On postcards and artwork, movies and TV, London landmarks are truly iconic world over. However, there is nothing better than seeing these landmarks up close and personal to admire all of their glory. So, whether you’re visiting London for the first time or just want to reacquaint yourselves with the best that London has to offer. Here are 25 of the best landmarks in London that you need to add to and then tick off from your bucket list.
25 famous landmarks in London:
1. The Thames
Weaving majestically through the city of London, the River Thames is the longest river that is entirely in England with a length of 215 miles. While the river runs through Oxford, Reading, Windsor and many more towns, it is perhaps at its most iconic in the city centre, especially with the famous Tower Bridge crossing its width.
The Thames offers sports and wildlife. However, arguably the best way to enjoy the Thames is to enjoy a river cruise that shares the secrets of the river as you pass by many of the famous London landmarks.
2. Big Ben
When you think of Big Ben, you’ll undoubtedly think of the tall Clock Tower. However, Big Ben is actually the name given to the Great Bell housed within the Clock Tower. The tower itself is actually now known as the Elizabeth Tower to mark Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee.
The tower stands at 96 metres tall while Big Ben, the largest of five bells housed in the tower, weighs a staggering 13.7 tonnes. Big Ben tolls every hour on the house and there are four quarter bells that chime every 15, 30 and 45 minutes past the hour. Due to current renovation works, the bells only chime for special occasions. However, it is due to be back up and running in 2021.
It is well worth seeing Big Ben and hearing the chimes from across the road or river. However, only UK residents are allowed to tour inside the tower and see Big Ben.
3. Houses of Parliament
The Houses of Parliament consists of the House of Common and the House of Lords that are situated in the grand and beautiful Palace of Westminster. The iconic Houses of Parliament was first built in 1016. However, after a fire, the palace was rebuilt in 1840. It follows a gothic style and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a Grade 1 Listed Building.
While the building houses the politicians and lawmakers of the United Kingdom, the Palace of Westminster is actually the property of Queen Elizabeth II. Its history, stories (such as the Gunpowder Plot) and age-old traditions make the Houses of Parliament a popular tourist attraction and an iconic landmark on the River Thames, complete with Big Ben too.
4. Buckingham Palace
Not just the London home of the royal family, it is the headquarters of the monarch. Built in 1703, Buckingham Palace has been the official London residence for the monarchy since Queen Victoria’s reign beginning in 1837. Measuring over 108 metres along the front, simply looking at Buckingham Palace is an impressive sight. However, you can also visit some of the State Rooms and discover what life is like in a working royal palace by booking a tour.
Buckingham Palace is only open to visitors for ten weeks every summer and through selected dates throughout the year, so planning your trip well in advance is advised. If not, simply enjoy its glory from the outside as you walk up the mall and catch the Changing the Guard ceremony.
5. Kensington Palace
Kensington Palace is a famous London palace that has been home to many famous royals. The Palace was, in fact, the birthplace for Queen Victoria and is now the home of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis. It is also home to Princess Eugenie, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester and Kent and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent.
Visitors can enjoy a visit to the staterooms of Kensington Palace, a tour which brings to life what life was and is currently like in the royal residence.
6. The Globe Theatre
Known as Shakespeare’s Theatre, it was built in 1599 by William Shakespeare’s playing company and rebuilt after a fire in 1614. In 1997, a modern reconstruction of the theatre was built just 750 metres away from the original site and is known as Shakespeare’s Globe.
The reconstruction is faithful to the original and hosts performances in its series of playhouses and theatres. You can enjoy a guided tour of the Globe Theatre, or, alternatively, book your tickets for one of the performances. The schedule changes for each season, so there’s always a chance to see something different, whenever you visit.
7. London Tube
The London Underground, known by its nickname, the Tube, is the easiest way to get around London so you can see as many London landmarks as possible. However, the London Tube (and its iconic map) is a landmark in itself. It serves 270 different stations, covers 249 miles and receives five million riders every single day.
The tube has a long and rich history, from being air-raid shelters in the war to inspiring novelists, the London Underground is even home to ghosts and ghost stations which are no longer in use.
8. Lamb & Flag in Covent Garden
Known as the oldest pub in London, Lamb & Flag is nestled on Rose Street in Covent Garden. Nobody is quite sure how old the tavern is, but some say it dates back to 1623 and was definitely a licensed premise in 1772. The Lamb & Flag has a long history such as the Rose Alley Ambuscade where the poet John Dryden was attacked, to the Bucket of Blood bar which used to host bare-knuckle fights.
Those visiting Lamb & Flag now will enjoy a traditional English pub complete with dark varnished wood and plenty of brass features. Punters can enjoy a selection of ales and a pub food menu.
9. Trafalgar Square
We couldn’t forget about Trafalgar Square as one of the top landmarks in London, could we? 🙂
Trafalgar Square has long been a place for demonstrations and community gatherings, but many want to visit this iconic London landmark for its stunning architecture. Trafalgar Square opened in 1844 complete with Nelson’s Column that stands at 52 metres tall.
Trafalgar Square is home to many statues and fountains. However, many people flock to Trafalgar Square in December as it is home to London’s Christmas tree which is presented by Oslo as a token of gratitude for Britain’s support in Norway during World War II.
10. Piccadilly Circus
Set in London’s West end, Piccadilly Circus was built in 1819 and is now a major traffic junction for vehicles and pedestrians. Piccadilly Circus is mainly known for its large video displays and neon signs.
However, it also links many attractions and roads such as Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain, the London Pavilion, Criterion Theatre and connects to Shaftesbury Avenue, Coventry Street and the Haymarket.
11. The London Eye
Another iconic London landmark is the London Eye, a giant observation wheel that is set in London’s South Bank next to the River Thames. The London Eye is 135 metres tall, and the wheel itself has a diameter of 120 metres. If you want one of the highest views of the city then the London Eye is a great place to gain a fantastic view across the city and a chance to see many of the iconic London landmarks.
The only taller observation deck in London is The Shard. However, the London Eye is still considered the tallest cantilevered observation wheel in the world.
Across all the landmarks, the London Eye is probably the most famous landmark in London!
12. The Tower of London
Home to the famous ravens, the infamous prison and, of course, the Crown Jewels, visiting the Tower of London makes for a great day out. The Tower of London is actually a royal palace and fortress. Work began on the Tower of London in 1078 when William the Conqueror built the White Tower.
The Tower of London has been a prison from 1100 right up until 1952 and visitors can explore the prisons complete with prisoner’s graffiti during a tour. Throughout its long history, the Tower of London has been used for many purposes; at one point, it was even used as a zoo! This UNESCO World Heritage Site is well worth a visit so that you can uncover the many secrets it holds.
13. Hyde Park
First established in 1536 by Henry VIII, Hyde Park is the largest of four Royal Parks in London and covers an impressive 350 acres in the heart of the city centre. Hyde Park is famous for its Speakers’ Corner which has been home to many famous protests in history, such as the Suffragettes.
The park is free to roam, and there are plenty of sights within the park to spot such as the Serpentine lake, the Standing Stone monolith, the Cavalry and Holocaust memorials as well as the Diana, Princess of Wales memorial.
14. Tower Bridge
As one of the most famous bridges in London, it is certainly not a London Landmark to miss. The iconic suspension bridge is 65 metres tall with a total length of 244 metres. Because Tower Bridge is such a classic London landmark, many people believe it is London Bridge. In fact, London Bridge is located further upstream.
40,000 pedestrians cross the bridge every single day. However, you can also go inside the bridge in which you can take a close look at the engine rooms and even view the bridge from above on the glass floor in the tower.
15. Little Venice
If you are after a bit of peace and calm after the hustle and bustle of the city centre, then a wander through Little Venice is a must. Little Venice is where the Regent and Grand Union canals meet and here you can enjoy canal boat rides or simply enjoy a drink and bite to eat in one of the many waterside pubs and restaurants.
Little Venice is also home to the Canal Café Theatre and the Puppet Theatre Barge which offer entertainment in this relaxing spot.
16. St Paul’s Cathedral
Built in 1675 with the famous Sir Christopher Wren as its architect, St Paul’s Cathedral is an impressive Grade I Listed building and is the seat of the Bishop of London. Built on top of a hill (Ludgate Hill) at the highest point in the City of London, the cathedral stands at 111 metres tall, and until 1967 it was the tallest building in London. To this day, the dome of the cathedral is among the highest in the world.
The cathedral is still a working church. However, tourists can pay a fee to enter the cathedral and enjoy its incredible architecture.
17. The Shard
The Shard is the tallest building in the whole of the UK at 309.6 metres tall and opened in 2012. Inside The Shard are retail units, offices, restaurants and bars. There is also an observation deck, known as The View from The Shard. Here, visitors can enjoy an indoor gallery on the 69th level and an open-air deck on Level 72. On Level 68, there is a gift shop selling limited-edition souvenirs.
There are plenty of restaurants and bars throughout The Shard where you can enjoy fine dining with one of the best views of the city.
18. Battersea Power Station
As an old and decommissioned coal-fired power station, Battersea Power Station is an iconic site, nestled on the banks of the River Thames. During its time in user, it was the most thermally efficient power station in the world. Now, Battersea Power Station displays its landmark 1920s architecture and is home to community events such as street food festivals and retailer pop-up events.
Now the area is being redeveloped into an exciting and innovative neighbourhood while maintaining the Grade II listed structure.
19. Royal Albert Hall
The Royal Albert Hall is a stunning concert theatre that was first opened by Queen Victoria in 1871 and was built in memory of Queen Victoria’s late husband, Prince Albert. Queen Victoria even laid the first foundation stone of the building in 1867. The concert hall seats 5,272 people and is home to many prestigious events and performances.
The English National Ballet and Cirque du Soliel regularly perform here while there are also annual events such as the BBC Proms, ATP Tennis Champions Tour, Festival of Remembrance and charity concerts such as the Teenage Cancer Trust.
Visitors can either enjoy a guided tour or book tickets to see a show.
20. O2 Arena
Set on the Greenwich Peninsula in The Thames, the O2 Arena is a premier arena that hosts a wide variety of events form sports to concerts. As well as enjoying entertainment inside, there are activities to enjoy outside too. In fact, you can climb to the top of the O2 Arena where you can enjoy unparalleled 360-degree views both day or night.
The O2 Arena is also home to many cafes and restaurants as well as a cinema, bowling alley and free jumping centre.
21. City Hall
Built in neo-futuristic style by architect Norman Foster, City Hall is home to the London Assembly and the Mayor of London. Located near Tower Bridge, City Hall is a rounded shape complete with a helical walkway to reach all ten stories of the building.
A part of City Hall is open to the public on weekdays, and there are also events where it is possible to visit the rooftop gardens. However, City Hall is well worth viewing to see how the futuristic architecture blends with much of the gothic-revival style that London is famed for.
22. West End
London’s West End is a vibrant hub of activity and the place to go for world-leading theatre performances. It is considered the entertainment centre of the city and includes plenty of shops, pubs, cafes, restaurants and, of course, theatres.
Leicester Square is regarded as the hub of West End activity, and there are plenty of ticket booths selling tickets to the many performances happening in and around the West End.
23. Covent Garden
Set in the heart of London’s vibrant West End, Covent Garden is a must-visit landmark of London which offers market stalls, shops, restaurants and bars. There is plenty of culture to enjoy and history to explore in Covent Garden.
One of the best things to do in Covent Garden is to take a seat in the pedestrianised piazza and enjoy the shows of the many street performers who ply their trade here.
24. Richmond Park
Richmond Park is one of the Royal Parks of London and is famous for its wildlife conservation and notably the deer that live here. The park covers 2500 acres and has a protected status due to the rich and diverse wildlife that live here as well as the many ancient trees. Richmond Park is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, a European Special Area of Conservation and a National Nature Reserve.
There is plenty to do and see in Richmond Park, including Poets’ Corner, King Henry’s Mound and the Isabella Plantation.
25. St Pancras Renaissance
St Pancras Renaissance is a grand London hotel that serves as the front to St Pancras railway station. The hotel was originally built in 1865 and was known as the Midland Grand Hotel, but this closed in 1935. The stunning structure of St Pancras Renaissance includes a clock tower which is 82 metres tall.
Visitors may recognise St Pancras Renaissance from the films Richard III (1995), Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Batman Begins (2005). The stairway of the hotel was used for the music video for Wannabe by the Spice Girls.
Is it worth seeing all the top landmarks in London?
Without a doubt, there are many famous landmarks in London, and all of them are worth visiting. The London landmarks are must-sees on any trip to London. Whether you have a week or only one day in London, make sure you plan your trip well to see as many of them as possible.
So the only question remains, how long to spend in London to see all the famous landmarks in London?
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