London is a city on many people’s bucket list. This buzzing, exciting metropolis has so much to offer, for all ages and interests. You feel centuries of deep history everywhere, intermingled with modern day skyscrapers.
This sprawling city is beautifully spread across the river Thames, yet neighborhoods are very much accessible by a short ride or manageable walks.
We highly recommend seeing London on foot, as you can soak up so much on the walking trails in these trendy neighborhoods.
In our recent 5 week visit to England, we spent about 10 days in London. This gave us a little relaxed pace going through all the city sights.
Although there seem to be an endless supply of attractions to see, we also recommend taking some time to just explore. Walk through the historic streets. Look around. It seems that around every corner there is something worth pausing for.
That being said, here our our top recommendations for things to do in London:
1. London Hop-on-Hop-Off Sightseeing Bus
A great way to see London is by one of their Hop-on-hop-off Sightseeing Buses. Many bus operators run these tours every singe day.
We tried the London Sightseeing bus, which comes with recorded commentary. It’s a very convenient way to go to all of the notable neighborhoods in town, getting off at any place you desire, and saving tons of money on London cabs.
We bought a multiple day pass and covered lots of places.
2. Big Ben
Big Ben is the nickname for the the Great Bell of the striking clock at the north end of the Palace of Westminster. It might be the most photographed clock in the whole world.
Everyone must have this iconic London landmark in their photo frame. We loved our Park Plaza Westminster Bridge hotel, where I could glimpse this icon from our room, be it with my morning coffee or evening glass of wine.
3. Westminster Abby
This royal church is on everyone’s MUST see list, and it’s always a busy sight with people.
This magnificent cathedral is the site for royal coronations and burials, and has famously been the location for 17 royal weddings, including the 2011 marriage of Prince William to Catherine Middleton.
It was also the place for Queen Elizabeth’s funeral during our visit this summer.
4. Palace of Westminster
The Palace of Westminster serves as the meeting place for both the House of Commons and the House of Lords, the two houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom.
Commonly known as the Houses of Parliament, the Palace lies on the north bank of the River Thames in the City of Westminster, in central London.
5. London Eye
A modern engineering marvel, London Eye is a fun way to go up in the air and have a 360 degree birds eye view of entire city of London.
It is the tallest cantilevered observation wheel in Europe, and is the most popular paid tourist attraction in the United Kingdom, with over 3 million visitors per year.
The capsules are like observation decks, and the whole ride is about 30 minutes long.
6. Tower of London
The Tower of London is another iconic landmark of London. It has served as a royal palace, a political prison, a place of execution, an arsenal, a royal mint, a menagerie, and a public records office.
The highlight is the Crown Jewels, where your eyes can feast on all the glories of the monarchs’ riches, and have a glimpse of the world famous Kohinoor diamond, among others.
We even witnessed the changing of the guards, which was quite an event for Noah to see.
7. Tower Bridge
One of the most photographed bridges in the world is not London bridge, but this blue colored Tower Bridge.
It’s a short walk from the Tower of London, and you can walk around by the river with plenty of opportunities for that London family photo.
We had a great outdoor lunch of authentic Uzbek food called oshpaz lamb rice boxes. Super yummy.
8. British Museum
We saw much of the British Museum in about 3 hours, scanning its Greek, Middle Eastern and Egyptian exhibits, and of course the famous Rosetta Stone.
There is so much to explore in this world famous museum that a couple of days are not enough. Well, there is always another time and another vacation to see the rest.
9. Natural History Museum
This one was Noah’s favorite. Why? Of course, for the Dinosaurs! Like any other natural history museum, they have usual fauna and gem stones and crystals. But one display is the very favorite Dinosaur of the Brits, their beloved and famous Dippy.
10. St. Pauls Cathedral
This spectacular cathedral in the very heart of London is well worth a visit from the inside. The cathedral is one of the most famous and recognizable sights of London.
It’s dome has dominated the skyline for over 300 years. At 365 feet (111 m) high, it was the tallest building in London from 1710 to 1963. The dome is still one of the highest in the world.
St Paul’s is the second-largest church building in the United Kingdom, after Liverpool Cathedral.
Stepping into St. Paul’s Cathedral can take anyone’s breath away. The nave is 91 feet high and is separated from the aisles by an arcade of pillars. Elaborate stonework adorns the vault and piers.
No visit to St. Paul’s is complete without looking up at the gigantic dome. It contains eight scenes from the life of St. Paul, with beautiful artwork, paintings and stained glass windows throughout the cathedral.
The underground crypt houses many memorials and graves, including British military icons Admiral Nelson and the Duke of Wellington.
11. Hyde Park
We spent a whole afternoon in Hyde Park, walking by the serpentine lake and children’s playground.
Noah had a great time trying different slides and swings and making a few friends. We ended up having our own picnic in between the serene greens of the park.
12. Shrek’s Adventure
This was one of the Noah’s birthday surprises when in London. He had a jolly good time with his favorite ogre. It has interactive fairytale shows, with a chance to meet Shrek at the end.
13. Buckingham Palace
Our planned visit to Buckingham palace fell, ironically, on the day when the Queen passed away on September 8th, 2022.
Of course, the whole of London was at a standstill, and everyone gathered at Buckingham Palace to pay their respects to the beloved monarch. It was quite a historic time to be present in England.
It has been the London residence of the British monarch since 1837. The interior is typically open to the public from late July to early October.
14. Piccadilly Circus
Piccadilly Circus is a famous road junction and public space of London’s West End, in the City of Westminster. It is close to the major shopping and entertainment areas in the West End.
Its status as a major traffic junction has made Piccadilly Circus a busy meeting place, and a tourist attraction in its own right.
The Circus is particularly known for its video display and neon signs mounted on the corner building on the northern side, as well as the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain and statue of Anteros.
Spend some time experiencing the hustle and bustle of London’s busiest streets. Do some shopping, or go food hunting in nearby SoHo.
15. Trafalgar Square
One of the famous squares in the middle of the city, it’s a popular meeting spot for many. At its center is a high column bearing a statue of Admiral Nelson, commemorating the victory at the Battle of Trafalgar.
A Christmas tree has been donated to the square by Norway since 1947, and is erected for twelve days before and after Christmas Day.
The square is a center of annual celebrations on New Year’s Eve. Noah got to sit with the famous lions on the monument.
The energetic streets of Soho, in the West End, feature a variety of dining, nightlife, and shopping options. We absolutely loved wandering around different streets of SoHo, and trying out different cuisines.
Our Asian Bibimbap, Laksa and Sri Lankan curries all came from fantastic ethnic restaurants in SoHo.
17. Covent Garden
Covent Garden is another world-class shopping and dining destination, attracting food-lovers and fashionistas alike.
Buzzing with the excitement of the opera and theatres, the area boasts some of the best shopping and dining destinations.
Stroll through Covent Garden Market sipping a coffee, or try ice cream or a glass of wine while browsing the shops.
18. Shopping at Harrods and Hamleys
Harrods and Hamleys are great places to buy some toys for your kiddos. Located on multiple levels, there is every kind of imaginable toy out to there to please your kid. Have fun!
Oxford Street and Bond Street also offer high end shopping experiences. Westfield shopping center and Covent Garden Market are also great places for some London shopping.
19. English Pubs
No London visit is complete without frequenting their famous English Pubs, scattered all over the city. We tried some of the oldest of old like “Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese”, rebuilt in 1667, and known for its patrons like Charles Dickens and Mark Twain.
Anther notable pub in London was St. Stephen’s Tavern, right at Westminster. It is popular with politicians from across the street.
Try all of that famous English Pub food like fish and chips, pies, and bangers and mash, along with a good English pint.
20. Our Hotel
We chose Park Plaza Westminster Bridge for its location, convenient to go walking to major attractions. The whole of London is at its door step, with London Eye, Big Ben and Westminster Plaza peaking though our window.
There is no denying that all of the hotels in London are heavy on the pockets.
We found out that if you enroll for Radisson Reward online (which doesn’t cost anything) you can save quite a bit if you book directly through the hotel’s website. This way, we could choose their room with a London Eye view at reasonable price.
This hotel sits near the Thames river, making it easy to spend more time at the famous locations all around.
Last but not least… FOOD! We were mighty impressed with London’s food scene. Being such a multicultural city, there is much to choose from, beyond just great pub food.
We had a great time trying so many different cuisines, from elaborate Mediterranean spreads, to top notch Indian curries, to finger licking Middle Eastern food like tagines, falafel, and varied dips.
Then there is also so much Asian cuisine to choose from like Vietnamese, Korean, Malay and Thai. Plenty, plenty of food to try and enjoy when you are in this culinary marvel of a city.
London is an absolutely world class, spectacular city and is worth a visiting not one time, but deserves to be return to again and again. We will surely keep that in mind.
We had a great time celebrating our son’s birthday, trying new foods and learning the history and culture of this great country. Do visit London. Hopefully this post helps you plan your future visit.
Go through our England Travel Tips post before venturing there, to make your trip as easy and pleasurable as possible. If venturing outside London, check out out Things to Do in England and Wales, as well as Foods to Try in England.
So many possibilities and so many experiences. Have fun…
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