What are the main attractions in London?
London has a great historical legacy that rivals that of any other city in the world, and it is also at the forefront of innovation. You can lose yourself in its museums; enjoy the best live arts; go clubbing and pub crawling, or simply follow in the footsteps of some of history’s most important figures. If you have traveled to the city to go shopping, you are in luck: everywhere there are markets or shopping malls, and along the river fairs and events are held at any time of year.
Not surprisingly, London’s splendor is undeniably unrivaled. As you walk through its famous streets, it’s easy to get the feeling that something important is about to happen just around the corner. To get a better idea of this, we suggest you take a look at our guide on what best things to do in London on your first day of your visit.
1.Start the day in Covent Garden
This pedestrian square in the heart of London’s West End is the perfect place to soak up the vibrancy of the English capital. When the weather is nice, Covent Garden is one of the best areas of the city, with street performances to liven up the evening and restaurants to have a good time. In the market you will find all kinds of antiques, crafts, artwork and fresh produce. Some of the most popular hotels in the city are located in Covent Garden.
There is a wide variety of restaurants in Covent Garden: both franchises and more exclusive establishments, although there are also locals clearly focused on tourists. Be that as it may, you will surely end up indulging yourself. Enjoying a drink while watching the spectacle of Covent Garden’s street performers is an appetizing plan for anyone, while the best views are from one of the coveted tables on the terrace of the Punch Judy pub.
2.Quench your thirst for shopping on Oxford Street
If you’re traveling in England and want to go shopping, Oxford Street is your best option: stores with the most emblematic brands of the United Kingdom are lined up next to shopping arcades as elegant as Selfridges and Debenhams. It is also the ideal place to buy some cheap souvenirs in the various kiosks that you will find along this street.
If you don’t want to miss any of the stores on Oxford Street, stop at Tottenham Court Road tube station and go shopping towards Marble Arch, which is at the other end of the street; on your way through this shopping street, you will find Oxford Circus station, just halfway down the street. If you are interested in young fashion, you have to take a stroll down Carnaby Street, just a few steps from Oxford Circus. As Christmas approaches, Oxford Street looks like never before with thousands of sparkling lights and imaginative window displays.
3.Witness the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace.
Buckingham Palace is the residence of the Queen and an obligatory stop for all tourists visiting London for the first time. The best time to visit this luxurious palace is when the changing of the guard ceremony takes place. The exact time of the changing of the guard ceremony may vary, but it is usually around 11:00 on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.
Enjoy the pageantry of the parade to the sound of the wind instruments of the band as the soldiers march in front of the expectant crowd. If you are in the British capital in the summer, go to the changing of the guard well in advance if you don’t want to miss it. Otherwise, it can be difficult to get a photo of the ceremony. The palace area is one of the most exclusive and highly rated in London.
4.Grab a bite to eat at Borough Market
It is essential to visit this impressive gastronomic market at lunch or dinner time to taste all its delicacies. Be prepared to find sausages, roast beef, sausages, seafood, freshly baked bread and any English cheese you can think of, although it also has a wide variety of cheeses from all over Europe. It will not be difficult to find this famous market, as it is next to London Bridge station.
However, considering that it is a market, the prices can be a bit high. Some visitors are already satisfied with the free tastings offered by the various establishments, but the experience loses all its charm.
5.Must-see: Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster
This impressive Gothic palace houses the British Houses of Parliament. However, most people come to this beautiful building to admire the clock tower that houses one of the most famous bells in the world, Big Ben, which, with its chimes, has been telling the time to the rest of the world for more than a century. In fact, its chimes are so famous that their sound has been imitated the length and breadth of the planet: they are timeless icons of London.
From Westminster Station, you can explore the statues of Parliament Square before moving on to Westminster Bridge to take the classic photo with Parliament in the background. Also, from the other side of the Thames, on the South Bank, you can enjoy wonderful views of the city.
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6.Board one of the boats that go from Westminster to the Tower of London.
The London Underground is possibly the most popular means of transport to move around the city, but it is clear that sailing by boat on the Thames is much more spectacular and allows you to enjoy a cleaner air. The Thames Clippers are boats that belong to the public transport network and trace five different routes along the river. Although they don’t include commentary on the sights along the way, you’ll save money on your journey and enjoy a more authentic experience.
If you’re looking for the best riverside views, we recommend hopping on at Westminster and cruising down the river to Tower Bridge. Also note that you will get a discount on the trip if you have an Oyster card. It is highly recommended to get one.
7.Continue shopping at Spitalfields Market
Spitalfields Market is famous for its innovative fashion stores, retro stores and generally friendly atmosphere. It’s open every day, but on weekends you’ll find a great selection of handmade goods from some of London’s best independent designers. There’s everything from women’s trench coats with prints taken from manga animations to African-inspired hats. You can walk here from Liverpool Street station in the East End.
In addition to the wide selection of clothing, you can also buy food at the market or grab a bite to eat at the many franchises in the area. If you want to get your hands on the trendiest clothes to show off on your return, take a stroll down Brick Lane or Shoreditch, two of the trendiest neighborhoods in the city.
8.Must-see: the Museum of Natural History
The Natural History Museum is a fun place where you can discover in an interactive way the evolution of our planet: from when it was inhabited by tyrannosaurs to the present day. This center captures the miracle of life through a combination of real dinosaur skeletons and interactive presentations. It will be impossible to leave this place without feeling a greater respect for the world we live in.
The museum is divided into four sections and offers hilarious experiences for the whole family, such as an earthquake simulator that is sure to get people talking. On the other hand, the geology section has an authentic fragment of lunar rock that will dazzle more than one. Visiting the museum is already worth it for the building itself, which looks more like a majestic cathedral; in addition, you will find many pieces and exhibitions that will leave you with your mouth open, as well as its price, since admission is free.
9. Treat yourself to dinner and a drink at The Shard
This skyscraper whose exterior is clad entirely in glass is more than 300 meters high. Its stalagmite shape makes it visible from anywhere in the city. It will be even more impressive when you stand at the top of the building and look down. If you don’t have the privilege of staying at the Shangri-La, the hotel located between the 34th and 52nd floors, you can always have dinner or a drink there to start the evening in the best possible way.
All the elegant restaurants and lounges in this hotel are exquisite, but the Aqua Shard’s regeneration of contemporary British cuisine is an unparalleled experience. If you want to quench your thirst and enjoy the view, head to the Gong Bar on the 52nd floor.
10.End the day with a play in the West End.
The West End of London is closely related to the theater, especially with the musical. It is one of the best places in the world to enjoy the performing arts, with performances ranging from timeless classics such as Les Miserables to more recent hits, not to mention independent works written by emerging artists.
The best seats for the most in-demand plays usually cost more than 100 GBP, but you can find more affordable alternatives on the Internet as long as you are flexible with the date and time of the performance. If you don’t want to give up a good seat and your budget is a little tight, weekday matinees are a great alternative.
11.Try fish and chips
On your visit to London it will be very easy to find this classic London dish. What will be more difficult is to find the perfect fish and chips, even though it is a British institution. The authentic recipe calls for a fresh cod fillet or haddock fillet to be chopped into large chunks, coated in a crispy batter and served with chips, all seasoned with a little vinegar.
Many pubs in the city offer a fairly correct version of fish and chips, but if you want to try a real one, go to the award-winning Poppies Fish & Chips, next to Spitalfields Market. The fish here couldn’t be fresher, and they offer a wide variety of side dishes, such as mashed peas and jellied eels. Served in a fake newspaper cone makes it even more special.