Top London Attractions

 

National Gallery, Trafalgar Square

There is always something exciting to see in London—here are just a few options to tempt your clients.

Of course, every visitor has to see the iconic city attractions. St. Paul’s Cathedral was once the largest in England, with the largest crypt in Europe. A multimedia interpretation center will open in the crypt of St. Paul’s Cathedral in summer 2010 to help visitors discover the fascinating stories behind one of London’s most iconic buildings. The Cathedral will also offer visitors a new multimedia audio guide included in the price of their entry ticket. The Merlin Entertainments London Eye, the world’s highest cantilevered observation wheel, carries passengers high above the city in enclosed pods. The Monument, meanwhile, is the tallest isolated stone column in the world. It opened in 1677, commemorating the Great Fire of London in 1666. 

Every visitor to London should make a point of exploring the thousand-year-old Tower of London, where the Crown Jewels are stored and some notable Queens (and others) lost their heads, and watch the Ceremony of the Keys, the world’s longest-running ceremony of its kind. (Keep an eye out for the ravens!) And theater fans should certainly catch a play at Shakespeare’s Globe, a reconstructed performance space close to where the original theater stood in the 17th century. Its theater season runs from April to October.

 

Westminster Bridge with the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben

The district of Westminster is, arguably, the heart of classical London. With Buckingham Palace, the Palace of Westminster (otherwise known as the Houses of Parliament) and the clocktower popularly called Big Ben all in the same area, Westminster is what most people think of when they think of London. Piccadilly Circus, St. James’s Palace and 10 Downing Street are also must-sees in the surrounding area.

Apart from being one of the most famous buildings in all of England, Westminster Abbey is also the final resting place of some of Britain’s most notable subjects, from royalty to writers. Literature fans should make a point of visiting Poet’s Corner in the Abbey, where some of England’s greatest writers are interred.

 

Entrance to The O2

Naturally, not everything in London is historic. As a destination within a destination, your clients should also visit The O2. Created ten years ago as the Millennium Dome, the complex was turned into a world-class entertainment venue in the iconic Greenwich dome after Y2K came and went. Today, the massive complex is home to indigO2, a state-of-the-art live music club; an 11-screen multiplex cinema; an exhibition center; an entire street of bars, restaurants and leisure attractions; and—most breathtaking of all—the O2 Arena, which presents music concerts and sporting events. Ticket bookings show that the O2 Arena is officially the world’s number-one music venue.


Shopping

 

Portobello Road Market

London is a top shopping hub, with more than 40,000 shops and 80 individual markets to explore. The biggest market area in Europe can be found at Camden Lock and Stables Market, and Europe’s biggest inner-city shopping complex is at Westfield London. Kids of all ages will love Hamleys, Europe’s oldest and largest toy store that makes FAO Schwarz blush with shame, and on Saturdays, Portobello Road Market (made famous in Notting Hill) is one of the most notable antique street markets in Europe. For haute couture, stroll down Bond Street or pick out a sharp new suit on the legendary Savile Row. And then there’s Harrods. Just Harrods. Enough said.
 

Musems & Galleries


London has plenty of history and art on display in its many notable museums. No matter what your clients’ interests are, there is a museum in London to cater to it.

History buffs will want to visit the Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms, where they can see the place where Winston Churchill had a direct line to President Roosevelt during WWII. They might visit the Victoria and Albert Museum and see Charles Dickens’ pen case and original manuscript for Oliver Twist, on display in the British ?Galleries, or see where Admiral Nelson lay in state at the ?Old Royal Naval College.

The Museum of London is currently undergoing an exciting transformation. The lower galleries are closed to make way for a new gallery space that will open in spring 2010. The new galleries will focus on London from 1666 to 2012, provide access to more objects from the Museum’s collection and include a new glass-fronted gallery at street level.

 

Exhibit at Tate Modern

Two of London’s most popular museums are Tate ?Britain, which focuses on historic British art, and its offspring, Tate Modern, which presents international modern art. Some upcoming exhibits at these iconic museums include “Van Doesburg and the International Avant-Garde: Constructing a New World,” through May 16, the first major exhibition in the UK devoted to Dutch artist Theo van Doesburg (1883–1931), a radical and multidisciplinary artist; “Arshile Gorky: A Retrospective” through May 3, which examines the contribution of this seminal figure in Abstract Expressionism; and an exhibit on Henry Moore from February 24 to August 15, which brings together the most comprehensive selection of his work for a generation.

The National Gallery, founded in 1824, has a collection of over 2,300 paintings dating from the mid-13th century to 1900. Some upcoming exhibits include “Painting History: Delaroche and Lady Jane Grey” from February 24 to May 23, which aims to return attention to a major painter who fell from favor soon after his death; and “Christen Købke: Danish Master of Light,” which runs from March 17 to June 13 and features 40 of the painter’s works from Denmark’s Golden Age.

 

The Great Court at the British Musem

The British Museum is one of the oldest and richest in London, dating back to 1759 and housing countless treasures from around the world. From March to June, the museum will celebrate the Kingdom of Ife: Sculptures from West Africa, with examples of brass, copper, stone and terracotta sculptures from West Africa. 

The Design Museum, which covers product, industrial, graphic, fashion and architectural design, will feature several exhibits throughout 2010. From February 12 – June 14, the Brit Insurance Designs of the Year will showcase innovative designs from around the world. From March 31 to September 5, Sustainable Futures will present key examples of how design can deliver a more sustainable future. Also from March 31 to September 5, architect David Adjaye’s Urban Africa exhibit will focus on key cities in Africa as part of an ongoing research project to study new patterns of urbanism. 
 

 

St. Paul's Cathedral lit up at night

Top Tip: The London Pass


The London Pass offers free entry into over 55 of the city’s best attractions and exhibitions, as well as discounts in theaters, shops and restaurants. Choose from one-, two-, three- or six-day passes. To learn more, and to purchase a card, go to visitlondon.com
 

 

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