Landmarks and attractions
In this section you’ll find some famous sights listed, alongside some lesser-known places to visit. Big Ben and Trafalgar Square are great, but so is climbing the 311 steps of the Pudding Lane Monument to the great fire of London (spectacular views). I also like a walk down to the Embankment, to take a look at Cleopatra’s Needle. And what about a trip to Highgate cemetery?
Capable of holding a crew of 950, HMS Belfast is the largest surviving example of Britain's twentieth century naval power. Retired from active service in 1965, it was moored on the Thames between Tower Bridge and London Bridge in 1978 and is now a floating museum. She was the first ship to be saved for the nation, since Nelson's HMS Victory, due to her historical importance and is best known for her role in supporting the advancing Allied troops, as they made their way onto Gold and Juno beaches on the morning of D-Day, 6 June 1944. HMS Belfast is now a naval time capsule, providing nine decks of living history to explore. Group bookings for up to 52 children to `Kip in a Ship' are available.
Open: 10am -5/6pm
Admission: Adults: £16, Children:£8, family of 4 £42. Under 5 Free
Tube: London Bridge/ Tower Hill
Address: Morgan's Lane, Tooley Street, London, SE1 2JH
Phone: 0207 940 6300
Buckingham Palace, the Royal Mews and changing of the guard
The Queen’s house is open in the summer months only, but you can view it from outside the gates all year round! You can watch the changing of the guard in front of Buckingham Palace at 11.30 on alternate days, more details available on this website. Have a look at the Queen Victoria Memorial by Sir Thomas Brock outside the front gates.
Open: timed admission, book via website
Admission: Adult £35.60, child £20, family of 4 £91.20. Under 5 free
Tube: Green Park, Victoria; BR: Victoria (zone 1)
Address: London, SW1A 1AA
Phone: (020) 7766 7300
Cleopatra's Needle was given as a gift to the British people in 1819, in recognition of Nelson's victory over the French fleet at the Battle of the Nile. The Obelisk was first erected in Egypt by Pharaoh Thotmes III around 1500BC. Flanked by two bronze sphinxes, it is situated on the north Thames embankment opposite Victoria Embankment Gardens.
Tube: Embankment (zone 1
Address: Victoria Emankment, London, WC2N
(exit Embankment tube station towards river Thames, cross the road and turn left)
Launched in 1869, the Cutty Sark brought tea from China and wool from Australia. it is now a museum in dry dock at Greenwich. For families there are drop-in storytelling workshops exploring the seafaring life. There is a programme of sea-fairing crafts and skills demonstrations run by craft people and sailors. Combine your trip with a visit to Greenwich market, National Maritime Museum, Royal Observatory and Greenwich Park (discount combo tickets available).
Open: Daily 10am–5pm
Admission: Adults £13.50, 5-16yo £7, under 5 free, families (2a+2c) £35
DLR: Cutty Sark, Greenwich (zone 2)
Address: King William Walk, London, SE10 9HT
Phone: 020 8858 3445
Cabinet War Rooms and Churchill Museum
During World War II, the Cabinet War Rooms were ready for occupation by the Government to provide cover from the blitz and played an important role right up until VJ day. Closed on 16 August 1945, it was left exactly as it is today and is now part of the Imperial War Museum. Children can watch film clips, look up information in the digital suite and test their knowledge of wartime Britain with computer games and quizzes.
Open: Daily 9.30am-6pm, last admission 5pm
Admission: Adults £18, Child £9, Family £31.50
Tube: Charing Cross (zone 1)
Address: Clive Steps, King Charles Street,London, SW1A 2AQ
Phone: 020 7930 6961
Hampton Court Palace
This beautiful palace was commissioned in 1514 and, over the next 200 years, was to become a focal point in English history. It was Henry VIII’s home, Elizabeth I was imprisoned here, Shakespeare performed here and Oliver Cromwell moved in! Henry VIII’s state apartments, the King’s apartments, the Georgian rooms, Wolsey rooms, the Tudor kitchens, courtyards & cloisters, 60 acres of riverside gardens and Mantegna’s work are all features of this very unique landmark. At Christmas there is and outdoor ice rink. If you time the tides right, you can travel by boat from (or to) the city.
Open: Daily 10am-4.30pm, last admission 3.30pm
Admission: Adults £12, under 16s £6.80, Under 5s free, Family £35, discounts available online
Train: Hampton Court (zone 6)
Address: Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey, Surrey, KT8 9AU
Phone: 0870 751 5175 (visitors info) / 0870 752 7777(bookings)
When burial conditions in London became intolerable in the early 19th Century, Parliament authorised the creation of seven private cemeteries within the periphery of inner London. Of these, Highgate was opened in 1839 (the West Cemetery) and extended in 1854 (the East Cemetery). It is now listed by English Heritage as a site of "outstanding historical and architectural interest”.
Organised tours of Highgate cemetery offer a fascinating glimpse back in time, with amazing catacombs and mausoleums. It is advisable to turn up 15 minutes before the tour and earlier in the holiday season. Sundays are popular and it is sometimes not possible to accommodate everyone wishing to visit. Book your place to avoid disappointment.
Open: 10am to 5pm Weekdays and 11am to 5pm weekends and public holidays (last admission 4.30pm)
Admission: adults £4, children free. Tours – adults £12, children £6.
Address: Highgate Cemetery, Swain's Lane, Highgate, London, N6 6PJ
Phone: 020 8340 1834
Houses of Parliament
UK residents can arrange tours of the chambers and a visit to the gallery of the House of Commons through their local MP. Ticket allocations are low, so the more notice the better. Special arrangements are put in place during Summer Recess when the Palace of Westminster opens to visitors for more formal tours of this historic building. When the House is in session the Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesdays is usually oversubscribed. Tours of the Clock Tower available upon request.
Open: House of Commons and House of Lords Galleries vary, check website.
Admission: visitors Gallery free, Tours Adults £7, Kids 5-16 £5, Under 5s free.
Tube: Westminster (zone 1)
Address: Parliament Square, London, SW1A 0AA
Phone: 020 7219 3000
The London Eye
Jump in one of the London Eye's glass pods and take a flight in the biggest wheel in the world! From the top of the wheel you can see all over London and can apparently spot 55 of London's major landmarks. But you'd better get counting quickly, as your one rotation lasts 35 minutes. Check website for sunset times and to book your pod. Big discounts available with an Oyster card. London Aquarium nearby.
Open: Daily 10am–8pm
Admission: Adult £19.35, child £13.95, family £66.60 (concessions online and with Oyster/travelcard).
Tube/BR: Westminster, Waterloo (zone 1)
Address: Riverside Building, County Hall, Westminster Bridge Rd, London, SE1 7PB
Phone: 0870 990 8883 (Cust. Service) 0870 500 0600 (Booking)
Erected in 1671-77 by Sir Christopher Wren, the Monument commemorates the Great Fire of London that started on 2 September 1666 in a bakery in Pudding Lane. The Monument is 202 feet high with 311 steps to the top, where you will get breath-taking views of the city. Get your certificate on the way out to prove you made it to the top!
Open: Daily 10am-6pm
Admission: Adults £4, Under 16s £2. Discounts available with combined Tower Bridge visit
Tube: Monument (zone 1)
Address: Monument St, London, EC3R 8AH
Phone: 020 7626 2717
St. Martin’s in the Fields
On Trafalgar Square and in the heart of the bustling West-End, this church is a real tourist haven. Lunch-time choral recitals, ticketed evening concerts, award winning café in the crypt, a shop and brass rubbing centre offers more that you’d expect. The Brass Rubbing Centre is great fun for kids, which includes Medieval knights in armour, fabulously costumed ladies, St George and the Dragon and William Shakespeare! Prices for brass rubbing range from just £2.90-£15.00, depending on the size of the brass.
Open: Church Daily 8am-6.30pm Brass rubbing and cafe vary.
Tube: Leicester Sq, Charing Cross (zone 1)
Address: Trafalgar Sq, London, WC2N 4JJ
Phone: (020) 7766 1100
St Paul's Cathedral
The dome of St Paul's Cathedral has been one of the city's major landmarks for more than 300 years and is more than 100m tall. There is a spooky crypt where you can see medieval stones, and the Whispering Gallery, where a whisper against the circular wall can be heard on the opposite side, over 40 metres away! listen to the daily 5pm Evensong choir.
Open: Mon-Sat 8.30am-4pm
Admission: Adult £15.50, Child £7, Family £38
Tours: available Mon-Sat
Tube: St.Paul’s, Mansion House (zone 1)
Address: St Paul's Churchyard, London, EC4M 8AD
Phone: (020) 7236 4128/020 7246 8350
Shakespeare's Globe is an impressive reconstruction, using centuries old techniques. It is also on the site where William Shakespeare wrote many of his greatest plays. Take a tour (daily) with a storyteller and find out all about its fascinating history.
Open: Daily 10am-5pm
Admission: Tours (every 15-30min) Adults £9, Kids 5-15yo £6.50, Family (2a+3c) £25
Tube: London Bridge, Mansion House (zone 1)
Address: 21 New Globe Walk, Bankside, London, SE1 9DT
Phone: (020) 7902 1400 (General Enquiries), 020 7902 1500 (tour booking)
Tower Bridge Exhibition
You will learn all about how the World's most famous bridge works and the history behind its creation. Enjoy the panoramic views from the walkways situated 45m above the Thames and visit the original Victorian engines. For kids there are talking animatronic coalmen, buttons to push with some audio commentaries in 8 different languages and a wind-up seat which demonstrates hydraulic power. A glass floor section has also been added!
Open: Daily 10am-5.30pm (summer), 9.30am to 5pm (winter)
Admission: Adults £9, Kids 5-15 £3.90, Family £20.30
Tube: Tower Hill (zone 1)
Address: Tower Bridge, London, SE1 2UP
Phone: 020 7403 3761
Why not go when the bridge is about to go up? Call 020 7940 3984 (recorded message) to find out when the next bridge lift will be or check the website!
Tower of London
From the river you'll see Traitors Gate – an entrance reserved for the enemies of state. The Tower has served as a fortress, a palace, a prison and a royal execution site during its 900-year existence. Now it is much more family friendly! Have a family day out at the Tower of London and see the Queen's Crown Jewels and the rooms of Edward I. Join one of the famous tours with the Yeoman Warders (popularly known as ‘Beefeaters’) who'll entertain your family with tales of intrigue, imprisonment, execution, torture and much more. Please remember that children under 16 need to be accompanied by an adult at all times and, if you have a pushchair, mind the cobblestones!
Open: Tue-Sat 9am-5pm, Sun-Mon 10am-5pm, last admission 4pm
Admission: Adult £23.10, child £10.50, Family £57.40 (online discount rates)
Tube: Tower Hill; DLR: Tower gateway (zone 1)
Address: Tower Hill, London, EC3N 4AB
Phone: 0870 756 6060
Climbing kids will give you a heart attack as they try to straddle the lions and you can't feed the pigeons anymore, but there is a cafe. Nearby, St. Martin’s has a wonderful crypt café and is home to the London brass-rubbing centre. Thanks to the traffic calming and pigeon control, Trafalgar Square is now a great place to hang out. For a good snap shot stand outside the main entrance of the National Gallery and line up Nelson's column with Big Ben down Whitehall! Also, check out the latest sculpture on the fifth plinth and find the worlds smallest police station (now a cleaning cupboard).
Tube/BR: Charing Cross, Leicester Square (zone 1)
Address: Trafalgar Square, London, WC2N 5DN
Within Westminster Abbey you'll find the tombs of many crowned heads of state and important historical figures. It has been the place of coronations since 1066 (If you are interested in the history of our Monarchs, also take a look at the Coronation Stone in Kingston). You'll see the original ancient burial tomb of Edward the Confessor, whose body lies within the Abbey. Luckily, the Abbey avoided the vandalism of the reformation.
Open: Times vary for the Abbey, Abbey Museum, Cloisters and College Garden. Check website before visit.
Admission: Adults £20, children £9, Family £45
Tube: St.Jame's Park or Westminster (zone 1)
Address: 20 Dean’s Yard, London, SW1P 3PA
Phone: 020 7222 5152 (General info) 020 7654 4900 (Tour times, Tourist info)
Dennis Severs’ House at 18 Folgate Street
A restored Grade II listed Georgian terraced house on the edge of the City takes visitors on a trip through time, providing a portrait of the lives of a family of Huguenot silk-weavers from 1724 until 1914. You’ll experience sights, smells and sounds that bring this tale to life. Nearby you’ll find Spitalfields market and Brick Lane. A typical visit lasts around 45 minutes and includes a short introduction.
Open: Monday, Wednesday and Friday. 5-9pm
Admission: £15 per person
Tube: Liverpool Street
Address: Dennis Severs’ House, 18 Folgate Street, E1 6BX
Phone: 020 7247 4013
The Shard vs the Sky Garden
For unparalleled 360 degree views of the City from floors 68, 69 & 72, you can visit the Shard. It says you can see for up to 40 miles when the conditions are right. Tickets aren’t cheap, at around £26 for an adult and £20 for a child.
If you are looking for 360 degree city views for free, and don’t need 72 floors, you can head to London’s highest permanent sky garden at 20 Fenchurch Street, also knick-named the Walkie-Talkie. At a modest 38 storeys, it still offers breathtaking views and you can wander around three floors of landscaped gardens, observation decks and the open-air terrace for up to 1.5 hours per visit. Spaces are limited, so book online in advance.
Open: 10am to 10pm daily
Admission: adult £25.95, child £19.95
Phone: 0844 499 7111
Tube/BR: London Bridge (Zone1)
Address: The Shard, 32 London Bridge Street, London SE1 9SG
The Sky Garden
Open: 10am-6pm Monday to Friday, 11am-9pm Saturday and Sunday
Tube: Monument (Zone 1)
Address: 20 Fenchurch Street, London EC3M 3BY
Phone: 0333 772 0020