Things to Do in London - page 3
Once the center of London’s newspaper industry, Fleet Street is one of the city’s most storied locations. At the top of the street you’ll find the Royal Courts of Justice, the UK’s highest court, also known as Old Bailey. Also here is the historic Temple Church—built by the Knights Templar and featured in Dan Brown’s novel The Da Vinci Code.
Opened in 1871 by Queen Victoria and named after her husband, London’s Royal Albert Hall has played host to countless concerts, award ceremonies, and banquets. The domed red-brick auditorium is best known for the Proms, a long-running series of informal and inexpensive concerts designed to make classical music accessible to all.
Kings Cross was named after a monument for King George IV but the area was settled much, much earlier. St Pancras old church originated in 4BC. These days it's most famous for its train station: Kings Cross/St Pancras. From here trains go all over England, including to Hogwarts if you can find Harry Potter's Platform 9 3/4. It's also home to Eurostar, which whisks you to Paris and Brussels.
The surrounding area is slowly edging its way out of being one of the seediest parts of London. The magnificent St Pancras building is coming back to life as a posh hotel, the British Library is just down the road, and of course, the station redevelopment is full of shops and restaurants.
The immersive London Dungeon transports visitors into London’s past for a theatrical journey into the city’s underbelly. Participants make their way through a series of shadowy rooms, where costumed actors reveal the most horrible tales from the capital’s history, including accounts of the gory murders committed by Jack the Ripper and Sweeney Todd, the failed Gunpowder Plot of Guy Fawkes, and the Great Fire of London. The meticulous sets, spooky special effects, and thrilling rides make for a memorable, shriek-out-loud experience.
Amid the blur of traffic of one of central London’s busiest intersections—the meeting point of Oxford Street, Park Lane, and Edgware Road—the grand Marble Arch is one of the city’s most striking landmarks, and it boasts an impressive royal history.
Home to England’s greatest collection of paintings, the London National Gallery's pantheon-style facade looms over London’s Trafalgar Square. With a storied history dating back to 1824, it’s no wonder this is one of the most-visited art museums in the world.
Immortalized in the 1999 romantic comedy of the same name, Notting Hill is a popular West London neighborhood and is at the top of many visitors’ wish lists. Today, the area is beloved for its rainbow-hued houses, for the lively market that takes place on Portobello Road, and for the Notting Hill Carnival: a London summer highlight.
Once a Tudor palace, Somerset House was redesigned by Sir William Chambers in 1776 as part of the city’s infrastructural improvements. Now a creative and cultural hub offering shows and activities year-round, the building is also known to have appeared in the Sherlock Holmes and James Bond films, among others.
Leadenhall Market itself dates back to the 14th century, while its City of London location has links to Roman Londinium (AD 43). The ornate structure of today was designed by Sir Horace Jones in 1881, though the market has since swapped meat trade for modern retail, and adopted an alter ego as Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter film series.
With its ornate spires, elaborate friezes and 53-meter-high central cross, the Albert Memorial surely ranks among London’s most impressive monuments, and it’s impossible to miss, standing proud over the south entrance to Kensington Gardens, opposite the equally grand Royal Albert Hall.
Inaugurated by Queen Victoria in 1872, the striking memorial is dedicated to her beloved husband, Prince Albert, whose untimely death of typhoid fever in 1861, at just 42 years old, had left her grief-stricken. Devoted not only to Prince Albert, but to all his passions and achievements, the masterful Gothic design is the work of Sir George Gilbert Scott and features a central gilded statue of Albert, holding the catalogue of the 1851 Great Exhibition. Surrounding statues represent the Prince’s main areas of interest - engineering, agriculture, commerce and art, while the intricate frieze at the base of the monument features images of 178 artists, poets and musicians, a further tribute to his love of the arts.
More Things to Do in London
Leave the bustling streets behind as you explore Kensington Gardens, one of the city’s most famous green spaces. Discover landmarks including the Albert Memorial, Kensington Palace, and Serpentine River; pick up practical gardening tips in the Allotment; or simply absorb the atmosphere at one of the park’s many cafés.
Pop pilgrims flock to this black-and-white-striped crosswalk in north London for the ultimate photo opportunity. Day in, day out, Beatles fans can be seen trying to recreate the iconic 1969 Abbey Road album cover at this pedestrian crossing—their movements broadcast to the world via live webcam. Nearby lies Abbey Road Studios, where the Beatles recorded many of their hits.
Extending for 1,247 feet (380 meters) across the curving dome of London’s landmark O2 Arena, the Up at The O2 rooftop walkway promises far-reaching vistas and open-air thrills. Equipped with climbing suits and safety harnesses, visitors traverse the fabric walkway with a guide, making their way up to an observation platform where spectacular 360-degree views of the River Thames, leafy Greenwich, and the glinting skyscrapers of Canary Wharf await.
In 1608 William the Conqueror built Warwick Castle, one of England’s most magnificent medieval castles, on the banks of the River Avon and encircled by beautiful parklands. Now a historical theme park run by Merlin Entertainments, it’s a full-on medieval experience filled with fascinating exhibits, interactive tours, and activities for the whole family.
A quick stroll from Hyde Park and Buckingham Palace, Knightsbridge is one of London’s most affluent neighborhoods. If the department stores (including the storied Harrods), designer boutiques, and elegant hotels don’t tip you off, the supercars might: Make a game of spotting Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and Maseratis as you wander.
Now permanently docked in Greenwich, London, this 19th-century tea clipper—one of the fastest vessels of its era—once sailed the seas between Britain and China. Onboard exhibitions and costumed characters document what life was like for the crew as they steered the ship to ports all around the world.
Both an architectural marvel and a key transit hub, St. Pancras International is one of London’s most striking landmarks. Opened in 1868, the station is the hub for the Eurostar service that connects London to Continental Europe. The station also connects to King’s Cross station, where you can catch the mainline and Underground trains.
Fans of Harry Potter will be familiar with Platform 9 3/4. The fictional platform is located at the very real King's Cross train station in London, between platforms 9 and 10, and is where the Hogwarts Express can be boarded—by running directly at what appears to be a solid wall barrier.
As the grand centerpiece of Hyde Park Corner, Wellington Arch is among London’s most viewed landmarks, but it’s also possible to explore inside the historic monument. Built for George IV between 1826 and 1830 to commemorate the British victories in the Napoleonic Wars, the Wellington Arch was originally intended to stand at the entrance to Buckingham Palace.
A short stroll from both Hyde Park and Green Park, the Arch offers great views over the royal parks and nearby Buckingham Palace, as well as making a great spot from which to watch the daily Changing of the Guards ceremony – the mounted Horse Guards pass right beneath the arch. Visitors can also enjoy three floors of exhibitions telling the story of the arch’s history and the Battle of Waterloo.
The third theater to have stood on this Covent Garden site, the Victorian-era Royal Opera House (ROH) was given a major facelift at the turn of the 21st century. The landmark venue now hosts performances by two of the United Kingdom’s most prestigious companies: the Royal Ballet and the Royal Opera.
Having moved from their original Charing Cross location to Buckingham Palace in 1825, the Royal Mews continue to serve as the monarch’s head stables today. Responsible for the road travel of the entire royal family, the mews are home to a number of famous royal coaches, as well as working carriage horses and several state cars.
Interactive galleries, science demonstrations, and an IMAX 3D theater help make London’s Science Museum one of the city’s most engaging attractions for all ages. Use virtual reality to experience space travel, do experiments in the Wonder Lab, and see how math and science connect to everyday activities.
The world’s oldest scientific zoo with a history dating back to 1828, the ZSL (Zoological Society of London) London Zoo remains one of the city’s most popular family attractions. The zoo’s myriad animal residents include over 750 species, from mighty lions to cute penguins to creepie crawlies.
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