The top 20 London attractions
There are many attractions in London, whether it’s culture, history, art, science or celebrity, and with many being free (although some will require tickets) it is more than affordable to soak up the unique atmosphere of this truly remarkable city.
First on your list needs to be the British Museum, with its world-famous exhibits charting prehistoric to modern times from around the world, includesthe Parthenon sculptures, mummies from ancient Egypt and the Rosetta Stone amongst its phenomenal collection.
The Natural History Museum is the next must-see exhibition, with some of the largest and rarest animals on the world in display as well as it’s now world-famous permanent dinosaur exhibition. The magnificent Central Hall (not to forget the wonderful museum building itself) really requires a camera.
Trafalgar Square (actually owned by Her Majesty the Queen) is two attractions in one – the famous square itself, with Nelson’s Column as the centrepiece and London's National Gallery on the north side of the square. The gallery itself houses was it thought to be one of the greatest and rarest collection of rare master works from the 13th to the 19th centuries, in the world.
The Millennium Bridge is the pedestrianised footbridge that links Bankside to the City. It provides the most unrestricted, ‘ground-level’ views East and West over the River. Its local nickname, the “Wobbly Bridge” can be a minor challenge in inclement weather, but it’s the ideal way to get to the Tate Modern and for taking some unrestricted photographs of London.
The UK’s national museum of modern and contemporary art, Tate Modern, sits on the banks of the Thames on the site of a former power station. With great contemporary exhibitions by many top modern artists, it’s the place to visit if you want to review the best in modern-day art. And there are great views across London from the restaurants.
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One can’t but help see the London Eye wheel, sitting as it does on the South Bank of the Thames. With 32 pods, each capable of holding up to 25 people, it is a wonderful experience and possibly the only one offering an unparalleled view of almost 60 of the city’s famous landmarks. There are no prizes should you count them all!
The iconic Victoria and Albert Museum houses almost everything – from fashion to metal artefacts, furniture to sculpture - in fact, far too much to see in one day, or perhaps even in one week. The exhibits stretch back over 3,000 years (the Museum itself was first opened in 1852) and run to some 4½ million objects. It is no wonder that it has beendescribed as ‘the world's greatest museum of art and design’.
“How did they do that?” is the recurring question asked when visiting the exhibits covering the past 300 years of technological advancements on show at the Science Museum. It’s a wonderful place full of inventions of every description, so of which are totally unbelievable within the context of what their modern equivalents in daily use are. There is also a 3D IMAX cinema to round off the experience.
One of the more iconic structures to visit is the 900 year-old Tower of London, perhaps one of the most famous buildings in the world. Housing the world’s most renowned and precious set of adornments, the Crown Jewels, the Tower has been a royal palace, a weapons’ arsenal, a zoo, a jewel house, and most infamously a prison and place of execution. And nearby, a walk across possibly the most famous British picture postcard view of them all, Tower Bridge, will complete your visit (there is also a Tower Bridge exhibition).
While many of today’s modern celebrities can justifiably be accused of being wooden, at Madame Tussauds (the original Marlybone Street, opened in 1884) all the celebrities and famous are wax. The most famous wax museum in the worldcalls itself an attraction, not a museum, because visitors can get ‘up close and personal’ to the famous characters’ likenesses portrayed throughout. So if you want an audience with Her Majesty the Queen or to meet David Beckham, this is the place. The London Planetarium is also located on the site.
For another double attraction, Westminster Abbey, the magnificent gothic church and UNESCO World Heritage site is located just behind the iconic Houses of Parliament. It is a must-see edifice, and you can marvel at the incredibly long list of world-famous names that have been associated with this cathedral over the centuries.
No trip to London would be complete without your photograph in front of Big Ben.Possibly the UK’s most famous ‘picture postcard’ monument after the Tower of London, it sits at the edge of the Houses of Parliament.You also get the opportunity, four times an hour (on the quarter), of hearing the bell strike.
Although away from the centre of the city, the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich, and theworld's largest maritime museum, is certainly worth a visit. The Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) line cuts through, and aside form the opportunity of seeing the history of the maritime nations that is the UK, you can take a unique souvenir picture straddling this most famous time-line.
London Zoo, located in Regent’s Park is not only another double-attraction, but one suitable for the whole family. It is the world’s oldest scientific zoos. With wonderful exhibits, a ‘meet the animals’ space, Gorilla Kingdom, an outdoor cinema and a host of well-tended animal, it’s no surprise that aside from being the oldest, it’s one of the best zoos in the world.
St Paul’s Cathedral, yet another world-famous iconic landmark, is worthy of a visit to see the magnificent architecture and to immerse yourself in the history of this most imposing of monuments. The famous dome houses the whispering gallery (the lowest level and a mere 259 of the domes 528) steps up, where, despite its size, a mere whisper can be heard across the other side of the dome. You can marvel at the ‘church’ where so many of the Royal family have been married.
Finally, one attraction that often gets dismissed is travel on the Tube. Often taken for granted, because it’s a must-do when you’re travelling around London, the Underground is an attraction in itself. Whether it’s the Metropolitan line, the oldest on the system, which opened in 1863, or a trip to the Canary Wharf financial centre on the driverless Docklands Light Railway (strictly not part of the tube system) system,or perhaps marvel at the longest escalator on the Tube system (and the 3rd longest in Western Europe) at Angel, taking over 1½ minutes, simply enjoy (but not a peak travel times!).
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This article is kindly contributed by Amsterdam Hotel in Earls Court, helping visitors to make the most out of their London stays.