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The best things to do in
London

Language:   English

Currency: GBP

Sales Tax: 20%

London, ‘The Big Smoke,’ gets tens of millions of visitors yearly. It is consistently voted as the most popular tourist destination in the world. But why is London called the ‘Big Smoke’? The city gained the nickname from the air pollution levels around the city through much of the 19th and early 20th century. This was mostly due to the extensive use of coal for heating in the densely populated urban area. While air pollution in the city hasn’t been completely eradicated, the pollution levels are nowhere near what they used to be back then, so you can relax as you look forward to your trip.

London isn't just the perfect destination for history and royal family buffs. It is also a great holiday destination for anyone looking for a great vacation. So, where should you visit while on holiday in 'The Big Smoke'? Being one of the most visited cities in the world, as you can imagine, there's no shortage of places to visit and things to do in London. Here's a list of the best ones:

Some of the best things to do in London

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace

If there is one destination you must see in London, and there are a lot of them, it is Buckingham Palace. The London residence to the Royal Family, Buckingham Palace is iconic and unforgettable.

The Royal Family and the sights dedicated to it generate over £500 million a year. Buckingham Palace is the chief reason people travel to the city when it comes to the Royal Family. The changing of the guard is a unique experience. It is an opportunity to see the pomp of the British elite. When the Royal Family is away in the summertime, visitors can tour the state rooms in the palace and get a taste of what life is like inside.

The palace is also centrally located in London, and it gives visitors the chance to get to other tourist attractions quickly. The parks nearby are perfect for strolling through, and playgrounds are nicely situated for families with children.

British Museum

British Museum

Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge

Built in 1894, the Tower Bridge is one of many landmarks that can claim to be the icon of the city. Given how many famous landmarks you can find in the city, there's little point in attempting to make a case either way. What is indisputable though, is that the bridge is one of the must-see attractions in the city.

It's one of many bridges that cross the River Thames, but given its age and unique design, it would be wrong for you to make a trip to the city and not visit the bridge. The iconic bridge towers will likely catch your attention even when viewed from a distance.

The bridge's proximity to the Tower of London makes it easy to visit multiple key attractions within a short distance. But it's not enough to take selfies from the streets around the bridge. You should seize the opportunity to walk over the bridge and take the available elevator or stairs to the top, where you can watch traffic across the bridge through the glass floor.

Tower of London

Tower of London

Originally built as a royal castle in 1078, the Tower of London has served various purposes over the years of its existence. These include an armory, treasury, location of the Royal Mint, public records office, and the home of the Crown Jewels. It was also infamously used as a prison between 1100 and 1952. That use appears to have overshadowed every other as it steals the headlines in many narratives about the landmark.

Conveniently located at the foot of the Tower Bridge, it is now recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and currently stands out as one of London’s (and the United Kingdom’s) most popular tourist attractions, with millions of annual visitors. Now surrounded by modern buildings, the Tower of London is hard to miss as it’s vastly different from most nearby buildings.

Tate Modern Museum

Tate Modern Museum

With a mission to delight art lovers with international modern and contemporary art as well as British art, the Tate Modern Museum is one of many museums in London worth visiting. The first Tate Museum opened its doors in 1897 on one site with a modest art collection. Today, it has four sites (one of which is Tate Modern Museum) and an impressive collection of close to 70,000 artworks.

'Tate Modern', as it is often referred to, is located in the former Bankside Power Station. The building was converted into a gallery in 2000 with the help of Swiss architects Herzog & De Meuron, who proposed a conversion that maintained the character of the original building.

Fans of contemporary art will appreciate a visit to Tate Modern. It currently houses paintings, large-scale installations, and sculptures by world-famous artists such as Yayoi Kusama, Henri Matisse, and Pablo Picasso. Among the art on display, some of the most popular ones include Cildo Meireles' 'Babel', a tower built out of portable radios from different eras, and Mark Bradford's 'Los Moscos', a large-scale collage made from items found on the streets of Los Angeles by the artist.

London Eye (Millennium Wheel)

London Eye (Millennium Wheel)

The 135-meter-high London Eye is the tallest cantilevered observation wheel in the UK and Europe. At the time of its opening in 2000, it was the tallest Ferris wheel in the world. However, it has since been surpassed by other observation wheels, including the High Roller in Las Vegas and the current tallest Ferris wheel, Ain Dubai.

Situated on the south bank of the River Thames, the large capsules (32 in all) with glass walls can each accommodate 25 people and offer passengers breathtaking panoramic views of the city. It's no wonder the wheel is the UK's most popular paid tourist attraction. It is one stop you must fit into your itinerary when visiting London.

Shopping and Dining at the Royal Exchange

Shopping and Dining at the Royal Exchange

Other notable brands with a presence in the building include rare and fine wine specialist Oeno Group, which has an Oeno House boutique where you can sample the finest wines on the planet from brands like Domaine de la Romanée Conti (DRC) and Penfolds.

Houses of Parliament

Houses of Parliament

Commonly referred to as Big Ben, the 96-meter Elizabeth Tower used to be called the Clock Tower until it was renamed in 2012 to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee. The main attraction of the tower is the giant clock at the top, which can be observed from miles away. You’re not likely to find many movies shot in London that don’t have a few frames featuring the Houses of Parliament and the Elizabeth Tower.

Considered a British icon and a symbol of parliamentary democracy, it goes without saying that a visit to London isn’t complete without stopping by the Elizabeth Tower to listen to the chiming sound of the clock. You should also consider buying an Elizabeth Tower souvenir to remind you of your visit to what may be the most iconic building in England.

Covent Garden

Covent Garden

Covent Garden is one of the must-visit locations in London. Enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of street entertainers, the historic market selling local wares, and, of course, your traditional London souvenirs. The place is also home to plenty of indoor shops and restaurants next to the market. Within walking distance from Leicester Square and other central London attractions such as the Royal Opera House, home to the royal ballet, Covent Garden is a great place to stop and grab lunch or perhaps a hearty brunch to prepare for a shopping spree.

Madame Tussauds

Madame Tussauds

F1 Arcade

One of London's newest F1-related attractions, the F1 Arcade brings the fun of racing simulators to the London nightlife scene. If you happen to be here for an F1 weekend, the venue even hosts race viewing alongside its usual activities. Whether you are a complete rookie to sim racing or know your way around a steering wheel, the staff ensures that everyone enjoys their F1 racing experience.

Explore Black Taxis, Double-Decker Buses and 'The Tube'

Explore Black Taxis, Double-Decker Buses and 'The Tube'

London is known for its comprehensive transportation system: The iconic Black Taxis, double-decker buses, and the underground rail network popularly known as ‘The Tube’. Even if you aim to tour the city in the comfort of a chauffeured Roll Royce, You should spend some time in each of these as they are synonymous with the city. It’s also worth noting that private cars are not allowed in certain parts of the city, such as some stretches of Oxford Street, so unless you plan to hike around these parts, you won’t have much of a choice.

But don’t feel like you’re being compelled to abandon your comfortable ride. The experience will make your London voyage complete, and you can get a taste of what it’s like to be a Londoner for one day. The roofless double-decker buses are particularly good for getting great panoramic views. The breathtaking close-up views of the towers on Tower Bridge while driving across The Thames alone are enough to make the ride worth every moment.

In addition, you can’t claim to have had the full ‘London Experience’ without taking a ‘Tube’ ride. It’s the world’s first underground rail network and remains one of the largest. Even if you’re not much of a train fan, it is a vital part of experiencing the city, so don’t deny yourself. However, be sure to avoid peak periods so you don’t end up on a crowded train.

Shopping at Harrods

Shopping at Harrods

Today, Harrods is as much a department store as a tourist attraction and remains a popular destination for people visiting London. With the number of departments at Harrods, you’ll likely find most of what you need while enjoying the best British service. Note that there is an ‘unofficial dress code’ for gaining entry into the store, so be sure to dress appropriately.

On your way back home, if you’ve gained some affinity for the store, you should note that there’s a Harrods at Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 5. It’s a great place to buy souvenirs you may have forgotten to pick up while in the city.

Mercedes-Benz World

Mercedes-Benz World

Mercedes fans will want to visit Mercedes-Benz World in Weybridge, which is located about an hour's drive from London. Mercedes-Benz World offers exhilarating driving experiences ranging from track driving to 4x4 off-roading. Each driving experience gives you the opportunity to sit in a Mercedes/AMG car and feel the adrenaline flow through your veins. Whether you want to go on an off-road experience or drive an AMG GT R for half a day, there is a package that will allow you to fulfill your desires.

In addition to the driving experiences, there's something here for all members of the family. The facility has guided tours, play areas for kids, and exhibits of classic Mercedes cars and Formula 1 racecars from recent history. One exhibit to look out for is the awe-inspiring 'View Suspended'. It shows parts from a Formula One car, each hanging from a string and nicely arranged to make it appear like something out of a CAD diagram.

Day trip to Bath

Day trip to Bath

Just over two hours and thirty minutes away from London, the city of Bath is one of many places you should consider visiting to get away from the busy streets of London. Made famous by the Roman baths that have been synonymous with the city since they were built in 70 AD, the city is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Some of the baths are still available to visit, and if you do nothing else while you’re here, it’ll be worth the trip.

Beyond the baths, other attractions in the city include the Royal Crescent, a row of terraced houses showing off a wonderful example of Georgian Architecture. While the façade of the building has maintained its original look, some of the units have been converted to apartments. The unit on the east end now houses the No. 1 Royal Crescent Museum. The museum has authentic furniture, paintings, and accessories on display that showcase Georgian domestic life.

Other places to explore include Mary Shelley’s House of Frankenstein (assuming you don’t get spooked easily) and Dyrham Park, a 270-acre park with lush trees and wonderful panoramic views. If you can’t get enough of Georgian architecture, one place you must visit before leaving town is Pulteney Bridge. Completed in 1770, the alluring bridge has shops on both sides. It is one of the most photographed landmarks in Bath.

London’s variety of museums, history and tourist attractions makes it a unique travel destination. Whether you are just looking for something to do on holiday or going specifically with car enthusiast destinations in mind, London is a perfect holiday spot.

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Where to Stay

Top Luxury Hotels

Book your stay in one of London's top luxury hotels

Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park

Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park


Bulgari Hotel

Bulgari Hotel


The landmark

The landmark


The Corinthia

The Corinthia


The Lanesborough

The Lanesborough


The Ritz London

The Ritz London


Fish and Chips

Local Favorite: Fish and Chips

Fish and chips are synonymous with England, but London has long proclaimed itself as the creator of the country's national dish. Most fish and chip shops use haddock in their recipes, but cod is common too. The fish is deep-fat fried, giving it a crispy, flaky texture. Chunky chips (French fries to Americans) are combined with the meal. Oftentimes, it is served with heaping doses of salt and vinegar to add flavor. Fish and chip diehards will have a side of mushy peas with their order. Mushy peas are just what they sound like but taste better than you might expect. Fish and chips can be found at local takeaways or in pubs. If you have it in a pub, be sure to wash it down with a real English ale.

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