Tower of London
The Tower of London can trace its roots back to the Norman conquest of 1066 when it was founded to protect London. For nearly 500 years it was used as the main accommodation of the English Royal family; since that time it has served as an armoury, a treasury, a zoo, a prison and the home of the Royal Mint.
These days it is used as a tourist attraction and receives millions of visitors a year from around the world who come to explore this old castle’s long, and often gruesome, history. The instantly recognisable Yeoman Guards (Beefeaters) are always on hand to give tours or just general information for visitors so take advantage!
For those who aren’t so interested in history you can also view the famous Crown Jewels which are priceless national treasures. Or how about staying until the evening (21:53 to be exact) to watch the ancient Ceremony of the Keys? That has taken place every night since the 1300′s.
All in all the Tower of London is a great trip for all the family and provides entertainment for the whole day. It is easily accessible via the Tower Hill tube station as well as by bus and riverboat; tickets for a fully paying adult are ?18.00 although concessions are available for families, OAPs, students and children.
Houses of Parliament
The Houses of Parliament have been the centre of the world’s first modern democracy for a thousand years. There have been many renovations on the building itself the most recent taking place in the mid-19th century after a fire destroyed most of the old building but the history remains.
These days it is still the centre of the UK government and it is not uncommon to see famous and important politicians around the building. Tours are available in several different languages and can be arranged online or by phone. Take in the splendour of the iconic new building which was designed and built when Britain was near the zenith of its imperial might. Or what about getting up close and personal with the famous Big Ben? Tours are available for UK citizens via their MP.
Easily accessible via the Westminster tube station or via numerous bus services; it is ideally located in the centre of London so there is loads to see and do nearby if you are looking for other things to do.
Now some of you are probably going to raise their eyebrows that a bar has made this list but the Porterhouse is a unique bar. Sure, it isn’t a traditional English pub but they are a dime a dozen in London – a favourite of mine is the Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese where Charles Dickens is supposed to have frequented.
The biggest bar in London, the Porterhouse is split over 12 floors each with their own character. With seating ranging from intimate and quiet corners to a loud and bustling city bar, the Porterhouse has it all. You can sample hand brewed beer that the bar has brewed itself in Dublin and imported directly to the Porterhouse Covent Garden.
But that’s not all there is regular live music in the basement bar as well as seasonal ales and lagers there is also a large menu filled with tasty and filling dishes.
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
The main site for this year’s London 1012 Olympic and Paralympic Games the Olympic park is well worth a visit. The magnificent Olympic stadium, the velodrome, the copperbox or the aquatics centre are all wonderful pieces of modern engineering.
That’s not all the park has to offer, there are numerous gardens and open spaces to relax in whilst watching the river flow past. This summer it saw well over 3 million visitors so come and see what all the fuss is about; after all for one summer London was the centre of world sport. After having a look around the park you could visit the Stratford Westfield with its mixture of high-end and high street shops; or what about grabbing a bite to eat or a pint to drink at one of the trendy restaurants and bars?
The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park can be accessed by the Stratford tube station; however, it is not going to be opened to the public until the summer of 2013.
London is a very old city and throughout its existence all kinds of gruesome and infamous goings-on have occurred. In 1974 an interactive museum of London’s gruesome history was opened near London Bridge to general acclaim. So if you like a good scare then a trip to the dungeons is probably right up your street.
Explore the Black Death, Great Fire of London and the torture chamber in grisly detail, or what about the famous Jack the Ripper exhibition? London’s most famous unsolved crime is explained and shown through role-playing actors and gory exhibits. This is probably somewhere to visit before lunch.
Once again the dungeons are easily accessible via London Bridge tube station and various other modes of public transport. Booking in advance is advisable and prices start from ?24.00 although generally savings can be made by booking online. Remember that anyone under the age of 16 must be accompanied by someone older than 16 and it is unadvised to bring young children.
The British Museum
Looking to kill a few hours on the cheap? Then I would definitely recommend the incredible British Museum; although be warned that those few hours may turn into a day. Founded in 1753 in the private collection of a British scientist the museum was opened to the public six years later and has been ever since.
These days the museum is home to a staggering 8 million objects and is the 3rd most visited museum in the world. You’re probably thinking that it will cost you an arm and a leg to get into somewhere as remarkable as this, well actually it’s free. Home to the world famous Rosetta stone, the controversial Elgin marbles and the 1.8 million year old Olduvai Stone chopping tool there is something for everyone from pretty much any culture you can think of.
Set in a stunning 18th century house you’ll find yourself wandering the endless rooms for hours at a time. The museum is easily accessible via Tottenham court Road, Holborn and Russell Square tube stations.
Josh writes for No.1 Traveller a luxury travel company who run Heathrow Airport lounges as well as ones at Gatwick, Stansted and Birmingham airports.