What Is Fun Near London
For Retail Therapy
London has many shopping districts, each distinct from each other. From the famous department store Harrods to luxury shopping in Mayfair to picking up quirky artifacts at Covent Garden - there’s something for every shopper.
Of Harrods fame, Knightsbridge is where people generally go to see the latest fashion fads and pick up trendy upscale labels, and also features many world-class big-name designers in Sloane Street.
The bustling Oxford Street is the heart of London shopping and witnesses over 200 mn visitors a year shopping for a range of tastes and budgets. Flagship stores like Debenhams and Selfridges that have been operational since 1909 drag in the crowds along with other favorites including Zara and Mango.
Bond Street Bond Street and Mayfair are the shopping grounds for the rich and wealthy in London. Lined with names like Burberry, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co., this is where the luxury retail therapy is - even for the celebs.
If not for actually shopping, Regent Street is probably the best place to stroll around thanks to the very elegant architecture (shops have to follow strict building regulations and blend in). Regent Street and the parallel Saville Row cater to expensive tastes and mid-priced fashion seekers, and is also popularly home to the world’s best toy store- Hamley’s.
The Swinging 60s and the cultural revolution was born here, beneath that iconic arch. The extremely elegant Carnaby Street has more than 140 brands and over 70 bars and restaurants, making it well worth a day’s visit.
The King’s Road
Quaint cafes, beautiful boutiques, independent labels, and designer stores not only define the high-street fashion of King’s Road, it inspires it. Often frequented by celebrities, it is a great place to enjoy a good day surrounded by unique small boutiques and popular fashion labels.
It goes without saying, whether you’re a fan of shopping or not, that you must visit Covent Garden to experience its festive atmosphere. Covent Garden is home to many big and small stores, including its flagship Apple Store located inside a beautifully restored building. Pickup handmade jewelry, streetwear and fun cosmetics at this quirky market.
For History Buffs
Where do we even begin? It goes without saying that London is steeped in history with countless number of beautiful buildings of historic significance.
Here’s a list of some of the artifacts from around the world that you will see in this iconic museum: the Parthenon Sculptures (Elgin Marbles), the Rosetta Stone, the statue of Ramesses II, colossal statues from the Mausoleum at Halikarnassos, and much much more. A day probably is not enough to cover this massive museum, which is absolutely a must visit.
Tower of London
Beautiful and must-visit doesn’t even begin to describe the 20-tower are of Tower of London that is a city in itself. The Crown Jewels are the focal point and the White Tower must be visited. Allow 4 hours to complete the visit and jump the lines by buying an online ticket in advance.
The Buckingham Palace is open to public only in August and September when the Queen is in Scotland and if that is a reason to plan your visit, then the 19 State Rooms, The Grand Hall, the Grand Staircase and Guard Room are all well worth it. But even if you can’t make it at this time of year, you can marvel at the splendid architecture behind the tall gates or catch the Changing the Guard at 11:30AM daily, May till July and alternate days for the rest of the year.
The wedding venue of Prince William and Kate Middleton dates back to the 1200s and has hosted 16 royal weddings, and around 38 coronations. The current building is relatively new, considering there has always been an abbey here, since the 7th century. Arrive early and expect a wait to tour the abbey - it is one of the most popular tourist destinations of the world.
Part of the quintessential London traveler checklist, London’s clock tower, Big Ben is one of the world’s most famous landmarks. The recognizable bong of its 13-ton bell will be silent for 3 years starting in 2016 for construction but the clock tower will still attract the flurry of onlookers waiting to clock a photo of this iconic structure.
For Architecture & Local Sightseeing
There’s an endless number of sights to see in London and many architectural marvels - some new and some that are centuries old.
Hyde Park is wonderful for strolling, swimming, cycling, boating, horse-riding, or just sitting by the Serpentine Lake and relaxing. The 350-acre Hyde Park is a Royal Park - lands that are part of the hereditary possessions of The Crown and were originally owned by the UK monarchy for recreation of the royal family.
Perhaps London’s most recognized landmarks apart from the Big Ben, the very magnificent, Victorian looking Tower Bridge was built in 1894 and is famous for its bascules or the moveable roads that open up when large ships need to pass through. You can opt for a Tower Bridge Exhibition to learn about how it works or check their website for timings on when the bascules open. Tower Bridge is not be confused with London Bridge by the way - very different bridges! The Tower Bridge is the iconic, castle like bridge that you most probably have seen everywhere. London Bridge, on the other hand is a simpler bridge with very few architectural designs. London Bridge is the oldest crossing over River Thames and has existed in some form for around 2,000 years. The current bridge is in fact one of the more modern bridges in London.
St. Paul’s Cathedral
St. Paul’s Cathedral is a stunning masterpiece by Sir Christopher Wren that must really be seen to be believed. Step inside the gorgeous structure that took 35 years to complete and you will be awed by an intricately decorated golden ceiling beneath the dome, that inspired the design for the U.S. Capitol. Guided tours are free, and tours of the Triforium (upper galleries) can be taken in groups at a small charge but needs to be booked a week in advance.
The London Eye was constructed to mark the start of a new millennium and it has since become an integral part of the London skyline. A 25-minute ride on the world’s largest Ferris wheel is surprisingly smooth and is one of the best experiences, as you can see some of London’s (and the world’s) best attractions, up to 25 miles on a clear day. Take it up a notch by going in for a London Eye Private Champagne Tasting Capsule.
Houses of Parliament
Otherwise known as The Palace of Westminster, this is the heart of British politics, where the House of Commons and House of Lords (the two house of the UK parliament) meet. The original ‘Old Palace’, seat of the English power was destroyed in a fire in 1834 (the complex was first established in the 11th century by Edward the Confessor) and the current ‘New Palace’ was built in its place in the mid-19th century. The complex is best viewed from the south bank, across Lambeth Bridge, at night when it is lit green and gold.
For The Art Lover
It’s not all history and museums and grand architecture in London. Contemporary British art is alive and thriving in the capital city.
The Royal Academy
One of the last free art schools in Europe, The Royal Academy is home to some of the best artworks in the world - from contemporary artists like Ai Weiwei to the legendary da Vinci.
White Cube, Shoreditch
Contemporary art lovers will enjoy a visit to White Cube Gallery in Mason’s Yard. With a range of beautiful works by contemporary artists like Damien Hirst and Marc Quinn, and thought-provoking shows, White Cube can well be called one London’s best contemporary art galleries.
Lisson Gallery, Marylebone
Pioneering the Minimalism and Conceptual Art in London, Lisson Gallery was founded as an artist’s exhibition space in 1967. Exhibitions are more academic and intelligent in nature, and subtle in portrayal.
Victoria Miro, Hackney
Victoria Miro Gallery is a secluded oasis away from the busy crowds of London, located inside a converted Victorian furniture factory with a beautifully landscaped garden up front. The gallery encourages innovative emerging talents and also exhibits art work by artists like Grayson Perry.