Explore London

London Travel Guide

Whether you arrive in London via the underground or inside one of the city's ubiquitous black taxicabs, you will immediately be greeted by a deep sense of history and met with the unique vibrancy of this incredible destination.<br /><br /> In its dark and troubled past, the city of London has survived Roman occupancy, sackings from the Celts, Romans, Vikings and Saxons, a Norman invasion, two great fires, the bubonic plague, Nazi bombings, the Spice Girls and Damien Hirst.<br /><br /> This resilient and proud city promises something for everyone and is one of the iconic tourist destinations. The London Eye lifts visitors high above the river into stretching urban vistas. Further down on the South Bank, the Tate Modern contains one of the world's most incredible collections of Modern Art, while the city's 30,000 stores and boutiques will exhaust even the most avid shopper, and its 6,000 restaurants are only too eager to demonstrate why Britons revere their chefs as celebrities.<br /><br /> For those interested in exploring the country's heritage, the Tower of London is an excellent starting-point. First constructed in the 11th century, the Tower has been rebuilt several times as later monarchs have left their mark. Still one of London's biggest attractions, and a great celebration of pomp that is free to all visitors, is the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, which happens daily.<br /><br /> As the great dome of St Paul's reflects the colours of the setting sun, London comes alive with an unrivalled nightlife. For those up for something more energetic than dinner and the West End musicals and theatre, London has a vast number of bars and nightclubs catering to all tastes.<br /><br />

Madame Tussauds

Address: Marylebone Road London

Admission: £34 (adults), £29.50 (children). Note that you can save substantially by booking online. Open daily 9.30am to 5.30pm (9am to 6pm on weekends and during UK school holidays).

Madame Tussauds is the most famous wax museum gallery in the world, with more than 400 life-sized models of stars, famous politicians, royals, comic book characters and sportsmen, as well as exhibits presenting the most infamous criminals the world has known. Inside the museum, the 'Spirit of London' ride will take you through the city's history, introducing you to those figures that have shaped the London of today, while the 'A-list Party' section will introduce you to the museum's collection of celebrities, and the 'Scream' exhibition will terrify and delight visitors in equal measure. A must-see tourist sight in London, visitors are advised to book their tickets online in advance, as the queues for tickets outside Madame Tussauds can be very long.<br /><br />

Tower of London

Address: Tower Hill London

Admission: £24.50 (adults), £11 (children under 16); concessions and discounts for advance/online booking available. Tuesday to Saturday, 9am-5.30pm; Sunday to Monday, 10am-5.30pm. Opening hours are slightly reduced in winter.

Telephone: +44 (0)20 3166 6000

The Tower of London is perhaps as famous for its traditions as its imposing structure, located on the Thames River. It is guarded by a special band of Yeoman Warders, known as Beefeaters, and dotted with several large, black birds - the ravens. Legend has it that if the ravens ever leave the Tower, a great tragedy will befall England, and to this day the birds are protected by royal decree. The Tower's history dates back to the 11th century, and each new monarch has played a role in its growth and development. It also houses Britain's famous crown jewels, a spectacular display of some of the world's finest gems and workmanship. The Tower is next to Tower Bridge, another famous London landmark.<br /><br />

Abbey Road Studios

Address: 3 Abbey Road, St Johns Wood London

The Beatles' 1969 album Abbey Road was recorded at this unassuming studio in St John's Wood, London. While many other famous bands, including Pink Floyd, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, U2, Kate Bush, Radiohead, Oasis and Sting, all recorded tracks here, it is almost always the Beatles fans who make the pilgrimage to take their pictures walking across the famous zebra crossing on Abbey Road, which featured on the album cover. The studio building itself is a Grade II listed building, and is not open to the public. There is some fan graffiti and some Beatles-themed coffee shops and the like near the studio, but tourists shouldn't go expecting much to see and do; it is simply a famous London landmark for lovers of rock music.<br /><br />

Speakers Corner at Hyde Park

Address: London London

Admission: Free admission Open daily from 5am to midnight. Speaker's Corner held on Sundays, from mid-morning to late afternoon

Located right in the middle of London, Hyde Park is a huge patch of green and blue tranquillity in the midst of the bustling city. Covering 350 acres, it features restaurants, fountains, monuments and flower gardens, and offers a range of activities including ice skating, swimming, boating, tennis, cycling and horse riding. There are also playgrounds for children and spaces for team sports.<br /><br /> One of Hyde Park's most famous attractions is Speaker's Corner, where people of all opinions come to share them freely. While Speaker's Corner attracts its fair share of crackpots, there are usually lively debates, and famous personalities like Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin and George Orwell were participants in their day.<br /><br />

Tate Modern

Address: Bankside London

Admission: Free admission, though fees may be charged for major temporary exhibitions Open Sunday to Thursday 10am to 6pm; Friday and Saturday 10am to 10pm. Last admission is 45 minutes before the closing time.

Telephone: (0)20 7887 8888

Housed in the former Bankside Power Station, which has been transformed by Swiss Architects Herzog &amp; de Meuron into a spectacular new modern building, the Tate Modern is Britain's greatest museum of modern art. It showcases an exhaustive collection, featuring works from 1900 to the present day, including works by Dalí, Picasso, Matisse, Rothko and Warhol, as well as temporary exhibitions by contemporary artists. There is also an exceptional roof café, which affords spectacular views over London, and an impressive gift shop. A must-see attraction for visitors to London, you will be sorely remiss to pass up a visit to the Tate Modern.<br /><br />

National Gallery

Address: Trafalgar Square London

Admission: Free admission to the permanent collection, but special temporary exhibitions may charge a fee Open daily, from 10am to 6pm (until 9pm on Fridays)

Telephone: (0)20 7747 2885

The National Gallery has an imposing and regal façade stretching across the northern side of Trafalgar Square, and houses over 2,300 paintings from every major European school of painting from the 13th to the 19th centuries. It was opened in 1938 at its present location, which was chosen for its situation between London's wealthier West End and poorer East End, as a 'gallery for all'. These days, admission to the National Gallery is still free, and its cultural programme has swelled to include weekly classical music concerts, an on-site cinema, and a variety of excellent themed gallery tours. There are also restaurants and coffee bars to choose from in the National Gallery, in case you need to refuel while perusing the magnificent art on display.<br /><br />

British Museum

Address: Great Russell Street London

Admission: Free admission, although special exhibitions may charge a fee Open daily, from 10am to 5.30pm (till 8.30pm on Fridays).

Telephone: (0)20 7323 8299

The British Museum is widely regarded as the world's greatest museum of human history and culture. Containing more than 13 million artefacts from all corners of the globe, the British Museum boasts an overwhelming collection of fascinating objects. Most prized among its collection are its famous antiquities, which include the Parthenon Frieze (or Elgin Marbles), the Rosetta Stone and the Roman Portland Vase, which dates from the 1st century AD. The iconic Great Court with its incredible glass roof covering two acres greets visitors as they enter, and stairwells lead down to the Reading Room, which has been completely restored. Visitors to London should not miss out on the British Museum, which is one of the world's great cultural troves. Budget at least half a day to get a sense of the wealth of history housed within the museum, and don't be surprised if you actually need about three full days to take it all in!<br /><br />

London Eye

Address: Thames South Bank London

Admission: There are a variety of ticket options, check the website for details. Standard adult tickets start from £20 if booked online. Open every day of the week. Opening times vary according to season and month - check the website for details.

At 443ft (135m) tall, and weighing more than 250 double-decker buses, the London Eye is a truly spectacular feature of London's skyline. Offering incredible views of most of London's major attractions, and an opportunity to put the city's geography into perspective, it is a must-see attraction for first-time visitors to England's capital city. Originally designed by architects David Marks and Julia Barfield as an entry for a Millennium Landmark competition, the project took six years and the expertise of hundreds of people from five European countries to turn it into a reality. Often featured in big-budget movies, and regularly touted as one of the best things to see and experience in London, make sure you include a ride on the London Eye in your UK holiday itinerary. Wheelchair-bound visitors will be delighted to know that both the London Eye and all its on-site facilities are fully accessible.<br /><br />

Shakespeares Globe Theatre

Address: 21 New Globe Walk, Bankside London

Admission: Ticket prices for performances and tours vary - check the official website for details. Opening hours vary throughout the year, but are generally from 9am to 5pm daily. Please call ahead to confirm opening hours before your visit.

Telephone: 020 7902 1409

Situated on the bank of the Thames, just 656ft (200m) from the site of Shakespeare's original Globe Theatre, this fantastic recreation will transport visitors back to the time of the very first productions of Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet and Twelfth Night. The reconstruction took a total of 10 years to complete at a cost of over £40 million, and now houses a professional theatre company responsible for regular productions of the Bard's famous plays. Adjacent to the theatre is the Globe Exhibition, presenting graphic information about the reconstruction of the theatre, and bringing to the fore the life and works of Shakespeare with interactive displays and live demonstrations. Visits to the exhibition include a tour of the theatre. Tours depart roughly every 30 minutes.<br /><br />

Buckingham Palace and the Queens Gallery

Address: Buckingham Palace Road London

Admission: A variety of tours and tickets are available, with different prices for specific sections - check the website for details. The State Rooms are open to visitors for a number of weeks every summer, between June and October. Sometimes the State Rooms and other areas are opened to the public on other occasions. Check website for details.

No visit to London would be complete without experiencing the pomp and ceremony of the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, but now visitors can actually get a peek inside during the annual summer opening of the State Rooms, and see some of the Queen's private art collection at the Queen's Gallery (which also hosts various art exhibitions). Originally the town house of the Dukes of Buckingham, Buckingham Palace has served as the official London home of Britain's monarchs since 1837. Look to see whether the Royal Standard (not the Union Flag) is flying, which indicates that the Queen is in residence.<br /><br />

Harrods

Address: 87-135 Brompton Road, Knightsbridge London

Admission: Open Monday to Saturday, with reduced hours on Sunday.

Harrods, which proprietor Mohamed Al Fayed calls his 'Palace in Knightsbridge', promises one of the most extravagant and luxurious shopping experiences in the world. With 22 restaurants, and a wide range of departments and services across its seven floors, it is easy to see why this is the shopping choice of London's social elite. With its prominent position on Brompton Road, Harrods is hard to miss - especially at night, when the entire façade is illuminated by a grand total of 11,500 light bulbs. The UK's biggest store by a long, long way, Harrods certainly makes good on its motto Omnia Omnibus Ubique - All Things for All People, Everywhere.<br /><br />

Camden Market

Address: Camden Lock, Chalk Farm Road London

Admission: Free The stalls are open daily, from about 10am to 6pm

Camden Market is one of the most exciting shopping experiences London has to offer. Even if you're just browsing, Camden Market is still definitely worth a visit for its huge variety of food, antiques, bric-a-brac and clothing stalls, bars, nightspots and crowds of people ranging from the beautiful to the bizarre. Although the punk scene in London has gone underground, it still seems to flourish here, and you're sure to bump into some interesting characters. Just be sure to ask permission before photographing anyone. Boat rides are also available on the canal which passes through Camden Lock - a fun way to spend some time between browsing the stalls. Although Camden attracts mostly the young and trendy, the market has become more commercial and mainstream than it once was and some real bargains can be found.<br /><br />

Greenwich

Address: London

Admission: Admission costs vary for the different museums and exhibitions and various combination tickets are available. Opening times vary for each attraction - check the website for details.

Greenwich is the home of the Greenwich (or Prime) Meridian, which splits the globe into East and West, and is responsible for setting the world clock on zero degrees longitude. Apart from this curious distinction (which has earned Greenwich UNESCO World Heritage Site status), Greenwich has a host of other attractions, including the Greenwich Market with its variety of arts, crafts, food and bric-a-brac, Sir Christopher Wren's Royal Observatory, and the National Maritime Museum. Greenwich Park is beautifully landscaped and is an ideal location for a picnic lunch. The famous tea-clipper ship, the Cutty Sark, was damaged by a fire in 2007 but has been extensively restored and is once again open to the public.<br /><br />

London Dungeons

Address: County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road London

Admission: £26.95 (adults), £21.95 (children under 15). Concessions and group tickets are available. Discounts for booking online. Opening times vary throughout the year, check the website for details. Generally, however, London Dungeon is open from 10am to 5pm every day.

Take a trip through London's dark and gruesome history, meet Jack the Ripper and see what became of his victims, or see the chaos and destruction caused by the great fire of London. The London Dungeon brings history's most notorious killers and evildoers back to life in an experience definitely not for the faint-hearted. Beware: some of the exhibitions have a nasty way of coming alive and jumping out at the unsuspecting visitor! The tours last about 90 minutes and are very funny as well as scary. Adults need not be ashamed of visiting without kids!<br /><br />

St Pauls Cathedral

Address: St Pauls Churchyard London

Admission: £18 (adults); £8 (children 6-17). Family tickets are also available, check the website for details Open from Monday to Saturday, from 8.30am to 4.30pm. Note that the Cathedral may be closed to tourists at any time due to special services or events, so it is always advisable to enquire before visiting

Telephone: (0)20 7246 8357

The great dome of St Paul's Cathedral has been a distinctive landmark on the London skyline for centuries. Built in 1673 by Sir Christopher Wren, after the previous St Paul's was burnt to the ground during the Great Fire of London, it is the greatest of several cathedrals dedicated to St Paul that have occupied the site for more than 1,400 years. The crypt at St Paul's is one of the largest in Europe, and it houses more than 200 tombs, including those of Admiral Nelson, the Duke of Wellington and Wren himself. The Cathedral has hosted many significant ceremonies in London's history, including the funeral of Sir Winston Churchill and the marriage of Prince Charles and Lady Diana.<br /><br />

Piccadilly Circus

Address: London

Surrounded by neon advertising and fast-food restaurants, Piccadilly Circus is London's answer to New York's Times Square and, at the junction of Piccadilly, Regent Street and Shaftesbury Avenue, it is the gateway to the West End. With its highly accessible tube station, Piccadilly Circus is a good starting point for those wanting to enjoy London's finest shopping district, being near to Jermyn Street, Saville Row, Regent Street and Bond Street. London's Theatreland is centred on nearby Shaftsbury Avenue, and Soho and China Town are also within easy walking distance. Piccadilly Circus is one of London's meeting points, an atmospheric hub conveniently providing access to a number of famous attractions and streets.<br /><br />

Canterbury

Address: London

The historic cathedral city of Canterbury, with its narrow streets and walkways, is best explored on foot. It is the home of Christianity in England, and has been the ultimate destination for pilgrimages in England for centuries, as described in Chaucer's famous Canterbury Tales. The imposing Canterbury Cathedral is one of the most impressive and evocative in England. It was here that Thomas Becket was martyred in 1170. Visitors can explore the ruins of the original abbey of St Augustine, who brought Christianity to England more than 1,400 years ago, or visit the Canterbury Tales Pageant and meet some of Chaucer's famous characters. For an insight into the cities of medieval England climb the original West Gate Tower, which is still intact, and provides breathtaking views across the city.<br /><br />

Leeds Castle

Address: Maidstone, Kent London

Admission: £24 (adults), £16 (children 4-15). Concessions are available, check the website for details. 10.30am to 6pm daily, last admission at 4.30pm (April to September); 10.30am to 5pm daily, last admission at 3pm (October to March).

Set above a lake in a picturesque valley near the town of Maidstone in Kent, with imposing battlements and a 500-hectare Tudor garden, Leeds Castle proudly describes itself as 'the loveliest castle in the world'. Once a residence of British Queens and a playground for King Henry VIII, it has been open to the public for 25 years, revealing the majesty of a bygone age. With so much to explore, Leeds Castle requires a full day for visitors to tour the castle, get lost in the garden maze, and dine in one of the excellent restaurants or quaint tea rooms. A highly recommended day-trip for visitors to the UK.<br /><br />

Windsor Castle

Address: Windsor London

Admission: £20 (adults), £11.70 (children under 17). Concessions and group tickets available, please check the website for details. Generally open daily, from 9.45am to 5.15pm (March to October), and 9.45am to 4.15pm (November to February). Please check the website for the full opening hours schedule.

The charming town of Windsor sits on the River Thames, 20 miles (32km) west of London, and is dominated by the magnificent Windsor Castle, the world's largest and oldest occupied castle. The castle was built by William the Conqueror almost a thousand years ago, and has been lived in by English monarchs ever since. Although Buckingham Palace is the Queen's best-known residence, Windsor is her favourite, and is where the royal family spend their weekends.<br /><br /> Highlights in the castle include the wonderful State Apartments and the Waterloo Chamber, built to commemorate the British victory over Napoleon at Waterloo. St George's Chapel is one of the finest examples of Perpendicular Gothic architecture in the world, and contains the tombs of numerous English sovereigns including King Henry VIII, Jane Seymour, Charles I and King George V. Many of the castle's rooms contain priceless works of art, including pieces by Rubens, Holbein, Van Dyke, Rembrandt and Lawrence, as well as fine tapestries and porcelain, sculpture and armour. The 500-acre (200-hectare) Home Park sits at the back of the castle and includes the site of Frogmore, where Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were laid to rest. Beyond is the vast expanse of Windsor Great Park, a popular place for walkers. Over the river from Windsor is Eton College, the world-famous school founded by Henry VI in 1440.<br /><br />

Hampton Court Palace

Address: East Molesey, Surrey London

Admission: £18.20 (adults), £9.10 (children under 16). Concessions and family tickets are available, check the website for details. Opening times vary season to season; check the official website for details.

Telephone: +44 (0)20 3166 6000

Situated on the banks of the River Thames, 14 miles (23km) southwest of London, Hampton Court is perhaps the most spectacular royal palace in England, and makes a wonderful day-trip destination from the capital. The palace was built by Cardinal Wolsey in the early 1500s, but later it became King Henry VIII's principal residence and remained the centre of royal and political life in England until 1737. Visitors can see King Henry VIII's Great Hall; King William III's State Apartments, designed by Wren and completed in 1700; and the unmissable Tudor Kitchens, which remain largely unchanged since the 16th century and were no doubt once used to cater for raucous banquets. There is also a fun and exciting 'Ghost Family Trail' tour through the palace that will delight younger visitors. However, Hampton Court is still probably most famous for its grounds and their outstanding hedge maze - called 'the most famous Maze in the history of the world, and immeasurably the one most visited' by Ernest Law - which has entertained children since it was planted in 1705.<br /><br />

West End Shows

Address: The Strand, Oxford Street, Regent Street and Kingsway London

There are always plenty of child-friendly musicals and shows playing on London's West End, perfect for family holidaymakers looking to soak up some of the great atmosphere of London's Theatre District. Some West End favourites include The Lion King, Roald Dahl's and Shrek: the Musical, best enjoyed with tons of ice-cream, fizzy drinks and popcorn! Taking in a theatrical performance on London's West End is one of the iconic tourist experiences that the city has to offer, for children and adults alike, and will be a spectacular amusement for the whole family.<br /><br />

Hamleys

Address: Regent Street, London London

Children will love visiting this world-renowned toy store, located in the heart of London on famous, bustling Regent Street. Hamleys is one of the world's largest toy stores, with six floors of magical, cutting-edge toys and games. The store draws over five million visitors each year and is worth a look even if you're just browsing. The Lego collection at Hamleys (located in the basement area) must be seen to be believed. There are helpful and entertaining service staff all over Hamleys eager to show off new toys and play with the kids - the only difficulty for parents is getting out without buying numerous presents!<br /><br />

London Zoo

Address: Outer Circle, Regents Park London

Admission: Prices vary according to the season, check the website for details. In peak season (summer), prices are £26.70 (adults) and £19.40 (children aged 3 - 15). Discounts for online bookings. Opening times vary according to the season, check the website for details. In general, however, the Zoo is open every day of the week, from 10am until at least 5pm

Telephone: 0344 225 1826

Boasting a plethora of exciting, cute and fuzzy animals from over 750 species, the London Zoo is a must for all children and animal lovers. Kids will love the Animal Adventure area, where they can climb, touch, tunnel and splash their way through the zoo discovering animals along the way. Other great habitat areas at London Zoo include Gorilla Kingdom, Penguin Beach, Britain's only (man-made) rainforest area, and a komodo dragon enclosure. The recipient of a Gold Award from the Visit London tourism initiative, the London Zoo is a fail-safe choice for a day of family fun and excitement. Be sure to check the website before you go, as the zoo regularly plays host to a variety of interesting exhibitions, festivals and events.<br /><br />

London Science Museum

Address: Exhibition Road, South Kensington London

Admission: Free, though charges apply for the IMAX theatre, the flight simulators, and some special exhibitions Open daily, from 10am to 6pm.

Telephone: 0870 870 4868

Perfect for inquisitive children, the Science Museum will captivate, educate and thrill kids of all ages. Featuring dozens of state-of-the-art exhibits, the Science Museum also features a 3D IMAX Theatre. The Museum's rotating exhibitions are topical and intriguing ensuring that kids can visit many times and always learn something new and relevant to their world. Other popular attractions include a Hidden Heroes exhibit, showcasing everyday technological items that are often taken for granted; and a Futurecade area, where kids can play simulation games that speculate about future scientific advancements and how they might affect life on earth as we know it.<br /><br />

Chessington World of Adventures

Address: Leatherhead Road London

Admission: £47 (adults), £43 (children aged 3 - 11). Combination and discount tickets are available as are tickets for single sections of the park. Discounts for booking online. Opening times vary according to the season (check website for details), but are generally from 10am to 5pm most days

Telephone: 0871 663 4477

Located in southwest London, Chessington World of Adventures is a theme park and zoo catering to children of all ages. Featuring rides, roller coasters and two water slides, this theme park is best visited during the summer months. The zoo, however, is open all year round. A new 'African Adventure' themed area is already proving wildly popular among kids, who'll be able to observe magnificent creatures such as lions, zebras and oryxes, as well as enjoy some traditional African mask displays and listen to some African drumming performances.<br /><br />

Westminster Abbey

Address: 20 Deans Yard, London London

Admission: £20 (adults), £9 (children 11-18), Free for children under 11 years of age when accompanied by an adult. Other concessions available, please check the website for details Opening times vary and the church may be closed for special services on any day. Generally: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 9.30am to 3.30pm; on Wednesday from 9.30am to 7pm; and on Saturday from 9.30am to 2.30pm. Note that Westminster Abbey is not open to tourists on Sundays.

Telephone: (0)20 7222 5152

This church in the heart of the city is one of London's top tourist attractions, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and rivals Notre Dame for the accolade of most famous church in the world. Westminster Abbey draws millions of tourists each year, in addition to the locals who worship there every week. The abbey is the site of royal coronations and weddings (including Prince William's wedding to Kate Middleton in April 2011). Visitors can marvel at the Gothic architecture, enormous stained-glass windows and paintings that go back 1,000 years, and guided tours are available in several languages. A fantastic sight, Westminster Abbey is a must for visitors looking to experience the heart and soul of England's rich cultural history. Anybody is free to attend the regular religious services held in Westminster Abbey and tourists are also welcome between certain hours.<br /><br />

Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament

Address: Palace of Westminster, House of Commons, London London

Originally built for Edward the Confessor more than 1,000 years ago, the Houses of Parliament, or Palace of Westminster, remained the principal residence of Britain's monarchs for the next 400 years. Thereafter, it became the administrative centre of the country. In 1834 the Great Fire burnt everything except Westminster Hall, and the present Gothic building was completed in the 1840s. It is perhaps most famous for the clock tower, commonly called Big Ben. Located at the north end of the Palace of Westminster in London, the gigantic clock tower has many distinctions: it is the largest four-faced clock, and third-largest freestanding clock in the world. Built in 1859, each minute hand is 14 feet (4.3m) long, and the largest bell inside weighs more than 13 tons. Although Parliament is closed to visitors during session, it is still a popular attraction for tourists because of its picturesque exterior. While Big Ben itself is not open to overseas visitors, UK residents may arrange tours with a local Member of Parliament. Be warned, though, inside the clock tower there are 334 stairs and no lift! Check the website to see what tours of parliament are available and when.<br /><br />

Tower Bridge

Address: Tower Bridge Road, London London

Admission: £9 (adults), £3.90 (children 5-15). Children under the age of 5 are admitted free of charge. Concessions available. Open daily, from 10am to 5.30pm (April to September), and from 9.30am to 5pm (October to March).

Telephone: (0)20 7403 3761

The twin spires of the iconic drawbridge known as Tower Bridge stand 213 feet (65m) above the Thames River, and form one of the most popular tourist attractions in London. Often mistakenly referred to as London Bridge (which is a bit further upstream), Tower Bridge functions as both a roadway and a major tourist sight, and provides a magnificent view of downtown London from its upper walkway. Inside is the Tower Bridge Exhibition, which showcases the Victorian engine that powers the drawbridge, as well as a series of informative displays detailing the history of Tower Bridge, which stretches back to 1886.<br /><br />

Victoria and Albert Museum

Address: Cromwell Road, London London

Admission: Free admission, though some temporary exhibitions may charge an entrance fee Open daily, from 10am to 5.45pm (until 10pm on Fridays)

Telephone: (0)20 7942 2000

Originally known as the Museum of Manufacture, the Victoria and Albert Museum (or V&amp;A Museum, as it is popularly known) in London is a veritable treasure-trove of artefacts from cultures around the world. Devoted to art and design, it houses more than 27,000 works, including paintings, photographs, sculptures, textiles, furniture, metalwork, ceramics and fashion going back 3,000 years. The V&amp;A Museum also hosts regular family activities and workshops, and has an on-site sculpture garden. A must-see tourist attraction in London, the Victoria and Albert Museum is a wonderful place to spend an afternoon, poring over fascinating items and learning more about the world's cultural bounty.<br /><br />

Natural History Museum

Address: Exhibition Road, south London London

Admission: Free admission, though temporary exhibitions may charge a fee Open daily from 10am to 5.50pm. Last admission is at 5.30pm

Telephone: (0)20 7942 5000

The Natural History Museum is one of England's very best tourist attractions. Located on Exhibition Road in South Kensington, the Natural History Museum truly will appeal to everyone, from excitable kids to discerning adults. Housed in a gorgeous Romanesque building, the Natural History Museum has often been described as a 'cathedral of nature', boasting fascinating collections magnificently displayed beneath vaulted ceilings. As soon as you step foot inside the museum, you are greeted by its most famous attraction - the cast of a giant diplodocus looming over you. The Natural History Museum has one of the world's greatest collections of prehistoric fossils and remains, and is home to a series of animatronic dinosaurs that will spellbind kids.<br /><br /> The Museum is divided into four 'zones' for ease of navigation. The Blue Zone deals mainly with animals, and (along with the dinosaurs) is famous for its life-size model of a blue whale that hangs from the ceiling, and its sabre-tooth tiger skeleton. The Green Zone presents exhibitions that focus on plants, insects and ecology, including a termite mound and a cross-section of the world's largest tree, the California redwood. The Red Zone takes a look at the earth's subterranean processes: visitors can try out the earthquake simulator, be moved by the Pompeii exhibition, and ogle at an enormous collection of gemstones, minerals and rocks. Finally, the Orange Zone - built in 2008 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Darwin's Origin of the Species - is primarily a research centre, but also features several cutting-edge exhibitions that will thrill visitors, including the Attenborough Studio, where audio-visual shows are staged.<br /><br /> A sure-fire winner of a tourist attraction, the Natural History Museum should feature on any holidaymaker's list of things to do in London. Budget at least three or four hours to do the museum's collection justice.<br /><br />

Borough Market

Address: Southwark Street, south London London

Admission: Free admission Full Market open Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10am to 5pm; Fridays from 10am to 6pm; Saturdays from 8am to 5pm. Lunch Market open Monday and Tuesday from 10am to 5pm.

The Borough Market, located on Southwark Street at the southern end of London Bridge, is one of the United Kingdom's premier food markets, and a simply wonderful place to ramble around and find some delicious treats to fuel the day's sightseeing. What distinguishes the Borough Market is its community-centred atmosphere, with most of the stallholders either being producers themselves, or possessing intimate knowledge of the goods they are selling. Visitors are encouraged to chat to the stallholders about their produce, and to find out more about the fresh fruit and vegetables, cheeses, jams, meats and artisanal breads and pastries that are so lovingly and elegantly displayed. Perfectly situated, the Borough Market makes a great pit-stop on any walking tour of south-central London's tourist attractions. The Borough Market is also a great place to shop for special souvenirs for loved ones back home.<br /><br />

Imperial War Museum

Address: Lambeth Road, London London

Admission: Free admission, though temporary exhibitions might charge a fee Open daily from 10am to 6pm. Last admission is at 5.30pm

Telephone: 020 7416 5000

An absolute must for history buffs, London's Imperial War Museum endeavours to give visitors an understanding of modern warfare, and an appreciation of its effects on both individuals and societies at large. The Imperial War Museum is, in fact, a 'family' of five museums, three of which are located in London. The flagship museum is found in Lambeth Road in south London, and features a unique collection of art, films, photographs, sound recordings, writings and objects that preserve the reactions and memories of Britons who have lived through wartime conditions.<br /><br /> The Churchill War Rooms, located in King Charles Street, form another fascinating branch of the Imperial War Museum. These bunkers housed the British heads of state during the Blitz, and today offer visitors a truly incredible trip back in time, where they can navigate the underground mazes and view charts and maps that haven't been touched since 1945.<br /><br /> The last of the Imperial War Museum branches in London is the HMS Belfast, a warship that is moored in the Thames. Tours of the HMS Belfast take in the gun turrets, the mess decks and the clamorous bowels of the ship, and provide an exciting and educational experience that will be appreciated by visitors of all ages. A highly recommended sight, all three London branches of the Imperial War Museum can be visited in a day.<br /><br /> <br /><br />

London Marathon

Where: Starts in Greenwich Park and ends in the Mall,London

When: 23 April 2017

The Virgin Money London Marathon (commonly known as simply the London Marathon) is a 26.2 mile (42km) race from Greenwich Park to the Mall, passing by many famous London landmarks including the Cutty Sark, Canary Wharf, the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace and Big Ben. Around 30,000 professional and amateur runners compete every year, many dressed in fancy dress to raise money for charity. The route is lined with spectators and the race has a very festive atmosphere. As it is an extremely popular marathon, it is worth booking as far in advance as possible.<br /><br />

Chelsea Flower Show

Where: Show grounds at the Royal Hospital, Chelsea,London

When: 23 - 27 May 2017

The Chelsea Flower Show is an annual event organised by the Royal Horticultural Society and, since its inception in 1913, has been recognised as the foremost show of its kind in the world. An immensely popular event, the show draws crowds of thousands every year with its colourful and beautifully sculptured displays. Experts from the Royal Horticultural Society are on hand, ready to impart gardening advice to the show's many visitors. Tickets can be bought via the website and visitors are advised to book early to avoid disappointment.<br /><br />

Trooping the Colour (Queens Birthday Parade)

Where: Horse Guards Parade,London

When: 17 June 2017

The ceremony of the Trooping the Colour (or Queen's Birthday Parade) takes place each year on the Queen's birthday and dates back to the time of Charles II in the 17th century. Although the Queen was actually born on 21 April, her official birthday is celebrated in the summer, when the weather is better. The parade begins with one of the Foot Guard regiments of the Household Division escorting their regimental colour, before giving the Queen a salute in front of Buckingham Palace, and is followed by a march of the Massed Bands before the Queen is escorted back home by the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment on their magnificent black chargers.<br /><br />

Wimbledon Tennis Championships

Where: All England Lawn Tennis &amp; Croquet Club,London

When: 3 - 16 July 2017

The Wimbledon Championships are the highlight of the year's tennis calendar, bringing together the world's leading tennis professionals in a battle for glory. The first championship event at Wimbledon dates back to 1877, but the first Ladies' Singles championship was only introduced in 1884. Since then the tradition of strawberries and cream on centre court has been enjoyed by thousands of fans from around the world. The Wimbledon Championships are the most famous of the four tournaments known as the 'Grand Slam' and many fans of the sport make the pilgrimage to London to watch their favourite players battle it out on the famous grass courts.<br /><br />

Notting Hill Carnival

Where: Notting Hill,London

When: 25 - 27 August 2017

The first Notting Hill Carnival took place in 1964 when London's Caribbean community introduced the carnival to ease racial tensions. Since then it has become a popular and colourful annual event celebrated by more than two million Londoners of all backgrounds. It is said to be the world's second largest street party after the Rio Carnival held in Brazil. The carnival consists of costume parades, a steel band, jazz and reggae performances, and countless street vendors selling exotic Caribbean food, as well as a rollicking street party which attracts people from all walks of life. For more information, check out the official website listed below.<br /><br />

Lord Mayors Show

Where: Central London, between Mansion House and Aldwych,London

When: 11 November 2017

The Lord Mayor's Show is an annual event held in the City of London when the Mayor makes his way from Mansion House to the Royal Courts of Justice to swear allegiance to the crown. The procession has been marked by each Lord Mayor since 1215, including Dick Whittington (famous for having a cat). Since then the journey has grown into a rich pageant, ending with a magnificent fireworks display over the Thames. The parade has proven extremely resilient - being held through war and plague - and is now one of the world's most beloved processions, attracting about half a million people and watched on the BBC by millions the world over.<br /><br />

Changing of the Guard

Where: Buckingham Palace and Horse Guards Parade,London

When: Daily April - July, alternate days the rest of the year

This is one of the oldest and most familiar of all royal ceremonies. Every other day, a throng of tourists gather outside Buckingham Palace to watch the exchange of duty between the Old Guard and the New Guard. The Foot Guards wear their traditional uniforms, complete with bearskins, but carry modern weapons as their role is practical as well as ceremonial. The handover is accompanied by a band from one of the five Foot Guard regiments who play anything from traditional military marches to pop tunes. Guard Mounting also takes place daily at the same time at Windsor Castle and the Tower of London. The Changing of the Queen's Life Guards involves the handover of duty between the two mounted regiments, the Blues and Royals, and the Life Guards. When the Queen is in residence (most weekdays), it is more flamboyant as the Captain of the Guard and trumpeter lead the procession.<br /><br /> The Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace takes place daily at 11.30am between April and July, and on alternating days the rest of the year. It is always best to check the calndar for the exact times of the changing of the guard because adjustments are sometimes made to the schedule.<br /><br />

Carling Weekend Reading

Where: Reading,London

When: 25 - 27 Aug 2017

One of the English summer's great festivals of music, Carling Weekend boasts many of the biggest names in Pop/Rock/Indie/Folk and Comedy. The Carling-sponsored event is increasing in popularity each year and tens of thousands make their way to the fields to enjoy the finest in popular and world music. The festival normally falls on the bank holiday weekend in August. Over the same weekend, a sibling festival is held in Leeds. Headliners like Blink 182, Arcade Fire, Nirvana, Queens of the Stone Age, Blur, the Kaiser Chiefs, Bonnie Tyler, Muse and Eminem have drawn massive crowds.<br /><br />

Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race

Where: Thames River from Putney Bridge to Chiswick Bridge,London

When: 2 April 2017

An annual tradition since 1829, the rowing race between two of Britain's oldest university sides creates a festival atmosphere along the banks of the Thames between Putney and Mortlake. Thousands of people gather at various vantage points along the riverbank, many of them conveniently close to pubs, to watch the famous four-and-a-quarter mile race that marks the beginning of the English social season. This famous sporting event is a huge thrill to witness and also a big party for spectators. Naturally the students of Oxford and Cambridge come out in force to support their teams and the rivalry is epic, though good-natured.<br /><br />

BBC Proms

Where: Royal Albert Hall,London

When: 14 July to 9 September 2017

The Proms claims to be the 'greatest classical musical festival in the world', and every summer it presents a wide range of music, from symphony orchestras to operas and contemporary music. Performances take place in one of the capital's most majestic venues, the Royal Albert Hall, and visitors to London during the summer months would be foolish to miss it. Soloists and ensembles among the greatest in the world are on show during the Proms, and visitors are sure to find the experience enriching. For more information regarding the programme and ticket prices check out the official website listed below.<br /><br />

West End Shows

Where: ,London

When: Various dates throughout the year

Famed for its musicals, the West End in the centre of London boasts some of the best theatre in the world, from musicals to comedy and drama, featuring many famous actors. There are ongoing shows that have been running for years, such as , , and Blood Brothers, and new shows are added to the lineup regularly. There is plenty on offer for the whole family and catching a show on the West End is an iconic London experience for travellers. For information on what's showing and ticket prices check out the official website listed below.<br /><br />

V Festival Chelmsford

Where: Hylands Park, Chelmsford, Essex,London

When: 19 - 20 August 2017

Richard Branson's contribution to Britain's busy summer music festival schedule offers many of the biggest live acts from around the world. The festival is noted for its professionalism and low queuing times, ensuring its sold-out status every year. Like the Carling festivals, this one has a sibling festival too (with acts playing on alternate days), held in Weston Park, Staffordshire. It is a good idea to book tickets as early as possible - the line-up is guaranteed to be impressive. For information on the programme, camping options and facilities, and tickets check out the official website listed below.<br /><br />

FA Cup Final

Where: Wembley Stadium,London

When: 27 May 2017

The cherished FA Cup (The Football Association Challenge Cup) is football's oldest tournament and has a special place in the hearts of fans in the UK and all around the world. What separates this tournament, first held in 1871, from many of the others is that it champions the underdog, as lower division teams have a chance to play the Premier League teams, and often heroes are created before the tournament has run its course. The supporters of local teams lower down in the official pecking order relish the chance to challenge the top dogs! The dates below are for the final match; for fixtures for the whole tournament and other details check out the official website listed below.<br /><br />

Times BFI London Film Festival

Where: Various,London

When: 4-15 October 2017

Film-fever spreads all across London for two weeks during The Times and British Film Institute-sponsored London Film Festival. It is the most important film festival in the UK and features premieres, short films, experimental pieces, world cinema jewels and a healthy programme of classics. Many famous British actors and filmmakers attend and a fair amount of celebrity-spotting can be indulged in. Although not yet as large or prestigious as the Venice or Cannes film festivals, the London Film Festival is growing in size and popularity every year. For details on what's showing check the official website listed below.<br /><br />

Country Living Magazine Christmas Fair

Where: Business Design Centre, Islington,London

When: 8 - 12 November 2017

Showcasing the finest selection of Christmas gifts, fabulously-festive home decorations and a delicious range of food and drink from luxury Christmas puddings to Cornish Cheese and fine wines, the Country Living Magazine Christmas Fair is the ultimate Christmas bazaar. Thousands of visitors are expected to attend the annual fair, where a multitude of products are on offer at over 400 exhibitor stands. From local and national crafts, bespoke fashion and jewellery to handmade products including rocking chairs, kitchenware, tree swings and soaps, there are gift ideas to suit all the family. All the ingredients and the trimmings needed for a simply scrumptious Christmas dinner can also be found. If you are in London just before the festive season this is a great opportunity for buying gifts.<br /><br />

Avenue

Address: 7-9 St Jamess Street London

Food Type: Modern Eclectic

The Avenue Restaurant and Bar is a favourite with the inhabitants of St James, and produces good modern British and Mediterranean food. This minimalist restaurant is good value and always packed, despite a sometimes patchy service. The best tables are towards the back, on the mezzanine level. Set menus are usually excellent, and competitively priced. For starters try the crayfish salad, and for mains the roast Atlantic halibut (flounder) and the White Park sirloin come highly recommended. Quality wines are available by the glass. Open daily for lunch and dinner.<br /><br />

Star of India

Address: 154 Old Brompton Road (South Kensington) London

Food Type: Indian

When in London, visitors should experience the English national dish - Chicken Tikka Masala - and there is no better place to go than the Star of India, in the heart of South Kensington. Situated on the first floor of a Georgian house, this small restaurant has a pseudo-classical interior and continues to be popular with locals, despite the price. For years the Star of India has been at the forefront of modern Indian cuisine and it continues to impress with innovative and interesting menus, and specialities such as Sunehri Khaste (stuffed coriander pancakes) and Malai Adraki Champen (lamb cutlets marinated in cream cheese, black pepper and ginger).<br /><br />

1 Lombard Street

Address: 1 Lombard Street (Bank) London

Food Type: French

Situated in the domed interior of an old banking hall, opposite the Bank of England, 1 Lombard Street has become a city institution. The brasserie is always bustling with investment bankers and offers a full á la carte menu for both lunch and dinner, featuring seasonal specialities and an extensive wine list. The Michelin-starred restaurant, situated behind the brasserie, is a better bet for discreet conversation and for enthusiasts of haute cuisine. Menu favourites include roast monkfish, Angus beef tournedos and the praliné 'Lombardo' with chocolate, whisky and coffee. The formal dining environment provides a tranquil setting for appreciating Herbert Berger's sophisticated cuisine. Open weekdays only for breakfast, lunch and dinner and the dress is smart casual. They run a tapas menu from 5pm at the bar.<br /><br />

Montpeliano

Address: 13 Montpelier Street (Knightsbridge) London

Food Type: Italian

On a quiet side street just off Knightsbridge and a minutes walk from Harrods, Montpeliano is a wonderfully old-fashioned Italian restaurant, where the food is authentic and the service excellent. The owner is always available, the staff are friendly and welcoming, and the atmosphere has a feel of casual elegance. On warm evenings it is possible to dine al fresco on the outside patio. The grilled chicken diavola (devil's style/butterflied) and the fillet stroganoff are delicious!<br /><br />

The Abingdon

Address: 54 Abingdon Road (Kensington) London

Food Type: Gastropubs

The bar at this small but atmospheric pub is always buzzing with locals, while the restaurant often draws visitors from farther afield. Set on a side street a few blocks from High Street Kensington the eating area is awkwardly narrow but makes a good spot for a private and romantic evening á deux, or with a small group of friends. The crumbed camembert comes with a chicory, red wine and vanilla reduction, and is beautifully followed by the organic salmon with Jerusalem artichokes. Open daily for lunch and dinner.<br /><br />

Restaurant Gordon Ramsay

Address: 539-547 Wandsworth Road, London London

Food Type: French

One of London's finest eateries, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay opened in 1998 as the chef's first independently owned venture. Today it has three Michelin stars - an honour held by only one other British restaurant. With 14 tables seating 44 guests, this exclusive venue has become a must for connoisseurs of fine contemporary cuisine from around the world. Feast on butter poached Scottish lobster tail, roasted Barbary duck and Gianduja chocolate soufflé. Open for lunch and dinner Monday to Friday, book well in advance.<br /><br />

Fire and Stone

Address: 31/32 Maiden Lane, Covent Garden London

Food Type: Pizzeria

A cosy atmosphere with contemporary trimmings and the smell of fresh oven-baked pizza in the air, the trendy Fire and Stone pizza joint in Covent Garden is ideal for a family outing, a casual meal with friends or a romantic dinner. Boasting the largest wood-fired oven in the northern hemisphere, this franchise pizzeria produces a large variety of pizzas, themed on the different flavours of the continents and made with only the freshest ingredients. Complement your meal with some of their quality red wines, or try an exotic smoothie. Open daily for lunch and dinner.<br /><br />

Zaika

Address: 1 Kensington High Street, Kensington London

Food Type: Indian

A highly creative contemporary Indian restaurant, Zaika offers sensational Indian cuisine in a cool and vibrant setting. Situated in trendy Kensington, Zaika has won Best Indian Restaurant in the London Restaurant Awards and holds three AA rosettes. Try the tasting menu to get a fuller understanding of the extensive Indian flavours. The Indian home-smoked salmon and Masala duck breast are also favourites. With great service, plush interiors and excellent cuisine, Zaika is a fail-proof night out. Open for lunch from Tuesday to Sunday, and every evening for dinner.<br /><br />

Blue Elephant

Address: The Boulevard, Imperial Wharf, Townmead Road London

Food Type: Thai

A full throttle Thai experience, eating at the Blue Elephant is a must. Greeted with welcoming smiles at the door, guests will love the Thai décor, lush indoor garden of tropical plants and the flowing carp pond. The Blue Bar's counter was carved out of a single piece of teak and layered with 50,000 sheets of goldleaf, adding to the restaurant's exotic and luxurious feel. The starter menu offers familiar fare such as satay sticks, dumplings and spring rolls, with the main menu displaying a broad range of dishes, from herb-marinated sea bass grilled inside a bamboo wrap to Massaman, a typical Thai dish of braised lamb in a medium spicy sauce. Open daily for lunch and dinner.<br /><br />

The Gun

Address: 27 Coldharbour Road, London London

Food Type: Modern British

The Gun is a lovely, British-styled restaurant that is gaining plenty of popularity for its up-market take on classic dishes. Open for lunch and dinner (reservations essential), be sure to try the Herdwick mutton with pearl barley stew or the grilled fillet of royal bream, served with squid and parsley risotto. This waterside pub is delightfully British!<br /><br />

Stefs

Address: 3 Berners Street, London London

Food Type: Italian

Stef's describes itself as 'your local Italian restaurant in London', and its laid-back, family-run atmosphere is a real winner for those looking for unpretentious and high-quality Italian food in England's capital. Choose from pizza, pasta or a range of 'Chef's specialities'. Booking recommended.<br /><br />

The nightlife in London is some of the best in the world, offering pulsating dance floors at famous clubs and more chilled out and intimate music lounges and bars. Hardcore party animals wanting to strut their stuff will love the clubbing scene, complete with well-known local and international DJs, while the countless bars and cosy independent theatres featuring local and international live music acts will blow your mind. London is arguably the best possible travel destination for lovers of live music, and on any given night there will be an international or local band playing in more than one of the many venues.<br /><br /> The West End in particular is home to many bars, clubs and restaurants, and Soho is one of the trendiest and coolest places to drink. This is also where most of London's gay bars and clubs can be found. The perpetually cool Notting Hill and Portobello Road areas still draw large crowds.<br /><br /> Those in the mood for a quiet drink and some conversation should head down to one of the many traditional English pubs scattered around this cosmopolitan city, where they can enjoy some of the finest ales, stouts, ciders, and malt whiskies on offer in the world. It's also often possible to combine the pubbing and the clubbing because many of London's bars these days have clubs and dance floors inside them, transforming them into miniature nightclubs and ushering in a new era for those 'heading down to the pub'.<br /><br /> The West End is also known as 'Theatreland' and those in the mood for Broadway-style theatre shows should head down to the Lyceum Theatre or the Queen's Theatre to catch a show or musical. And while in the area, culture lovers can enjoy an evening at Covent Garden watching the Royal Opera or the Royal Ballet, while lovers of classical music can sample the delights of Albert Hall. There is also plenty of fringe theatre outside of the West End with young professionals and amateurs performing anything from classic plays to cabaret. Common fringe venues range from well-respected miniature theatres to cramped rooms above some of the city's local pubs. Other non-commercial theatres include the world-renowned National Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Globe Theatre and the Old Vic.<br /><br />
London is not just a European shopping destination, but a global one. The city has fantastic fashion stores, with famous brands lurking around every corner. Visit the renowned Oxford and Regent streets for big brands like Gap, Zara, Topshop, H&amp;M and United Colours of Benetton. Don't be put off by their loud exteriors; some shops are actually quite affordable, and the frequent sales are famous for the bargains they provide.<br /><br /> London is also renowned for its markets. Camden in North London has become one of the most visited attractions in London and is a haven for punks, goths and other alternative sub-cultures, with myriad stalls and shops selling outrageous retro outfits, colourful accessories and modern party outfits that really have to be seen to be believed. For an enjoyable weekend outing, Portobello Market is a gem (look out for the Farmers Market in the vicinity). The Notting Hill market, made famous by the romantic Hollywood film, offers many attractive coffee shops, independent retailers and cheap stalls selling clothing, jewellery and music. If you are a foodie then head to the Borough Market adjacent to London Bridge; dedicated to gastronomy, visitors can sample homemade pâté, buy fresh cherries, olive oil, sweet cakes and the like.<br /><br /> General groceries can be bought at the major English supermarket chains such as Tesco, Marks and Spencer, Waitrose and Sainsbury's.<br /><br />
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