For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to tour the United Kingdom. Like many Australians, the roots of my family tree lie in Great Britain. My maternal grandfather was born in Yorkshire and my maternal grandmother was born in London and although they both passed away before I was born, their British influence could be seen everywhere in our home when I was growing up. To date, I haven’t had the means to travel to London. But I’ve heard because of our strong Aussie dollar it has never been cheaper for Australians to travel to Europe.
According to the people behind London Pass – the sightseeing card which gives holders FREE ENTRY to over 55 sights and tourist attractions in London – the English capital is a fantastic city for sightseeing, with a wealth of history and culture that leaves every visitor wanting more. Whether it’s Royal history, sport, architecture, museums and galleries, or just a fun-filled family trip there is something to please everyone.
TOP TEN THINGS TO DO IN LONDON
Entry to all the following attractions is FREE for holders of the London Pass.
1. The Tower of London
The ancient stones reverberate with dark secrets, priceless jewels glint in fortified vaults and pampered ravens strut the grounds. The Tower of London is one of the world’s most famous fortresses and has seen service as royal palace, prison, armoury and even zoo! It is still home to the Crown Jewels and Beefeaters. You’ll also see an impressive exhibition of royal armour in the White Tower including Henry VIII, Edward VI and the Stuart King’s royal armours.
2. London Tower Bridge
One the most impressive structures and sites in the capital, Tower Bridge in London has stood over the River Thames since 1894 and is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the world. London Pass holders can also descend into the Victorian Engine Rooms, home of the original steam engines. Exciting hands-on mechanisms and information panels explain about the ingenious technology used over the years to keep Tower Bridge in motion.
3. St Paul’s Cathedral
Built between 1675 and 1710, St Paul’s Cathedral is widely considered to be crowning achievement of the glittering career of Sir Christopher Wren. The Whispering Gallery at this London cathedral is famous for its acoustics and is 30 metres above the cathedral floor, while below, in the elegant and spacious crypt, are the tombs and memorials of such historical luminaries as Admiral Lord Nelson and the Duke Of Wellington.
4. Windsor Castle
A must see for London visitors, Windsor Castle is the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world and official residence of her majesty the Queen. The magnificent State Apartments are lavishly furnished with treasures from the Royal Collection, including masterpieces by Rubens, Holbein, Brueghel and Van Dyck. You can get there from London Paddington in around 30 minutes. While in Windsor you can also visit Eton College (Free Entry with London Pass) – one of the most exclusive educational establishments and Alma Mater to 19 former British Prime Ministers and royalty.
5. Hampton Court Palace
The flamboyant Henry VIII is most associated with this majestic palace, which he extended and developed after acquiring it in the 1520s. Its many royal occupants have ensured the palace has fabulous furnishings, tapestries and paintings. It is set in 60 acres of formal gardens, which include the famous maze and the Great Vine.
6. Kensington Palace
Generations of royal women have shaped this stylish palace and elegant gardens from Queen Mary to Victoria and, more recently Diana, Princess of Wales.
Included in admission until 17 March 2010, Last Debutantes: 1958 the Season of change, an exhibition uncovering the last court presentations as visitors are taken on a journey into the glamorous and competitive world of the Debutante.
From spring 2010 Kensington will be transformed into the Enchanted Palace. Take a journey through the spellbound palace and explore the tale of transformation that lies within. Encounter a series of stunning installations of contemporary fashion inspired by royal dress and tradition as you walk through the State Apartments. Representing different fairy tales from around the world, these installations will be woven with dress from leading designers and up and coming fashion talent. Discover the intriguing and mysterious characters moving through the apartments who will help you to navigate your way. The Enchanted Palace is a unique opportunity to experience a surprising and magical Kensington filled with an intriguing combination of cutting edge fashion and sumptuous design.
7. London Zoo
ZSL London Zoo in Regent’s Park is one of the most famous of all London attractions and a must-see if you have children. Opened in 1828, ZSL London Zoo is the world’s oldest scientific zoo and today houses over 650 different species of animal and is the only zoo in London where you can experience big animals such as elephants, rhinos and giraffes.
Visit the “Into Africa” exhibit where you can come face to face with some of Africa’s most unusual animals including zebras and hunting dogs, or try “Meet The Monkeys” an exciting walk-through experience. Other new exhibits include the Butterfly Paradise, where you can enjoy myriad species of butterfly as they fly around you.
With over 12,000 animals to see and incredible animal displays taking place throughout the day (including feeds and keeper talks) you could easily spend a whole day at this London attraction.
8. London Bridge
The London Bridge Experience is a two-part tourist attraction situated within the arches of London Bridge.
Firstly, enjoy a fascinating trip back in time as the London Bridge Experience delves through the history of the bridge, from Druids through to Victorians, meeting Vikings, Romans, and some creepy medieval characters along the way. Featuring real life actors (pictured above), stunning special effects and animations, this is unique interactive adventure really does takes you back in time.
Then, if you’re brave enough head into the second attraction The London Tombs. It’s a terrifying encounter with the un-dead and a blood-curdling adventure you will never forget.
9. Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre
London sightseeing visitors can enjoy a trip back in time with a visit to the spectacular Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. Situated on London’s Bankside, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre reconstruction the original building that housed Shakespeare’s theatre in London, an open-air playhouse where the playwright penned many of his greatest plays.
This modern building is a faithful reconstruction of the Globe, first built in 1599, and perfectly evokes the atmosphere of Elizabethan London. Resident storytellers on the Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre Tour and Exhibition introduce visitors to all aspects of the Globe, historical and contemporary, including Sam Wannamaker’s epic struggle to recreate the theatre.
10. Thames River Cruise
A Thames river cruise is without doubt one of the best ways to see London, weaving through the heart of the city and past so many of its most famous attractions. See and experience the sights and splendour of this great city from the relaxed comfort of a City Cruises modern, all-weather boats with open upper decks and spacious lower saloons with panoramic windows
Highlights along river Thames include the site of the Cutty Sark, London’s commercial hub, Canary Wharf, the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, the retired battle-cruiser – HMS Belfast; St Paul’s Cathedral, Shakespeare’s Globe and the Tate Modern. You get a close view at Millennium Footbridge, controversially constructed for the turn of the new century; and of course Westminster Abbey and Big Ben, recognized worldwide as icons of London.
Sightseeing in London can be an amazing, unforgettable experience; however, it can also be very expensive and stressful. With a London Pass you can get Free Entry to over 55 Top London Tourist Attractions with one smartcard – taking all the stress off organizing various tickets so you can fully enjoy your trip.
Great British Heritage Pass
If you are planning on extending your trip beyond the English capital, the Great British Heritage Pass gives you FREE entry to nearly 600 attractions around England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland including Stonehenge, Edinburgh Castle, the Roman Baths, Shakespeare’s Birthplace and much, much more.