When in London make sure you don’t miss these London highlights.
2012 Olympic Games will be held in London on 27 July-12 Aug 2012, which makes London the first city to hold the Olympic Games three times, having hosted the games previously in 1908 and 1948. The 2012 Paralympic Games will be held on 29 Aug-9 Sept 2012.
Original London Sightseeing Tour (Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour) is an open-top double-decker bus for visitors to enjoy London’s most famous attractions on 3 tour routes. The tours visit Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, The London Dungeon, St Paul’s Cathedral, Tower of London, Covent Garden, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, Madame Tussauds, Shakespeare’s Globe, The London Eye, London Bridge, London Aquarium, and Westminster Abbey. The Museum Tour gives you easy access to many of London’s top Museums, shops and attractions such as Kensington Palace, Natural History Museum, Science Museum, Victoria & Albert Museum, Harrods, Harvey Nichols, Ritz Hotel, Piccadilly Circus, British Museum, Royal Albert Hall, Albert Memorial, & the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain.
Trafalgar Square is considered the centre of London and home to Nelson’s Column which was completed in 1843 to commemorate Admiral Nelson’s victory over Napoleon off Cape Trafalgar, Spain in 1805. To the north of the square is the National Gallery and to the south-east is Admiralty Arch, built to honour Queen Victoria. Beyond the Arch is The Mall leading to Buckingham Palace.
Whitehall is the avenue, leading from Trafalgar Square to Parliament Square, lined with government buildings and is the center of British government. Along Whitehall is Downing street, the site of the Prime Minister’s home. Further along is Big Ben, the famous tower clock, the Houses of Parliament and Westminister Abbey setting for royal coronations since 1066 and most recently that of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.
The Tower of London dates from 1078 and was London’s original royal fortress. In the middle ages the Tower of London acted as a royal residence, treasury, mint and a prison. Located near the Tower Bridge on the Thames River, the Tower is a very popular tourist attraction where visitors can view the Crown Jewels, the various towers, Armouries, Barracks, Chapel and the tower green where seven people (including two of his wives) were beheaded during the reign of King Henry VIII.
Tower Bridge is the famous 19th century bridge across the Thames River located by the Tower of London. The bridge was an architectural and engineering marvel featuring a drawbridge so tall-masted ships could pass underneath. Tourists can take the Tower Bridge Experience to visit the north tower and engine room to learn how the bridge is operated.
HMS Belfast is a large, light cruiser naval ship that was built in Belfast, Ireland and launched in 1938. The Belfast served in many theatres of war during WWII and the Korean War. The ship is moored on the Thames near the Tower Bridge and open to visitors.
The London Eye is a large Ferris observation wheel located on the South Bank of the Thames River giving visitors spectacular views over London.
London Dungeon is a gruesome experience of London’s past where visitors can learn about and see reconstructions of executions, the French Guillotine in action, Jack the Ripper’s handiwork and various other ingenious methods of torture.
Winston Churchill’s Britain at War Experience is an educational attraction about World War II. Visitors are taken into a reconstruction of an underground station and progress through rooms displaying wartime themes emerging into a shop that has been destroyed by a bomb.
Shakespeare’s Globe & Exhibition is the reconstructed Globe Theatre popularised by William Shakespeare and an exhibition on Elizabethan London.
Buckingham Palace is the official London residence of the Queen and the most famous palace in London. Located at the end of The Mall, the palace was built in 1803 for the Duke of Buckingham and has been the London home for the royal family since 1837. Open for tours during the summer months only. Changing of the Guard takes place on the forecourt of Buckingham Palace every day at 11.30am during summer and on odd days the rest of the year.
Charles Dickens’ House, located at 49 Doughty Street WC1, is where he wrote his famous novels – Oliver Twist, The Pickwick Papers and Nicholas Nickleby.
St Paul’s Cathedral was built by Sir Christopher Wren between 1675 and 1710, after the 1666 Great Fire of London. The walkway around the base of the dome has such good acoustics that it forms a “Whispering Gallery.” The stairs continue to the Stone Gallery and up to the Golden Gallery for one of the best views over central London.
London Imax Cinema is the largest in Europe screening 2-D and 3-D movies and documentaries.
London Aquarium is one of the largest in Europe featuring a wide range of marine life including sharks and a coral reef display.
The London Eye, also known as the ‘Millenium Wheel’, is one of the world’s largest Ferris wheels with 32 enclosed gondolas that give visitors spectacular views across the capital. [Operates daily, opposite Big Ben and Houses of Parliament]
Kensington Palace dates from 1605 and has been the home of many royals including Princess Margaret and Princess Diana. Queen Victoria was born here in 1819. Visitors can take a tour of the State Apartments from 10am to 5pm daily.
Hampton Court Palace was built in 1514 and became the residence of King Henry VIII. The palace has a long history and visitors can tour the stately rooms and get lost in the famous 300 year old maze.
Madame Tussaud’s is the famous and very popular wax museum exhibiting movie stars, pop stars, world leaders and the royal family. The Spirit of London taxi ride takes visitors through a summary of London’s history while the Chamber of Horrors displays the darker side to human nature.
London Planetarium is located next to Madame Tussaud’s and has wax figures of great scientists as well as a great show of the stars and planets.
As you can see there is a lot to do in London – one visit will not be enough!