I love London. There is always something happening with an abundance of things to see and do, not to mention having some of the best museums, hotels, and nightlife in the world, meaning this city thoroughly deserves to be on your bucket list! You should defiantly spend a few days here checking out some of the world's most instantly recognisable landmarks like Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey, just to name a few.
Meander down its many streets, and you will find new and old buildings successfully married together while discovering new neighbourhoods waiting for you to explore. You can visit world-class museums and attractions along the way.
With over 2000 years of history and a collective melting pot of different cultures and influences, London is one of the greatest cities in the world! Whether you're a shopper, foodie, or architecture lover, there's something for everyone in the capital of England.
Yet despite my many visits here, I feel as though I have barely scratched the surface of this city, which can seem a little overwhelming at times. That is why I want to share with you some of London's amazing places I have visited so that with a bit of planning and organisation, you will be able to put together your own itinerary for your perfect trip to London.
When visiting London, make sure this great fortress is top of your list! After William the Conqueror was crowned King in 1066, he built the Tower of London to exert his dominance. Although the castle is a former royal residence, it is more well known as a notorious prison and was still used as such until the mid-20th century. Famous inmates included the Cray twins in the 1950s and Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII's second wife, who was accused of treason by the King and subsequently beheaded here in 1536. Don't miss the opportunity to see the Crown Jewels, which are also kept here in the Jewel House. They are absolutely stunning.
The first time I visited here was on a winter's evening, completely shrouded in darkness, yet I thought the palace looked incredible. When I returned a few years later, it was on a summer afternoon, and it was like seeing it again for the first time. The detailed façade of the building was even more beautiful to look at – despite being behind huge iron gates! If you happen to be there at 11.30 am, you can witness the daily Changing of the Guard ceremony.
During a visit to London, I decided to see what all the fuss was about and have a look around Hyde Park. I have to admit, I was underwhelmed. It's just a large green space where the locals and tourists go to sit on the grass and eat their lunch or catch up with friends. It is spread over 145 acres with some nice paths as well as a lake which has a memorial to the late Princess Diana, but that's about it.
The dungeon begins as a walk-through style museum made up of displays of poor Victorian street slums in filthy conditions, dank prisons and castle dungeons I really got to see what life would have been like in London during the times.
When you reach the end of the museum section, it is here that you are advised not to go any further if you are pregnant or have any heart problems, etc. The lights dimmed, and all hell broke loose! Scary-looking actors in costumes were jumping out and scaring the heck out of me! I look back now and laugh at the experience, but it was so scary in there and I am never doing it again!
Bright, fun, loud and extremely busy, Piccadilly Circus is a great place to visit. It's like a small-scale Times Square with giant billboards, big TV screens, lovely architecture and excellent selfie opportunities! The great thing about this area is that whether you are visiting day or night, it will have the same buzz and excitement in the air. During the evening at Christmas time, the streets are adorned in festive lights, which are an impressive sight to see.
With spectacular displays from across the globe, including places such as China, America and Egypt, the British Museum is one of the most fascinating museums I have ever visited.
I only had around an hour to explore the museum, and as I am a massive fan of all things Egyptian, I headed straight over to this section first, and all I can say is wow! Just wow! The museum has such an amazing collection that you could spend hours just in the Egyptian area alone. One item not to be missed is the infamous Rosetta stone. It was stolen many years ago by the British, but the UK Government isn't interested in giving it back.
There is also a fantastic Assyrian section. The British Museum holds one of the largest collections from this era outside of Iraq.
This is the place where Londoners come together to meet up with friends, host or attend protests and check out the nearby attractions. When I visited here, I saw the famous Nelson's Column erected for Lord Nelson in 1805 after the victory over Napoleon. You can also check out the free National Gallery located here, in a beautiful building boasting Corinthian Columns at the front. A word of warning, Trafalgar Square will be very busy no matter what time of day you go!
Approaching from Westminster Bridge, you'll get a fantastic view of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. If you're lucky, you may even hear the famous chimes. The first time I heard the big clock, it was a couple of days before Christmas at around 5 pm. I was so excited when I got to listen to the official “DONG! DONG!” This was a very special moment.
Big Ben is only a small part of the houses of Parliament. This is where British law is decided, legislation is debated, and decisions are made by MPs who often proceed to do as they please! But despite all that, its history is fascinating. Up until the 1500s, it was used as a royal residence called the Palace of Westminster. The structure you see today was built in Victorian times after a terrible fire destroyed large parts of the original building.
Every time I have been to London, I say that I will brave the crowds and long queues to finally make it inside the Abbey. But so far, the crowds have bested me. Though, I will say that from the outside, it is beautiful. The style of the building is similar to Notre Dame in Paris, with its light-colored stone and ornate sculptures that adorn the exterior. I love the stonework above the entrance. It is decorated with three-dimensional ornaments of priests with rows of courtiers underneath.
Whether you just want to capture a good selfie or walk across it, Tower Bridge is fantastic. Make sure you stop for at least a few minutes to appreciate the amazing views of the Thames, and if you're lucky enough, you might catch a glimpse of the bridge lifting up in the middle to let passing ships through. Tower Bridge is right near the infamous Tower of London, hence the name, making it a great easy to get to the location for when you're done visiting the Tower.
If you are in London for more than a few days, please stick this incredible masterpiece on your bucket list. At nearly a thousand years old, it was built by William the Conqueror shortly after he invaded in 1066 and is surrounded by thick curtain walls that dominate the small but quaint town of Windsor. Inside the grounds, you can meander through the manicured gardens walking the same paths as previous Kings and Queens who once lived here, then head inside and wander the halls to marvel at the luxurious interiors. Is it any wonder that the Queen spends most of her weekends here? My favourite part was seeing the collection of royal dolls and toys, with the standout piece being Queen Marys Doll House. The furnishings and accessories were incredible, and it even had running water and real miniature books. So cool!
The theatre is situated on the Thames around the London Bridge area, so it is easy to find. The original building was constructed during the time of William Shakespeare in a typical Tudor style. After being destroyed by fire in 1613, it was rebuilt a few years later but then demolished by the puritans in 1644. In the 1990s, the theatre was reconstructed to look exactly like the original.
You can only view the interior on a tour, unfortunately, as it's not possible to just wander through the theatre without a guide and when I arrived, I'd just missed the last one. Maybe next time!
Despite the hefty price tag, Madame Tussaud's London is a fantastic attraction for all ages. Before getting to the waxworks area, I watched a mini-movie featuring Marvel's Avengers, which goes for around 10 minutes. It's then off to mix with the A-Listers featuring household names like
George Clooney, Helen Mirren and Morgan Freeman. There is a fun Sports Section too, with David Beckham, Tiger Woods and Hussain Bolt. My favourite section hands down, was the Politician's area, where you'll be able to pose in front of a fake No. 10 Downing Street, home of British Prime Ministers.
In 2012, some of my family chose to ride the London Eye, but I didn't want to as it just didn't appeal to me. The thought of being stuck in a large pod shared with strangers does not sound like fun. The only other alternative is to pay an arm and a leg for a personal one. Their pod was very full, and the other patrons were hogging the window while taking photos and weren't being fair to everyone else. Afterward, they seemed a little underwhelmed.
On the plus side, I actually think the London Eye looks quite pretty, slotting in well with the other buildings in the surrounding area. These days, I couldn't imagine London's skyline without it.
Located in Hyde Park Corner, this impressive arch was initially supposed to be the entrance to Buckingham Palace. I'm glad it isn't because the general public now gets to enjoy it. You can head up the steps to take in the panoramic views of London. There is also a little gallery at the top with a gift shop.
1 Apsley Way Piccadilly, Hyde Park Corner Roundabout, London W2 2UH
My mother and I are very interested in Tudor history, so we caught the train from London's Waterloo Station to Hampton Court, which takes around 30 minutes. The front half of the palace is built in a typical red-brick Tudor style, which was gifted to Henry VIII in the early 16th century from his then minister, Cardinal Wolsey. In the late 1600s, during the reign of joint rulers William III and Mary II, the back half of the palace was demolished as they intended to rebuild it in a baroque style. But Mary died halfway through construction, so the remodel was never completed.
Be sure to check out The Great Hall, still in its original condition with enormous luxury tapestries decorating the walls and a pretty vaulted ceiling, which makes it appear very grand. I loved walking around the older, drafty corridors on the Tudor side of the palace, which would lead you to the fantastic Tudor kitchens and Henry's impressive wine cellars. While here, don't miss the Chapel Royal. It's beautiful and intimate with the most fantastic painted blue ceiling decorated with gold stars.
Leicester Square is the most incredible place. I've witnessed hilarious free street performances, attended Victorian-style Christmas markets with a mini fairground, and one evening my husband Zac and I even got a free cocktail from a new bar that had just opened! We both figured the drink would be the size of a shot glass, but they were massive and had so much alcohol in them that we both forgot that it was -8 degrees on the walk back to Euston Station. Oh, and for the record, they tasted goooooood.
So there you have it! That was my list of what I think are the best things to do in London. I know that there are HEAPS more places to see in this wonderful city, so when I do eventually get to go back, I can update this post.
What is your favourite attraction or area in London? Let me know in the comments below.