Visiting any capital city is extremely exciting but visiting London takes the excitement to another level, however making decisions on where to go and what to see can be a struggle. There is so much to see and do that some of the major sights and hot spots are missed so, if you are wondering what to put on your itinerary for when you visit, here are a few places that have to be put near the top of the list.
Even though you can’t visit London and have tea with the Queen at Buckingham Palace, you can explore its rooms and gardens. Buckingham Palace first became the home of the Royals during the reign of Queen Victoria and has continued to house the Kings and Queens of Britain right up to our current reigning monarch, Elizabeth II. It’s size is astounding with over 775 rooms which includes 52 Royal and guest bedrooms, 78 bathrooms and 92 offices; it even has its own post office, swimming pool and doctors. Most of these rooms are used daily but, during the summer months, many of the state rooms are opened to the public and tours are available throughout to day.
There are many other royal residences scattered around London, including Kensington Palace, near the Paddington Court Executive Rooms, and the Palace of Westminster. Kensington Palace is housed in Kensington Gardens and is open all year round. It was once home to Princess Diana and its gardens were swamped with flowers after her death and, even though the flowers are gone, there is a memorial fountain and playground. Today, her two sons, Prince Harry and Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, now reside there. There are ornately decorated rooms that resemble to time of King George I and II and an exhibition of clothing from the Queen, Princess Diana and Princess Margaret’s collections.
The Palace of Westminster is now more commonly referred to as the Houses of Parliament, and is the central hub of politics in Great Britain today. Until a fire ravaged much of the building in the 16th century, it was the home to the monarchs and was classed as one of the grandest palace’s in the world. There are tours that take place with expert guides that know all about its glorious history, including the Gunpowder Plot and the assassination of Spencer Perceval in 1812, and its important role in politics; you will even get to take a look inside the House of Commons and the House of Lords.
London is the Place to Shop
London is a world favourite for shoppers with places such as Carnaby Street, Camden Market and Regent Street offering an eclectic mix of wares. Hotels in Oxford Street London are in prime positions for many visitors as they are in the centre of the action, on Oxford Street itself which is one of the most famous shopping roads in the world. It is a mile and a half of high street shops, such as New Look and Topshop, and designer stores, such as the world-renowned Selfridges. If you are a shopaholic, then Oxford Street is going to be one of your favourite haunts in London.
No true shopper’s visit to London is complete without a trip to Harrods, one of the largest department stores in the world. With over 1 million feet of retail space, it is home to over 300 retail departments which are contained in several different halls, such as the food hall, the beauty hall and Christmas hall, as well as its own bank, barbers, pet shop, pharmacy and spa. It is famous for its luxurious items, exquisite interior and is a firm favourite with celebrities and has been for over a century; Charlie Chaplin, Oscar Wilde and many of the Royal family have shopped here. If you are visiting around the Christmas holidays, it is well worth taking a walk around the 5 acres of Harrods looking at its beautifully decorated windows which are well-known throughout Europe.
Time Travel through British History
The Infamous Tower
The Tower of London, a place that used to strike fear into the hearts of Britons from all over the country. It has been the symbol of power since the white tower was erected in 1078 by William the Conqueror and, with each reigning monarch, it has been added to and improved to become the Tower we know today. It has a wonderfully interesting past; it was once home to the Royal Mint, it housed a zoo, the Royal Armoury and the Crown Jewels, which can still be seen today. However, the Tower of London is infamous for being the home of torture, cruelty and death with traitors and conspirators being racked, burned and even beheaded within its walls; most famously killed at the Tower were Queens Anne Boylen and Catherine Howard. Today, it is open to the public and offers a range of tours where you can don headphones for a solo tour or be guided around by the knowledgeable Beefeaters who are a historical entity in themselves. If you want to get to the heart of British history, there is no place to go that is better than the Tower of London.
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