convent Garden and Leicester Square, Chinatown and the tumulus Piccadilly Circus reside in the West End. Some streets not to miss in this area are Regent Street, Oxford Street and Shaftesbury Avenue. The vibrant Soho can be entertainment at all times and its Carnabey Street is a must for those who enjoy shopping.
Westminster is vastly famous for hosting the seat of government. The wide avenues of Whitehall lead tourists through 10 Downing Street and eventually navigate them to the Houses of Parliament and the iconic Westminster Abbey.
Tip: Follow the Thames River by strolling along the Victoria embankment or cross Westminster Bridge and enjoy a sunset alongside the illuminated buildings of the Houses of Parliament.
The City and South Bank
The City of London, usually referred to as ‘The City’, is the oldest part of the capital and it is where you can see a rich variety of architectural styles ranging from different time periods.
The borough is a financial stronghold filled with modern buildings and banks that dwarf the City’s remaining historical buildings. Sights such as Saint Paul’s Cathedral, the Victorian Leadenhall Market and the Tower of London alongside its iconic Tower Bridge generate many tourists into the area.
Tip: If you are interested in historical churches, head to the hidden Temple Church. Tucked away in a cluster of buildings, this church was built by the Knights Templar in the 12th century and houses the tombs of various knights. It is also located within a peaceful stone courtyard where you can wander through various gardens facing the Thames.
As you explore the city, you will come across notable financial buildings such as Bank of England, the Royal Exchange and the Mansion House (home and office of the Lord Mayor of the City). Lloyds Building and 30 St. Mary Axe (known as the Gherkin) are two of London’s most iconic modern buildings.
The South Bank is located across the Thames stretching roughly from Lambeth Bridge past the Tower Bridge. The area is known by a riverside path called The Queen’s Walk with its share of sights located along the way.
Tourists can stroll along the river all the way to Westminster Bridge and visit the Globe Theater, Tate Modern, the Borrow Market and the famous London Eye.
South Kensington, Bloomsbury and Knightsbridge
Bloomsbury is a borough that many consider to be the academic center of the city. Its major sight is the renewed British Museum, one of oldest and most comprehensive institutions in the world with a collection of more than 8 million artifacts.
Tip: The museum houses works of art and antiquities from ancient and existing cultures in nearly 2 miles of exhibition space. It is so big that I recommend visiting with a comfortable pair of shoes!
Following the 1851 Great Exhibition in nearby Hyde Park, South Kensington became famous for being the home of London’s museums. Most noted are the Natural History Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Science Museum, found along or nearby Exhibition Road.
One of the largest parks in the city, Hyde Park covers 360 acres of land and connects to other green areas such as Kensington Garden, Green Park and St. James. The park is famous for its Speakers Corner, a gathering place for people to speak freely and the Marble Arch, originally built in 1827 as a gateway to Buckingham Palace.
Even if you cannot afford to go shopping in this street, make some time to take a stroll along the lively Brompton Road in Knightsbridge and check-out Harrods. One of the most highly regarded department stores in the city; it sits amongst top shops and high-end restaurants that line this street.
Tip: Harrods sells a variety of luxury merchandise, but we basically go in to appreciate its food hall that is filled with restaurants and showcases a stunning mosaic tiled ceiling. Try to come at night to enjoy the store's radiant façade with lights outlining every nook and cranny of this immense building.
KEEP IN MIND
The Wrap-Up: I recommend planning your visit to London ahead of time since the city houses an extensive number of attractions. Try to diversify and prioritize your trip between its numerous museums, churches, streets and city markets. That way, you will get a good feel for the city and still have a reason to return!
The Hotel: Melia White House Hotel is located near Reagents Park, in a very quiet location, yet not far from the busy Oxford Street.
Free Museums: Many of London’s museums and galleries are free of charge since they are government funded. Some of the most popular are the British Museum, the National Gallery, London Transportation Museum, Tate Modern, the Natural History Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Do Not Miss: The British Museum’s massive collection of mummies and climbing Saint Paul Cathedral’s 550 steps to the top of its dome!