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London is one of those cities that makes it onto just about everyone’s bucket list. After all, it is the United Kingdom’s most visited city. Booking your dream vacation is a start, but where do you go from there? I put together this list of the best things to do in London to ensure your bucket list trip lives up to your expectations.

How to Get to London

A map with a pin on London to show the location in Europe.

There are six major airports in London: London City (LCY), London Gatwick (LGW), London Heathrow (LHR), London Luton (LTN), London Stansted (STN), and London Southend (SEN). The easiest airport to fly to and from is London Heathrow, especially if you are traveling internationally. In fact, it is one of the world’s busiest airports. Alternatively, it is usually cheapest to fly into London Luton if you are coming from mainland Europe. You may also wish to take a bullet train from mainland Europe (I have done this; it is a very unique experience). To determine which route is best for you, I encourage you to visit Rome2Rio.

With all of these options, travel to the United Kingdom’s most famous metropolis is a hop, skip, and a jump!

Things to Do in London

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace is famous for being the home and administrative headquarters of the Monarch. Guided tours of the lavish palace are offered at certain times of the year. If you do not choose to go inside, there is still much to see. The Changing of the Guard Ceremony, for example, takes place between Buckingham Palace, St James’s Palace, and Wellington Barracks. Buckingham Palace is the center of the past and present culture of the United Kingdom, so no visit to London is complete without it.

London Eye (Milennium Wheel)

The London Eye is located on the South Bank of the Thames River. It is the most popular paid tourist attraction in the United Kingdom. Having a 360-degree bird’s eye view of London from Europe’s tallest cantilevered observation wheel allowed me to appreciate the architecture in a way I could not have from the ground. After visiting some of London’s most famous sights, it was fun to ride the London Eye and try to point them out from above!

If you are afraid of rides, you can probably still experience the London Eye. It is very slow; you do not even realize you are moving. My mom usually gets very motion sick, but she loved the London Eye!

St. Paul’s Cathedral

Picture of the outside of St. Paul's Cathedral showing the massive dome.

St. Paul’s Cathedral is an architectural icon of London. This Anglican cathedral is located on Ludgate Hill, which is the highest point in the city; if you dare, you can climb to the top of the cathedral (I recommend climbing to the Whispering Gallery). The spectacular dome is one of the largest in the world, making it worth a visit.

In addition, St. Paul’s Cathedral has hosted many of the nation’s most important cultural and religious events. The funerals of Lord Nelson, Sir Winston Churchill, and Margaret Thatcher, as well as the wedding of Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer, were held in this cathedral. Furthermore, it is the seat of the Bishop of London. The importance of St. Paul’s Cathedral speaks for itself.

The National Gallery

The National Gallery is an art museum located in Trafalgar Square. It is free to visit; however, entry into special exhibitions may be charged. You are probably wondering why an art museum made this list. You can visit an art museum anywhere, right? Well, the National Gallery is one of the most popular and most visited museums in the world, and it houses one of the greatest collections of paintings.

I generally do not go out of my way to visit art museums, but the National Gallery was a must-do. It had some really interesting and unique exhibits. During my visit, they let the visitors electronically draw their own pictures to be displayed on the wall; the tiger in the photo above was drawn by me!

Piccadilly Circus

Picture of the center of Piccadilly Circus in London showing one of its famous statues.

Despite its name, Piccadilly Circus is not a circus at all. Located in the heart of London, this busy intersection serves as one of the city’s most popular meeting places. Piccadilly Circus is located near many shops (check out Regent Street), restaurants, and nightclubs.

The theatre district is located near Piccadilly Circus. Some of the world’s most popular musicals, such as Les Miserables and The Lion King, are performed here. If you cannot make it to Broadway, this is the next best thing. Additionally, Piccadilly Circus is located near Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square, and St. James’s Square.

This just brushes the surface, as there is so much to do here. Moral of the story: you’d be a fool to leave without visiting Piccadilly Circus!

Tower of London (His Majesty’s Royal Palace)

Picture of the Tower of London.

The Tower of London is not really a tower at all; it is castle on the north bank of the Thames River. Throughout history, the Tower of London has played many roles: a royal residence, prison, armory, treasury, and the home of the Royal Mint and Crown Jewels of England (just to name a few). Many famous executions were held in the Tower of London, as well.

This World Heritage Site was my favorite place to visit in London. With its rich (and dark) history, beautiful Crown Jewels, and cute resident ravens, the Tower of London could not possibly disappoint. I think it should be at the top of your list!

Tower Bridge

Picture of the Tower Bridge in London.

The Victorian-Gothic style Tower Bridge is one of the most famous landmarks of London. This drawbridge spans the Thames River and is located near the Tower of London. You can cross on foot for free, but paid experiences are available to access the exclusive sky bridge and exhibitions. Many tourists try to coincide their walk with the lifting of the drawbridge.

Do not confuse this bridge with London Bridge, which is a rather underwhelming bridge. Although you may wish to pay it a visit, you do not want to wind up there by accident!

Big Ben

A picture of Big Ben. Visiting this clocktower is one of the most popular things to do in London.

A trip to London is not complete without a visit to the icon of the city: Big Ben. This world-famous Gothic clocktower is actually called the “Elizabeth Tower”; Big Ben is technically a nickname for the giant bell within the tower! It is located on the north end of the Palace of Westminster.

Westminster Abbey

Last, but certainly not least, Westminster Abbey is one of the most popular places to visit. This large, Gothic-style church, which is located to the west of the Palace of Westminster, is the site of many national events, such as coronations, royal burials, and royal weddings. In fact, Westminster Abbey has hosted every coronation since that of William The Conqueror (1066), and it was the location of the wedding of Prince William to Catherine Middleton (2011). It is clear that this royal church and World Heritage Site has a rich history and should be a must-visit on your list.

Of course, there are many other things to do in London. It is a tremendous metropolis. This article is simply a list of my favorite sights, but I encourage you to do some exploring for yourself. Abbey Road, the London Bridge, and the British Museum are also quite popular (I have visited these locations, as well, and I recommend them). This is not one of the most popular things to do, but I also suggest taking a river cruise down the Thames. Cheerio and enjoy this incredible city!

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What do you plan to visit in London? Contact me or let me know in the comments below!

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