Recently, I posted on the 10 Most Visited Attractions in London for the year 2017. The list was based on official figures gathered by the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA). All of the attractions which made it to the Top 10 were museums. Of course, London is not only about museums. There’s so much to see in one of the world’s most visited cities that I am adding to the list 10 More Top Sights and Attractions to Visit in London.
1) Houses of Parliament and Big Ben
The Palace of Westminster, commonly known as the Houses of Parliament is where the House of Commons (lower house) and the House of Lords (upper house) meet to propose and discuss new legislation. The Palace is located on the north bank of the River Thames in Central London.
The Parliament is open throughout the year where visitors can attend debates and committee hearings. Also, visitors can take a tour of this iconic building at the heart of English government and a symbol of parliamentary democracy.
Please read a friend’s actual tour experience in her post “Why You Shouldn’t Miss Visiting the Houses of Parliament (London, UK).”
At the north end of the Palace is the tower where Big Ben is located. Big Ben is the nickname for the Great Bell of the formerly known Clock Tower. In 2012, it was renamed Elizabeth Tower to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.
The tower is a prominent symbol of the United Kingdom and an icon recognised all over the world.
2) London Eye
London Eye is a giant Ferris wheel which is a much loved and popular landmark located on the South Bank of the River Thames. It opened to the public in 2000. Its 30-minute rotation offers amazing and great views of the city, and even beyond on a bright, clear day.
The wheel is 135 metres tall and has a diameter of 120 metres. It has 32 capsules each of which weighs 10 tonnes and can carry 25 people.
3) Westminster Abbey
Considered as the finest example of Early English Gothic architecture, Westminster Abbey has been the traditional place of Royal coronation, weddings, burials and memorials.
On September 1997 the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, was held here. Her son, Prince William and his fiancée Catherine Middleton were married at this notable religious building in April 2011.
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4) St Paul’s Cathedral
A masterpiece by architect Christopher Wren, St Paul’s Cathedral whose dome is easily recognised is one of the most famous sights of London.
An important part of British history, funerals of many notable figures including Lord Nelson, Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher have been held here. The marriage of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer took place at this cathedral on July 1981.
5) Tower Bridge
Many people often confuse this iconic symbol across River Thames located near the Tower of London as London Bridge. A combination of bascule and suspension bridge, its deck can be raised to allow tall ships to pass. This has become an important feature and the bridge’s top crowd drawer. The deck is also accessible to both vehicles and pedestrians.
The bridge’s neo-Gothic twin towers connected by high-level horizontal walkways and Victorian engine rooms form part of the Tower Bridge Exhibition. The exhibition takes visitors along an enthralling historical journey of the bridge’s inception until the present.
The most recent development was the spectacular glass floor across the high-level walkways. Not for the faint-hearted, it offers a scary view of the river and the traffic down below through the glass walkway.
6) National Portrait Gallery
Founded in 1856, National Portrait Gallery is the first portrait gallery in the world which collects and displays photographs and caricatures as well as paintings, drawings and sculptures of historically important and famous British people.
Its prized collections include Chandos portrait of William Shakespeare, Andy Warhol’s silkscreen print of Queen Elizabeth II, a sketch of the novelist Jane Austen by her sister Cassandra, among others. An audio guide tour featuring 200 portraits is available where visitors can hear the voices of some subject personalities.
7) Royal Albert Hall
Built in 1871, this distinctive domed-roof and red brick amphitheatre is a concert hall located in South Kensington. Many of the world’s leading artists in different genres have appeared and performed on its stage.
Every year, it boasts of hundreds of shows in the main auditorium. It has played host to classical, pop and rock concerts, ballet, opera, film screenings with a live orchestra, sports, award ceremonies, school and community events, charity performances and banquets.
Since 1941, it is the venue for the BBC’s Promenade Concerts (aka the Proms), an eight-week summer season of daily orchestral classical music concerts.
8) Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace is the official London home of the Queen. Its first resident was Queen Victoria who moved from Kensington Palace in 1837. A 25 metre-high statue known as Victoria Memorial was erected in her honour in the palace’s public facade.
The palace is open to the public when the Royal family is away on summer holidays. The Changing of the Guards is one of its main attractions. It’s held daily at 11:30 am from April to July and on alternate days from August to March (weather allowing). Watch and enjoy as the palace guards in their red uniforms and bear-skin hats march and shout in about 40-minute handover.
9) Kensington Palace
Built in 1605 and set in Kensington Gardens, Kensington Palace has been a residence of the British Royal Family. Generations of royals had lived here which include Queen Victoria and Princess Diana. Current occupants include Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry, and a host of other royals.
The palace displays many paintings as well as other objects from the Royal Collection. Also, the State Rooms are open to the public.
10) Hampton Court Palace
A fine example of Tudor architecture from the 16th century, under the palace’s roofs are many works of art and furnishings from the Royal Collection. Replete with many historical events during the Tudor period, this palace should be in every architecture and history buff’s list. No British Royal Family had lived here since the 18th century.
Outside the palace are stunning gardens including the Hampton Court Maze. Your experience in this palace will not be complete without losing yourself in this 800-metres long maze.
Have you been to London? How many in this list of 10 More Top Sights and Attractions to Visit in London have you visited? Which are your favourites?
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