First-Timer's Guide to London
With its historic landmarks, sprawling suburbs, and winding river, there’s much to see in London—the only problem is knowing where to start. From ancient ceremonies to modern attractions, here are our top tips for your introductory visit to the UK capital.
See the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben
As one of London’s most famous buildings, Westminster Palace is a must-see for first-time visitors. If you have time, it’s worth immersing yourself in the city's rich history on a tour of the interior. Alternatively, you can capture your snaps of the iconic facade and clock tower as you pass on a walking or hop-on hop-off tour.
Watch the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace
Unchanged for centuries, the Changing of the Guard ceremony encapsulates the pomp and circumstance of London’s royal heritage. Taking place each morning, it’s easy to check off as part of a city tour, or you can book behind-the-scenes access for a more exclusive experience.
Enjoy Afternoon Tea
What could be more British than afternoon tea in the capital? Experience a taste of London luxury at one of its upscale hotels, or, if you’re low on time, you can opt for a tour that includes tea service as part of a package of must-do experiences.
Visit the Tower of London
As the site of the city’s oldest intact structure and home to the world-famous crown jewels, no visit to the capital is complete without a trip to the Tower of London. Book ahead of time to guarantee entry to the incredibly popular attraction, taking advantage of tours that include a guide for insight into almost a millennium of history.
Delve into the South Bank
Home to top attractions including the London Eye, SEA LIFE® Centre, and the London Dungeon, the South Bank exudes a festival atmosphere any time of the year. Skip-the-line tickets help to maximize your time in the busy district, while walking tours typically cover cultural landmarks such as the Royal Festival Hall, Shakespeare’s Globe, and Tate Modern.
Explore Must-See Museums
With more than 200 cultural institutions registered in the capital, many of which are free to enter, it’s likely that at least one belongs on your must-see list. The Science Museum is a great choice for kids, while the British Museum boasts eight million artifacts from across the globe—take advantage of private tours to tick off highlights with ease.
Cruise the Thames
After an activity-packed trip, unwind with a journey on England’s longest river and enjoy prime views of Tower Bridge, Westminster Palace, and the Shard. River-bus services are a hassle-free and memorable way to transfer between top attractions, while lunch or dinner cruises offer a more romantic experience, ideal for a last night in London.