If you’re thinking of visiting London this year, it’s likely that you’ll want to see some of its top attractions. While some are clearly obvious like Big Ben and Buckingham Palace, there might be some others you haven’t thought of. However, depending upon your length of stay and how much time you have, you might want to limit or expand your choices of things to see and do. Whatever your case may be, here are some of the best attractions to consider in one of the world’s greatest cities.
3 Abbey Road
London NW8 9AY, UK
London Underground Station: St. John’s Wood
Did the Beatles know that their legendary photoshoot of Abbey Road would become a cultural icon? The answer is yes, which is why this familiar street crossing is among the most famous and most visited London attractions. However, if you go, you need to be very mindful and that it’s a very busy roadway and that an accident can occur. In addition to the famous Zebra Crossing, stop by the Graffiti Wall and snap a photo of Abbey Road Studios. While there, you can also visit the Abbey Road Shop to purchase official merchandise. Please note, because Abbey Road Studios is a working studio, no public tours are available. Again, if you visit, you must be mindful of vehicular traffic as you cross Abbey Road.
House of Commons, Westminster
London SW1A 0AA, UK
+44 20 7219 4272
London Underground (Tube) Station : Westminster Station
Ringing its bells again for the first time in five years, Big Ben may be the world’s most famous clock. However, the name Big Ben refers to the largest bell of the Great Clock of Westminster, now known as the Elizabeth Tower. Either way, Big Ben is one of England’s best-known landmarks and one of the world’s most photographed clocks. What’s more, this Gothic Revival masterpiece was the world’s largest and most accurate four facing clock upon opening in 1859. While the bells are ringing again since November, its interior is currently inaccessible. Nevertheless, you’ll have plenty of photo opportunities of this cultural attraction, particularly from the London Eye.
Great Russell St.
London WC1V 3DG, UK
+44 20 7323 8299
Tube Station: Tottenham Court Road
One of the best things about London is that you can see many top attractions for free. Take for instance the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace and walking across Abbey Road. What’s more, many of the city’s art galleries and museums are free, including the prestigious British Museum. The world’s oldest museum and among the most visited, the British Museum holds over eight million artifacts in its permanent collection. If you go, you should see the Parthenon Marbles, Bust of Ramesses the Great and Easter Island moai. However, the museum’s top attraction is the Rosetta Stone, which helped decipher Egyptian hieroglyphics. While the British Museum has free admission, you should book a free ticket in advance.
London SW1A 1AA, UK
+44 303 123 7300
Tube Stations: St. James’s Park, Green Park, Hyde Park Corner
If you’re a first-time visitor to London, you’ll probably want to see the iconic Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace. After all, it’s a top London attraction and is there is no cost and you need no ticket to watch the pageantry. However, the Changing of the Guard does not occur daily on a year round basis so check the schedule before your arrival. Of course, if you want to extend your visit to the royal palace, why not consider a guided tour? In other words, you can visit interior portions of Buckingham Palace, including the State Rooms. In addition, you may also wish to visit nearby attractions like the Royal Mews and the Queens Gallery.
London W8 4PX, UK
+44 333 320 6000
Tube Station: Queensway
At the present time, public access to Kensington Palace is not available. That’s because this historic royal palace is preparing for the new Crown to Couture fashion exhibition. As a result, it will reopen April 5 yet closing on May 6 for the Coronation of King Charles III. On the other hand, you can book advance tickets for palace admission. In the event that you visit Kensington Palace, several attractions are included in your admission. For example, you can see the King’s Gallery, the King’s State Apartments and the Queen’s State Apartments. Also included in your admission is a chance to see the Jewel Room and the Crown to Couture exhibition. Kensington Palace is the official residence British royals, most notably William, Prince of Wales and Catherine, Princess of Wales.
Madame Tussauds London
London NW1 5LR, UK
+ 44 20 7487 0351
Tube Station: Baker Street
When it comes to wax museums, there is none more famous than Madame Tussauds London. In fact, it’s the world’s oldest and its popularity has spread to other major international cities. Dating back to 1835, this iconic flagship wax museum now features nearly 200 wax figures of famous people. For instance, you can see music artists like Dua Lipa, Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande and Freddie Mercury. Of course, you can further see wax figures of British royals, like Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles III, the Queen Consort and the Prince and Princess of Wales. That’s not to mention the likenesses of David and Victoria Beckham, Duke and Duchess of Sussex and so much more. If you book online, you can purchase a standard ticket or a combo ticket that includes other London attractions like the London Eye.
Bonus London Attraction Near Madame Tussauds
Just a short walk past Madame Tussauds and Baker Street station is 221b Baker Street. If you’re not familiar with that address or need a refresher, it’s the address of the legendary detective Sherlock Holmes. What’s more, it’s home to the Sherlock Holmes Museum, the first of its kind in the world dedicated to the character by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. While Sherlock Holmes is purely fictional, the museum features recreations of scenes from the novels. In addition, the museum’s store has the world’s largest collection of memorabilia and gifts.
The National Gallery
London WC2N 5DN, UK
+44 (0)20 7747 2885
Tube Station: Charing Cross
There’s no question that Trafalgar Square is one of London’s top attractions. With Nelson’s Column as its centerpiece, it’s a popular gathering spot and center of public celebrations. While Trafalgar Square is a highlight altogether, equally important is the National Gallery. An enormous Neoclassical structure, the National Gallery holds one of the world’s most extensive art collections. In more detail, it houses Britain’s vast collection of 15th to 19th century European art. For example, you can see van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” as well as Da Vinci’s “The Virgin of the Rocks”. In addition, there is an impressive collection of Monet paintings, including “The Water Lily Pond”. Despite the fact that there is free entry, you can guarantee your visit by booking a reservation in advance.
London W1J 9HS
Tube Station: Piccadilly Circus
In Piccadilly Circus, you won’t see trapeze acts, acrobats and clowns. Instead, you’ll experience a bustling junction filled with neon lights and pedestrians. To put it differently, you won’t see another spot in London that’s like this major shopping and entertainment area. Somewhat comparable to New York’s Times Square, Piccadilly Circus is a top attraction that’s best known for its enormous, Piccadilly Lights advertising displays. Although not nearly as large as Times Square, it’s a vibrant center full of cultural and tourist attractions. For example, there’s The Comedy Store, Hard Rock Café and the famous Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain. In addition, you’ll be in the theater district, with prominent venues like Criterion Theatre and Piccadilly Theatre.
Related: London’s Most Famous Public Markets
Royal Albert Hall
Kensington Gore, South Kensington
London SW7 2AP, UK
+44 20 7589 8212
Tube Stations: South Kensington, Knightsbridge
Just south of Kensington Gardens, Royal Albert Hall is among the world’s most famous music and concert venues. Celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2021, this legendary concert hall has been the setting for several events. For instance, Richard Wagner, Winston Churchill and even Albert Einstein and Muhammad Ali have made appearances here. That’s to say nothing of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and Led Zeppelin. In addition, Royal Albert Hall is known for hosting the BBC Proms, featuring classical music across eight weeks. While any live performance can be an unforgettable experience, you can also take a 60-minute.
St. Paul’s Cathedral
St. Paul’s Churchyard
London EC4M 8AD
+44 20 7246 8350
Tube Station: St. Paul’s
Set on the highest point in the city, St. Paul’s Cathedral is among the world’s most famous churches. A magnificent architectural landmark, it’s the seat of the Bishop of London and its history dates to 604 AD. The most famous feature of St. Paul’s is its 367-foot tall dome, among the largest in the world. The cathedral’s nave has been the setting for several major events, including the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana. Additional notable events were the funerals of dignitaries like Lord Nelson, Margaret Thatcher and Winston Churchill. In order to see the cathedral floor, crypt and galleries, you must purchase a ticket. Please note that advance ticket rates are slightly better than the walk-up rate.
London SW1P 4RG, UK
+44 (0)20 7887 8888
Tube Station: Pimlico
The Tate is a collection of four museums, with two in London. The original is the former National Gallery of British Art now known as Tate Britain. As the original name suggests, at Tate Britain you can see paintings from British artists like John Singer Sargent and J.M.W. Turner. In addition, you can enjoy works from such artists as John Constable, John Singleton and Sir John Everett. Across the River Thames from Tate Britain, you can visit Tate Modern, the modern art branch. The most popular British museum in attendance, Tate Modern is a showcase of modern and contemporary art. If you visit Tate Modern, don’t miss Rodin’s “The Kiss”, Warhol’s “Marilyn Diptych” and Picasso’s “Nude Woman with Necklace”. Both Tate museums are admission free and tickets are not required.
Tower Bridge Road
London SE1 2UP, UK
+44 (0)20 7403 3761
Tube Station: Tower Hill
Of London’s 35 bridges, the one you’ll want to see is not London Bridge but instead Tower Bridge. After all, it’s certainly the most distinctive and most beautiful as well as a great spot for photo opportunities. If that’s not enough, you can join 40,000 other people who cross the bridge daily. While the walking across the bridge is free of charge, there is a ticket option for you to consider. In more detail, you can purchase tickets to climb the towers, as well as walk across the Glass Floor walkway 110 feet above ground level. That’s to say nothing of a chance to visit the Engine Rooms and plenty photo opportunities. Ticket options, including tours are available online and onsite. By the way, if you insist on visiting London Bridge, chances are that you’ll be disappointed. As an alternative, consider visiting the Millennium Bridge instead.
The Tower of London
London EC3N 4AB, UK
+44 20 3166 60000
Tube Station: Tower Hill
Resting upon the banks of the River Thames, the Tower of London has a history that stretches over 1,000 years. The oldest palace and former prison in Europe, it’s a major attraction, bringing over three million visitors annually. Of course, the top draw for you to see are the priceless Crown Jewels, which includes St. Edward’s Crown and Crown of Queen Mary. In case you wish to see the Crown Jewels, please note that you cannot take pictures. Also on the walled property, you can chat with the famous beefeaters and see the ever-present Tower ravens. You can make your visit simpler by purchasing advance tickets online, although prices will increase on May 26.
West End Theatre District
London, WC2H 7DE, UK
Subway Stations: Piccadilly Circus, Oxford Circus, Leicester Square, Covent Garden, Charing Cross
When in London, you may wish to see a Broadway caliber performance in the city’s famous West End. If that’s the case, then put Piccadilly, Soho and Leicester Square on your list of places to visit. While the West End covers a much broader area, the liveliest section is along Shaftesbury Avenue. Indeed, many famous theatres can be found along this stretch, such as the Palace Theatre and Sondheim Theatre. That’s not to mention other famous spots like the London Palladium and The Royal Opera House. As for purchasing tickets, a good place to go is TKTS at Leicester Square, in the heart of the West End theatre district.
Related: Famous Opera Houses In Europe
20 Dean’s Yard
London SW1P 3PA, UK
+44 20 7222 5152
Tube Station: Westminster Station
Just a short walk from Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament is Westminster Abbey. Yet another example of London’s stunning Gothic architecture, Westminster Abbey is among the world’s most famous churches. Indeed, it’s England’s most important church and has been the site for every coronation for nearly 1,000 years. What’s more, it’s been the setting for prominent weddings, most notably Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phllip and Prince William and Kate Middleton. In addition, it’s a burial site for many British monarchs and influential people like Charles Dickens and Sir Isaac Newton. In any case, it’s a major attraction, drawing over one million visitors annually. While you are free to take photos of the exterior, you must purchase a ticket to visit the interior.
Other Top London Attractions
All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (Wimbledon) One of London’s top summer attractions
Churchill War Rooms
IFS Cloud Cable Car
London Transport Museum
Natural History Museum
Greenwich – National Maritime Museum and Prime Meridian
SEA LIFE London Aquarium
Victoria and Albert Museum
Warner Bros. Studio Tour London
About the Author
Randy Yagi is an award-winning freelance writer who served as the National Travel Writer for CBS from 2012-2019. More than 900 of his stories still appear in syndication across 23 CBS websites, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco. During his peak years with CBS, Randy had a reported digital audience reach of 489 million and 5.5 million monthly visitors. Additionally, his stories have appeared in the Daily Meal, CBS News, CBS Radio, Engadget, NBC.com, NJ.com and Radio.com. He earned a Media Fellowship from Stanford University in 2012.