Things to do in London

With iconic landmarks such as the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and Tower Bridge, visitors will be kept busy with a multitude of attractions to explore. In fact, the vast majority of the UK's most popular tourist attractions can be found in London. Visit the stoic lions on Trafalgar Square, be bowled over by the grand interior of St Paul's Cathedral, or take a stroll through St James Park and watch the famous changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, all this won't even scratch the surface of London's historic appeal.

Venturing more into the heart of the West End, follow the crowds to the bright montage of lights and billboards at Piccadilly Circus and from there take in Chinatown, Soho and Covent Garden. For those with an appreciation for history and the natural world, the superb British Museum and Natural History Museum in South Kensington are a must on any London vacation. The south bank of the Thames draws visitors with the London Eye, the London Aquarium and the über-cool Tate Modern.

An easy and pleasurable way to see the major sights is on one of London's red buses or, weather permitting, on foot. Many visitors use the underground to travel the short distances from sight to sight, missing the opportunity to gain a better picture of this vibrant city. A boat tour down the river Thames is also a great way to view some major sights and to learn more about the central role this river has played in London life, or just relax while you ponder what next to see and do in London.

Madame Tussauds photo

Madame Tussauds

Madame Tussauds is the most famous wax museum gallery in the world, with more than 400 life-sized models of stars, famous politicians, royals, comic book characters and sportsmen, …

Madame Tussauds

Madame Tussauds is the most famous wax museum gallery in the world, with more than 400 life-sized models of stars, famous politicians, royals, comic book characters and sportsmen, as well as exhibits presenting the most infamous criminals the world has known. Inside the museum, the 'Spirit of London' ride will take you through the city's history, introducing you to those figures that have shaped the London of today, while the 'A-list Party' section will introduce you to the museum's collection of celebrities, and the 'Scream' exhibition will terrify and delight visitors in equal measure. A must-see tourist sight in London, visitors are advised to book their tickets online in advance, as the queues for tickets outside Madame Tussauds can be very long.

Address Marylebone Road

Website www.madame-tussauds.com

Transport

Baker Street underground station; or public buses 13, 18, 27, 30, 74, 82, 113, 139 and 274

Opens Open daily 9.30am to 5.30pm (9am to 6pm on weekends and during UK school holidays).

Admission

£35 (adults), £30 (children). Note that you can save substantially by booking online.

Tower of London photo

Tower of London

The Tower of London is perhaps as famous for its traditions as its imposing structure, located on the Thames River. It is guarded by a special band of Yeoman Warders, known as Beef…

Tower of London

The Tower of London is perhaps as famous for its traditions as its imposing structure, located on the Thames River. It is guarded by a special band of Yeoman Warders, known as Beefeaters, and dotted with several large black ravens. Legend has it that if the ravens ever leave the Tower, a great tragedy will befall England, and to this day the birds are protected by royal decree. The Tower's history dates back to the 11th century, and each new monarch has played a role in its growth and development. It also houses Britain's famous crown jewels, a spectacular display of some of the world's finest gems and workmanship. The Tower is next to Tower Bridge, another famous London landmark.

Address Tower Hill

Website www.hrp.org.uk

Transport

Tower Hill tube station, or buses 15, 42, 78 or 100

Opens Tuesday to Saturday, 9am-5.30pm; Sunday to Monday, 10am-5.30pm. Opening hours are slightly reduced in winter.

Admission

£24.80 (adults), £11.50 (children under 16); concessions and discounts for advance/online booking available.

Abbey Road Studios photo

Abbey Road Studios

The Beatles' 1969 album Abbey Road was recorded at this unassuming studio in St John's Wood, London. While many other famous bands recorded here, including Pink Floyd, The Red Hot …

Abbey Road Studios

The Beatles' 1969 album Abbey Road was recorded at this unassuming studio in St John's Wood, London. While many other famous bands recorded here, including Pink Floyd, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, U2, Kate Bush, Radiohead, Oasis, and Sting, it is almost always the Beatles fans who make the pilgrimage to take their pictures walking across the famous zebra crossing on Abbey Road, which featured on the album cover. The studio building itself is a Grade II listed building, and is not open to the public. There is some fan graffiti and some Beatles-themed coffee shops and the like near the studio, but tourists shouldn't go expecting much to see and do; it is simply a famous London landmark for lovers of rock music.

Address 3 Abbey Road, St Johns Wood

Website www.abbeyroad.com

Transport

St. Johns Wood underground station

Speaker's Corner at Hyde Park photo

Speaker's Corner at Hyde Park

Located right in the middle of London, Hyde Park is a huge patch of green and blue tranquillity in the midst of the bustling city. Covering 350 acres, it features restaurants, foun…

Speaker's Corner at Hyde Park

Located right in the middle of London, Hyde Park is a huge patch of green and blue tranquillity in the midst of the bustling city. Covering 350 acres, it features restaurants, fountains, monuments, and flower gardens, and offers a range of activities including ice skating, swimming, boating, tennis, cycling, and horse riding. There are also playgrounds for children and spaces for team sports. One of Hyde Park's most famous attractions is Speaker's Corner, where people of all opinions come to share them freely. While Speaker's Corner attracts its fair share of unconventional characters, there are usually lively debates, and famous personalities like Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, and George Orwell were participants in their day.

Address London

Transport

Within walking distance of Lancaster Gate, Marble Arch, Hyde Park Corner and Knightsbridge underground stations

Opens Open daily from 5am to midnight. Speaker's Corner held on Sundays, from mid-morning to late afternoon

Admission

Free admission

Tate Modern photo

Tate Modern

Housed in the former Bankside Power Station, which has been transformed by Swiss Architects Herzog & de Meuron into a spectacular new modern building, the Tate Modern is Britain's …

Tate Modern

Housed in the former Bankside Power Station, which has been transformed by Swiss Architects Herzog & de Meuron into a spectacular new modern building, the Tate Modern is Britain's greatest museum of modern art. It showcases an exhaustive collection, featuring works from 1900 to the present day, including works by Dali, Picasso, Matisse, Rothko, and Warhol, as well as temporary exhibitions by contemporary artists. There is also an exceptional roof cafe, which affords spectacular views over London, and an impressive gift shop. A must-see attraction for visitors to London, you will be sorely remiss to pass up a visit to the Tate Modern.

Address Bankside

Website www.tate.org.uk

Transport

Southwark or Blackfriars underground stations

Opens Open Sunday to Thursday 10am to 6pm; Friday and Saturday 10am to 10pm. Last admission is 45 minutes before the closing time.

Admission

Free admission, though fees may be charged for major temporary exhibitions

National Gallery photo

National Gallery

The National Gallery has an imposing and regal façade stretching across the northern side of Trafalgar Square, and houses over 2,300 paintings from every major European school of …

National Gallery

The National Gallery has an imposing and regal façade stretching across the northern side of Trafalgar Square, and houses over 2,300 paintings from every major European school of painting from the 13th to the 19th centuries. It was opened in 1938 at its present location, which was chosen for its situation between London's wealthier West End and poorer East End, as a 'gallery for all'. These days, admission to the National Gallery is still free, and its cultural programme has swelled to include weekly classical music concerts, an on-site cinema, and a variety of excellent themed gallery tours. There are also restaurants and coffee bars to choose from in the National Gallery, in case you need to refuel while perusing the magnificent art on display.

Address Trafalgar Square

Website www.nationalgallery.org.uk

Transport

Charing Cross rail station; or Charing Cross, Leicester Square and Embankment underground stations. Numerous buses also service Trafalgar Square

Opens Open daily, from 10am to 6pm (until 9pm on Fridays)

Admission

Free admission to the permanent collection, but special temporary exhibitions may charge a fee

British Museum photo

British Museum

The British Museum is widely regarded as the world's greatest museum of human history and culture. Containing more than 13 million artefacts from all corners of the globe, the Brit…

British Museum

The British Museum is widely regarded as the world's greatest museum of human history and culture. Containing more than 13 million artefacts from all corners of the globe, the British Museum boasts an overwhelming collection of fascinating objects. Most prized among its collection are its famous antiquities, which include the Parthenon Frieze (or Elgin Marbles), the Rosetta Stone, and the Roman Portland Vase, which dates from the 1st century AD. The iconic Great Court with its incredible glass roof covering two acres greets visitors as they enter, and stairwells lead down to the Reading Room, which has been completely restored. Visitors to London should not miss out on the British Museum, which is one of the world's great cultural troves. Budget at least half a day to get a sense of the wealth of history housed within the museum, and don't be surprised if you actually need about three full days to take it all in.

Address Great Russell Street

Website www.britishmuseum.org

Transport

Russell Square underground station

Opens Open daily, from 10am to 5.30pm (till 8.30pm on Fridays).

Admission

Free admission, although special exhibitions may charge a fee

London Eye photo

London Eye

At 443ft (135m) tall, and weighing more than 250 double-decker buses, the London Eye is a truly spectacular feature of London's skyline. Offering incredible views of most of London…

London Eye

At 443ft (135m) tall, and weighing more than 250 double-decker buses, the London Eye is a truly spectacular feature of London's skyline. Offering incredible views of most of London's major attractions, and an opportunity to put the city's geography into perspective, it is a must-see attraction for first-time visitors to England's capital city. Originally designed by architects David Marks and Julia Barfield as an entry for a Millennium Landmark competition, the project took six years and the expertise of hundreds of people from five European countries to turn it into a reality. Often featured in big-budget movies, and regularly touted as one of the best things to see and experience in London, make sure you include a ride on the London Eye in your UK holiday itinerary. Wheelchair-bound visitors will be delighted to know that both the London Eye and all its on-site facilities are fully accessible.

Address Thames South Bank

Website www.londoneye.com

Transport

Westminster, Waterloo or Embankment underground stations. Public bus routes RV1, 211, 77 or 381

Opens Open every day of the week. Opening times vary according to season and month - check the website for details.

Admission

There are a variety of ticket options, check the website for details. Standard adult tickets start from £24 if booked online.

Shakespeare's Globe Theatre photo

Shakespeare's Globe Theatre

Situated on the bank of the Thames, just 656ft (200m) from the site of Shakespeare's original Globe Theatre, this fantastic recreation will transport visitors back to the time of t…

Shakespeare's Globe Theatre

Situated on the bank of the Thames, just 656ft (200m) from the site of Shakespeare's original Globe Theatre, this fantastic recreation will transport visitors back to the time of the very first productions of Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, and Twelfth Night. The reconstruction took a total of 10 years to complete at a cost of over £40 million, and now houses a professional theatre company responsible for regular productions of the Bard's famous plays. Adjacent to the theatre is the Globe Exhibition, presenting graphic information about the reconstruction of the theatre, and bringing to the fore the life and works of Shakespeare with interactive displays and live demonstrations. Visits to the exhibition include a tour of the theatre. Tours depart roughly every 30 minutes.

Address 21 New Globe Walk, Bankside

Website www.shakespearesglobe.com

Transport

Mansion House underground station, with a ten-minute walk over the Millennium Bridge

Opens Opening hours vary throughout the year, but are generally from 9am to 5pm daily. Please call ahead to confirm opening hours before your visit.

Admission

Ticket prices for performances and tours vary - check the official website for details.

Buckingham Palace and the Queen's Gallery photo

Buckingham Palace and the Queen's Gallery

No visit to London would be complete without experiencing the pomp and ceremony of the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, but now visitors can actually get a peek inside d…

Buckingham Palace and the Queen's Gallery

No visit to London would be complete without experiencing the pomp and ceremony of the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, but now visitors can actually get a peek inside during the annual summer opening of the State Rooms, and see some of the Queen's private art collection at the Queen's Gallery (which also hosts various art exhibitions). Originally the town house of the Dukes of Buckingham, Buckingham Palace has served as the official London home of Britain's monarchs since 1837. Look to see whether the Royal Standard (not the Union Flag) is flying, which indicates that the Queen is in residence.

Address Buckingham Palace Road

Website www.royal.gov.uk

Transport

Green Park underground station

Opens The State Rooms are open to visitors for a number of weeks every summer, between June and October. Sometimes the State Rooms and other areas are opened to the public on other occasions. Check website for details.

Admission

A variety of tours and tickets are available, with different prices for specific sections - check the website for details.

Harrods photo

Harrods

Harrods, which former proprietor Mohamed Al Fayed called his 'Palace in Knightsbridge', promises one of the most extravagant and luxurious shopping experiences in the world. With 2…

Harrods

Harrods, which former proprietor Mohamed Al Fayed called his 'Palace in Knightsbridge', promises one of the most extravagant and luxurious shopping experiences in the world. With 22 restaurants, and a wide range of departments and services across its seven floors, it is easy to see why this is the shopping choice of London's social elite. With its prominent position on Brompton Road, Harrods is hard to miss - especially at night, when the entire façade is illuminated by a grand total of 11,500 light bulbs. The UK's biggest store by a long way, Harrods certainly makes good on its motto Omnia Omnibus Ubique - All Things for All People, Everywhere.

Address 87-135 Brompton Road, Knightsbridge

Website www.harrods.com

Transport

Knightsbridge underground station, or London bus routes 9, 10, 14, 19, 22, 52, 74, 137, 414, 452 and C1

Opens Open Monday to Saturday, with reduced hours on Sunday.

Camden Market photo

Camden Market

Camden Market is one of the most exciting shopping experiences London has to offer. Even if you're just browsing, Camden Market is still definitely worth a visit for its huge varie…

Camden Market

Camden Market is one of the most exciting shopping experiences London has to offer. Even if you're just browsing, Camden Market is still definitely worth a visit for its huge variety of food, antiques, bric-a-brac and clothing stalls, bars, nightspots, and people, from the beautiful to the bizarre. Although the punk scene in London has gone underground, it still seems to flourish here, and you're sure to bump into some interesting characters. Just be sure to ask permission before photographing anyone. Boat rides are also available on the canal which passes through Camden Lock - a fun way to spend some time between browsing the stalls. Although Camden attracts mostly the young and trendy, the market has become more commercial and mainstream than it once was and some real bargains can be found.

Address Camden Lock, Chalk Farm Road

Website www.camdenlock.net

Transport

Camden Town and Chalk Farm underground stations. Numerous buses also pass Camden Lock

Opens The stalls are open daily, from about 10am to 6pm

Admission

Free

Greenwich photo

Greenwich

Greenwich is the home of the Greenwich (or Prime) Meridian, which splits the globe into East and West, and is responsible for setting the world clock on zero degrees longitude. Apa…

Greenwich

Greenwich is the home of the Greenwich (or Prime) Meridian, which splits the globe into East and West, and is responsible for setting the world clock on zero degrees longitude. Apart from this curious distinction (which has earned Greenwich UNESCO World Heritage Site status), Greenwich has a host of other attractions, including the Greenwich Market with its variety of arts, crafts, food and bric-a-brac, Sir Christopher Wren's Royal Observatory, and the National Maritime Museum. Greenwich Park is beautifully landscaped and is an ideal location for a picnic lunch. The famous tea-clipper ship, the Cutty Sark, was damaged by a fire in 2007 but has been extensively restored and is once again open to the public.

Website www.rmg.co.uk/

Transport

Accessible by Docklands Light Railway, the London Underground, by train and by boat

Opens Opening times vary for each attraction - check the website for details.

Admission

Admission costs vary for the different museums and exhibitions and various combination tickets are available.

London Dungeons photo

London Dungeons

Take a trip through London's dark and gruesome history, meet Jack the Ripper and see what became of his victims, or see the chaos and destruction caused by the great fire of London…

London Dungeons

Take a trip through London's dark and gruesome history, meet Jack the Ripper and see what became of his victims, or see the chaos and destruction caused by the great fire of London. The London Dungeon brings history's most notorious killers and evildoers back to life in an experience definitely not for the faint-hearted. Beware: some of the exhibitions have a nasty way of coming alive and jumping out at the unsuspecting visitor! The tours last about 90 minutes and are very funny as well as scary. The experience can be enjoyed by both Adults and kids.

Address County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road

Website www.thedungeons.com

Opens Opening times vary throughout the year, check the website for details. Generally, however, London Dungeon is open from 10am to 5pm every day.

Admission

£30 (adults), £24 (children under 15). Concessions and group tickets are available. Discounts for booking online.

St Paul's Cathedral photo

St Paul's Cathedral

The great dome of St Paul's Cathedral has been a distinctive landmark on the London skyline for centuries. Built in 1673 by Sir Christopher Wren, after the previous St Paul's was b…

St Paul's Cathedral

The great dome of St Paul's Cathedral has been a distinctive landmark on the London skyline for centuries. Built in 1673 by Sir Christopher Wren, after the previous St Paul's was burnt to the ground during the Great Fire of London, it is the greatest of several cathedrals dedicated to St Paul that have occupied the site for more than 1,400 years. The crypt at St Paul's is one of the largest in Europe, and it houses more than 200 tombs, including those of Admiral Nelson, the Duke of Wellington and Wren himself. The Cathedral has hosted many significant ceremonies in London's history, including the funeral of Sir Winston Churchill and the marriage of Prince Charles and Lady Diana.

Address St Paul's Churchyard

Website www.stpauls.co.uk

Transport

St Paul's underground station

Opens Open from Monday to Saturday, from 8.30am to 4.30pm. Note that the Cathedral may be closed to tourists at any time due to special services or events, so it is always advisable to enquire before visiting

Admission

£18 (adults); £8 (children 6-17). Family tickets are also available, check the website for details

Piccadilly Circus photo

Piccadilly Circus

Surrounded by neon advertising and fast-food restaurants, Piccadilly Circus is London's answer to New York's Times Square and, at the junction of Piccadilly, Regent Street and Shaf…

Piccadilly Circus

Surrounded by neon advertising and fast-food restaurants, Piccadilly Circus is London's answer to New York's Times Square and, at the junction of Piccadilly, Regent Street and Shaftesbury Avenue, it is the gateway to the West End. With its highly accessible tube station, Piccadilly Circus is a good starting point for those wanting to enjoy London's finest shopping district, being near to Jermyn Street, Saville Row, Regent Street, and Bond Street. London's Theatreland is centred on nearby Shaftsbury Avenue, and Soho and Chinatown are also within easy walking distance. Piccadilly Circus is one of London's meeting points, an atmospheric hub conveniently providing access to a number of famous attractions and streets.

Transport

Piccadilly Circus underground station

Canterbury photo

Canterbury

The historic cathedral city of Canterbury, with its narrow streets and walkways, is best explored on foot. It is the home of Christianity in England, and has been the ultimate dest…

Canterbury

The historic cathedral city of Canterbury, with its narrow streets and walkways, is best explored on foot. It is the home of Christianity in England, and has been the ultimate destination for pilgrimages in England for centuries, as described in Chaucer's famous Canterbury Tales. The imposing Canterbury Cathedral is one of the most impressive and evocative in England. It was here that Thomas Becket was martyred in 1170. Visitors can explore the ruins of the original abbey of St Augustine, who brought Christianity to England more than 1,400 years ago, or visit the Canterbury Tales Pageant and meet some of Chaucer's famous characters. For an insight into the cities of medieval England, climb the original West Gate Tower, which is still intact and provides breathtaking views across the city.

Website www.canterbury.co.uk

Transport

Train from London Waterloo (90 minutes)

Leeds Castle photo

Leeds Castle

Set above a lake in a picturesque valley near the town of Maidstone in Kent, with imposing battlements and a 500-hectare Tudor garden, Leeds Castle proudly describes itself as 'the…

Leeds Castle

Set above a lake in a picturesque valley near the town of Maidstone in Kent, with imposing battlements and a 500-hectare Tudor garden, Leeds Castle proudly describes itself as 'the loveliest castle in the world'. Once a residence of British Queens and a playground for King Henry VIII, it has been open to the public for over 35 years, revealing the majesty of a bygone age. With so much to explore, Leeds Castle requires a full day for visitors to tour the castle, get lost in the garden maze, and dine in one of the excellent restaurants or quaint tea rooms. A highly recommended day-trip for visitors to the UK.

Address Maidstone, Kent

Website www.leeds-castle.com

Transport

Coach, bus or train from London

Opens 10.30am to 6pm daily, last admission at 4.30pm (April to September); 10.30am to 5pm daily, last admission at 3pm (October to March).

Admission

£24 (adults), £16 (children 4-15). Concessions are available, check the website for details.

Windsor Castle photo

Windsor Castle

The charming town of Windsor sits on the River Thames, 20 miles (32km) west of London, and is dominated by the magnificent Windsor Castle, the world's largest and oldest occupied c…

Windsor Castle

The charming town of Windsor sits on the River Thames, 20 miles (32km) west of London, and is dominated by the magnificent Windsor Castle, the world's largest and oldest occupied castle. The castle was built by William the Conqueror almost a thousand years ago, and has been lived in by English monarchs ever since. Although Buckingham Palace is the Queen's best-known residence, Windsor is her favourite, and is where the royal family spend their weekends.

Highlights in the castle include the wonderful State Apartments and the Waterloo Chamber, built to commemorate the British victory over Napoleon at Waterloo. St George's Chapel is one of the finest examples of Perpendicular Gothic architecture in the world, and contains the tombs of numerous English sovereigns including King Henry VIII, Jane Seymour, Charles I and King George V. Many of the castle's rooms contain priceless works of art, including pieces by Rubens, Holbein, Van Dyke, Rembrandt and Lawrence, as well as fine tapestries and porcelain, sculpture and armour. The 500-acre (200-hectare) Home Park sits at the back of the castle and includes the site of Frogmore, where Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were laid to rest. Beyond is the vast expanse of Windsor Great Park, a popular place for walkers. Over the river from Windsor is Eton College, the world-famous school founded by Henry VI in 1440.

Address Windsor

Transport

Train from London Waterloo or London Paddington to Windsor station

Opens Generally open daily, from 9.30am to 5.15pm (March to October), and 9.45am to 4.15pm (November to February). Please check the website for the full opening hours schedule.

Admission

£21.20 (adults), £12.30 (children under 17). Concessions and group tickets available, please check the website for details.

Hampton Court Palace photo

Hampton Court Palace

Situated on the banks of the River Thames, 14 miles (23km) southwest of London, Hampton Court is perhaps the most spectacular royal palace in England, and makes a wonderful day-tri…

Hampton Court Palace

Situated on the banks of the River Thames, 14 miles (23km) southwest of London, Hampton Court is perhaps the most spectacular royal palace in England, and makes a wonderful day-trip destination from the capital. The palace was built by Cardinal Wolsey in the early 1500s, but later it became King Henry VIII's principal residence and remained the centre of royal and political life in England until 1737. Visitors can see King Henry VIII's Great Hall; King William III's State Apartments, designed by Wren and completed in 1700; and the unmissable Tudor Kitchens, which remain largely unchanged since the 16th century and were no doubt once used to cater for raucous banquets. There is also a fun and exciting 'Ghost Family Trail' tour through the palace that will delight younger visitors. However, Hampton Court is still probably most famous for its grounds and their outstanding hedge maze - called 'the most famous Maze in the history of the world, and immeasurably the one most visited' by Ernest Law - which has entertained children since it was planted in 1705.

Address East Molesey, Surrey

Website www.hrp.org.uk/HamptonCourtPalace

Transport

Train from Waterloo (35 minutes), or public bus routes 111, 216, 411, 461, R68, 267, and 513. For a more scenic ride, take a river boat along the Thames from Westminster, Richmond or Kingston

Opens Opening times vary season to season; check the official website for details.

Admission

£18.20 (adults), £9.10 (children under 16). Concessions and family tickets are available, check the website for details.

West End Shows photo

West End Shows

There are always plenty of child-friendly musicals and shows playing on London's West End, perfect for family holidaymakers looking to soak up some of the great atmosphere of Londo…

West End Shows

There are always plenty of child-friendly musicals and shows playing on London's West End, perfect for family holidaymakers looking to soak up some of the great atmosphere of London's Theatre District. Some West End favourites include The Lion King, Roald Dahl's and the relatively new School of Rock Taking in a theatrical performance on London's West End is one of the iconic tourist experiences that the city has to offer, for children and adults alike, and will be a spectacular amusement for the whole family.

Address The Strand, Oxford Street, Regent Street and Kingsway

Website www.londontheatre.co.uk

Hamleys photo

Hamleys

Children will love visiting this world-renowned toy store, located in the heart of London on famous, bustling Regent Street. Hamleys is one of the world's largest toy stores, with …

Hamleys

Children will love visiting this world-renowned toy store, located in the heart of London on famous, bustling Regent Street. Hamleys is one of the world's largest toy stores, with six floors of magical, cutting-edge toys and games. The store draws over five million visitors each year and is worth a look even if you're just browsing. The Lego collection at Hamleys (located in the basement area) must be seen to be believed. There are helpful and entertaining service staff all over Hamleys eager to show off new toys and play with the kids - the only difficulty for parents is getting out without buying numerous presents.

Address Regent Street, London

Website www.hamleys.com

Transport

Within easy walking distance of Bond Street, Marble Arch, Oxford Circus, Piccadilly Circus or Tottenham Court Road tube stations

London Zoo photo

London Zoo

Boasting a plethora of exciting, cute and fuzzy animals from over 750 species, the London Zoo is a must for all children and animal lovers. Kids will love the Animal Adventure area…

London Zoo

Boasting a plethora of exciting, cute and fuzzy animals from over 750 species, the London Zoo is a must for all children and animal lovers. Kids will love the Animal Adventure area, where they can climb, touch, tunnel and splash their way through the zoo discovering animals along the way. Other great habitat areas at London Zoo include Gorilla Kingdom, Penguin Beach, Britain's only (man-made) rainforest area, and a komodo dragon enclosure. The recipient of a Gold Award from the Visit London tourism initiative, the London Zoo is a fail-safe choice for a day of family fun and excitement. Be sure to check the website before you go, as the zoo regularly plays host to a variety of interesting exhibitions, festivals and events.

Address Outer Circle, Regent's Park

Website www.zsl.org

Transport

Within easy walking distance of Camden Town and Regent's Park underground stations

Opens Opening times vary according to the season, check the website for details. In general, however, the Zoo is open every day of the week, from 10am until 4pm.

Admission

Prices vary according to the season, check the website for details. In peak season (summer), prices are £25 (adults) and £19.50 (children aged 3 - 15). Discounts for online bookings.

London Science Museum photo

London Science Museum

Perfect for inquisitive children, the Science Museum will captivate, educate and thrill kids of all ages. Featuring dozens of state-of-the-art exhibits, the Science Museum also fea…

London Science Museum

Perfect for inquisitive children, the Science Museum will captivate, educate and thrill kids of all ages. Featuring dozens of state-of-the-art exhibits, the Science Museum also features a 3D IMAX Theatre. The Museum's rotating exhibitions are topical and intriguing ensuring that kids can visit many times and always learn something new and relevant to their world. Other popular attractions include the space descent VR experience with astronaut Tim Peake as your guide, the Tomorrow's World object gallery, and the interactive Wonderlab gallery.

Address Exhibition Road, South Kensington

Website www.sciencemuseum.org.uk

Transport

South Kensington underground station (served by the District, Circle and Piccadilly lines)

Opens Open daily, from 10am to 6pm.

Admission

Free, though charges apply for the IMAX theatre, the flight simulators, and some special exhibitions

Chessington World of Adventures photo

Chessington World of Adventures

Located in southwest London, Chessington World of Adventures is a theme park and zoo catering to children of all ages. Featuring rides, roller coasters and water slides, this theme…

Chessington World of Adventures

Located in southwest London, Chessington World of Adventures is a theme park and zoo catering to children of all ages. Featuring rides, roller coasters and water slides, this theme park is best visited during the summer months. The zoo, however, is open all year round. An 'African Adventure' themed area is already proving wildly popular among kids, who'll be able to observe magnificent creatures such as lions, zebras and oryxes, as well as enjoy some traditional African mask displays and listen to some African drumming performances. Other highlights are the exciting events and shows; accommodation is also available, in the form of glamping and elaborately themed hotel rooms.

Address Leatherhead Road

Website www.chessington.com

Opens Opening times vary according to the season (check website for details), but are generally from 10am to 5pm most days

Admission

£47 (adults), £43 (children aged 3 - 11). Combination and discount tickets are available as are tickets for single sections of the park. Discounts for booking online.

Westminster Abbey photo

Westminster Abbey

This church in the heart of the city is one of London's top tourist attractions, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and rivals Notre Dame for the accolade of most famous church in the w…

Westminster Abbey

This church in the heart of the city is one of London's top tourist attractions, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and rivals Notre Dame for the accolade of most famous church in the world. Westminster Abbey draws millions of tourists each year, in addition to the locals who worship there every week. The abbey is the site of royal coronations and weddings (including Prince William's wedding to Kate Middleton in April 2011). Visitors can marvel at the Gothic architecture, enormous stained-glass windows and paintings that go back 1,000 years, and guided tours are available in several languages. A fantastic sight, Westminster Abbey is a must for visitors looking to experience the heart and soul of England's rich cultural history. Anybody is free to attend the regular religious services held in Westminster Abbey and tourists are also welcome between certain hours.

Address 20 Deans Yard, London

Website www.westminster-abbey.org

Transport

Westminster Abbey is in walking distance of both St James's Park and Westminster underground stations

Opens Opening times vary and the church may be closed for special services on any day. Generally: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 9.30am to 3.30pm; on Wednesday from 9.30am to 7pm; and on Saturday from 9.30am to 2.30pm. Note that Westminster Abbey is not open to tourists on Sundays.

Admission

£22 (adults), £9 (children 11-18), Free for children under 11 years of age when accompanied by an adult. Other concessions available, please check the website for details

Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament photo

Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament

Originally built for Edward the Confessor more than 1,000 years ago, the Houses of Parliament, or Palace of Westminster, remained the principal residence of Britain's monarchs for …

Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament

Originally built for Edward the Confessor more than 1,000 years ago, the Houses of Parliament, or Palace of Westminster, remained the principal residence of Britain's monarchs for the next 400 years. Thereafter, it became the administrative centre of the country. In 1834 the Great Fire burnt everything except Westminster Hall, and the present Gothic building was completed in the 1840s. It is perhaps most famous for the clock tower, commonly called Big Ben. Located at the north end of the Palace of Westminster in London, the gigantic clock tower has many distinctions: it is the largest four-faced clock, and third-largest freestanding clock in the world. Built in 1859, each minute hand is 14 feet (4.3m) long, and the largest bell inside weighs more than 13 tons. Although Parliament is closed to visitors during session, it is still a popular attraction for tourists because of its picturesque exterior. While Big Ben itself is not open to overseas visitors, UK residents may arrange tours with a local Member of Parliament. Be warned, though, inside the clock tower there are 334 stairs and no lift. Check the website to see what tours of parliament are available and when.

Address Palace of Westminster, House of Commons, London

Website www.parliament.uk

Transport

Westminster underground station

Tower Bridge photo

Tower Bridge

The twin spires of the iconic drawbridge known as Tower Bridge stand 213 feet (65m) above the Thames River, and form one of the most popular tourist attractions in London. Often mi…

Tower Bridge

The twin spires of the iconic drawbridge known as Tower Bridge stand 213 feet (65m) above the Thames River, and form one of the most popular tourist attractions in London. Often mistakenly referred to as London Bridge (which is a bit further upstream), Tower Bridge functions as both a roadway and a major tourist sight, and provides a magnificent view of downtown London from its upper walkway. Inside is the Tower Bridge Exhibition, which showcases the Victorian engine that powers the drawbridge, as well as a series of informative displays detailing the history of Tower Bridge, which stretches back to 1886.

Address Tower Bridge Road, London

Website www.towerbridge.org.uk

Transport

Tower Hill underground station

Opens Open daily, from 10am to 5.30pm (April to September), and from 9.30am to 5pm (October to March).

Admission

£9.80 (adults), £4.20 (children 5-15). Children under the age of 5 are admitted free of charge. Concessions available.

Victoria and Albert Museum photo

Victoria and Albert Museum

Originally known as the Museum of Manufacture, the Victoria and Albert Museum (or V&A Museum, as it is popularly known) in London is a veritable treasure-trove of artefacts from cu…

Victoria and Albert Museum

Originally known as the Museum of Manufacture, the Victoria and Albert Museum (or V&A Museum, as it is popularly known) in London is a veritable treasure-trove of artefacts from cultures around the world. Devoted to art and design, it houses about 2.3 million works, including paintings, photographs, sculptures, textiles, furniture, metalwork, ceramics, and fashion going back 5,000 years. The V&A Museum also hosts regular family activities and workshops, and has an on-site sculpture garden. A must-see tourist attraction in London, the Victoria and Albert Museum is a wonderful place to spend an afternoon, poring over fascinating items and learning more about the world's cultural bounty.

Address Cromwell Road, London

Website www.vam.ac.uk

Transport

Within easy walking distance of South Kensington underground station

Opens Open daily, from 10am to 5.45pm (until 10pm on Fridays)

Admission

Free admission, though some temporary exhibitions may charge an entrance fee

Natural History Museum photo

Natural History Museum

Located on Exhibition Road in South Kensington, the Natural History Museum appeals to everyone from excitable kids to discerning adults. Housed in a gorgeous Romanesque building, t…

Natural History Museum

Located on Exhibition Road in South Kensington, the Natural History Museum appeals to everyone from excitable kids to discerning adults. Housed in a gorgeous Romanesque building, the Natural History Museum has often been described as a cathedral of nature, boasting fascinating collections magnificently displayed beneath vaulted ceilings. As soon as you step foot inside the museum, you are greeted by the skeleton of a blue whale looming over you. The Natural History Museum has one of the world's greatest collections of prehistoric fossils and remains, and is home to a series of animatronic dinosaurs that will spellbind kids. The Museum is divided into four zones. The Blue Zone deals mainly with animals, and (along with the dinosaurs) is famous for its life-size model of a blue whale that hangs from the ceiling, and its sabre-tooth tiger skeleton. The Green Zone presents exhibitions that focus on plants, insects and ecology, including a termite mound and a cross-section of the world's largest tree, the California redwood. The Red Zone takes a look at the earth's subterranean processes: visitors can try out the earthquake simulator, be moved by the Pompeii exhibition, and ogle at an enormous collection of gemstones, minerals, and rocks. Finally, the Orange Zone is primarily a research centre but also features several cutting-edge exhibitions that will thrill visitors, including the Attenborough Studio, where audio-visual shows are staged. Budget at least three or four hours to do the museum's collection justice.

Address Exhibition Road, south London

Website www.nhm.ac.uk

Transport

Within easy walking distance of South Kensington underground station

Opens Open daily from 10am to 5 50pm. Last entry at 5 30pm.

Admission

Free admission, though temporary exhibitions may charge a fee

Borough Market photo

Borough Market

The Borough Market, located on Southwark Street at the southern end of London Bridge, is one of the United Kingdom's premier food markets, and a simply wonderful place to ramble ar…

Borough Market

The Borough Market, located on Southwark Street at the southern end of London Bridge, is one of the United Kingdom's premier food markets, and a simply wonderful place to ramble around and find some delicious treats to fuel the day's sightseeing. What distinguishes the Borough Market is its community-centred atmosphere, with most of the stallholders either being producers themselves, or possessing intimate knowledge of the goods they are selling. Visitors are encouraged to chat to the stallholders about their produce, and to find out more about the fresh fruit and vegetables, cheeses, jams, meats, and artisanal breads and pastries that are lovingly and elegantly displayed. Perfectly situated, the Borough Market makes a great pit-stop on any walking tour of south-central London's tourist attractions. The Borough Market is also a great place to shop for special souvenirs for loved ones back home.

Address Southwark Street, south London

Website www.boroughmarket.org.uk

Transport

Within walking distance of Borough and London Bridge underground stations

Opens Full Market open Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10am to 5pm; Fridays from 10am to 6pm; Saturdays from 8am to 5pm. Lunch Market open Monday and Tuesday from 10am to 5pm.

Admission

Free admission

Imperial War Museum photo

Imperial War Museum

An absolute must for history buffs, London's Imperial War Museum endeavours to give visitors an understanding of modern warfare, and an appreciation of its effects on both individu…

Imperial War Museum

An absolute must for history buffs, London's Imperial War Museum endeavours to give visitors an understanding of modern warfare, and an appreciation of its effects on both individuals and societies at large. The Imperial War Museum is, in fact, a 'family' of five museums, three of which are located in London. The flagship museum is found in Lambeth Road in south London, and features a unique collection of art, films, photographs, sound recordings, writings and objects that preserve the reactions and memories of Britons who have lived through wartime conditions.

The Churchill War Rooms, located in King Charles Street, form another fascinating branch of the Imperial War Museum. These bunkers housed the British heads of state during the Blitz, and today offer visitors a truly incredible trip back in time, where they can navigate the underground mazes and view charts and maps that haven't been touched since 1945.

The last of the Imperial War Museum branches in London is the HMS Belfast, a warship that is moored in the Thames. Tours of the HMS Belfast take in the gun turrets, the mess decks and the clamorous bowels of the ship, and provide an exciting and educational experience that will be appreciated by visitors of all ages. A highly recommended sight, all three London branches of the Imperial War Museum can be visited in a day.

Address Lambeth Road, London

Website www.iwm.org.uk

Transport

Within walking distance of Lambeth North, Waterloo, Southwark and Elephant & Castle underground stations

Opens Open daily from 10am to 6pm. Last admission is at 5.30pm

Admission

Free admission, though temporary exhibitions might charge a fee

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