Top 10 London attractions
Read our guide to London's top attractions to get tickets to, from Buckingham Palace to the London Tower, immersive art exhibitions to river cruises, and more.
England’s capital city beckons travelers with its vast array of awe-inspiring attractions. London’s countless architectural wonders, cultural institutions, and rich history make the city a popular destination.
Whether you are building an itinerary for a one-day trip to London Town or are fortunate enough to embark on a longer excursion, there’s plenty to do. We have curated a list of London’s top attractions to make for lasting travel memories. Stroll through the city’s many pristine parks, visit an art museum, watch the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, and more.
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Visit Buckingham Palace.
The time-honoured tradition of the Changing of the Guard, also known as the Guard Mounting, marks the shift change of soldiers and is a quintessential London experience. The 45-minute ceremony happens between Buckingham Palace, St. James's Palace, and Wellington Barracks. Typically, the Regimental Band of Corps of Drums provides musical support for the ceremony. Onlookers can enjoy the ceremony free of charge. (The days of the Changing of the Guard vary from season to season, so be sure to check the schedule ahead of time.)
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Sip tea on the River Thames.
Afternoon tea is a must-do in London, but how about adding an element of adventure to your high tea? Cruise along the Thames for a relaxing afternoon while enjoying a cuppa with pastries, tea sandwiches, cakes, scones, jam, and clotted cream. You’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the city’s famous sights, like the Tower Bridge and the London Eye, while you indulge in one of London’s most treasured traditions. A tea river cruise is a perfect way to re-energize between sightseeing and shopping.
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View the city from the London Eye.
At 135 metres tall, the London Eye is one of the world’s largest cantilevered observation wheels. The Ferris wheel was built in 1999 to celebrate the new millennium and attracts 3.5 million visitors each year, making it one of the top attractions in the city. Take in 360-degree views of Central London and the River Thames from 25 miles in each direction. The Ferris wheel features 32 capsules to represent London’s 32 boroughs, including a royal capsule decorated in the style of Westminster Abbey.
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Explore an immersive art gallery.
London is replete with world-class museums and galleries, including the British Museum, home of the Rosetta Stone, and the National Portrait Gallery, which houses the largest collection of portraits worldwide.
These places should definitely be on your must-visit list, but for something new, check out David Hockney: Bigger & Closer (not smaller & further away). The mesmerizing multimedia experience features an inside look at David Hockney’s artistic process with large-scale projections of the artist’s oeuvre. The pop artist is best known for his paintings “Garrowby Hill” and “A Bigger Splash.”
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Step back in time at Hampton Court Palace.
The opulent Hampton Court Palace, built by Cardinal Thomas Wosley in 1699, was one of King Henry VIII’s most favored residences. Located in Surrey, England, just outside the glare of London, the palace is an architectural masterpiece with 1,390 rooms. The Baroque-style palace witnessed several pivotal moments in English history, including Henry VIII’s reign and the Tudor court. It also served as a backdrop for many cultural events, like masquerades and court gatherings. Visitors can explore the estate’s vast Tudor kitchens, Great Hall, State Apartments, and manicured gardens.
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See all your favorite stars at Madame Tussauds.
For over 200 years, Madame Tussauds’s life-like wax figures have attracted millions of visitors. The collection first opened in 1835 as part of the Baker Street Bazaar. Today, a museum on that site houses more than 150 wax figures of the Royal Family, global celebrities, famous British characters like James Bond, and more. While peeping at prominent figures, visitors can learn all about the months-long process of measuring, moulding, and detailing the wax figures.
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Explore the Tower Bridge on the River Thames.
The Tower Bridge is one of London’s most famous landmarks. The 13-metre-tall bridge has two sections called bascules, which rise for vessels below approximately 800 times each year.
Visitors can learn about the history of the architectural feat and see panoramic views of the city with the Tower Bridge Exhibition. The tour invites visitors to walk along the high-level walkways, which feature glass floors, and explore the steam engines in the Victorian Engine Rooms, which once powered the bridge lifts.
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Board the historic Cutty Sark.
Ahoy! Embark on a voyage as you step onto the historic Cutty Sark, a renowned tea clipper from the 1800s. During its time, the ship was the fastest of its kind and sailed from China to Great Britain, transporting tea and other goods.
The Cutty Sark, which sailed for 52 years, is the world’s only surviving extreme clipper. Visitors can learn about the ship’s construction, explore its eleven miles of rigging, stand on the main deck to view its towering masts up close, and marvel at the original hull fabric.
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Go underground into the London Dungeon.
Are you interested in learning about London’s dark history? Venture beneath the arches of the London Bridge and explore the multi-sensory London Dungeon Experience, with eerie sights, sounds, and smells. Immersive actors guide visitors through the experience, reenacting the city’s infamous events, like the Great Fire of London and the Plague. The theatrical attraction includes thrilling rides and stories of the notorious serial killer Jack the Ripper and the vengeful barber Sweeny Todd, among others. After exploring the city’s seedy past, enjoy a cocktail at the Victorian Tavern.
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Experience the magic of the West End.
No trip to London is complete without experiencing a live performance in London’s West End, a global epicenter of theatre. There is something for everyone in the West End to enjoy, from classic tragedies to contemporary musicals. Check out the world’s longest-running show, Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap, a mainstay in the West End since 1952. Or, take the family to see the award-winning spectacles The Lion King or Wicked.
Read our guides to:
- The top 10 West End musicals to see
- The top 10 West End plays to see
- The best-reviewed West End shows playing now
- The best West End shows for kids
- Shakespeare plays to see in London
- West End shows starring celebrities
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