Sightseeing in London ~ Our Recommended Must Visits

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Travel Features >> Sightseeing in London ~ Our Recommended Must Visits

Sightseeing in London ~ Our Recommended Must Visits

April 18, 2011

London is truly the mother of all tourist paradises- an inimitable combo of all that’s gauche and gimmicky, posh and perfect. From brash Soho to classy Mayfair, from St Paul’s Cathedral to the Millennium Dome, from the pigeons at Trafalgar Square to the displays at the British Museum - this city has something for everybody. [para]

Considering the fact that London’s been around for more than two millennia, it’s hardly surprising that it’s brimming with attractions. For a handy insight into London’s long and turbulent history, go for a guided tour through the seemingly impregnable Tower of London, or visit London’s oldest church, Westminster Abbey, the traditional venue for the coronation of England’s monarchs. Spend some time in meditation at St Paul’s Cathedral (or just admire the architecture- it’s stunning!) and then stroll past the imposing Houses of Parliament. Photograph Big Ben and watch the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, or simply feed the thousands of pigeons that flock around Nelson’s Column at Trafalgar Square. [para]

Visit the city’s many museums, repositories of art and artefacts from across time and space- the British Museum, the National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery, the Tate Museum of Modern Art and BBC Experience. Relax a while amidst the flower-filled, verdant environs of the city’s many parks: Hyde Park, Regent’s Park, St James’ Park and Kensington Gardens among them.

Take a one-hour ride on the Millennium Eye, the giant wheel that overlooks the Thames; go on a tour of the equally futuristic Millennium Dome, or spend an afternoon in Leicester Square, watching buskers entertain crowds of tourists. Attend a glittering performance at the Royal Opera House, or let your hair down in one of the many bars and nightclubs that dot London. Pose with Marilyn and Einstein at Madame Tussaud’s, check out the greatest fictional detective of all time in the Sherlock Holmes Museum; or watch a Shakespeare masterpiece at the Globe Theatre.

Eat, shop, relax, splurge on yourself- there’s so much to do in this city, you’re unlikely to run out of options. Like the saying goes, "When you are tired of London, you are tired of life".

Making your way here
Getting to London’s a ball all the way. A huge number of airlines- from even the most obscure of destinations- come in at London’s three airports, Gatwick, Heathrow and Stansted, including (obviously) British Airways. Alternately, you could reach London by rail or road- provided you’re in the vicinity, of course (which means France, Belgium, Ireland or elsewhere in the British Isles). Waterloo International Station is the terminal for trains to and from Europe, via the Chunnel, and Victoria Station is the terminal for buses.
If you’re in England or Scotland, you can choose from a range of trains and buses, all of them terminating at London.

In addition to all of that, there are ferries from France and Ireland; some ferry lines also operate ferries to London from other ports on the continent- including cities in Spain, Norway, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands. Do your homework- and take your pick.

and getting around The Tube, the world’s first underground train system, is by far and away the best way of getting around London. It spreads in four concentric circles across London, and you can go just about anywhere by the Tube. Buy a weekly or daily pass- it’s more convenient and much cheaper than getting a ticket every time you get onto a train.
Other options for moving around the city include buses (either the city’s famous red buses, or the many hop-on, hop-off tourist coaches) and cabs. Some areas- like that around the Houses of Parliament or Leicester Square- are best explored on foot.…and getting around.

A Roof over Your Head
Like everything else in London, accommodation too isn’t a problem- this city has it all, from the Dorchester for the well-heeled to the numerous hostels for the down-at-heel. The options for staying in London run the gamut from the ultimate in luxury to a wide range of mid-rung hotels, dorms, self-serve cottages, inns and B&Bs. Shop around a bit and check up on special offers before you book.

a Good Meal, a Great Bargain and more.
Like good food? Come to London- it’s here! There’s a mind-boggling range of eateries and cuisines here to choose from, all the way from chic Michelin restaurants to highly affordable fish-and-chip shops. Mediterranean, Indian, Continental, Oriental- you name it, and you’ll find a restaurant which serves it. They’re scattered all across town, so finding a place to eat won’t be a problem.

And if you want to follow up a good meal with a bit of shopping, check out London’s many shops, stores and markets. Classy (and expensive) Harrod’s; equally classy Covent Garden; bargain-hunter’s paradise Petticoat Lane and the Camden Markets, or the many boutiques and stores on Oxford Street and Regent Street.

and one Last bit of Advice
Unless you’re planning to spend about three months- or more, preferably- in London, plan your itinerary very well before setting out. The number of sights in this magnificent city is truly mind-boggling, and for anybody who’s here only for a week or two, the whirlwind of museums and galleries, gardens and palaces can be fatiguing. Doing a fair-to-middling round of the British Museum itself takes a minimum of three days! Figure out exactly what are your top priorities, then list what else you’d like to see, if allowed the time.

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