7 Essential Attractions in Central London

Cutty Sark

For those looking to stay in and around Central London on a short-break, there’s a seemingly unending choice of things to see and do – especially this time of year. So how on earth do you narrow it down and actually plan an itinerary for your stay? Well, here are some ideas…

ZSL London Zoo

(Regent’s Park NW1 4RY)

It’s been entertaining and educating young and old since it first opened way back in 1847, which is hardly surprising because London Zoo (sometimes referred to as Regent’s Park Zoo) contains innovative, inspiring exhibits made up more than 750 different species and in excess of 12,000 individual animals. We’re talking tigers, lions, gorillas, penguins, otters and meerkats, among so many more. Specifically, you must check out the ‘Into Africa’ and ‘Butterfly Paradise’ areas, both of which house some of the zoo’s most fascinating and rarest creatures.

Shakespeare’s Globe

(21 New Globe Walk SE1 9DT)

Situated on the tourist-trap that’s the South Bank, the Globe’s a fantastic Tudor theatre reconstruction; an open-air playhouse where critically acclaimed productions of the Bard’s most celebrated – and rarer; more choice – plays are mounted and performed to adoring crowds. Aside from the performances, you can also go on tours of the always interesting building, taking you backstage to see all that’s going in this most creative of thesping hubs.

HMS Belfast

(The Queen’s Walk SE1 2JH)

Launched in 1938, this legendary, nine-decked British battleship served with distinction in both WWII and the Korean War. Now permanently moored on the South Bank, just a short walk to the east from the Globe theatre, and serving as a museum, it’s the place to hop aboard to learn about 20th Century-era UK naval history and the experience of sailors serving in both peacetime and at the extraordinary times of warfare.

ArcelorMittal Orbit

(Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Thornton Street E20 2AD)

Remember that red, swirly modern art-like structure that looked like a giant fun slide as it stood next to the stadium during the London Olympics of four summers ago? Well, this it. And, not only is it still standing, it’s also been opened up to the public as – yes, you guessed it, a giant fun slide. However, that’s not all. From its summit, it also boasts great views across the City of London, the East End and beyond. Plus, at this time of the year, it also plays host to a bar, ensuring you can sip something bubbly as you enjoy watching the sun set on a balmy, warm summer evening. Just the ticket surely, among all the offerings from so many Central London attractions, before you head back to one of the 5 star hotels in London which you may well have made your base.

Chelsea Physic Garden

(66 Royal Hospital Road SW3 4HS)

Founded nearly 350 years ago (yes, really!), this venue in the salubrious environs of Chelsea is the second oldest botanical gardens in all England – and yet, it’s often referred to as one of London’s so-called ‘secret gardens’. Having been originally intended for medicinal plant study, today it’s just as dedicated as it ever was to researching ‘the properties, origins and conservation’ of the 5,000 plant species it contains.

Cutty Sark

(King William Walk SE10 9HT)

Another maritime highlight, this ship is the last surviving Victorian tea clipper and is famed as having been the fastest and greatest of that great sea-going age. Fully renovated recently, following a fire that almost devastated it, this great historical artefact (docked on the banks of the Thames in Greenwich) is now better than ever, offering all visitors – especially curious kids – a truly immersive experience.

Kew Gardens

(Kew, Surrey TW9 3AB)

Finally, one attraction that’s slightly further afield; in that it’s certainly outside of Central London but, just like all the other attractions on this list, well worth visiting. The botanical gardens are globally renowned for their beauty and horticultural quality – indeed, so much so they’re actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site – and they don’t just contain 120 hectares of green and colourful foliage, but a plethora of glasshouses and art galleries. Particularly recommended features are the treetop walk, the nature trails and the stunning rose gardens – all in all then, making for an outstanding and unforgettable summer day out for all the family.