Over the course of two millennia, London has evolved into one of the most densely populated and culturally diverse cities in modern Europe. Brimming with a rich and complex history, it’s an amalgam of architecture and landmarks, with an ever-growing and thriving art scene. From Tate Modern to the Tower of London, here are 10 major London sights that shouldn’t be missed on your trip to the ‘Big Smoke’ – each one complete with a unique spin to make your experience of them a little bit more curious.
This special tour shows you what life is like as a royal. Swing by Buckingham Palace – the official residence of the British monarchy – and stroll through the various state rooms open to the public. You’ll have ample time to independently explore Her Majesty’s home, so make sure to plug into your provided audio guide as you wander through and admire the grand furnishings displayed throughout. Listen to stories about the history of the palace and its royal residents before an afternoon tea finale in St James’s Park. From savoury sandwiches to scones with clotted cream and freshly baked cakes, there will be plenty of tasty snacks – all washed down with English tea, of course.
On a clear day, the London Eye will provide you with 40 kilometres (25 miles) of uninterrupted city views. Step on board a shared capsule after skipping the dreaded queues with your fast-track ticket, and prepare for a flight high above the London skyline. See if you can spot London’s world-famous clock tower Big Ben overlooking the River Thames, and keep an eye out for Westminster Abbey – an archetype of Old English Gothic architecture. Not only will you get to take in the city sights from 135 metres (443 feet) up, but you’ll get to do so while sipping on a chilled glass of champagne. Once you’re back on the ground, be sure to swing by the London Eye 4D Cinema Experience, where you’ll get to view the first ever 3D aerial photography shot over London.
Flee the hectic city centre and board a boat to sail down the winding River Thames for a relaxing sightseeing cruise of London’s most famous landmarks. You’ll glide past Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, under London’s famous Tower Bridge, and then past the historic Houses of Parliament. Sit back and get comfortable before a traditional three-course meal is served. Your main course will be a true British classic: juicy roast beef or veggie wellington, served alongside duck fat-roasted potatoes and Yorkshire puddings. As you tuck in, a live jazz band will play a selection of easy-listening classics to provide the perfect soundtrack for exploring London on the water.
On this tour, you’ll whizz through the city in a vintage Morris Minor convertible driven by a private chauffeur. Keep your eyes peeled for the iconic London Eye, Big Ben and Buckingham Palace, among other famous sights. But that’s not all – your professional chauffeur will also give you the low-down on London’s history and modern-day culture, so you can hear what it’s like to live the London life from a born-and-bred local. This iconic car is one of London’s favourites, so prepare for lots of intrigued onlookers and the chance to explore the UK capital in style.
Make your trip to London a memorable one by riding through the city on a 1960s-style double-decker bus while indulging in a classic afternoon tea. Featuring mouth-watering homemade cakes and savoury snacks, the delectable spread will be prepared by Brigit’s Bakery – one of London’s best in the business. And your scone won’t be the only thing that’s jam-packed. The UK capital is teeming with impressive architecture and historical landmarks, which you’ll see in abundance on this tour. See if you can spot the grand Houses of Parliament before passing through the bustling Trafalgar Square, where you’ll find Nelson’s Column. If you’re after a classic London experience with a twist, this is it.
This royal tour lets you witness the Changing of the Guard ceremony – a quintessential English performance featuring the Queen’s iconic foot guards in their signature attire. Escape the crowds and watch the show from a quiet spot chosen by your dedicated historian guide, and watch the calvary in their royal garb which includes those iconic black bearskin hats. This tour comes complete with a personal headset, so you can easily follow every step of the ceremony while learning all about its historical background.
If you’re an experienced artist or just curious, a trip to Tate Modern should be high on your list of things to do during your visit to London. The city’s cutting-edge art scene is one of the most vibrant in the world, and Tate Modern showcases the very best of it. With so many fascinating works of art on display, it can be difficult to get your bearings and make sense of it all. But this tour will allow you to explore the modern gallery alongside a veteran art dealer, giving you expert insight into some of the more complex pieces and an in-depth knowledge of the art world and London’s international art scene.
Get to know central London’s quieter side from behind the handlebars of a classic English Pashley bike. Following your local guide, you’ll ride down residential backstreets to discover hidden gems like 18th-century Georgian architecture and authentic Banksy artwork. The famously anonymous artist will be the inspiration for creating your own piece of street art, if you’re keen to give it a go. There’ll also be time to admire the more familiar landmarks such as Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and the medieval-era Westminster Abbey during your two-wheeled tour, as your guide provides a profound perspective of London and all its remarkable sights.
Dating all the way back to 1066, the Tower of London is one of the last remaining medieval buildings that exist in the capital today. Having functioned as a defensive lookout, a prison and a royal palace, the Tower of London has seen it all. On this VIP tour, you’ll beat the crowds and get early access to see the dazzling crown jewels – said to be worth several billion pounds – in all their glory. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of London’s most compelling, and your expert guide will be on hand to help you reimagine what life in the Tower of London was once like.
Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre is a textbook example of stunning Elizabethan architecture. Although the original theatre burnt down in 1613, the restored building actually retains some of the timbers salvaged from the original structure. After the Great Fire of London, thatched roofs were banned in the city, but The Globe has always been a notable exception to the rule – being the only building in London that still has one. During its 17th-century heyday, people would queue for hours to catch one of Shakespeare’s now legendary plays. Today, you can see one for yourself if you book tickets in advance, or simply take an informative guided tour of the theatre before the daily show begins.