London is the L.A., D.C., and N.Y.C. of Britain — a living, breathing, thriving organism...a coral reef of humanity. Blow through the city on the open deck of a double-decker orientation tour bus, and take a pinch-me-I'm-in-London walk through the West End. Ogle the crown jewels at the Tower of London, hear the chimes of Big Ben, and see the Houses of Parliament in action. Cruise the Thames River, and take a spin on the London Eye. Hobnob with poets' tombstones in Westminster Abbey, and visit with Leonardo, Botticelli, and Rembrandt in the National Gallery. Enjoy Shakespeare in a replica of the Globe theater and marvel at a glitzy, fun musical at a modern-day theater. Whisper across the dome of St. Paul's Cathedral, then rummage through our civilization's attic at the British Museum. And sip your tea with pinky raised and clotted cream dribbling down your scone.
At a Glance
▲▲▲ Westminster Abbey Britain's finest church and the site of royal coronations and burials since 1066.
▲▲▲ Churchill War Rooms Underground WWII headquarters of Churchill's war effort.
▲▲▲ National Gallery Remarkable collection of European paintings (1250–1900), including Leonardo, Botticelli, Velázquez, Rembrandt, Turner, Van Gogh, and the Impressionists.
▲▲▲ British Museum The world's greatest collection of artifacts of Western civilization, including the Rosetta Stone and the Parthenon's Elgin Marbles.
▲▲▲ British Library Impressive collection of the most important literary treasures of the Western world.
▲▲▲ St. Paul's Cathedral The main cathedral of the Anglican Church, designed by Christopher Wren, with a climbable dome and daily evensong services.
▲▲▲ Tower of London Historic castle, palace, and prison housing the crown jewels and a witty band of Beefeaters.
▲▲▲ Victoria and Albert Museum The best collection of decorative arts anywhere.
▲▲ Houses of Parliament London's Neo-Gothic landmark, famous for Big Ben and occupied by the Houses of Lords and Commons.
▲▲ Trafalgar Square The heart of London, where Westminster, The City, and the West End meet.
▲▲ National Portrait Gallery A Who's Who of British history, featuring portraits of this nation's most important historical figures.
▲▲ Covent Garden Vibrant people-watching zone with shops, cafés, street musicians, and an iron-and-glass arcade that once hosted a produce market.
▲▲ Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace Hour-long spectacle at Britain's royal residence.
▲▲ London Eye Enormous observation wheel, dominating — and offering commanding views over — London's skyline.
▲▲ Imperial War Museum Exhibits examining the military history of the bloody 20th century.
▲▲ Tate Modern Works by Monet, Matisse, Dalí, Picasso, and Warhol displayed in a converted powerhouse.
▲▲ Shakespeare's Globe Timbered, thatched-roofed reconstruction of the Bard's original "wooden O."
▲▲ Tate Britain Collection of British painting from the 16th century through modern times, including works by William Blake, the Pre-Raphaelites, and J. M. W. Turner.
▲▲ Kensington Palace Recently restored former home of British monarchs, with appealing exhibits on Queen Victoria, as well as William and Mary.
▲▲ Natural History Museum A Darwinian's delight, packed with stuffed creatures, engaging exhibits, and enthralled kids.
▲▲ Greenwich Seafaring borough just east of the city center, with visit-worthy Cutty Sark tea clipper, Royal Observatory, and other maritime sights.
▲ Courtauld Gallery Fine collection of paintings filling one wing of the Somerset House, a grand 18th-century palace.