Looking for London’s top attractions? I’ve got you covered. Don’t leave without seeing these famous London attractions, sights and places during your visit.
Whether you’re visiting London for the first time or just haven’t gotten around to London sightseeing yet, there are a few London attractions that are simply too iconic to miss.
Whenever someone comes to visit me in the city I always make sure to take them to one of the many historical, cultural and famous sites that truly make you feel like you’re in London.
If it’s your first visit to London, don’t feel like you need to see them in one-go. But from saying hey to the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, seeing royalty at Buckingham Palace, soaking the views from The London Eye, roaming along Tower Bridge (or having a peek at the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London) you’ll find there’s nothing quite like exploring all London has to offer, after all…
When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.Samuel Johnson
Top 10 London Attractions You Must Visit
1. Big Ben & The Houses of Parliament
The giant clock towers across London, and is often seen as a symbol of the city itself and is one of the top attractions to visit in London.
Lucky for you it’s also just come out of its construction work hiatus, so it’s perfectly ready for all your postcard London Instagram pics.
Due to security reasons, you must be a UK resident to tour inside Big Ben and there are no exceptions to this unfortunately.
However you can take a fully-guided tour of the Houses of Parliament including getting to chance to watch live debates and committee hearings during your visit (if you’re lucky!).
Pro-Tip: For empty pictures in front of Big Ben try to visit on a weekday morning before rush hour. Tickets to tour the Houses of Parliament can also sell out fast, so be sure to book in advance to avoid disappoint.
More Ways to See the Big Ben & The Houses of Parliament
2. Buckingham Palace
It would be a shame to come all the way to London and not catch a glimpse of the country’s most royal residence — Buckingham Palace.
The Queen’s London abode draws in millions of visitors a year who marvel at the chance to soak in the grandeur of the palace and all the history that comes with London’s top attraction.
If you’d like tour inside to see highlights like like the Throne Room, Ballroom, Music Room and Grand Staircase, you’ll have to come during the summer months and book a State Rooms Tour.
Fairly recently Buckingham Palace has also opened its garden to the public which you can do on the State Rooms and Gardens Highlights Tour.
Otherwise the Changing of the Guards is free to watch and takes place all year round at 11:00am, which is best watched on the east side of Buckingham Palace. You can find the most updated schedule for the Changing of the Guards here.
More Ways to See Buckingham Palace
3. The London Eye
It’s not everyday you can take a ride on the world’s tallest observation wheel and best sites in London, unless you’re in London of course.
A London attraction that needs no introduction, The London Eye offers some of the most unique views in London — originally built to celebrate the 2000s.
To visit simply book a Standard or Fast Track Ticket and you’re on your way!
If you’re booking a Standard Ticket I suggest getting there as early as possible to minimise your queue time (they open at 10am but even at 9:45am you’ll find the queue is quite packed).
Otherwise the Fast Track Ticket will get you in a lot quicker and leave you more time to explore the rest of London.
There are also lots of London Eye combination tickets if you want to combine your visit with other nearby lovely attractions.
Outside of the London Eye itself you’ll also have some lovely people watching opportunities at the Jubilee Gardens, a load of bars & restaurants to enjoy on South Bank and loads of riverboat tours to continue your London explorations including:
- London Eye River Cruise and Admission Options – Enjoy a unique river cruise on the Thames from expert guides whilst passing all of London’s most iconic landmarks, you’ll also have the option to combine your ticket with admission to The London Eye.
- Afternoon Tea Cruise on the River Thames – Did someone say Afternoon Tea? Treat yourself to an Afternoon Tea River Cruise after you ride The London Eye. It departs close to the Tower of London (around 20 minutes on the Circle/District Line towards Barking) so make sure you leave time to journey over after.
- River Thames Speed Boat Tour – For a bit of adventure right after your London exploring, ride the infamous Thames Rocket to speed across the River Thames and see all of London’s sights in one. This is definitely one of the most unique river boats cruises you can do in London, plus — the meeting point is right under The London Eye!
- Uber Boat by Thames Clipper – If you prefer to tour London in leisure rather than a proper tour, I highly suggest taking the Uber Boat by Thames Clipper. It’s a London River Bus service with routes across the city, perfect for stopping off at neighbourhoods like Greenwich or Canary Wharf and the most budget-friendly option for touring the London riverside.
4. Tower Bridge
When images of London come to mind you’ll most certainly think of Tower Bridge.
The world’s most popular suspension bridge has stood tall since 1894, opened by the Prince and Princess of Wales at the time (King Edward VII and Alexandra of Denmark).
Present-day it attracts nearly 40,000 visitors every day and most certainly makes the cut for top London attractions.
Outside of walking through the Tower Bridge and taking a few pictures (and confusing London Bridge with Tower Bridge) there’s tons more ways to enjoy this London attraction to the fullest.
- The Glass Floors – For a new perspective of Tower Bridge, walk along the Glass Floors. Standing 42 metres above the Thames the transparent walkway is a must-do for incredible London views.
- Engine Rooms – For my history buffs you’ll be pleased to know Tower Bridge has something just for you. Discover how the bridge has worked since Victorian times and get a close up look at all things Tower Bridge.
- Watching the Bridge Lift – Locals and tourists alike flock to Tower Bridge for its infamous bridge lift; and it’s quite spectacular to watch if you ask me. You can see the latest lift times here.
P.S – If you’re looking to visit inside Tower Bridge or walk across, make sure you check the lift times before too so it doesn’t clash.
Fun Fact: The bridge got its name from being next to the Tower of London (so much for originality!)
5. Tower of London
The Tower of London is a UNESCO world heritage site and one of the most spectacularly intact historic sites in London.
A bit of history — after the conquer of Britain and establishing of a monarchy, William (the Conqueror) decided to build over 700 castles to protect his land across England and Wales.
Centered by the ‘White Tower’ the grand fortress has been everything from a royal residence to an execution site…and a zoo!
From peeking at the glorious Crown Jewels and Tower Ravens to taking free guided tours from the Beefeaters, there’s so much to discover here.
To see more sites you can get the The London Pass to access The Tower of London and over 80+ attractions across the city during your visit, or the Go City Explorer Pass to see 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, or 7 London attractions within a 60 day timeframe.
P.S. – No matter what time you go the queues for the Tower of London can get quite hefty, so try to get there before they open at 9am or go during lunchtime on a weekday
The Best Tower of London Tours
6. The Shard
For one of the best views London has to offer you simply can’t miss a trip to The Shard.
The tallest building in the UK was designed by Renzo Piano with a vision to make it a London site of interest where people could live, work and relax — in style of course.
Standing over 800ft (244m) in the air you can enjoy a high-speed ride up to level 68, 69, or 72 at The Shard with nearly 40 miles of 360-degree sights to enjoy.
As this is one the top attractions in London, make sure you book in advance (skip the line if you can) and check the weather before your visit so your view isn’t obstructed by clouds.
P.S – The Shard is also home to the famous Shangri-La Hotel!
7. St Paul’s Cathedral
Whenever you travel there’s always a ‘must-visit’ church or cathedral which may or may not end up being underwhelming — but trust me, you’ll be impressed by St Paul’s Cathedral.
The grand cathedral is arguably one of Christopher Wren’s greatest works, built shortly after the Great Fire of London. It was also home to Winston Churchill’s funeral and Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s wedding.
While here I suggest viewing the Whispering Gallery, admiring The Nave, Chapels and Crypts, trekking up the magnificent Cathedral Dome and catching a choir show if you can at an Evensong service (typically from Monday to Saturday at 5pm and on Sunday at 3pm).
Booking your St Paul’s Cathedral Visit online is slightly cheaper than in-person tickets, with slots opening a month in advance. Every entrance ticket also comes with a free audio guide to learn about the history of St Paul’s while you soak in the views of the cathedral.
8. Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey is arguably one of the most important gothic churches in England, if not the world.
Famous for its hosting of 17 royal weddings (including Prince William and Catherine Middleton), coronations and funerals — Westminster Abbey gives you an undeniable feeling of stepping into English history.
As one of London’s top attractions the queues for Westminster Abbey can get quite long. Try to come one hour before opening times or on a Wednesday at 4pm when their opening hours are extended.
To visit the Westminster Abbey, simply book a General Entry Ticket, a Guided Westminster Abbey Tour or use your London Pass, unfortunately the only Skip-the-Line Tickets available are through private guided tours.
If you’d like to visit Westminster Abbey for free, you can attend a Communion, Prayer or Evensong service — although you won’t have access to the tubes and monuments. You can find the latest schedule for services here.
9. Kensington Palace
Although Buckingham Palace gets all the glory, you can’t forget about Kensington Palace.
Originally built as a small villa known as Nottingham House, Kensington Palace turned from a country retreat to the new home for Britain’s young royals.
The palace is nicely tucked in Hyde Park and is currently home to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with a generous public portion open to visitors (just don’t expect the see the royal family walking about — they like their privacy!).
Whilst here I suggest touring the King’s State Apartment and Staircase, the Queen’s State Apartment and Princess Diana’s dresses to fully throw yourself into the royal abode.
10. Piccadilly Circus
Piccadilly Circus is basically the Times Square of Europe, and a definite must-see attraction for your London trip.
Connecting Piccadilly and Regent’s Street along with being near spitting distance to other popular London streets and neighbourhoods like Oxford Street, Leicester Square and Chinatown — it’s a great starting or ending point to a day of exploring the city.
Here you can get your fill of people-watching whilst taking in the street performers and the buzz of the city.
P.S – You can also check out the Burlington Arcade, Fortnum & Mason (where the Queen shops), the Ritz Hotel, the Royal Academy of Arts and Hatchards—the U.K’s oldest bookshop.
Map of the Top London Attractions to See
Other must-see London Attractions for your trip
- London Museums: Beautifully free and filled with history, I suggest adding a visit to London’s free museums including (but not limited to) the British Museum, Natural History Museum, The National Gallery, Tate Modern, The Science Museum and the V&A — these are my favourite!
- Explore London’s Famous Streets: You could easily lose a day simply walking around the city and exploring London’s most famous streets, here’s the best London streets to see with a follow-along map too!
- For an Adventurous London Trip: If you’re looking to do something a bit different for your time in London, try the Climb Up at The O2! You can also take a ride on the Emirates Cable Car nearby after (just pay with your contactless or Oyster card) or ride down the world’s longest tunnel slide at the ArcelorMittal Orbit.
- See London’s Best Views: Seeing London from above truly is an experience like no other, check out London’s best viewpoints to see the city from a new perspective.
- Find London’s Hidden Spots: To go beyond the tourist experience try to venture to 1 or 2 hidden London spots during your visit
Tips for Seeing London’s Top Attractions
Get the Go City or London Pass:
The main difference? With The London Pass, you can explore an unlimited amount of attractions over the course of 1, 2, 3, 5, 7 or 10 consecutive days. The Go City Pass is attraction based, meaning you can choose 2, 3, 5, 6, or 7 attractions to visit over the course of 60 days.
Both can save you up to 55% on attractions regardless, so if you’re visiting London for a short period of time I suggest going for The London Pass whereas if you’re living in London with more time to explore I suggest going for the Go City Pass so you have 60 days to use it.
Plan your visit times wisely (especially during summer):
With all top tourist attractions in London, queues are inevitable. Unless you’re getting Skip-the-Line tickets, try to visit right before they open on a weekday to reduce your waiting time (although in July and August the queues are hard to beat no matter what time you go).
Always check for London attractions or neighbourhoods you can pair your visit with:
While you’re exploring make sure to check whether what neighbourhoods/things to do there are around the area of the attraction you’re visiting. For example, Bermondsey and the London Bridge area is near The Shard, Tower Bridge and the Tower of London and The Skygarden is a 15-minute walk from St Paul’s Cathedral.