Overview: This walk takes you to some of London’s best-known sights along the venerable river Thames. The journey is rich in history, both... more »
Overview: This walk takes you to some of London’s best-known sights along the venerable river Thames. The journey is rich in history, both... more » recent and ancient, from the London Eye (which opened in 2000) to Westminster Abbey, which has served as the coronation church for royalty since 1066. The walk could take half a day or a full eight hours depending upon where you decide to linger. However you divvy up your time, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of London and her political, religious and artistic heritage. less «
Tips: Make sure to wear comfortable walking shoes and carry a lightweight travel umbrella for the notoriously fickle London weather. If you’... more »d like cheap insurance against fatigue, buy an all-day travel card for the tube, which will enable you to hop on public transit as the mood strikes you. less «
Start the day at London's most famous landmark. Originally the site of a series of royal palaces dating back to the 13th century, these Gothic-style buildings were completed in the mid-1800s after a fire destroyed the medieval original. They are the official home of the House of Lords and House of Commons, the nexus of English political power.
... More The layout comprises interlinked buildings containing nearly 1,200 rooms, 100 staircases and miles of passages. If you're especially interested in the parliamentary process, try to attend a debate or committee meeting. The lines tend to be quite long--hour to two-hour waits are common--so be sure to check the website first for start times if you want to arrive ahead of the crowds.
You also can tour the buildings on Saturdays and during the summer when parliament is out of session. It's a good idea to book these in advance; tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster.
Although only United Kingdom residents can climb the famous Clock Tower to see Big Ben, the nickname for the giant bell housed in the illustrious Clock Tower, anyone can enjoy the chimes that sound every quarter of an hour.
Saturdays all year 9:15am-4:30pm
Tours are also available during summer from late July to early September and then again from mid-September to October (check website for exact dates)
July-August tour times
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 9:15am-4:30pm
September-October tour times
Monday, Fridays 9:15am-4:30pm
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday 1:15-4:30pm
Tours run every 15 minutes
Students, senior citizens (60+), members of the armed forces £10Less
Walk across the street to this venerable seat of the Church of England where Anglican worship has taken place for more than 1,000 years. The largely Gothic building was consecrated in 1065 and completed around 1090.
These days, Westminster Abbey may be best known as the wedding venue for Prince William and Kate Middleton, but history, science and... More literature buffs could spend hours wandering around the church, marveling at the tombs and memorials of Winston Churchill, Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens and the like.
In addition to touring the abbey, the public is welcome to attend its worship services. Check the website for details on times and dates.
(Last admission an hour before closing)
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 9:30am-4:30pm
Sunday Worship only
Students 19+ (with ID), seniors (60+) £13
Kids 11-18 £6
Kids 10 and younger Free accompanied by an adult
Family £32 (2 adults and 1 child)
Family £38 (2 adults and 2 children)
+£6 per extra child
The first (chargeable) child with two adults is free
If you're touring with kids who need a break from all of the historic landmarks, pop into the aquarium. It features thousands of creatures in more than 2 million liters of water--including 40 sharks from 12 different species.
Afterward, if the weather's nice, they can burn off a bit of steam running around nearby Jubilee Gardens or marveling at... More the various street musicians, jugglers and "living statues" along the promenade.
(Last entry an hour before closing)
Various admission options, including priority entrance to skip the line, are available on the website
Cross over unassuming Westminster Bridge to County Hall, site of the city's modern take on the Ferris wheel. Built as a temporary structure to celebrate the millennium, the Eye swiftly cemented itself in the popular imagination.
Take a ride across the London skyline by day or by night for spectacular bird's-eye views. The circumference of the... More wheel is 424 meters and its splendid height allows you to see for around 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the top.
Rides on the world's "largest cantilevered observation wheel" last 30 minutes. Be sure to buy a timed ticket online to skip the lines.
Kids 4+ £9
Various options, including flexible and fast-track admittance, are available on the website
This arts center includes Royal Festival Hall, home to some fantastic music and dance performances, and the Hayward Gallery, a smallish space with rotating contemporary art exhibits. The hall often offers lunchtime concerts, especially in the summer.
It's also a great area to stop for a meal. Head to Canteen if you want a casual,... More family-friendly atmosphere featuring fresh British fare; Wagamama for super-quick, super-tasty ramen in a communal dining setting; or Skylon (in Royal Festival Hall itself) if you're looking for a more formal experience with a spectacular river view.
Royal Festival Hall
Queen Elizabeth Hall & Purcell Room
Foyer open 90 minutes before performances
Until 8pm Thursday, Fridays
Varies per performance or exhibit
Its "brutalist" concrete architecture has a fair number of detractors, including Prince Charles who called it "a clever way of building a nuclear power station in the middle of London without anyone objecting."
There's no denying, however, the caliber of performances within. Since the buildings opened in 1976, luminaries such as Dame Judi Dench... More, Sir Anthony Hopkins and Hugh Jackman have graced its stages.
If you don't have time to catch a play, you can always enjoy the acrobatic skateboarders outside who have claimed part of the exterior "undercroft" as their own.
This landmark was originally built as a power station, redesigned in the Art Deco style in the 1920s and now serves as a mixed-use combination of apartments, restaurants and retail shops.
It got its name from Oxo, the beef stock cube company that used its premises for cold storage. Today, Oxo Tower Wharf is home to more than 30 design studios... More and is a great place to pick up jewelry, clothing and artwork created by British artisans.
If you're feeling hungry at the end of your tour, check out the bar, restaurant and brasserie at the top of the tower. They're owned by fashionable department store Harvey Nichols and boast a 250-foot terrace with impressive London views.