London is a city that offers everything you could possibly want in a vibrant capital. No matter if you are visiting London for 2 days or 2 weeks you are bound to make some tough decisions. You’re likely asking yourself – what are the famous London landmarks to visit? And, what are the top things to do in London? Well, I’ve got you covered. Use this ultimate list of the best London landmarks you can’t miss to help you decide.
Table of Contents
Top London Landmarks
For your ease, I’ve grouped these super London landmarks by how they appear on Google Maps. Simply start pinning which ones interest you making your itinerary planning much easier. When looking at London on a map, let’s start on the left and move across the city to the right.
Kensington Palace is one of the best historical landmarks of London England. Built in 1605, this palace was famously the birthplace of Queen Victoria and has served as the residence of many of the members of the royal family ever since. The most famous of course was Diana, Princess of Wales. The cost to tour the palace is £20.00, click here, to pre-book your tour.
As equally lovely, you can tour the grounds and gardens for free. My favourite is the beautiful Sunken Garden, featuring the statue of Diana, Princess of Wales, the tribute that was unveiled for what would have been her 60th birthday in 2021. This beautiful tribute garden can be viewed during opening hours only and is not to be missed.
ROYAL ALBERT HALL
The iconic Royal Albert Hall is one of the top historical buildings opened by Queen Victoria in 1871. This historic London landmark is now a popular concert hall hosting more than 300 events. Wouldn’t it be grand to visit London and also see a performance by one of your favourite artists? Be sure to check out who might be playing while you are in the city.
Buckingham Palace is recognized around the world as the former home of the late Queen Elizabeth II, and now King Charles III. It serves as the official London residence for the sovereign since 1837. The best way to arrive at this most famous London landmark is to walk The Mall. The red surfaced road from Trafalgar Square to Buckingham Palace. Try to visit on Sundays when it’s closed to traffic and you have the road all to yourself. Ticket costs to tour Buckingham Palace are either £30.00 or £55.00 depending on the type of tour you select, click here, to book your tour.
The lively Trafalgar Square is one of the most popular and busy squares and monuments in London. Many public events take place on this square that’s lined with some of London’s top attractions, like the National Gallery and historic statues and London monuments. This is a great starting point that leads you to Buckingham Palace.
10 DOWNING STREET
No. 10 Downing Street is one of the most famous addresses known around the world. Behind the glossy black door is the headquarters for the UK government and the residence of the Prime Minister. Unfortunately, you can no longer get past the gates to see the actual residence. My advice, is you can skip this London landmark.
The Westminster Bridge from 1862 is the oldest and most famous spanning over the River Thames. The best photo op of this bridge, Big Ben, and the Palace of Westminster is BEFORE you cross the bridge to visit those landmarks. There is a set of stairs that gives you the best vantage point. The best way to see this is through a London private tour.
Big Ben is one of the most iconic London landmarks. It’s the like the Eiffel Tower of Paris. This famous bell tower is known by its nickname, however, it’s actually called the Elizabeth Tower, which sits on the Palace of Westminster. Tours have been paused for restoration work and are set to re-open in Spring 2023.
PALACE OF WESTMINSTER
Sitting on the edge of the Thames river lies the Palace of Westminster, commonly referred to as the Houses of Parliament. Non-UK residents take a guided tour when Parliament is not in session to learn more about British history, click here, to book the Westminster changing of the guard tour. Big Ben sits on the Palace of Westminster.
Westminster Abbey sometimes referred to as the Royal Church, is where coronations and royal weddings have taken place for over 1,000 years ago. This UNESCO World Heritage site is one of the places to visit in London which is open daily to the public for services. The entry times are variable, and unfortunately the day I was there, it was closed for tours. Tours cost £27, click here to pre-book your tour.
SHAKESPEARE GLOBE THEATRE
Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre is a replica of the original playhouse (called the Elizabethan Globe) where the famous playwright wrote plays. Explore the theatre, take a guided tour, or better yet, watch a range of William Shakespeare’s most famous plays, click here to book your tour.
ST. PAUL’S CATHEDRAL
St. Paul’s Cathedral is one of the most famous cathedrals in the world. The towering dome of this London landmark is one of the most iconic symbols of London, right after Big Ben. Sir Christopher Wren, Britain’s most famous architect, designed this 17th-century cathedral. A great way to view this is coming from Millennium Bridge. If you pre-book your tickets the cost is £18, but for unreserved walk-up, it will cost you £21, click here to pre-book your ticket and get the best price.
The Mary Axe, London, has been nicknamed “the Gherkin” well because it’s shaped like a giant pickle. This postmodern skyscraper can be found in the financial district of London. You can also see it from the Thames River city skyline if you don’t want to visit it up close.
Tower Bridge is another one of the best London landmarks that can’t be missed. Climb the tower to enjoy one of the best views of the city where you can spot all of the famous landmarks in London. You’ll need to book your tour in advance, click here, or simply walk across for free!
TOWER OF LONDON
The Tower of London, dating back to 1066, is most famous as the home of the Crown Jewels. The best way to experience this landmark in London is to take a Beefeater Tour offered daily. Pre-book your time slot, right here, and the cost is £29.90.
Top Things to Do in London
Have AFTERNOON TEA
Afternoon tea in London began in 1840 by the Duchess of Bedford, consisting of tea and a snack before dinner. Today, they are a celebrated affair by Londoners. Flutes of champagne or tea served with pretty pastries like scones and macarons, and finger sandwiches. For that iconic London experience, go to Harrods, The Ritz, Mayfair, or The Savoy. Or the instagrammable places like The Berkeley, The Lanesborough, Fortnum & Mason, or The Bloomsbury. It was one of my favourite things to do in London. I experienced Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon in Fortnum & Mason and Kensington Palace Pavilion Tea Room.
Experience | Have a unique afternoon tea experience and soak in London’s landmarks on a classic double-decker bus tour, click here. Indulge in sweet and savoury treats and a glass of Prosecco as you take in London’s most famous sights.
Eat at BOROUGH MARKET
Foodie or not, you can’t help but love the city’s favourite London market. Close to London Bridge, the lively Borough Market dating back to 1756 features a large covered area, plus spreads out into a smaller maze of streets that surround it. It’s one of the best activities in London, especially on an empty stomach.
Experience | Enjoy a 3-hour food tour of London. See some of the city’s most well-known food venues and try many famous British foods, all guaranteed to get your taste buds tingling, click here.
Visit CAMDEN MARKET
Visiting Camden Market is one of the fun things to do in London. It has it all — food, drink, shops and festivals! There’s always something happening at Camden Market and most likely they are free events that are family-friendly.
Experience CHURCHILL WAR ROOMS
For history buffs, especially those of World War II, the Churchill War Rooms would be one of the London places to visit. Close to 10 Downing Street, was where Winston Churchill spent countless hours, underground plotting Allied victory during WWII. Go to the Map Room, which looks exactly as it did when the members of the War Cabinet abandoned it at the end of the war, and the Transatlantic Telephone Room, where Churchill had secret conversations with U.S. officials.
Experience | History buffs, you’re going to want to join this walking tour to learn about life in London during World War II through a private tour of Westminster and Churchill’s War Rooms, click here.
Eat, Drink & Shop at COVENT GARDEN
Visiting Covent Garden is an experience for the senses. Eat, drink and shop across 9 streets and a historic Piazza to discover one of the best things to do in London. Some of London’s best pubs, cafes, and restaurants can be found here, like Monmouth Kitchen, Balthazar, and Eve Bar. Then there’s the shopping with a great mix of boutiques and known brands and designers.
Stroll HYDE PARK
Hyde Park, established by Henry viii, is one of London’s largest Royal Parks. As London’s most famous green space it is definitely one of the things to see in London. Once here, check out the many memorials, fountains, and statues (Diana Memorial Fountain) and the beautiful rose garden (located in the southeast corner). A traditional site for public speeches and debates since the 1800s is Speakers’ Corner. If you time it right, you might even catch a concert or event taking play in the park. Regent’s Park is another beautiful park if you want to escape busy London life.
Take a Ride on the LONDON EYE
Take a ride on Europe’s tallest cantilevered observation wheel called the London Eye or Millennium Wheel. This giant Ferris wheel is considered one of the top attractions of London and there’s no better way to see the London landmarks from up above. You need to book your timeslot for the London Eye, click here.
Walk Across MILLENIUM BRIDGE
Walk across the steel suspension bridge officially known as the London Millennium Footbridge. Harry Potter fans will recognize this modern-looking bridge as the Brockdale Bridge. Early risers will be able to capture it at sunrise and with far fewer people. This route is best to combine with Borough Market to Shakespeare Globe to St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Experience | For Harry Potter fans, join an interactive tour around central London with a guide, click here to book.
Visit a MUSEUM
As a cultural hub for England, London has more than 170 museums in the city, and many of them are free to visit. Rainy day and wondering what to do in London? Check out these recommended museums:
- British Museum – the first national museum opened in 1759 is an architectural wonder
- Natural History Museum – it’s chockfull of natural history information and home to 80 million plant, animal, fossil, and rock specimens
- Victoria and Albert Museum – the world’s largest applied arts and design founded in 1852
Go to PICCADILLY CIRCUS
What to see in London is most definitely Piccadilly Circus. This is one of the most famous road intersections, just what you might find in New York City. As one of the top attractions in London, it features unique architecture surrounding it, like the London Pavilion and Criterion Theatre, and the Shaftesbury Memorial fountain. The iconic advertisements adorn the buildings just like what you might see in Times Square NYC.
Experience | Pass through the vibrant city of London lit up against the night sky on a 90-minute tour, a top thing to do in London at night. See Big Ben, Harrods, the London Eye and Trafalgar Square, click here to book.
Take a photo at RED PHONE BOX
The iconic red telephone box, or what we North Americans would refer to as a “booth” is one of the most recognizable London symbols. You can’t travel to London without taking at least one photo. Here are the best spots with famous landmarks of London in the background:
- Parliament Square opposite Big Ben
- Victoria Embankment opposite the London Eye
- Covent Garden Market
- Broad Court near Covent Garden Market
- St. Paul’s Cathedral
- New Bond Street opposite Cartier
Experience | Get your own personal travel photographer who will capture your top London moments, click here for more information.
Catch the view at SKY GARDEN or THE SHARD
London city views are best seen from Sky Garden or The Shard. London’s highest public garden, where you can enjoy food and drink, or simply catch a city view from Sky Garden. Get your free access tickets here. Or visit western Europe’s tallest building, The Shard, where on floors 68-72 you have an unobstructed 360-degree view across the city. Pre-book your ticket, click here, for your guaranteed best price.
Walk down FAMOUS STREETS
Not unlike any large capital city, there are bound to be some famous streets. And, London is no different. Here are some of the best London streets to seek out:
- Portobello Road Market – a well-known street market in Notting Hill lined with pretty pastel-coloured houses
- Abbey Road – instantly recognizable street with its zebra crossing shown on the cover of the Beatles’ album
- Oxford Street – one of Europe’s busiest shopping streets and prettiest at Christmas time
- Regent Street – is another popular street for shopping lined with luxury brands and chain stores
- The Mall – is the long reddish-coloured road that leads to Buckingham Palace giving the effect of a red carpet
- Carnaby Street – a pedestrian street lined with trendy boutiques that date back to the 1600s
Use the UNDERGROUND
London Underground, or what locals will refer to as The Tube. Although London is an easily walkable city, it is vast! If you only have a few days to see as many famous London landmarks and top attractions as you can, get underground and use the Tube.
Traveller’s Tip: a single-journey ticket is pricey at £6.30, I recommend you purchase a daily pass at £14.40 which allows you unlimited travel for that day within zones 1-6 (which is likely all you will need).
For many travellers, seeing these top London attractions is a must. A lot of these popular points of interest require pre-booking your spot. Or, those that do allow booking on-site, will have very long wait lines even in non-peak travel times. That’s why a London Pass is the best solution, allowing you access to more than 80 top attractions, tours, and museums. Choose the option that’s right for you with a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, or 10-day pass. Click here for all the details.
Where to Stay in London
Check out these accommodation resources, for both renting an apartment or staying in a hotel:
- Best London Neighbourhoods + Curated List of Vacation Rentals
- Best Affordable Luxury Boutique Hotels in London
As a Holidaymaker
Without a doubt, there are endless London landmarks dotted all over the city. It’s a great mix of the old and the new and modern. Hopefully, this London landmark list along with the top things to do is helpful for your itinerary planning.