Search a hotel
Guest login
Booking guide
Hotel login
Info for hotels

The Great London Attractions

Below are the main tourist attractions of London:

Tate Gallery of Modern Art
Tate Britain
Westminster Abbey
Covent Garden
Trafalgar Square
Buckingham Palace
Tower of London
St Paul's Cathedral
British Museum
Houses of Parliament & Big Ben
Victoria & Albert Museum
British Airways London Eye


Tate Gallery of Modern Art

A new attraction, opened in 2000, is the Tate Modern. This £130-million project is a model of urban regeneration with the disused Bankside power station transformed into an avant-garde space dedicated to 20th-century art. The permanent exhibition contains much of the Tate Gallery's collection of modern work, displayed thematically rather than chronologically. This includes major works by Matisse, Picasso, Rothko and Warhol, as well as contemporary pieces.

The Bankside area itself is becoming one of the most exciting corners of the capital. The new £14-million Millennium Bridge is the first new River Thames crossing in London for more than a century. Designed by Lord Foster, it provides a pedestrian link from St Paul's Cathedral to the Tate Modern. However, it has been plagued by safety problems since its opening in spring 2000, and these have led to its temporary closure.

Bankside's cultural regeneration harks back to the area's Golden Age as the centre of the Elizabethan theatre scene. Shakespeare's plays were originally performed at the Globe Theatre here and can now be seen at the beautifully reconstructed Globe Theatre & Exhibition (tel: (020) 7902 1400; website: www.shakespeares-globe.org). Other attractions in the area include Vinopolis, Bankside (tel: (0870) 444 4777), an interactive celebration of wine, and the Golden Hinde (tel: (020) 7403 0123), a replica of Sir Francis Drake's flagship, moored at St Mary Overie Dock. Southwark Cathedral (tel: (020) 7407 3708) lies on the edge of the nearby Borough Market.

Bankside, SE1
Tel: (020) 7887 8000.
E-mail: [email protected]
Website: www.tate.org.uk
Transport: Underground Southwark or Blackfriars.
Opening hours: Sun-Thurs 1000-1800, Fri and Sat 1000-2200.
Admission: Free (donations welcome).


Tate Britain

The Gallery of Modern British Art opened in 1897, around the collection of sugar merchant Henry Tate, and now holds an unrivalled collection of English paintings from the 16th to the 19th centuries. All 20th-century art has moved to the newly opened Tate Modern (see above). The magnificent Turner Bequest is housed in the purpose-built Clore Gallery.

Millbank, SW1
Tel: (020) 7887 8725. Fax: (020) 7887 8788.
Website: www.tate.org.uk
Transport: Underground Pimlico.
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 1000-1750 and Sun 1400-1750.
Admission: Free (except for temporary exhibitions).


Westminster Abbey

Across Parliament Square is Westminster Abbey - a magnificent Gothic structure where innumerable members of the British royal family have been christened, married, crowned and interred. Consecrated in the 11th century, under Edward the Confessor, it was rebuilt over the next four centuries in Gothic style. Highlights include Henry VII's Chapel, Poet's Corner and the Coronation Chair.

Parliament Square, SW1
Tel: (020) 7222 7110. Fax: (020) 7233 2072.
Website: www.westminster-abbey.org
Transport: Underground Westminster.
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 0930-1545 and Sat 0930-1345 (sightseeing); all day Sun (religious services only).
Admission: £6, concessions available; £5 (pre-booked groups); services free.


Covent Garden

Once a vegetable field attached to Westminster Abbey, Covent Garden became the low-life haunt of Pepys, Fielding and Boswell, then a major fruit and veg market, and is now a triumph of conservation and commerce. The car-free piazza is surrounded by designer gift and clothes shops, hip bars and restaurants. Stalls selling overpriced antiques and bric-a-brac share the arcaded piazza with street theatre, buskers and people-watchers.


Trafalgar Square

Admiral Nelson lords it over the traffic on Trafalgar Square. He may soon lose his famous pigeon companions if Ken Livingstone has his way - the London Mayor is keen to get rid of what he sees as an out-of-control nuisance. On the north side is one of the world's greatest galleries, the National Gallery, which houses an incredible collection of Western paintings from the 13th to the early 20th century, as well as frequent special exhibitions. Free admission.

Nearby, at 2 St Martin's Place WC2, the National Portrait Gallery displays the country's famous, infamous and forgotten in the media of oil, watercolour, marble and photography. In May 2000, the Queen officially opened the new Ondaatje Wing (which includes a lecture theatre and restaurant) as part of a wider project to make the gallery more spacious and the art more enjoyable and accessible.

Opposite the gallery is the beautiful 18th-century neo-classical church, St Martin-in-the-Fields, which hosts regular concerts and has a café in the crypt.

Trafalgar Square, WC2
Transport: Underground Charing Cross or Leicester Square.

National Gallery
Tel: (020) 7747 2885.
Website: www.nationalgallery.org.uk
Opening hours: Thurs-Tues 1000-1800, Wed 1000-2100.
Admission: Free.

National Portrait Gallery
Tel: (020) 7306 0055.
Website: www.npg.org.uk
Opening hours: Sun-Wed and Sat 1000-1800, Thurs-Fri 1000-2100.
Admission: Free.

St Martin-in-the-Fields
Tel: (020) 7766 1100 or 7839 4342.
Opening hours: Mon-Wed 1000-2000, Thurs-Sat 1000-2300, Sun 1200-2000.
Admission: Free.


Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace may charge exorbitant entry fees but, as the London home of the Queen, it draws millions of tourists each year. They flock to witness royal pageantry dating back centuries at the Changing of the Guard ceremony at 1130 daily from April to July (alternate days at other times of the year), and for the rare chance to see inside a royal residence. The building, by John Nash and Edward Blore, was built in the 19th century around the shell of Buckingham House. The rather drab façade was added in 1913. The State Rooms of the palace, including the Throne Room and the Picture Gallery, are only open to the public in summer.


Buckingham Palace Road, SW1
Tel: (020) 7321 2233. Fax: (020) 7930 9625.
Website: www.royal.gov.uk/output/page555.asp
Transport: Underground Green Park, Victoria or Hyde Park Corner.
Opening hours: Daily 0930-1615 (6 Aug-3 Oct only).
Admission: £10.50, concessions available.


Tower of London

The infamous royal fortress on Tower Hill, the Tower of London, was begun in 1078 by William the Conqueror and remained a royal residence until the mid-16th century. Today, it houses the priceless Crown Jewels and the Royal Armouries. The history of the tower is a catalogue of intrigue and bloodshed - key historical figures, including members of the royal family, were imprisoned, tortured and/or executed here. There are hour-long tours of the main sights.

Meanwhile, the nearby Tower Bridge -a prime example of Victorian architecture and engineering - spans the River Thames. Hydraulic machinery, hidden in twin neo-Gothic towers, lifts the central section to allow ships in and out of the Pool of London. Visitors can learn about the bridge in the Tower Bridge Experience or enjoy the excellent views towards Canary Wharf and the City of London. On the northeast side, the harbour at St Katharine's Dock marks the beginning of the London Docklands, while the warehouses to the south house the stylish Design Museum.

Tower Hill, EC3
Transport: Underground Tower Hill.

Tower of London
Tel: (020) 7709 0765.
Website: www.tower-of-london.com
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 0900-1700 and Sun 1000-1700.
Admission: £11.

Tower Bridge
Tel: (020) 7403 3761.
Website: www.towerbridge.org.uk
Opening hours: Daily 1000-1830.
Admission: £8.30, concessions available.

Design Museum
Tel: (020) 7403 6933.
Website: www.designmuseum.org
Opening hours: Daily 1000-1745.
Admission: £5.50, concessions available.


St Paul's Cathedral

The dome of Sir Christopher Wren's masterpiece is the third largest in the world and one of the most distinctive features of the London skyline. The present building was completed in 1710, on the site of an even larger medieval cathedral that was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666. The Whispering Gallery, named for its incredible acoustics, offers a close-up of the frescoes of the life of St Paul that decorate the interior of the dome. Higher up, there are magnificent views across the City of London. Guided tours are available Monday to Saturday. The main religious services are held 1030 and 1130 on Sunday.

Paternoster Square, EC4
Tel: (020) 7236 4128 or 7246 8348 (information line). Fax: (020) 7248 3104.
Website: www.stpauls.co.uk
Transport: Underground St Paul's.
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 0715-1800 and Sun 0745-1700 (worship); Mon-Sat 0830-1600,
galleries from 0930 (sightseeing). Sightseeing is restricted on Sun and religious holidays. Admission: £5 (cathedral); £4 (galleries); concessions available.


British Museum

After the completion of a lengthy refurbishment programme - the centrepiece of which being the construction of Lord Foster's ambitious glass-roofed Great Court - the British Museum is back in place as one of the world's finest museums. Visitors to the British Museum must contend with a mind-boggling six million artefacts plucked (or plundered) by collectors from all corners of the globe. The awesome scale of the museum means it is essential to select just a few of the 94 galleries for close attention. Highlights include the Rosetta Stone, a copy of the Magna Carta and the controversial Elgin Marbles (taken from the Parthenon in Athens), which Greece want back before the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. A new British Museum souvenir shop next to the museum opened in 2000.

Great Russell Street, WC1
Tel: (020) 7636 1555. Fax: (020) 7323 8616.
Website: www.thebritishmuseum.ac.uk
Transport: Underground Russell Square.
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 1000-1700 and Sun 1200-1800.
Admission: Free.


Houses of Parliament & Big Ben

The awesome neo-Gothic brilliance of the Houses of Parliament has been restored thanks to a recent spring clean of the facade. The building includes the House of Commons and the House of Lords, so the grandeur of the exterior is let down only by the level of debate in the interior ('hear, hear'). There's restricted access to the chambers when they're in session, but a visit around 6pm will avoid the worst of the crowds. Check the time on the most recognisable face in the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben.

Nearby, Downing St, the official residence of the prime minister (no 10) and the chancellor of the exchequer (no 11), has been guarded by an imposing iron gate since the security forces realised that the lone iconic bobby outside Maggie's door was not sufficient to stop the IRA mortar bomb attack in 1989.

Parliament Square, SW1
Tel: (020) 7219 4272. Fax: (020) 7219 5839.
Website: www.parliament.uk
Transport: Underground Westminster.
Admission: Free; official guide £25.


Victoria & Albert Museum

The Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A) is one of three major museums in South Kensington - the others being the Natural History Museum (tel: (020) 7942 5000; website: www.nhm.ac.uk) and the Science Museum (tel: (020) 7942 4000; website: www.nmsi.ac.uk). Founded in the 19th century as a museum of the decorative arts, the V&A's 11km (seven miles) of corridors trace a path through paintings, jewellery, furniture and textiles dating from 3000BC to the present day. Highlights include the Raphael Cartoons, the sculpture court and the collection of vintage costumes. The V&A opened 15 new 'British Galleries' in November 2001.

Cromwell Road, SW7
Tel: (020) 7942 2000.
Website: www.vam.ac.uk
Transport: Underground South Kensington.
Opening hours: Daily 1000-1745, plus Wed 1830-2130 (seasonal Late View).
Admission: V&A, Natural History and Science museums are all free.


British Airways London Eye

Towering 135m (444ft) into the heavens, right in the heart of London, the BA London Eye is literally an unmissable attraction. The initial engineering problems have long been forgotten and the world's tallest observation wheel has emerged as one of the city's most popular attractions. Its unparalleled views of the city, which are particularly impressive in the evening, reach as far away as 40km (25 miles). The experience is one revolution of the wheel, lasting approximately 30 minutes.

Jubilee Gardens, South Bank, SE1
Tel: (0870) 500 0600 (booking line).
Website: www.ba-londoneye.com
Transport: Underground Waterloo or Charing Cross.
Opening hours: Daily 0930-1800.
Admission: £9.50

 

Home   Affiliates   Hotel login   Add your hotel   About us   Contact us   Privacy policy

2020 – About London Hotels