If you’re trying to decide what to see in London you could well find yourself spoilt for choice. With so much on offer, it can be hard to find the best places to visit in London when you’re on a tight schedule. From world renowned tourist hubs like the British Museum, to the relatively obscure All Hallows by the Tower, London simply has so much to see!
So if you’re planning to check out Britain’s capital and want to make the most of your trip, then our selection of the best things to do in London could be just the thing. Our expert list highlights what to see in London on a short trip, with our top ten places to visit in London stacked alongside a few extra recommendations that didn’t make the cut but shouldn’t be ignored if you have more time.
What are the Top Ten Sites to See in London?
The Tower of London bleeds history, indeed as the site of many executions over the centuries it has often been at the very centre of England’s most grisly past events. Commissioned by William the Conqueror and standing for almost a thousand years, the Tower is one of the most popular places in London to visit. You can poke around the prisons, languish in the cells or just stare in wonder at the vast value of the crown jewels…
An underground World War Two bunker complex in the heart of London, it was from the Cabinet War Rooms that Churchill and his government ran operations during the conflict. Now open for visitors, this once-secretive complex is now one of the most interesting places in London to visit. Left virtually untouched since 1945, you can explore a number of areas, including Churchill’s private office and his bedroom. Visitors should allow at least 90 minutes to savour the atmosphere of this iconic Second World War site.
An underrated gem on the outskirts of the city, the RAF Museum is often overlooked by standard lists of what to see in London. But with huge hangers packed full of famous fighters and colossal bombers as well as interactive exhibits & virtual reality theatres, this is one of the most fun things to do in London, particularly for kids.
Housing a fantastic collection of over 100 aircraft, the museum has an impressive selection of planes including some of the most famous to have ever graced the skies. Also on show at are a series of objects and structures from throughout the history of aviation, such as two World War I hangars, a World War II Battle of Britain exhibition and a timeline of aviation history.
One of the most famous places in London, Westminster Abbey is known for the plethora of royal events to have taken place here over the centuries, most recently the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton. Boasting impressive architecture and famous burials – including Mary Queen of Scots, Elizabeth I and Henry III – as well as Poets’ Corner and even the Coronation Chair, Westminster Abbey has loads on offer.
To have an informed visit and to see the most interesting parts of Westminster Abbey, take a tour, as just wandering around can be overwhelming.
Now here’s a hidden gem if ever I saw one. So hidden in fact it was originally only known to those select few who ran the country, and perhaps whispered about in dark corners by the locals… An enormous Cold War nuclear shelter, Kelvedon contains a labyrinth of underground tunnels, plotting boards and telecommunications apparatus. It even had its own BBC studio – presumably designed to tell everyone who wasn’t in the bunker that they had approximately four minutes to live. When considering interesting places to visit in London, this is certainly one for your left-field list.
Windsor Castle is the oldest occupied castle in the world and one of the most famous draws that Britain’s capital city has to offer. The castle covers approximately 13 acres and contains a wealth of great sights to explore, including the state rooms, the red-coated guards and even the royal kitchens!
It is also the burial place of ten monarchs, including Henry VIII and his beloved wife (the one who gave him a son), Jane Seymour. There are numerous exhibitions and tours and a typical visit can take up to three hours.
Buckingham Palace is a staple entry on every list of London’s top places to visit. Though it’s usually featured in the top three, we’ve relegated it slightly as we feel it can be a little over-hyped and overrun by tourists. That’s not to say it’s not worth a visit, there are still some great things to see, including the changing of the guards.
In August and September, the nineteen State Rooms and some other sections of Buckingham Palace are open to the general public and to tourists. Here, visitors can see the Royal Collections, which include an incredible array of artwork as well as some of the finest English and French furniture. Audio guides are included in the ticket price and a visit usually lasts around two hours.
Among the most iconic buildings in the city, St Paul’s is an architectural masterpiece which is carved into the London skyline. Among the many draws on offer is the famous Whispering Gallery, known for its mysterious acoustics, as well as its burial crypt which houses a host of celebrated British luminaries including Nelson, Wellington and Sir Christopher Wren, designer of the Cathedral. It ranks high on most visitors’ lists of things to see in London, so a visit here is not a tranquil experience, but definitely one worth undertaking.
Guided tours are available in English and last approximately ninety minutes. Audio tours are available in English, Spanish, German, French, Italian, Russian, Japanese and Chinese (Mandarin).
For those willing to venture beyond the centre of London, Leeds Castle offers some of the most majestic sights available. A stunning Norman castle, a visit here offers tree-top adventures, hot air ballooning, flower gardens & afternoon tea. It also houses an aviary and a maze along with a dog collar museum. Guided tours are available for groups and schools and audio tours are also available. On a nice day, its sheer beauty makes it one of the best things to do on your trip to London.
Pretty much everyone who comes to this city has the British Museum on their to-see list. A world-famous museum of history & culture, it’s constantly chosen as one of the top 10 places in London to visit. It contains some of the largest and most revered collections in the world, from Babylonian stonework to artefacts from the Roman Empire and of course its world-famous Egyptian collection. Three hour and children’s’ itineraries are also available on the British Museum’s website and at the museum itself. Alternatively, free audio guides are available or visitors can book a highlights tour in advance for a fee. A must see for your visit to Britain’s capital city.