Jolly old England’s capital, London is jam-packed with some of the most incredible historic relics of Europe, chic and modernistic buildings and quirky, cool neighborhoods. Truthfully, there’s way too much to see when exploring London for the first time. There’s no possible way to do it all and see it all! So, the question is… what shouldn’t you miss during your first trip? Today, we’re sharing 10 places you must see on your first trip to London!
Of course, keep in mind, this round up is stocked with historical classics and sights… be sure to cater your trip to London according to your interests (more on personalized travel can be found right here!). There’s no right or wrong way to explore a city!
Tower of London
It’s iconic for a reason! The Tower Of London is a must-see when visiting London for the first time. Its ominous history is something to behold too. What used to be the Kings and Queen’s place to send prisoners to ponder while awaiting their executions now has some regular, informative traditions… so if you can sneak in a free tour, do it!
P.S. After you’ve had your fill of historic beheadings of London, there’s no better place to fill up your stomach than Borough Market! It’s just a few minutes walk away and is stocked with some of the most delicious eateries in the city.
A Stroll Down The South Bank
A jam-packed jaunt down London’s South Bank will show you some of the city’s most beloved sights. Start on the west side and make you way east down the River Thames. You’ll see the gorgeous Houses of Parliament, Big Ben (who might still be under construction if you’re seeing London this year!), Westminster Bridge and you’ll have easy access to the London Eye, the Tate Modern and Shakespeare’s Globe.
See if the queen is in while in her city! Buckingham Palace is a key sight to see, if you ask us. Try to arrange your itinerary so you can see the changing of the guards at 11:30 AM everyday (from April-July) and every other day (for the rest of the year). This ceremonious event lasts over a good half hour and will let you see a traditional side of British royalty you’ve dreamt of.
The London Eye is one of the coolest ferris wheels in the world. You can comfortably see the city skyline sprawling in front of you. Be sure to make a reservation beforehand!
This museum does not hold back in its amazing amount of artifacts from the ancient world! The British Museum is divided into the time periods of the human civilization and is truly a mecca of world history. Don’t miss the Rosetta Stone (yes the Rosetta Stone!), the Assyrian Lion Hunt Reliefs, the Parthenon Sculptures, ancient samurai armor and the Mummy of Katebet!
London’s a huge city. But it’s hard to grasp that concept while you’re exploring it by foot. That’s why we believe the Sky Garden is a must-do when visiting London for the first time! The wide, open windows show visitors the city’s beauty. Come for sunset and you’ll be swooning!
Made famous by Hugh Grant and Julia Robert’s movie, the Notting Hill neighborhood will show you the quaint, yet post side of London. And if you ask us, Notting Hill is best explored on an afternoon, dodging in between fantastic restaurants, unique boutiques and shops and popping into a market or two on the weekends! It’s a quieter side to the city that we adore.
This hipster paradise is the market of all markets! You’ll find everything here. From specialized food stalls, knick knacks, vintage and lots of live music… everything you could ever imagine in a market is in Camden. Just be sure to wear good walking shoes because Camden Market is a big, sprawling stretch!
The South Kensington Museums
There’s a whole set of incredible museums located right in the heart of posh South Kensington. Which ones are not to miss you ask? The Science Museum, Victoria & Albert and my personal favorite, The Natural History Museum. Each one has a special thing to offer! If you plan your itinerary in advance, try to schedule a late visit to any one of them. On certain days of the month, visitors can spend the evening perusing the galleries while listening to music and noshing on some bites.
A trio of world-class museums lie within steps of each other in this wealthy neighbourhood, their grand edifices proving an equal draw to the glories within. To see a more unusual side of the Science Museum or the Victoria & Albert, and mingle with some Londoners, try one of the monthly ‘Lates’ when they open their doors into the evening and offer music and food alongside the exhibits. Or take it one step further with a Dino Snores sleepover at the Natural History Museum.