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Things to Do in England - page 5

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Castle Howard
4 Tours and Activities

With over 1,000 acres of landscaped flower gardens, boating lakes and scenic woodlands, and a grand baroque façade that appears more like a royal palace than a country home, Castle Howard is one of England’s most undeniably beautiful estates. Built in the 17th-century for Charles Howard, the 3rd Earl of Carlisle, much of the castle’s striking design was the work of architect John Vanbrugh and the stately home, with its central domed cupola, sculpted pilasters and elaborate frescos, took over 100 years to complete.

Today the palatial building is open to the public by guided tour and exploring the interiors unveils a trove of period décor, antique furnishings and fine china. A notable highlight is the castle’s vast art collection, including paintings by Van Dyke, Rubens, Tintoretto, Canaletto and Reynolds; a portrait of Henry VIII; and an array of personal works by the 9th Earl of Carlisle.

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Stamford Bridge
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4 Tours and Activities

The official home of Chelsea Football Club since 1905, Stamford Bridge Stadium has a long legacy and watching a match at the iconic stadium is a popular choice for football fans. The 42,000-capacity stadium is even more impressive since undergoing £100 million worth of renovations back in 2001 and the complex now includes 2 hotels, a number of restaurants and the Chelsea FC museum, where interactive displays and exhibitions chronicle the rise of West London’s top football club.

Chelsea home matches are held biweekly at Stamford Bridge Stadium during the annual football season, but fans can also peek behind-the-scenes on a stadium tour, allowing access to the changing rooms, the players’ tunnel, the dugouts and the press room.

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South Bank
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28 Tours and Activities

A cultural melting pot by day with glittering riverside views at night, London’s South Bank is one of the city’s most vibrant destinations. Best known for its proximity to so many of London’s prime attractions, South Bank is opposite the Houses of Parliament, a mere stroll from Covent Garden and the Tate Modern and home to the London Eye, the Imperial War museum and the renowned Royal Festival Hall. Despite the tourist hoards, this stretch along the Thames waterfront (an area running from Lambeth to Blackfriars bridges) maintains its laid-back London cool and makes for an idyllic stroll through the heart of the city. And with everything from music concerts to art galleries crammed into the area, the only problem is deciding where to go first.

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Old Spitalfields Market
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40 Tours and Activities

This indoor market on the outskirts of the City of London has historic roots that date back to the 17th century. Today there are a variety of stalls and surrounding shops selling food, clothing and designs with different themed stalls on various days as well. With many eclectic items on display—from jewelry to retro designs and vintage clothing— the market is a trendy place for Londoners to explore.

The General Market stalls are open Monday to Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., while the Antiques and Vintage Market stalls are there on Thursday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Fashion and Art Market is open Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday is a themed market day, open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. There are even pubs and restaurants in the surrounding area and a record fair that takes place on the first and third Friday of each month.

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Harrods
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48 Tours and Activities

If you only visit one store in London, make it Harrods. Established in 1834, it's now world-famous with good reason. It's a place to explore and be amazed by, more than just a department store. With seven floors of retail, the garish Egyptian escalator, sometimes a live opera singer performing in the stairway, memorials to Princess Diana and the renowned Food Hall, you'll be lost in Harrods for hours.

In fact it's such an iconic part of London, it even has its own range of souvenirs! Harrods also has a wonderful specialized range of tea, designer fashions, luxury accessories, cosmetics, furniture, books, and a number of tea rooms and restaurants in which to regain your strength.

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London Natural History Museum
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42 Tours and Activities

From the awe-inspiring dinosaur skeletons to the fascinating creepy-crawlies gallery, London’s Natural History Museum is a trove of curiosities sure to impress all ages. The gigantic museum dates back to 1881 and houses some 70 million specimens, organized into four color-coded discovery zones and hundreds of interactive exhibitions.

As well as learning about human biology and evolution; marveling over fossils and rocks; and seeing a life-size model of a blue whale, visitors can experience an earthquake simulator, challenge themselves with interactive quizzes and get up close to birds, flowers and insects in the wildlife garden. Notable highlights include a huge Diplodocus skeleton and an animatronic T-Rex in the Dinosaurs Gallery; the mind-boggling taxonomy collection in the Darwin Centre; and the Human Evolution Gallery, home to the first adult Neanderthal skull ever discovered.

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West End Theater District
25 Tours and Activities

Equally as renowned as New York’s Broadway Theater District, London’s West End is widely acclaimed for its award-winning theater productions and vast variety of shows and musicals. Seeing a ‘West End Show’ is a popular pastime for tourists and locals alike, with regular performances of a number of world renowned titles like Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats, The Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, Blood Brothers and many award-winning film actors from both England and the United States choosing to take to the West End stages. Recent hits like The Lion King, Mamma Mia! and We Will Rock You, have helped increase West End visitors to over 13 million annual show-watchers.

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Kensington Palace
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78 Tours and Activities

Kensington Palace has been a royal residence since King William III and Mary II renovated the existing house and moved there in 1689. Princesses continue to live there today, the most famous of recent times being Princess Diana. Queen Victoria was born and lived here until she ascended the throne and moved to Buckingham Palace in 1837.

Things to see in palace include Queen Victoria's bedroom, the imposing King's Staircase, the art in the King's Gallery, and the tranquil Sunken Garden. Also interesting is the Royal Dress Collection, including some of Princess Diana's famous frocks.

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King's Cross
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46 Tours and Activities

Kings Cross was named after a monument for King George IV but the area was settled much, much earlier. St Pancras old church originated in 4BC. These days it's most famous for its train station: Kings Cross/St Pancras. From here trains go all over England, including to Hogwarts if you can find Harry Potter's Platform 9 3/4. It's also home to Eurostar, which whisks you to Paris and Brussels.

The surrounding area is slowly edging its way out of being one of the seediest parts of London. The magnificent St Pancras building is coming back to life as a posh hotel, the British Library is just down the road, and of course, the station redevelopment is full of shops and restaurants.

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More Things to Do in England

London National Gallery

London National Gallery

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62 Tours and Activities

The National Gallery started out quite small. In 1824, the British government purchased a collection of 38 pictures from a wealthy banker and put them on display in his townhouse, but it didn’t take long for private donations to come trickling in. The early directors dreamed of something bigger, and a larger site was soon needed to house everything the gallery would contain.

Today, the collection is kept in an impressive pantheon-style building raised on a terrace atop Trafalgar Square, with its round fountains and double-decker buses flowing by below. More than 2,300 masterworks have found their home behind the columns of the National Gallery, dating from the Middle Ages through the 20th century and including pieces from big names such as Monet, van Gogh, da Vinci, Holbein, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Ruben and van Eyck.

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London Science Museum

London Science Museum

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15 Tours and Activities
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St. James's Palace

St. James's Palace

84 Tours and Activities
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Merchant Adventurers' Hall

Merchant Adventurers' Hall

7 Tours and Activities

As the name implies, York’s Merchant Adventurers were merchants. They traded along the English coast, northern Europe and sometimes as far as the Baltic and Iceland, bringing back an assortment of desired goods to York. The city was an important river port and the wealthiest city in Northern England, second only to London for most of the Middle Ages, allowing the merchants to make enough money to build the Hall between 1357 and 1361.

It was ahead of the time, built before craft or trade guild halls were common in Britain. There are three rooms in the Hall, and each served a specific purpose. Business and social gatherings took place in the Great Hall, the Undercroft served as an almshouse caring for the sick and poor, and religious events were conducted in the Chapel. The Hall has a number of collections; everything from paintings, to furniture and silver. The Company of Merchant Adventurers still use the Hall for meetings and events and hold services in the Chapel.

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British Airways i360

British Airways i360

6 Tours and Activities
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Knightsbridge

Knightsbridge

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One of west London’s most affluent districts, just south of Hyde Park, Knightsbridge remains one of the city’s most upmarket shopping areas. While London’s most iconic department store, Harrods, draws in the most visitors, the surrounding area is crammed with flagship British and international designer stores. London based shoe luminaries like Jimmy Choo and Manolo Blahnik are based along the eponymous street; household name fashion house Prada has two stores nearby and the hugely popular department store Harvey Nichols is Harrods’ closest rival. Adjoining Sloane Street’s shop list reads like a fashion show itinerary with Christian Dior, Chanel, Gucci, Armani, Alberta Ferretti and Nicole Fahri, just some of the famous names. It’s not all about shopping, though – the area is also has many chic bars, pricey restaurants and swanky hair and beauty salons.
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ZSL London Zoo

ZSL London Zoo

5 Tours and Activities
The ZSL London Zoo was established in 1828 as a scientific zoo for the study of animals but did not open to the public until 1847. It is still located on its original site at the northern end of the huge Regent's Park in inner London with Regent's Canal running through the middle of the zoo. Today, it contains over 800 different animal species! But in the 1990s, the zoo faced closure due to financial problems largely brought on by its old-fashioned housing of animals in cages. Since then it has reinvented itself by "bringing down the bars" and by building enclosures for the animals which mirror their natural habitats. Some of ZSL London Zoo's highlights include the newly built Tiger Territory, an Indonesian-themed habitat built specifically for the critically-endangered Sumatran tigers. With floor-to-ceiling glass windows, visitors can admire these amazing cats from up close! The Gorilla Kingdom, opened in 2007, is built to resemble a Central African environment.
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Clink Prison Museum

Clink Prison Museum

17 Tours and Activities
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Downing Street

Downing Street

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123 Tours and Activities

Few London addresses are as famous as 10 Downing Street, a Grade I listed Georgian townhouse and the official residence and office of the British Prime Minister since 1735. Centuries of government meetings, important decisions and more than a few scandals have taken place behind the property’s iconic black door (which can be opened only from the inside and even the Prime Minister is not given a key) and former residents have included everyone from Winston Churchill to Margaret Thatcher to Tony Blair.

For security reasons, access to Downing Street is limited to government officials only and visitors can do little more than peek through the police patrolled iron gates, but it’s still a popular inclusion on visitor’s itineraries, and there’s always the chance of spotting the Prime Minister himself. Those wanting to get a closer look can follow the video tour on the Downing Street website or, if you’re lucky, join one of the Open House London tours.

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Hyde Park

Hyde Park

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London is full of huge parks which the locals refer to as the lungs of the city. Hyde Park is one of the biggest and best known. Another of Henry VIII's hunting grounds, it is now a place of concerts, art and horse-riding. The famous Peter Pan sculpture is in the park, as is the Princess Diana memorial fountain.

You can row boats on the Serpentine lake, sit on The Lido in the summer or even swim if you are brave enough. Head to Speakers Corner, the home of free speech. In winter, the park has an ice rink for skating. But most people just bring a picnic and a football or a book, and while away the day in fresh air surrounded by rolling lawns and majestic trees.

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Mayfair

Mayfair

49 Tours and Activities

Owing legendary status to its monopoly board incarnation – the most expensive property on the board, no less – Mayfair maintains its reputation as one of Central London’s most affluent districts – it was even the birthplace of Her Majesty the Queen. Stretching between Oxford Street, Piccadilly and Regent Street, and bounded by Hyde Park to the West, the area was named after the May Fair held there during the 17th and 18th centuries.

The district’s principal shopping streets include the world famous Bond Street, home to Balenciaga, Christian Louboutin, Jenny Packham and Marc Jacobs, among others and Saville Row, legendary for its exquisite men’s tailoring.

It’s not just shopping that draws visitors to the streets of Mayfair – there are around 20 art galleries in the area, as well as the Handel House Museum, set inside the former home of the renowned composer, and the Royal Academy of Arts lies on the cusp of Picadilly.

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Oxford Street

Oxford Street

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69 Tours and Activities

The busiest shopping street in Europe, London’s Oxford Street is home to over 300 stores—from the capital’s flagship Primark to the country’s second-biggest department store—art deco showstopper Selfridges.

Following the old Roman road to Oxford for a mile and a half, Oxford Street runs from Marble Arch in the west end to Tottenham Court Road in the east end, and some of the other flagship stores you’ll find include Debenhams, House of Fraser, John Lewis, Marks & Spencer, and the world’s biggest Topshop — it covers five floors, 90,000 square feet of retail space, and sees a whopping 28,000 visitors a day. It hasn’t always been glitz and glamour for Oxford Street, though. The road was once notorious as the route prisoners would have to take from Newgate Prison to reach the gallows near Marble Arch. You wouldn’t know that today, especially in winter when the whole street sparkles as it gets decked in Christmas lights.

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Leicester Square

Leicester Square

56 Tours and Activities

The vibrant heart of central London, Leicester Square is among the capital’s most important navigational landmarks, located at the center of the West End Theater District, on the cusp of Soho and Chinatown. Leicester Square is always buzzing with activity during the evening hours and has long been renowned as the center of the capital’s film industry, home to 5 of the city’s biggest cinemas and regularly rolling out the red carpet for star-studded European Premieres.

Recent renovated, Leicester Square remains one of the top destinations for an evening out in London, with dozens of bars, nightclubs, casinos and restaurants, including favorites like the Häagen-Dazs restaurant, M&M World, Wagamama and Pizza Hut. Also on the square is the Trocadero shopping and entertainment center, a number of ticket booths offering cut-price West End theater tickets and several of the city’s most luxury hotels.

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Marble Arch

Marble Arch

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34 Tours and Activities

The one-time monumental gateway to Buckingham Palace might have been moved to Hyde Park in the 1960s, but Marble Arch hasn’t lost its regal poise and it remains one of central London’s most eye-catching landmarks. Designed by architect John Nash and unveiled in 1827, the triumphal arch is a masterpiece of gleaming Carrara marble, inspired by Rome’s Arch of Constantine and featuring fluted Corinthian columns and three archways, cordoned off by bronze gates.

As well as being one of central London’s most recognizable landmarks, Marble Arch has unofficially given its name to the small area surrounding it, including an underground tube station on the central line.

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