When the Millennium Commission announced their intention to build an observation wheel that would stand 135 metres over the city of London, people were initially cynical. But the London Eye has turned out to be the finest and most popular new attraction in London since Queen Victoria's Great Exhibition. The Eye now welcomes between 3.5 and 4 million guests every year and, conceived and designed by Marks Barfield Architects, is a feat of modern engineering, both beautiful to look at and from. When constructed in 1999, it was the tallest observation wheel in the world and, though it has now been surpassed by similar constructions in China and Singapore, it allows you to see one of the world's most exciting cities from a completely new perspective.
Top London Attractions
443 ft observation wheel providing unparalleled views of the city
Jubilee Gardens, South Bank, South Bank, London, SE1 7PB
At 111m high, one of the most famous sights in London
St Paul's Churchyard, City, London, EC4M 8AD
Sir Christopher Wren's mighty St Paul's Cathedral draws the eye like nothing else in London, even though the City's skyscrapers now tower above it. The centrepiece of the great reconstruction of London after the great fire of 1666, it is still the spiritual focus of Great Britain. Royal weddings and birthdays, the funerals of Britain's leaders and services to celebrate the ends of wars all take place beneath the famous dome. The cathedral miraculously survived the Blitz in World War II and served as an inspirational symbol of strength. Explore the medieval relics in the crypt, the gorgeous Victorian mosaics and up to the staggering views of London from the top of the dome.
Events at St Paul's Cathedral
8th September 2016 to 11th August 2018 - 8.30am-4.30pm | £18
8th September 2016 to 31st December 2018 | Free
World-renowned museum of human history and culture
Great Russell Street, Bloomsbury, London, WC1B 3DG
Founded in 1753 when Sir Hans Sloane left his collection of 71,000 objects of interest, the British Museum's charter insists that it be open free of charge "to all studious and curious persons". The museum expanded rapidly in the nineteenth century and now contains around 7 million objects, some more than 10,000 years old. Spend an afternoon exploring the relics of ancient Egyptian and Greek empires and come face to face with mankind's greatest cultural achievements. Walk through the impressive columned entrance, through Lord Norman Foster's breath taking glass domed Great Court and wander the seemingly endless corridors and displays. The museum is a treasure trove of objects from the whole world and the entire span of human history and prehistory.
Events at British Museum
23rd February to 27th August 2017 - Various Times | Free
9th March to 18th June 2017 | £16.50 (Adults), Free (Children under 16)
Sunday 12th March 2017 - 2.30pm | £6-£8
A series of performances of some of the greatest stories in the world.
25th May to 13th August 2017
World War II cruiser moored on the River Thames
Morgan's Lane, Tooley Street, Bankside, London, SE1 2JH
Tube: London Bridge Station
HMS Belfast, moored at Morgan's Lane off Tooley Street, is a World War Two cruiser with nine decks. As you explore this floating museum, pop into the Captain's Bridge and then head down to the massive Boiler and Engine Rooms, well below the ship's waterline. Launched on St Patrick's Day (17th March) 1938, the 187-metre long ship is a 6-inch cruiser (the inches denote the size of its guns), designed for the protection of trade, for offensive action, and to support military operations by aiding landings from the sea. One of her last jobs was to help evacuate emaciated survivors of Japanese prisoner of war and civilian internment camps from China. Up until the autumn of 1947 she was fully occupied with peace-keeping duties in the Far East. Following a stint in Korea she was retired in 1952 and long after was given to the public in 1971. A collapsed gangway in 2011 caused the ship to close for members of the public but it was successfully re-opened in May 2012.
Historic castle in existence since 1078
Tower Hill, City, London, EC3N 4AB
Tube: Tower Hill Station
For a thousand years the Tower of London has protected, threatened, imprisoned and occasionally executed the people of London. Originally the fortress of the hated Norman conquerors, built with imported white stone from France, it has been through many different incarnations in its life; the bloody tower where Richard III allegedly murdered his nephews, a patriotic symbol, home to British monarchs and armies, a prison and in modern times a treasury museum and UNESCO World Heritage site. The biggest draw for visitors are the crown jewels: crowns, sceptres, plate, and the two largest cut diamonds in the world are among the objects in the collection. The medieval palace, traitors gate, the beefeaters and the ravens make visits wonderfully atmospheric.
Events at Tower Of London
6th to 18th March 2017 - 6pm | £25.50, concs £23
An immersive piece mirroring the Peasant's Revolt of 1381.
Large Gothic church and coronation and burial site for the monarchy
Dean's Yard, Westminster, London, SW1P 3PA
The setting for every coronation since 1066 and the burial ground for kings, statesmen, scientists, musicians and poets, Westminster Abbey is a true Medieval masterpiece. Stunning gothic architecture, the fascinating literary history represented by poets corner, the artistic talent that went into the statues, murals, paintings and tombs, and the fantastic stained glass, combine to make Westminster Abbey the most enduringly stunning of London's churches.
Official residence of Queen Elizabeth II
Buckingham Palace Road, London, SW1A 1AA
Tube: Victoria Station
England's most famous royal palace, and the official residence of Queen Elizabeth II, Buckingham Palace opens the doors of its State Rooms to the public every summer. Originally acquired by King George III for his wife Queen Charlotte, Buckingham House was increasingly known as the 'Queen's House' and 14 of George III's children were born there. On his accession to the throne, George IV decided to convert the house into a palace and employed John Nash to help him extend the building. Queen Victoria was the first sovereign to live here (from 1837). The State Rooms are now still used by the Royal Family to receive and entertain guests on State and ceremonial occasions. Visitors can admire some of the more unusual gifts received by the current Queen, including drawings by Salvador Dali, an embroidered silk scarf from Nelson Mandela and a grove of maple trees. Decorated in lavish fashion, the rooms include paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens, Canaletto, Vermeer and Poussin, sculpture by Canova, exquisite examples of Svres porcelain, and some of the finest English and French furniture in the world. The Ball Supper Room, the setting for a host of sparkling events in the history of the palace, 29-acre gardens and annual exhibitions are all also available to visitors.
Events at Buckingham Palace
4th November 2016 to 23rd April 2017 | £10.30 (Adults), £9.40 (Concessions), £5.30 (Under 17/Disabled), Free (Under 5)
15th November 2016 to 23rd April 2017 - 11am | £18.80, OAP/NUS £16.90, disabled/under 17s £9.30, under 5s Free
19th May to 12th November 2017 | Adult £11, OAP/NUS £10, child/disabled £5.50, family £27.50
8th December 2017 to 13th May 2018 - 10am-5.30pm | £9.50, under 17s £4.80, under 5s Free, OAP/NUS £8.75, family £24
The centre of political life in the UK
Parliament Square, St Margaret's Street, Westminster, London, SW1A 0AA
Tube: Westminster Station
Now more commonly known as the Houses of Parliament, the Palace of Westminster began life in 1042 as a royal residence under Edward the Confessor. The major structure to survive various fires, Westminster Hall was built between 1087 and 1100 and is one of the largest medieval halls in Europe with an unsupported hammerbeam roof. During the 14th century the Hall housed the courts of law as well as shops and stalls selling legal equipment - wigs and pens. Following a fire in 1512, Henry VIII abandoned the Palace and it has been home to the two seats of Parliament - the Commons and the Lords - ever since. Yet another disastrous fire in 1834 destroyed everything except Westminster Hall and the Jewel Tower. A competition to redevelop the whole site was won by Sir Charles Barry and Augustus Pugin who came upwith the mock Gothic building that has become such a familiar landmarktoday and includes Big Ben (the bell that chimes on the hour) and the largest clock face in the country. Members of the public can watch debates when Parliament is in session - you don't need tickets in advance but may have to queue. To watch Prime Minister's Question Time (Wed 12noon, when Parliament is sitting) it's advisable to get tickets in advance.
Huge range of European art, ranging from 1260 to 1900
Trafalgar Square, Westminster, London, WC2N 5DN
The National Gallery is visible in its full glory in the heart of the pedestrianised Trafalgar Square. Its permanent collection houses some of the world’s most important paintings from as far back as the 13th century. Gaze upon the works of greats such as Titian, da Vinci, Rembrandt, Monet, Renoir, Cezanne, Raphael and Van Gogh. Built in 1832-1833, in an attempt to outshine Paris’s Louvre, it aspires to make art accessible to all with free admission, a central location and extended opening hours. The important thing in planning your visit is not to try and see everything. You could spend a week wandering through its hallowed halls, and still miss many of the greatest works of European art.
Events at National Gallery
19th January to 26th March 2017 | Free
15th February to 21st May 2017 | Free
7th December 2016 to 26th March 2017 | £6.50, OAP £5.50, National Art Pass mems/NUS/unwaged/ages 12-18 £3.50, members Free
15th March to 25th June 2017 | Admission charge, members go Free
26th April to 28th August 2017 | Free
The Turbine Hall, 20th century art, Matisse to Moore
Bankside Power Station, 25 Sumner Street, Bankside, London, SE1 9TG
Tate Modern is London's most visited and innovative gallery - housed in a former power station, the space itself is as much as an attraction as its collections and exhibitions. The journey there can be an adventure in itself: take the tube to Blackfriars, cross the river on the 'Blade of Light' Millennium Bridge and admire the startling contrast between historic St Paul's Cathedral and this uber modern art gallery. The interior is a glorious, unpretentious playground of modern art, as appealing to children and amateurs as it is to adults and art experts. Permanent collections includes works by Bacon, Matisse, Rothko and Andy Warhol as well as the best of contemporary British art.
Events at Tate Modern
15th February to 11th June 2017 | £11.30, concs £10, under 12s/mems Free
1st December 2016 to 2nd April 2017 | Adult £18, concession £16.50, under 12s Free
10th November 2016 to 7th May 2017 | £16.50, concs £14.50, under 12s/mems Free
4th October 2016 to 2nd April 2017 | Free
17th June 2016 to 17th June 2017 | Free
11th January 2016 to 10th March 2017 - Various Times | Free
1st July 2016 to 31st December 2017 - 10am-6pm | Free
See London from above in Western Europe's tallest building.
96 Tooley Street, Bankside, London, SE1 9SG
Tube: London Bridge Station
When it officially opened on Thursday 5th July 2012, The Shard became the tallest building iThe Shardn the European Union and the 45th tallest building in the world. Designed in 2000 by Renzo Piano, an Italian architect best known for creating Paris's Pompidou Centre in collaboration with Britain's Richard Rogers, the mixed use Shard building, visible from wherever you are in London, combines offices, three floors of restaurants and the 5-star Shangri-La Hotel with residential apartments - Europe's highest homes; yours for 30 to 50 million pounds - and London's highest viewing gallery. Covered in 11,000 panes of glass, the 'vertical city' in the newly created London Bridge Quarter is well connected with London Bridge Tube and train stations ferrying people to and from the hard-to-miss London landmark. The public viewing galleries, way up on floors 68 to 72, open early February 2013 but you can pre-register now to be the first to get tickets when they go on sale at 9am on Friday 6th July 2012. In the meantime you can enjoy the virtual views 40 miles across the city online. Vertigo sufferers need not apply. See our full feature on The Shard.
IN THIS ARTICLE
St Paul's Cathedral
Tower of London
Houses of Parliament
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