On my recent journey to England's capital city, I had the pleasure of flying Upper Class with Virgin Atlantic. This was the perfect start to what would become an unforgettable trip. Below, I present to you a guide to the top 10 attractions I discovered in London and why they should be on your itinerary too.
1. Tower Bridge
The iconic Tower Bridge is a must-see when visiting London. Often misnamed as the London Bridge, this majestic structure is a marvel of Victorian engineering.
The pedestrian path across the bridge is open to the public at no cost. However, if you're interested in exploring the high-level walkways or the towers, you'll need to opt for a paid tour. The view from the top is absolutely breathtaking.
2. The London Eye
The London Eye is an unmissable feature on London's skyline. Once the tallest Ferris wheel in the world, it now stands as the most popular paid tourist attraction in the city.
Each air-conditioned capsule can accommodate up to 25 people, making it a perfect group activity. A single rotation takes about 30 minutes, providing ample time to take in the panoramic view of the city. To avoid the queues, book your tickets in advance.
3. The Tower of London
The Tower of London, an 11th-century fortress, is a treasure trove of English history. It houses the world's largest diamond, the Cullinan diamond, among other royal jewels.
I suggest setting aside at least half a day for this attraction. Begin with the Crown Jewels, then join a Yeoman Warder's tour for an engaging look at the tower's history.
4. The Houses of Parliament and Big Ben
The Houses of Parliament and Big Ben are two iconic symbols of London. Big Ben, officially known as Elizabeth Tower, is particularly thrilling for first-time visitors.
You can take a tour of the Houses of Parliament and even attend debates at the House of Commons or House of Lords. More information is available here.
5. The Shard
Standing tall at 309.6 meters, The Shard is Western Europe's tallest building. It offers a fantastic 360-degree view of the city.
You can prebook your tickets or walk-in on the day. However, be prepared for disappointment if tickets are sold out. The lift whisks you to the 35th floor in no time, where you'll find a spacious sitting area surrounded by a bar.
6. The Thames River Cruise
The Thames River Cruise is a relaxing way to see London's landmarks. Cruises typically last around 2-3 hours, offering stunning views of the city from a unique perspective.
7. The South Bank
The South Bank is a cultural hub, home to some of London's most iconic sights including the Tate Modern, the National Theatre, and the London Eye.
A walk along the South Bank offers a series of iconic views. Start at Westminster Bridge for a view of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, then continue east for a string of attractions.
8. Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace, the official residence of the Queen, is a must-see for any fan of the Royal Family. One of the things to see is the changing of the guard, this iconic ceremony is a grand display of British pomp and pageantry. Be sure to check the official schedule for timings.
9. The West End
London's West End is renowned worldwide for its theatre productions. From long-running musicals to classic plays, there is a show for everyone. I highly recommend pre-booking your tickets to avoid disappointment. Some of the popular shows include "The Lion King", "Phantom of the Opera", and "Les Misérables".
10. The British Museum
Home to a vast collection of world art and artifacts, the British Museum is a cultural treasure trove. Best of all, entry is free! With exhibits from all continents, you can easily spend an entire day here. Don't miss the Rosetta Stone and the Egyptian mummies.
London is a city that never ceases to amaze. With its rich history, diverse culture, and world-class attractions, it's a place that everyone should visit at least once. So, if you're planning your first trip to London, make sure these top 10 attractions are on your list. Happy travels!