Narrowing London’s production line of iconic attractions and incredible sights down to just 10 is a nigh-on impossible task, but the modern obsession with easily consumed lists means we can’t avoid giving it a go. Granted, we aren’t entirely sure where to start, but we’ve never shirked a challenge. What are London’s must-visit attractions? In the humble opinion of In Your Pocket, look no further. We expect those complaints in 3, 2, 1…
The most famous house on the planet? Okay, so Buckingham Palace is a little more than your standard dwelling, but this may well be the most iconic residence on Planet Earth. The Queen (yes The Queen) lives here, a stately-as-stately-gets mansion built in 1703 for the Duke of Buckingham which became the official residence of the monarch in 1837. Visits are possible during the summer months, and you’ll quite simply be blown away by the opulence on show. Don’t expect to see Her Majesty on your tour however — visits are only available when she is out of town.
It isn’t too much of a stretch to say that Big Ben is the most photographed clock in the world. Built in 1859, the famous clock and tower is actually called the Elizabeth Tower, but everyone and their dog knows it by its more informal moniker, a sobriquet thought to have been inspired by the Welsh civil engineer who oversaw its installation. The clock tower was once voted the most popular landmark in the entire country, so no trip to the capital is complete without snapping a shot of Big Ben, although the tower is currently undergoing some much needed renovations.
Tower of London
Founded in 1066 as part of the Norman Conquest of England, the Tower of London has seen plenty of ups and downs in the years since. It has fulfilled a number of roles (including a stint as a zoo, of all things), but it is perhaps best known for the more gruesome elements of its history. The Tower acted as a prison for many years, and a host of notable Brits spent time in its dank cells, among them Elizabeth ! and Sir Walter Raleigh, and is famous for being a place of torture, death and despair. Sounds like the perfect tourist attraction to us.
It is more than just a church, both literally and figuratively. Westminster Abbey (or the Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster, to be exact) is where kings and queens are crowned and where the monarchs are eventually buried, a stunning Gothic beauty with over a millennium of history behind it and more than a millennium to come. The details are seemingly endless, be it the intricate work of the exterior or the nothing-left-to-chance nature of the inside. The old museum inside has been replaced by the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries, housed inside the abbey’s triforium.
Houses of Parliament
The Houses of Parliament may or may not be on fire by the time you visit, such is the erratic nature of British politics at the moment, although it wouldn’t be the first time that flames have engulfed this magnificent complex. It is here that the levers of British democracy churn away, as the country’s MPs sit and debate whatever it is that is on the minute sheet for this day. Self-guided tours are available, although the immensely detailed guided tour should definitely be considered.
A major London landmark since the days of the 14th century, Trafalgar Square can lay claim to being the spiritual centre of this remarkable city. Put simply, if something is happening in London then there will be plenty of people hanging around Trafalgar Square, surrounding the 52metre Nelson’s Column and the many other sculptures and fountains that ring the square. Political protests often take place here, making it easy to forget about the magnificent architecture that surrounds this famous London spot.
Few things bring home the essence of being in London like Piccadilly Circus. Neon advertising signs flash brightly above the teeming mass of humanity that is London’s residents and visitors, as a conveyer belt of taxis and buses trundle pass. It might not sound like the perfect tourist attraction, but there is something about this public space that really excites. The Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain is found on the southeast of the circus, although don’t make the mistake of calling it ‘Eros’ like so many others — the winged figure commemorated is actually Anteros.
We’re usually a little wary when it comes to gigantic observation wheels, but there breadth and scope of the London Eye really sets it apart from the rest. The views are deserving of the breathtaking sobriquet, while no expense is spared when it comes to dispensing a wealth of information in a wide variety of languages. Open to the public since the year 2000, this is the most popular paid tourist attraction in the entire country, attracting almost four million wide-eyed visitors annually. Standard tickets start at £27.
The city’s most iconic bridge. Tower Bridge is one of those famous structures that offers more in actuality than it does in photographs, a truly memorable landmark that is every bit as functional and practical as it aesthetically impressive. Completed in 1894, the bridge connects Tower Hamlets on the north to Southwark on the south, with 244metres of absolute grace above the historic River Thames. It doesn’t get much more Instagrammable than this.
Hampton Court Palace
King Henry VIII might be the most famous of all historic English monarchs, but only two palaces have survived the centuries since the belligerent king’s reign. Hampton Court Palace is the most impressive, although much of the Tudor history was removed during King William III’s massive renovation spree. The palace and its gardens are among the most awe-inspiring in London and its maze remains one of the most famous of its kind, although those hoping to get utterly confused and completely lost might be disappointed. The palace is best approached by getting a train to Hampton Court, found in Zone 6.