Britannia rules-and no other place exudes British cool quite like London. Indulge your inner Anglophile (and start planning your next trip) with our countdown of the top 10 London attractions.
1. Tower Bridge
Completed in 1894, Tower Bridge is one of the world’s most famous bascule (a French term for “see-saw”) bridges: It opens in the middle to allow tall boats on the Thames to pass through. Catch a glimpse of the bridge opening (lift times are posted on the Tower Bridge website), and walk across its high-level glass floor walkways 42 metres above the Thames!
2. Victoria and Albert Museum
Named after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, the V&A wears the crown as the world’s largest museum of decorative arts and design. Its priceless collection includes sculptures, paintings, ceramics, fashion, drawings, and books from ancient times to present day. Like most of London’s museums, admission to the Victoria and Albert is free.
3. Tower of London
Home to the Crown Jewels, the iconic beefeaters, and (allegedly) several spooks, the Tower of London’s history dates back almost 1,000 years. Standing guard by Tower Bridge and the River Thames, the medieval compound has served as a royal palace, prison, and execution site.
4. The Shard
Scraping the sky at 306 metres, western Europe’s tallest building boasts a high-end hotel, restaurants and bars and London’s highest viewing platform—an unobstructed 360-degree view stretching up to 64 kilometres away.
5. Sherlock Holmes
Fans of Sherlock Holmes have already deduced why London’s so special. Make the pilgrimage to the Sherlock Holmes Museum at 221b Baker Street (yes, it really exists!), or follow the path of the BBC’s latest version of the legendary detective with stops at St. Bart’s Hospital, Speedy’s Restaurant on North Gower Street, or Leinster Gardens.
6. Westminster Abbey
If walls could talk, Westminster Abbey would have plenty to say! The site of every coronation since 1066, this Gothic church is the final resting place for 17 monarchs, Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Dickens, Sir Laurence Olivier, and many others. It’s also a favourite for royal weddings—in 2011 Prince William married Kate Middleton here.
7. The National Theatre
More than 10,000 actors have tread the boards at the National Theatre including Benedict Cumberbatch, Judi Dench, Laurence Olivier and Maggie Smith. See a play, indulge in one of the theatre’s delicious restaurants, or treat yourself to a backstage tour.
8. Buckingham Palace
The official London residence of Britain’s sovereigns since 1837, Buckingham Palace boasts a priceless art collection and 775 rooms—78 of which are bathrooms. Want to know if The Queen’s home? Check out the flag above the Palace: When the Royal Standard is flying, she’s there.
The famous Knightsbridge store with the iconic green awnings has been offering luxury goods to its customers for over 160 years. Across seven floors and 330 departments, shoppers will find only the best fashions, accessories and homewares. Shopped out? Toast your purchases with some bubbly at the Champagne Bar, or a box of rainbow-hued Laduree macarons.
10. London Transport Museum
At the London Transport Museum, you can explore the history of the iconic Underground system, and discover how horse-drawn carriages, trains, and all of those bright red double-decker buses have kept the city moving since 1800. Best of all, you can get interactive and climb on board to see for yourself!