In this section we present London’s main attractions, that is to say, those that you cannot miss. We will give you a brief description of each one of them. You must remember, however, that the places we offer here are the basic ones, the most well known, the safety pin and those that you have to visit, but not all the possible places you can visit. This is why their descriptions here have an informative or organizational nature. We, for our part, strongly suggest you to visit those fairy-tale places. Of course it is your decision whether to follow our advice or not. Some people prefer going over one or two typical places of the city and then venturing into unknown redoubts. In many cases that is a very pleasant experience, but it is also risky for if you do not have enough time to dedicate to your vacations, then you will certainly not want to spend a whole day in a place that does not have any relevant interest to you. The places that we include in the following list are the worldwide famous ones chosen every year by millions of visitors.
The British Airway London Eye is a huge observation wheel of this city. This fantastic structure built by Marks Barfield Architects is the biggest observation wheel in the world: it is 135 metres tall and it takes 30 minutes to make a 360º turn. On this wonderful attraction, you will be able to view this magnificent city lengthwise and widthwise, and you will even view places that are not seen from the ground. Even though its inauguration was relatively recent, The British Airway London Eye has become a symbol of the city and it receives around 4,000,000 visitors a year.
Opening hours: Winter (October-May) from 10am to 8pm. Summer (June- September) from 10am to 9pm. Closed: Christmas.
Rates: Adults £13, kids £6.5
Duration: 30 minutes
Telephone: 0870 500 0600.
This museum opened on January 15th 1759, thanks to the foundational donation made by the physician and naturist Sir Hans Sloane. In 1823 George IV donated a huge library of his father and since the museum turned out to be small in the face of it, Sir Robert Smirke took charge of the design of a new building. The first part was finished in 1852 and the second one, the reading room in the central park, in 1857. By 1880, the natural history section was moved to South Kensington where later on the well known Natural History Museum was to be founded. In 2000, the Great Court of Queen Elizabeth II opened to the public after the relocation of the British Library that enabled valuable space. This new room has the size of a football court and it is covered by a glass ad steel roof which is the biggest one in Europe. The Great Court welcomes and directs the 5,000,000 annual visitors to the different collections and later on, after a long day of walk, it caters them with a cup of coffee and some snacks. The objects and collections of the museum belong to the nation and they are national heritage. This is why admission is free for every person who wishes to visit it or, as the founding chart says: “…for scholar and curious people.”
Opening times: Saturday-Wednesday from 10am to 5:30pm; Thursday-Friday from 10am to 8:30pm. Great Court: Sunday-Wednesday from 9am to 6pm, and from Thursday-Saturday, from 9am to 11pm.
Rates: Free access.
How to get there: The museum is near Holborn, Tottenham Court Road, Russell Square y Goodge St subway stations. Bus routes: you can get by New Oxford Street: 7, 8, 19, 22b, 25, 38, 55, 98; Tottenham Court Road, northbound, and Gower Street, southbound: 10, 24, 29, 73, 134; Southampton Row: 68, 91 and 188.
Babies: The museum has a place for babysitting located in the Great Court.
Tower of London:
Being thousands of years old, the Tower of London is the best preserved medieval castle in Europe. This castle is the official residence of Her Majesty although the last monarch who lived there was Jacob I, during the 17th century. Inside the building you can see the Crown Jewels, ancient armours, and remains of the Hadrian’s Wall. The Yeomen Warders, known as “Beefeaters”, are the ones in charge of guarding the Tower, but they are the guides and an attraction in themselves. Every evening they perform the Ceremony of the Keys through which they lock the Tower for the night. There are always crows on the building and they are fed with public funds for, as the legend goes, England will be saved from invasions as long as there are crows on the Tower.
Opening times: Between March 1st and October 31st it opens Tuesday-Saturday from 9am to 6pm, Sunday-Monday from 10am to 6pm (last admission is at 5pm), and between November 1st and February 28th it opens Tuesday-Saturday from 9.00am to 5pm (last admission is at 4pm)
Rates: Adults £15 and children £9.50
Duration: The complete tour lasts approximately 3hours.
Telephones: 0870 756 6060.
Palace of Westminster:
The oldest part of this very famous and spectacular palace, the Westminster Hall, was built in 1097. This palace was meant to be a royal residence, even though no monarch has lived there since the 16th century. Most of the present structure dates from the 19th century, when it was rebuilt after the fierce fire that destroyed most of the structure in 1834. Its reconstruction was entrusted to Sir Charles Barry and Augustus Pugin. This palace, built in Neo-Gothic style, has a clock tower worldwide know as Big Ben. Today the palace accommodates the House of Commons and the House of Lords which constitute the Parliament of the United Kingdom.
Access is not allowed for tourists.
Cradle of poets, musicians, writers and kings, this abbey has been the scenery of every crowning since 1066. Built under a marked Gothic style, it is the most beautiful and well known medieval church of London. On the inside there is a small but interesting museum.
Opening times: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday opens its doors from 9:30am to 3:45pm. Wednesday from 9:30am to 7pm, Saturday from 9:30am to 1:45pm. Its museum opens Monday-Saturday from10:30am to 4pm. The abbey is closed on December 25th and Sundays due to religious offices.
Rates: Adults £8 and free access for kids under 11.
Telephone: 0207 222 5152.
Natural History Museum:
Originally built as an annex to the British Museum, today this wonderful Gothic building presents one of the most important natural history collections in the world. In it you will find thousands and thousands of incredible present-day and extinct creatures. Dinosaurs have a prominent place in the museum, and if you are fond of Palaeontology, this is a place that you cannot miss. “Human Biology” is the most visited gallery about us, humans, and our biological structure over time. The museum has an area for kids where they can interact straight with knowledge about nature both amusingly and pedagogically.
Opening times: Monday-Saturday from 10am to 5:50pm and Sunday from 11am to 5:50pm. There are tours every 30 minutes between 11am and 4pm. The museum is closed on December 24th, 25th and 26th due to festivities.
Rates: Free access.
Telephone: 020 7942 5000.
Duration: A complete tour can be done in 2 1/2 hours depending on the time that one can invest on it.
Parking: The closest one is Union Cark Parks and it is seven minutes on foot.
St Paul’s Cathedral:
This exceptional master piece of religious art was built between 1676 and 1710 by architect Christopher Wren. The cathedral was built on the ruins of a minor medieval church which was burnt in London’s Great Fire, in 1666. This sacred building is one of the few ones in the area that survived the destruction caused by the German during the Second Word War. This cathedral is well known worldwide not only for its beauty and magnificence but also for being the scenario of Prince Charles’ wedding to Lady Diana Spencer.
Opening hours: Monday-Saturday from 8:30am to 4pm; Sundays and December 25th it is closed.
Telephone: 020 7236 4128.
This is London’s most recent gallery of modern art and, together with Tate Britain, Tate Liverpool and Tate St Ives, it is part of Tate Gallery. Tate Modern was built on the old power station of Bankside, which was closed in 1981 and converted by Swiss architects Herzog and De Meuron. It is wonderful to see the historical contrast between St Paul’s Cathedral, with its antique style, and a fantastic building so modern and new in the city —and they are very near from one another. Since its opening on May 12th 2000, it has been one of London’s most visited attractions.
Opening times: Sunday-Thursday from 10am to 5:50pm (last admission is at 5pm); Friday-Saturday from 10am to 10pm. The museum is closed on December 24th, 25th and 26th.
Rates: Free access.
Duration: A complete tour can be done in approximately 3 hours.
Telephone: 020 7887 8000.
Built in 1832-1833, it tried to overshadow the Louvre Museum, in Paris. This magnificent museum of European art has pieces from the 13th century by authors such as Titian, Da Vinci, Rembrandt, Monet, Renoir, Cezanne, Raphael and Van Gough. It is not advisable trying to go over the gallery in just one day because if you do so, you will not be able appreciate any of the thousands and thousands of pieces exhibited in its numerous galleries.
Opening times: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday from 10am to 5:50pm. Wednesday from 10am to 9pm. Tours: 11:30am, 2:30pm and 6:30pm.
Rates: Access is free, except for some exhibitions.
Telephone: 020 7747 2885.
This museum is the biggest British art expositor worldwide since 1500. In this wonderful building you can find pieces of authors such as Constable, Gainsbourough, Gilbert and George, Hockney, Hodgkin, Hogart, Moore, Rossetti and Turner.
Opening times: every day from 10am to 5:50pm except for the first Friday of each month, when the business hour extends to 9pm.
Rates: Free access to the stable exhibition. There is a fee for special exhibitions.
Telephone: 020 7887 8008.
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