London was always a city I wanted to visit in the UK. I went multiple times on shorter 24 hour trips (similar to my recent visit to Rome); however, it was never enough time to explore all that I wanted to see. Luckily, I was able to spend a full week enjoying all the sites in London. This London travel guide summarizes how to get to London and also the top 11 things to see while visiting!
How to Get There
Getting to London is easy. Flying into London, there are 5 major airports to choose from – Heathrow (that everyone knows), Gatwick, London City, Luton, & Stansted. Flying international, I always choose Heathrow because they have the most options. Getting to the city center from Heathrow is also super easy as the subway (or tube) is connected via a high speed express train to London’s central Paddington station. From there it is easy to make connections to anywhere you need to go.
What to Do in London
There is so much to do in London that 24 hours just doesn’t cover it! I spent a week in the city (stay tuned in the coming days for a complete breakdown of my travels), and barely scratched the surface! Regardless of how much time you have, these 11 things are not to be missed as part of my London travel guide!
The Abbey was originally constructed in the 1st century and has been used to crown kings and queens since that time. It is also the resting place of many famous British monarchs and statesmen, including Henry III, Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, & Stephen Hawking. You can tour the church for ~21-23 pounds every day except Sunday (click here for tickets).
One of the coolest experiences I had was going to the evening Evensong service (every evening starting at 5PM except Wednesdays). This mass was sung with the Westminister Abbey chorus and was free to attend. It let me see the church and enjoy some amazing traditional choral music.
Parliament & Big Ben
Few things in London are as recognizable as big ben and the parliament building. The famous clock tower and bells were completed in the 17th century. A trip to London is not complete without seeing the clock tower and the parliament building (the best views being at night when everything is illuminated).
Another site not to miss is Tower Bridge. This drawbridge was originally completed in the late 1800s connecting the banks of the Thames. It’s worth the 8 pounds to climb the bridge and be inside the tower looking down at the traffic below through the clear floors.
Tower of London
The historic Tower of London is also one of the 11 sites of London not to miss (~24 pounds). The castle and fortress dates back to 1066. Exploring the castles, buildings, & walls can take a good half day as there is so much history to explore. Although there tends to be long lines, don’t miss the crown jewels. The coronation items are spectacular to behold (I even doubled back a couple times on the moving walk way for multiple glimpses of the jewels).
Another of the top things to do is visit Buckingham Palace. I recommend watching one of the daily changing of the guard where you see the Queen’s guards change in full pomp and circumstance. I went first thing in the morning (starts around 11AM) and it was such a fun spectacle to watch (plus totally free!). Afterward, I went on a tour of the state room’s in the palace and enjoyed the outdoor gardens surrounding the palace (~25 pounds).
Art & History Museums
London has a spectacular art scene! Whether you are interested in historical art or modern day, London has something for everyone! 3 of my favorite’s are the Tate Britain Art Museum (home to modern and contemporary works by Vincent van Gogh, Joseph Mallord William Turner and Frank Bowling), the National Gallery (free to enter and notable works by Bellini, Da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Monet), & the British Museum (free to enter and home to the Rosetta stone).
A recent addition to the London skyline is the London Eye. With breathtaking 360 degree views, this ferry wheel is located right on the banks of the Thames River. You can catch glimpses of Big Ben, Tower Bridge, and all the amazing sites of London from the pods. For ~27-40 pounds, you can enjoy one of the multi-person pods for an unforgettable experience.
St. Paul’s Cathedral
Finally, no trip to London would be complete without a visit to St. Paul’s Cathedral. Whether you choose to climb the dome for spectacular views of the city or marvel at the architecture of the building from the street, the massive 17th century cathedral is spectacular.