Is London calling you? Perhaps, the recent engagement of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (an American commoner!) has sparked your interest in visiting this fascinating city.
Or maybe you’ve always been an Anglophile and finally have the time to check out London. Whatever the reason, London is a city that is so jam-packed with interesting sites and attractions that you may find it difficult to fit them all in your vacation.
Need help whittling down your itinerary? Your Globus tour will ensure you see all of the must-see spots, including some of these.
Several of London’s most famous sites can be found within reasonably easy walking distance from one another along the River Thames. The Houses of Parliament and its famous clock tower, Big Ben, can be found on the north bank of the River Thames, alongside Westminster Abbey.
While across the river on the South Bank, you’ll find the London Eye, the London Aquarium, several other attractions and restaurants. You can also find boat cruises that depart from this location if you’re interested in a different view of the many landmarks situated along the River Thames.
The Houses of Parliament is the seat of the House of Lords and the House of Commons, the two parliamentary houses of the United Kingdom. If you have an interest in London’s political history, a tour of the Houses of Parliament should definitely be on your itinerary. You can even watch debates in the House of Commons or the House of Lords from the public galleries. One caution — parliament is not open on Sundays, so plan your trip accordingly. Also, Big Ben’s famous chimes will be silent for the most part until 2021. The tower is undergoing major conservation work and, thus, Big Ben will only ring for special occasions until the renovations are completed.
Westminster Abbey, which is located next to the Houses of Parliament, is a Gothic monastery church with a rich and royal history. It is the coronation church where every English and British monarch has been crowned — the only exceptions being Edward V and Edward VIII, both of whom were never crowned. It is also the burial site for 17 monarchs, as well as for many other historically important and significant people. Westminster Abbey has also been the site of many royal weddings, including that of Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011.
Leaving London without seeing Buckingham Palace? Sacrilege!
This iconic and stunning palace is the official London residence of the Royal Family and also where the administrative work for the monarchy is conducted. And, of course, it is where you’ll be able to see the famous Foot Guards with their tall hats known as bearskins.
The palace is open for tours during the summer months. And while the Changing of the Guards ceremony takes place every day from May through July, it occurs on a more limited basis during the rest of the year. So make sure to check their schedule if you really want to witness this ceremony.
If for some reason you are unable to witness the Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace, there is an alternative. Head over to the Horse Guards Parade at Whitehall for the Changing the Life Guard Ceremony. Here, you’ll get to witness beautifully outfitted guards mounted on well-trained horses go through their ceremonial rituals.
And because it is not as well-known as the ceremony at Buckingham Palace, you’ll typically find smaller crowds here, making it easier to get a good view of the action. The Changing the Life Guard occurs every day at 11:00 a.m., Monday through Saturday; and at 10:00 a.m. on Sundays. There is also a dismounting ceremony that occurs at 4:00 p.m.
One of the most famous buildings in the world, 10 Downing Street is the official residence of the British Prime Minister. Unfortunately, it is now hidden behind a high iron gate, so while you can look at this historic building, you can’t really get very close to it. Still, it is worth the effort to seek out since it is one of London’s best-known landmarks.
No, it’s not an actual circus, but a vibrant, busy square in the middle of London. And if you’ve ever been to New York’s Times Square, you’ll see a lot of similarities. It’s typically crowded, neon signs brighten the area at night, and it is home to many restaurants, pubs and stores.
It’s also close to London’s theater district and a great place to catch a bite to eat before or after a show. For something a little different, consider heading off on one of the rock-and-roll pilgrimage tours that leaves from Piccadilly Circus. It’s a fun little tour that will show you the places where the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and many others hung out and played.
One of the most famous weddings in modern times occurred at this cathedral — that of Prince Charles and Princess Diana. The Royal couple chose the venue because they wanted to “become the people’s prince and princess” and needed a large venue to hold their many guests. And with seating for 3,500 guests, St. Paul’s Cathedral definitely fit the bill.
In fact, this magnificent cathedral, which was built between 1675 and 1711, is one of the largest in Europe. St. Paul’s also boasts the second largest dome in the world. The cathedral is open for tours Monday through Saturday, but is only open for worship services on Sundays.