What to See When Visiting London

London offers a vast variety of noteworthy places and events that a tourist might find interesting. Trying to see just about everything that would be worth your time would be a project best suited for a lifelong stay in London, but even with a more modest goal, several days should be reserved for getting a good taste of some of the highlights of London. Due to the vastness of the London City area, you will need to take care of issues regarding transportation. London has good public transportation options that a traveler can use, but getting a Car Hire would be one excellent way to make the transportation easy and effortless when touring the fascinating attractions around the vast London area.

Buckingham Palace
The Buckingham Palace is one among the few royal palaces that still serve their original function. In addition to being the Queen’s official London residency, the palace also serves as the Monarchy’s administrative headquarters. During the summertime, much of the palace is open for visitors to see. There are many other interesting places nearby the Buckingham Palace, which makes this general area very interesting. Be sure to see the changing of the guards while you are there!

Madame Tussaud’s
Seeing a bunch of celebrities and famous people, both past and present, and even getting photographed with them can be great fun – even if they are just figures made of wax. This wax museum is one of London’s most popular attractions – and why wouldn’t it be? Where else can you see everyone from Marilyn Monroe to Lady Gaga and from Marlon Brando to Nelson Mandela at the same time?

Kensington Palace
A royal resicence that has been used since the 17th century. Today it is used as London’s official residence for the Dukes and Duchesses of Glouchester, Cambridge and Kent, as well as the Prince and Princess Michael of Kent. It was also the residence of the princesses Diana, Magaret and Alice.

Big Ben
Big Ben is perhaps the most famous landmark of London. It is very hard to ignore due to its great size, but luckily you are very unlikely to even want to try to ignore it. It is almost 100 meters high and it is the largest four faced chiming clock in the world. The Big Ben is located at the northeastern end of the Houses of Parliament – though you probably won’t need the directions to find it.

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Cruise the Thames River and See London Attractions

When you are visiting London and want to view many of its attractions in an exciting and somewhat less usual way than just walking or driving through the streets, a Thames river cruise might be a good choice. The Thames river flows through the heart of London, so a cruise on Thames allows you to see many of London’s most famous attractions. The mode of transportation adds to the  comfortableness of the experiences and provides a view from a little different perspective than the regular street views. The city cruise boats are modern and spacious with open upper decks that allow you to see the city in the open air, and there are also panoramic windows in the lower saloons of the boat.

Thames River Cruise in London

Cruising the Thames river is a great way to see many of London's attractions.

The Tower of London, Tower Bridge, Cutty Sark, London’s commercial hub, Canary Wharf, the retired battle-cruiser – HMS Belfast; St Paul’s Cathedral, Shakespeare’s Globe theater, the Tate Modern, Westminster Abbey, and Big Ben are the highlights of the cruise.

See Thames River Cruises for more information.

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Big Ben – World’s Third-Largest Clock Tower in London

Big Ben is located at the north end of the Westminster Palace in London. Actually, the nickname Big Ben refers to the large bell of the clock tower, but probably a large majority of people would associate the name with the whole tower. The Big Ben clock tower is huge – its height of nearly 100 meters makes it the third highest clock tower in the world. The clock faces of the tower are more than 7 meters each in their diameter, and the interior volume of the tower is over 4600 cubic meters. There are 393 steps that one has to climb if one wants to go to the top of the tower by the stairs. The construction of the tower was finished in 1856, after 13 years of work.

Big Ben Tower

Though the name "Big Ben" is quite commonly associated with the tower, it is actually the nickname of the large bell in the tower.

See (and hear!) the following video that features the chimes of Big Ben

The reason for naming the bell “Big Ben” is not completely clear, but the most likely theory is that the bell was named after Sir Benjamin Hall who was the First Commissioner for Works. His name is found inscribed on the bell. An alternative explanation is that the name is based on the heavyweight boxer Ben Caunt.

Save on Sightseeing in London with the London Pass

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St Pancras International Train Station

St Pancras international railway station is located at the heart of central London and is one of the best-known train stations in the world. The Victorian architecture and specially commissioned pieces of public art (such as the sculptures called Meeting Place and Sir John Betjeman, as well as the famous St Pancras clock) make the St. Pancras station a beautiful place to see.

St. Pancras Station

Architecture is one reason why the St. Pancras station is worth seeing.

Obviously,  St Pancras train station  also plays a major role in the transportation system. East Midlands trains, Eurostar, and First Capital Connect are the three main services from this station which has more underground connections than any other station in London. Britain’s first high speed train service called Southeastern has 200 trains every weekday and operates between St Pancras and 21 stations.

St Pancras station

St Pancras international train station has more underground connections than any other station in London.

Standing on the Euston Road in St Pancras, the station is situated between other noteworthy places, namely, the British Librrary, King’s Cross station, and the Regent’s Canal.

See also: London City Guide

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The Legendary Tower Bridge in London

The Tower Bridge crossing over the Thames river it is one of the famous symbols of London. It is a combined bascule and suspension bridge. Its two towers of the bridge are connected by two horizontal walkways. This 244 meter long bridge carries motor vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians.

Due to the proximity of the harbor, the bridge was made moveable so that it can be opened for allowing larger ships and boats to move through. The building of the bridge was completed in 1894. Almost 450 workers and 5 contractors were needed to complete this project.

Tower Bridge by night

The Tower Bridge is sometimes mistakenly called the London Bridge, which in actual fact is a different bridge.

The Tower Bridge is currently going through a “facelift” process, which will cost around 4 million pounds. It has been planned so as to minimize disruptions, but it is unavoidable that some road closures will occurs. The bridge is expected to be closed for several months starting at the end of the year 2011.

Online Resources
Tower Bridge Exhibition
London Tourist Information – How to Save Money on London Attractions

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Natural History Museum in London

Among the many museums of London, the Natural History Museum is probably close to the top in terms of being an interesting for people of a wide variety of backgrounds and age groups to see. It is one of three large museums on Exhibition Road in South Kensington.

It would not be difficult to mistake this beautiful neo-gothic style museum building for a palace.

The building of the Natural History Museum took place between 1873 and 1881. The beauty of the building might all by itself be a sufficient reason to come and see the museum, but obviously, most of the visitors are interested in the various exhibits inside the museum. The most popular exhibits are ones featuring dinosaurs, but there are all kinds of national collections of living and fossil plants, animals, and minerals on display. The Natural History Museum is a world-renowned research centre that specializes in taxonomy, identification and conservation.

The Natural History Museum is one of three large museums on Exhibition Road in South Kensington.

Online Resources
Natural History Museum official website

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Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London

The original Globe Theatre was built in 1599 by The Lord Chamberlain’s Men, which was the playing company for which the famous playwright William Shakespeare worked for most of his career. It is known as the place where Shakespeare performed many of his plays.

The theatre was built in a style that is similar to the Colosseum, but the scale was smaller. This style of theatres (called amphitheatres) was followed by other Elizabethan Theatres. The theare was destroyed by fire on 29th of June 1613, and rebuilt by June 1614, but was closed in 1642.

Exterior view of the modern reproduction of the Globe Theatre

The modern reconstruction of the theatre is known as “Shakespeare’s Globe” and it was opened in 1997. The location is not exactly the same. The place of the original theatre was about 230 metres from the location of the current theatre.

A visitor can get an introduction to all of the aspects (both historical and contemporary) of the Globe Theatre from the resident storytellers.

The Globe is a tourist attraction that is covered by the London Pass which gives free entry to the tourist’s choice of over 55 attractions.

Online Resources
Traveling To London? Check How to Save Money on London Sightseeing

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Buckingham Palace in London

The Buckingham Palace is is located in Westminster, London. The palace is only a short distance away from many other interesting places in London, such as Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, Piccadilly Circus, The Thames, etc. Therefore, it is a good place to start from when one wants to do some sightseeing in London while moving by foot. The Buckingham Palace is the resicency of the Queen of England, as well as the administrative headquarter of the British Monarchy, and a setting for state occasions and royal hospitality. The core of the current building was originally known as Buckingham House.

Buckingham Palace is a popular tourist attraction that draws many visitors every year

The Annual Summer Opening that lasts from late July to September. At this time, the State Rooms of the Palace are open to visitors. These rooms contain some of the greatest paintings by Rembrandt, Rubnes, Poussin, Vermeer, and others, as well as sculpture, porcelain and fine furniture. Another spot that may be of interest is the Buckingham Palace Garden which is the largest private Garden in London.

Doors of Buckingham Palace garden

Online Resources
Buckingham Palace (the official website of the British Monarchy)
Interactive Panorama of Buckingham Palace

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