In this blog I have identified 30 Historical Things To Do in London. Read on for details!
A place that has a fine blend of a rich history and culture, yet retaining a modern, hi-tech vibe is the essence of London, the capital of Great Britain. The well-maintained Medieval times buildings and architecture of London, are a testimony. London has numerous, thousands of years old, historical places to visit – churches, cathedrals and castles! The distinguished royalty of England at its fulcrum.
HISTORICAL THINGS TO DO IN LONDON – MUST SEE
Buckingham Palace – is the main London home of the royal family and is undoubtedly, the most important historical thing to do. The exquisite palace is open to visitors for an inside tour only during the summer months when the Queen and her family are not in residence. Make sure to plan your trip around that time, if you don’t want to miss it. Ensure that all tickets are booked in advance, as they are quickly sold off during the holiday season.
One of the highlights of the Buckingham Palace is the `Changing of Guard’ ceremony, outside the Palace. This occurs at 11.30 on alternate mornings, and daily in May, June and July. It is a unique event, amazing to see the symmetrical marching of the guards accompanied by regimented music. Following this, it’s a nice idea to stroll down the Mall (that’s the thoroughfare from Buckingham Palace to Trafalgar square), admiring the grand buildings and historic houses reflecting different styles and period.
There’s the Queen Victoria memorial in front of the Buckingham Palace, with its beautifully carved statue. A great place to take photographs and selfies, having the façade of the elegant Palace in the background.
Big Ben and House of Parliament – the clock tower of this gothic style building is a symbol of London. Free guided tours to watch the proceedings of the House of Parliament can be booked in advance. Unfortunately, during our stay in London repair work of the Big Ben was going on, so couldn’t visit it.
HITORICAL PLACES TO VISIT
Tower Bridge – needs no introduction, an iconic bridge that is visible from a number of places in the city. Children are specially excited to visit the Tower Bridge, recalling the famous nursery rhyme ‘London bridge is falling down’ that they learnt in kindergarten.
Tower of London – just across the Tower Bridge is the Tower of London. One of the oldest monuments of London, it was the military center for Britain. For those who love history, this is the ideal spot. Worth checking out are the collection of crown jewels within the massive, vaulted safe. We were all excited and curious to see our very own precious `Kohinoor’ diamond . Mesmerized by the sight of this sparkling piece ensconced in the showcase . Our hearts filled with joy and pride and a connection drawn between our two countries.
PLACES OF RELIGIOUS SIGNIFICANCE
St. Paul’s Cathedral – it is believed that this church was first built in the 7th century, though came into prominence only in the 14th century. Built in the gothic style, it was destroyed during the great fire of 1666, and re-built and restored thereafter. We had opted for a guided tour of this grand cathedral, which gave us a fair idea about the history and significance of the St. Paul’s Cathedral. Climb up to the `Whispering gallery’ for inside views of this imposing piece of history!
Westminster Abbey – there is always a queue, though a moving one, to enter this famous historic and religious building in Britain. The center of coronation of many monarchs, its architecture is stupendous. This is also the national shrine of eminent figures including Charles Darwin, Isaac Newton and David Livingstone.
Westminster Cathedral – is the most important Catholic Church in London. The striking, bold red and white structure, has a 100-meter-high tower, accessible by a lift.
THINGS TO DO IN LONDON – MAIN PARKS
London’s main parks including the Hyde Park and Regent’s Park are owned by the Crown. These parks were once hunting grounds of royalty, retaining the aura of royalty and elegance even today.
Hyde park is the top-most and largest among these. This sprawling park has vast open spaces. Lot of events keep happening here on Sunday afternoons at the `Speaker’s corner’, look out for free musical concerts also.
St. James Park – Incidentally, we were staying in the vicinity of the oldest, beautifully laid out parks in London – St. James Park, in a hotel of the same name. Our memorable first day in London was spent in its landscaped precincts, amidst lakes, fountains and grand views of the Buckingham Palace and Whitehall. Sauntering down the fauna and flora bedecked lake-side, a flock of ducks, black swans and pelicans, will surely catch your attention! You’ll also come across an inviting café within the park, where you can have coffee and snacks. Lunch time concerts are played at its bandstand.
Besides, the major, more famous historical places in the capital of Britain, there are a plethora of other tourists’ attractions, built in the 17th-18th centuries which are a must visit.
A great way of sight-seeing in London is to opt for a guided bus tour. This tour is accompanied by a live, engaging, commentary, as the bus maneuvers through the well-known areas of London. This bus or tram ride takes tourists around the city, encompassing all the main spots.
THINGS TO SEE IN LONDON – MAIN STREETS
Trafalgar Square – is one the largest open spaces in London. Public gatherings, political demonstrations and new year celebrations are held here. Built in 1841, it has the soaring Nelson’s column at its center and shooting fountains.
Mayfair – west of Trafalgar square is the most expensive street in London – Mayfair. This place has retained its social prestige dating from the 18th century, with the Georgian residences, posh clubs and designer, high-end shops. On our guided tour, the witty guide narrating the history and significance of Mayfair, jokingly remarked about the correct pronunciation of the word, as spoken by the elite.
Next to Mayfair is Park Lane and Oxford street, which too are synonymous with wealth. Lined with jewelry stores, boutiques, antique emporiums and art galleries. These are famous shopping streets of London, which are an epitome of fashion, affluence and luxury.
Piccadilly Circus – is a famous road junction of London. The first illuminated advertisement sign appeared here in 1890. Now it’s a premier, fashionable street.
Did you know, London has some fabulous museums, having a world class collection? Entry to some of them is free. If you have the time and find museums intriguing, then it’s a must visit, any time of the year. The Science museum, Victoria and Albert museum and Natural History museum to name a few.
Cruising on the legendary river Thames is an essential to do activity when in London. This guided boat tour has a live commentary, taking visitors through all the major landmarks and buildings. .
DAY TRIPS FROM LONDON
Windsor Castle – 40 kilometres from central London, is the second home of the royal family and a favorite too, the Windsor castle. This mammoth, stone castle is the main attraction in the town of Windsor, it takes 3 to 4 hours for a rendezvous of the castle. The best way to reach Windsor, is by chartered buses which run every day from fixed points in London, just block your seats in advance.
Stonehenge – make a trip to Stonehenge, a 4500-year-old formation of rocks dating to pre-historic times. Explore the heritage structure and its surrounding landscape, walk on the designated path encircling the monument, listening to audio recordings provided and delve into the scientific significance of this unique site. Stonehenge’s can be reached by bus or car, and takes between 2 to 3 hours to get there from London, depending upon the traffic. There are few more historical things to do in London, that depends on how much time you have on hand.
Bath – another place, though not very close to London, but much recommended is Bath. Located 120 miles away, it can be reached in 80 minutes by train from Paddington. Bath has impressive Roman Baths and hot springs as it’s focal point. Other architectural highlights are the Royal Crescent and Queens Square, that will catch your attention!
It is advisable, specially if it’s your first trip to UK to take the chartered buses which operate on a daily basis to the above mentioned destinations. Their services are quite satisfactory. These are well organized tours wherein there’s a guide to brief tourists about the history of the site and provide other details. Packed meals are also included in the package. We had a great experience and had an enjoyable trip.
CULTURE – PEOPLE AND FOOD
London has a fine blend of a rich history and culture. Londoners are the friendliest people I have come across and am fortunate for that. Strangers easily strike a conversation or if need be, go out of the way to help. The city has surely retained the wit, sarcasm and humor from the times of great writers and poets born on this land! People including tourists guides, I must mention have a great gift of the gab and narrate stories which you may not know otherwise.
The late noon `high tea’ is a culture that is prevalent in London since long, so taking an afternoon tea break is sort of necessary. Some of the star hotels serve tea along with delicious pastries, sandwiches, tarts, muffins and scones. It’s not just about sipping a hot beverage to beat the cold weather, but is also an opportunity for people to socialize and take a break from their hectic schedule.
Nowadays, people from around the world are settling down in UK and making it their home. As such, you’ll find multitude of restaurants offering a varied selection of cuisines at reasonable prices. The dish that London is known for is its classic fish and chips. So, dig into a platter of fresh, hot and crispy fish and chips and feel the joy of having a sumptuous local cuisine.
MIX OF THE MODERN AND TRADITIONAL
Alongside, the historic fanfare, London is as much a happening metropolis full of pubs, discotheques, luxury shopping centers, eateries and a lot more. An invigorating environment with lot of activities for the youth too adding to the glitz. The Harrods store is an example of an amalgamation of contemporary and classic. Established in the 19th century, it is today one of the world’s largest and most reputable stores. Modern London would invariably include the giant Ferrous Wheel – the London Eye! A 30 minute ride takes visitors high up into the skies to enjoy sweeping views around. Close by is another attraction Madam Tussauds.
WHEN TO VISIT AND WHAT TO PACK
The main tourist season in London is between the months of March to May, though June to August is also alright. The weather during this time oscillates between mildly to moderately cold, though quite windy. It also rains quite frequently in London with rare sunny days, so tourists need to be prepared for that. Carrying rain gear is absolutely a must – umbrellas, raincoats and rain boots. An insulated, water proof jacket is a must take. You don’t require very thick woolens during this holiday season, regular sweaters and caps are sufficient.
Hope this complete guide on `historical things to do in London’ has been informative!
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