London is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, drawing in more than 30 million tourists a year. The English capital's vast array of landmarks and entertainment opportunities mean that there is a reason to visit for everyone’s tastes and interests. Whether you’re a nature lover, a fashionista or a cinephile, there’ll be a London hotel package for you.
But if it’s your first time in London, there are definitely a few activities that you simply have to try. These activities and landmarks offer a great introduction to what London’s all about. From beautiful museums to fascinating tours of the city, these amazing experiences are ones that all London novices should plan to experience.
Easy to reach from Hyde Park spa hotels in London, Museum Row is the informal name given to a trio of museums in South Kensington. Commonly associated with Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria, Museum Row consists of the Natural History Museum, Science Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum of Design. The Museums are highly popular with tourists and locals and offer free to visit permanent galleries. The three museums are considered to be some of the best of their kinds in the world.
Even if you’re not big on shopping, Oxford Street is well worth walking down thanks to its historic collection of department stores. The sheer energy of Europe’s busiest high street is especially atmospheric around Christmas time when the streets are lit up with world famous Christmas lights.
Enjoy A West End Play
London is considered to be the birthplace of modern theatre, thanks to it being the city that started the careers of Pinter, Beckett and of course, William Shakespeare. The West End is teeming with show stopping performances. The London scene for musicals is especially prevalent in the West End, but you can also find the debut runs of theatre shows as well as classics that have been running on the West End for decades!
Visit A London Palace
London’s royal history needs no introduction, and there are several palaces and castles in and around the city that can be visited all year round. These include the Tower of London, dating back to the 11th century, Windsor Castle, a favourite of the late Queen Elizabeth II and Hampton Court Palace, built for William III by famous architect Sir Christopher Wren, who also built St Paul’s Cathedral - which we’ll get onto in a moment.
Drink In A Brilliant View
London’s skyline is something that must be seen to be believed. The city is brimming with great viewpoints and if you get a chance, you should check out at least one of them.
The Shard is a skyscraper in the London Bridge area and is the tallest building in London. Book a table at one of its six restaurants and enjoy the stunning views over the city. With the highest being on the 52nd floor of the 90+ storied building, you can enjoy everything from Asian fusion to traditional British fare.
A notably cheaper alternative for those priceless London skylines is Primrose Hill in Regent’s Park. On a sunny day, picnics are popular pastimes in this beautiful royal park.
A triple whammy, Greenwich Observatory is also the home to the Greenwich Meridian Line, an important navigation point used in seafaring and timekeeping. The views of Canary Wharf and the eastern part of the Thames are amazing too. For a quieter view, the nearby Point Hill is a short walk up Blackheath Hill from Greenwich Park.
Visit St Paul’s Cathedral
Easy to reach from the Montcalm Royal London City, St Paul’s Cathedral is an important part of London’s history. Dating back 1400 years, St Paul’s Cathedral has been rebuilt at least five times and the current iteration has been the site of royal weddings and funerals since 1711. It’s worth noting that many of the above mentioned viewpoints in London were specifically designed so as to provide a direct view of St Paul’s which was built on Ludgate Hill.
Explore A Royal Park
There are 8 royal parks dotted across the city whether you’re stopping by one on your way to Finsbury Square Restaurants or you’ve booked a hotel in Camden, it won’t be difficult to reach one. Not only are these parks kitted out with beautiful walking trails, they’re also brimming with royal history. Each of them was specifically built for different kings and queens, providing their families and courtiers with private land to hunt and roam. Of course, all the royal parks are now open to the public. Centrally located royal parks include Regent’s Park, Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park, each of which has their own specific landscape design.
From food festivals to music events, the city of London is a hotbed of culture. Arguably, there’s a different festival every week but standouts in the London calendar include the London Film Festival, Winter Wonderland Christmas Festival and Notting Hill Carnival, among many others. Whatever month you’re visiting the city in, make sure to check the calendar for unique free events and activities.
See Trafalgar Square
Trafalgar Square is situated close to Charing Cross Station and is one of the most famous landmarks in London. Featuring Nelson’s Column in its centre, Trafalgar Square is named after the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, in which Admiral Horatio Nelson of the British Navy defeated Napoleon on his conquest of Europe. It’s not just the symbolism that makes Trafalgar Square, complete with its lion bound statue, such a prominent London landmark. The National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery are two historic museums that are completely free of charge to visit.
London’s Art Scene
London is well known for the artists who lived and worked there. There are many galleries too that continue to inspire generations of contemporary artists. Free-to-visit art galleries in London include the Tate Modern and Britain, the above-mentioned National Galleries, the Serpentine Gallery in Kensington Gardens and the White Cube in Bermondsey. Each of these galleries have their own unique focus and explore everything from the European Masters of the 17th and 18th centuries to artists working across the world today.