London is one of those cities that has numerous famous monuments, buildings and places at every turn of the corner. So many that there is just no point putting your camera away because you need it all the way. Whenever I go to London I usually do a walk that incorporates all of my buildings and monuments and here are my top ten things you must see or visit in the city:
1. Buckingham Palace
The home of Queen Elizabeth II is a must see for any visitor to the city. To be honest I think it is quite an understated building because you just can’t get a feel for the size of the place from the front of it. The walk up to the palace along The Mall though is quite impressive, because it creates a huge sweeping driveway. The building is surrounded by fences as you would expect, which makes taking photographs slightly difficult. If you time your visit right, you can watch the changing of the guards at 11am every day in Summer and every other day in Winter.
2. The Houses of Parliament
The Houses of Parliament are my favourite buildings in the whole of London. I think they look so ornate and intricate that it is really quite a marvel to think about how long it must have taken to plan and build them. In a city that has buildings from every era going, these ones stand out as being traditional and quite regal. They stand at the edge of the River Thames and probably the best view of them is from Westminster Bridge. If you walk around to the back of them though, there are lots of red phone boxes, so you can get a great quintessential London phot of you in a phone box with Big Ben in the background.
3. St Paul’s Cathedral
Over on the other side of central London, St Paul’s Cathedral is probably a tube ride away from many of the other London sites, but it is well worth making the excursion. The building is fantastic and the small gardens are quite pretty too. You can go in the cathedral and have a glimpse at the grand interior, although it isn’t cheap. Be sure to check out if there are any special events going on though because entry might not be possible, as was the case the last time we visited.
4. Westminster Abbey
Actually called the Colegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster, this is a fabulous Gothic building that is worth a visit if just for a look at the exterior. I am not a big fan of churches, but I like this building because it is so imposing and grand looking. It is open every day except Sunday when it is closed to tourists. It isn’t cheap to go inside at around £16 per adult, so you’ve really got to want to have a good look around to part with that kind of money. It is also famously the place were William and Kate got married last year.
I love visiting Harrods if only for the spectacular food hall. No longer owned by Mohammed Al Fayad, it still has his mark all over it in the form of elaborate stairways and expensive stock. If you are a shopaholic you could easily spend a whole day here because the place is so huge, although your purse probably wouldn’t thank you for spending a whole day here! Definitely pay a visit to the food hall though because the selection is both mouth watering and mind boggling. We bought cupcakes last time we were there and they were fantastic and not all that expensive.
6. Hyde park
London is a very busy city and there aren’t many green spaces, but one you should definitely pay a visit to is Hyde Park. It is a lovely relaxing expanse of green that has various things within it to entertain. There is a huge boating lake where you can rent kayaks and pedaloes by the hour. There is also the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain which is a little oasis of calm at the edge of the park. Hyde Park is also home to Speaker’s Corner, where you might find someone waxing lyrical about their passions.
7. Downing Street
The home of the Prime Minister is worth a visit. Only about five hundred yards away from Westminster it is quite centrally located. You can’t get on to the street and the end of it blocked by huge gates but you can peer down and have a nosey at what is going on. The Cenotaph is also nearby here.
8. Tower of London and Tower Bridge
Both of these are iconic and historical London buildings and a must for every tourist and photographer alike. As with everything in London, the Tower is expensive to get into (upwards of £20 for an adult) but if you are on a budget you should still have a wander around the outside of it. The bridge is free to get onto and you get fabulous views along the Thames and back across the city.
9. The London Eye
The huge rotating wheel that was built for the millennium is still there and attracts millions of visitors every year. The wheel is covered in huge pods that can each hold up to 25 people and offer amazing views across the city. The wheel is very popular (in fact it is the most visited attraction in the UK) and so the queues are immense. You can actually skip part of the queue and save ten per cent on the £28 ticket price by booking tickets at least 24 hours in advance online.
10. Piccadilly Circus
Piccadilly Circus is a great place to go and really see how busy London can be. It is full of noise and lights and is basically an assault on the eyes. I love visiting because I love seeing all the people sitting around the Statue of Eros in the centre. It’s a great place o go and soak up the atmosphere.
You should, with a little bit of planning, be able to incorporate all of these things into even a short trip to London. There are so many things to see and do, but I really do think you should include all of the above.