10. Snap your picture with a Queen’s Guard.
You can find the Guard throughout London at different sightseeing spots: Buckingham Palace, St James’s Palace, Wellington Barracks and the Tower of London. While you’re getting your tourist photo with a sentry don’t forget to explore the places where they’re guarding. That’s half the fun!
9. Watch the Changing of the Guard.
Changing of the Guard is also called Guard Mounting. Did you know most of these guards have seen action overseas? They’re not just there for ceremony. You can see Guard Mounting at Buckingham Palace and St. Jame’s Palace. Those performing the Guard Mounting at these locations are called the Old Guard and will be replaced by the New Guard which are coming from Wellington Barracks. The whole process can take some time, but there will also be band music playing. So relax, take photos, film it, and just have fun!
8. Check out Westminster Abbey.
Traditionally Westminster Abbey is the place of coronation and burial for the English monarchs. It has also seen many royal weddings. Most recently on April 29, 2011 it saw Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, and grandson of Elizabeth II, marry Miss Catherine Middleton.
7. Take a ride on the London Eye.
Get a sky view of London on Europe’s largest Ferris Wheel. The London Eye launched in 2000 and is London’s most popular tourist attraction. It is my opinion that for the best experience you need to get Fast Track passes or Flexi Fast Track passes. It allows you to have priority boarding and skip most of the line.
6. Stroll through St. Jame’s Park.
St. Jame’s Park is the oldest Royal Park and is situated at the heart of London. The Mall is a great place to stroll and it sees a lot of parades. The park is bordered by 3 palaces: Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, and St. Jame’s Palace. From the Blue Bridge you can see the London Eye and Buckingham Palace. It’s also the spot where there’s deck chairs to rent for lounging on the lawn.
5. Tour St. Paul’s Cathedral.
St. Paul’s Cathedral is an active church with daily services and hourly prayers. The floor plan is in the shape of a cross with a large dome in the middle, which you can climb. It has three galleries and the one that’s closest to the ground and easiest to reach is the Whispering Gallery. If you whisper along the wall it can be heard on the opposite side of the gallery. Neat!
4. Listen to the Great Bell of Big Ben chime.
Actually Big Ben is the Great Bell, but over time the whole tower, clock, and bells became known as Big Ben. The rest position of the hammer is up instead of down, making it always ready to strike which increases accuracy. Speaking of accuracy it’s always correct within 2 seconds of the time. You can climb the clock tower, but there are only three tours each day during the week with a max of 16 visitors. If you want to do this you’re going to have to book in advance. Additionally kids under age 11 aren’t allowed up.
3. Toss a coin in the Shaftesbury memorial fountain.
The Shaftesbury fountain is located in the center of Piccadilly Circus and is bordered by the London Pavilion and Criterion Theatre, which are also great places to visit. The steps up to the fountain are a popular place to sit, snack, and people watch so bring a bite to eat and absorb the atmosphere.
2. Call home from an iconic Red Phone Booth.
Red phone booths are classic for England. If you see one go take a picture with it! While you’re at it place a call home to tell them about your experiences so far in London. Won’t they be jealous? At the very least pretend to dial “62442” (“magic”) so you can get into the Ministry of Magic from the Harry Potter books. If you bring a pair of circular Potter glasses your photo will be even better!
1. Shop at Harrods.
The one thing you can’t forget to do in London is to shop at Harrods. Their 7 floors of stores and shops get 15 millions shoppers annually. In addition, there are 30 dine in eateries. It will be an unforgettable experience and you just might get some shopping done for birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays if you don’t buy for yourself first.