London is one of the great cities of the world and is on just about everyone’s list of places they must visit. London is a very historical city, going back almost 2,000 years but it is also a city that is exciting, vibrant, and important in global politics and finance.
Are you planning a trip to London soon? If so, here are the main attractions every first time visitor will want to be sure to see.
Buckingham Palace is the official address of Queen Elizabeth. The palace is filled with lavish furnishings and pieces from the Royal Collection. Many of the paintings were done by major European artists, such as Rembrandt.
Tours of the palace are available from late July to September. It is important to get reservations well in advance, because it is a sell out every year.
THE CHANGING OF THE GUARD
The changing of the guard takes place at 11:30 am at Buckingham Palace. During the summer months it is done daily; during the other nine months it is done every other day, weather permitting. Everyone wants to see this famous British ceremony and that is why it is good to arrive on the scene at least a half hour in advance.
ST JAMES’ PARK
Across from Buckingham Palace is beautiful St. James Park, a warm and inviting park with flowering gardens and a peaceful lake. St. James Park also houses the Horse Guards Parade.
THE LONDON EYE
One of the few modern attractions on the list is the London Eye, a giant Ferris Wheel that stands along the Thames River. The Eye is a great way to get a panoramic view of London. It has thirty-two capsules that each hold 25 people. Even when full, however, there is lots of room to walk around inside to take pictures. One trip around takes about half an hour.
BIG BEN & THE HOUSES OF PARLIAMENT
Many visitors to London are surprised to learn that Big Ben is not the name of the famous clock that is located in the east tower of Parliament. Big Ben is actually the name of one of the five bells located inside the clock. The interior of the famous clock tower is not open to visitors, but the exterior can be viewed from the Westminster Bridge.
By the way, the east tower is now referred to as Elizabeth tower. This was done to commemorate the queen’s diamond jubilee.
Westminster Abbey is one of the oldest and most significant examples of Gothic architecture in London. The Abbey is filled with historical paintings and artefacts and beautiful stained glass. Some of the most famous people in British history are buried here. In addition, the Abbey has hosted 16 royal wedding ceremonies. It is also the traditional place where coronations are held.
TOWER OF LONDON
The Tower of London was built in the 11th century and for years was a royal residence. In addition, part of the Tower was also used as the royal prison.
The main hall hosts a collection of royal armour, including that of Henry the VII. It also has a recreation of the bedchamber of King Edward I as it would have looked at the time he was alive.
THE CROWN JEWELS
One of the most visited parts of the Tower is the vault which contains the Crown Jewels. The collection includes vestments and regalia worn by the various Kings and Queens during important state ceremonies. The collection has tremendous cultural and historical significance.
Here you see the mad dash of modern London. Piccadilly Circus feels much the same as New York’s Times Square. It is located close to theatres and shopping and is always bustling with both tourists and locals of all ages.
THE WEST END
The West End is the theatre district of London. Here you can see the latest musicals, dramas and comedies. Head to Leicester Square and you will find a ticket booth that sells tickets for that’s nights performances at reduced prices. It’s a tremendous way to get a great deal on a popular show.
There is no doubt that London is a city everyone should visit at least once in their life. When you visit London you will quickly fill your days with exciting and historical places to visit. We hope these suggestions of places to visit and things to see makes your visit to this grand old city more successful.