Touristic cities are renowned for their iconic landmarks, and London is no exception. The city is known for its old-meets-new architecture, ranging from modern structures to some of the city’s oldest buildings. Read on to discover some of London’s must-see landmarks.
Why is Westminster Abbey so famous? The landmark welcomes over a million visitors a year! It is the setting for the Royal weddings and crowning ceremonies. It is also very close to the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. That means that if you’re in the capital for a short time, you are in the best area for tourist attractions.
The church was designed and constructed in a gothic medieval style. And its rich history dates back over 1000 years. In 1050, Benedictine monks travelled to the site where the church is now, and wanted to set up a coronation church. Westminster Abbey as we know it today was constructed between 1245 and 1272. Throughout the years, the church has seen many huge events in history. Furthermore, you can also find the tombs of some of the most prominent figures in British history, such as Elizabeth I, Mary Queen of Scots and Charles Dickens but to name a few.
Within the abbey, there are 3 gardens (the Garth, the Little Cloister and College Garden and St. Catherine’s Garden). The College Garden has been cultivated for over 900 years, and you can still visit its original stone precinct wall today, built in 1376.
Tower of London
If there is a landmark you must see in London, it’s the Tower of London! It is very popular amongst tourists, so expect packed queues – but trust us, it’s worth the wait! It is also London’s most renowned castle, and is a World Heritage site. It’s an attraction that all the family can enjoy – there is something to intrigue everyone. If you are fascinated by the Tudor period, this must make your list of London stops!
Beefeaters, or Yeoman Warders, wearing the traditional uniforms, will act as your guides and take you back in time. They will tell you some of the gruesome tales of the tower’s history, and they also act as Royal guards for the monument. Back in the day, they were responsible for looking after the prisoners kept in the tower.
You can see the iconic Crown jewels up close while discovering the famous fortress, palace and prison. These are only worn for very special occasions such as at coronation ceremonies and other state events. With this beautiful attraction being in central London, unlike other castles in the UK, is extremely accessible. You can visit the tower before discovering the other landmarks on this list!
St Paul’s Cathedral
St Paul’s Cathedral is one of the most famous landmarks in London thanks to its striking dome structure. It is a strong part of British history, and has seen some of the biggest events, such as Winston Churchill’s funeral and the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana. It has dominated London’s skyline for over 300 years, after being rebuilt in the late 17th century after the Great Fire of London. Although the original cathedral dates back to 604 AD. The later version was designed by one of Britain’s greatest architects, Sir Christopher Wren, in the English baroque style.
As soon as you walk in, there is plenty to see! The Great West Doors are 30 feet tall and are pretty impressive! These doors are used for the arrival of special guests such as the Queen or the Mayor of London. Stop to admire the beautiful organ, which has been part of the cathedral since 1695. It has 7189 pipes, five keyboards and 138 organ stops.
You can see the dome for yourself, by climbing up the 528 steps to enjoy a panoramic view of London. The cathedral looks down on London from the highest point in the city. Did you know it is the second largest cathedral dome in the world?
The London Eye is one of the first things you notice when studying your surroundings in London. It is a noticeable part of London’s landscape. It offers a 360° panoramic view of the city that constantly changes as you move. From this London landmark, admire the Thames, the hustle and bustle of central London, as well as its striking skyline. On a clear day, you can even spot Windsor Castle from here!
The London Eye is a fairly recent addition to London, having opened in 2000 to see in the new millennium. Originally a temporary attraction, no one can now imagine London without it! It is now renowned for its New Year Eve’s event, where you can see fireworks and grab a drink to celebrate the new year.
The landmark is 443 feet high, and once you’re in one of its 32 high-tech glass capsules, it takes 30 minutes to work your way around. It is the world’s tallest cantilevered observation wheel. It is also very close to London’s best landmarks – it’s just a short walk from Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace.
If you’re fascinated by the Royal family, then you will love exploring the grounds of Kensington Palace! It was the birthplace of Queen Victoria, and has been the home to young royals for the last 300 years, including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge! Though you can’t visit their part of the Palace, you can still walk through the King’s State Apartments, the Queen’s State Apartments and the gardens. Throughout the years, the palace has been influenced by many iconic royal women.
King William and Queen Mary asked Sir Christopher Wren, who also was the architect of St Paul’s Cathedral, to turn Nottingham House into a palace. This project was finished within 6 months and the royal family moved into Kensington Palace on Christmas Eve 1689. They eventually opened the gardens to the public on Sundays when they would go to Richmond.
In later years, Princess Diana had an apartment here from 1981 to 1997. There are several tributes to Diana throughout the palace and gardens, such as the Memorial Playground. Currently, there is an exhibition on the royal’s fashion and the process behind some of the most iconic designs, including Princess Diana’s wedding dress.
Chinatown is the perfect example of London’s cultural diversity. Just round the corner from Leicester Square and Oxford Street, hit Chinatown on your shopping spree! There are some of London’s greatest restaurants here, including Four Seasons, which is renowned for having the “best duck in the world”! You just have to try it! You can also try the Instagrammable Bubble Wrap, known for its “bubble waffles” that you can customize with all your favorite toppings.
Other than food, Chinatown is also known for selling Asian cosmetics and Chinese trinkets and gifts. You should definitely visit this area for the Chinese New Year. There are plenty of festivities that take place across the West End down to Trafalgar Square. There are activities and food treats to discover in Chinatown during this period, and you can also watch the Chinese New Year parade! You will be in awe of the colorful floats and the Chinese lions and dragons that will travel across London!
The Shard is the tallest building in Western Europe, so if you want an amazing view of London, then discover the city from its highest viewpoint. Get the elevator up the 72 stories to discover a stunning panoramic view of the capital. You can enjoy a glass while you’re taking in the incredible scenery. We recommend ensuring that you are visiting on a clear day to really make the most of the views. From up here, you can see Canary Wharf, the Olympic Park and the Gherkin.
This is another very recent addition to London’s cityscape, having opened in 2013. It was designed by Italian architect, Renzo Piano, and was inspired by London’s railway lines. Its 11,000 panes of angled glass change the appearance of the tower according to the weather. It truly is an architectural wonder!
You can enjoy an evening at one of its various restaurants and bars, and it is also a working space for several companies. Plus, it’s the home to the Shangri-La hotel, bringing even more luxe to your experience! Eat at the hotel’s restaurant, Ting, to enjoy a rotating view of London as you dine. If you want a stay worthy of the rich and famous, then spend the night at the hotel and enjoy its gold-rimmed infinity pool! The hotel has brought a bit of Qatar to the Shard!