Buckingham Palace is usually one of the first places tourists head for when they visit the capital of England, London. Large crowds are drawn every day for the pomp and circumstance of the Changing of the Guard. The palace was built in 1837 and is the London residence of the Royal Family and has been so since the time of Queen Victoria's reign. Take a look at the flagpole and if you see the royal standard flying it means the Queen is at home. On special state occasions, the Queen and members of the Royal Family come out on the central balcony to greet the crowds. When the Queen is at her summer palace in Scotland visitors can get tickets to tour the State Rooms, the Queen's Gallery, and the Royal Mews.
The Tower of London is an amazing place to visit and is one of England's most iconic structures. It is a World Heritage site offering information about the rich history of the country.
In the White Tower, built in 1078 by William the Conqueror you can see the 17th century Line of Kings with displays of royal armaments and armor. Other highlights include the famous Crown Jewels exhibit, the Beefeaters, the Royal Mint, and exhibitions about the executions that took place here.
The Bloody Tower offers stories of ancient torture.
The Tower Bridge adjacent to The Tower of London has two towers that rise 200 ft above the River Thames. It is one of the best-known landmarks. You can walk across the bridge to get great views of the Tower and a look at London Bridge. At the south side of the bridge is Butler's Wharf a part of the city with many restaurants.
London comes to mind whenever someone mentions Big Ben, the 318-foot tower with the giant clock chiming the hours. It is an iconic landmark and the chiming of Big Ben is known all over the world as the time signal of the BBC. Below Big Ben are the Houses of the Parliaments, which have been the seat of the British government for centuries.
A tour of the Parliament Buildings offers a chance to see real-time debates and political discussions.
The best views of Big Ben can be had when crossing Westminster Bridge and looking back.
The British Museum has over 13 million artifacts including priceless objects from all over the world. Among the highlights are the Elgin Marbles from the Parthenon, the Rosetta Stone, the colossal bust of Ramesses II, the Egyptian mummies, and the 4th-century Roman silver known as the Mildenhall Treasure. There is a bookshop on site and a shop selling souvenirs, games, replica sculptures, and jewelry. When you want to relax there is a restaurant and cafe.
The National Gallery is an iconic columned museum sitting on the edge of Trafalgar Square. It ranks among the top art museums in the world. You can see European paintings from 1260 until 1920. Among the highlights are the artworks of Dutch Masters and Italian Schools of the 15th and 16th centuries.
The Victoria and Albert Museum or V& A is part of the South Kensington group of museums including the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum. V & A was founded in 1852 and has 145 galleries covering some 5,000 years of art and artifacts. Exhibits are arranged into four main categories - Asia; Furniture, Textiles, and Fashion; Sculpture, Metalwork, Ceramics, and Glass; and Word and Image. There are introductory tours and specific gallery or themed tours. Relax and enjoy The Main and Garden Cafes.
Among the two most popular tourist spots in London are Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus. These are the gateways to Soho which is the lovely theater and entertainment district.
Trafalgar Square was built to commemorate Lord Horatio Nelson's victory over the French and Spanish at Trafalgar in 1805. You'll be impressed by Nelson's Column, a 183-foot granite monument overlooking the fountains and bronze reliefs in the square. The square is surrounded by the Admiralty Arch, St, Martin-in-the-Fields, and the National Gallery.
Piccadilly Circus sits at the irregular intersection of several busy streets - Piccadilly, Regent, Haymarket, and Shaftesbury Avenue.
It is home to the best-known sculpture in London, the winged Eros balancing on one foot with his bow poised.
The Shard opened in 2012 and has become a most recognized landmark, It stands 1,016 feet tall and encompasses 95 stories. There is office space on the lower levels. It is also home to the Shangri-La Hotel and three spectacular restaurants. From the top, you can get amazing views of London from your choice of viewing platforms - indoor and outdoor.
Located on opposite sides of the Thames are two very impressive art museums - Tate Britain and Tate Modern. Tate Britain on the north side of the Thames in Millbank has a wonderful permanent collection of historic British paintings. A transformed power station across the Thames became home to modern art collections.
You can take a walk across the Millennium Bridge, a footbridge that connects the two banks.
It is close to Tate Modern.
If you are a fan of the famous detective Sherlock Holmes visit Baker Street where the infamous detective lived.
You can find a Sherlock Holmes Museum near the Underground Station. This area became particularly famous when BBC televised "Sherlock."
Westminster Abbey is officially known as the Collegiate Church of St, Peter in Westminster. It was founded by Edward the Confessor in 1065 and is his place of interment. Most sovereigns were both crowned here and buried here. Later it became a popular place for Royal Weddings. The church was built in the Gothic style and has the highest Gothic nave in England. Among the highlights here are over 600 memorials in the Nave among them the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior; Poet's Corner in the Transepts, with its memorials to the likes of Shakespeare, Chaucer, and Dickens; the Westminster Abbey Museum; and the attractive gardens.
Hyde Park is the largest open space in London. One of the highlights here is the Serpentine, an 18th-century man-made lake that is used for boating and swimming. Apsley House is a landmark in the park and the former home of the first Duke of Wellington. It is now a museum with an impressive collection of paintings and gifts presented by European kings and emperors. The Duke is commemorated at the Wellington Arch.
St. Paul's Cathedral sits atop a Roman temple. When the church was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666, Sir Christopher Wren designed the rebuild. There are two magnificent twin Baroque towers and a 365-foot dome.
Harrod's is one of London's most famous department stores known for serving the elite and super-rich, It opened in 1824. There are themed halls like the Food Hall selling delicacies and the Egyptian Hall selling fashion in opulent styles.
The London Eye is a way to see all of London spread at your feet and get a spectacular view of the Thames, It is Europe's largest observation wheel. Individual glass capsules will take you on a circular tour rising 443 feet above the Thames. The journey goes for 30 minutes.