LondonLondon is the largest capital in the European Union, with nearly eight million citizens. It is an extraordinary multicultural city, collecting within its borders people and traditions from all over the world. Nearly one third from the population there, comes overseas and still London hasn’t lost its original vision. To explore the whole beautiful diversity of this unique city a visitor will need months. There is no universal scheme to plan your visit in London, however there are some main attractions every visitor should see during their stay in the city.

Leaving aside the museums and the entertainment attractions, you should definitely see the most important historic and monumental buildings of England’s royal heritage. Most of the architectural face of the city is built during the Victorian and Georgian periods, between the 18th and 19th centuries. Not much is left from the Tudor’s past of London because of the Great London Fire which destroyed most of the city  in 1666. Today London’s skyline is enriched with post war contemporary buildings of glass, metal and lights.

Tower of London

Тower of LondonTower of London is a medieval fortress located on the north bank site of the river Thames. The Tower of London is castle with many historic layers and was used for many different purposes during the years – as a prison, fortress, a royal residence, armory, treasury and now the home of the Crown Jewels of England. Built in the mid of the 11th after the invasion of William the Conqueror – Duke of Normandy, at first the White Tower was built, established as symbol of power of the new ruling authorities.

The whole plan of the fortress, in the way we know it today, is a complex of building in two concentric rings. The tower became a fortress in the medieval centuries and in the later periods during the ruling of the Tudors. During the reign of Charles I and the rulers of the 19th century the building façade and interior were restored and changed many times. Now the Tower of London is considered World Heritage Site and is one the major sightseeing attractions in London.

What to Do

Here are some of the major points of interest in the Tower of London. The Crown Jewels can be seen in a spectacular display, including some of the best diamonds in the world. When you’re inside you can take part in a Yeoman Warder (the Royal Guards) guided tour, which takes place every 30 minutes. You can see the famous ravens – seven guards of the Tower and learn about the interesting legend of the ravens. In the bottom of the Wakefield Tower visitor can see replicas of different instruments of torture. You can also visit the Medieval Towers, the exhibition Coins and Kings and the Execution Site, where Anne Boleyn died.
Opening Times
In the winter season (November / February) the Tower of London is open from 09.00 to 16.30 and during the summer (March / October) – from 09.00 to 17.00.
Prices
Adult tickets are £24.50, when bought on the gate and £23.10- online. Children under 5 years enter free of charge, and children’s ticket is £11.00. There is discount for full-time students over 16 years and above and disabled visitors – £18.70
Getting There

  • Bus – Bus routes 5, 42, 78, 100, RV1 and all major sightseeing buses.
  • Tube – the nearest station is Tower Hill
  • Train or DRL- If you travel with train, the nearest station is Fenchurch Street and by DRL – Tower Hill station.
  • Car or taxi- If you travel with car or choose a London taxi service (you can check out our post on “Best Apps To Book Minicab”), you can park in the nearest car parking in Lower Thames Street- in just 5 mins walk from Tower of London.

Tower Bridge

Tower BridgeTower Bridge is one the most famous London sites standing firmly over the rivers with its Gothic design. The bridge was built to serve the expanding population of the east of London and was completed in 1894. Tower Bridge was designed by the architect Horas Jones, who created this huge 260 meters long construction, with more than 11 000 tons of steel. Tower Bridge is quite practical. It is movable in order to pass the boat traffic when needed. At first steam power was used to open the bridge and later the mechanism was electrified. Both decks are 30 meters wide, when the bridge is opened the maximum height of the vessels, which can pass through is 45 meters. Nowadays the bridge rises very rarely, but in the beginning it used to open up to 50 times a day.

What to Do

Today Tower Bridge is visited by hundreds of people and because it is a great attraction, new improvements have been made. In 2014 astonishing glass floors were installed in the walkways, which gives the opportunity to see everything clear and from the heights. Inside the Bridge you can visit the Tower Bridge Exhibition- a display of the Victorian engine room and history documents, pictures and films.
Opening Times
Summer Opening Hours: April – September 10:00 – 17:30
Winter Opening Hours: October – March 09:30 – 17:00
Prices
Tickets are for the exhibition and the glass floor walkway. Normal adult tickets is £9.00, children over 5 go for £3.90, students and seniors should pay £6.30 to enter. Children under 5 and disabled people can visit free of charge.
Getting There

  • Bus – The following bus routes will take you to Tower Bridge: 15, 42, 78,100, RV1.
  • Tube – Tower Hill station – District and Circle lines to the north side of the Bridge. Also you can travel to London Bridge station which is in 5 minutes walk.
  • Train – Reach Tower Bridge Exhibition from either London Bridge, Fenchurch Street or Tower Gateway DLR Stations.
  • Car -The nearest car park is Tower Hill Coach and Car Park situated at 50 Lower Thames Street, London, EC3R 6DP, situated next to the Tower of London.

Westminster Abbey

Westminster AbbeyWestminster Abbey has quite a long history stretching  all way back to the 10th century, when it was a small Benedictine Monastery. It became an official holy building in 1040, when Edward the Confessor decided to enlarge the monastery. In the 13th century King Henry III started another expansion of the Abbey in a new Gothic style, just up to date with the cathedral architectural tendencies of the time. The Abbey later became a place for coronation and burial of the monarchs, including Edward the Confessor, whose shrine is in the Confessor’s Chapel.

Later in 1512 was built The Lady Chapel, also known as Henry VII’s Chapel and the West Front Towers were created. The Abbey served as a cathedral between 1540 and 1550, but later was restored to the Benedictines and became non-cathedral church. The Abbey’s two western towers, which were left unfinished from medieval times were finished in 1745. Today it is a treasure house of paintings, stained glass, pavements, textiles and other. The tombs and memorials in the Abbey are significant collection of monumental sculpture.

What to Do

Once you reach the Abbey you can visit the church itself, the Cloister, St. Margaret’s Church and the Chapter house and of course the Gardens.
Opening Times
Opening times vary depending on what you want to see. The Abbey can be visited from Monday to Friday between 09.00 and 15.30 and Saturday-between 09.00 and 13.30. The other parts open in the range between 09.00 and 10.00 and close between 15.30 and 16.30.
Prices
Adult ticket will cost you £20.00, children over 6 years will pay £9.00 for ticket. Discounts get students – £17.00 and families.
Getting There

  • Tube – The closest station of the Tube is St. James’s Park (District and Circle Lines) and Westminster (Jubilee, District & Circle Lines).
  • Train – with train you will have to walk a bit more, the closest stations are Victoria and Waterloo.
    Bus – A huge number of buses pass through Westminster Abbey, the best way is to plan you journey with the bus visiting the official TFL website.
  • Car or minicab – There no public parking areas near to the Abbey, so you better take a taxi in case you want to avoid public transport.

The Palace of Westminster / Parliament House

Westminster PalaceThe Palace of Westminster, better known as the Parliament House, got its name from the Westminster Abbey. The Palace suffered great fires twice. So not much is left from the original building. Originally the Palace was built in the middle ages – 11th century, when it was residence for the Kings. After the first fire it was reconstructed and started to serve as House of Parliament. Unfortunately e second even greater fire destroyed the building again in 1834. The only medieval buildings left are the Westminster Hall, The Chapel of St. Mary and Jewel Tower.

Further reconstructions made the building enormous in its size, different from the original vision. The Palace was re-built in Gothic Revival style, very common in England’s architectural structure- called perpendicular style. The new Palace captures area of 8 acres from the land on the river. The façade looking towards the river is 266 meters long and it’s called The River Front. This reconstruction continued for 30 years and now The House of Parliament is part of UNESCO World Heritage.

What to Do

The best way to visit the Palace is to take a guided tour, which will take through all interesting points – the Westminster Hall, the Royal Gallery, Prince’s and Lords Chambers, Moses Room, St. Stephan’s Hall and many more You can see the interesting interior and works of art inside the palace.
Opening Times
Tours take place in different times, and can be checked at the official site of the Parliament. Usually tours run from 9.15 to 5.30 every Saturday. From 17th September to 4th October, tour run every day.
Prices
Adult ticket costs £25.00, students get in for £20.00 and children for £10.00.
Getting There

  • Tube – The closest station of the Tube is St. James’s Park (District and Circle Lines) and Westminster (Jubilee, District & Circle Lines).
  • Train – The closest stations are Victoria and Waterloo.
  • Bus – The nearest bus stop is Victoria Street.
  • Car or taxi- There no public parking areas near to the Palace, minicab is the best option.

Big Ben

Big BenThe Big Ben is part of the Westminster Palace, but it is such a worldwide famous attraction, that it deserves to be listed separately. Its official name is Elizabeth Tower. Here are some interesting facts, about the beautiful clock: Each dial is seven metres in diameter, the minute hands are 4.2 metres long and weigh about 100kg and numbers are 60 cm long. Big Ben first rang across Westminster on 31 May 1859. Interesting is the origin of the name Big Ben. Some believe, that the name comes from Sir Benjamin Hall, the first commissioner of works, who’s nickname was Big Ben. There is second theory that the clock is named after boxing champion at that time, Benjamin Caunt.

Big Ben cannot be visited separately, but a tour for Westminster Palace includes visit of the clock tower.

The Buckingham Palace

Buckingham PalaceAgain another major and important building, just in the heart of London. Buckingham Palace is the main residence of the reigning monarch. When it was built the Palace was owned by the Duke of Buckingham and in the beginning it was large townhouse. The Palace became the “Queen’s House” only in 1761, when it was used as a private residence by Queen Charlotte. The Palace got the state of official royal residence, during the reign of Queen Victoria in 1837.

Until the 19th century, the building remained the same, but then it was enlarged with three additional wings around the primary building. The famous balcony, where royals celebrate the crowd was constructed in the 20th century. Your main interest about the Buckingham Palace should be pointed at the extraordinary and beautiful interiors. Many of the original interiors are still there to observe – you can see the blue and pink semi-precious stone decoration, which later were supplemented with decoration in Belle Epoque style.

What to Do

From the enormous number of more than 700 rooms, today only 19 are opened for display. These are the State Rooms, which are beautifully decorated, exposed as they are. In the Rooms, painting of great masters such as Rubens, Poussin and Rembrandt are shown. You can also see treasures from the Royal Collection and interesting furniture. The other thing you shouldn’t miss are the Buckingham Gardens, which are the biggest city gardens in London, with more than 300 species of flowers. In your way to the Buckingham Palace, you can take a walk through Green Park or St. James’s Park.
Opening Times
Buckingham Palace is opened for visits only between 1st August and 27th September. Tickets are sold really quickly, so you better book your tickets well in advance.
Prices
An adult tickets is £20.50, for students and senior, the discount tickets will be £18.80. Children under 17 will pay £11.80 and children under 5 can enter free of charge.
Getting There

  • Train – The nearest station of the train is Victoria Station, about 10 minutes walk
  • Bus – Numbers 11, 211, C1 and C10 stop on Buckingham Palace Road
  • Tube – Victoria, Green Park and Hyde Park Corner are the closest stations
  • Car or taxi – Again, at the Palace there no place for parking, the nearest parking will beat Victoria Station. With taxi you shouldn’t have this problem

St. Paul’s Cathedral

St PaulSt. Paul has a great story! Five different churches were built at this place until the final result of the cathedral we see today. The first big attempt to build cathedral was in Gothic style. During the 13th century it was one of the biggest cathedrals in Europe. The building suffered from fires many times, but was reconstructed every time. The last reconstruction happened in 1669 three years after the Great Fire of London.

The architect Christopher Wren had great plans for the new cathedral vision. The dome he wanted to build was just a little bit smaller than St. Peters dome in Rome. His project was rejected, so had to make some changes and reduce the size of the dome. However, finally when the construction started, again changes were made, and today’s cathedral is more close to his original plans. It’s worth to enter into the church. The large dome is impressive on the inside as well. You can see paintings and beautiful mosaics.

St. Paul also has ongoing project for collaboration between contemporary artist and the church. Installations of artist like Antony Gormley, Yoko Ono and Gerry Judah are exhibited inside.
Opening Times
The Cathedral is open to visitors every day from Monday to Saturday between 8.30 until 16.30
Prices
Adult ticket is 18.00, children in age 6-17 years can enter for 8.00 and students for 16.00
Getting There

  • Tube – you can choose between a lots of stations: St. Paul’s, Mansion House, Blackfriars, Bank
  • Bus – the list of buses, stopping nearby : 4, 11 ,15, 23, 25, 26, 100, 242
  • Train – The nearest stations are: City Thameslink, Blackfriars, Cannon Street, Liverpool Street
  • Car – Here you can park at Queen Victoria Street public parking or just take a taxi