City Orientation Walk, London

London, the capital of Great Britain, is also one of the cultural capitals of the world and has been in place since the Roman times. Many of London's landmarks are truly iconic, such as the Houses of Parliament, ‘Big Ben’ clock tower and Westminster Abbey, to mention but a few. More have been added to the cityscape in recent decades and the number is growing. Follow this orientation walk to visit some of London's most prominent attractions.
You can follow this self-guided walking tour to explore the attractions listed below. How it works: download the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play to your mobile phone or tablet. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and its built-in GPS navigation functions guide you from one tour stop to next. The app works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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City Orientation Walk Map

Guide Name: City Orientation Walk
Guide Location: England » London (See other walking tours in London)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 13
Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.2 km
Author: Xena
1
Westminster Abbey

1) Westminster Abbey (must see)

Westminster Abbey is a large, mainly Gothic church, in Westminster, London, located just to the west of the Palace of Westminster. It is the traditional place of coronation and burial site for English, later British and later still monarchs of the Commonwealth Realms. According to a tradition first reported by Sulcard in about 1080, the Abbey was first founded in the time of Mellitus, Bishop of London, on the present site, then known as Thorn Ey (Thorn Island). The Abbey's two western towers were built between 1722 and 1745 by Nicholas Hawksmoor, constructed from Portland stone to an early example of a Gothic Revival design. The bells at the Abbey were overhauled in 1971. The two service bells and the 1320 bell, along with a fourth small silver "dish bell", kept in the refectory, have been noted as being of historical importance by the Church Buildings Council of the Church of England.

Why You Should Visit:
You can't deny the amazing architecture and history that you're confronted with when approaching this collection of buildings.
Final resting place of so many people that contributed to civilization both ancient and recent.

Tip:
By all means get timed-entry tickets online (which include an audio guide).
Tell the attendances outside that you already have tickets, and you'll go right in.
Photos inside are not allowed, so you should visually absorb all you can.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Tue, Thu-Sat: 9:30am-3:30pm; Wed: 9:30am-6pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
2
Portcullis House

2) Portcullis House

Portcullis House is an office building in Westminster, London, UK, that was commissioned in 1992 to provide offices for 210 Members of Parliament and their staff, augmenting limited space in the Palace of Westminster and surroundings. The building was designed by Michael Hopkins and Partners and incorporates Westminster tube station below it. The building's curious profile, with its rows of tall chimneys, is intended to recall the Victorian Gothic design of the Palace of Westminster and to fit in with the chimneys of the Norman Shaw Building next door. The building itself is created to look and feel like a ship inside. All the offices and passages are made up with bowed windows and light oak finishing. Each floor looks identical to the others except the ground floor which houses the main courtyard with ship-like metallic sails suspended overhead. The courtyard is decorated with trees and two shallow baths of water.
Sight description based on wikipedia
3
Big Ben & Houses of Parliament

3) Big Ben & Houses of Parliament (must see)

Editor's note: At this time and until 2021, the Elizabeth Tower, which houses the Great Clock and Big Ben will be covered for renovation work (tip: walk over Westminster bridge and the clock is still open from that side)

The Palace of Westminster, also known as the Houses of Parliament, is the meeting place of the two houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom—the House of Lords and the House of Commons. It lies on the north bank of the River Thames in the heart of the London borough of the City of Westminster. Its Clock Tower, in particular, which has become known as "Big Ben" after its main bell, is an iconic landmark of London and the United Kingdom in general, one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city and an emblem of parliamentary democracy. Big Ben is the largest four-faced chiming clock and the third-tallest free-standing clock tower in the world. It celebrated its 150th anniversary in May 2009, during which celebratory events took place. The Palace of Westminster has been a Grade I listed building since 1970 and part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987.

Why You Should Visit:
Must be the most famous clock in the world, not just London.

Tip:
Walk 500 yards onto Westminster Bridge and the views of Big Ben are great. Alternatively, cross over Parliament Square to the other side and take some great pictures with some nice trees in the foreground.

Opening Hours:
Sun-Sat: 8am-8pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
4
Westminster Bridge

4) Westminster Bridge (must see)

“Earth hath nothing to show more fair,” wrote William Wordsworth, while looking out over early morning London from Westminster Bridge in 1802. Of course, he was standing on the first bridge, constructed in 1750 by the Swiss architect Charles Labelye.

The bridge you can cross today was opened in 1862 and was designed by Thomas Page, who also worked on the designs for the Thames Embankment. The bridge spans the Thames from the County Hall and the London Eye on the East side of the river to the Palace of Westminster and Big Ben on the West side.

The foot and road bridge is 827 ft long and 88 ft wide with 7 arches of wrought iron with Gothic details. Because of its proximity to the Houses of Parliament, and especially the House of Commons, it is painted in the same green as the colour of the benches in the House. It is also because of this proximity to the seat of British power, that many people mistake it for London Bridge, which is further downstream.

According to popular legend, Jack the Ripper threw himself off the bridge on the last stroke of midnight on 31st December 1891, to escape being captured and identified.

Why You Should Visit:
An iconic bridge with great views to London Eye, Westminister, Big Ben, and the Thames river.
Sight description based on wikipedia
5
London Eye

5) London Eye (must see)

The Merlin Entertainments London Eye (commonly the London Eye, or Millennium Wheel) is an extremely large passenger-carrying Ferris wheel situated on the banks of the River Thames in Central London in the United Kingdom.

It is the largest Ferris wheel in Europe and has become the most popular paid tourist attraction in the United Kingdom, visited by over three million people in one year. At the time it was erected, in 1999, it was the tallest Ferris wheel in the world, until it was surpassed by the Star of Nanchang in May 2006, and then the Singapore Flyer on 11 February 2008. However, it is still described by its operators as "the world's tallest cantilevered observation wheel".

The London Eye is located at the western end of Jubilee Gardens in the London Borough of Lambeth in England, between Westminster Bridge and Hungerford Bridge. The site is adjacent to that of the former Dome of Discovery.

Why You Should Visit:
A nice way to gain perspective of the city, especially if it's your first time in London. You can enjoy spectacular views with Shard and London bridge on one side and Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster on the other side. The ride lasts roughly 30 minutes, and you can both stand or be seated in the pods.

Tip:
Getting your ticket(s) in advance online is a good idea.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 11am-6pm; Sat-Sun: 10am-8:30pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
6
Hungerford Bridge

6) Hungerford Bridge

In 1845 the Hungerford Bridge was a suspension bridge that farmers from the south of England used for crossing the River Thames when they freighted their produce to the Hungerford Market, which was the most important market in the south of the capital at that time.

In 1859 the bridge was bought by the South Eastern Railway Company, who wanted to build a railway bridge from the south of England to the capital. Businessmen working in London were leaving their city houses to live in the country suburbs and they wanted to travel to the capital in comfort.

The old suspension bridge was replaced by a railway bridge with nine arches of wrought iron lattice girders, designed by Sir John Hankshaw. The Hungerford Market was replaced by Charing Cross Station, which was named after the Cross of Eleanor, the wife of Edward 1st. When Eleanor died, King Edward 1st commissioned a cross to be erected wherever his wife’s body rested during the 12 day journey from Lincoln before being buried in Westminster Abbey. One of the crosses was erected in the hamlet of Charing on the outskirts of the ancient City of London.

In 2002 two cable-stayed foot bridges were added on each side of the railway bridge because the Council of London wanted to encourage pedestrian tourists. These foot bridges share the same pier foundations as the railway bridge and are accessible either by steps or by lift for the disabled.
Sight description based on wikipedia
7
The Strand Street

7) The Strand Street

Strand is a major thoroughfare in the City of Westminster, Central London. It runs just over 3⁄4 mile (1,200 m) from Trafalgar Square eastwards to Temple Bar, where the road becomes Fleet Street inside the City of London. The road's name comes from the Old English strond, meaning the edge of a river, as it historically ran alongside the north bank of the River Thames. The street was popular with the British upper classes between the 12th and 17th centuries, with many historically important mansions being built between the Strand and the river.
Sight description based on wikipedia
8
Admiralty Arch

8) Admiralty Arch

Admiralty Arch is one of the most photographed buildings in London. It stands between Trafalgar Square and the Mall – the long road to Buckingham Palace.

The Arch was commissioned by King Edward VII in memory of his mother Queen Victoria, but sadly the king died before the building, designed by Sir Aston Web, was completed in 1911. The magnificent building with its five arches adjoins the Old Admiralty Building from which it takes its name. Originally it housed the offices and residences of the Sea Lords – the leaders of the Royal Navy. Until recently it was used as the offices of various governmental departments. In 2011, as part of the government's austerity programme, the building was put up for sale for a reported £75 million. The property was sold as a 125-year lease. In August 2013, Westminster City Council granted full planning permission for the restoration and conversion of Admiralty Arch into a 100-room hotel, residences and private members' club.

The five arches consist of three large and two small ones. The central arch is only passed through during official ceremonies; the two large arches on the right and left are used daily by traffic to and from the Mall; the two small outer arches are for pedestrian use. Along the top of the arch is a Latin inscription that reads, in English: “In the tenth year of the reign of King Edward VII, to Queen Victoria, from most grateful citizens, 1910”.

An unusual object that you will find high on the inside wall on the left-hand side of the northernmost arch is “the Nose” – a stone protrusion the size and shape of a man’s nose. No-one really knows why it was put there, or whose nose it represents. Some say that it is a tribute to the Duke of Wellington, who had a large nose, but there’s no written proof of this. The mounted soldiers of the Royal Guard used to rub the nose for luck when they passed it.
Sight description based on wikipedia
9
Trafalgar Square

9) Trafalgar Square (must see)

With its position in the heart of London, Trafalgar Square is a tourist attraction, and one of the most famous squares in the United Kingdom and the world. At its centre is Nelson's Column, which is guarded by four lion statues at its base. Statues and sculptures are on display in the square, including a fourth plinth displaying changing pieces of contemporary art. The square is also used as a location for political demonstrations and community gatherings, such as the celebration of New Year's Eve in London.

The name commemorates the Battle of Trafalgar (1805), a British naval victory of the Napoleonic Wars. Trafalgar Square ranks as the fourth most popular tourist attraction on Earth with more than fifteen million visitors a year. In May 2007, the square was grassed over with 2,000 square metres of turf for two days as part of a campaign by London authorities to promote "green spaces" in the city.

Why You Should Visit:
Great place to relax over an evening, surrounded by so many traditional London buildings.

Tip:
Go sit on the steps as the sun starts to set, take in the noises of London...
...or use Trafalgar Square as a starting point for London's attractions.
Sight description based on wikipedia
10
National Gallery

10) National Gallery (must see)

A visit to the National Gallery on Trafalgar Square shouldn’t be missed if you are a lover of Western European paintings from the 13th to the 19th centuries.

The gallery was formed by the British Government in 1824 when they bought over 30 paintings from the estate of a merchant and collector of fine arts, J.J. Angerstein. Two-thirds of the collection in the gallery has been given by private donation. The rest has been bought by the government using monetary donations, such as a £50 million endowment from Sir Paul Getty. Other donations have enabled the expanding of the building, including the Sainsbury Wing which was added in 1985.

The gallery houses over 2500 paintings, arranged in chronological order in four wings on the main floor: 1250 to 1500; 1500 to 1600; 1600 to 1700 and 1700 to 1900. You can admire works by great artists such as Duccio, Renoir and Picasso. The gallery is also the home of Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers”, Leonardo Da Vinci’s “The Virgin of the Rocks” and Michelangelo’s “The Entombment”.

There are specially designed trails for children, leading them, among other rooms, to the Picture Puzzle, where enigmas and clues are hidden in various paintings that teach them about the History of Art. If you want to stay for a meal, the National’s dining rooms aren’t very expensive; there is also a café and an espresso bar. All in all, it’s a great afternoon out for adults and children alike.

Why You Should Visit:
Free admission, and rooms upon rooms of gorgeous art from various artists (including some very well known ones). You can take pictures or you can take an audio guide.

Tip:
Aside from the main Gallery, there is also the Sainsbury Wing which is where large exhibitions and talks are normally held. There is also a shop where you can buy books on the artists and exhibitions, a refreshment area and plenty of seating.

Opening Hours:
Fri: 10am-9pm; Sat-Thu 10am–6pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
11
National Portrait Gallery

11) National Portrait Gallery (must see)

London is the home of a great number of museums, galleries and historical buildings, some of which are a bit overwhelming and heavy going; so if you want to spend an afternoon in a light-hearted way, don’t miss the National Portrait Gallery in St Martin’s Place, just off Trafalgar Square.

The great thing about this gallery, opened in 1856, is that the caricatures, drawings, paintings and sculptures haven’t been chosen for the great names of their creators, but for their rarity value – some of them aren’t even very good, but no matter, they are great fun and will cheer up every inspiring artist.

There are, of course, several great works, such as the “Chandos portrait”, depicting (perhaps) Shakespeare executed in around 1610 and Holbein’s portrait of King Henry VIII. There is an audio guide for 170 of the 120,000 strong collection. You can also admire portraits of Oliver Cromwell, Lord Nelson, Charles Dickens Lord Byron and a self-portrait by Winston Churchill.

Since 1969 portraits of living people have been allowed in the gallery and among these you will find photos of Mick Jagger and Tony Blair and a painting of J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter books.

There are also temporary exhibitions of Contemporary Art, exhibitions dedicated to individual artists and the Annual BP Portrait Prize competition. Visitors are not allowed to film or take photos in the gallery.

Why You Should Visit:
A unique collection of portraits, where royalty, celebrities, and the common folk are represented on canvas. No other museum in London feels so purely English.

Tip:
There is a fabulous restaurant on top of the building with amazing views (but book in advance, as it tends to always be booked up).

Opening Hours:
Fri: 10am-9pm; Sat-Thu: 10am-6pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
12
Piccadilly Circus

12) Piccadilly Circus (must see)

Piccadilly Circus was built in 1819 to connect Regent Street with Piccadilly. The Circus is particularly known for its video display and neon signs mounted on the corner building on the northern side, as well as the Shaftesbury memorial fountain and statue which is popularly, though mistakenly, believed to be of Eros. It was named after a house belonging to Robert Baker famous for selling piccalillis (collars).

Why You Should Visit:
A classic, fast-paced London intersection, very centrally located, from where you can easily explore Regent St, Leicester Square, Trafalgar Square, Coventry Garden and the West End theatre district.

Tip:
Best seen at night for maximum effect.
Sight description based on wikipedia
13
Carnaby Street

13) Carnaby Street

Carnaby Street is a pedestrianised shopping street in Soho in the City of Westminster, Central London. Close to Oxford Street and Regent Street, it is home to fashion and lifestyle retailers, including a large number of independent fashion boutiques.
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in London, England

Create Your Own Walk in London

Create Your Own Walk in London

Creating your own self-guided walk in London is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Bridges of London

Bridges of London

Thirty-four bridges span the Thames in London. Each one has its own history and is worth seeing. Take this walking tour to appreciate the beauty of London bridges.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 6.1 km
East City of London Walk

East City of London Walk

The City is a notable part of central London. This neighborhood is colloquially known as the Square Mile, as it is 1.12 square miles (2.90 square km) in area. The City of London is able to offer great number of things to see. This tour will guide you from the Tower Bridge to the “30 St Mary Axe”, great achievements of architecture and engineering.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.3 km
Bloomsbury Museums, Part 2

Bloomsbury Museums, Part 2

There are over 240 museums in London and they welcome about 42 million annual visitors nationwide. This wonderful tour will lead you to the most famous and significant museums of London Bloomsbury area, such as Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, Wellcome Collection, The Crypt Gallery and others.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.2 km
West End Nightlife

West End Nightlife

Be prepared for the exciting, throbbing sensation of London's nightlife, one of the best in the world. You will find everything you are looking for: trendy clubs, hot atmosphere and exclusive drinks. Follow this London West End nightlife tour to get the party started!

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.3 km
Harry Potter Walk in London

Harry Potter Walk in London

Harry Potter has transformed fantasy into a world dominating superpower. Increasingly more people all across the globe become Harry's fans. The blockbuster movies were set entirely in Britain at the author JK Rowling's request. This 6-hour tour will give you step by step directions of how to explore all the London locations used in the Harry Potter films.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.6 km
Holborn/Covent Garden Walk

Holborn/Covent Garden Walk

During this self guided walking tour around Holborn and Covent Garden areas you will have a chance to visit such famous and interesting London attractions, as National Gallery, London Coliseum, London Transport Museum and many others. Don't miss your chance to explore the best of the Holborn and Covent Garden areas.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.7 km

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