Attractions

England remains one of the world's most popular sightseeing destinations, drawing high numbers of repeat visitors inspired by its effortless combination of historical splendour and vibrant modernity. Some of the most famous tourist sites in the world are packed into this tiny but proud country.

The locals complain incessantly about the weather, and in truth it is rather gloomy and damp, especially from October to May. For tourists though, the imperfect weather provides the perfect excuse for retreating inside world-class museums and galleries, or enjoying the outstanding theatre.

When the sun does shine, the English countryside reveals its irresistible charms with lush greenery, rolling hills, and elegant castle ruins in abundance. Equally, some travellers relish the English landscapes in the snow and mist and London streets are never more beautiful than when they are bedecked with lights for the festive season.

Although there is so much to see and do, England is very compact, which makes it fairly easy to get between the sights. The entire country is laced with railway lines, which are frequently duplicated by bus routes, although for longer excursions it may be better to fly with one of the discount airlines like Ryanair and Easyjet.

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.

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

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.

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

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.

Stonehenge photo

Stonehenge

No other site in England presents the viewer with such grandeur and mystery, nor sparks the imagination so much as this iconic circle of stones in Wiltshire, southwest England. Wri…

Stonehenge

No other site in England presents the viewer with such grandeur and mystery, nor sparks the imagination so much as this iconic circle of stones in Wiltshire, southwest England. Writers, adventurers, historians, and conquerors have all tried to answer its mysteries, resulting in tales and fables of Druids, Merlin and King Arthur, ancient giants roaming the countryside, and a highly evolved prehistoric race of men. Yet the question of who managed to drag several 20-ton stones more than 240 miles (386km) from North Wales across steep hills to be aligned with mathematical and astronomical precision 5,000 years ago remains fairly unanswered. A must-see tourist sight in England, budget a full day to see Stonehenge and its Visitor's Centre properly. The stone circle is located just off the A303, 20 minutes' drive from Salisbury.

Website www.stonehenge.co.uk

Stratford-upon-Avon photo

Stratford-upon-Avon

The quaint and picturesque country town of Stratford-upon-Avon rests on the banks of the River Avon and is the historic birthplace of William Shakespeare. Visitors can explore Shak…

Stratford-upon-Avon

The quaint and picturesque country town of Stratford-upon-Avon rests on the banks of the River Avon and is the historic birthplace of William Shakespeare. Visitors can explore Shakespeare's birthplace, Mary Arden's House (where his mother lived before marrying his father), and his wife Anne Hathaway's cottage, as well as the school Shakespeare attended. Stratford-upon-Avon is within easy access of the Cotswolds, set in the beautiful, rural Warwickshire countryside. A vintage train service, the 'Shakespeare Express', offers a fun way to access Stratford-Upon-Avon from Birmingham or Henley. Even those who are not much interested in the biographical details of the bard will find Stratford-upon-Avon charming.

Website www.stratford-upon-avon.co.uk

The Peak District photo

The Peak District

The Peak District was England's first national park. This beautiful region sits in the central and northern parts of England, largely within the picturesque county of Derbyshire. D…

The Peak District

The Peak District was England's first national park. This beautiful region sits in the central and northern parts of England, largely within the picturesque county of Derbyshire. Diverse landscapes, abundant wildlife, and a rich historic heritage combine with busy market towns and thriving cities such as Sheffield and Manchester. With over 22 million visitors annually, the Peak District is a major UK tourist destination, and the Peak District National Park is one of the most visited parks in the world. The district is generally divided into three main areas. White Peak in the south is characterised by its limestone landscapes with a blend of flat plateaus and gentle valleys, while the South West Peak is a mix of hay meadows and moorland. The most sparsely populated area is Dark Peak in the north, where dramatic gritstone plateaus, craggy edges, and ridges contrast with deep valleys. The whole region is rife with quaint towns, majestic historic homes, old mills, and museums, as well as plenty to please the outdoor enthusiast, including top-class rock climbing, caving, and fly fishing. Visitors can enjoy an authentic Bakewell pudding in the eponymous village, take a leisurely hot air balloon ride for a bird's eye view, mountain bike in the Hope Valley near Charleston, or travel back in time in an impressive country manor. It's an excellent choice for visitors who plan to rent their own car while on holiday in the UK.

Website www.peakdistrict.gov.uk

Durham Cathedral photo

Durham Cathedral

Celebrated, together with Durham Castle, as one of Britain's first UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Durham Cathedral is one of the finest examples of Norman architecture in England. Bu…

Durham Cathedral

Celebrated, together with Durham Castle, as one of Britain's first UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Durham Cathedral is one of the finest examples of Norman architecture in England. Building began on the church in 1093, and it was largely completed after about 40 years. An icon of northeast England, the cathedral was voted as the nation's best-loved building in a nationwide BBC poll held in 2001. Renowned for its immense architecture, ancient history and deep religious roots, the cathedral is a must-see attraction for any visitor to Durham. Guided tours are conducted daily, and offer an informative and enriching way to explore the magnificent structure.

Website www.durhamcathedral.co.uk

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.

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

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

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