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Places to go in London for every visitor

Places to go in London for every visitor

With thousands of years’ of history, a royal heritage and thriving multinational culture, there are many great places to go in London.

I grew up in London and adore it. It’s my favourite city in the world (I usually discount it as ‘home’, but if I were to include it on my list, it would come top).

So I’m really excited to be starting this new series of guides to the best places in the world with London.

England’s capital will keep visitors busy for days. So much so, one trip will never allow you enough time to see it all, least of all get a feel for everything that makes London one of the best cities in the world.

So where to begin?

This guide to London’s best attractions is sectioned into our favourite destinations to visit in London by interest; and for those still planning a visit to the city, we highlight some of London’s best hotels.

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Places to go in London for luxury

London loves luxury. It’s a world capital that has become synonymous with luxury experiences and upscale hotels.

Those looking for luxury in London can take their pick of 64 Michelin-star restaurants, including Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester, The Ivy, two branches each of Hakkasan and Nobu, and fab little brasseries.

Places to go in London for luxury - The Ivy Restaurant

If you enjoy the spa, you’ll find a place to relax even in the heart of the city – most of London’s five-star hotels have spas, but if you prefer independents don’t miss Eve Lom, in Spanish Place, W1.

Places to go in London for luxury - shopping on Old Bond Street

If shopping is  your bag, you’ll find bespoke tailoring in Saville Row, London’s luxury labels in Bond Street and Sloane Street, while trendsetters hit the King’s Road.

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History and heritage

One reason thousands visit London each year is to experience its history and heritage. And there are many places to visit in London to discover its past. The Tower of London is one historical star with more than 1,000 years’ history, which has seen it act as a palace, a prison and place of execution, arsenal, jewel house (its home to the Crown Jewels) and zoo.

Places to go in London - the Tower of London viewed from the River Thames

Buckingham Palace is a must visit for anyone intrigued by the Queen and royal life. The Queen’s London residence opens its doors to visitors each summer from late July to the end of September – check the Royal Collection website for details.

For hundreds of years Britain’s government has debated and passed laws at the Houses of Parliament. Also known as the Palace of Westminster, it contains two chambers – the green-seated House of Commons and the House of Lords distinguished by red leather seats.

Elizabeth Tower, more commonly known as Big Ben, is the more than 150-year-old clock that towers above the Palace of Westminster. They make for an unmissable photo opportunity. UK and overseas visitors can attend debates in the House of Commons, but tours of Elizabeth Tower are restricted to UK residents.

Tower Bridge, one of the best places to go in London | pic: Anirudh Koul

Also don’t miss other historic sights like Kensington Palace, Tower Bridge, St Paul’s Cathedral, and Trafalgar Square for Nelson’s Column and Admiralty Arch.

The best destinations in London for shoppers

It may be a cliché but few visitors can leave London without a trip to the world-famous Harrods. This grand department store built in 1849, is recognised for its over-the-top grandeur and luxury merchandise.

Places to go in London - Harrods

Oxford Street is well-trodden but can’t be beaten for having all the big chain stores in one place. Nearby Carnaby Street found fame in the 1960s with bands such as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, cementing its reputation as the coolest place in London. Today it has a thriving cluster of boutiques, some specialising in vintage clothing and 1960s memorabilia.

Westfield Stratford has cornered the market in London shopping malls fighting off competition from stalwart Brent Cross and even the original Westfield London. With a good mix of designer labels, department and chain stores, and independent boutiques it’s worth heading east for.

Markets too are great London places to add to your list. Visit Covent Garden, Portobello Road, Spitalfields, and Camden to find some of the city’s coolest and best buys.

Places to go in London - Spitalfields Market has a great selection of stalls and shops

For families

There are so many great family attractions in London it’s difficult to know where to begin. To start with something educational, the Science Museum is an inspiring place of discovery. It has just about everything on how the universe works.

Discovering planet Earth at the Science Museum - one of the best places to go in London for families

The V&A Musuem of Childhood isn’t only one of the top museums in London for kids but it’s fabulous for adults seeking a trip down Memory Lane. The museum has activity stations with Lego and board games, plus collections of rag dolls, teddy bears and dolls’ houses dating from the 1600s.

Discover Children’s Story Centre, in Stratford, is an exciting adventure story experience for children aged 0-11. A magical place where stories come to life through role-playing, it’s not to be missed.

Hamleys may be a toy shop but it’s also one of the most fun venues in London for children, with toys that can be played with throughout the store.

Places to go in London for families - make your own Lego royal family at Hamleys

Explore the weird and wonderful at Ripley’s Believe It or Not! with more than 700 artefacts celebrating the beautiful and the bizarre. Exhibits include a life-sized knitted Ferrari, eight-foot Transformer, and a mirror maze.

London attractions for culture vultures

London is one of the world’s great centres for entertainment with more than 65 theatres and a thriving Theatreland with some of the best shows and musical productions in the world. A night at the theatre is not to be missed (tip: get discount tickets to shows at the TKTS booth in Leicester Square).

For high brow entertainment head to the London Coliseum, Royal Opera House and the Royal Ballet, or Sadler’s Wells Theatre for classical and modern productions.

Places to go in London, Natural History Museum

If you’re looking for attractions to visit in London for culture you’ll be well served by museums and galleries too. The Museum of London helps visitors get to grips with secrets of the metropolis, while the likes of the British Museum, the V&A and the Natural History Museum are home to a host of fascinating artefacts.

British Museum is one of the most exciting places to go in London for culture vultures

There’s something for every art lover in London’s galleries. Post modernists are well served at Tate Modern, fans of impressionist art at the National Gallery or the Courtauld Institute, and you can see works from 1500 to the modern day at Tate Britain.

Destination London for foodies

Beigels ready for filling at Beigel Bakery - a great place to go in London for foodiesLondon is a foodie paradise. It’s not just traditional foods that are good here. In fact, that’s just the point – traditional London foods are as varied as the people who live in the city.

So expect to find curries as good as those in Dehli, beigels better than in Tel Aviv, and Chinese food that gives Beijing a run for its money, in every corner of London.

There are of course very many fine dining eateries and Michelin-starred restaurants so you’ll never be challenged to find a good restaurant.

London is also big on foodie events like the Urban Food Festival and tempting Chocolate Festival.

If you’re self-catering don’t miss Borough Market for the tastiest farm-fresh produce and exciting imports.

Borough Market is one of the best places to go in London for foodies


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For a breath of fresh air

London is a busy city, but head to one of its seven Royal Parks and you’ll find a peaceful green corner. Green Park, Hyde Park, Regents Park, St James’s Park, Kensington Gardens, Bushy Park, Greenwich Park and Richmond Park each offer something different. From the rose gardens of Regent’s Park to the red deer of Richmond.

Yes, we have wild red deer in London - making Richmond Park one of the best places to go in London

The final Royal Park is unusual – Brompton Cemetery has been featured in films such as GoldenEye, and has historic monuments, wildlife, and incredible stories of the remarkable people buried there.

Kew Gardens, is a little out-of-town, but worth the trip to discover plants from around the world and take the treetop walk.

Places to go in London - Kew Gardens' tree top walk

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Places to stay in London

Bedroom at Ham Yard Hotel - discover the best places to go in London while enjoying one of the most popular places to stay in London

hotels There’s a bountiful supply of great hotels in London. Here’s some favourites:

Ham Yard Hotel – one of the most popular hotels in London with great beds and cool design in the heart of Soho.

citizenM London Bankside – affordability and luxury go hand in hand at this Bankside hotel.

41 Hotel – boutique and very chic, we love the 41 Hotel for its hi-tech suites and excellent location.

The Ampersand – individual style is the order of the day in The Ampersand’s boutique rooms in swish South Kensington.

The Goring – follow in the footsteps of the Duchess of Cambridge – Kate Middleton stayed here the night before marrying Prince William.

The Hoxton – a cool budget option (prices from £69) in the eternally trendy area of Hoxton/Shoreditch.

The Langham – what’s not to love about a hotel with its own shade of pink and more than 150 years of history?

Flemings Mayfair Hotel – a stylish boutique close to the excitement of Piccadilly.

St Ermin’s Hotel – we love the rococo public spaces here and the rooms and suites are good too.

The Cumberland – original artworks welcome you in the lobby of this hotel, while cutting-edge, contemporary design emanates from every room.

Don’t miss our guides to Places To Go in Paris and Places To Go in New York, plus other upcoming cities in this series.

About

LiveShareTravel's founder and editor Sarah, has long been passionate about luxury travel and, with a nose for a deal, has helped many friends book trips as affordable as they are stylish. As a journalist and travel magazine editor with expert knowledge of shared ownership, starting LiveShareTravel was a natural progression. She can't live without her smartphone, loves dancing (especially salsa), wine and massages; and is never happier than when she's wandering the world. She is co-author of The Luxury Traveller's Handbook.

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12 Responses to Places to go in London for every visitor

  1. perfect timing as i pack for my next trip to London this month.
    only problem is finding a hotel. if you wont stay in a hostel (no thanks) there is nothing that seems safe AND clean ………….and prices are almost 50% higher than my trip last year! but i shall still have a smashing time and will be posting more on ‘where to eat in London, Solo’

    • Great, glad this one landed just at the right time for you Lee. Have you checked any of the hotels above? Hotels in London aren’t the cheapest, to say the least, but citizenM and the Hoxton Hotel are usually really good value and quality.

    • Thanks Craig. You really should – it’s not exactly the cheapest place in the world, but it’s great for families and you’d have a blast. Come in May/June and hopefully you’ll get the best of the weather (July’s usually great, August can be quite rainy these days).

  2. Hello Sarah,

    I’m glad to hear that if I’ll come to London there is a person who I can count on who can help me to make some plans before seeing and enjoying one of the most fascinating city all over the world!! I’m going to follow you very carefully and sometimes you’ll have to be patient with me, because I’ll have some questions for you!! All the best! See you, Alessandro.

    • Welcome Jennifer! So great to meet you recently – looking forward to catching up again soon – in London (yeah, you’ll be needing this guide!).

  3. The President Hotel, Russell Square is great. Clean/food bearable. Only 99 pounds a night with free evening meal the first night. I prefer luxury but cant afford it in London.Sadly Im forced to lower my standards but this hotel is very good.

    • Yes, London can be rather hard on the wallet. This sounds like great value though – what a find! Thanks for sharing your recommendation with us.

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