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London is, after Bangkok and Paris, the most visited city in the world. The English capital offers countless attractions, and many of London’s sights are known far beyond the country’s borders. A city trip to London is therefore on the agenda for many German travelers – even after Brexit.

23 Sights in London for Your City Trip

You can discover London’s sights on your own or with one of the popular tours. In this article, we give you our tips for London to make sure you don’t miss any highlights of the million-strong metropolis. Many of these attractions are relatively well-known, but we’ve also listed a few lesser-known must-sees.

How to get to London

The best way to reach London is by airplane, as the city has a total of 5 airports. Many airlines land at Heathrow, Stansted, or Gatwick, but some also arrive at London City or Luton Airport. However, you can reach the city center from anywhere within an hour. The best overviews of flights, prices, and tickets can be found on Skyscanner.

Info: While you can make your way to the city from any airport on your own, if you’re traveling with a group, a pre-booked transfer can be worthwhile.

Furthermore, there are options to reach London by train through the Eurotunnel from Brussels or Paris. Taking a ferry, for example, from Calais to Dover would also be a possibility. However, the most budget-friendly way to get to London is by taking a long-distance bus. For more information on tickets and prices, you can check out Omio.

Accommodation in London – our hotel tip

During our stay in London, we stayed at the Ibis London City Shoreditch. The hotel is located just a few minutes’ walk from Aldgate East Metro station. Right next door, you’ll find a Tesco Lotus supermarket, and Petticoat Lane Market is also reachable within a 2-minute walk. A great starting point.

Room at Ibis Shoreditch in London
Example room in the Ibis London City Shoreditch

The rooms are a bit smaller, which is usually the norm in London. However, they come equipped with everything you need. Television, private bathroom, comfortable beds, free Wi-Fi, and a fantastic breakfast buffet are provided by the Ibis Shoreditch. You can find more hotels in other neighborhoods of London here.

1. Buckingham Palace

The classic! Since 1837, Buckingham Palace has been the official residence of the British monarchs, at least when they are in London. When foreign heads of state come to the UK, official state events also take place here. Besides, Buckingham Palace is, of course, an attraction among London’s sights and draws thousands of visitors daily.

View of Buckingham Palace in the heart of London

Another reason why many tourists come here is especially the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace. It is conducted in a kind of ceremony, and many onlookers come specifically for it to the palace. If you are interested even more in Buckingham Palace, then a guided tour of the Changing of the Guard is worthwhile.

2. St. James’s Park

The St. James’s Park is one of the royal parks of London and is situated with its 23 hectares between the Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey. You can easily walk through it on a stroll between these two London landmarks.

View from St. James's Park towards the London Eye

In 1837, the park was extensively redesigned, giving rise to the present St. James’s Park Lake. It offers partial views of the London Eye from one of its bridges and otherwise plenty of green spaces for relaxation, particularly during the summer. Additionally, there are some stalls selling snacks and beverages.

3. Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey is London’s most famous church, where many royal family weddings and coronations of former kings took place. The abbey church was consecrated in December 1065, and King Edward, who commissioned it, was buried there. The current form of Westminster Abbey was built in 1245 by Henry III.

One of London's most iconic landmarks: Westminster Abbey from the outside

Even today, Westminster Abbey remains an active church, holding services every Sunday. You can visit the church and attend the service at that time, but otherwise, it’s not open for viewing. However, it is open from Monday to Saturday, from 9:30 am to 3:30 pm.

Additionally, there is a museum inside where you can see many items related to royal burials and other artifacts. Admission to Westminster Abbey costs £22. It is advisable to purchase a ticket online before your visit.

4. Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament

This must not be missing from our list either. One of London’s must-see attractions is Big Ben, actually Elizabeth Tower (since 2012), and the connected Houses of Parliament. Located directly on the banks of the Thames, not far from Westminster Abbey, you’ll find this landmark of London.

Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament on the Thames in London

Originally, the clock tower was a prison where members of parliament were housed until 1880. In the Houses of Parliament, actually the Palace of Westminster, sits the British Parliament. If you’re interested in the premises, you can also take a tour of the Houses of Parliament.

5. London Eye

At 135 meters, the London Eye, currently the Coca-Cola London Eye, is the tallest Ferris wheel in Europe. It stands directly on the Thames, diagonally opposite Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. Since March 2000, the London Eye has been located here and has become a landmark and one of the most visited attractions in London.

Tobi, the London Eye, and the Thames in the background

The London Eye has 32 capsules, each accommodating approximately 25-28 people. A ride with great views over London lasts about 30 minutes. Since there are usually huge queues in front of the London Eye, it’s worth buying a ticket online in advance if you want to take a ride. We particularly recommend this on weekends and holidays.

It is open daily from 10.00 a.m. The London Eye closes at different times depending on the season, between 6:30 p.m. and 8.30 p.m.

6. Thames River Cruise

The Thames passes by many of London’s landmarks, such as the Big Ben, London Eye, the Tower Bridge, etc. This makes the river perfect for a boat trip on the Thames to get a completely different perspective. Many tours are offered here with starting points at the London Eye, Westminster, or the Tower Bridge.

Boat trip on the River Thames with the Tower Bridge in the background

Also, Hop-On Hop-Off boat tours are very popular, as you can ride the boat as many times as you like within 24 hours. A great alternative to London’s other public transportation. We always enjoy exploring cities from the water and can only recommend a boat trip on the Thames. Especially in summer, it’s a lot of fun.

7. Neal’s Yard

Neal’s Yard is located in the Covent Garden district and is a small courtyard with some shops, all dedicated to sustainability. The colorful houses attract many visitors to take the perfect Instagram photo. The entrance to Neal’s Yard is very easy to overlook.

Neal's Yard, a famous courtyard in the Covent Garden district of London

Here you’ll find cafes, restaurants, organic health & beauty shops, some seating areas, and above all, a great photo opportunity. Plenty of shops dedicated to a good cause together deserve your visit.

8. Piccadilly Circus

The Piccadilly Circus is one of London’s most important junctions and a meeting point for many locals. It is located near many shopping and entertainment options and is considered one of London’s top attractions due to its illuminated signs.

Illuminated signs at Piccadilly Circus in central London

Originally laid out in 1819, Piccadilly Circus has undergone many transformations over the years until its present form emerged. You’ll often find some street performers on-site entertaining visitors with music or other art forms.

9. Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Square is often referred to as the center of London. It is the largest public square and one of London’s most popular landmarks. Built between 1840 and 1845 in its current form, it has undergone some changes over time, such as the addition of the space in front of the National Gallery or the two large stone fountains.

Trafalgar Square in London

The tall column in the center of Trafalgar Square is a monument to Admiral Nelson, who achieved victory over the French and Spanish in the Battle of Trafalgar. The square has been a popular meeting place since the Middle Ages, and during your sightseeing in London, you’ll surely pass by here more than once.

10. Covent Garden Market

The Covent Garden Market is a popular market among visitors to London. Together with the Apple Market and Jubilee Market, Covent Garden Market covers a large area and offers a diverse range of goods. From restaurants, cafes, souvenir shops to crafts or even fresh fruits and vegetables, everything is offered here.

Cafés in Covent Garden, London

By the way, the proper name of the market grounds is Covent Garden Piazza, although it is rarely used by tourists and locals. This is also not the original location of the market, but rather its home since the 1980s. Nonetheless, it’s a great place to shop for souvenirs and take a break in the cafes while strolling through London.

11. St. Paul’s Cathedral

St. Paul’s Cathedral was built in 1666 after the Great Fire of London and is also one of London’s most famous landmarks. It is also the seat of the Archbishop of the Church of England.

Another famous landmark of London: St. Paul's Cathedral

If you attend a church service, entry to St. Paul’s Cathedral is free. However, if you only want to visit the cathedral, you must purchase a ticket. Then you can explore the interior of the church, including the crypt, galleries, and the view from the dome.

By the way, this is also the church where Prince Charles and Lady Diana got married. It is certainly a highlight for fans of the royal family.

12. Millennium Bridge

The Millennium Bridge is a 325-meter-long pedestrian bridge over the Thames, effectively connecting the St. Paul’s Cathedral with the Tate Modern Museum. It was opened in the year 2000 and is today another modern landmark of London for many visitors.

The famous Millennium Bridge of London

Even Harry Potter fans get their money’s worth here again. The bridge plays a role in the 6th film “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”, where it is destroyed.

13. Tate Modern

The Tate Gallery of Modern Art, as the Tate Modern is officially called, is located directly at the southern end of the Millennium Bridge in a converted old power station. It is one of the largest museums in the world when it comes to modern and contemporary art.

The museum, which opened in 2000, experienced a large influx of visitors, prompting the opening of an extension building in 2016. Today, there is even an observation platform, attracting visitors who are not necessarily interested in modern art.

View from the Tate Modern Museum of St. Paul's Cathedral, London

In the rear building on the top floor, you’ll find the observation platform of the Tate Modern, which you can visit for free. From there, you have a beautiful view over the Thames and many parts of the London skyline. It’s open daily from 10.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m., and on Fridays and Saturdays, even until 10:00 p.m. A short visit is definitely worthwhile.

14. Borough Market

Since the 13th century, the oldest food market in London has been taking place in the same location, near the London Bridge. It is one of the most famous food markets where you’ll find numerous stalls offering fresh and delicious food.

The popular Borough Market in London with the Shard in the background

The Borough Market covers an area with approximately 130 stalls, many of which offer regional products and emphasize quality. If you’re taking a stroll along the southern bank of the Thames, for example, from the Millennium Bridge to the London Bridge, be sure to pay a visit to Borough Market.

15. The Shard

Since February 2013, the impressive building The Shard has stood in London. Until October 2012, it was even the tallest building in Europe, reaching 310 meters. Inside, you’ll find the Shangri-La Hotel, luxury apartments, restaurants, shops, offices, and an observation deck.

The Shard, London's tallest building

For visitors, the observation deck on floors 68 to 72 is definitely the highlight. It’s open daily from 9:00 am to 10:00 pm, and you should get your tickets in advance as they are limited per hour. A great combination is visiting The Shard with a boat tour. The 360-degree view of London is absolutely worth it.

16. Monument

The Monument is a 61-meter-high column, erected as a memorial after the Great Fire of London in 1666. At its top sits a golden urn and an observation platform, which visitors can reach via a spiral staircase of 311 steps.

View from the Monument to the Tower Bridge in London
View of the Tower Bridge

However, the view is not entirely unrestricted but enclosed by a mesh fence, as until 1842 some people threw themselves to their deaths from the Monument. Open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., you can visit the view of the Tower Bridge or the London skyline with the Sky Garden for £4.50. When you exit the column, you will be given a small certificate to take home as a souvenir.

View from the Monument to the London skyline with the Sky Garden
View of the London skyline with the Sky Garden

17. Tower of London

The Tower of London was built in the 11th century by William the Conqueror and, over the years, has been used by English kings as a residence, armory, treasury, museum, or prison. Over the centuries, the Tower of London has been extensively rebuilt until it acquired its current form in the 19th century.

The Tower of London, near the Tower Bridge

For nearly 600 years now, visitors have been allowed to enter the Tower of London, which was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1988, and it is perhaps London’s most popular paid attraction. With a ticket, you gain entry to the Tower and insight into its history, as well as access to the famous Crown Jewels.

18. Tower Bridge

Of course, it must not be missing from any list: The Tower Bridge, opened in 1894, is certainly one of the most popular sights in London. It is also the easternmost bridge over the Thames and stands out with its neo-Gothic style. The Tower Bridge provides a connection between the City Hall and the Tower of London and can be crossed by car or on foot.

The Tower Bridge of London - one of the city's most popular sights

The two towers, with a height of 65 meters, are connected by a pedestrian bridge, which you can only enter if you have a ticket for the exhibition at the Tower Bridge. There, you will learn a lot about the history of the bridge and get a superb view of the Thames.

By the way, since it is a drawbridge, it is always a spectacle for visitors when ships pass through and the Tower Bridge opens. You can observe this very well either from the shore of the City Hall or from the shore of the Tower of London.

19. Brick Lane Market

In the Shoreditch district, the Brick Lane Market takes place every Sunday. From 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., you’ll find countless stalls offering everything from street food to clothing, second-hand goods, or other accessories.

Visitors at the Brick Lane Market in Shoreditch, London

The market is popular with Londoners, but tourists also come here more often as the trendy Shoreditch district becomes more and more well-known. Moreover, the Brick Lane Market is one of the largest in the area and therefore absolutely worth a visit, especially if you’re exploring London away from the well-known sights.

20. Hyde Park

The Hyde Park is often referred to as the green lung of London. It is one of the largest urban parks in the world and is also considered a popular landmark in London. Especially during the summer months, it attracts many visitors as well as city residents.

The Hyde Park in London - the green lung of the city

The green meadows simply invite you to relax. There is a huge lake, the Serpentine Lake, and also a bowling alley, a horse riding track, or small cafes and kiosks where you can buy refreshments.

Adjacent to Hyde Park, you can also visit the Kensington Gardens. Hundreds of years ago, this was once a large park, but it was separated in 1728. Occasionally, large concerts are also held in Hyde Park (e.g. Live Aid, Bon Jovi, etc.), but not regularly, rather as an exception.

21. Sky Garden

The London Sky Garden is the highest public garden in the city and a part of the so-called Walkie Talkie, as the skyscraper is affectionately called by the locals. In the Sky Garden, there is a restaurant, cafe, many seating options, and an open terrace with a great view over London.

Interior of the Sky Garden in London

The view is fantastic and offers a panorama with, for example, the Tower Bridge on one side, The Shard in the middle, and St. Paul’s Cathedral on the other side. Other views are glazed but still very beautiful.

View from the Sky Garden towards St. Paul's Cathedral and London Eye

The Sky Garden is open daily from 7.00 a.m. to 11.30 p.m. (Monday to Wednesday), 7.00 a.m. to midnight (Thursday and Friday), 8.00 a.m. to 1.00 a.m. (Saturday), and from 8.00 a.m. to 11.30 p.m. (Sunday). You can simply show up there, but it’s not guaranteed that you’ll get a ticket. Tickets are free but should preferably be reserved in advance (again, especially on weekends, etc.).

22. Leadenhall Market

The Leadenhall Market is a covered market in the City of London and has existed for centuries. Although it has been rebuilt and restored several times (most recently in 1991), it has long held its place among Londoners. And tourists also often visit Leadenhall Market.

Leadenhall Market, a Harry Potter filming location in London

The shops in Leadenhall Market are open weekdays from 7.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. However, you can visit the market around the clock if you just want to see the impressive building. Most visitors come here because Leadenhall Market represents a part of Diagon Alley, the shopping street for wizards, in the first Harry Potter movie.

23. Chinatown

In the London district of Westminster, you will also encounter Chinatown. Along Gerrard Street, you’ll be greeted by Chinese gates and find plenty of restaurants serving Chinese dishes. You’ll also come across small market stalls where you can buy, for example, the pungent fruit durian.

London's Chinatown

London’s Chinatown is particularly spectacular during Chinese New Year, which is celebrated on the full moon between the end of January and the end of February. During this time, there are large parades and various events to welcome the new year.

Plan your trip to London now

More hotel recommendations for London:

London: Tours and Tickets

Do you prefer to travel with a guide who knows the area very well? Then we recommend a guided tour with a local. This way you can get to know London in a completely different way. GetYourGuide offers a wide selection of exciting tours for London.

Have you visited London yet? What is the most beautiful landmark in London for you? Do you have any other tips for London?

Photos: Photo 5 (Big Ben and Houses of Parliament): omers/Shutterstock.com – Photo 15 (Borough Market): AC Manley/Shutterstock.com