A vibrant city
London is typically known as "The Old Smoke" due to its rich industrial heritage, this capital city is packed full of interesting and exciting attractions.
London is steeped in history and culture, making it one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. At Holiday Inn Express we are committed to giving you the best experience possible, which is why we have selected our top ten favourite London attractions for you to visit on your holiday.
The London Eye
Not just the "Eye" but the heart of London. The impressively-engineered structure itself is so huge that it quite literally can't be missed. On a clear day, take the opportunity to appreciate London in a spectacular way.
Centred between London's most famous sights on the banks of the Thames, The London Eye offers the best vantage of the whole city.
A trip will take around 30 minutes and will be popular so expect queues especially in the summer months. We would recommend looking into the flexi fast track ticket which allows you to pick the time of day you wish to visit. Simply pick up your ticket and enjoy the amazing views.
Open daily 10:00-20:00
Walking from the Trafalger Square down the Mall you will appreciate the history of prestige of such an iconic sight. Her Majesty's Buckingham Palace is an unforgettable attraction. From enormous foyers, extravagant chandeliers, great treasures and immaculate grounds, the splendour of the Buckingham Palace has to be seen.
In total there are 775 rooms, 72 bathrooms and 760 windows and within the months of August and September, 19 State Rooms are open to public viewing, each containing breath-taking collections of paintings and sculptures from Rembrandt, Rubins and Canova.
During the opening weeks in summer, visitors are able to explore the Palace gardens and when the Queen is in residence, the Changing of the Guards ceremony is a hugely popular experience.
A typical visit lasts between 2 and 2½ hours. No photography is allowed inside the palace.
Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament
The chime of Big Ben, the actual bell inside the clock tower of the Palace of Westminster, is as much a sound of London as the buzzing city streets.
Taking 32 years to build and rebuild after the London bombing during Second World War, the magnificent gothic architecture of both attractions are truly beautiful symbols of London. Linger in the presence of Big Ben overlooking the statues of Cromwell, Churchill and Emmeline Pankhurst.
You can even discover the building's history with a interesting guided tour inside the Westminster Parliament Building, rich with information, intrigue and plenty to feast your eyes upon, especially in the 1,000 year old Westminster Hall. Tours are available daily during the summer months and on Saturdays throughout the year and will take approximately 75 minutes.
Tower of London
Allow yourself to be drawn in by the ghost stories and (sometimes gruesome) history of the Tower of London. The 'Bloody Tower' was actually a fort during the reigns of Richard the Lionheart, King Edward I and Henry the III.
Over the centuries it was expanded upon to be the most secure site in the whole of Western Europe, just the place then to imprison Sir Walter Raleigh, Richard III nephews and Anne Boleyn. Of course the Tower of London is famously the keep of the Crown Jewels, since the early 14th century.
Head over to the Waterloo barracks to see legendary and extraordinary collections of Jewels including The Imperial State Crown, The Sovereign's Sceptre and many other symbols of the British Monarchy. If you have the time, take advantage of the tours conducted by the imposing Yeoman Warders or 'Beefeaters' which operate daily from 9am to 4:30pm. We would recommend beating the crowds by getting in before 10am.
No photography is allowed inside the Jewel House, the Martin Tower, the chapel of St John or in the Chapel Royal of St Peter ad Vincula.
Treat the kids to a day out among some furry friends. London Zoo, situated in Regent Park, is hours of entertainment for animal lovers, with over 650 species of animals, you will be able to get up close to some amazing creatures.
The world's oldest zoo which is managed by the Zoological Society of London is still a leading conservation charity and currently has over 140 breeding programs for endangered species.
Aim to get yourself a free event guide to plan your day around London Zoo but particular highlights to catch are the 'Animals in Action' show, The Clore Rainforest Lookout, the Gorilla Kingdom and the Tiger Territory.
St. Paul's Cathedral
While in London make sure you have time to marvel at Christopher Wren's architectural masterpiece. A special sight in the city's landscape, for the past 300 years, St. Paul's Cathedral has survived the Great Fire of London and the Blitz during the Second World War. If you choose to visit you won't be disappointed, if fact you'll be amazed. Stand under the famous dome and appreciate the vast scale and beauty before you.
Ascend to the Whispering Gallery, where you can experience the uniquely-astounding acoustics that give the gallery its name. If you have the stamina there are just a few more steps, ok 319 more, up to the Golden Gallery the highest point of the dome.
For your efforts you are duly rewarded with stunning views of the River Thames, Tate Modern and Shakespeare's Globe Theatre among other landmarks. Alternative you can visit the hauntingly, awe-inspiring crypt where the tombs of Admiral Lord Nelson, the Duke of Wellington and Sir Winston Churchill lie.
No photography is allowed inside the cathedral.
The mummy of all museums - From the Egyptian mummies to the Greek Parthenon columns, the British Museum is a fascinating chronicle of civilisations throughout history.
One of the most popular and most visited museums in the world it is also the oldest national museum in the world but best of all its absolutely free. With over seven million artefacts you will be hard pushed to take in everything on one visit but try and pick one or two civilizations and spend an hour or two appreciating their cultures.
However you may wish to head straight for the highlights; the Rosetta Stone (the key to deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphics), the Parthenon Sculptures (controversially brought to Britain from Athens in the early 19th century by Lord Elgin), the Aztec mosaic masks or the 'Lindow Man' (a 1st-century fellow that met a sticky end) and of course, the mummies. Make sure to notice the roof in the courtyard area as you enter, truly striking. Try to catch the 30-40 minute eyeOpener tours that run throughout the day.
Photography is allowed unless stated otherwise.
Your chance to spot the stars, Leicester Square is the centre of entertainment in London. Frequent film premieres take place in Leicester Square, guaranteed to attract crowds looking to catch sight of some famous actors on the red carpet. If you prefer stage to film you might still want to come here first as the official half-price theatre ticket booth, known as "TKTS", is located on the south side of the square.
Christmas time at Leicester Square sees a carnival bringing some seasonal colour to the surroundings that is enjoyed by kids and tourists alike. Make sure to visit the park to view the fountain with a statue of Shakespeare, Charlie Chaplin as well as the hand prints of stars past and present.
There is always something interesting going on at the Tate Modern. The home to modern and contemporary art in London is a very worthwhile way to spend a day amongst past masters like Monet, Dali, Ernst, Picasso, Pollock and Matisse.
Of course there are plenty of challenging, thought-provoking recent exhibitions throughout.So you can be sure the a few pieces in the 6 floors of displays create an emotion within regardless of your taste in art.
Feel free to relax in the café while you soak in the fantastic views of St. Paul's Cathedral and the Millennium Bridge.
Admission to Tate Modern is free, except for special exhibitions.
Photography is allowed without flash.
Natural History Museum
A trip to the Natural History Museum is highly recommended. The attractions within are interesting and en-gaging to all ages. There is always something to look at whether you are an excited family, a curious couple or even looking to spend a few hours being delighted by a lifetime of mesmerizing displays. From your first meeting Dippy in the entrance hall to the Earth Hall, the Natural History Museum is captivating.
Kids and big kids alike will love the Dinosaur Exhibit on the ground floor, filled with a great selection of fossils and attractions particularly the roaring, animated T. Rex. Other highlights include the Darwin Centre, exploring all aspects of evolution and The Earth Hall. Here in the Earth Science Show you will travel through the earth via an escalator, experiencing the true force of volcanoes and how and why they erupt.
Admission to the Natural History Museum is free.
Photography is allowed unless stated otherwise.
Thames River Cruises
A boat trip on the Thames is the most unique way to see the sights of Britain's Capital. It really is an amazing tourist experience.
Be ready with the camera as you drift past the Houses of Parliament, St Paul's Cathedral, Tower Bridge, Shakespeare's Globe theatre and more. There are various Thames river cruise operators starting and finishing different points along the river's banks.
Please check with your chosen cruise operator to see if you can enjoy a river cruise free of charge as part of your purchased hop-on-hop-off tourist pass.