Discover the best attractions, landmarks, and sightseeing spots in London that you’d be crazy to miss, even if you’re a local.
Whether you’re a visitor, a daytripper, or a tourist in your own city, there are some iconic London attractions that you must see. These museums, galleries, monuments, and parks are woven into the city’s fabric; visiting them is like discovering a piece of the capital’s culture and history.
But where do you even begin? We’ve compiled a list of the top 50 attractions in London for you to start checking off your bucket list. And the best part? Many of these must-see London attractions are free, and those that are not can be reserved below.
Still looking for new places to visit? Check out our list of 101 things to do in London to see what’s going on today, this week, and this weekend.
What exactly is it? Renzo Piano, an Italian architect, transformed London’s skyline in 2012 with a strange but striking structure that is now the capital’s tallest tower. The Shard, which stands 310 meters tall, was designed with everything in mind: offices, homes, hotels, bars, restaurants, and, of course, the alluring viewing platform. The highest point to which the public has access (floors 69-72) provides stunning 360-degree views of the city. Throughout the year, there is a silent disco on selected Saturday nights, as well as other events such as gigs and gin tastings.
Why should I go? The floor-to-ceiling windows provide spectacular views of the capital, especially on a clear day.
What exactly is it? Have you ever wondered what London would look like from 53 meters above North Greenwich? Purchase a ticket to Up at The O2 to find out. The ultimate AAA pass grants you access to the roof, from which you can see across London, spotting famous landmarks such as the Olympic Park, Thames Barrier, The Shard, and Canary Wharf.
Why should I go? For a breathtaking 360-degree view – and that adorable climbing onesie.
3. ArcelorMittal Orbit and slide
What exactly is it? From its vantage point right next to the Olympic Stadium, this network of curly-wurly red scaffolding lords it over the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. It was designed by Anish Kapoor and structural engineer Cecil Balmond and stands 114.5m (376ft) tall, with lifts (and a 455-step staircase) leading up to two platforms with interesting, if not spectacular, views. Inside, there are two of Kapoor’s amusing distorting mirrors, as well as the option to abseil or slide down to the ground.
Why should I go? There are two things to consider: the view and the slide. Hold on to your stomach as you speed down the 12-loop corkscrew.
4. London Eye
What exactly is it? The London Eye, like the Millenium Dome – or, to those who don’t remember the twentieth century, the O2 Arena – was built to commemorate the year 2000. Since then, the Eye has been a huge success, and it’s difficult to imagine London’s skyline without it. It rarely comes to a complete stop, so you won’t be standing on ceremony when you board. Before you know it, you’re halfway up in the sky, taking in panoramic views of the city.
Why should I go? The setting. Not only does it provide a fantastic view of the capital, but it is also close to a plethora of top attractions.
5. Westminster Abbey
What exactly is it? Westminster Abbey, like the Pantheon Crypt in Paris, is a popular attraction for visitors to peruse the graves, tablets, busts, and stone dedications of historical figures. In fact, seventeen monarchs, as well as dukes, countesses, and historical “celebs,” are buried here (Think Darwin, Dickens and Hardy). Founded by Benedictine monks in 960 AD, the Abbey has also hosted 16 royal weddings and every British coronation since 1066.
Why go? To see Gothic grandeur in all its splendour.
6. Buckingham Palace
What exactly is it? A chance to see world-famous art, observe regal luxury, and visit HRH’s official residence. Buckingham Palace, which stands at the end of The Mall, is familiar to both tourists and locals. This addition, however, was completed by King George V and Queen Mary in 1913. The palace had formerly belonged to Lord Goring, who was forced to surrender over possession to the Royal Family (under King George III) due to a defect in his contract in 1633. Poor guy.
Why go? To snoop around the most famous royal residence in the world.
7. Hampton Court Palace
What exactly is it? On the outskirts of south-west London, a magnificent palace with lovely grounds. There’s something for everyone here, from the Tudor indoor tennis court to the Royal Maze, from the King’s private bathroom to the Magic Garden adventure playground. History aficionados and art lovers should acquire the Palace and Gardens ticket, while families with little children will like the Magic Garden and Maze ticket.
Why go? To get lost in the Royal Maze.
8. Houses of Parliament
What exactly is it? The capital of the United Kingdom. Take an audio tour of the House of Lords and House of Commons to learn more about the structures. It lasts about 90 minutes and features prominent members of parliament such as Mr Speaker and Black Rod. Feeling posh? Select the tour that includes afternoon tea along the Thames.
Why go? For a dazzling combo of history, politics and architecture.
9. Madame Tussauds
What exactly is it? Marie Tussaud debuted her waxwork in the capital in 1802. (32 years after she founded the show in Paris). By 1884, she had decided to make Marylebone her permanent home, and she has been there ever since (well, her legacy at least). Today, Madame Tussauds features over 300 lifelike models, including current performers like George Clooney and historical figures like Einstein and Monroe. Elsewhere The Queen proudly stands on the Royal Balcony, while celebrities such as Zoella hang out in the YouTube zone.
Why go? To snap a selfie with all the famous faces. Instagram, incoming.
10. St Paul’s Cathedral
What exactly is it? Even though St Paul’s is iconic, the cathedral as we know it now is, at the very least, version six. The Great Fire of London in 1666 devastated mark five, mark three was also destroyed by fire in 1087, and mark four was demolished under Henry VIII’s reign. Sir Christopher Wren’s design, finished in 1708, has thankfully weathered 12 kings and two world wars. If you purchase general entry, you will be given an introductory presentation before being taken on a 90-minute tour.
Why go? To test your hearing in the Whispering Gallery.