Olympic fever may have come and gone this year, but London’s appeal as a must-see tourist destination will never fade. The capital city offers access to some of the world’s best historical sights, and plenty of new attractions that are sure to hold any traveler’s attention. Here are my recommendations for what you should see and experience on your adventure to London.
Have London’s notoriously high prices scared you off from making a trip across the pond? Take advantage of the city’s free and cheap attractions. You can see some of the city’s best attractions without forking over a penny. Iconic buildings and monuments like the Palace of Westminster and Big Ben are free for tourists, as are the majority of the city’s museums and galleries. Check out the Rosetta Stone and the Egyptian and Greek antiques in the British Museum, or stop in at the National Gallery for classics by Van Gogh, Michelangelo, and Leonardo da Vinci. If you happen to have nice weather during your time in London, you can take a stroll through the famous Kensington Gardens or Hyde Park.
Of course, London’s free attractions are only the beginning of what this dynamic capital city has to offer. If you’re a history buff, you should also plan tours of the Tower of London, Windsor Castle, and St. Paul’s Cathedral. If you’re more of an arts enthusiast, you probably don’t want to miss a tour of Shakespeare’s Globe—and maybe even see a show, depending on which season you travel to London. Enjoy the views courtesy of a daytime cruise along the River Thames or a nighttime ride on the London Eye, and seize your opportunity to visit one of London’s wackiest attractions: Madame Tussauds Wax Museum. If you’re planning to stay in the city for several days, it may be worth it to buy the London Pass or the Oyster Card for savings on attractions and transportation
London’s sights and attractions are constantly evolving, meaning there’s always something new and exciting to see. One of these is the Emirates Air Line, an urban cable car that crosses the Thames River to give you bird’s eye views of East London, Greenwich, and the Canary Wharf. Another new attraction that promises to provide spectacular views is The Shard, a 1,016-foot-high triangular tower located near London Bridge that will open its observation deck to visitors in 2013. The more adventurous at heart can check out two Bond-inspired attractions: the Up at the O2 vertiginous building walk and the Thames RIB speedboat experience. The new Tate Modern expansion and the Shark Reef Encounter at the London Aquarium round out the list of cool new attractions that opened in London this past year.