Things to Do in London - page 5
This popular global cafe chain got its start in London in 1971, where Eric Clapton’s Lead II Fender now sits as the first ever piece of memorabilia donated to the Hard Rock Café. This particular café now contains an incredibly extensive rock and roll collection, with the most valuable pieces housed in the café’s museum, otherwise known as the Vault. Hard Rock staff members provide free tours of the Vault, which contains items from Jimi Hendrix, The Who and the Beatles, among others.
In addition to the music memorabilia and rock and roll ambience, there is traditional dining here with American food, a shop to explore and occasional live shows.
The grand focal point of the Maritime Greenwich UNESCO World Heritage site, the Old Royal Naval College (ORNC) is an impressive architectural feat, stretching along the banks of the River Thames. Originally designed as a Royal Naval Hospital, the ORNC was the work of legendary architect Sir Christopher Wren (whose other masterpieces include St Paul’s Cathedral) and was built on the site of the Greenwich Palace, the birthplace of Henry VIII.
The magnificent classical buildings, with their twin domes, striking colonnaded façade and vast lawns now serve as the dramatic centerpiece of Greenwich and offer a fascinating introduction to the neighborhood for visitors. Highlights of a visit include the Discover Greenwich Visitor Centre, where exhibitions are devoted to the ORNC and Greenwich’s maritime heritage; Sir James Thornhill’s spectacular Painted Hall; and the neo-classical style Chapel of St Peter and St Paul.
Blackfriars Bridge is the busiest of the four bridges located in central London. It crosses the River Thames bringing both road and foot traffic from one side to the other. The bridge has been updated several times, but the current bridge is 923 feet long, 105 feet wide, and has five wrought iron arches. Stone carvings decorate the piers of the bridge. On the east side the carvings show marine life and seabirds, and on the west side the carvings depict freshwater birds. This reflects the tidal turning point in the river. Most river boat tours along the River Thames will sail underneath the Blackfriars Bridge along with Millennium Bridge, Southwark Bridge, and London Bridge.
In 1982 the bridge gained international notoriety when the body of Roberto Calvi, a former chairman of Italy's largest private bank, was found hanging from one of the arches of the bridge. Five bricks were attached to his body, and around $14,000 in three different currencies was found in his pockets.
As the official London residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury for almost 800 years, Lambeth Palace has a long and significant history, but for most visitors, it’s the building itself that garners the most attention. The palace’s 15th-century monumental gateway, known as Morton's Tower, is an imposing sight, but the oldest parts of the building, including Langton's Chapel and the Crypt date back to the early 13th-century.
Today, Lambeth Palace is open to the public by guided tour only, which grant visitors’ access to the Archbishop of Canterbury's lavishly decorated State Rooms, the Chapel, Atrium and Crypt, the 10-acre gardens and the magnificent, recently renovated Great Hall.
The grounds that once hosted athletes from all over the world has since then been turned into the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Though obviously constructed for the games, the site has expanded beyond the stadium and now serves as a major component of East London; the area is now open to the public and includes new shops, restaurants, trails, galleries and venues. The Olympic Park has been designed to host Londoners and visitors long after the completion of the games in summer 2012.
Sports reign supreme here, as they should in an area where world records were once broken. The state of the art Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre comes equipped with 10 court and two hockey pitches available for public use year-round. There’s also the one-of-a-kind VeloPark open for all sorts of two-wheeled fun, from track cycling and road racing to BMX and mountain biking.
The world's largest maritime museum, this site offers an impressive gallery displaying 500 years of Britain's history with the sea. In total the collection has nearly 2.5 million items, some of which are on loan to other museums across Britain. Visitors can spend hours viewing the maritime art, cartography, ship models and plans, manuscripts and navigational instruments on display, not to mention the ship simulator and interactive exhibits located on the second floor.
One of the most unique offerings of the museum is the Sammy Ofer wing, which houses special exhibitions, a permanent gallery, an extensive library and a cafe with views of Greenwich Park. All together, the National Maritime Museum, the Queen’s House and the Royal Observatory form the Maritime Greenwich UNESCO World Heritage site. Along with the Cutty Sark, a British clipper ship on display in the area, this collection of historical sites is now known as Royal Museums Greenwich.
Stretching 190 meters across the famous dome of London’s O2 Arena in Greenwich, the O2 Skywalk, or ‘Up at The O2’ as it was more recently renamed, offers visitors a way to get their kicks without even setting foot inside. The landmark stadium has transformed its yellow-flagged rooftop with a vertigo-inducing fabric walkway suspended some 53-meters off the ground and offering an incredible panoramic view from its central observation platform. This is no mere rooftop stroll though – participants are decked out with climbing suits, special shoes and safety harnesses as they make the ascent in groups of 15 attached to a central safety wire, and with the climb being compared to a scaling a long open-air trampoline, it won’t just be the vistas that get your adrenaline flowing.
Running from Regent’s Park at the north end all the way to Oxford Street at the south end, Baker Street is one of Marylebone’s main thoroughfares, but for fans of Sherlock Holmes, it’s much more than just a shopping destination! Immortalized by author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as the home of fictional detective Sherlock Holmes, Baker Street has now become one of the most famous addresses in London literature.
Fans should make a beeline for 221b Baker Street, the detective’s fictional home – a grand Georgian townhouse, which now houses the Sherlock Holmes Museum. Next door, you can shop for souvenirs in the official Sherlock Holmes gift shop, then pose for photos with the nearby Sherlock Holmes Statue.
Holland Park is an extensive woodland area in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in central London and is home to many varieties of wildlife including mammals, birds, and insects. The park has a Japanese garden, orange grove, tennis courts, a cricket field, and a children's playground. The park covers an area of 54 acres on what was once the grounds of Cope Castle. This large Jacobian mansion was built in the early 17th century by Sir Walter Cope and later renamed Holland House when the Earl of Holland's wife, Lady Rich, inherited the property.
The Holland House was greatly damaged during World War II, and much of it is still in ruins. The remains of the house serve as a backdrop for the open air Holland Park Theatre, and one section was repaired and turned into a youth hostel. The park is also home to the Holland Park Ecology Centre. The Holland Park district is one of London's most expensive residential areas with large Victorian houses and high end shopping.
More Things to Do in London
From legendary royals to pop culture icons and famous public figures; strolling the halls of the National Portrait Gallery is like taking a walk through British history. There are works dating from as early as the 13th century; Tudor portraits including Sir Thomas Cromwell, Richard III and Henry VIII, along with his six wives; and Victorian-era portraits of Queen Victoria, Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde and the Brontë sisters. The modern era is well represented too, including royals like Diana Princess of Wales and the Duchess of Cambridge, actors like Alan Rickman and Helen Mirren, and instantly recognizable faces like The Beatles, Richard Branson and J.K.Rowling.
Opening its doors in 1856, the National Portrait Gallery was the first of its kind in the world and it’s now home to the world’s biggest portrait collection, featuring over 11,000 works.
Catering to more than 190,000 daily passengers, London’s Heathrow airport (LHR) boasts its fair share of superlatives–it’s not only the world's busiest international airport, but the biggest in the UK, the closest airport to London and, since the opening of its fifth terminal back in 2008, home to the UK’s largest freestanding building. With over 90 airlines flying to and from more than 170 international destinations, if you’re traveling to London, there’s a good chance you’ll be landing at Heathrow.
The only airport linked to the city by London Underground trains, Heathrow makes a convenient choice, but the enormous airport can seem overwhelming to first-time visitors, so leave plenty of time to check in or collect your luggage and pass through security. Don’t worry if you’re arriving unprepared or your flight is delayed either, as Heathrow has just about everything you could ever need right on site—currency exchange facilities, accommodation and luggage storage.
Renowned throughout Victorian times as the home of the working class, the birthplace of Cockney Rhyming Slang and the stomping ground of the notorious Jack the Ripper, London’s East End has long been associated with the grittier side of the capital. But despite its rough-around-the-edges image, the East End remains one of Londoners’ favorite haunts and its high population of young and immigrant residents has made it one of the city’s most cosmopolitan and ever-evolving districts, teeming with fashion-forward nightclubs, vintage emporiums and modern art galleries.
Since the Olympic Games took over the city in 2012, East London has undergone a 21st-century makeover, with the vast Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park now sprawling over Stratford and a cluster of glitzy shopping malls and chic eateries springing up around it.
A spiraling red steel tower looming 114 meters over the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, the ArcelorMittal Orbit’s bold design has polarized opinions since its conception. There’s no denying, however, that it’s an impressive feat of structural engineering and well on its way to becoming one of London’s most iconic landmarks. Erected in honor of the 2012 Olympic Games, the unique creation was a collaborative effort between artist Anish Kapoor, designer Cecil Balmond and steel-and-mining company ArcelorMittal, built using about 2,000 tons of steel, more than half of which was recycled.
It might be the grand centerpiece of the Southbank Centre, Central London’s renowned cultural hub, and among the capital’s most famous classical music venues, but the Royal Festival Hall is also an impressive landmark in its own right. Located in a Grade-I listing building on the banks of the River Thames, the concert hall first opened its doors in 1951 during the Festival of Britain and now boasts a newly restored 2,500-seat auditorium and the lavish Clore Ballroom.
The Royal Festival Hall is best known as the home of the prestigious London Philharmonic orchestra, and the venue is used throughout the year for a host of classical music recitals, pop concerts, operas and ballets, including a number of annual music and cultural festivals.
Covering over 120 hectares, the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew make up one of the oldest and most famous gardens in the world. Moreover, the park houses the largest collection of living plant species on the planet.A number of spacious Victorian glasshouses sprouting wrought-iron arches and glass windows provide microclimatic zones. The greenhouses allow plant species from various foreign regions to flourish, while they wouldn’t naturally stand a chance against Britain’s cold and rainy climate. One of the most visited structures is the Palm House, home to flora from the humid tropical regions across Africa, the Americas, Asia and Australia. The Temperate House is twice the size of the Palm House and features flora ranging from the rare African Wood’s cycad to a 52-foot Chilean wine palm, the tallest palm tree ever grown in a greenhouse.
Commissioned by King James I in 1616, the magnificent Queen’s House was originally a gift for his Queen, Anne of Denmark, but remained unfinished at the time of her death, completed instead by King Charles I in 1638. Designed in an innovative Palladian style by architect Inigo Jones, the grand garden villa remains one of the principal landmarks of Greenwich, now standing proud at the entrance to the vast Greenwich Park.
The Queen’s House is now owned by the National Maritime Museum and houses part of the museum’s art collection as well as an impressive array of Royal portraits. The lavish interiors are also open to the public, including highlights like the ‘Tulip Staircase’, the Great Hall, with its striking black and white marble floor, and a range of 17th-century furnishings.
Also known as the Square Mile, the City of London is a subset of London that covers the area that was once within the original ancient walls built by the Romans centuries ago. Today, it is best known as a center for international finance. While not a standard London borough, the city has its own governance, separate ceremonial county and population of just over 8,000. Officially recognized as an independent entity, it even has its own police force and maintains a unique feel separate from the rest of London.
The major City of London sights are St Paul’s Cathedral, the Tower Bridge and the Tower of London. Other attractions include the Bank of England, Mansion House, the Monument, the Barbican Estate and the Museum of London.
Casting off its reputation as one of London’s most notorious neighborhoods, Brixton has grabbed the spotlight in recent years, transforming itself into one of South London’s coolest postcodes. Brixton’s youthful vibe and multi-cultural mix of residents are its strongest assets and its high population of African and Caribbean residents has given rise to an excellent selection of African, Indian and Asian restaurants.
Stroll down Electric Avenue, Brixton’s main shopping street (and famously immortalized in Eddy Grant’s 1980’s hit single of the same name) and you’ll find an eclectic mix of independent boutiques, hip bars, contemporary art galleries and pop-up restaurants. Alternatively, Brixton Village arcade is crammed with ethnic restaurants; the lively Brixton Market is held daily; and a number of farmer’s markets, flea markets and handicrafts markets are held throughout the year.
Home to the largest collection of British Art in the World, the Tate Britain has a legacy dating back to 1897 and is part of a series of four Tate Museums around England, sharing between them a collection of almost 70,000 works.
Devoted solely to British artists, the permanent exhibitions feature works from the turn of the 16th century until the 20th century, with works by artists like Hogarth, Gainsborough, Whistler and Barbara Hepworth. Most notable are the sizable galleries dedicated to romanticists Constable and William Blake, and the biggest collection of paintings by J.M.Turner in the world. With the Tate playing host to the notoriously controversial annual Turner Prize, contemporary artists also feature considerably and the acclaimed 20th-century galleries present works by Lucian Freud, Francis Bacon and Tracey Emin. The Tate Britain is the oldest of the four Tate Museums founded by Sir Henry Tate and is housed in a Grade II listed building on Millbank.
One of London’s most celebrated royal parks, Regent’s Park was first laid out by John Nash in 1811, as a hunting ground for Henry VIII and remained a private royal retreat until 1845. Today the 410-acre public park offers welcome respite for the residents of North West London as well as housing the hugely popular London Zoo, where visitors can get up close and personal to an incredible 760 animal species.
The park’s highlights include a boating lake; the recently opened Hanover Gate treehouse playground; the Queen Mary’s Gardens, an exquisite rose garden containing over 400 varieties; and the formal Victorian William Andrews Nestfield’s Avenue Gardens. Perhaps the most famous spot is the idyllic peak of Primrose Hill, as renowned for its many celebrity residents as it is for its expansive views over London, making it one of the city’s liveliest picnic spots.
Things to do near London
- Things to do in Horley
- Things to do in Stansted Mountfitchet
- Things to do in Cambridge
- Things to do in Oxford
- Things to do in Dover
- Things to do in Southampton
- Things to do in Bath
- Things to do in Cardiff
- Things to do in Bruges
- Things to do in Lille
- Things to do in Manchester
- Things to do in York
- Things to do in South East England
- Things to do in East of England
- Things to do in Nord-Pas de Calais