London has some of the of the most visited museums and galleries in the world and within a few square miles some of the most iconic buildings and places of interest in existence. Our ‘top 10 London attractions’ is drawn from this highly prestigious group of the worlds most popular tourist destinations. There are, however, a vast array of alternative options which compliment our top 10 London gigs. For alternative days out in London, try exploring our (pictorial) list of 68 great things to do in London, almost half of them are free of admission charges. We’ve included links to websites to book tickets and links to our route planner to help you plan your journey.
1. London Eye
Spectacular views across London and beyond. At the top of the wheel you are 135m (443 ft) above the ground and due to the design of the capsule, visitors have a full 360° panorama across the Capital. It’s the fourth tallest structure in the city, providing a splendid birds-eye sensation of being above the famous landmarks of London notably Big Ben and Houses of Parliament immediately across the River. On a clear day it is possible to see up to 40km in all directions.
Tickets can be purchased on the door and but we recommend buying tickets in advance and take advantage of online discounts. Everyone is issued with a timed ticket, so the queue (which always looks quite long) moves quickly as the organisation and embarkation is very efficient.
Located on the in London’s Jubilee Gardens, Millennium South Bank in the heart of the capital. There are plenty of fine places to eat along the river bank and other attractions to explore in the immediate vicinity.
For directions to the London Eye, use our journey planner (green button). To buy tickets to London Eye, the orange button will take you directly to the London Eye online ticket service.
2. British Museum
The British Museum is dedicated to Human History. Originally, designed and constructed between 1780 and 1867 in Greek Revival style, these magnificent buildings house one of the largest and most comprehensive museum collections in existence containing approximately 8million objects. The most popular museum in the UK and 3rd most visited in the world, the British Museum aims to cover the entire history of the world’s cultures and antiquities, from the stone tools of early man to twentieth century prints and artifacts.
Located at 16-22 Great Russell St, in the Bloomsbury area of Central London, close to Tottenham Court Road and the eastern end of Oxford Street, a pleasant walk through the back streets from Soho, Leicester Square or Covent Garden, ten to twenty minutes depending on your pace. Well served by several bus routes, close to Tottenham Court Road and Holborn tube stations.
For directions to the British Museum, use our journey planner (green button). To buy tickets to British Museum, the orange button will take you to the British Museum website where you can find the online ticket service (note; access to British Museum is free, the paid entrance is for special events and exhibitions).
3. The National Gallery
One of the most popular art museums in the world. The National Gallery has a collection of over 2300 works of art, dating from mid 13th to 19th centuries, containing works by the great masters including Van Gogh, Renoir, da Vinci, Botticelli, Constable, Stubbs and Titian. The entire collection belongs to citizens of the United Kingdom, entry to the main galleries are free. Charges apply to special / visiting exhibitions.
Located in the centre of London, facing onto Trafalgar Square and Nelson’s Column the building was designed by William Wilkins in the 1800’s and states it’s presence, in harmony with it’s historic and splendid architectural surroundings.
For directions to the National Gallery, use our journey planner (green button). To buy tickets to National Gallery, the orange button will take you to the National Gallery website and online ticket service (note; access to National Gallery is free, the paid entrance is for special events and exhibitions).
4. Tate Modern
The Tate London, is a national gallery of international contemporary and modern art, from 1900 to the present day. This is the most visited modern art gallery in the world. London’s Tate Gallery is housed in the former Bankside Power Station, facing St Paul’s Cathedral across the River Thames. A central part of this massive building is the wonderful Turbine Hall which forms a huge, serene space in the middle of the structure, from where you can access the galleries and enjoy one of finest collections of modern art to be found anywhere. To get to The Tate, the 20 minute walk from the Southbank is recommended, or the river trip on the river boat from Millbank Pier. This major London tourist attraction is well served by public transport, with plenty bus routes and the nearest tube (underground) is the Jubilee (600metres). You could take a slightly longer walk from the District and Circle or Central lines and enjoy the great views up and down the river as you walk over the Millennium Bridge, a beautiful suspension bridge for pedestrians lying between St Pauls Cathedral and The Tate Modern.
For directions to the Tate Modern, use our journey planner (green button). To buy tickets to Tate Modern, the orange button will take you to the Tate Modern exhibition online ticket service (note; access to Tate Modern is free, the paid entrance is for special events and exhibitions).
5. Natural History Museum
Located on Cromwell Road in South Kensington is the Natural History Museum containing one of the most fascinating collections in the world. These magnificent buildings host amazing collections on natural history, from animals, plants, geology, and palaeontology to ecosystems and climatology. There are 70 million items covering life and earth science specimens categorised into collections, many of of which have historic and scientific significance such as the specimens collected Charles Darwin and the collection of dinosaur skeletons. This museum is totally accessible and compelling for visitors of all ages. Information is presented in all manor of ways including audio, visual and other sensory methods, animations, interactive displays and moving life-size models. A great way to learn about our beautiful, natural world.
For directions to Natural History Museum, use our journey planner (green button). To buy tickets to Natural History Museum, the orange button will take you to the National Gallery website and online ticket service (note; access to National Gallery is free, the paid entrance is for special events and exhibitions).
6. London’s Museums on Exhibition Road
London’s Science Museum, on Exhibition Road. South Kensington, is a major tourist attraction with 3 million visitors a year. Part of a wider Science Museum Group, the museum offers world renowned collections of human ingenuity. Events and exhibitions, proper 3D films in an IMAX cinema are supported by amazing permanent collections covering all aspects of science, suitable for all ages.
Opposite the Science Museum, on Exhibition Road, is the wonderful Victoria and Albert museum. While we’ve included both these museums under one entry in our ‘top 10 London attractions’, we’d recommend planning a day trip for each museum. There is simply so much to see that you could easily spend 3 or 4 hours in each museum. To get the most out of both museums in one day you’d need to be very selective and organised. The V&A was slightly more popular than the Science Museum last year, also attracting more than 3million visitors. The V&A contains one of the world’s most comprehensive collections of art and design, including post classical, East Asia, Islamic World and Italian Renaissance.
7. Tower of London
Tower of London is Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress. A great castle to explore any time of the year. Originally built after the Norman Conquest by William the Conqueror in 1078, it has a has been centre piece to British history ever since, serving at various times as a palace, an armoury, prison, a menagerie, home to the Crown Jewels and home to the Royal Mint. It bears the memories of a tough and grisly past, all wonderfully conveyed by knowledgeable, friendly and informative staff.
Adjacent to the Tower of London, spanning the River Thames stands the mighty Tower Bridge. Compared to the castle next door, this as a relatively modern construction, built in Victorian times using a blended bascule bridge design and suspension bridge design. The aim with the exterior layers of the architecture was to make it visually sympathetic to it’s surroundings and neighbouring buildings, in particular the Tower of London.
If you can plan an hour or two to visit this magnificent bridge you will not be disappointed. The entrance fee provides visitors access to the walk-ways at the top of the bridge where stunning views up and down the river can be enjoyed. There is a very informative historical exhibition covering all aspects of the design and history of the bridge and visitors can see it’s original massive stationary steam engines that remain in place.
8. The Royal Museums Greenwich
A World Heritage site. The Royal Museums Greenwich comprise National Maritime Museum, Queen’s House, and the Royal Observatory. A day in Greenwich is a must, on the river with the beautiful Greenwich Park and Blackheath common all close by.
The National Maritime Museum is the world’s largest maritime museum with a huge collection of artifacts and information about British history at sea, stretching back over the past 500 years, when the world was a very different place. Covering all things nautical, from navigation instruments and time-pieces, to ship design and architecture, to weaponry, to world exploration.
The Royal Observatory is situated on the Prime Meridian of the World, marking the reference point for world time, this museum houses the Planetarium and the UK’s largest refracting telescope.
The Queens House is admission free, a splendid example of 17th century architecture housing a wonderful collection of fine art.
The Cutty Sark is the famous tea clipper, now moored in dry dock at Greenwich. She has been incredibly well restored following a fire in 2007 and her history is well described and illustrated through a fascinating collection.
Greenwich is well served from Central London by the tube and over ground rail options, the bus will take a little longer or there is the London River Bus service as an alternative way to beat the traffic and at the same time enjoy some great views of some of London’s most famous land marks.
9. Palace of Westminster and the Houses of Parliament
The Palace of Westminster is one of the worlds most famous buildings and is home to the UK’s Parliament and is often referred to as the Houses of Parliament. It is located on the northern bank of the River Thames in the City of Westminster. Parliament comprises the House of Commons and the House of Lords, which together set the laws and legislation that govern the UK and which the Government adheres to.
Big Ben is the name of the great bell inside the giant clock tower adjoining Houses of Parliament. Big Ben Chimes every 15 minutes. This iconic clock tower is 96m high, designed in Gothic Architectural Revival style, by Auguustus Welby Northmore Pugin, opened in 1859.
Jewel Tower, opposite the Houses or Parliament, was the Kings Privy Wardrobe. It was built in the mid 1300’s and is the one of the oldest surviving part of the original medieval royal Palace of Westminster.
Westminster Abbey, across the square from the Houses of Parliament is an icon of British history, Gothic architecture. Tomb of the Unknown Warrior, Charles Dickens, Isaac Newton.
10. Buckingham Palace – and surrounding area
Buckingham Palace, royal residence in London for the Queen. It is the place where the Queen carry’s out her official duties as Head of State for the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. There are admissions charges to see The State Rooms, the Picture Gallery and parts of the gardens where the Garden Café is a pleasant way to end your visit.
The Royal Mews (additional entrance fee) are also at Buckingham Palace, these are the combined carriage houses and stables for the British Royal Family, where you can see state vehicles and royal carriages still used by the Royal family.
You can see the Changing the Guard without entering the Palace grounds, from St James Park. This is the Royal Park in the middle of London, where you can watch Changing the Guard, daily from May to July, and on alternate dates throughout the rest of the year. You can also see Trooping the Colour (annually) to celebrate the Queen’s birthday. With The Mall and Buckingham Palace on one side of St James’s Park, Horse Guards Parade on the other, surrounded by major tourist attractions, this could be the ideal place to hire a deckchair for an hour, chill-out with an ice-cream and watch the pelicans for a while as you build your energy levels for the next London attraction?
Top tips for visitors to London;
- Allow plenty of extra time to travel to each tourist destination, if you arrive early then use the time to explore the locality.
- Use us on your mobile for directions en-route: Save us to your favourites on your mobile phone before you set off and we can direct you all the way from your current location (if you have mapping or sat-nav on your mobile).
- Plan your journey in advance: Use our Route Planner on this site to plan your journeys and your days out in London.
- We highly recommend booking entrance tickets in advance. Our Explore Attractions page provides authorised links to reservations and ticket booking services in advance. We provide links for travel reservations and tickets on our Travel to London page.