The ultimate sightseeing guide to London

London, capital of England, home to the Queen and a mecca for all fashion and history lovers.

The first time I visited London, I felt lost by the sheer size of this city and the plethora of options.  As amazing as this city is, it can be very overwhelming for first time visitors.

To help first time visitors to London I have curated these top sights into a sightseeing guide to London.

You will need a minimum of 3 days to see it all. My advice is don’t try to cram it all in your visit. Instead, why not pick and choose from the must see sights and some more off the beaten tracks activities.

I have tried to group the activities by Location, for example you could do the London eye, Big Ben, parliament house, Westminster abbey and the Covent Garden in one day.  One thing I learnt  that in London you need to try to be efficient and minimise travel time.

View from the London Eye

 

London Eye

This is such a cliché, but for very good reasons. The view from the London Eye is worth the admission and the queue. I would recommend that you do this first, mainly because you get a bird’s eye view of London and can start to get your bearings by seeing where all the famous monuments are located.

TIP: make sure to pre-book your ticket and try to book the first session.

Where: Lambeth, London SE1 7PB (Google Maps)
Closest Tube: Waterloo Underground
Price: Adults from £23.45pp (Buy tickets here)

Big Ben

The Big Ben, Westminster Palace and Westminster Abbey are all next to each other on the banks of the Thames River.

The Big Ben is a must see, after all it is as much a symbol of England as the Queen. You can participate in Big Ben tours on Sundays or during parliamentary recess

Note: There are major constructions going on the Big Ben until 2020.

Fun Fact: Scott has actually never seen the Big Ben or the Westminster. He was very busy living the high life in his Emirates Box at an Arsenal match when I went.

Where: Westminster, London SW1A 0AA (Google Maps)
Closest Tube: Westminster

Big Ben and Westminster, London

Westminster Abbey

The Westminster Abbey had been made famous by Queens Elizabeth II coronation and the Wedding of the century. It is right next to the Parliament house and is a sight to behold.

You cannot go inside on Sundays, so best to visit during the week.

Where: 20 Deans Yd, Westminster, London SW1P 3PA (Google Maps)
Closest Tube: Westminster

Palace of Westminster

Westminster Palace, also known as the Parliament House, once ruled over by the lords who oversaw England is a sight to behold. There is something quite surreal about this historic monument that you have grown up reading about only to finally get to see it as an adult.

You can actually arrange for a tour of the Parliament house when the parliament is in recess.

Where: Westminster, London SW1A 0AA (Google Maps)
Closest Tube: Westminster

Tower of London

The Tower of London is the city’s oldest monument and has had many purposes throughout its life. Once the house of kings, it transitioned to being a prison and is now a museum and the keeper of the Crown Jewels.

If the walls could speak, I can only imagine what tales they would have to tell. This monument is filled with history and well worth a visit.

Where: St Katharine’s & Wapping, London EC3N 4AB (Google Maps)
Closest Metro: Tower Hill
Price: Adults from £24 / Children (5-15yo) from £11 (Buy tickets here)

Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge is a sight to behold. Majestic comes to mind when I see it. It is one of the oldest bridges in the city and has a drawbridge effect which allows tall ships to pass through.

There are a multiple ways of experiencing the beauty that is this bridge, but top among it will have to be walking across it or climbing on the top.

Where: Tower Bridge Rd, London SE1 2UP  (Google Maps)
Closest Metro: Tower Hill

Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre

The Globe Theatre is a tribute to Shakespeare and is dedicated to explore his work. It is famous for its thatched and open roof as well as the circular shape. If you want to get a show here, make sure to pre-book your tickets especially in summer.

Where: Cardinal Cap Alley, London SE1 9JF (Google Maps)
Closest Tube: Blackfriars or London Bridge Underground
Price: approx £20-45.  Buy tickets online

St Paul’s Cathedral

St Paul’s Cathedral, with its famous dome roof, was completely rebuilt after the infamous fire which destroyed most of London in the 17th century. The view from the roof of this monument is truly worth the climb and the admission price.

The interior of is stunning and a must see. Taking pictures while inside is not permitted, so in many ways, you will have to visit to experience it.

Where: St. Paul’s Churchyard, London EC4M 8AD (Google Maps)
Closest Tube: St Paul’s
Price: Adults £18 / Children £16 (Buy online and save £2 per ticket)

Buckingham Palace (Changing of the guards)

Buckingham Palace, the official residence of the Queen is a symbol of the English Monarchy. As such, it a very famous landmark that attracts thousands of visitors everyday, especially at 11:30 am when the guard changes in what is now a very sought after ceremony.

You can elect to pay for a tour to visit the Palace or it is free to see it from the gates.

Where: Westminster, London SW1A 1AA (Google Maps)
Closest Tube: Green Park or Hyde Park Corner
Price: Free

Convent Garden

I love Covent Garden, so much so that one of my requirements when we visit London, is that we must stay within walking distance of Convent Garden.

Convent Garden is so much more than shopping, it is a very picturesque set of interconnecting streets with some amazing shops. The atmosphere is something else. It is a mixture of tourists and locals mingling in what I would say is one of the best shopping areas in London.

Fun Fact: In my 3 day trip to London, I visited the Covent Garden 6 times. I would constantly find myself making my way there.

Where:  Covent Garden Piazza, 41 The Market, London WC2E 8RF (Google Maps)
Closest Tube: Covent Garden

London Sightseeing: Covent Garden Market, London

The theatre

You cannot go to London and not catch a show.  This website lists all the shows available. The one thing that surprised me was the fact that some of the major shows have dedicated theatre. That was just something else. Being from Melbourne, I am more used to a show being on for a couple of months at the Regent theatre after which another show takes its place.

You can buy last minute tickets from the official booth in Leicester square. Just make sure to get there early.

Tip: the well-known shows can be expensive, so don’t be afraid to check out something new or different.

Where: various – many located around Picadilly, Leicester Square and Covent Gardens
Closest Tube: Picadilly, Leicester Square and Covent Gardens
Price: various

Piccadilly Circus

The name Circus is very appropriate in this case. Piccadilly Circus is crazy busy with billboards, flashing lights, crazy traffic and enormous amount of people. But it is worth a walk through, which you will have to anyway if you are going to the theatre.

Where: Piccadilly Circus London W1D 7ET (Google Maps)
Closest Tube:
Picadilly Circus Station

British Museum

There are no shortage of Museums to visit in London but the British Museum is my pick. Not only is it the oldest museum in the world, it also focuses on history which is the only reason I go to museums.

Where: Great Russell St, Bloomsbury, London WC1B 3DG (Google Maps)
Closest Tube: 
Tottenham Court Road or Russell Square
Price: Free entry

Portobello Market

Portobello Market and the neighbouring suburb of Notting Hill and Primrose is a must visit, if only to follow the steps of Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts in the famous movie set in Notting Hill.

Where: 192A Portobello Rd, London W11 1LA (Google Maps)
Closest Tube: Ladbroke Grove Station

I hope that you enjoyed this sightseeing guide. What are your must see when you are in London?

London Pinterest Image

2 Comments

  1. April 10, 2017 / 6:34 pm

    I’ve been to London quite some time and I never made it to Portobello I hope I can change that soon. Such a wonderful city 🙂

    • admin
      April 10, 2017 / 7:17 pm

      Hi Neni,
      You must absolutely try to make it to Portobello, if only to discover the hidden mews to take pictures 😊

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