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London is the capital of England and the United Kingdom. It’s an excellent city for shopping, dining, and culture. I’ve visited over a dozen times and find myself going back to the same places as well as constantly finding something new to explore. From amazing Indian food to watching the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace and catching a show in the West End, this city has something for everyone.
Here are five things you can’t miss on your visit.
5. The London Eye
The London Eye (or Millennium Wheel) is the tallest cantilevered observation wheel in Europe. It’s the most popular paid tourist attraction in London and attracts over three million visitors annually. When it opened in 2000, it was the highest ferris wheel in the world (it’s since been surpassed by those in Las Vegas, Singapore, and Nanchang). There are 32 air conditioned capsules and each rotation takes 30 minutes. Given how popular the ride is, it’s best to buy tickets online in advance.
Can’t Miss: Book the tickets that offer champagne for an even more special ride.
Address: Riverside Building, County Hall, London SE1 7PB, United Kingdom
4. Tea Time
Did you really visit London if you didn’t enjoy a spot of tea? The tradition started in 1840 with the Duchess of Bedford. She enjoyed some snacks with her afternoon tea and it quickly caught on. Afternoon tea in London can be a lavish and scrumptious affair with sandwiches, sweets, and even champagne served alongside your pot of steaming tea (there are countless flavors to choose from in most venues). Some of my favorites include The Wolseley (pictured above), The Ritz London, and The Savoy.
Can’t Miss: Grab a scone and load it up with jam and clotted cream. Calories be damned!
Address: The Wolseley: 160 Piccadilly, St. James’s, London W1J 9EB, United Kingdom | The Ritz London: 150 Piccadilly, St. James’s, London W1J 9BR, United Kingdom | The Savoy: Strand, London WC2R 0EZ, United Kingdom
3. The West End
London’s theater district offers Broadway-caliber productions in its 39 theaters. We’ve seen several shows including Dirty Dancing and The Book of Mormon. The oldest theater opened in 1663 and pre-pandemic (in 2018) 15.5 million theater-goers took in shows.
Can’t Miss: Looks for last-minute tickets at TKTS and a host of other sites to save some money if you’re not interested in a specific show.
Address: This district is west of the City of London and north of the River Thames
Where else can you buy a sweater, lunch, a 10,000 GBP bejeweled peacock, and an original Warhol under the same roof? The shopping mecca began in 1834 selling groceries and tea from a single room. Today, it attracts over 300,000 shoppers each day. The store is posh and is always on my list when in London (even if I rarely buy more than some chocolates or a snack from the magnificent food hall). Harrods has a dress code (no visible tattoos, nothing objectionable, and they can deem you unfit based on their discretion). Dress to impress and enjoy seeing how the 0.00001% live as you browse everything and anything imaginable gold plated and bedazzled.
Can’t Miss: Head downstairs to the food hall for some of the most amazing produce, meats, prepared foods, and sweets you will ever find.
Address: 87–135 Brompton Road Knightsbridge London SW1X 7XL
1. Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace is the royal residence and administrative headquarters for the monarchy are fun to visit (even if only from the outside). It started as Buckingham House in 1703 and grew to the palace that it is today with additions in the 19th and 20th centuries. Many of the palace’s works of art and other objects are part of the Royal Collections. These can occasionally be viewed at the Queen’s Gallery. Pre-arranged tours are available but must be booked in advance and only allow access to certain parts of the palace. The guards in front of the palace change daily in June and July. In August through May you can watch them on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays.
Can’t Miss: Try to align your visit to see the guards change. It’s a nod to tradition and a quick show.
Address: Memorial Flower Beds, Construction Hill, Spur Rd, London SW1A 1AA, United Kingdom
Come for the the history and stay for the food, theater, and energy of this great city. These are my can’t miss picks for London.
Bonus Hotel Pick: The JW Marriott Grosvenor House is my favorite hotel in London. It has the perfect location in Mayfair, extremely comfortable rooms and suites, an amazing club lounge, and some fabulous people watching. We last stayed in March 2022 and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The hotel was the former home of the Dukes of Westminster and Gloucester, but was converted into a hotel in 1929. You can’t go wrong staying here.
Address: 86-90 Park Ln, London W1K 7TN, United Kingdom
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JW Marriott Grosvenor House = Hotel for US tourists who want to overpay for mediocre rooms. There are plenty of way better chain-affiliated hotels in London… and more coming with the Park Hyatt, St. Regis etc.
I booked a great rate during the pandemic, found service to be excellent, and got an upgrade to a great suite. No complaints here. The Park Hyatt and St. Regis are definitely on my list to check out in the future.
Any list that omits The Tower Palace and Churchill War Rooms isn’t fit for print. Overpriced tea and Buckingham palace (which is rarely open to public) can be deleted
Those are great picks. I’m limited to five but those would be in my top ten along with the Tate Modern.
Yes , I have understand
I might try to replace two of the five with the Royal Air Force Museum and the National Gallery, which also benefits from Trafalgar Square in front. I don’t believe that MI-6 headquarters should be in any top 5 but it is fun to walk up to. I did not see 007 but much of the building is underground and off limits. Greenwich is also near the top, too.