London Introduction Walking Tour, London

London Introduction Walking Tour (Self Guided), London

After the Roman invasion of 43 AD, the settlement of Londinium came into being. Things went well enough until 61 AD. Then Queen Boudica and her Iceni warriors arrived. They burned the town to ashes. They were not just rowdy tourists. Londinium had died but it rose again and it flourished until the Romans left in the 5th century.

With the Romans gone, Londinium was Anglo-Saxon Lundenwic. Until 994 the Vikings were persistent visitors. It was the turbulent time of Danelaw and Alfred the Great. By the 11th century, King Edward the Confessor had built Romanesque Westminster Abbey. The stage was set for William the Conqueror.

On Christmas Day, 1066, William was crowned King in brand-spanking-new Westminster Abbey. William was no slouch. He set to work to scare his new subjects. He built the Tower of London. William II, the Conqueror's third son, built Westminster Hall. It was destroyed by fire in 1834, and replaced by the new Palace of Westminster.

Only a few Tudor houses, some Roman remains and the dreaded Tower in central London survived the Great Fire of 1666. Sir Christopher Wren, architect, designed 54 London churches after the fire. His works included St. Paul's Cathedral and the towering Monument to the Fire near London Bridge.

The architectural sights of London are varied, old and new. Among the new is 30 St Mary Axe, called "the Gherkin", built in 2004. The Gothic Revival St. Pancras Hotel was built in 1868. Shakespeare's reconstructed Globe Theatre of 1644 is not to be missed. The amazing 19th century Tower Bridge has a glass footbridge high above the Thames.

There are the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, the Royal Albert Hall, the London Eye ferris wheel. Should we mention parks? Hempstead Heath, with deer and peacocks. Hyde Park, Kew Gardens, St. James, Greenwich. Monuments, squares, museums, what does London not have? London is said to have two of everything, frequently more than that.

Cities, mayors, dioceses, opera houses, orchestras, universities, the list goes on. The city most visitors see is contained within its 18th century boundaries. It is easily explored on foot. Start with Westminster Abbey or almost anywhere.

The greatest cities, it has been said, are those where one can walk. The great English writer Samuel Johnson once said: "When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life."
How it works: Download the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play Store 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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London Introduction Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: London Introduction Walking Tour
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 or 2.6 Miles
Author: clare
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Westminster Abbey
  • Big Ben & Houses of Parliament
  • Westminster Bridge
  • Churchill War Rooms
  • Number 10 Downing Street
  • Household Cavalry Museum
  • Trafalgar Square
  • National Gallery
  • Admiralty Arch
  • St. James's Park
  • Buckingham Palace
  • Queen's Gallery
  • Hyde Park
Westminster Abbey

1) Westminster Abbey (must see)

Westminster Abbey is a Gothic church in the municipal borough of The City of Westminster. Back in the day, Westminster was a totally separate town from London. The documented origins of the abbey date back to the late 10th century. A century later, during a major reconstruction run by King Edward the Confessor, the church got its Romanesque look becoming one of the grandest temples of Europe of that period.

The construction of the present church started in 1245 under Henry III, who put the unique Cosmati pavement in front of the High Altar, and it was largely completed during the reign of King Richard II. Under Henry VII, a chapel was added in 1519, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The two western towers of the abbey, featuring early Gothic Revival style, were added between 1722 and 1745.

By far more than just a church but a symbol rather, Westminster Abbey, in a way, represents the epitome of Britishness set in stone. This is the place where all the English and later British monarchs have been crowned, starting with William the Conqueror in 1066. Some of them, like Queen Elizabeth I, are buried here as well, alongside prominent Britons like scientists Isaac Newton & Charles Darwin, writers Charles Dickens, Geoffrey Chaucer, and Rudyard Kipling, actor Laurence Olivier, and many others. In 1997, funeral of Diana, the Princess of Wales was held here. Recently, the Abbey made mark on a more cheerful note hosting the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011.

Owing to this popularity, all year round, Westminster Abbey is besieged by visitors who stand in long queues outside, waiting to get in. If you wish to skip the line, it is therefore recommended that you get your tickets online, in advance. Upon arrival, just tell the attendants you have your tickets already and walk straight in. No picture taking is allowed inside the abbey, mind you, so you'll have to rely entirely on your visual memory to absorb whatever info you can about this magnificent place.

***Charles Dickens Tour***
No Dickens tour of London is complete without calling at Westminster Abbey to see the final resting place of one of England's greatest novelists. Found in the Poet’s Corner, alongside the likes of Geoffrey Chaucer, Thomas Hardy, Alfred Tennyson and Rudyard Kipling, a small stone with a simple inscription marks the grave of Charles Dickens.

Per author's own will, "That my name be inscribed in plain English letters on my tomb... I rest my claims to the remembrance of my country upon my published works...", the tombstone inscription simply states:

DIED 9th JUNE 1870

Dickens died at his home in Gad's Hill Place, near Rochester, Kent but was interred in Westminster Abbey following public demand, led by The Times newspaper, that the abbey be the only place for the burial of someone of such distinction. Arthur Penrhyn Stanley, Dean of Westminster, after being approached by John Forster and the author's son, readily agreed and the funeral was held strictly private, following Dickens' own instructions.

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

Opening Hours:
Mon-Tue, Thu, Fri: 9:30am-3:30pm; Wed: 9:30am-6pm; Sat: 9am-3pm (May-Aug) / 9am-1pm (Sep-Apr); Sun: Open for servies
Big Ben & Houses of Parliament

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

Commonly known as Big Ben, this iconic tower is one of the dominant objects on the London skyline. At the top, there is a four-faced Great Clock with five bells, the largest of which is called Big Ben, not the tower itself, and it weighs a staggering 15 tonnes!!! This grand bell tolls every hour, while the smaller bells chime every quarter past the hour.

Up until 2012, the tower was officially known as the Clock Tower but was then renamed to Elizabeth Tower for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. Some say, the Big Ben label relates to Benjamin Hall who supervised the bell installation, while others reckon it had something to do with the heavyweight boxing champion of that time, Benjamin Caunt. Either way, Big Ben is a cultural icon and its Victorian mechanism signals precise timing to everyone in Britain including members of Parliament who occupy the adjoining Westminster Palace.

Also known as Houses of Parliament, this palace accommodates the House of Lords and the House of Commons. Ironically, after the Old Westminster Palace burned down in 1834, the British Parliament could have ended up in Buckingham Palace, as proposed by King William IV who, in reality, simply didn't like the property himself and wanted to get rid of it. The MPs, however, found Buckingham not quite suiting their purpose and rejected the offer, sticking with the good old Westminster.

Today, the House of Commons is a regular news-maker and its sittings draw much attention, particularly Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesdays. Both the Commons and the Lords are regularly open to visitors and have public viewing galleries. To attend Parliament sessions, one has to request a free ticket from their MP or stand in a live queue outside, which is often simpler. There's tight “airport-style” security at the entrance, scanning belongings, taking off and inspecting shoes, belts and other metal objects of visitors. It doesn't take as long as at the airport, though.

If politics isn't one of your prime interests and your only care for Westminster for its architectural splendor, you may simply take a memorable photo of Big Ben and Houses of Parliament from a distance, at the nearby Westminster Bridge some 500 yards away.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 9am-5pm
Westminster Bridge

3) Westminster Bridge

Westminster Bridge is one of the many bridges spanning the river Thames in Central London. The current structure, created by Thomas Page, dates back to 1862 and replaces the original one built in 1750 by Swiss architect Charles Labelye. Because of its proximity to Houses of Parliament, and particularly the House of Commons, the bridge is painted the same green color as the benches inside the Commons. Oftentimes, because of this proximity to the seat of power, people mistake it for London Bridge, which is further downstream.

A popular legend has it that the infamous Jack the Ripper threw himself off Westminster Bridge on the last stroke of midnight on 31st December 1891 to escape captivity and disclosure of his identity. Something we'll never know for sure...

What does make this bridge special though is the views. The Palace of Westminster, the London Eye, County Hall, and the Thames itself make for a fabulous backdrop. The views north, east, and south are all superb.

Why You Should Visit:
An iconic bridge with great views to London Eye, Westminister, Big Ben, and the Thames river.
Churchill War Rooms

4) Churchill War Rooms (must see)

The Churchill War Rooms is a secret bunker underneath the former Office of Public Information in London (currently the Treasury). From here Winston Churchill commanded the British forces and recorded radio addresses to the nation during World War II. The unassuming entrance at the bottom of the Whitehall's Clive Steps on King Charles Street makes it easy to miss. The Germans never thought anyone would be stupid or brave enough to hide the emergency government in such plain sight.

The bunker was built in 1938 and then expanded and reinforced with a bomb-proof ceiling during the war. Even then, experts say, it wasn't totally bomb-proof if hit directly. The bunker is only 12 feet underground whereas Hitler's bunker was 180 feet.

Quite spacious – with over 30,000 square feet – it accommodates offices, conference rooms and sleeping quarters for the Wartime Cabinet and their families. When the war ended, they simply took their belongings and left. The facility now looks pretty much like it was back in 1945. The clocks inside are set to 4.58pm - the time when the first cabinet meeting here started on 15 October 1940. The manual calendar in the Map Room shows 16 August 1945 - the final day the facility was used as a strategic site - the day after Japan had officially surrendered.

Found here black phones with green handles are the breakthrough technology of the 1940s. Scrambler phones for secret communication, they made it impossible for spies to listen into a conversation by producing a so-called white noise. These phones took up to 20 minutes to warm up before they were ready to use.

The maps on the walls are dotted with thousands of tiny holes left by pins used to monitor the progression of Allied forces and convoys across the ocean. Some parts of the maps are so badly damaged that had to be patched over.

Churchill slept only three or so nights in this bunker, but often used his bedroom for afternoon naps and was quite famous for holding meetings here in various states of undress.

Among other artifacts depicting Churchill's life here is the fire bucket behind his chair which he used as an ashtray. Rumors say that the Marine guards used to sell Churchill's cigar stubs, left in the bucket, as souvenirs.

Underneath the secret bunker is another bunker for maintenance personnel and supporting staff. Most visitors to the War Rooms don't realize it exists as these sub-basement quarters are strictly-out-of-bounds. Filled with miles of lagging, pipes, wires and cables, these tunnels run for miles under Downing Street, the Houses of Parliament, Trafalgar Square and many other strategic locations in London. One of these caves is said to have been Churchill’s wine cellar.

Pre-book your ticket(s) online to jump the standby queue outside!
Allow a minimum of just over an hour for the audio tour.
Please be aware that there are not many food places in the immediate vicinity.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9:30am-6pm, last admission 5pm (Sep-Jun); 9:30am-7pm, last admission 5:45pm (Jul-Aug)
Closed 24, 25, 26 December
Number 10 Downing Street

5) Number 10 Downing Street

10 Downing Street, or simply “Number 10”, is the official residence and the office of British Prime Minister. It has been UK's no. 1 address for almost 300 years. The building contains over 100 rooms and was once three separate houses, now combined. A private residence in which the Prime Minister's family lives is on the third floor and their kitchen is in the basement. The other floors contain offices and numerous conference and reception rooms. There is an interior courtyard and, in the back, a terrace overlooking a half-acre garden. The Cabinet Room is separated from the rest of the house by soundproof doors.

The famous black front door is actually made of reinforced steel, rather than wood as most people may erroneously believe. This door has no keyhole and can only be opened from the inside, for which purpose there's always a doorman on duty. Speaking of that, the expression “In the hot seat” literally originates in Downing Street. A large black chair in the entrance hall of Number 10 is the seat previously used by the night watchman. This chair has an underneath drawer which, back in the day, was filled with hot coal to keep the guy on duty warm during long, cold night hours. The lamp above the door, the lion door knocker and the black and white floor in the entrance hall are also the iconic features. They were all added under the premiership of Lord Frederick North between 1770 and 1782.

Just as many other London properties, Downing Street suffered damage during WWII. On 14 October 1940, a bomb falling nearby hit the kitchen and state rooms. In 1991 another – mortar attack perpetrated by IRA – shuttered 10 Downing Street again. A reminder of that attack is the splinter stuck in the plasterwork upstairs, left untouched.

The walls of the Grand Staircase are lined with portraits of every British Prime Minister in chronological order. During his years as prime minister, Tony Blair had six plaster bees commissioned in the window frames in one of the drawing rooms upstairs. Under Mrs. Thatcher, there was a little model roof Thatcher built into one of the door frames. None of this, however, is open to a public eye, as the entry to Number 10 is strictly forbidden to the general public for security reasons. Only staff and authorized personnel are allowed in.

*** Harry Potter Movie***
Contrary to what many habitually perceive in their every-day life as solely the home and office of the British Prime Minister, the number 10 Downing Street is also where, according to the first chapter of “Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince,” is a portal between the wizarding world and the muggles world, through which leader of the U.K. can occasionally communicate with the Minister for Magic.

It is also here that the magician Kingsley Shacklebolt operate undercover as a protector of the Prime Minister in a war against the evil magical forces led by Lord Voldemort. Apparently, there is more to this place than meets the eye…

Recommended as part of a much wider visit to Whitehall and Westminster as a whole.
Household Cavalry Museum

6) Household Cavalry Museum

The Household Cavalry Museum is one of London’s most historic buildings. It dates back to 1750 and houses the headquarters of the Household Division in which the Household Cavalry has been performing the Queen’s Life Guard daily ceremony largely unchanged for over 350 years now. The Calvary itself was formed in 1661 by direct order of King Charles II and presently consists of two senior regiments of the British Army – The Life Guards and the Blues and Royals.

The place offers a unique opportunity to observe real troopers doing their daily chores, among which is working with horses in the original 18th century stables. The Household Cavalry Museum features an outstanding collection of rare and unique treasures – from ceremonial uniforms, royal standards and gallantry awards to musical instruments, horse furniture and Fabergé silverware.

Museum is open daily 10 am – 5 pm.
Trafalgar Square

7) Trafalgar Square (must see)

Trafalgar Square is a #1 square in Britain and is as close as you can get to the heart of London. Charing Cross, the small traffic island south of Trafalgar, is technically where all distances to London are measured from. Speaking of measures, the Imperial Standard measures used in the UK prior to 1965, such as inches, feet, yards, links, chains, perches and poles, are all found in Trafalgar Square as well. In 1876 they were installed in the northern terrace wall, but in 2003 were relocated behind the cafe and placed along the steps, after the north side of the square was made pedestrian.

The story of Charing Cross itself is quite remarkable and starts in 1290 when Eleanor, the wife of king Edward I, died and her body was taken from Lincoln to Westminster Abbey. On the way, the procession stopped at 12 different locations including the village of Charing. At each of those stops, a memorial Eleanor Cross was erected. The memorial cross in Charing was eventually destroyed during the Civil War in the 17th century and was rebuilt only in the Victorian era, in the 1860s. Mistakenly, however, they put it in London, outside Charing Cross Station, and not in the Charing village.

Trafalgar Square owes its name to Admiral Lord Nelson who died on 21 October 1805 at the Battle of Trafalgar. That battle was part of a Napoleonic war and saw British, led by Admiral Nelson, take on the combined French and Spanish fleet. The Royal Navy enjoyed a remarkable victory that day, commemorated since as the greatest victory in its history. In memory of that event, the name “Trafalgar Square” was coined in 1835.

Eight years later, another tribute to Lord Nelson – Nelson's Column – was erected in the center of the square. The column was built of Devon granite and adorned, around its base, with four bronze reliefs depicting Nelson's most famous battles: St Vincent, Copenhagen, The Nile, and Trafalgar. Four guardian lions at its foot appeared in 1868 and were made initially of stone. The ones we see today are cast in bronze and replace the originals considered not impressive enough. The bronze statues were created by sculptor Edwin Landseer and modeled on real lion corpses to ensure ultimate physiological accuracy. Despite that, however, a serious blunder was committed about the lions' backs. In real life, the back of a lying lion is always convex, not concave, as it is in the sculpture.

In 1845, in order to reduce space for public gatherings in Trafalgar Square, two fountains were added, designed by Charles Barry. Eventually, they had to be replaced with new fountains, while the original old ones were gifted to Canada. To oversee public gatherings in Trafalgar, in 1926 a one-man police phone box was installed in its south east corner. Today, it is used solely by cleaners as a storage room.

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

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.
National Gallery

8) National Gallery (must see)

The National Gallery is a popular attraction visited annually by up to six million people. It houses one of the greatest collections of Western European art in the world spanning from 1250 until 1900, comprising the works of Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Renoir, Picasso, Van Gogh, and many other greats.

Established by British government in 1824, The National Gallery started off with just slightly over 30 paintings or so. Today, it boasts a collection of more than 2500 pieces, two-thirds of which are private donations, and the rest have been acquired with donated funds including £50 million from Sir Paul Getty. Some of this cash has been used to expand the building, such as the Sainsbury Wing constructed in 1985.

Apart from viewing famous artworks, there are many other off-the-beaten-track things you can do at the gallery. One such thing is discovering the hidden Leonardo. For example, “The Virgin of The Rocks” piece. There, underneath the famous upper layer hides another layer painted also, quite possibly, by Da Vinci himself. If you go to room 66, you may then pride yourself on the knowledge that you have seen actually two pictures for the price of one:)

Also, you can try your hand at life drawing in a class with a real life naked model! Speaking of nudity, you might as well do some maths at the National Gallery counting nipples on display, just to keep yourself busy until the closing time. While at it, please note that between 11.30am and 2.30pm each day the gallery offers free 1-hour tours. These tours are a sort of “crash courses” in fine arts and British art history. Additionally, at 1pm the gallery runs specially-scheduled lunchtime art talks. Also, every couple of months the National Gallery holds late night Friday events on a variety of topics, such as Renaissance art, sugar crafting, calligraphy workshops, etc.

If you fancy a bite in the arty setting, why not do so in style, right here at the National Gallery. The local restaurant is quite unique in terms of serving Colchester native oysters alongside a regular choice of cakes, sandwiches, teas, coffee and more. The National Gallery has its own afternoon tea, the menu and the theme of which vary depending on the exhibition currently in place. Regardless of the menu, the scones are always present. The afternoon tea is served daily and no prior booking is required.

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.

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
Admiralty Arch

9) Admiralty Arch

Heading west up the Strand to Trafalgar Square, one can't help noticing the Admiralty Arch. This arch is one of the most photographed buildings in London and marks the outset of another major street, the Mall, leading straight to Buckingham Palace, residence of the British monarch.

The Admiralty Arch was commissioned by King Edward VII in memory of his late mother, Queen Victoria. Sadly, the King never lived to see it finished, as he himself died before it was completed in 1911. The building adjoins the Old Admiralty from which it takes the name. The Admiralty originally housed the offices and residences of the Sea Lords – heads of the Royal Navy. Today, the building has been sold on a 125-year lease to a private developer to be converted into a 100-room hotel complete with residences and a private members' club.

A peculiar thing about the arch is the so-called “nose” – a stone protrusion, the size and shape of a human nose – found high on the inside of its northernmost wall. No-one knows for certain as to why it is there or what it represents. Some say, this is one of the several prosthetic noses placed around London by artist Rick Buckley some decade ago. Others reckon the nose is a tribute to the Duke of Wellington who indeed had a fairly large nose, although there’s no absolute proof to that. This fact, however, doesn't stop the Royal Horse Guards, passing through the arch, from routinely rubbing this protrusion for a good luck as a token of their respect to the Iron Duke:)
St. James's Park

10) St. James's Park (must see)

St. James's Park is a 23-hectare park in Westminster, and is the oldest of the Royal Parks of London. Both, the park and the surrounding area are named after a leper hospital dedicated to St. James the Less, the Bishop of Jerusalem, that stood here from around the 1180s up until 1531 when it was demolished for the construction of St James’s Palace. To the west of the park is Buckingham Palace. For that reason, St. James's is never short of visitors coming to see the royal residence.

The park has a small lake, called St. James's Park Lake, with two islands - Duck Island and West Island. A bridge across the lake offers a remarkable view of Buckingham Palace framed by trees and fountains, plus a view of the main building of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, framed just as cutely, to the east. St. James's park is the easternmost of the near-continuous chain of parks comprising Green Park, Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens.

Why You Should Visit:
Lots of green space to lay around, and lots of wildlife.
You may also find live music, events, or other fun things occurring.

Allow time to walk all the way through and hop the tube on the other end!

Opening Hours:
Daily: 5am-12am
Buckingham Palace

11) Buckingham Palace (must see)

Buckingham Palace is the official London residence of the British monarch. Prior to becoming a palace, it was Buckingham House - a large townhouse built for the Duke of Buckingham in 1703. In 1761, King George III acquired this property as a private home for Queen Charlotte. It finally became the official royal residence under Queen Victoria in 1837. It was also Victoria who started the tradition of the royals showing up on the balcony, when she appeared there for the first time during the opening of the Great Exhibition at Hyde Park in 1851.

The oldest part of the palace, dating back to 1760, is the wine vaults located below the west wing. During the 19th century, the palace had three wings added around a central courtyard. Eventually, Victoria realized that the palace wasn't big enough for official receptions, so she ordered that the Marble Arch, once set in front of the palace, be moved to the north east corner of Hyde Park, and then used the vacated space for the construction of the palace's fourth wing.

Buckingham Palace boasts the largest private garden in London, 39 acres. It is also home to the National Collection of mulberries. The Palace itself is built on a site once used by King James I for a mulberry garden planted in an attempt to rear silkworms in the 1600s.

Within the garden there is an oldest helicopter pad in London. The very first helicopter landed there just before the Queen’s Coronation in 1953. Half a century later, in the year 2000, an official helipad was built there to prevent the lawn from damaging. Instead of concrete, though, which didn't look too appealing, the Royal helipad is paved with a layer of matting underneath the grass.

Inside the palace itself, other than 775 rooms and various amenities, there is a Court Post Office run by Royal Mail, an ATM machine, and reportedly a swimming pool, doctor's office and a movie theater. Rumors also suggest there's a branch of the Post Office Railway running right beneath the palace and the underground tunnels linking Buckingham to various parts of London including the Whitehall and Houses of Parliament.

Why You Should Visit:
It's amazing to see parts of an actually working Palace, though you don't get to look around all its 700 rooms.

If you don't bring a packed lunch thinking you can have some food in the local shops, you will be astonished at the prices.

Opening Hours:
9:30am-7:30pm, between the 22nd of July and 31st of August
Queen's Gallery

12) Queen's Gallery

Everyone visiting London these days feels obliged to go to Buckingham Palace, as the matter of must, to see the famous Changing of the Guard ceremony. Few realize, though, that the palace is also renowned for its Queen’s Gallery which is very much a “must see” attraction in its own right. Interestingly enough, at some point, Buckingham House that once stood on the spot occupied by palace today, was considered a potential site for the British Museum, but was eventually discarded as too expensive.

During the Blitz, in 1941, the palace’s chapel was destroyed by a bomb, and when the reconstruction began, it was decided not to rebuild the chapel but to create a Royal Museum so that people could see items from the Royal Collection.

The Gallery was opened to the public in 1962. In total, it has over 450 items displayed at any given time, on a rotational basis: clothing, decorative art, furniture, paintings, photographs, porcelain, and sculptures. NOTE: if you wish to see the Crown Jewels, you have to go to the Tower of London! Also, if you visit with kids, you may want to take advantage of the Family Activity Bag which is designed to help the young ones understand the exhibits in a fun way.

Taking photos or filming inside the gallery is strictly forbidden and visitors are asked to turn off their mobile phones.

You can get your ticket stamped at the end for a free return to other exhibitions within the next 12 months.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9:30am-5:30pm
Hyde Park

13) Hyde Park (must see)

Hyde Park is one of the largest Royal Parks in London and a home to several attractions. The most notable of them is the Speakers' Corner on the north-east side, near Marble Arch. This platform for campaigners, preachers, and those seeking to express their views on a variety of subjects, all except criticizing the Queen of course, has been in place since the mid 1800s. Among the historic figures to have spoken here at the time are Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin and George Orwell.

The tradition of public speech in this spot dates back hundreds of years to the infamous Tyburn Gallows that use to be nearby. There, between 1196 and 1783, over 50,000 people had been executed, each of which was allowed a final word before hanging. Some of them confessed, others defended their innocence or criticized the authorities. People enjoyed watching the executions and even bought tickets. Eventually, the gallows were dismantled, but the tradition for protest at Hyde Park remained.

Not far from away here is a Rotten Row, famous for being Britain's first illuminated street. The lights here were installed back in the 1690s by King William III who built this road to travel between Kensington Palace and St James's Palace. In fear of attack by highwaymen, he ordered it to be lit with 300 gas lamps. The name “Rotten Row” is a mispronounced version of the French “Route du Roi”, which means King's Road.

Another popular sight of the park is near the Grand Entrance at the south-east corner. It is called Apsley House and was originally built for Lord Apsley in 1778. What makes it popular is that for several years this house was the home of the 1st Duke of Wellington who defeated Napoleon at Waterloo. It was also the first property on the north side of Piccadilly that came into sight for those entering London from the west, for which reason people jokingly referred to it as 'Number 1, London'. The official address here is 149 Piccadilly, Hyde Park Corner, London, yet rumors insist that if you post a letter to “Number 1, London”, it would come here.

Hyde Park is divided in two by the body of water called, the Serpentine. This pond is much popular with nature lovers and photographers, and is also one of the best-known outdoor swimming spots in London. Every Christmas, members of the Serpentine Swimming Club gather here for the Peter Pan Cup organized by the Peter Pan author JM Barrie in 1904.

Why You Should Visit:
Great place for so many activities! In this park, you can nearly do anything.

Take a map with you if you're not familiar with the park, or rent a bike and cycle around.
For nature lovers & photography enthusiasts, add Serpentine Lake to your list.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 5am-12am

Walking Tours in London, England

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Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.5 Km or 2.8 Miles
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Shakespeare's London Walking Tour

Shakespeare's London Walking Tour

Often called England's national poet or simply "the Bard", William Shakespeare is revered as one of, if not the greatest playwright this world has ever seen. The dramas, such as Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Othello, King Lear, and Macbeth are among the finest creations in the English language, translated into every major language and performed more often than those of any other author....  view more

Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.7 Km or 2.9 Miles
Harry Potter Walking Tour I

Harry Potter Walking Tour I

The arrival of Harry Potter books, followed by tremendously successful Hollywood adaptation, has made London an even more popular destination now with the Harry Potter fans all over the world. The list of attractions in the city associated with Potter’s journeys includes both, newly-invented as well as some long-standing locations.

On Part I of the self-guided Happy Potter Walking Tour, you...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.7 Km or 1.7 Miles

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London Souvenirs: 20 Distinctively British Products for Travelers

London Souvenirs: 20 Distinctively British Products for Travelers

Most visitors to London consider shopping as part of their must-do London experience. From street markets to Victorian arcades to snobbish Sloane Square to busy Oxford Street, there are a host of shops selling items which typically represent this vibrant city. Whether you are shopping for souvenirs...