Visiting London - What to See and Do
(London Stansted Airport STN, Greater London, England)
Energetic, vibrant, cosmopolitan...it is virtually impossible to sum up London in only a few descriptors. Since modern civilisation broke free from European-based domination many eons ago, London
has been the centre of world travel. Today, the city is a bastion of commerce, modernity, heritage, politics and culture all rolled into one exciting gift basket for tourists.
It may lack tropical beaches and Alpine ski slopes, but the capital has everything else that sightseeing tourists could desire. Stroll through the delicately landscaped Royal Parks like Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens and St. James's Park, or join thousands of others at Piccadilly Circus. Alternatively, pose for a photo in front of icons like St. Paul's Cathedral, Westminster Abbey or the Houses of Parliament (including Big Ben). World-class historic attractions in London are simply everywhere you turn.
You may like to enjoy an afternoon watching the English Premier League at a noisy football ground, or take in a theatrical performance in the West End. Contemporary structures like the London Eye and the Olympic Stadium have also nestled soundly into the cityscape in recent years. For tourists, the list of attractions is seemingly endless!
Ten things you must do in London
- The Royal Parks of London must be part of every traveller's itinerary. Visitors can begin at Buckingham Palace, then explore the variety of elegantly landscaped parks in the area, including Hyde Park, Green Park, Kensington Gardens and St. James's Park. Give yourself a few hours to truly appreciate these green zones of the inner city. If you're really a park person, then venture further afield to the suburban gems of Hampstead Heath, Wimbledon Common and Richmond Park.
- Stroll around the Southbank area and explore all that this beautiful area of the capital has to offer. View the surrounding boroughs of the city from the London Eye's 135-metre / 443-foot apex, or take in the world-famous Tate Galleries. Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, the London Dungeon and the London Aquarium are all found within this entertaining district too.
- Whether tourists get to experience the intricate interior or not, Buckingham Palace simply cannot be missed. Visit the palace at 11:30, when the traditional 'Changing of the Guard' ceremony takes place. Tours of the Queen's residence are only available during the summer months, but just seeing this world-famous attraction from the outside makes any trip worthwhile.
- Tourists who have enough time should find their way to Leicester Square and people-watch for an hour or two. Thousands upon thousands of locals and tourists flock to this area of London every day, making it one of the busiest spots in the United Kingdom. Leicester Square boasts buskers, entertainers and more to enthrall tourists, besides, it is a mere block away from the photo-friendly Piccadilly Circus.
- The city's National Gallery is located just a short distance from Leicester Square. The collections on display within this magnificent building blow art-lovers away on a regular basis. Van Gogh, Constable and Holbein are just some of the artists on display in this truly memorable art gallery. Patrons will be able to admire artistic work dating back to England's 13th century. The other good reason to visit is that it gazes down over Trafalgar Square, perhaps the grandest in all of England.
- Rebuilt several times, with the current design completed in 1677, St. Paul's Cathedral is a Church of England structure that once dominated the city's skyline. Even though it is now dwarfed by modern skyscrapers, the cathedral still stands proudly in the heart of the City District, with its iconic dome and beautiful spires.
- In South Kensington, Exhibition Road boasts three of London's largest museums. A full day or more should be put aside to fully appreciate the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum. Altogether, nearly ten million visitors spend time at these museums each year, and upon arrival this statistic will not surprise patrons. The Natural History Museum is housed in one of the city's most elegantly designed Alfred Waterhouse buildings.
- Tourists who are interested in the spirit world and World Heritage sites can 'kill two birds with one stone' when visiting the Tower of London. This 900-year-old landmark is the site of the English Monarchy's Crown Jewels. The tower is also said to be haunted, so on occasion, guided ghost walks are available.
- Centrally located and conveniently near Leicester Square, Covent Garden is nothing short of a shopping Mecca, being full of trendy boutiques, lively buskers and some hip restaurants and bars. This spot is really an extension of Soho, which offers more of the same and extends as far as Oxford Street - the mother of all touristy shopping experiences.
- One of the oldest zoos in the world is London Zoo, found within Regent's Park. This is a terrific place to spend an afternoon with the family, and quite accessible to most hotels around the inner city. Gorillas, bears, tigers, giraffes and lions are just some of the animals on show at this stunning zoological park.