London: A Visitor’s Guide
Have you seen our eBook? It has a chapter full of Top 10 lists, to let you know which attractions we think are well worth a visit
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The Tower of London is one of London’s four World Heritage sites, and dates all the way back to the reign of William the Conqueror in the 11th-century. It was built up bit-by-bit by some of England’s greatest kings, and is famous for Traitor’s Gate and Tower Green, where two of Henry VIII’s wives lost their heads. Opening times: 10 AM to 5.30 PM (Sun-Mon, Mar-Oct); 9 AM to 5.30 PM (Tue-Sat, Mar-Oct); 10 AM to 4.30 PM (Sun-Mon, Nov-Feb); 9 AM to 4.30 PM (Tue-Sat, Nov-Feb); Last entry 30 mins before closing. Cost: Adults £24.50; Children £11.00 (5-15); Infants free (under-5); Family ticket £60.70.
Westminster Abbey is another World Heritage Site, and is the setting for coronations, marriages, and the burial place of many of our most celebrated kings and queens. Pride of place goes to Edward the Confessor – the only English king to be made a saint. Opening times: Usually 9.30 AM to 4.30 PM (Mon, Tue, Thu-Sat); 9.30 AM to 7 PM (Wed); Last entry 1 hour before closing; The abbey is only open for worship on Sundays. Cost: Adults £20.00; Children £9.00 (5-16); Infants free (under-11); Family ticket £45.00.
Westminster Hall is the oldest surviving part of the original Palace of Westminster, which pre-dates the current Houses of Parliament by 800 years. It was the site of many famous trials, including Charles I, William Wallace and Guy Fawkes. Opening times: Closed to the public, except during the Summer Opening in Aug/Sep, and selected Saturdays.
The Guildhall Art Gallery hides a nice surprise in the basement – the remains of London’s Roman amphitheatre! You can see the outline of its extent in the courtyard, as it’s marked out by a ring of dark grey bricks. Opening times: 10 AM to 5 PM (Mon-Sat); 12 noon to 4 PM (Sun). Cost: Free.
Greenwich is one of London’s four World Heritage Sites, and is home to many important buildings including the Queen’s House (for its architecture), the Royal Observatory (for its contribution to science) and the Old Royal Naval College (for both its architecture and history).
Banqueting House is one of the few surviving parts of Whitehall Palace. It was also the site of Charles I’s execution after the English Civil War – one of the most dramatic moments in English history. Opening times: Usually 10 AM to 5 PM (Mon-Sun), but it sometimes closes at 1 PM if there is a special event going on – check their website to be sure; Last entry 45 mins before closing; Note: The House will be closed for renovations between the 21st Dec and 1st Ap. Cost: Adults £6.60; Children free (under-16).
Alhtough it was built by Sir Christopher Wren, The Monument is important not so much for what it is, but for what it represents – it marks the spot where the Great Fire of London broke out in 1666. Opening times: 9.30 AM to 6 PM (Mon-Sun, Apr-Sep); 9.30 AM to 5.30 PM (Mon-Sun, Oct-Mar); Last entry 30 mins before closing. Cost: Adults £4.00; Children £2.00 (under-16).
Although heavily modified, Temple Church dates all the way back to 1185. It was originally built by a famous band of military monks – the Knights Templar – who made their money during the Crusades. Opening times: Usually 10 AM to 4 PM (Mon-Fri); Closed at the weekend, except for church services on Sunday. Cost: Adults £5.00; Children free (under-19).
London Stone is a mysterious monument that may date back to Roman times. It has been mentioned numerous times throughout history, but no one really knows its original purpose.
Our London events guide has lots more great ideas about what you can do during your stay