London’s Most Iconic top 10 Attractions You Must Visit
There are so many London Top 10 attractions that are worth visiting. Although many websites list all the places you should visit, this guide will tell you how to make the most out of visiting the top 10 attractions in London.
If you only have only 1 day to spare, I suggest taking photos outside of the attractions worth mentioning and spend no more than 1 hour outside each attraction.
If you only have 2 days to spare, I suggest going to 1 free and 1 paid attraction of your choice and take photos of the rest of the attractions you want to see. If you’re on a budget, go inside 2 free attractions such as the top 5 free museums and galleries, Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square, or Piccadilly Circus. Spend no more than 1 hour in Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square or Piccadilly Circus.
If you have 3 days to spare, you can think about getting The London Pass with an Oyster Card, you’ll be saving a lot on more than 80+ attractions. Alternatively, The London Explorer Pass will save money on 20+ attractions. You’ll be able to cover the top 10 attractions in 3 days. Click for the 3 days in London itinerary.
If you have 4 days to spare, you can cover all the top 10 attractions and cover the top 11 – 15 attractions such as the strip of the Southbank, the 8 Royal Parks of London, browse London’s many markets like Portobello Market and Borough Market.
If you have 5 or more days to spare, you can cover a 1-day trip outside London such as Warner Brothers Harry Potter Studio Tour, Brighton, or Windsor. You can also cover the hidden gems and the top 11 – 15 attractions mentioned above. If you need a 5 day or 7 day itinerary, please contact me.
1. Buckingham Palace
Start your day at Buckingham Palace. You can get to Buckingham Palace by taking the tube or train to Victoria or Green Park, it would be just a short walk there. Make sure you get there early enough for the Changing of the Guards, which start at 11 am. Get there by 10 – 10:30 am as it can be busy as you can see in the picture.
Buckingham Palace is the number one attraction that people think of when they come to London. Around 50 thousand people visit the palace each year. People from all over the world and other’s dream to visit the palace. Home to the British royal family and used for administrative businesses and state functions, Buckingham Palace has many reasons why we should visit it each year. Close to St. James’ Park, The Green Park and visiting the State Rooms every summer, not to mention a short walk away from Trafalgar Square and Horseguard Parade, no wonder it’s the most visited tourist attraction in London. Click on the picture to find out more of the State Rooms visit during summer. Click for several reasons why you should visit Buckingham Palace.
After your trip to Buckingham Palace, walk through St. James’ Park and go through the tunnel in Horse Guards Parade after 12 pm. You’ll see two horse guards standing by the Horse Guards Parade, and you can get up close and personal with the horses. Be careful, horses may bite. You’ll be in Whitehall. Turn left, you’ll see Trafalgar Square and The National Gallery. Behind the National Gallery, you’ll be in the West End where you’ll cover Piccadilly Circus, Shaftesbury Avenue, the West End Theatre District, Covent Garden, Soho, China Town, Regent Street, and Oxford Street. Turn right, it’ll be a 7-minute walk towards Big Ben. You’ll see Big Ben as you step out of Horse Guards Parade.
As you reach Big Ben, you’ll see Westminster Abbey and the Southbank by the strip of the River Thames.
2. Westminster Abbey
Built in 1066, Westminster Abbey has been visited by more than a million visitors each year. You will learn about British history and the burials and memorials of British kings, queens, poets, scientists, and writers. You will also be given an audio guide in more than ten languages. Just click on the numbers on the audio guide to find out more about the history and story about that burial, memorial, or object.
It was rumoured that Saberht, the first Christian king founded a small church near the River Thames. Then, by 785 CE, there were a few monks that lived nearby, it was then enlarged by St. Dunstan of Canterbury in 960. Later in 1065, Edward the Confessor built another site in the church, and King Richard III changed it to Westminster Abbey, and make it look Gothic in 1245, an influence by French architecture. During the Norman colonisation, the nave was designed in the Norman style nave designed in the 1300s by Henry Yevele, an architect of that time. Ever since the 1300s, it has kept its design throughout the Tudor period.
You will also be immersed in one of Britain’s medieval churches, and Gothic buildings such as the vault, which spans to 102 feet high, the tallest vault in England, and they all have three things in common: architecture, history, and the people. Find out more about my experience in Westminster Abbey.
Find out about the Abbey on their website here.
3. Sea Life London Aquarium
When you reach Big Ben, cross the Westminster Bridge. You’ll see the view of the London Eye, street performers on the bridge as well as rickshaws taking you on a tour around London. It’s too expensive and not worth it. The street performers are usually scammers. Don’t waste time and money on them.
As you go down Westminster Bridge, you’ll see the Sea Life London Aquarium. It’s a great day out with the kids. You can see if you can get a 3 for 4 attraction or 4 for 5 attraction deals in one of the receptions. These include the London Eye, Shrek Adventures, Madame Tussauds, and many more. The tour takes around 1 hour to complete.
If you’re into marines, bugs, insects, and turtles, then visit Sealife London while you’re here. Touch a live starfish, go through the arch under the big white sharks, visit the Amazon rainforest, and learn and see beetles, spiders, and fossils of piranhas. Why not see the penguins in the Polar Experience? Everything you’ve always wanted to see is here. Find out more about Sea Life London on their website and check out my experience in Sea Life London Aquarium. Next to Sea Life London Aquarium is London Dungeon.
4. London Dungeon
Next to Sea Life London Aquarium, take a train ride and step back to 250 years of British history. Meet Shakespeare, Queen Elizabeth I, hear children laughing as they go on the carousel ride and watch an animated 4D cinema where the 4 superheroes like Superman, Captain America, Spiderman, and Batman try to save the world in London. Click on the photo to find out more about my experience. Step back into British history, as far back as the 17th Century to the 19th Century. London was very bloody, gruesome, and dirty. Heads being chopped off, imprisoned for no offenses at all, and many more. Learn about Henry VIII and how he beheaded some of his wives for treason and adultery. Learn about the 1666 great fire of London which started in an old bakery. What about learning about the life of Sweeney Todd and his so-called partner Mrs. Lovett. A barber who dropped his victims into the basement and cut their body parts and made them into pies. You can visit Mrs. Lovett’s pie shop and could become her victim too. Enjoy the drop where British prisoners were dropped to their death after their release. Whatever British history you want to hear about, check out London Dungeon. The tour takes 1 hour to complete. Find out more on my experience in the London Dungeon review.
5. London Eye
Next to the London Dungeon, you can visit the London Eye. The London Eye opened a day before the 2000 millennium, 31 December 1999 to be exact by Tony Blair, the former Prime Minister then. It was to celebrate the start of the new millennium. There are several attractions you can see from the top of the wheel including Big Ben, River Thames, Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, St. Paul’s Cathedral and so much more. There are 32 capsules and takes 30 minutes to go round. It is also the main area where New Year’s Eve’s fireworks happen, just before the clock strikes midnight. Find out about my visit on the London Eye. Here is why you should visit The London Eye.
The best thing about visiting London is the package deals you can take advantage of. For two attractions it would be £45 and you would be saving £20 for individual tickets. Madame Tussaud takes around 2 hours to visit and the London Eye takes half an hour to go round so spare at least 3 hours for the package. Madame Tussaud is not in the London Eye area so I suggest going to the London Eye first and take time in Madame Tussauds last. Note prices may vary every year.
6. The Tower of London
The Tower of London is on the same strip of the River Thames but it takes around 50 minutes to walk from the London Eye. Alternatively, you can take the District and Circle Line, which will take you there in half an hour.
If you don’t mind walking, you’ll see a great view of different attractions. You’ll see the Southbank Centre for short running contemporary art shows, the view of St. Paul’s Cathedral, Shakespeare’s The Globe and Museum, Tate Modern, Borough Market and many more. You’ll have a choice of great pubs, bars, and restaurants in the Southbank.
Discover the Crown Jewels, meet the Ravens, join the Guided Yeoman Warden Tour, explore 1000 years of British history, visit The White Tower and the areas where they beheaded kings, queens and prisoners for hundreds of years. Located in the banks of the River Thames and founded in 1066 as part of the Norman Conquest of England, the Tower of London is what shapes London today. Bloody stories lie behind the walls. Read more about secrets of the Tower.
The Tower had also been treated unfairly by wealthy, powerful people while inflicting harm upon the rest of London.
Founded in 1066 as part of the Norman Conquest of England, the Tower of London is also near major attractions. Tower Bridge, The Shard, River Thames, a few minutes’ walk to the Southbank, a few miles to London Bridge Station and Borough Market. It was also used as a prison from 1100 for the Norman Bishop Ranulf Flambard but its purpose was to serve as a Royal residence.
This guide will cover the secrets inside The Tower of London, general information about the nearby attractions, how long to spend in the Tower, tips and useful information. Click on the photo to find out more about the Tower of London.
7. Madame Tussauds
Madame Tussauds London isn’t located in the South Bank, but it’s one of the top 10 attractions to visit. The best thing about Madame Tussauds London is it includes the British culture into it. You’ll see the wax work of the Royal Family, British athletes, and you’ll be going back to 250 years of British history on a train ride. Find out more about my experience in Madame Tussauds London, and check out their website for more information on tickets.
The best thing about Madame Tussauds is that it’s close to one of the 8 Royal Parks of London Regent’s Park, Sherlock Holmes Museum, London Zoo, Camden Town, and Regent’s Canal. Be careful though, there’s a lot of walking.
8. London Zoo
London Zoo is another attraction great for all the family. You can stay there as long as you wish.
London Zoo has been one of the most visited tourist attractions in London. With nearly 2 million visitors a year, they can enjoy visiting some of the big 5 cats, giraffes, marine mammals and insects, gorrilas, penguins, goats, pelicans and many more. Yes, maybe what I’ve written here is what you’d expect from a zoo but what’s so special about this zoo is that it’s situated in Regent’s Park and across the road, you’d find Madame Tussauds, another top 10 tourist attraction to visit. This place is good for families with young kids as well as nature and animal lovers. I haven’t had a chance to visit London Zoo because of COVID, but I will review it once we’re safe to do so.
9. Hop on Hop Off Bus (Golden Tours)
The Hop On Hop Off Tour takes you around London in a day. This is ideal if you only have three days or less to spend in London. I recommend you to take Golden Tours on your first day to get a feel of what you want to cover. Golden Tours is the best one in London. Golden Tours is great because the Hop on Hop off bus takes you to London within 24 hours and you get 24 hours complimentary. You also get a walking tour around London too. There are four routes you can take. Click here for more information on different packages to choose from. Walking tours are also available which includes The Changing of the Guards and The Beatles Walking Tour.
10. Warner Brothers Harry Potter Studio Tour
You’ll need an extra day to see the Warner Brothers Harry Potter Tour because it’s situated outside London. You can take the Golden Tours bus which will take you to the studio or you can get the Euston train which will take you there in less than an hour. Make sure you give yourself half an hour to an hour to see Platform 9 3/4 in King’s Cross Station and check out the Harry Potter merchandise store and take photos with your trolley and Hedwig going to Hogwarts. You have to pay to take a photo though and the queue can be long. It’s not free.
If you are staying near Euston for the Harry Potter Warner Brothers Tour, assuming you have another 2 days to spare for a 2 day trip out of London, you can get the train to the Lake District England from Euston Station. It takes 5 hours to get there, so you may have to spare at least 3 days there.
Step into the world of Harry Potter. Remember Harry’s first few years at Hogwarts? Well, you can see all the adventures he went on in this studio tour. The Tour lasts 3 -4 hours but you can stay there as long as you wish. Make sure you arrive 20 minutes before your booking time for security. It’s recommended to leave in the morning and your first to-do list for that day. By 1 pm, you would have finished the tour. The Harry Potter Studio is situated in Leavesden and there are many tours you can take depending on where you’re staying.
Your highlight include The Great Hall (although not as big as you see in the movies), The Hogwarts Express train, spend your time practicing your wand waving, go on a broomstick ride around London in front of a big screen, see the Womping Willow, Privet Drive, taste Butterbeer, explore the Forbidden Forest, take a sneak peak of Ron Weasley’s house, you’ll see the knitters knitting itself, the great vault to Harry’s Gringotts, the Nightbus and Diagon Alley. So there’s so many things to see, you’ll want to go back the second time.
I have been to the Harry Potter Studio tour and I enjoyed every moment of it. I would love to go for a second time and review it once COVID restrictions have been lifted.
If you are staying near Euston for the Harry Potter Warner Brothers Tour, assuming you have another 2 days to spare for a 2 day trip out of London, you can get the train to the Lake District England from Euston Station. It takes 5 hours to get there, so you may have to spare at least 3 days there. Alternatively, if you’re thinking of going for another day trip outside London, King’s Cross Station has really good connections to Cambridge and Scotland. It takes approximately an hour and a half to get to Cambridge and around 5 hours to Scotland, thanks to great train connections from London King’s Cross. Here’s a post on Scottish Highlands for inspiration. Here’s a post on Wandlebury Country Park in Cambridge for one of your ideas.