If you have a trip to the capital planned, it can be hard to know where to start in your search for things to do. My ultimate checklist of must-see London attractions gives you a head-start, with all the highlights covered. Take in world-famous landmarks, chuckle at gory tales of old, experience a film buff’s dream come true and marvel in free museums at the pinnacle of their fields.
Tower of London and Tower Bridge
Built over 900 years ago, the Tower of London has served many purposes – which you can learn all about on a tour with one of the Yeoman Warders. See the Crown Jewels in all their glory, as well as learning about the tower’s time as a palace, prison, arsenal and zoo.
Time your trip right and you may even see the magnificent Tower Bridge lift to let boats past underneath – check the website for times. There’s also a glass floor on the high-level walkways so you can watch the bridge go up from 42 metres high, or just play spot the big red buses as you go.
Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament
The ding-dong may be gone from Big Ben, at least for the moment, but London’s most-famous clock still stands strong. It’s a perfect pit stop while you’re in the Westminster area for other London highlights, including the Dungeons and the London Eye, both of which are located just across the river.
If you’re keen to get the whole London experience, you can even go on a guided tour of The Houses of Parliament. Here you’ll find out all about how parliament works, as well as stepping through the Commons and Lords Chambers and Westminster Hall.
Warner Bros Studio Tour
If seeing all those London buses has you thinking about Harry Potter’s Knight Bus, hop on a double decker from Watford Junction train station to the Warner Bros Studio Tour. You’ll get to explore all of the famous sets from the films, including The Great Hall, Diagon Alley, and Platform 9 ¾ – just be sure to get a sip of authentic butterbeer while you’re there.
The venue is hosting a range of special events over the coming months, including the chance to have Breakfast at Hogwarts just as Harry and the gang did. Once you’ve filled up on all of the treats on offer, special effects supervisors and costume designers will give you the low down on how they created some of the films’ most memorable scenes.
While you have to use your imagination to conjure up the fate of prisoners at the Tower of London, at London Dungeons they act out the gory details for your entertainment. Live actors perform 19 shows that immerse you in London’s dark history, such as visiting Jack the Ripper’s pub, a plague doctor’s workplace and Guy Fawkes’ tunnel.
Not for the faint-hearted, the dungeons will have you laughing as much as screaming. There’s even a couple of rides to up the scare-factor – extra points if you can spot beloved actor Brian Blessed on the aptly named Tyrant Boat Ride.
Educational, beautiful, and best of all free, there are loads of excellent museums to spend time in throughout London. Consistently ranked as the top museum in London, and among the best in the world, the British Museum covers everything you could imagine and more across two million years of human history.
For a more hands-on learning experience, head to the Science Museum for exhibits and interactive displays on everything from clocks and robots to the working of outer space. The Natural History Museum is yet another attractive building full of dinosaur skeletons, wildlife photography and even a tropical butterfly house.
What are your top London highlights?