Discover the most famous London landmarks and some of the best places to visit on your next trip.
In this guide, you’ll find some of the top London landmarks and famous places that should not go unmissed when exploring the British capital.
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There are some London landmarks that you just have to see. Whether you’re visiting the city for the first time or the hundredth time, these iconic places in London will continually take your breath away.
Like the view of the Shard’s silver lights illuminating the black winter’s sky or St. Pauls’ Cathedral awash by the golden rays of the summer sun. You can find out more about these spectacular landmarks and others below.
Tip: If you’re looking for more on London, then read my London travel tips guide.
I’ve compiled a list of 10 famous landmarks in London that I think everyone must see at least once in their lives.
These are considered iconic London landmarks for a reason and are recognisable throughout the world.
Let’s be real; there isn’t a more famous landmark in the city than Buckingham Palace. No wonder it’s one of the most visited buildings in London.
Here you’ll come across giddy tourists and their selfies sticks, eager to capture their visit to London in front of this famous London landmark.
The palace is the Queen’s official London home and often houses the royal family. It was constructed in the early 1700s, and boasts Neoclassical architecture that will leave you gazing in awe.
This 775 room royal residence with its ornate exterior and well-decorated guards is something that everyone, especially first-time London visitors, should see. Most people visiting the palace will want to know about the changing of the guard ceremony and where the best spots are to witness the ceremony.
The ceremony happens every day around 11:00, but it’s best to get there earlier to secure a spot to get a good view.
For more information on the ceremony, history, times and how to pick the best spot, click here.
My favourite sight of the Palace is from the Mall, particularly when they have all the different commonwealth flags running from the Mall to the Palace for the London Marathon.
Nearest tube station: Victoria Station or Green Park
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Trafalgar Square is popular amongst Londoners and tourists alike for many different reasons.
For Londoners, Trafalgar is where we gather to watch events like royal weddings and Olympic games to celebrate Chinese New Year or have a protest.
For a tourist, Trafalgar Square is used as a meeting point for group tours or a backdrop for getting a holiday shot on one of the four lions guarding the 52 metres high Nelson’s Column. This must-see monument has been standing in the square since 1843.
If you’re an art lover, be sure to check out the stunning collection of historical paintings at The National Gallery.
To find out more information on what’s happening at this popular plaza throughout the year.
Nearest tube station: Charing Cross
There is just something about the magnificent Gothic architecture that takes your breath away.
The Houses of Parliament, also known as the Palace of Westminster, overlooks the Thames River and dominates the City of Westminster. You’ll find it near Westminster Abbey and Westminster Bridge.
Although the building complex was rebuilt in 1870, its construction history dates to around 1840. You’ll certainly get a glimpse of the past when visiting this landmark and many others in the area.
Westminster has the highest concentration of historic landmarks and attractions in London.
Big Ben is one of the most famous landmarks in London and even worldwide. It is officially known as Elizabeth Tower but also as Big Ben to many tourists visiting London.
Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament are not only a symbol of London but are synonymous with the United Kingdom. Standing at 96 metres tall, it features 11 floors and stunning Gothic Revival architecture.
Currently covered in scaffolding, maintenance of the bell tower began in 2017, putting a stop to the glorious hourly chimes of the bell. Fortunately, the renovations are aimed to be completed in 2022.
Did you know that UK citizens can take a tour inside Big Ben? To do so, you’ll need to contact your local MP or a member of the House of Lords (if you’re really fancy and know important people) to request a visit.
Tours tend to be sold out up to 6 months in advance, so be prepared to wait a while. Due to the refurbishment of Big Ben, tours have been suspended, but it will hopefully be open to the public again soon.
If you’re planning a trip to London, you’ll want to visit the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben during the evening when the palace is all lit up. This is one of the most beautiful things to see in London.
Nearest tube station: Westminster
I doubt when Christopher Wren created his domed masterpiece that he dreamt of it dominating London’s Skyline for 300 years.
St Paul’s was the capital’s tallest building until 1965. The Baroque style cathedral was completed on Christmas Day in 1711 and has remained one of London’s architectural landmarks.
St Paul’s Cathedral has played host to significant events like the wedding of Prince Diana and a sermon by Martin Luther King Jr.
The building narrowly survived the Blitz and a plot by the Suffragettes to blow up the Bishop’s Throne in 1913.
One of the quirks of the St. Paul’s Cathedral is its whispering gallery, 264 steps up the 528 step climb to the top of the dome.
There the whispering of conversations can be heard from the opposite side of the building because of its construction (I guess people were even nosier back then).
Also, the cathedral has the largest crypt in Western Europe, housing the tomb of Lord Nelson as well as being the resting place of the Duke of Wellington, John Everett Millais and John Constable.
An entry ticket to the cathedral is around £18 per adult and £7.70 for children aged between six to 17 years old when booking online. Walk-in ticket rates are slightly higher at £21 for adults and £9 for children. There are also special discounts for students, seniors, and families available.
To get a view of St Paul’s Cathedral in all its glory or in a photo behind you, head to One New Change rooftop terrace at golden hour. You won’t regret it, and remember to bring your travel camera as it is one of the top places to go in London for beautiful views.
Nearest tube station: St Paul’s
The Sky Garden is one of my favourite buildings in London. As the name implies, it offers a little garden in the sky. You’ll find it nestled in the Fenchurch Building, also known as the Walkie-Talkie.
With 360-degree views of London, you can see other iconic landmarks in London like – The Shard, The Gherkin, The Monument, Leadenhall Building and Lloyd’s of London.
Here you can wander around and admire the lush greenery around you. Additionally, the Sky Garden has an observation deck and an open-air terrace that houses restaurants. The restaurants include Darwin Brasserie, Fenchurch Seafood Bar & Grill and Sky Pod Bar.
The Sky Garden also offers incredible views of the city skyline. It’s easy to see why it’s one of the top 10 landmarks in London. And if you want to know more about this beautiful building, check out my Sky Garden guide.
Tip: Tickets are free to visit the Sky Garden, but you must book in advance. Click here for more information.
Nearest tube station: Monument
On a good day, the London Eye offers one of the best views of London – stretching out for miles.
The London Eye, also called the Millennium Wheel, is a giant Ferris wheel on the South Bank of the River Thames. It is Europe’s tallest cantilevered observation wheel and is one of the most visited places in London.
The construction of the London Eye began in 1998, and it opened the following year. Standing at a staggering 135 metres, it was once the tallest Ferris wheel in the world until 2006.
You can buy tickets to ride the London Eye on the day you’re visiting. However, I recommend purchasing your tickets before visiting as queues for the ride can get annoyingly long, with waiting times of 30 minutes to an hour.
Riding on the London Eye is one of those top things to do in London if it’s your first time visiting the city. You’ll have views of other popular landmarks, including Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, Westminster Abbey, The Shard, and more. In addition to the viewpoints, it also features a 4-D cinema and Champagne bar.
Nearest tube station: Waterloo
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I have a love-hate relationship with The Shard. I was one of the first to visit The Shard’s observation deck, the first week of it being open. I was underwhelmed by it, to say the least.
I love walking from Borough Market and seeing this glass tower ascending from the earth (it also reminds me of a spaceship from a movie). You can’t help but be impressed by the building and its awe-inspiring architecture.
Inspired by the concept of a vertical city, the over 1,000-foot-tall structure is one of the tallest buildings in Europe. The Shard opened in 2013 and has offered breathtaking vistas from the highest viewpoint in the city.
However, I think grabbing a drink or two from one of the restaurants in the Shard is a far better way of seeing London’s skyline than paying to visit the viewing decks.
Shakespeare’s Globe is a reconstruction of the original open-air playhouse – Globe Theatre designed in 1599. The Elizabethan playhouse for which William Shakespeare wrote his plays is in the London Borough of Southwark.
The original theatre was built in 1599, destroyed by fire in 1613, then rebuilt in 1614. Only to be demolished in 1644. Let’s say this landmark of London has had some exciting times, which is in keeping with much of Shakespeare’s plays.
The modern Globe Theatre is an approximation based on available evidence of the 1599 and 1614 buildings.
It is considered very realistic, accommodating 1,400 spectators. The original theatre could house 3,000 spectators.
Shakespeare’s Globe was founded by the actor and director Sam Wanamaker and was built about 230 metres from the site of the original theatre.
It opened to the public in 1997, with a production of Henry V.
There are even expert-guided tours of the iconic Globe Theatre. This brings the space to life with colourful stories of the 1599 Globe, the reconstruction process in the 1990s, and how it works today as an imaginative and experimental theatrical space.
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The Tower of London is a historic castle located on the north bank of the River Thames in central London.
The bridge was built over 125 years ago to ease road traffic for the increasing population of London while maintaining river access to the busy London docks.
Tower Bridge is a combined bascule and suspension bridge in London, built between 1886 and 1894. It crosses the River Thames close to the Tower of London and has become an iconic landmark of London.
The Tower Bridge is sometimes confused with London Bridge, located a half-mile upstream.
Visitors to Tower Bridge can also experience the exciting new glass floor and spectacular panoramic views from the high-level Walkways.
The Victorian Engine Rooms house the beautiful steam engines that once powered the bridge lifts.
If you want to learn more about the intriguing history of one of London’s most famous landmarks, take a guided tour of Tower Bridge. During the three-hour experience, you’ll get to see the castle, the Crown Jewels, and more. And the best part of the skip-the-line access is appreciating these gems before the crowds arrive.
Borough Market was a place defined by its position at one end of London Bridge—for centuries; it was the only route across the river into the capital.
London’s first post-Roman bridge was likely constructed here in the mid-900s to help the city’s defences against Viking raiders.
Borough Market is now a wholesale and retail food market in Southwark, London. And one of the best places to waste away a weekend feasting on the best British produce that London has to offer.
If you’re looking for artisan prepared treats, Borough Market is one of the best places in London to visit. And there is a variety of fresh organic produce if you want to stock up for your next homemade meal.
Nearest station: London Bridge
In London, iconic landmarks are plentiful. So, this list can’t end with just the ten landmarks above. Here are a few more of the famous places and sights of London that you should visit.
If you’re a history buff looking to explore one of the most famous landmarks of London, make your way to Westminster Abbey. You’ll find it just west of the Houses of Parliament in Westminster.
Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament, and St. Margaret’s Church were collectively designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. The Abbey hosted many significant ceremonies and has been a site of coronations since 1066.
It is also the resting place for many remarkable individuals, from renowned monarchs and politicians to poets and musicians. A few of the famous figures buried at this site include Charles Darwin, Professor Stephen Hawking, William Blake, and Sir Isaac Newton.
Today, the Abbey remains a place of worship and acts as a historical museum. There is no charge when visiting for worship. However, if you want to learn more about the building and notable moments from its past, a guided tour is an excellent option.
When visiting Westminster Abbey, you’ll discover thousands of years of history. You can also wander around the premises and admire the stunning Gothic architecture and historical monuments like the Coronation Chair.
The Monument was constructed to commemorate the Great Fire of London, which occurred in 1666. This devastating event significantly impacted the City of London, destroying churches, public buildings, thousands of houses, and more.
The Monument stands at 62 metres at the junction of Monument Street and Fish Street Hill. It was built between 1671 and 1677, near the origin of the fire on Pudding Lane.
You’ll find it near the northern end of London Bridge, and it’s in proximity to other famous sights in London, including Sky Garden and St. Paul’s Cathedral.
When visiting, you can make your way up the spiral stairs, which comprise 311 steps. After trekking up, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of London. Although a metallic mesh covers the viewing platform for safety purposes, you can still enjoy stunning vistas.
If you’re afraid of heights, there are benches outside where you can relax and admire the beautiful stonework. After taking in your surroundings, there are several pubs nearby to quench your thirst.
The Monument is open daily between 09:30 to 13:00 as well as 14:00 to 18:00. And you can purchase tickets at the site when visiting. Ticket prices are £5.80 for adults and £2.90 for children aged between 5 and 15 years old.
Note: Children younger than five years old can enjoy free entry, and there are special discounts for students, seniors, and individuals with disabilities.
Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) is a leading museum of art and design situated in South Kensington. The museum was established in 1852 and named after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.
It is home to more than 2.3 million objects. Here you can expect to see gems from all around the world, including everything from paintings and sculptures to ancient ceramics and textiles. The museum offers an interactive map to guide your journey, and there are various online trails that you can take around the galleries.
With so much to see, you could easily spend a day at the museum. Fortunately, the V&A is open daily from 10:00 to 17:45 and from 10:00 to 22:00 on Fridays.
General admission to the museum is free, and bookings are not required. However, some exhibitions and events require a fee and pre-booked tickets.
In addition to the artwork, you can wander around the scenic gardens and grab a snack at the café. There are also on-site shops to pick up a souvenir or two. Some of the items on sale include jewellery, quirky clothing, books, and posters.
If you’re a lover of art, culture, and history, make your way to this historical landmark nestled on Great Russell Street. The British Museum was founded in 1753 and opened to the public in 1759.
The museum features stunning Greek Revival architecture, and there are plenty of historical items and impressive collections inside. Here you can learn about the rich history of Africa, discover the secrets of Egypt, read tales about death and memory, and more.
Each of the collections takes visitors on a spectacular journey through human history. One of the most popular objects in the museum is the Rosetta Stone, which dates back to 196 BC. You’ll find it in the Egyptian Gallery, that’s filled with other intriguing documents and antiques too.
Although entry is free, you’ll have to book a timed ticket in advance. Additionally, some of the exhibitions and events require a fee.
If you’re feeling peckish after exploring the galleries, grab a treat at the on-site café or pizzeria. There is also a gift shop on premises that offers quirky items, books, and replicas.
Note: Photography is allowed for private purposes in most galleries, but keep an eye out for restriction signs.
Located in South Kensington, the National History Museum is one of the most interesting places in London to visit. It forms part of the Museum Quarter in the area, along with the Science Museum and Victoria and Albert Museum.
At the Natural History Museum, you can immerse yourself in natural history and learn more about planet Earth and the unique treasures found in it. The museum is open daily from 10:00 to 17:50. Admission is free, but keep in mind that special exhibits and events may require a fee.
A visit to the museum is an enjoyable activity for wildlife enthusiasts, history buffs, and families. There are several tours on offer that lasts around two hours.
The museum’s remarkable collection includes over 80 million specimens, and there are more than 20 unique spaces to explore. You’ll see prehistoric marine animals, extinct mammoths, objects melted by lava, precious stones, and more.
If you’re travelling with little ones, be sure to visit the Dinosaur gallery, and you can grab a cuddly creature from the Dino Store. There is also a range of nature-inspired items and museum-themed gifts available at the gift shop.
You can also take a snack break at the Central Café and indulge in cakes, pastries, sandwiches, and more. Or bring your own treats and enjoy them in the Picnic Area.
If you’re hungry for more interesting information, the Science Museum is just a short stroll away.
HMS Belfast is a famous surviving warship from the Second World War. She was launched in 1938 and was in active service for about 25 years.
HMS Belfast played a significant role in many events, including the Korean War and firing some of the first shots on D-Day. Today, she is a museum ship moored on the River Thames near Tower Bridge in London.
When visiting this famous structure, you can tour the nine decks and explore the historical exhibitions and interactive displays.
You can listen to stories from veterans who served in HMS Belfast, see images of historical adventures, learn about life on board, and plenty more.
The site is open to visitors daily, from 10:00 to 18:00. The ticket price without donations is around £23.60 for adults and £11.80 for children. There are special discounts for seniors, students, and individuals with disabilities. Additionally, children under five years old, members, and a carer assisting a disabled visitor can enjoy free entry.
Calling all nature lovers, Hyde Park is a landmark that certainly should not go unmissed. This Grade I-listed park is situated in the heart of London. It covers around 350 acres of land, providing ample space for exploring.
Established in 1637, Hyde Park is one of eight Royal Parks in London. The park has a rich history as a site of protest and it is home to many must-see monuments, including the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain.
It is a wonderful spot for a walk, jog, or bicycle ride. You can also enjoy horse riding, tennis, or appreciate the fresh breeze while relaxing by the lake.
Take in the fragrant aromas at the Rose Garden and listen to the melodies of birds as you stroll through the scenic surroundings. You might also spot wildlife species such as butterflies, squirrels, robins, and bats.
The park features a children’s play area and hosts a variety of events for more delightful experiences. There are also several eateries where you can enjoy everything from a scoop of ice cream and cake to a delicious three-course meal.
Established in 1811, Regent Park is another one of London’s Royal Parks. Here you’ll come across 395 acres of land and scenic spaces that will leave you gazing in wonder.
Take a walk through the tree-lined pathways or wander around in the formal gardens. You’ll find over 12,000 beautiful roses in Queen Mary’s Gardens on the premises.
If you’re visiting with kids, you’ll be happy to know that there are four children’s playgrounds to keep the little ones entertained. For adults, there are sports facilities to increase your endorphins too.
You can also hire a rowing boat and enjoy some water activity on the lake. You’ll likely spot a few ducks on your journey. The park is home to many animals, including around 100 bird species.
Although the scenic views are a sight to behold, you can also enjoy views of London’s skyline from the top of Primrose Hill. If you’re craving something sweet or savoury after exploring, the on-site café offers a selection of tasty menu items.
There are so many famous London landmarks that it can be tricky to know where to start. London has a number of World Heritage Sites, as well as incredible contemporary architecture, vibrant markets, and super cool experiences.
This list of the most famous landmarks London has to offer is sure to suit every kind of traveller. Whether you want to capture views of the city with your travel camera or amble around the Houses of Parliament, you’re sure to find this destination to be endlessly fascinating.
Don’t miss any of these incredible famous landmarks in London on your next visit. And if you want to explore other nearby areas, check out these wonderful day trips from London for some travel inspiration.