10 Great Reasons to Visit London
London is a fantastic city and one of the greatest cities in the world as a travel destination. The city is a popular travel destination for visitors from across the United Kingdom and around the world. In fact, London attracted over 19 million international visitors in 2017. There’s plenty to see and do in London even for those who have been to the city before. Even if you are travelling on a tight budget, there’s plenty of free attractions. The following are 10 good reasons why you should include London as a city to visit at least once in your lifetime.
Reason 1: Home of the British Royal Family
Members of the British Royal Family are often in the media whether you live in New York City, Sydney, Singapore or anywhere else around the world. They often make headline news such as royal weddings, birth of a child or even the latest royal gossip! The Royal Family is cultural icon and often associated with the United Kingdom (UK) by people across the globe.
The UK’s reigning queen is Queen Elizabeth II and the Royal Family officially resides in London. Buckingham Palace is a grand and magnificent building and the Queen’s official residence. In summer, when the Queen is not residing, the grand palace opens to visitors for tours. The Changing of the Guards is a major military tradition at Buckingham Palace and a major ceremony that you should not miss.
Reason 2: Historical Attractions
One of London’s most famous historical attractions is the 11th century Tower of London. This medieval fortress was once a castle, prison, arsenal, royal mint, and where King Henry VIII imprisoned his wife, Anne Boleyn, and later beheaded her. It’s also the home of the Crown Jewels featuring the Imperial State Crown, St Edward's Crown, and the legendary Koh-i-Noor diamond. Special warders called Beefeaters dressed in uniforms dating back centuries guard the Tower of London.
The majestic St Paul’s Cathedral is a prominent 18th century Anglican cathedral featuring a huge dome. You can walk 560 steps up to the dome for a panoramic view of London. Westminster Abbey is a huge Anglican abbey and the coronation site of every English and British monarch since the time of William the Conqueror in 11th century. The Palace of Westminster is another imposing landmark in London with its Victorian neo Gothic architecture and the seat of British democracy since 1840.
Reason 3: Iconic Landmarks
One of London’s most iconic landmarks is Tower Bridge, a late 19th century bridge spanning 787 feet (240 meters) across the River Thames. The bridge features two Gothic towers and a drawbridge that lifts several times a week to allow ships to pass through. At 1,016 feet (310 meters), the spire-like Shard is the tallest building in the United Kingdom and the observation deck on the 72nd floor offers the highest view of London. The London Eye is a huge observation wheel at 443 feet (135 meters) in height. The wheel comprises of 32 glass-walled capsules and takes about 30 minutes to complete a single rotation.
Reason 4: Interesting Neighborhoods
London is home to numerous neighborhoods, each with its own unique character and atmosphere. Among the famous neighborhoods is Soho, which was once a sleazy area of London but now a trendy place that last late into the evenings with its restaurants, cafes, coffee shops, nightclubs and theatres. Chelsea is an affluent neighborhood, home to wealthy residents and along with it are the chic restaurants, elegant cafes, and stylish retailers. Brixton is a working class neighborhood and home to a diversity of cultures including Asian, African and people from the Caribbean. Chinatown is uniquely Asian with its Chinese signage, symbols, and Asian-owned businesses including restaurants and shops.
Reason 5: World Class Museums
Some of the best museums in the world are right here and many museums in London offer free admission. One of them is the British Museum, a huge and fascinating museum featuring a large collection of artifacts devoted to the history of human civilization. Another is the Natural History Museum, which explains the history of our natural world with its huge collection devoted to botany, zoology, entomology, mineralogy and paleontology. The Science Museum explains how human ingenuity through science and technology has influenced our lives. The Victoria and Albert Museum is another interesting museum and one of the world’s largest museums devoted to decorative arts and designs.
Reason 6: Renowned Art Galleries
London is also home to internationally acclaimed art galleries. Many of London's major art galleries offer free admission to the public. Among the free art galleries is the National Gallery with a history that spans 200 years and home to many priceless works by celebrated European artists. The National Portrait Gallery is another major art gallery and houses portraits devoted to important and famous people in British history. Tate Britain is a prestigious gallery devoted to British art since the 15th century. Tate Modern is home to a large collection of contemporary art from the early 20th century to the present day.
Reason 7: Scenic Parks
Many visitors may not realize that London is one of the greenest cities in London. Most visitors think of Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens since they are located in Central London. Nearly half of London is greenery but much of it is outside Central London. Hyde Park is London’s equivalent to Central Park in New York City and adjacent is Kensington Gardens with its grass-covered lawns, tree-lined avenues, colorful flowerbeds and Italian gardens.
Travelling further from Central London is Hampstead Heath, a hidden gem and large area of countryside featuring open grasslands, undulating hills and ancient woodlands. Another hidden gem is Richmond Park featuring green open spaces, forested areas, meandering streams, ponds and scenic walking trails.
Reason 8: Shopper's Paradise
London is a city of endless shopping opportunities that you could shop until your drop! You’ll find a diversity of merchandizes including clothes, leather goods, accessories, and jewelry from emerging labels to luxury brands. Among London’s top shopping destinations are Bond Street, Oxford Street, and Regent Street with their exclusive stores. Another popular destination is the trendy retail district of Knightsbridge with the famous Harrods and Harvey Nichols department stores located here. Carnaby Street features independent boutiques offering fashion from emerging British labels targeting the younger generation at affordable prices.
Reason 9: Bustling Markets
Londoners love their markets and there are over 300 in the city offering great bargains and cheap foods from the stalls. Among the popular London markets is Borough Market, devoted to wholesale and retail foods and one of the largest of its kind in the city. Portobello Market is a large market famous for vintage items but you can find a wide array of other items including clothes, jewelry, accessories, gifts, arts, and crafts. Camden Market comprises of several adjacent markets occupied by small independent shops and stalls selling from clothes to the bizarre! Greenwich Market is a covered market with its packed stalls surrounded by small shops, restaurants, cafes and pubs.
Reason 10: Lively Entertainment
London is bustling with entertainment venues ranging from the small clubhouses to large theaters. The city is often the stopping point for leading musicians and bands on national and international tours. The epicenter for entertainment in London is Leicester Square with its theatres, cinemas, clubs and even casinos. Leicester Square thrives with entertainment that last late into the night especially on Fridays and Saturdays. The theatres here are home of the West End productions famous for presenting some of the best theatre performances in the UK including musicals, plays, and comedies.
There's more to London
There are more reasons to visit London than mentioned. The list would go on and on if were to mention them all. There are also the foods, festivals, and sporting events that are not even mentioned. What makes London a fantastic travel destination is there’s always something new to see and do even if you've been to the city before.