Over the past few decades, London has grown to become one of the greatest tourist attractions in Europe. Within a relatively small area you can find Royalty, Museums, Parks, History and cutting-edge Attractions. Visiting all these sites can be an expensive prospect so it is worth exploring what you would like to see before starting your trip. Travelling around London is made easier with Oyster Cards or Travelcards as they help you avoid getting stuck on zone boundaries and allow you full freedom on public transport. If travelling within zones 1 and 2 (Central London) then zone 1 travel cards are more value for money as they work out cheaper per journey than zone 1 pay as you go Oyster Cards which cost £5 per day (£8 if you buy it with the zones you don’t need) regardless of how many journeys you take.
◊ Buckingham Palace
Where: Queen’s Walk, SW1A 1AA
The Buckingham Palace is the official London residence and principal workplace of Her Majesty The Queen. It has been a rallying point for Britain’s national pride and monarchy since it was built in 1705 by Sir Christopher Wren – an architect responsible for designing Saint Paul’s Cathedral which can be seen from the palace gardens. Tours are available to the public at 11am every day lasting around 45 minutes where visitors get to see state rooms, attend the changing of the guard & finish off with some time at the gift shop. With that said, there are no set times the guard will actually change. It is worth getting there early to avoid disappointment.
Guided tours are also available of the Royal Mews, Queen’s Gallery and Royal Chapel however these tend to be more expensive so it is advisable to do some research on what you would like to see before making your decision.
◊ Tower Bridge
Where: Tower Bridge Rd, London EC3N 4DH
The iconic Tower Bridge welcomes all tourists arriving in London by train with large white towers & red span which were built in 1894 after the previous incarnations fell into disrepair. The bridge provides a picturesque backdrop for iconic views of the city but nothing beats seeing it up close as you walk across one tower and down onto the lower levels where you can see the Victorian mechanisms which allow it to open in excess of 100 times per year. Access across Tower Bridge is free however you will be expected to make a donation towards upkeep & conservation when you exit.
◊ St Paul’s Cathedral (Westminster Walk)
Where: St Paul’s Churchyard, EC4M 8AD
Nestled behind Westminster Abbey and further down The Mall from Buckingham Palace looms one of London’s finest landmarks – St Pauls Cathedral. Although no longer used for its original purpose, visitors are still welcome inside to marvel at the architecture including Christopher Wren’s famous dome spanning 67 metres which can be ascended up 275 steps if feeling energetic. Even if taking the stairs isn’t your cup of tea there is a lift which costs £5 and will take you up to the Whispering Gallery where voices can be heard from one side of the dome to the other. For those looking for an even better view, go outside and climb up The Golden Gallery at the top of the dome which reaches a height above London almost twice that of The Shard for free.
◊ Tower Of London
Where: Tower Hill, EC3N 4AB
Within sight of both King Henry VIII’s City Hall and St Pauls cathedral stands another iconic relic from British history – The Tower Of London. Built by William The Conqueror in 1078, it has survived through wars, executions & sieges standing as a historic landmark and testament to the nation’s monarchy. Entry is free however this should not be mistaken for free entry to everything inside. There are various packages available which include tours of Royal Armory, The Crown Jewels and place where Anne Boleyn lost her head along with other general stuff like Beefeaters, Ravens etc. If you want to experience it all then your best bet would be buying an online ticket in advance as many of the guides only take cash on the day at higher rates than you would get by booking ahead.
◊ London Eye
Where: Riverside Building, County Hall, Westminster Bridge Rd, London SE1 7PB
Another world famous London icon located along the Southbank Of The Thames – The London Eye (not to be confused with The London Eye Pier further down the river). As the largest Ferris wheel in Europe, it provides visitors with spectacular views of up to 40km across the city every 30 minutes. There are various packages available however one ticket will get you access to both capsules meaning it doesn’t matter which way you want to go. If that wasn’t enough then there is also a 4D cinema included which presents 3D films alongside atmospheric effects like wind, water & bubbles for an additional fee. Tickets can be booked online allowing you to avoid long queues and use of group buying sites like Groupon & Living Social should net some good discounts too.