London is a vibrant and culturally rich city that should be a major stop in any European vacation. From a history buff to a foodie, this city is packed with tons of attractions and destinations for every sort of traveler. Many people know of the common attractions – the red phone booths, afternoon tea and Buckingham Palace. But we’ve created this guide to let a first timer know what are the top things to do, see and eat in London as a first time traveler.
1. St Dunstan’s in the East
This beautiful gothic-styled public garden was designed by Christopher Wren. Tucked between Monument and Tower Hill, this surprisingly accessible park is a bit of a hidden gem in London.
2. Visit the smallest police station in the UK
Sitting right in Trafalgar Square, this is a very easy spot to overlook. While many people walk past this small structure, you should definitely take a chance to snap a picture at this interesting sight. It was originally erected to monitor the protests happening in Trafalgar Square, but is no longer active.
3. The 7 Noses
The 7 Noses is an art installation created by Rick Buckley. Dotted all around Soho, a traveler can have a fun afternoon hunting for all seven of them poking out from walls and other random places.
4. St. Martin in the Fields
This amazing building in Trafalgar Square has a ton of history behind it, not to mention some amazing architecture. One of the most commonly visited and photographed parts of this area is St. Martin’s Window: a famous and interestingly designed window that makes for some beautiful photographs.
5. The Whitechapel Bell Foundry
Though it may seem odd to visit a bell factory, the Whitechapel Foundry is hugely important as the maker of both Big Ben and the American Liberty Bell. The most impressive part about this is that it is the oldest manufacturing company in the UK, having operated for almost 500 years – and you can also buy your own bell here!
6. Isabella Plantation
This stunning public garden is something everyone must spend at least an hour or two walking through. Located in Richmond Park, you should head for King Henry’s Mound inside the garden to reward yourself with an amazing views of St. Paul’s Cathedral.
7. Number 10, Adam Street
This is a spot for the avid Instagrammer of the group. Being most well-known as the 10 Downing Street doppleganger location, you can snap a pic here and pretend that you had a private meeting with the Prime Minister.
8. Big Ben Bell Tower
This should be near the top of every itinerary for a London trip. In Westminister, Big Ben is probably the single most iconic sight to see in all of London. Try to get there a bit before dusk for some amazing night time shots.
9. Grab a drink at Sherlock Holmes Pub
The UK is known for its quaint little pubs, and London is no exception! Follow in the footsteps of the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes all the way to a pub of the same name to find a traditional pub and roof garden.
10. Peggy Porshen Cafe
In the past couple of years, coffee culture has well and truly arrived in London. Now, you’ll find dozens, if not hundreds of artisanal cafés, including that of Peggy Porschen. Pretty is pastel pink, it’s well worth a venture into Belgravia for the quaint cupcakes and specialty coffees!
11. Hyde Park
Found in Kensington, Hyde Park is the Central Park of London. This is a great spot to visit in the summer and to enjoy a casual day reading or having a picnic outside. You can also book a boat ride down Serpentine Lake.
12. Walk across Tower Bridge
The feat of engineering that is Tower Bridge makes it one of the most beautiful landmarks in London. Spanning the River Thames, it’s also possible to enter Tower Bridge for a small fee, and enjoy learning about the city’s history, as well as spotting some iconic landmark from the bridge’s summit.
13. Head to Leadenhall Market
Perhaps most well-known for being the backdrop of the Harry Potter films (as well as many others), Leadenhall Market is a neat place to spend an afternoon in London. If you’re looking to peruse shops, head over during the week. If you want a better photo opportunity and a more empty market, hit it on the weekends.
14. Visit Parliament Square
Another very popular attraction, Parliament Square (right in front of Big Ben) is a must-see stop. Walk through the square filled with beautiful trees, gardens and statues of some of the most famous faces in history.