London is a huge metropolis that is filled with things to do. Actually, that might be an understatement. The sheer diversity of London’s attractions makes it one of Europe’s best urban destinations. Tourists can create their own themed itinerary or sample some of everything. The iconic images of England’s past (Big Ben and Buckingham Palace, for example) are still here, as are newer features like the London Eye and the attractions created especially for the London Summer Olympics. The only problem for London visitors is deciding where to start and what to leave off their itinerary. There is simply too much in this city to experience everything in a single vacation.
What are some of the best activities for tourists in London?
Ride the London Eye
The London Eye is a relatively new attraction (at least compared to the timeless sites like Big Ben and Buckingham Palace). It is one of the world’s largest observation wheels and offers amazing views of the entire London skyline. This is one of the most popular (crowded) attractions in London, but you can speed up the process by buying tickets online in advance. The ride takes a leisurely 30 minutes, giving riders time to enjoy the birds-eye view from the South Bank of the Thames.
Visit London’s Theaters
London is a great theater city, with the West End having one of the highest concentrations of theaters in the entire world. Small stages host local productions and first-run plays, while musicals and classic pieces of drama are also on the docket. Time Out London has updated information about what’s playing when. The South Bank area also has a high concentration of theaters, including a replica of Shakespeare’s Globe Theater. Other performance spaces are scattered around the city. These outlying stages are usually known as Fringe theaters, though they host a variety of offbeat and mainstream-style productions.
Tour London’s Museums
London has some of the world’s most famous museums. It rivals places like Rome, Paris and New York in terms of the overall quality of its exhibit halls. Art and history lovers will find an amazing array of works in the National Gallery and the famous Tate Modern. The Natural History Museum and an array of museums related to England’s long history are also on the menu. In all, there are well over 200 exhibit spaces scattered around the London metro.
Witness the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace
Perhaps one of the most recognizable images of London are the Queen’s Guards, who are known worldwide because of their red uniforms and oversized black hats. The changing of the guard, when the current guards are relieved by a new detachment, takes place daily. The process, which includes stylized marching and a lots of tradition and ceremony, is viewed by many camera-toting domestic and international tourists.
Walking Tours of London
Despite its stereotypically dreary weather, London is a great city to explore on foot. The city’s rich history and timeless sense of culture come alive for people who take one of the many walking tours offered around the city. These tours have both broad and narrow themes. For example, a company called Urban Adventures offers stroll around the streets of different sections of the famous city, while London Walks has themed jaunts that seek to uncover the cultural and historic aspects of London. There are even walks that follow the trail of the first famous serial killer, Jack the Ripper, or pass by the sites that were made famous by writer William Shakespeare.
Ride London’s Buses
London has a world-class bus network. When combined with the famous Underground, it is easy to get to any street in any neighborhood of the city. A stored value card called the Oyster Card can make it worthwhile to see the city by bus. The card can be loaded with a variety of fare options, including a one day and weeklong unlimited ride pass. Traveling by bus allows visitors to see the city for cheap, and since the buses go virtually everywhere (there are 700 routes throughout London), making your own sightseeing tour is quite easy. Also, most of the buses are still those iconic red double deckers that have always been associated with London. So tourists can combine the experience of riding this unique style of vehicle while also taking in the city’s sights.