One of the world’s truly great cities, London is home to so many iconic sights that visitors will be in no danger of forgetting where in the world they are.
With some of the most famous buildings in the world to be found in London, together with many other landmark locations, visiting the city can feel a little like stepping onto a film set and there are so many fantastic photo opportunities that you’ll want to have your camera handy at all times.
With a population of close to eight million, this vast cosmopolitan city is a major centre for the arts, shopping and fashion and sets global trends in music and gastronomy making it a great holiday destination.
When visiting London you will be seeing iconic images at every turn, all of which combine to give London its unique sense of place. Here are 10 of the best to look out for.
1) London buses
The red double decker buses that rumble along the streets of London are famous the world over. Although the most instantly recognizable of the buses, the vintage Routemaster, has largely been phased out, it still runs along two vintage routes in London. Meanwhile, more modern buses in the city continue the tradition for red double decker vehicles and are one of the principle forms of transport in the city, as well as a tourist attraction.
2) Buckingham Palace
The world reignited its love affair with the British Royal Family when Prince William announced his engagement to Kate Middleton and their fairy tale wedding saw the world’s media descend on Buckingham Palace like never before. This beautiful palace, with its guards in their bearskin hats, is an unmissable London landmark and the residence of the Queen when she’s in the city. A flag flying outside the palace signifies the Queen is in residence.
3) London Eye
Far more than just the world’s largest Ferris Wheel, the London Eye is an architectural wonder and has become London’s biggest tourist attraction. Constructed to coincide with Britain’s Millennium Celebrations, the London Eye offers spectacular views over the city and its many iconic attractions. Sitting on the edge of the River Thames, the London Eye is visible from miles around.
4) Big Ben
The world famous clock tower at London’s Houses of Parliament is instantly recognizable and a real postcard image of London. The origins of the name ‘Big Ben’ are unknown, but the clock’s bell has been ringing out across Westminster since 1859. To give an idea of the scale of Big Ben, the minute hands are 14 feet long and the figures on each of the four clock faces are two feet high. Big Ben is particularly magnificent after dark, when the clock faces are illuminated.
Arguably the most famous department store in the world, this luxury store in upscale Knightsbridge is worth a visit even if the budget won’t stretch to making a purchase. While the store is now synonymous with luxury goods, it began life in 1849 as a simple grocery store, employing just two members of staff. Today it is a London landmark in its own right, lit up at night by 11,500 twinkling lights. Stocking everything from designer fashion to luxury food. The Egyptian Hall and the Pet Department are both worth a visit, but make an effort to look smart, because the top-hatted door staff aren’t just there to be decorative and may decline entry to anybody likely to lower the tone of the store.
6) Wembley Stadium
London and football go hand in hand and Wembley Stadium is London’s shrine to the sport. The site of many a historic London sporting event, including England’s 1966 cup final victory in the FIFA World Cup, Wembley is one of the largest sports stadiums in Europe and serves as England’s national stadium. While the original Wembley Stadium was demolished in 2003, the new stadium stands on the same site and is an awe-inspiring sight on match days, with capacity for 90,000 people. Wembley Stadium also hosts major musical events and visitors can take organized tours of the stadium.
7) The British Museum
London is an historic city and nowhere is this history better exhibited than at the British Museum. One of the most famous museums in the world, attracting nearly six million visitors each year, the British Museum has some fascinating collections, with exhibits spanning some two million years of Earth’s history. The museum opened to the public in 1753 and the handsome building is an attraction in itself. The British Museum is an essential stop on any cultural tour of London and an ideal place to visit when the famous London rain clouds threaten to burst over the city.
8 ) The London Dungeon
A city steeped in a somewhat bloody history, London has more than a few creepy stories to tell, not least of which is the gruesome story of Jack the Ripper. The London Dungeon brings Victorian London to life in all its gory glory and visitors can scare themselves silly at this grisly theme museum, where actors recreate the mist-shrouded world of Victorian London.
9) Black cabs
The sight of a black taxi cab driving through the streets of London is instantly recognizable from any number of films and television shows. The Hackney Carriage, to give the Black Cab its official name, is as intrinsic to London’s street scene as the yellow taxi is to New York and visitors can hail the cabs anywhere in the British capital. The first registered Hackney Carriages in London were the horse drawn carriages of the 1600s and the current incarnations are a lot more modern, with motorized cabs becoming the norm in the early twentieth century.
10) The River Thames
The image of the River Thames snaking past London’s landmark buildings is an unforgettable one and visitors to London can take a boat trip along the river, or just cross over the water at the world famous London Bridge. The Thames winds through central London, past tourist attractions such as the Houses of Parliament and is magnificent when viewed from above on the London Eye.
A truly unique city, London’s vibrant blend of the ultra-modern and the historical make it impossible to forget. With so much to see and do in the city, London is a great place to visit and thanks to the variety of London hotels available to meet all requirements, you’ll be able to find the perfect accommodation to suit your budget.