London is a culturally rich and diverse city and whether you live there permanently, or are just visiting, it is virtually impossible to run out of things to see and do. You could get lost for an entire weekend, simply wandering the city’s streets, admiring the architecture, strolling through parks and going for meals as simple as grabbing a sandwich from a little known café, to having one of the best dining experiences of your life in a Michelin starred restaurant. London is a treasure trove just waiting to be explored and with many of its most famous attractions being free, it doesn’t cost as much as you might think! Whether you are into food, history, sports, art, music, or architecture (the list goes on), there will be something in the capital that is sure to knock your socks off.
So what are the things that you simply shouldn’t miss? Well let’s be honest, if you are visiting London or perhaps live there but just haven’t had time to explore the cultural sights and sounds of the city, there are some destinations that every person who has made a trip to the capital simply has to see. So let’s all be tourists for the day, pack a bag, get some sensible shoes on and go and discover the top ten cultural experiences the city has to offer, to get a taste of the history, and the majesty of London, and a feel of just what this wonderful city all about!
Every great city has a great museum and in London there are several. If you fancy having a day of culture and learning then why not visit some of the best museums in the country. They are packed with loads of interesting artifacts and information, and what’s even better is that they won’t cost you a penny to get into!
So which museums are a must see in London? Well the British Museum is a good place to start. This museum is renowned world-wide and has some of the most incredible exhibits on display documenting the evolution of the human race from prehistoric caveman to the modern day gentleman. There are incredible sculptures, an awe inspiring Ancient Egypt collection and much more. This is a fantastic place for people of all ages and will surely have you captivated from the minute you step through the door!
The Natural history museum is one of the biggest and best in the world. A truly fascinating collection of animal species including a life sized blue whale! People of all ages will be blown away by the amazing dinosaur exhibition and the gorgeous building itself is a sight to behold. Anything from an incredible collection of iridescent insects to pre-historic and extinct creatures such as the woolly mammoth, those who are fascinated by nature, animals and history are sure to love the Natural history museum.
The Victoria and Albert museum is fantastic for those who wish to get a great and glorious understanding of materials and technologies. The collection is extensive, spanning over 3000 years. Stuffed with amazing artifacts you can immerse yourself in this Aladdin’s cave of paintings, furniture, textiles and much more.
Finally you can get your geek on and be amazed at the wonderful, educational and, most importantly, fun Science Museum. A truly interactive experience that will get all your senses going -you can learn through sight, touch and sound about all the major scientific discoveries over the last 300 years. Oh and when your brain is stuffed to the brim you can check out the awesome IMAX cinema as well!
You can’t come to London without visiting some of the wonderful galleries you can find here. One of the most celebrated is of course the fantastic Tate Modern, the countries national museum of modern and contemporary art. The building itself is remarkable being an old power station and it is worth going just to appreciate the sloping floors and sense of space and grandeur that you get here. Unique and fascinating collections are regularly displayed at the Tate Modern and when you are done absorbing all the culture you can have a great meal at the galleries restaurant which boasts stunning perspectives across the city.
The National Gallery situated in bustling Trafalgar Square is another top spot to hit if you are a fan of art. Here you can find a huge collection of Western European pieces, some of which date back as far as the 13th Century. Why not immerse yourself in some of the most revered artworks in the world including pieces by the greats such as Botticelli, Van Gogh, Titian Constable, da Vinci, Renoir and Stubbs?
The London Eye
What is a trip to London without a ride on the magical London Eye? A giant glistening Ferris wheel situated on London’s trendy Southbank, this landmark has been a top tourist attraction since it was first constructed in 1999. It is currently Europe’s largest Ferris wheel (and used to be the largest Ferris wheel in the world) and offers unparalleled views of the city from one of its 32 glass capsules.
You can also learn a lot about London itself as you are directed to look at some of the most famous landmarks in the city through the talking guide. If you want to plan something super romantic you can even choose to hire one of the capsules privately for that special someone! Alternatively, for something a bit different this winter, you can head down to the London Eye for the Frosty Guided Experience, where one of the capsules has been utterly transformed into a magical winter cave. Listen to the sounds of cracking ice and wind, smell the glorious spirit of Christmas and listen as your tour guide tells you some fascinating wintery facts about the capital!
Tower of London
This is a must see on every visitors to do list. Visit the incredible Tower of London and take a tour with one of the Yeoman. You will slide through historical journey learning about how it came to be, almost 900 years ago! The Tower has been many things in its time - a royal palace, a prison and a place of execution, arsenal, jewel house and zoo! Of course the piece de resistance is the breath-taking Crown Jewels –truly a sight to behold indeed.
Madame Tussauds has remained one of the most visited places in London for many years. Everyone who comes to London has heard of it, and now it is time to see it for yourself! You can pretend to be in the company of Hollywood celebs as you wander through the incredibly life-like wax works. Brush shoulders with super stars such as Lady Gaga or come face to face with incredibly influential figures of times gone by such as William Shakespeare. You can even meet the queen!
Have some chillout time and take a stroll around London’s biggest and arguably most beautiful park. Richmond Park is an incredible place to visit, particularly at this time of year. It is where you can get back to nature and truly feel as though you have escaped the hustle and bustle of city life. Richmond is the largest enclosed space in London. It holds the rather impressive acclaims of being not only National Nature Reserve, but also London's largest Site of Special Scientific Interest and a European Special Area of Conservation. Here you can easily spend a lazy afternoon admiring the plants and wildlife on offer. Make sure you go to the stunning Isabella Plantation, visit Pembroke Lodge and hopefully spot some handsome herds of Red and Fallow deer too.
The River Thames runs through the capital and is in fact the longest river in England. It provides a hub for those who love water sports and rowing and sailing clubs can often be found here. Even Kayaking and Canoeists can be seen braving the water at all times of the year. Major events that take place on the River Thames which are great fun to watch (if not to participate in!) are the Henley Royal Regatta –the annual rowing race, and The Boat Race which is the world famous annual rowing race between Oxford and Cambridge Universities.
River Thames tour is a great way of taking in all the sights, and there are absolutely loads to choose from! You can simply go for a general tourist cruise which will take you up and down the river with a guide pointing out places of interest, or you can choose to have a candlelit dinner, afternoon tea, or even book out a boat for your own very special party!
Borough Market is London’s most renowned food market; and a must see for foodies wherever you are from! The market is one of London’s biggest and most talked about. Go when you are hungry and get lost in the maze of stalls offering every food imaginable under the sun. It’s a great place to go to stock up on delicious cheeses, chutneys, cured meats, fruits and vegetables, breads and jams. However if you want to simply swing by for a tasty lunch there are loads of stalls offering a massive range of freshly cooked hot and cold food for you to sample as well. Come at the right time and you will find that Borough Market also has some fantastic special events for foodies of every level such as talks, demonstrations, cooking tips and even the odd pop up restaurant too!
The London Borough of Camden is an uber- cool urban part of the city where bustling markets, trendy pubs and a great music scene are rife. You could easily spend a day in this part of the city alone, and it is the preferred hangout of many celebrities. Camden is certainly where the cool kids are at. Check out eccentric art exhibitions, admire the weird and wonderful fashion choices of those who make it their stomping ground and shop until you drop at the world famous Camden market.
For live music head to Koko, the Electric Ballroom or the Underworld, it is here that you will find the latest up and coming bands. If you fancy a good old fashioned drink then take a trip to one of the two breweries in the area. Alternatively if theater is more up your street then the Roundhouse is the place to be, or why not have a laugh at a legendary comedy night at the Camden Highlight?
Buckingham palace is situated in the heart of London and is the official residence of the Queen. Come along to simply admire the incredible architecture of this imposing building, or if you fancy having more of a nose around you can take a tour of the ornate State Rooms inside. The State Rooms are where the monarchs receive and entertain visitors and are used by the Queen and other members of the Royal family still. There are nineteen State Rooms in total, all decorated very lavishly and furnished with some of the most precious pieces from the Royal Collection. The different rooms have different purposes which you can learn about should you choose to take a guided tour.
The Changing of the Guard is another must-see event and a great London tradition. A stunning spectacle, the Changing of the Guard takes place at 11.30 every day from April to the end of July, and then every second day for the remaining months of the year.
Of course this is just the tip of an iceberg in terms of places to visit and things to see and do in the incredible city of London. However the above is certainly a good starting point to begin to get to grips with the vibrant and eclectic English capital.