Battersea Park: a 200 acre green space in the London Borough of Wandsworth. It is situated on the south bank of the River Thames opposite Chelsea, and was opened in 1858. It is a great place to rent a rowboat for a relaxing cruise on the pond, or do some bird-watching at the Battersea Nature Area.
Big Ben and House of Parliament: The Gothic Revival buildings and trademark timepiece that make up the House of Parliament are two of the quintessential symbols of London. Watch debates for free from the Stranger's Galleries in both houses (usually mid-October through July), or just snap a picture of yourself with Big Ben in the background from the Westminster Bridge. And for those in the know, Big Ben is actually the name of the massive bell inside the iconic clocktower, and not the tower itself.
Buckingham Palace and Changing the Guard: The official residence of Britain's sovereigns since 1837, the 775-room Buckingham Palace is the centerpiece of Britain's constitutional monarchy. In summer, when The Queen is not in residence, tours are offered of 19 impressively regal State Rooms. Or stop by for the Changing the Guard ceremony at 11:30am on select days from July to November to witness all the pomp and circumstance.
Downing Street: The most famous residence on this street lives in number 10; the Prime Minister of Great Britain. It is has been the official residence of the British PM since 1732. Inside, you will find a Cabinet Room in which government policy is decided, an impressive State Dining Room, an outdoor garden, and a private apartment. Next door at number 11 Downing Street, you will find the official residence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who is in charge of the nation’s financial affairs.
Houses of Parliament: America has Congress. Japan has the Diet. Germany has the Reichstag. In England, the Houses of Parliament is the seat of the nation’s government. Made up of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, it has housed Great Britain’s politicians and decision makers since the 16th century. The House of Commons consists of elected Members of Parliament. The House of Lords comprises of peers, law lords, bishops, and archbishops.
London Eye: Some 3.5 million people a year take a ride on this Ferris wheel on the southern bank of the River Thames. The draw is a spectacular 360-degree view of the city from one of the attraction's 32 air-conditioned compartments, as the wheel slowly rotates.
Potters Field Park: Located along the banks of the Thames River, this iconic park features a stunning vista of some of London’s most famous landmarks. From Tower Bridge, to the Tower of London, to City Hall, Potters Field is must for any serious shutterbugs or those want to take it easy and take in the surroundings sights of London.
St. Paul's Cathedral: Sitting at the top of Ludgate Hill, the highest point in London, is this 17th-century church. Underneath the building's classical dome is the Whispering Gallery, where even the faintest whisper can be heard clearly on the opposite side. Climb to the top of the dome for a 360-degree view of the city.
Tower Bridge: Quite possibly the most photographed bridge on earth, the Tower Bridge was built over the River Thames in 1894. It is often mistakenly referred to as "London Bridge" (which is actually the next bridge upstream). An exhibit inside the bridge's north tower takes visitors up to a high-level walkway, offering spectacular views of the city, and then down through the south tower into the bridge's original engine room.
Tower of London: Crowds flock to the Tower of London, where Beefeaters lead tourists around a complex that includes an ancient fortress, royal palace, prison and more. Marvel at the collection of Crown Jewels or become entrenched in the bloody history of the site. Nearly every inch of it has a (usually gory) story to tell.
Westminster Abbey: This early-English Gothic abbey is much more than just a place of worship: It is a shrine of the nation where most rulers were crowned and many important figures have found their final resting place (including Charles Darwin and Sir Isaac Newton, plus several Kings and Queens). More recently, it's where Prince William and Kate were wed. From the monumental etchings in the floor to the stained glass windows to the vaulted ceiling there is a lot to take in, so consider scheduling a tour so you don't miss anything.
Harrods: For the shopaholic, one can’t miss the opulent department store, Harrods in Knightsbridge. Located a short walk from Hyde Park, this store is often regarded as the store where one can buy almost “anything”. The shop's 330 departments offer a wide range of everything from designer clothing labels, to expensive chocolates, sporting equipment (cricket bats and soccer uniforms are hot items), clothing for women, men, children and infants, electronics, jewelry, sporting gear, bridal trousseau, pet accessories, toys, food and drink, health and beauty items, packaged gifts, stationery, housewares, home appliances, furniture, and much more. A representative sample of shop services includes 32 restaurants, serving everything from high tea to tapas to pub food to haute cuisine.
Bond Street: In the West End of London, that runs north-south through Mayfair between Oxford Street and Piccadilly, you’ll find Bond Street. It has been a fashionable shopping street since the 18th century and is currently the home of many high price fashion shops. Shops currently located on Bond Street include Armani, Louis Vuitton, Graff Diamonds, Cartier, Dolce & Gabbana, Tiffany & Co., Hermès, Polo Ralph Lauren, Chanel, Prada, Gucci, Salvatore Ferragamo, Fabergé and an exclusive Patek Philippe boutique.
Carnaby Street: Carnaby Street is a famous shopping area in the City of Westminster, London, located in the Soho district, near Oxford Street and Regent Street. It is home to numerous fashion and lifestyle retailers, including a large number of independent fashion boutiques. The nearest London Underground station is Oxford Circus tube station (on the Bakerloo, Central and Victoria lines). By the 1960s, Carnaby Street proved popular for followers of both the Mod and hippie styles. Many independent fashion boutiques and designers such as Mary Quant and Marion Foale and Sally Tuffin were located in Carnaby Street as well as various underground music bars such as the Roaring Twenties in the surrounding streets. With bands such as Small Faces, The Who, and Rolling Stones appearing in the area to work (with the legendary Marquee Club located round the corner in Wardour Street), it became one of the coolest destinations associated with the Swinging London of the 1960s.
Richoux: Founded in 1909, Richoux restaurants, famous for their patisserie, are open all day for breakfast, morning coffee, lunch, afternoon tea, and dinner. Such items include British comfort foods like bangers and mash, toad-in-the-hole, and English tea. Located in four prestigious areas of London (Mayfair, St. John’s Wood, Piccadilly, and Knightsbridge), Richoux have become iconic eateries across the capital, ideal for pre-theatre meals, business breakfasts or afternoon teas. For breakfast, sample a tantalizing English breakfast complete with eggs, sausage, bacon, mushrooms, toast, and roasted tomatoes. For lunch, sample some English favorites like Fish and Chips or Shepherd’s Pie. By the way, don’t be so generous with the mustard. It is so spicy, that even a spoonful will ignite your sinuses! But do save room for dessert!
Criterion: Founded in 1874, situated in the heart of Piccadilly Circus, lose yourself in the opulence of the neo-Byzantine architecture; it's easy to believe the building is soaked in a fascinating history. With its gold and marble shimmering alongside the mosaics, mirrors and plaques, the restaurant has an almost celestial air. Many famous celebrities and British historical figures have dined within these walls; from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to Winston Churchill, to H.G. Wells and Russell Crowe. For starters, sample an assortment of fine cheeses, foie gras, and oysters. Then, dine on aged steak, venison, all served with a familiar British side: chips. Since this place sits in Piccadilly Circus, just a short distance from the theatre district, expect to see many diners in here about to head out for a night at the theatre! Or those coming back for some late night sweets and tea.
The Minories: The Minories is a traditional pub, located less than one minute’s walk from Tower Hill tube station and Tower Gateway DLR station. In Addition, it is within walking distance from some of London’s top attractions, including Tower Bridge and London Dungeon. All major sporting events are shown on Sky and ESPN, across numerous plasma screens and two large projector screens. There is also a heated beer garden with outdoor screen, perfect for enjoying a leisurely drink and some time out from the hustle and bustle of London life. For American tourists, this bar also provides numerous items that are straight out of the USA. Hamburgers, a full-on beer menu, and numerous sports on TV (especially from America).
fish! Kitchen: Few can argue that Fish and Chips are quintessentially British, not to mention irresistible. And what better place to have it than in London? And while you can find this pairing all over the city, Fish Kitchen in Southwark, near Tower Bridge, offers some of the best catch in London.
Southwark Tavern: With Borough Market as a neighbor, The Southwark Tavern features an extensive range of hop-based beverages to the multitude of nooks and crannies to discover; it's easy to get lost in the inimitable charm of this 150-year-old pub. Sample some of the seasonal pub food menu in a cozy, candle-lit corner, or perch by the bar and savor the unique atmosphere of this true South London institution.
West Cornwall Pasty Company: Another one of the most iconic British foods, the pasty (a steak and onion filled dough pocket), is easily enjoyed, especially on-the-go. At a small kiosk at London Bridge Tube station, you can grab one of these edible treats for just a few pounds. Nothing is more satisfying than savory taste of chopped steak, potato, and onion inside a buttery, flaky crust. For an added feeling of ambiance, eat one at the nearby Potters Field Park in the shadow of Tower Bridge. Or better yet, why not chow down on one while riding the Tube?
British Museum: Free to all visitors, the British Museum contains an astounding collection of art and artifacts from countries and cultures all over the world and throughout the ages. Since there is more to see here than can be done in a day (over seven million objects in all), visitors may want to be on the lookout for treasures such as the Rosetta Stone or the Elgin Marbles, which come from the Parthenon in Athens.
Madame Tussauds: The mother of all wax museums, this original Madame Tussauds is named for wax sculptor Marie Tussaud. She sculpted figures of many famous people throughout her life, including the death masks from the guillotined heads of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Be sure to stop by the Chamber of Horrors, where all kinds of instruments of deaths are kept near the figures of their victims.
National Gallery: The centerpiece of Trafalgar Square, the National Gallery houses a collection of Western art from the late 13th to early 20th centuries. Collection highlights include pieces by Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Monet, Renoir, Cezanne, Botticelli, Bellini, Rubens, Seurat, Caravaggio and more.
National Portrait Gallery: This art museum near Leicester Square celebrates Britain’s history through portraits, photographs, and sculptures. In addition, the subjects in this museum run the gamut from British historical figures like Queen Elizabeth I and Queen Victoria to pop-cultural figures like The Beatles and David Beckham. The 20th century section contains paintings and photographs of the royal family, politicians, musicians, fashion designers, and writers.
Sherlock Holmes Museum: He may have been a fictional character, but that hasn’t stopped millions of fans from making him one of England’s most beloved heroes. Although Detective Holmes lived at 221b Baker Street, that address does not exist as author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle made it up for his character. Instead, the museum sits between 237 and 239 Baker Street; it is the only surviving Victorian lodge house on the street. There is a reconstruction of Holmes’ front room as well as all the memorabilia from the many adventures he and Watson encountered.
Tate Britain: The most prestigious gallery in Britain, the Tate Britain contains the national collections, which cover British art from the 16th century to the present day. Stop by to see the Gainsboroughs, Turners and more.
Tate Modern: The Tate Modern is a revamped power station that contains one of the best collections of modern art in the world. If you tour the three levels of galleries using the museum's award-winning Multimedia Guide you'll hear artist interviews and art-inspired music.
Victoria & Albert Museum: Considered the greatest decorative arts museum in the world, the V&A contains treasures that span a period of 5,000 years, so visitors will find everything from medieval artifacts to the "little black dress" made famous by Coco Chanel. From fashion to photography, there is something for everyone here.
West End Theater: One of the most popular tourist activities is to visit a professional theater in London's "Theatreland," the West End. Each year, more than 13 million people see a stage show in London's version of New York's Broadway.
The Lazy Fox: Tucked away behind the streets of Fulham sits The Lazy Fox. Cozy and old-fashioned from the outside, you may be surprised by its modern furnishings and vast space on the inside. The square bar is the centerpiece with seats to the left and right. A large dining area is to the back, which has plenty of room for big groups. What is exciting about this place is the beer wall. You can get self-service craft beer or cider on tap from a wall to the left of the bar. You put your bank card behind the bar and are given a card in return that you put into a slot above your beer of choice.
Euston Tap: Located across the street from London’s Euston Station, this bar offers 8 rotating cask ales, 20 keg beers, and 150 bottled beers, an assortment of wines and spirits, and full cider bar as well; it is London’s only dedicated cider bar. With so many different drinks to choose from, you certainly won’t leave this bar feeling un-refreshed!