Top Things to See in London
Top Things to See in London
London is a GREAT stop on any overseas vacation and is often the first place travelers visit when they vacation abroad. The reasons are simple: London is a world class city full of fantastic sights, English is spoken and the culture is quite similar to our own in the US. This makes for an easy transition for travelers.
Before you go to London, you really need to check out my Travel Guide to London written just for the kids. It will be the BEST $3 investment you can possibly make for your trip. This book has information, tips, history, and FUN activities to get kids thinking and interested about the trip! I like to use these guide books with my kids on the long plane ride over to keep them happy and learning about our trip. Grow YOUR child’s brain while they have fun!
London is an excellent first place to get started exploring Europe. English is spoken and is close enough to our own to be easily understood while different enough to enjoy the differences! Kids love these differences! Here is a list of a few you’ll hear!
Some fun British/English language differences:
trainers/ athletic shoes
knocking up/ knocking on the door to wake you up in the morning
Tops Things to See in London
Top Things to See in London: Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey is right smack in the middle of things in London, right next to Big Ben and the houses of Parliament.
Westminster Abbey is used for fairy tale weddings.
This gothic church has been home to fairy tale weddings as far back as Henry 1 who married Matilda of Scotland in 1100. Queen Elizabeth married Prince Phillip in 1947 and was the 10th royal princess to be married there. All but one of Queen Elizabeth’s children were married here: Anne, the Princess Royal 1992, Prince Andrew 1986, and Prince Edward 1999. The Queen’s grandson Prince William married Duchess Kate here in 2011.
Westminster Abbey is used for church services and funerals.
Not all fairy tales have happy endings, though, sadly Princess Diana’s funeral was held here as well in 1997.
Westminster Abbey is used for all coronations since 1066.
All kings and queens have been crowned here since William the Conquerer in 1066.
Princess Elizabeth became Queen Elizabeth here in 1952.
Westminster Abbey is used as a burial place of honor.
Many are buried at Westminster Abbey including past kings and queens and poets like Geoffrey Chaucer .
Other famous people buried in Westminster Abbey include:
Sir Isaac Newton – scientist (formulated law of gravity)
George Frideric Handel – composer (Hallelujah, Messiah)
Robert Browning – poet
Alfred Tennyson – poet laureate – composed poems for special events and occasions
Sir Laurence Olivier – actor
Things to see in London: British Museum
This free museum is one of the greatest museums in the world. Yes, you read that correctly the British Museum is FREE to visit and covers more historical ground regarding human culture than any other museum on earth. There is so much to see – something for everyone!
It is easy to become overwhelmed by this VAST museum. Go in thinking you’ll see a few things and leave the rest for the next time. You can’t see it all in one visit! Plan your visit according to how much time you have: 1 hour or 3 hours.
This stone has the same words written in 3 languages. The language at the top was hieroglyphic which was used for important papers like for religious ceremonies or government laws. The language in the middle is called demotic which was used very commonly in Egypt at the time the stone was engraved. Lastly, the language at the bottom was Greek which was used by the rulers of Egypt.
When it was found, this led to a greater understanding of the top portion which is in hieroglyphs. It took years of study to finally decipher hieroglyphs and it would not have been possible without this stone. When I was at the British museum looking at this stone, a guard came up behind me and said, ‘You know, the broken off piece was in English.” It really caught me off guard and I had a great chuckle at that. Still makes me smile all these years later.
Things to See in London: St. Paul’s Cathedral
This fantastic landmark has been standing in the London skyline since 1710 when the current building was completed. Designed by Sir Christopher Wren it is of the English Baroque style on the site dedicated to Paul the Apostle in 604 when the first church was built here.
This is where Prince Charles and Lady Diana married.
This is the largest cathedral in England and has 200 crypts, but since the beginning of the 20th century only ashes are interred here. This is the last resting place for Sir Christopher Wren (who designed the church), Admiral Lord Nelson, and the Duke of Wellington (famous military leader who also designed the Wellington Boot). You can also hire the venue for a party. (Is that awesome?? Or creepy??)
Lots of climbing – See the Dome levels HERE.
There are 530 steps to the top of the dome of the cathedral. It is worth climbing them to enjoy the spectacular view. Open for climbing ALL the way to the very top -the Golden Gallery on Sunday’s and open Monday – Saturday to climb to the near top with only 398 steps – the Stone Gallery.
A MUST: Check out the whispering gallery (257 steps). Lean against one wall and whisper to a friend who leans across the wall across from you. Kids LOVE this!
Book your time online which saves you money AND lets you skip the line!!
Things to See in London: British Library
While a library usually isn’t on the list of things to see when you visit a city, The British Library is worth a visit to see some really rare items. See the map here.
One of the original Magna Carta documents. (There were originally 1215 but only 17 still exist.)
Leonardo DeVinci’s notebook which was bound after his death from loose notes. It is in Italian and oddly he wrote moving from right to left and not left to right like…well, like everyone else. 😉
Handwritten lyrics from the Beatles‘ hit songs ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’, “She Said She Said’ and ‘In my Life’
The original manuscript of Alice in Wonderland
Things to See in London: Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace is home to the Queen.
In the summer you can visit part when the Queen is away on holiday. Check the times here.
Watch the changing of the guards. See the schedule here.
Things to See in London: The Royal Mews
Doesn’t the word ‘mew’ sound like a cross between something a cow (moo) and a cat (meow) would say? In this case a mew is the british term for a row of stables and basically the Queen’s garage. It holds the coaches that the queen and the royal family uses for special occasions, cars (Bentleys and Rolls Royces) and different breeds of horses – each with a different duty. See the world’s RAREST Rolls Royce – the Phantom IV. The guided tour is FREE (available April – October) but you need entrance tickets. Prices here but SAVE MONEY with the London Sightseeing Pass.
Things to See in London: The London Pass
Not really something to see, but something to help you see all the sights while spending LESS MONEY and spending LESS TIME IN LINES. You can buy it for 1 day, 2 day, 3 days, or 6 days.
Includes entrances and line skipping for these sights AND MORE: (See entire list here.)
*Tower of London
*Hampton Court Palace
*Thames River Cruises
*The Royal Mews
If your dream vacation takes you and the kids to London learn more about what to see and do with the KIDS:
Fun Day Trip from London
Don’t leave home without your kid friendly, mom approved travel guide written just for the kids. This MUST have book is an investment into your family’s dream vacation because it keeps the kids interested with fun activities and great information about London fit just for kids! Keep them interested and learning with this teacher made travel guide!
Happy Travels and Cheerio,
Natalie, The Educational Tourist