London is one of the most vibrant cities in the world, with a history so rich and storied as to match its present-day status as a global financial and cultural powerhouse. As you’d expect from a city of such renown, London is home to a bewildering array of things to do, with cultural and historical attractions which represent both its colourful history and its constantly-evolving place in the modern world. We know that most visitors only have a limited amount of time, however, so we’ve brought together five of the city’s best attractions to help you make the best of your stay.
The Houses of Parliament
Representing centuries of democracy, and the seat of some of the most important political developments in global history, the Palace of Westminster is a must-visit for any trip to London. Comprising the two Houses of Parliament, the House of Commons and the House of Lords, and the iconic Big Ben (or Elizabeth Tower, to give it its official name), the Palace of Westminster is also an architectural marvel. The Montcalm London City Suites are perfectly located for a trip to Parliament.
St. Paul’s Cathedral
One of the oldest but still most iconic features of the London skyline, St. Paul’s Cathedral was completed by Sir Christopher Wren in 1697, and survived the ravages of the Blitz to remain one of London’s most beautiful buildings to this day. It’s also still a busy functioning church, and attendance of a service is free for worshippers – entry at other times is ticketed, with the price of entry including an informative audio tour. One of the cathedral’s most impressive architectural features is the Whispering Gallery, where the subtlest murmuring can be heard from the other side of the room.
The residence of one of the most iconic symbols of the United Kingdom – Her Majesty the Queen – a visit to Buckingham Palace is often found at the top of tourists’ lists when they arrive in London. Perhaps surprisingly given the status of its occupants, some of the Palace is open to the public: the State Rooms, in which the monarch receives and entertains subjects and dignitaries, are available to view on a guided tour throughout the summer months. The Picture Gallery is also well worth a visit, while the Changing of the Guard is picture-postcard British pageantry.
The London Eye
To experience a more modern symbol of London – and to enjoy fantastic views of the capital – visit the London Eye, which offers one of the city’s best vantage points. Second in height only to the viewing platform in The Shard, the Eye has the notable advantage of allowing you to take in Europe’s tallest building in all its glory, along with other iconic landmarks such as the OXO Tower, St. Paul’s, and the Gherkin.
The Tate Modern
A culture vulture’s paradise, the Tate Modern is one of the world’s leading modern art galleries, and is home to work by artists as iconic as Pablo Picasso, Roy Lichtenstein and Damien Hirst. Housed in the former Bankside Power Station, exploring the building’s maze-like, industrial walkways is an experience in itself, and the gallery stands as a symbol of London’s never-ending evolution. Admission to the Tate Modern is free of charge, although special exhibitions require an entrance fee.
Of course, the above represent just a tiny proportion of what London has to offer, but they’re a good place to start. Whether you’re making a flying visit or have longer to explore at your leisure, London has something to offer everyone, from foodies to art lovers, sport fanatics to music buffs, and everything in between.