10 things to do and see in London

A complete and detailed guide about 10 things to do and see in London in 1, 2 or 3 days

10 things to do and see in London
10 things to do and see in London

Many years ago there were many gentlemen in London with black bowler and umbrella…but it’s been too long since that period.  And since The Beatles crossed the pedestrian crossing. And it’s been too long since the time when the Clash have made London the Punk capital.

At 5pm there’s just one person in London who still drinks the tea: the Queen. Here people are too busy making money and they prefer to eat “Fish & Chips” or something else in a fast ethnic food. The serious English gentlemen walk side by side with Sri Lankans, Indians, Jamaicans, Africans and a few hundred other ethnic groups around the world. Something in London is irrevocably changed, and only you can decide whether for better or for worse. It remains the charm of monuments such as Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament which are never out of fashion, but you should also try to see London from an unusual points of view: a ride on the footsteps of Jack the Ripper could open up unexpected scenarios. Here you will find the 10 things you to do and see during a visit in London.

If you are looking for a hotel in London, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 2300 hotels with prices, pictures and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery in London

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Trafalgar Square is the navel of the world and the first thing to see in London, definitely. From the big square start  the main streets of the city: The Mall, the avenue leading to Buckingham Palace, the Strand, leading to the City and Whitehall, leading to the House of Parliament.

Named after the battle of Trafalgar, where Admiral Horatio Nelson defeated the Spanish and French fleets during the Napoleonic wars in 1805, the square was originally the headquarters of the King’s Mews, the royal stables.

Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery in London
Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery in London

Today Trafalgar Square is a true icon of the city and hosts one of the most famous museums in the world, the most important of London: the National Gallery.

A reputation well deserved when you consider that there’s the naked most famous prehistoric art, the Venus of Bilendorf, dating back to 25,000 years ago, and the main collection of English painting, a must see, with  the Italian school paintings, including which some precious Botticelli, Raphael and Michelangelo, and the English masters of the ‘700 and’ 800, plus an extensive collection of contemporary works.

Where: Trafalgar Square, Westminster district.
How to get there: Metro – Westminster (Circle and District and Jubilee); Embankment (lines Northern, Bakerloo, Circle and District); Piccadilly (Piccadilly and Bakerloo lines); Leicester Square (Northern and Piccadilly lines); Charing Cross (Northern and Bakerloo lines) Bus – 3, 6, 9, 12, 13, 15, 23, 88, 139, 159, 453
When-Hours: every day from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm ; on Fridays from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm
Never: 24, 25 and 26 December; January 1st
Tickets: free entrance

Buckingham Palace and Changing of the Guard in London

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Buckingham Palace is another must-see during your visit in London: the residence of the British monarchy, built in 1703 for the Duke of Buckingham, and only later purchased by George III who made it his residence with  the royal family.

Buckingham Palace and Changing of the Guard in London
Buckingham Palace and Changing of the Guard in London

The majestic palace of 775 rooms, with an immense royal park of 20 hectares, can be visited only during the summer, when the royal family move into the summer residence, Windsor Castle. From August 1st to September 27th the West Wing is open to the public, which includes some rooms in the apartments and the royal stables, where there are the fabulous carriages used by the rulers on official occasions. If you walk around 11:30 am near Buckingham Palace and see men in red uniform, with a big black fur hat, parading with some curious signs, you are certainly watching the ceremony of His Majesty’s Guard change, a rite that is renewed since 1660. If you’re curious to know if the Queen is in the palace, we reveal you a tip: be careful about the number of guards, if there are 4 guards “the Queen” is at home.

How to get there:  Metro – Victoria (Victoria, Circle and District); Green Park (Victoria lines, Piccadilly and Jubilee); Hyde Park Corner (Piccadilly Line) Bus – 11, 211, C1 and C10
Where: St. Margaret Street
When-Hours: from 25 July to 31 August from 09:30 am to 7:30  pm (last entry at 17:15); 1st to 27th  September from 09:30 am to 6:30  pm (last entry at 4:15 pm)
Tickets: £20,50

Big Ben and Houses of Parliament in London

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An excellent example of neo – Gothic architecture, the House of Parliament, also known as Westminster Palace, is a magnificent building of 1,200 rooms in which there are both houses of the British Parliament: the House of Commons and House of Lords.

Big Ben and Houses of Parliament in London
Big Ben and Houses of Parliament in London

Crossed far and wide by 3 km of corridors, the huge structure hides an underground labyrinthine and is said that  George Orwell was inspired precisely by these underground to describe the “Miniver”, the Ministry of Truth in London, in his visionary novel “1984”. The House of Parliament, is dominated by two famous towers: the Victoria Tower, which leads to the Parliament, and the Clock Tower, that is the clock par excellence, considered the most accurate in the world. Perhaps only few people know that Big Ben is not the name of the watch, but the big 13-ton and a half bell, so called because it was made by Benjamin Hall, which beats the hours, while the other four smaller bells ring every quarter of hour. Unfortunately the visit to the Clock Tower is only allowed to British citizens, on the other hand you can attend free of charge to the parliamentary debates and visit the two chambers. We advise you to admire the façade of the House of Parliament in the evening, when the lights are reflected in the Thames remodeling the profile.

Where: St. Margaret Street
How to get there: Westminster (District and Circle Line e Jubilee Line)
When: Big Ben is always there. A part of the House of Parliament is open to tourists from Monday to Saturday, August and September, with times to be verified

St. Paul's Cathedral in London

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The current Cathedral of St Paul arose from the ashes of the cathedral that was destroyed during the tragic fire of London in 1656. This marvel of the English Baroque is the result of a double deception: the English clergy vetoed the initial project of the architect Christopher Wren, because of the catholic dome in favor of a more traditionally English bell, all spiers and aisles.

But in 1710, after 35 years of work, London found the cathedral with the big dome, which is actually an illusion: the domes are 3.

St. Paul's Cathedral in London
St. Paul’s Cathedral in London

There is the external one, so majestic and impressive that everyone can see it, inside it contains a second dome visible only from the inside of the cathedral, and in the middle there is a third that is not seen at all, and supports the skylight.

It’s precisely for its unique and charming character that St Paul’s Cathedral has always hosted the most significant events of the city: from Winston Churchill’s funeral to those of Lord Nelson, the hundredth birthday of the Queen Mother, the Lady Diana wedding with Prince Charles. Don’t miss the Whispering Gallery which owes its name to an acoustic singularity: saying a word close to the wall, you can listen to it from anywhere near the tunnel. From the Gold Gallery it’s possible to enjoy a wonderful view of London.

Where: Ludgate Hill, nella City.
How to get there: Metro – St Paul’s (Central Line); Mansion House (District and Circle Line); Blackfriars (District and Circle Line); Bank (Central, Northern and Waterloo & City Line) Bus – 4, 11, 15, 23, 25, 26, 100, 242
When: every day from 8:30 am  to 4:30 pm  last visit at 4:00 pm
Tickets: £18,00

Tate Gallery in London

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The Millennium Bridge was built aligned with Saint Paul, a spectacular pedestrian bridge steel, which connects the north bank of the Thames to the south shore. Here you can find the Tate Modern, the art gallery born from the project to expand and divide the  British contemporary art collection from the past kept in the Tate Britain, and both, along with the Tate Liverpool and Tate St. Ives in Cornwall, are part of the museum complex Tate.

Tate Gallery in London
Tate Gallery in London

Inaugurated in 2000, the Tate Modern is considered one of the most avant-garde art galleries in the world: a must see for lovers of contemporary art : all art from 1900 to the present day, with works Picasso, Matisse, Dalí, Kandinsky and Van Gogh, but also the structure itself is a work of art. It’s located in a former power station, and the building still retains its original charm in appearance, such as the imposing chimney, and its interior spaces: the Turbine Hall, for example, what once was the engine room, is now the main entrance to the Tate, directly from Holland Street.

If in addition you love also the theater, we reveal you a secret : just around the corner from the Tate Modern there’s the Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, modern reconstruction of the famous Globe Theatre, built in 1599 by the Shakespeare theater company.

Where: Bankside
How to get there: Metro – Blackfriars and Mansion House (Circle and District Line) Southwark (Jubilee Line) St Paul’s (Central Line) are a 10-minute walk . Boat Tate – every 40 minutes . The Tate Boat will allow you to move from Tate Britain to Tate Modern enjoying an unusual view of the city from the River
By feet Millennium Bridge
When-Hours: every day from 10:00 am  to 6:00 pm Friday and Saturday from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm
Never 24, 25, 26 December. On December 31, the closing is at 6:00 pm
Tickets: free entrance

British Museum in London

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The British Museum, the oldest public museum in the world, will give you a unique experience from the contemporary art to the roots of our history. A trip back through the centuries to discover the most beautiful and ancient treasures of the world, including eight million objects that tell the story of man, from the first petroglyphs prehistoric era to the first coins, from hieroglyphics to the ancient Chinese ceramics , up to the twentieth century paintings.

British Museum in London
British Museum in London

Africa, the Americas and Asia, all combined in a majestic building which recalls the atmosphere that reigns in this extraordinary journey through time, with its imposing entrance with pediment and columns that look like the model of Greek temples. No coincidence that the British Museum is dedicating an entire gallery to the Parthenon sculptures, with the oldest collection of Greek vases, the largest collection in the world of Ancient Egypt artifacts, and houses the Rosetta Stone, which allowed studying and deciphering the hieroglyphs. Be careful not to get lost among the antiquities of the British Museum and the precious artifacts: visit it all in one day is a real “mission impossible.” We suggest you to choose the itinerary that most inspires you and choose in advance the things to see.

Where: Great Russell St, Bloomsbury district
How to get there:
Metro: Tottenham Court Road (Central Line and Northern Line. Central Line trains will not stop at Tottenham Court Road from 1 January to early December 2015.
Russell Square (Piccadilly Line)
Goodge Street (Northern Line) Bus – 1,7, 8, 19, 25, 38, 55, 98, 242 stop in New Oxford Street 10, 14, 24, 29, 73, 134, 390 northbound stop at Tottenham Court Road, southbound stop Gower Street 59, 68, X68, 91, 168, 188 stop at Southampton Row
When-Hours: every day from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm on Friday until 8:30 pm
Never 24,25 and 26 December; 1 January and Good Friday.
Tickets: Free Entrance

Tower of London

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World heritage, protected by UNESCO and with more than 1000 years of history, the Tower of London is another of the things to see in London. A monumental complex of towers, buildings and courtyards surrounded by high strongholds built in 1078 along the Thames to protect the Normans from the incursions of the citizens of the City and the foreign invaders.

The first and oldest building to be erected by William the Conqueror, is the White Tower with four corner towers covered by domes and houses the beautiful St. John’s Chapel.

Tower of London
Tower of London

Former royal residence, state prison, theater of the executions of high-ranking personalities and religious dissidents, guardian of the Crown Jewels, is within the walls of this impressive. Here the story is mixed to the legend. The fortress is guarded by “Beefeaters”, the guards in sixteenth-century costumes black and red, and  by a group of special guardians: the Ravens, the family bird crows. Legend tells that King Charles II was convinced that the monarchy and the Tower would be ruined if the six ravens who guard the Tower abandon the fort. Today you can meet the group of birds that continue to watch the area but only under the guidance of “Raven Master” and, remember, you are not allowed to feed them!

Where: St. Margaret Street
How to get there: Metro – Tower Hill (Circle and District Line) Bus – 15, 42, 78, 100, RV1
When-Hours: from March 1 to October 31 from Tuesday to Saturday 9: 00 am 5: 30 pm ; Sunday and Monday from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm , last admission at 5:00 pm . From November 1 to February 28, from Tuesday to Saturday 9: 00 am -4: 30 pm ; Sunday and Monday from 10:00 am to 4:30 pm , last entry at 4:00 pm
Tickets: £ 22 and includes access to the Tower and the exhibition of the Crown Jewels, the White Tower, guided tour of a Yeoman Warder.

Tower Bridge in London

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The Tower Bridge links the area of Southwark to the Tower of London. It’s not as old as the tower, from which it takes its name, but fans of unusual and breathtaking views, have to visit to the Tower Bridge and the impressive glass walkway that connects the two neo-Gothic towers.

Tower Bridge in London
Tower Bridge in London

Built to allow the transit of much larger ships on the Thames, the mechanism that was raising the two ends of the bridge was driven by a hydraulic system that used the power of steam, operating until the ‘70s of the last century.

Today, however, the steam has been replaced by diesel, but you can visit the Victorian Engine Rooms, in the North Tower, where vintage gears are exposed. In the Tower Bridge Exhibition, there’s an interactive exhibition that tells the history of the impressive feat of engineering.

Where: Tower Bridge Rd
How to get there: Metro Tower Hill (District and Circle Line), London Bridge (Northern Line e Jubilee Line) Bus – 15, 42, 78, 100, RV1
When-Hours:  From April to September from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm , last admission at 5:30 pm. From October to March from 09:30 am to 5:30 pm , last admission at 5:00 pm. Mai: 24, 25 and 26 December; January 1st
Tickets: £10,50

Things to eat in London

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The air of London always has a strange smell, sometimes it seems that all the citizens  at the same time, are frying  everything including pictures of the Queen. There are restless hawkers at every street corner frying snacks to eat on the street, onion rings, and the famous fish & chips.

Things to eat in London
Things to eat in London

Fish & chips is a piece of cod and potatoes, strictly fried, served in a food paper. We suggest you to enjoy your fish and chips and don’t think about the fact that the oil in which it was cooked, has a bad color. If you don’t want to taste the local cuisine, don’t miss the ethnic alternative: London is the most multicultural city in the world, so it’s a food festival of Thai, Chinese, African, Sri Lankan, Jamaican tradition. For breakfast you’ll taste bacon, eggs and porridge. To eat something typically English, go to a pub where are served also food made from beef or pork, venison and onions. A tip: the meat is usually below…very below the onions, but there is. Don’t give up!

Where to sleep in London

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With thousands of hotel rooms and other accommodation, London is the most friendly city in the world but also the most expensive one. Perpetually invaded by tourists and business people, finding a place at a good price can be very tricky indeed.

Where to sleep in London
Where to sleep in London

So be patient and look for the right accommodation for you. Remember that staying in the center can be very expensive, so consider a room in less central districts. There is an efficient network of public transportation that gets you everywhere.

If you are looking for a hotel in London, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 2300 hotels with prices, pictures and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com