London is a huge tourist spot from international visitors to visitors from the United Kingdom on holiday or even like me on a day out. I live a 20 minute train ride from Central London so I spend a reasonable amount of time exploring the city and trying to tick off all my bucket list things to do. I find when I go a foreign country or city I do all the touristy things and want to explore as much as I can so why shouldn’t we do that in London?! Here’s 12 touristy things which you really need to do when you visit London.
St Pauls Cathedral
St Pauls is stunning from the outside but head inside and you’ll see marble, carved pillars and the most beautiful artwork on the walls and ceilings. The cathedral plays such an iconic part of London’s history; it survived the London bombings during the World War, Martin Luther King preached here, Winston Churchill had his funeral here, Prince Charles and Diana got married here, the Queen celebrated her many jubilee’s here, and the list could go on. You can explore the crypts with some famous graves or memorials and you can head up to the Whispering Gallery and the outer dome for stunning views of London.
Camden was a huge part of my teenage years’ from the markets and fashion to the live music venues around and while it does get super busy as a tourist spot (first thing in the morning and weekdays’ are the best times to go) it is worth a visit. Explore the markets and find some really interesting buys, sample some of the amazing food here (The Mac Factory is my personal favourite) and just soak in characters which inhabit this part of London.
This chocolate shop and cafe originated in Brighton but has an awesome location in the heart of Carnaby, you can buy pretty much anything you want in the shop downstairs and then pop upstairs for brownies, cake, sundaes and anything else chocolatey, although the hot chocolates would be my recommendation. This tourist spot does get really busy so get here for opening time to guarantee a seat, plus what set’s the day off better than chocolate right?! Want more info?! Check out my full post.
Natural History Museum
Of course, this had to feature here as one of London’s most iconic museums’. Unlike a lot of countries London actually, has a lot of free museums which is great when you’re on a budget. I actually only headed here for the first time this year but it’s a stunning museum and huge so you can spend hours here. The space areas are very interesting but of course, it’s the dinosaur collection which stands out including the T Rex.
ArcelorMittal Orbit slide
This relatively new addition to Stratford is part of the Olympic Village and is the largest sculpture in London when you head to the top you can get some stunning views of London, but this isn’t the most impressive part of the installation, there’s a huge slide attached. Sitting at 178m high it’s the world’s highest and longest tunnel slide and is such an exhilarating experience. During the 40-second trip, you circle the sculpture 12 times and weave between loops, curves and a tight corkscrew through light and dark before you reach the ground. This tourist spot sells out regularly so it’s worth booking in advance, and it’s unlike anything you’ve ever experienced.
Museum of Childhood
This museum is probably my favourite within London as it evokes so many memories and is interesting to anyone of any age. It’s part of the V&A collection located out in Bethnal Green where it houses toys and collections of childhood items from throughout the ages including games consoles, remote controlled toys, barbies, dolls, lego, anything you can think of. I’ve been here about three times and there’s always something new to see as the upstairs exhibition changes every few months’, currently it’s the end of the board game exhibition. It was great to take my parents’ here as it automatically transported them into a sense of nostalgia.
Gods Own Junkyard
Again another place I only visited fairly recently but my love for Gods Own Junkyard is strong and I really want to go back and have some food here as an excuse to spend longer here. The small warehouse in Walthamstow is full of all manner of Neon Lights which when you first walk in can be a bit overwhelming but it’s a complete treat for the eyes. Some of the signs are salvaged, some are movie props, and some are donated to create a wonderland. You can see more images in my post here.
I put off visiting Hummingbird for a while due to the hype as a tourist spot but I am so glad I caved last summer and went in to see what the fuss was about. Depending on the location and time of the day lines’ can be a bit lengthy but it’s well worth it. The cupcakes are light and so tasty but it’s the cake slices which are the highlight, the Red Velvet and Rainbow Cakes are definitely my favourites. Love cake?! Check out my rundown of some of the best bakeries.
Beefeater Gin Distillery
Gin is having a massive craze right about now so some of London’s own gin distilleries are getting a little busier than they normally are, but taking a trip out on the Victoria Line to Vauxhall is well worth it for the Beefeater Gin Distillery. The working distillery makes a lot of the Beefeater gin which we see bottled in the shops and during a tour you can find out more about how it’s made, see the stills and get a lovely G&T or cocktail at the end to sample what’s made there. Perfect for an interesting day out.
Now a cemetery might not be on everyone’s top list of places to visit but hear me out. Highgate Cemetry is a huge cemetery with stunning architecture and graves of some people you’ve probably heard of. The graves themselves are ornate and beautiful and the feeling of peace is evident throughout the area, it’s so serene. Douglas Adams (author of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy) is buried here and people leave pens instead of flowers and probably the most famous is political philosopher Karl Maxx whose tomb is a sight.
If you want to see London from a height then the Shard should be up there in your thoughts. Some people may say it’s not worth paying the money to go up but I am here to say yes it is! You’d pay to go up the Empire State Building in New York or the CN Tour in Toronto, pretty much any city you’d pay to go up the tallest building and bask in the views, and London is no different. It’s worth booking in advance but of course, British weather can change so much you may want to chance it on the day but seeing the whole of London from that height is a sight to behold. Here’s more about why it’s worth paying to go up.
My final recommendation is somewhere I love in London and that’s the aquarium. I am a sucker for zoo’s and aquariums and usually, ones in cities aren’t all that great but the London one is incredible with so much to see and do with new exhibitions and events happening all the time. Whether you’re 3 or 63 aquariums are interesting places and I always find myself pressed up staring at the huge sharks and the mesmerizing jellyfish.