London's Top 10 Free Attractions
Tips for budget conscience London visitors
Make sure you don't miss these great London sites (in no particular order):
More on London's Museums:
- The British Museum - See incredible art and artifacts from all over the world, including the Rosetta Stone and the Magna Carta.
- The Tate Modern Museum - Excellent exhibitions of modern art and photography.
- The Royal Parks - Relax on the beautiful grounds of Hyde Park, central London's largest park and take in Londoners in their leisure mode. Catch Speakers Corner on Sundays, a celebration of the right to free speech.
- Harrod's Department Store - Even if you don't buy anything, just browsing in this quintessential London institution is quite an experience.
- Oxford Street - In the heart of London's West End, the premier shopping area boasts tons of shops and malls that are great for browsing.
- Houses of Parliament & Big Ben - Observe debates where the pillars of the United Kingdom's Government, the House of Lords and House of Commons, meet.
- Buckingham Palace - See the famous "Changing of the Guards" in front of the official royal residence.
- Trafalgar Square & Nelson's Column - A large, scenic public area built in front of the National Gallery used for public ceremonies and demonstrations.
- Piccadilly Circus - You won't find animals or clowns here, but you will see the famous neon signs, stores and landmark buildings all a couple of blocks from Leicester Square.
- Covent Garden - Markets, interesting shops and street performers make this picturesque area a great place to stroll.
London's world class museums are part of what makes the city so unique. Spend time in as many museums as possible--all general exhibits are free, all are very impressive.
Egyptian mummies and ancient artifacts such as the Magna Carta and the Rosetta Stone are found in the British Museum (Holborn stop). The National Gallery in Trafalgar Square
is home to some of the greatest original pieces in art history, as well as the National Portrait Gallery which displays rare works of history's rulers, such as Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, and other famous faces.
In ritzy South Kensington, you'll find two amazing museums side by side, the the Natural History Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A)/Science Museum. The Natural History Museum shows off impressive dinosaur skeletons,
an extensive animal gallery, as well as interactive galleries for children. The V&A houses a wide range of artwork, including the world's ONLY Cast Court (copy gallery), containing essentially identical works of their originals.
You might find seeing the art treasures from around the world in the same room to be a little odd; it is a truly unique experience. The Pimlico stop on the Victoria Line is adjacent to the Tate British Museum, displaying a vast
archive of British artworks, including many of JMW Turner's paintings and others known throughout the world. On the other side of the artistic spectrum is the Tate Modern Museum. Containing international collections,
this museum does not organize galleries by artist, date, or medium, but instead by subject matter. Walk across the Millennium Bridge to reach this site from either Cannon Street or Blackfriars stops.
The London Parks
One of the best places to relax in the world has to be Hyde Park. In the Royal Borough of South Kensington and Chelsea, Hyde Park is where you'll find miles of beautiful park grounds, Kensington Palace, the Queen's Swans,
Serpentine Lake, famous statues, Speakers corner (only on Sunday mornings), plenty of open air and people enjoying life. These grounds were once used by Henry VIII to hunt on. Regents Park is home to the London Zoo and also an open-air theatre.
Information about London's parks and summer programs, which include visual arts, music and dance can be found at the official Royal Parks website
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London's Famous Shopping Destinations
At nearby Knightsbridge stop, you'll find Harrods department store, where you can literally buy anything.
But if you don't have a few thousand pounds to spare, head over to Regent Street where you can find bargain sports store and British institution, Lillywhites, opened in 1863.
Finally, be sure to check out Oxford Street, at the Oxford Circus stop, for more shopping variety and deals.
London's Most Famous Buildings and Monuments
To see "postcard" London, The Houses of Parliament have recently been restored to show off their neo-Gothic stylings. Access is restricted from the chambers when in session, but a good time to visit is around 6pm so you don't get jam packed with crowds. Need to know the time? Look up and Big Ben will let you know. Use the Westminster tube stop to get to this landmark. At the Green Park tube stop, Buckingham Palace is waiting for you to visit. Get there by 11:30am to watch the spectacle of the changing of the guards. For more detailed information, check out www.royal.gov.uk. And a leisurely stroll up the promenade takes you back towards the National Gallery Museum and the famed Lord Nelson's Column, flanked by four huge bronze lions and two fountains--also known as Trafalgar Square, named to commemorate Nelson's heroic naval victory at Trafalgar.
Finally, don't forget that one of the best parts about visiting London is traveling outside the city. It's a small island, so you're never that far from anywhere...enjoy!
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