To quote Samuel Johnson, “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.” While Johnson said this back in 1777, the sentiment still holds true today. The list of things to see and experience in London is exhaustive, to the point where people who live here their whole lives still have things to see and do. London may be one of the most visited places on the planet, but this city remains true to its history and culture through it all. It’s a diverse and exciting city that also just happens to have some of the world’s best sights, attractions and entertainment.
As you well know, England still has a royal family, and following the royals’ lives is one of the country’s favourite pastimes. Keep your eyes peeled for a peek of the royals as they go about town, learn about the history of the country and see how London has played an integral role. While staying in London, do as the royals did and visit these top 5 royal attractions.
Buckingham Palace is definitely in the running for London’s most iconic attraction. This stunning mansion has been the official London residence of every British monarch since 1837. It has an astonishing 775 rooms, including 78 bathrooms, 52 royal and guest bedrooms, 19 state rooms, 188 staff bedrooms and 92 offices—plenty of space for anyone to get properly lost. Be sure to watch the Changing of the Guard ceremony which takes place at 11:30am every day, or every other day, depending on the season. Plan your visit properly, and you’ll even be allowed to tour the palace and visit a number of the more impressive state rooms.
The Tower of London was built in 1066 by William the Conqueror and is guarded by the iconic Beefeaters, who look after the Tower’s ravens. Legend has it that if the birds ever leave, the White Tower will crumble and there will be a great disaster in England. The Tower has had many purposes over the course of its existence including being a prison, an observatory, an armoury, a zoo, a treasury and the Royal Mint. Today, it is a public museum where you can wander the grounds, see exhibits about the kings on England, and admire the sparkling Crown Jewels.
Kensington Palace is a little further out of Central London, but is well worth the hike. This is where Prince William and Princess Kate live with their little family. There are some parts of the palace that are open to the public. With over 300 years as a royal home, there have been many famous royals who have lived at Kensington Palace, including Queen Victoria and Princess Diana. There is also an exhibition here that has some of Princess Diana’s famous gowns and dresses. You can imagine yourself a royal as you tour the palace and see how the other half lives.
Back in the day, Hyde Park was Henry VIII's private deer park. Nowadays, this 360-acre park has been opened to the public--ever since 1635! Rent a Barclays bike and take a spin on The Serpentine or spend a quiet morning at the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain. If you can get to Hyde Park on a Sunday morning, you should head to Speakers’ Corner for a uniquely London experience. Here, you can listen to people from all walks of life giving speeches about anything that moves them—religion, politics, the environment, etc. It makes for great street theatre, and if you fancy ranting about something yourself, step right up and let your voice be heard!
Every monarch since 1066 has been crowned at this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Additionally, it’s stained glass and intricate stone building has also hosted 16 royal weddings, including the Queen's, and Wills and Kate’s in 2011. Seventeen monarchs are buried here along with a list of household names from history like Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, Sir Isaac Newton, Rudyard Kipling, Charles Darwin and Geoffrey Chaucer.
You cannot fail to get excited about London’s amazing attractions—from the London Eye to the British Museum, you’re sure to make memories that will last a lifetime. As you plan your London holiday, consider international travel cover to keep your belongings and yourself out of harm’s way.
Image courtesy of Flickr user Maurice