So you’ve made it to London. Phew! That was the easy part. No for the hard part – deciding what to do.
With so many attractions, it’s impossible to see and experience all of them in one tourist visit. Some expats live in London for years and still don’t get to do everything (anyone out there experienced that last minute rush to squeeze everything in before your visa runs out?)
Anyway, it is a fantastic city, perhaps the best in the world, so give it your best shot. Here’s an ultimate bucketlist of 22 London experiences to help you, in no particular order:
One of the official residences of the Queen, Buckingham Palace must be one of your first stops in London. And yes you can take a tour inside and of the gardens, usually from July to October. You will want to book well in advance, though.
Strawberries and cream? Anyone for tennis? Register for the ticket ballot well in advance, like around October the year before (seriously) or be prepared to face the queues for Henman Hill – or is it Murray Mound?
Even if you haven’t got the cash to spend, you can easily spend an afternoon in Harrods marvelling at the glitzy collection of clothes, accessories, food and anything else you can image. Don’t miss the Princess Diana memorial downstairs and the food hall is simply out of this world!
Afternoon High Tea at The Ritz
Everyone needs to experience afternoon high tea at least once in their lives, and where better than the Ritz?
The London Eye
Want a bird’s eye view of London? Then head to the London Eye! But make sure you go on a clear day and you’ll be able to see for miles. Insider’s tip for getting up high: The Monument to the Great Fire of London is much lesser known way of getting a bird’s eye view of town. And then there is…
One of the London skyline’s most recent additions, The Shard is another must do, but be warned the entry fees are not cheap!
Lord’s Cricket Ground
The home of cricket, the home of the MCC, and the home of the Ashes. Watching a Test match at Lord’s is the quintessential cricket pilgrim’s experience, especially if you are Australian and it’s an Ashes year. But throughout the year you can take tours of the historic ground and the Long Room, and visit it’s small but awesome museum where that ‘little brown urn’ lives.
SkyGarden is one of the newest experiences in London. You can enter for free or book a table at one of the many eateries and take in the spectacular views of the city.
Tower Bridge, often called London Bridge by less inquisitive tourists, is one of the world’s most an iconic spans and is not to be missed. You can take a tour inside – make sure you walk across the glass floor, if you aren’t afraid of heights!
Tower of London
Right next to Tower Bridge is the fantastic Tower Of London. You MUST take a guided tour with one of the resident Beefeaters – they are so informative but absolutely hilarious too! See the Crown Jewels and where kings and queens were imprisoned and executed.
One for the kids, big and small! It’s the oldest toy shop in the world and has 7 floors to explore.
Harry Potter Walking Tour
If you are a Harry Potter fan, don’t miss a walking tour of London which visits key locations used in the films.
Love your food? Then head to Borough Market for some of the finest and freshest gourmet produce in the city.
The Globe Theatre
See a play at The Globe – home of William Shakespeare!
Emirates Cable Car
For a novel way to cross the Thames, take a ride along the Emirate Cable Car for amazing views of London.
The Tate Modern
London is chock full of fabulous art galleries, the most famous being the National Gallery overlooking Trafalgar Square. But ask any hip Londoner what the best of the lot is, they will almost unanimously steer you towards the Tate Modern and tell you what’s currently displaying in the gigantic turbine hall of this former electricity power station. The best way to get to the Tate Modern on the south bank of the river is to start at St Paul’s Cathedral on the north side and walk directly across the Thames on what’s known as ‘the wobbley bridge’. Giving you a 360 degree open view of the city, the bridge is a great experience in itself.
Imperial War Museum
This is a must see attraction, even if you aren’t that into military history. With fascinating permanent and temporary exhibitions, the Imperial War Museum with enthral you.
Not as morbid as it sounds, Highgate Cemetery has some of the finest funerary architecture along with famous residents like Karl Marx, Douglas Adams and George Eliot.
London Bus Tour
The Hop On Hop Off bus tours are a great way to see as much as possible in one go. Stay on board for a whole circuit then hop on and off at the attractions that interest you. Get the two-day ticket – you’ll need it!
Theatre in the West End
No stay in London is complete without a visit to the West End for a night out at a musical or play.
The Oxford/Cambridge Boat Race
Held in early Spring annually for almost 200 years, this sporting event is watched across the world, so grab a spot by the river and cheer them on – just don’t forget your umbrella!
You cannot visit London without going to the British Museum at least once. Truly remarkable. It would take several days to see everything here so plan your visit well and don’t miss the Rosetta Stone.