Most people don’t need more than one reason to visit London. Maybe it’s for the royals. Perhaps it’s for James Bond. In any case, England’s capital city has hours upon hours of exploration to offer. To make sure you hit all the best spots on your trip, take note of the sights provided below by the team at AirportPreCheck.org, as these locations simply cannot be missed.
Houses of Parliament
While a tour of the inside of the Houses of Parliament is not particularly flashy, the grounds and the outer buildings themselves are as photogenic as it gets. Elizabeth Tower, which houses the great bell “Big Ben,” and its counterpart Victoria Tower, which features a proud English flag atop its crown, are beautiful up close. Spending an hour or so walking around the grounds and waiting to hear Big Ben’s chimes – he announces every hour on the hour – is a great way to get your trip started.
If William, Kate and Elizabeth were the reason you decided to cross the pond, then Westminster Abbey should definitely be your next stop. Just across the street from the Houses of Parliament, this idyllic white church with absolutely stunning – and colorful interiors will make your jaw drop. The AirportPreCheck.org team highly recommends booking a tour of the church, as tours provide plenty of information about past and current monarchs and their relationships with the abbey.
St. Paul’s Cathedral
St. Paul’s golden ceilings are breathtaking and no less regal than Westminster Abbey’s brilliant interiors. But a climb to the cathedral’s Golden Gallery – up 528 winding and grueling steps that are an experience all their own – and the view of the city that it offers are simply incomparable. The Whispering Gallery halfway-up is definitely a fun stop along the way, as the cathedral’s dome offers patrons the unique chance to hear someone else’s whispers from across the way. For a truly unforgettable experience, make sure to stay until the evening to attend evensong, where songs are sung by the church’s choir.
Though not the original – which, if you’re a Shakespeare fan, you’ll probably find hysterically appropriate – the current Globe Theater housed on the south bank of the River Thames was reconstructed in 1997 to mirror the playwright’s Globe as closely as possible. A troop of talented actors still plays to an open-air theater of groundlings and only slightly uncomfortable seated patrons, and the playhouse rotates showings (dramas, histories and comedies) seasonally. Even though it’s barely older than your youngest sibling, the team at AirportPreCheck.org promises that the Globe will transport you back to the 1600s, whether you just choose to tour the grounds or plan to take in a show.
Time-Tested Bars & Restaurants
As you can surely see from the sites above, London hardly lacks in historical locations. And, this goes beyond churches and government buildings. The city is flush with restaurants and bars that have been around for ages and once served the masters. Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, located in London’s famous Fleet Street (where the play “Sweeney Todd” takes place) has been around since 1667, and has hosted famous patrons – like Mark Twain and Charles Dickens – on numerous occasions. The Oscar Wilde Bar, a famous gold- and mirror-clad tea room right outside Piccadilly Circus, is a higher-end option to consider. Afternoon tea here is a lesson in London-specific luxury, as patrons sip the hours away while admiring the lavish decorations that lured in the likes of Oscar Wilde, Elizabeth Taylor and the Beatles.
Royal Gardens & Parks
Surrounded by impressive architecture, modern and historical, you might be surprised to know that London features some of the world’s most beautiful parks and gardens. Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park, St. James Park – all of these locations make for a wonderful escape away from the lights and sounds of the city. You can see plenty of swans and geese in Kensington, as well as the famous Peter Pan statue commissioned and designed by the play’s author, J.M. Barrie, himself. St. James Park features cherry blossoms in the spring and houses pelicans on its lake – right across from famous Buckingham Palace. And Hyde Park is often considered the most famous of them all, having been featured in movies like “Genevieve” (1953) and “Around the World in Eighty Days” (1956).