I have been to London several times and each time I go, I discover something new. London has so much to offer and is a great place to go for any length of time. When I plan what I am going to do in London, I first decide what tourist attractions I would like to see and do, and then I route my trip based around the tube map.
The London Underground is divided into nine zones: central London is covered by zone 1. There are 11 Tube lines. The Tube fare depends on how far you travel, time of day, and how you pay. Oyster or contactless payments are the cheapest ways to pay for single fares. Tube services usually run from 5AM until midnight, with Night Tube services on some lines on Friday and Saturday evenings.
After I have decided what I would like to see and do, I look up the nearest underground station of each place on LondonTown.com.
Below is a list of major tourist attractions categorized by their closest underground station.
Tower of London – This is London’s version of a castle. It is a fortress, royal palace, and infamous prison all in one. Buying your tickets online is the cheapest and most convenient way to visit the Tower. The cost is 22.50GPB. It is open from 9AM to 4:30PM Tuesday-Saturday and 10AM to 16:30 on Sundays and Mondays. Check out the official website for more information.
Tower Bridge – This is one of London’s famous bridges and one of many must-see landmarks in London. You can discover the stories behind the engineering, the people, the architecture, and the city that build Tower Bridge. From the high-level walkways, you can take in stunning panoramic views and experience the thrill of seeing London life through the Glass Floor. In the Victorian Engine Rooms, you will learn about how the bridge was engineered and how it functions. The bridge is open daily from 9:30AM to 5PM. You can receive discounted tickets by booking online. The price is 8.70GBP. You can find out more information on the website.
Coppa Club Igloo Restaurant – The terrace of this restaurant has been transformed into the copies set up the Thames has to offer. With fluffy blankets and sheepskin rugs, sparkly night’s sky and unrivaled views of London’s Thameside skyline, it’s the dreamiest spot ideal for hiding away from the cold and the city outside. There are a limited amount of spaces so you have to book well in advance. There is no booking fee and the prices are very cheap considering. You can check out the menu here.
Shard – Formerly known as London Bridge Tower, this 95-story skyscraper is the tallest building in the European Union. The building has a viewing gallery and open-air observation deck on the 72nd floor, at a height of 244 meters (801 feet). It offers visitors a 360-degree view for up to 40 miles. The ticket is quite expensive at 32GBP. You can book it in advance or when you arrive. There are also several restaurants and bars, all of which boast floor to ceiling windows and an excellent view of the city. You can learn more about each and make reservations here.
Clink Prison Museum – This museum is built upon the original site of the Clink prison which dates back to 1144, making it probably the oldest prison in England. Visit the website for more information.
Big Ben – Elizabeth Tower’s Great Bell of the clock at the north end of the Palace of Westminster has been nicknamed Big Ben. When construction completed in 1859, the clock was the largest and most accurate four-faced striking and chiming clock in the world. The tower stands 315 feet (96 meters) tall, and the climb from ground level to the belfry is 334 steps. In August 2017, a four-year schedule of renovation work began on the tower. With a few exceptions, such as New Year’s Eve and Remembrance Sunday, the bells are to be silent until the work is completed in the 2020s.
House of Parliament – The palace of Westminster, commonly known as the House of Parliament, is the meeting place of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, the two houses of Parliament of the United Kingdom. The UK Parliament is open to visitors year round, Monday to Saturday, to attend debates and committee hearings or to take a tour of the building. Visit the website for more information.
Westminster Abbey – This cathedral is across from the Palace of Westminster. It is one of the United Kingdom’s most notable religious buildings and the traditional place of coronation and burial site British monarchs. There have been 16 royal weddings at the abbey since 1100, including Prince William and Catherine. You can attend church services, free of charge or book tickets for visiting at another time.
London Eye – This is a cantilevered observation wheel on the South Bank of the River Thames. It is Europe’s tallest cantilevered observation wheel and is the most popular paid tourist attraction in the United Kingdom with over 3.75 million visitors annually. The structure is 135 meters (443 feet) tall. If you book online, you will save 10% on tickets and guarantee a time slot.
The London Dungeon – This is a tourist attraction along London’s South Bank which recreates various gory historical events in a humorous style. It uses a mixture of live actors, special effects, and rides. There are 19 live shows and 2 thrilling rides. Book online for the best price, guarantee entry, and choose your arrival time. You can also combine your ticket with another London Attraction for 40GBP. For opening times and more information visit the website.
Sea Life Aquarium – Here you will find Europe’s largest collections of global marine life. The Rainforest Adventure allows you to immerse yourself in a world of creepy crawlies, charming crocs, and curious critters. The Ocean Invaders welcomes you to enter the world of Jellyfish, stepping into the UK’s largest jellyfish experience. You can also learn about sting rays in the Ray Lagoon or see the Gentoo penguins dipping and diving around through the viewing window. You will save up to 10% when you buy your tickets online. Check out the website for more information.
Shrek’s Adventure – This is an interactive and immersive walkthrough experience, where the whole family can step into and star in your own hilarious misadventure with Shrek and his DreamWorks friends. You will explore 12 fairytale themed live shows after boarding the magical flying 4D bus to Far Far Away. To purchase tickets or get more information, take a look at the website.
River Thames Cruises- Whether you step aboard for a sightseeing cruise, or even watch the sights unfold over lunch, afternoon tea or dinner, the boats offer panoramic views, an open air deck, a bar, and commentary from a guide. Check out the various cruise options on the City Cruises website.
Buckingham Palace – This is the London residence and administrative headquarters of the monarch of the United Kingdom. Buckingham Palace is open to the public during the summer months when the Queen is not in residence, usually between August and September. You can book the tickets online. To catch the famous Changing of the Guard ceremony, stand outside by 10:15AM on certain days. Check the Household of Division website for a schedule.
Green Park – This is a great park to relax in right next to Buckingham Palace. It is one of London’s eight Royal Parks and covers an area of 40 acres.
St James’s Park
St. James Park – Instead of taking the underground between Buckingham Palace and the Westminster area, take a stroll through this beautiful park.
Churchill War Rooms – Discover the life and legacy of Winston Churchill in the bunker and museum hidden beneath the streets of Westminster. Walk in his footsteps and glimpse what life would have been like during the tense days and nights of the Second World War. The Imperial War museum is open daily from 9:30 AM until 6PM. Purchase your tickets here.
Hyde Park Corner
Winter Wonderland – Hyde Park Winter Wonderland is a Christmas extravaganza, opening its doors for the festive season from November through January. Entry to Winter Wonderland is free, with tickets to individual attractions bookable in advance. Visit the website for more information.
Harrods – This is the world’s most famous department store with the latest men’s and women’s designer fashion, luxury gifts, food, and accessories. The store is open from 10AM to 9PM Monday to Saturday and 11:30AM to 6PM on Sundays. The Food Halls on the ground floor are the most popular departments at Harrods. The Toy Department with 8 different colored rooms is located on the 4th floor. The Egyptian Escalator is in the middle of the store and it connects 7 floors. The Fine Jewelry department is located on the ground floor. The Superbrands Department is located for ladies on the 1st floor and men on the 2nd floor. The Harrods Gift Shop is located on the 2nd floor. Visit the store’s website for more information.
High Street Kensington
Kensington Palace – Currently the palace is the official residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Areas of the Palace are open to the public. Visitors can walk through the King’s State Apartments, the Queen’s State Apartments, and the Gardens. To book tickets and for more information, visit the Historic Royal Palaces website.
Natural History Museum – This free museum is open every day from 10 AM to 5:50 PM.
Science Museum – Discover award-winning exhibitions, iconic objects, and stories of incredible scientific achievement at the London Science Museum. It is open daily from 10AM until 6PM. Entry to the museum is free but donations are appreciated.
Piccadilly Circus Square- The square is famous for its neon signs, different displays, and the Eros Fountain. Piccadilly Circus offers a variety of cinemas, theaters, shops, and restaurants. This square is one of the liveliest areas in London and one of the main areas to go out partying.
Chinatown – This bustling neighborhood is home to a large East Asian community, who gather together for events and activities throughout the year, in particular during London’s Chinese New Year celebrations.
Oxford Street – Shop England’s most famous shopping street with more than 300 shops and restaurants. The street runs 1.5 miles from Tottenham Court Road to Marble Arch.
West End Shows – You can book advance tickets on several websites or even purchase extremely discounted tickets on the day of a show in Leicester Square.
Leicester Square – Entertainment in Leicester Square has been going on since 1670. It is filled with theaters, restaurants, bars, clubs, and shops. With Trafalgar Square to the south, Piccadilly Circus to the west, China Town to the north, and Covent Garden to the east, Leicester Square is right in the thick of The West End.
Trafalgar Square – This public square commemorates the Battle of Trafalgar, a British naval victory in the Napoleonic Wars. Several special events occur here every year.
National Gallery – This art museum is located in Trafalgar Square. Founded in 1824, it houses a collection of over 2,300 paintings dating from the mid-13th century to 1900. It is open daily from 10AM to 6PM and stays open until 9PM on Fridays. Admission is free. You can access the Gallery’s website here.
House of MinaLima – This is an exhibition and shop of the graphic art of the Harry Potter films, as well as other works by MinaLima. It is open every day from 12-7PM. For more information, visit the website.
St Pauls Cathedral – This cathedral has been in London for over 1,400 years. It has been built and rebuilt five times, and always its main purpose has been as a place of worship. There is an hourly prayer and daily services. The tourist entry fee at the door is 20GBP for adults, but no charge is made to worshippers. For more information, visit the cathedral’s website.
Millennium Bridge – This is a steel suspension bridge for pedestrians crossing the River Thames.
Shakespeare’s Globe – The modern Globe Theater reconstruction is an an approximation based on available evidence of the 1599 and 1614 buildings. It is considered quite realistic, though contemporary safety requirements mean that it accommodates only 1,400 spectators compared to the original theater’s 3,000. It celebrates Shakespeare’s transformative impact on the world by conduction a radical theatrical experiment. Book tickets to the shows on the website.
Charles Dickens Museum – Discover the world’s most important collection of material relating to the great novelist and social campaigner. The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10AM until 5PM, with slight changes at certain times of the year. The admission price is 9.50GBP. For more information visit the website.
British Museum – This museum houses a large collection of world art and artifacts and is free to all visitors. It is dedicated to human history, art, and culture. Find information about visiting here.
King’s Cross St Pancras
Platform 9 3/4 – The Harry Potter Shop at Platform 9 3/4, is the home of Harry Potter merchandise, collectibles, and souvenirs. The shop is found in Kings Cross Station, but not between platforms 9 and 10, like I assumed. You can have your photo taken at the famous sign as you push your trolley through the station wall. Be prepared to wait over an hour or even two in the line. You can purchase a photo from the photographer or hand your personal camera to a friend for them to take it on their own, which is allowed.
Sherlock Holmes Museum – The museum is located at 221B Baker Street. The world famous consulting detective, Sherlock Holmes, lived there between 1881 and 1904. Mr. Holmes shared his rooms with his loyal friend and colleague, Dr. Watson. The house is protected by the government due to its “special architectural and historical interest.” It is open every day from 9:30AM until 6PM. Admission is 15GBP. For more information visit the website.
Madame Tussauds – Get up close and personal with more than 250 lifelike wax figures. Book online for the best savings. This can be combined with another London attraction for 40GBP or 2 more attractions for 50GBP or all eligible attractions for 63GBP. The standard ticket is 27GBP. Check out the website for more information.
Regent’s Park – This park combines large open spaces with tree-lined pathways, formal gardens, and four children’s playgrounds. It has excellent sports facilities, and contains central London’s largest outdoor sports area. It is one of London’s eight Royal Parks and covers an area of 395 acres.
St John’s Wood
Abbey Road Studios – This famous recording studio is located at 3 Abbey Road. It is most notable as being the 1960s’ venue for innovative recording techniques adopted by The Beatles, Pink Floyd, The Hollies, as well as others. Walk across the iconic pedestrian crossing, which was made famous after appearing on a Beatles album cover.
Camden Market – There are over 1,000 shops and stalls selling fashion, music, art, and food.