What are the Top Ten Sites to See in London?
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.
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).
9. Leeds Castle
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.
10. British Museum
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.
Overshadowed by the Tower of London, and pretty much ignored by the millions of people who trot past its doors every year, the church of All Hallows by the Tower nevertheless packs a fascinating punch. The oldest surviving church in London, it also contains 7th century Saxon elements and even the mosaic flooring of a 2nd century Roman villa. It doesn’t take long to visit this overlooked church, but it’s one of the most interesting places to visit in London.Read more
For a nation steeped in naval tradition, HMS Belfast is one of the finest examples of the Royal Navy’s powerful fleet. One of the largest cruisers of WWII, Belfast also served in the Korean War before its retirement and conversion to its now-peaceful role as a museum ship. Today it’s one of the most popular things to see in London and visitors can scramble up and down its decks and levels, discover what life was like on board and take part in the many interactive experiences on offer.Read more
Once the favourite palace of Henry VIII, Hampton Court Palace is chocked full of Tudor history and boasts an array of fascinating things to see. You can eyeball Henry’s state rooms, explore the Tudor kitchens and even take a peek at the very tennis court on which the famous king played in his youth. Add to that the vast and charming gardens and the popular maze and Hampton Court Palace really does justify its place as one of the best things to do in London.Read more
When people think of London they often picture the Houses of Parliament and the iconic Big Ben. Indeed, the Palace of Westminster is where both houses of the UK Parliament are located and it is one of the most famous places to visit in London. For those who visit Britain’s capital, these famous landmarks are often top of the sightseeing list. Visitors can attend debates and take a tour through this sprawling complex as well as seeing Big Ben.Read more
A museum dedicated to world conflict, the Imperial War Museum has been a staple entry on lists of places to see in London for decades. The museum looks at conflict throughout history with particular focus on the First and Second World Wars, the Holocaust, women’s roles in conflicts and wartime artwork.Read more
Kew Palace, along with its famous gardens, is one of the most popular of London’s places to visit. The former home of King George III, the 17th century palace is noted for its distinctive decorative brickwork and gables. Visitors can explore the palace itself, along with Queen Charlotte’s cottage, the pagoda, the treetop walk and the many conservatories.Read more
The Roman Villa at Lullingstone is an important reminder of the region’s Roman history. For hundreds of years London was a major Roman city, with all the wealth and trappings which went with it. Sadly, only shadows of London’s Roman past remain, and Lullingstone ranks among the best elements. With Roman artefacts, interactive recreations and digital displays, there’s lots to do and the villa also boasts incredible original mosaics. It’s about an hour outside the city but offers a good way to escape the crowds.Read more
Many people who come to London will only explore the heart of the city. Not surprising considering there are so many things to see in the centre of London. But when you’re considering what to do in London during your visit, if you want to experience a different pace of life, the short hop by train to the picturesque town of St Albans is a great way to go. A beautiful market town, boasting a medieval cathedral and even the ruins of a Roman city, St Albans has much to offer the discerning traveller.Read more
Seldom highlighted as one of London’s best things to do, the Great Fire of London Monument is often ignored and forsaken by guidebooks. Yet this Doric column monument designed by Sir Christopher Wren gives some of the best views of the city and is fascinating in itself as a commemoration to the Great Fire of London of September 1666.Read more
Ranking as one of the best places in London to visit, the Victoria and Albert Museum spans 3,000 years of history and displays millions of works of art from all around the world. Boasting everything from ancient jewellery to Ancient Chinese art, Indian sculptures and medieval masterpieces, there’s loads to explore and lots to astonish as you wander.Read more