London Drum

Top 10 Most Famous London Landmarks You Must-See

A list of the ten best landmarks that every tourist should visit on their holiday to London

1 Big Ben and Parliament

Houses of ParliamentPhoto: Craig Cross
Opening times?
The public can usually attend debates from Mon-Fri, and take tours on Sat and Mon-Sun during Aug/Sep
Time required?
A typical visit takes 1½-2 hours

Big Ben is the London’s equivalent of the Eiffel Tower, Statue of Liberty and Coliseum in Rome… if you grab yourself a selfie standing under it then everyone will immediately know where you’ve been.

And can you think of a more spectacular government building than the Houses of Parliament?

And if you think the outside is impressive then just wait until you get inside – the rooms wouldn’t look out of place in a palace! Because technically that’s exactly what it is: a Royal palace. It’s proper name is the Palace of Westminster, and some of the rooms are designed to parade the monarch into the House of Lords.

Most tourists are happy to take a photo of the outside and move on, but we definitely recommend trying a Saturday tour. If you don’t want to spend any money then you can watch MPs debating in the House of Commons for free. You can even get yourself a free ticket to Prime Minister’s Questions.

2 Tower Bridge

Tower BridgePhoto: Craig Cross
Opening times?
9.30 AM to 6 PM (Mon-Sun); Last entry 1 hour before closing
Adults £11.40; Children £5.70 (5-15); Infants free (under-5); Family ticket £19.38
Time required?
A typical visit takes 45-60 mins

Tower Bridge is a mock-gothic building that was actually constructed in the 19th-century. It might look medieval, but under that stone cladding are steel struts. You’d never know that by standing on the riverbank, though – it’s one of London’s most theatrical pieces of Victorian architecture.

We always recommend skipping the exhibition inside because it’s just a few movies and a look at the old engines, but you might want to go inside for the view at the top. They’ve installed a strip of glass floor up there now, so if you’re feeling brave you can walk across and see the thundering buses and lorries under your feet.

If you want to get the best photo then try and visit when the drawbridge is open.

3 St. Paul’s Cathedral

St. Paul’s CathedralPhoto: Craig Cross
Opening times?
8.30 AM to 4.30 PM (Mon-Tue, Thu-Sat); 10 AM to 4.30 PM (Wed); Last entry 30 mins before closing; Note: On Sundays the cathedral is only open for worship
Adults £18.00; Children £7.70 (6-17); Infants free (under-6); Family ticket £43.70
Time required?
A typical visit takes 2-2½ hours

Big Ben might be London’s most famous landmark, but St. Paul’s Cathedral is definitely the most beautiful. And just think… if it wasn’t for the Great Fire of London then we never would have had it, because it was built by Christopher Wren after everything else had been burned to the ground.

There are lots of interesting things to see inside, like the tombs of Nelson and Wellington in the crypt, but you’ll get the biggest thrill from climbing up the domes. The first 257 steps will take you up to the Whispering Gallery, which got its name from a bizarre acoustic effect which lets you hear what people are saying on the other side of the dome. The next steps are a bit harder to climb (and a bit scarier too!), but will give you a great view of the skyline outside.

We also recommend the Choral Evensong service.

4 Tower of London

Tower of LondonPhoto: Craig Cross
Opening times?
9 AM to 5.30 PM (Mon-Sun, Jun-mid Sep); 10 AM to 5.30 PM (Mon & Sun, mid Sep-Oct); 9 AM to 5.30 PM (Tue-Sat, mid Sep-Oct); Last entry 1 hour before closing
Adults £32.90; Children £16.40 (5-15); Infants free (under-5); Family ticket £90.40
Time required?
A typical visit takes 3-4 hours

So Big Ben is the most famous landmark, St. Paul’s is the most beautiful… and the Tower of London is the most historic. Parts of this World Heritage Site are an incredible 1,000 years old.

Everyone has heard of Traitor’s Gate and the Bloody Tower – that’s where Richard III had the two little princes smothered in their beds. And what about Tower Green? That’s where Henry VIII executed his troublesome wives. Another popular place to visit is Waterloo Barracks where they keep the Crown Jewels.

We definitely recommend joining one of the Yeoman Warder tours because you’ll get led around by one of the Beefeaters. And if you’re very organised and plan your holiday six months in advance then try and get hold of a free ticket for Ceremony of the Keys.

Craig has also written a review of the Twilight Tour and Sunday service in the Chapel Royal.

5 No.10 Downing Street

Downing StreetPhoto: Craig Cross
Opening times?
Closed to the public
Time required?
A typical visit takes 10 mins

They don’t allow tourists to walk down the actual street anymore (it’s been blocked off by a steel gate), but it’s still worth standing outside Downing Street.

What you need to do is peer over the shoulders of the big burly policemen and look for a black door halfway down the street with a lamplight hanging over the top – that’s No.10, the official home of the British Prime Minister. If you’re lucky you might see a fleet of black cars driving out with the PM inside.

6 Buckingham Palace

Buckingham PalacePhoto: Craig Cross
Opening times?
The State Rooms are usually open from the mid-Jul to Sep
Time required?
A typical visit takes 2-2½ hours

Windsor Castle might be the Queen’s favourite home, but Buckingham Palace is the one that every tourist wants to see. They stand outside the railings and stare up at the famous balcony, then take a photo of the soldiers marching back and forth during the famous Changing the Guard ceremony.

Tourists can only go inside during the Summer Opening (Aug-Sep), where you’ll get to see the Throne Room and big Ballroom and then sit on the garden veranda sipping a cup of Earl Grey tea.

7 London Eye

London EyePhoto: Craig Cross
Opening times?
11 AM to 6 PM (Mon-Sun)
Adults £36.00; Children £32.50 (3-15); Infants free (under-3)
Time required?
A typical visit takes 30-50 mins for the queue, plus 30 mins for the ride

London Eye is the newest building on this list, but it very quickly became one of our most popular landmarks.

As one of the largest observation wheels in the world, it gives visitors a 360 degree view of the skyline for up to 25 miles. You get a great view of Big Ben and Parliament (maybe the best view of them from anywhere in London), and a distant view of Buckingham Palace nestled behind the trees of St. James’s Park.

8 Nelson’s Column

Nelson’s ColumnPhoto: Craig Cross
Time required?
A typical visit takes 5 mins

Nelson’s Column commemorates the life of Admiral Nelson – the naval hero who ruined Napoleon’s invasion plans by beating his fleet at the Battle of Trafalgar. Unfortunately he also got shot at the moment of victory, hence this landmark in the centre of the city.

Whilst you’re standing in Trafalgar Square you might like to visit the National Gallery on the northern edge, or walk through Admiralty Arch and up the Mall towards Buckingham Palace. Downing Street and the Houses of Parliament are only a short walk down Whitehall.

9 Westminster Abbey

Westminster AbbeyPhoto: Craig Cross
Opening times?
9.30 AM to 4.30 PM (Mon-Sat); Only open for services (Sun); Last entry 1 hour before closing
Adults £25.00; Children £11.00 (6-17); Infants free (under-6); Family ticket £25.00
Time required?
A typical visit takes 2 hours

Westminster Abbey probably deserves a much higher place in our list for its historical significance, but if you show a tourist a photo of the Abbey then they might not recognise it – not as easily as they would with Big Ben and Tower Bridge. So that’s why it only made No.9.

This is where you’ll find the tomb of Edward the Confessor, our only Royal saint, and Henry V, the victor at Agincourt. Or how about Edward III, the original chivalrous knight? Or Elizabeth I, the queen who defeated the Spanish Armada?

We also recommend attending an Evensong service.

10 Piccadilly Circus

Piccadilly CircusPhoto: Craig Cross
Time required?
A typical visit takes 10 mins

The final spot on our list goes to Piccadilly Circus, or, more specifically, the lighted advertising signs around it. If you return to this area at nighttime then you’ll get one of the best photos of London.

The Eros fountain is a popular meeting spot for tourists. They stand on the side and ask a passerby to take a photo of them in front of the neon lights.

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