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 a double-decker bus, and take a pinch-me-I'm-in-London walk through the West End. Ogle the crown jewels at the Tower of London, gaze up at mighty Big Ben, and see the Houses of Parliament in action. Cruise the River Thames, and take a spin on the London Eye. Hobnob with poets' tombstones in Westminster Abbey, 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.
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 Fascinating 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.
▲▲ 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 Cutty Sark tea clipper, Royal Observatory, other maritime sights, and a pleasant market.
▲▲ Kew Gardens Greenhouses, an arboretum, and many gardens hosting diverse plants from around the world.
▲▲ Hampton Court Palace The opulent digs of Henry VIII.
▲▲ Wallace Collection One of the finest private family art collections anywhere — free and open to the public — with paintings by such masters as Rembrandt, Rubens, and Velázquez
▲ East End Explore the haunt of Jack the Ripper, but also happier locales such as the colorful Spitalfields, Petticoat Lane, and Truman markets, and the curry-scented streets of "Banglatown."
Kensington Palace Recently restored former home of British monarchs, with exhibits on Queen Victoria, as well as William and Mary.