Learn from the locals: London’s top attractions – according to Londoners

Buckingham Palace

So you’re thinking of visiting London then? Great! There’s simply so much to see and do – but therein may lay the problem. Once you start to do some digging and check out just what attractions are worth your time, you may well discover you just don’t have enough hours in the day to squeeze them all into you short-break in the capital. What to do then?

Well, one way you might try to choose between all the wonderful sights and sounds London offers is to take a look at what Londoners themselves consider worthwhile visiting. It’s something of a cliché, of course, that people who live on the doorstep of something that myriad others travel hundreds if not thousands of miles to see probably haven’t taken the time to see it themselves (the needs and burdens of everyday life so often get in the way), so it may well be a good barometer for what’s truly good in London to learn what the locals take the time out of their own busy cosmopolitan lives to check out in their city.

A recent survey conducted by the YouGov polling company found that the magnificent, major museums of Kensington’s ‘Albertopolis’ area (just below Hyde Park) did very well with locals. Top of the list, in fact, is the Natural History Museum, with its millions of separate specimens of flora and fauna from throughout the world and the ages. A close second was the Science Museum – renowned for its hands-on exhibits that kids find compelling – while the Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum, with its commitment to the decorative arts, came in at 11th place.

In fact, it might said just how impressive London’s major attractions are that of all the (as noted) rather blasé Londoners surveyed, at least half of them have visited 14 of the 20 on that list. And, although the list admittedly shows a West End bias, it does feature some of the globally recognised attractions that lie outside Central London.

For instance, it includes the awesome Imperial War Museum, The O2 multi-entertainment venue and (on the cusp of Central/ East London) the terrific trio that’s The Tower, St. Paul’s Cathedral and Tower Bridge – all three of which are a must should you be staying eastwards in one of the luxury hotels in London, like the Montcalm Royal London House hotel.

The full top 20:

(Percentage of visitors among those surveyed in brackets)

  1. Natural History Museum (69%)
  2. Science Museum (66%)
  3. The London Eye (65%)
  4. ZSL London Zoo (65%)
  5. Tower Bridge (65%)
  6. British Museum (64%)
  7. The Tower of London (64%)
  8. The Houses of Parliament/ Big Ben (59%)
  9. St. Paul’s Cathedral (58%)
  10. Madame Tussauds (57%)
  11. Victoria & Albert Museum (54%)
  12. The O2 (53%)
  13. Buckingham Palace (53%)
  14. The National Gallery (52%)
  15. Tate Modern Gallery (49%)
  16. Westminster Abbey (48%)
  17. Southbank Centre (47%)
  18. Imperial War Museum (47%)
  19. National Portrait Gallery (45%)
  20. Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre (33%)