Fountains Abbey

17 Historical Sites in the UK You Need to Visit

The United Kingdom has centuries of rich history, with no shortage of castles, monuments, and museums for interested travellers. Whether you have an interest in architecture, religion, war, nature, or royalty, there’s a historical site for you to explore.

Don’t forget to check the forecast before visiting any of the outdoor monuments or castles, and pack a raincoat in case of poor weather.

Here are 17 of the top historical sites you need to visit throughout the United Kingdom.

1. Stonehenge

This prehistoric site consists of about 100 stones placed upright in the earth in concentric circles. Historians are most baffled by the methods used to move and lift the enormous stones in 3,000 BC – before the invention of the wheel! Archaeologists estimate that Neolithic people spent over 1,500 years constructing the monument, though many of the other details are still unknown. You can see more Stonehenge facts here.

Stonehenge is located about two and a half hours outside of London and is easily reached by car or public transport. Alternatively, hop onto one of our fantastic Stonehenge tours.

stonehenge

2. The Tower of London

Her Royal Majesty’s Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London, or The Tower of London for short, is a castle, fortress, and prison set inside two sets of defensive walls and surrounded by a moat. The construction of the complex started with the White Tower in 1078 by William the Conqueror. Latter kings expanded the layout in the 12th and 13th centuries to the complex you see today.

The Tower of London is located on the north bank of the River Thames in central London. Today, the palace holds the impressive English Crown Jewels, the Beefeaters, and the famous ravens that live on the property. A tour of the complex will leave you with dozens of well-known historical anecdotes linking famous figures throughout British history to this important palace.

3. Warwick Castle

Built by William the Conqueror in 1068 shortly after invading England, Warwick Castle was originally a classic medieval castle made of wood and surrounded by a moat. The castle was rebuilt with stone in the 12th century and was latter home to the powerful Earls of Warwick in the 18th century until it was converted to a historical site in 1978.

Today, the castle is a wonderful place to tour with families. Not only are there battlements, towers, turrets, and lush interiors to explore, but the castle hosts many events, shows, and re-enactments for the whole family. The Castle Dungeon tour – complete with live actors and special effects – is a wonderful example of family entertainment that seamlessly combines history and fun.

warwick castle

4. Stratford-Upon-Avon

Located just a short drive from Warwick Castle, Stratford-Upon-Avon is a medieval market town on the River Avon. Although the town is a wonderful example of medieval layouts from the 12th century in its own right, it receives over two million visitors per year because it’s the hometown of William Shakespeare, the most famous playwright in history.

Wander around town to discover important locations of Shakespeare’s early life, including Anne Hathaway’s cottage to see where his wife grew up, Mary Arden’s Farm to view the childhood home of his mother, and finally Shakespeare’s own birthplace on Henley Street. Afterward, attend a Royal Shakespeare Company production at the Theatre on the banks of the River Avon.

5. Leeds Castle

One of the most picturesque castles in the UK was first built in 1086 on islands in the middle of the River Len in Kent, England. Leeds Castle was residence to King Edward I in the 13th century, King Henry VIII and Catherine of Argon in the 16th century, and famously escaped destruction during the English Civil War.

In addition to an in-depth historical tour covering over 900 years of history, Leeds Castle is known for its aviary with over 100 species of birds, a massive maze of yew trees, and a unique museum of dog collars. For travellers with little ones, the castle also boasts two different children’s play areas decorated in adventurous medieval fashion.

6. St Paul’s Cathedral

St Paul’s Cathedral, with its massive white dome, is a recognisable centrepiece in London’s skyline, and represents an important part of English history. Britain’s famous architect, Sir Christopher Wren built the cathedral between 1675 and 1710 after the Great Fire of London destroyed the original. It was the first cathedral built for Henry VIII during the English Reformation when the Crown took control of the Church of England, removing it from the Pope’s jurisdiction.

Today, the cathedral is the seat of the Bishop of London and the mother church of the Diocese of London. Prayers are held daily in the morning and the evening, and it’s open for tourists in between. Visitors can choose a live tour or an audio guide to explore the cathedral floor, the three galleries of the dome, and the crypt.

St Paul’s Cathedral

7. Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle towers above Scotland’s capital of Edinburgh, atop a huge volcanic cliff known as Castle Rock. As one of the most important strongholds in Scottish history, records show it sustained 26 attacks over 1,100 years of history, and is now known as the most besieged place in Great Britain and one of the most attacked castles in the world.

There is no shortage of activities for the whole family at Edinburgh Castle today. History buffs can tour the Great Hall or the vaults underneath that held pirates in the 18th century, whilst those with expensive taste can gaze upon the Scottish Royal Jewels. Children will love the daily firing of the field gun each afternoon.

8. Caernarfon Castle

Caernarfon Castle is perfectly situated between the River Seiont and the Menai Strait in northwest Wales. This medieval fortress was originally constructed in the 11th century but was later rebuilt with stone by King Edward I in 1283. At the time, the castle was an administrative centre for north Wales, hence the grand defensive walls around the castle and the town.

With 13 grand towers and a beautiful view over the water, this castle is a wonderful location for a sunset stroll. Take a self-guided tour through the castle by reading informational signs and taking in the medieval architecture without a crowd of fellow tourists.

9. Hadrian’s Wall

Hadrian’s Wall is a low-lying rock and turf wall that stretches 135 kilometres from the west coast of Britain all the way to the east coast. It was built from the orders of Emperor Hadrian around AD 122 to identify and control his newly won Roman Empire.

There are many ways to see the vast stretch of wall that still stands today. Bus tours will give visitors the chance to see the vast countryside before visiting Birdoswald Roman Fort, Corbridge Roman Town, Housesteads, and Chesters Roman Forts. For the more adventurous travellers, take a jog or rent a bike to explore the wall via the National Trail over several kilometres.

Hadrians Wall

10. Fountains Abbey

Fountains Abbey, located in Yorkshire, England, is one of the best-preserved and oldest monasteries in the country. The Abbey was founded in 1132 by 13 Benedictine monks who were exiled from St Mary’s Abbey for disputes and riots. In 1539, it was closed by King Henry VIII during the historical Dissolution of Monasteries.

The Abbey is located on an 800-acre estate and is now one of the most well preserved monastic ruins in the UK. Visitors can get a glimpse into the life of a monk during the 11th century by touring the cloisters, the cellarium, and the surrounding valley.

Fountains Abbey

11. Roman Baths

The famous ancient Roman Baths, located in Bath, were established around AD 43 as a sanctuary of relaxation for locals and visitors of this great Roman town. Throughout the 16th and 17th centuries, royals regularly visited the baths, increasing their popularity and historical significance.

Though visitors cannot get into the water, hours can still be spent exploring the pools, saunas, thermal baths, and changing nooks. Guided tours are also available throughout the day to share historical anecdotes about the Temple courtyard, the bronze goddess statue, and to explain the ingenuity behind the spring overflow.

12. Temple Church

Located in Central London, the Temple Church was built in the 12th century by the Knights Templar – the catholic military order of monks who were founded to protect the pilgrims travelling to and from Jerusalem. Over time, Temple Church became the English headquarters of the Templars as they became wealthy and powerful among the Christendom.

The church consists of the Round and the Chancel. The Round Church is circular to mimic the shape of Jerusalem’s Church of Holy Sepulchre and contains excellent acoustics, perfect for singing. The church is open most weekdays, though it is best to check the website before planning a visit.

13. Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle is famous today as a favourite holiday destination for Her Majesty the Queen and the location of the most recent royal wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

However, the castle was originally constructed by William the Conqueror after the Norman invasion and is now the longest-occupied palace in the world. Like many castles at the time, it was originally a wooden structure with a moat and was only later built of stone by King Henry II. Since then, the castle has been expanded and embellished by many of the monarchs of the UK to create the impressive estate you see today.

With about 150 current residents, the castle provides tours, but also takes care of its residents. As a traveller, explore the open apartments, St George’s Chapel, and witness the changing of the Guard. For more interesting facts about the castle, click here.

windsor castle

14. Ironbridge Gorge

Taking a break from religious and royal history, the Ironbridge Gorge is the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, where some of the most important technological breakthroughs in history took place. It was here that Abraham Darby, one of the leaders of the Industrial Revolution, was the first person to smelt iron with coke instead of charcoal, thus creating cast iron. The world’s first cast-iron bridge was then completed in 1781 over the River Severn in England.

Now, the gorge is filled with museums of old furnaces, workshops, factories, and tools that give a taste of what life during the Industrial Revolution was like. There are often actors in full costume around town to make the scene feel even more authentic.

15. Grey’s Monument

Grey’s Monument was constructed in 1838 in honour of Charles Grey, the second Earl Grey, for his work with the Reform Act of 1832 as Prime Minister. This monument stands 40 metres above the Newcastle skyline facing south. A hike up 164 steps to the top of the structure will provide sweeping views of Grainger Town’s Georgian architecture.

After the visit, stop by a local café to enjoy a cup of Earl Grey tea – named after the Prime Minister whose monument you just visited!

16. Giant’s Causeway

Just outside of Bushwick on the northern coast of Northern Ireland, the Giant’s Causeway is an area of over 40,000 interlocking basalt columns. Ancient volcanic pressure led the earth to crack into hexagonal columns leading from the green hills down to the cliffs of the tumultuous Atlantic Ocean.

As one of the natural wonders of the UK, the Giant’s Causeway is worth a visit. Bring a windbreaker and hiking shoes to explore this historical national phenomenon on foot.

giants causeway

17. St Fagans National History Museum

St Fagans National History Museum in Cardiff in a mecca of artefacts chronicling the life of the Welsh people. This open-air museum in the middle of St Fagans Castle and gardens was originally a 16th-century manor house.

Visitors can witness how Welsh people lived over multiple centuries through traditional crafts and activities. Plus, over 40 original buildings have been preserved so visitors can walk through various time periods of Wales – nicely demonstrating how daily life changes throughout the years.

If the historian in you is itching to witness these historical sites around the UK, give Premium Tours a call to discuss organising the perfect UK tour for you from London and beyond.

Here Are Our Favourite Riverside Pubs in London

When the sun comes out, there’s nothing better than enjoying a drink outside while soaking up the views along the river. Famous for its traditional pubs, London also offers some great locations to laze away a summer’s afternoon right on the banks of the River Thames.
If you’re looking for a traditional pub atmosphere combined with fantastic waterside views and a bit of history thrown in too, here’s a selection of our favourite riverside pubs in London.

Prospect of Whitby, Wapping

With a popular beer garden and views of the Thames, the Prospect of Whitby in Wapping is one of the most famous historic pubs in London. Once frequented by villainous smugglers, pirates and thieves, London’s oldest riverside pub, which dates back to 1520, was also a regular drinking spot for Samuel Pepys and Charles Dickens.
The pub views have been sketched by both Whistler and Turner, while most recently the pub featured in one of the most famous episodes of TV classic Only Fools and Horses.

Trafalgar Tavern, Greenwich

Boasting fantastic views of the Thames from its magnificent Georgian windows, this 19th-century waterside pub is steeped in the maritime history of the area, and is the perfect spot to stop off for a pint before enjoying the attractions of Greenwich.
Another favourite of Charles Dickens, the pub is the setting for the wedding breakfast in his last novel Our Mutual Friend.

Anchor, Bankside

Adorned with colourful window boxes and hanging baskets, this quintessential British pub on the South Bank can be found between Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and The Golden Hinde.
Samuel Pepys watched the Great Fire of London from here in 1666. He describes seeking refuge in ‘a little alehouse on bankside… and there watched the fire grow’.
Today visitors can enjoy the views stretching along the River Thames to the City from the riverside terrace. But be sure to get there early, it gets very popular in summer.

The Dove, Hammersmith

This much-loved 17th century riverside pub in West London was where Charles II reportedly romanced his mistress, Nell Gwynne.
As well as a lovely riverside terrace boasting one of the prettiest views of the River Thames, this delightful pub also features in the Guinness Book of World Records for having the smallest bar room in the world.

The Gun, Docklands

Boasting some of the best views of the Thames in East London, this charming and atmospheric 18th-century pub in Canary Wharf was once a favourite of Admiral Lord Nelson, who would regularly arrange clandestine meetings with Lady Emma Hamilton in the upstairs room.

The Ship, Wandsworth

If you’re looking for a buzzing atmosphere and lively party vibe, head to The Ship near Wandsworth Bridge. This lovely 18th century pub has a spacious outdoor deck overlooking the River Thames and is very popular on summer evenings when visitors can enjoy live Irish music sessions and an outdoor barbecue kitchen.

Our London experts at Premium Tours know all the best riverside pubs around the capital. For more information and booking advice on our best-selling London tours, call us today on 020 771 31311 or visit us online.

Five of the Best Farmers’ Markets in London

There are many reasons why shopping at a local farmer’s market is so much better than going to a supermarket. Often organic and most definitely seasonal, produce from ethical and sustainable suppliers just tastes so much better.
A good farmers’ market connects farmers and small, independent producers directly with their customers, offering the freshest, just picked produce, free range meats and fish straight from the sea, all with guaranteed provenance and low food miles.
Here’s our top pick of the five best farmers’ markets in London.

1. South Kensington Farmers’ Market

Located just five minutes from South Kensington Tube, this lovely little market in Bute Street sets up stall every Saturday morning from 9am till 2pm.
FARMA approved, the market features just 18 stalls where you can buy fresh, seasonal products directly from local producers. Favourites include fresh, south coast fish and shellfish from Christchurch Fish; seasonal, just picked organic veg from Ted’s Veg; breads, cakes and pastries from Olivier’s Bakery; and free-range sausages from The Parson’s Nose.

2. Pimlico Road Farmers’ Market

Priding itself on provenance and low food miles this small market, which takes place every Saturday from 9am to 1pm, only sells produce that’s been grown, raised or fished within 100 miles of the M25.
Located in quaint Orange Square just off Pimlico Road, the 25-30 stalls offer a delightful array of products including unusual vegetables such as radish pods, seasonal tarts, delicious cheeses and even edible flowers.

3. Wimbledon Farmers’ Market

This family-friendly neighbourhood market on Havana Road is open every Saturday from 9am till 1pm and features seasonal cut flowers, organic meat and poultry, seasonal game, and a huge range of organic fruits and vegetables.
Head over to March House Farm stall and their wonderful selection of free-range rare breed meats and try one of their delicious beef or lamb ‘Hetties’.

4. Brockley Market

Open every Saturday from 10am to 2pm, this lovely South London market is well known for its delicious ‘street food’ vibe where you can tuck into burritos, sourdough pizza, beef patties and flatbread wraps.
The award-winning food market supports location traders selling seasonally sourced fruit and vegetables, freshly caught fish, raw dairy products, natural wines, native breed meats and locally roasted coffee to name just a few.

5. Borough Market

The most famous and oldest farmers’ market in London, Borough Market at London Bridge is a haven for food lovers, not only serving the residents of Southwark, but attracting visitors from all over the country.
The historic market features a massive range of exceptional organic and seasonal produce in a wonderful and lively atmosphere. Open every day except Sunday, the market offers a fantastic day out for visitors. Part of the Slow Food UK movement, many of the traders focus on distinctive local foodstuffs and sustainable products and are only too happy to pass on their culinary knowledge with shoppers.
The market also hosts a range of events such as cookery demonstrations and educational programmes.

Our London experts at Premium Tours can offer information and advice on the very best farmers markets across the Capital. Call us today on 020 771 31311 or visit us online.

7 Quirky Cinemas to Try in London

Forget the massive multiplexes, for a real taste of London life as the locals live it, check out these unique little gems.

Popular with both locals and those visiting London, these wonderful venues offer a diverse range of movies in friendly, comfortable and eccentric surroundings.

1. Phoenix Cinema East Finchley

This much-loved single-screen cinema has been in operation since 1912, making it one of the longest operating cinemas in the UK.
The elegant Art Deco auditorium shows an eclectic mix of arthouse films, plus the occasional classic. Make time to visit the lively little cafe before the show starts. The food is homemade and utterly scrumptious.

2. Electric Cinema Portobello

With plush armchairs, waiter-service and a 100-year history, this 50-seater venue is a real treasure. Located in the heart of Notting Hill, it’s still going strong after two wars and numerous closures.
The auditorium is wonderfully cosy and luxurious, with many original features to enjoy; a fine way to view the mainstream and indie films on offer. There’s also a stylish diner on site.

3. Regent Street Cinema

Don’t miss this historic and unique movie house in the heart of the West End. Regarded as the birthplace of British cinema, it opened in 1848 and featured the first motion picture to be seen in the UK.
The lovingly restored Art Deco theatre is a wonderful place to enjoy old classics, new releases, world cinema and double bills.

4. The Lexi Cinema

You’ll find this quaint little cinema in a residential area of North London. With only 70 seats and a comfy bar, it’s a cheerful and friendly spot. The Lexi offers an eclectic mix of mainstream, world and arthouse cinema.
The theatre lives in a renovated Edwardian building and is run by volunteers. All profit goes to a sustainable living project in South Africa.

5. Prince Charles Cinema

This is most definitely a quirky venue. The only independent cinema in the West End, it offers a huge range of classic and arthouse films, the latest blockbusters and double bills.
If audience participation is your thing, look no further. The Sound of Music, Grease and Rocky Horror sing-a-longs have given this place cult status. There are even all-night movie marathons. Bring your pyjamas!

6. Greenwich Picturehouse

This stylish venue lives in the historic, maritime borough of Greenwich. Five screens offer a diverse mix of arthouse and mainstream movies, plus documentaries and Shakespeare nights.
The Picturehouse is a popular spot for locals to meet, and a great place for visitors to soak up the atmosphere. The two restaurants and one bar are good places to start.

7. The Rio Cinema Dalston

Popular since 1937, this is a stunning Art Deco building. The two screens feature a wide range of independent and foreign films, plus plenty of classics and Saturday Morning Picture Club for the kids.
The Cafe Bar has some seriously tasty nibbles and there’s always a Treat of the Week. No wonder the locals love it!

As London experts, Premium Tours knows where to find lots of interesting and quirky bits of London, such as the best place to get an unusual afternoon tea or where the funkiest restaurants are. To find out more about our London tours, visit our website or contact us today.

19 Things to Do in London with Toddlers

London is an exciting, busy and bustling city. With so much to see and do, it can be tricky to know exactly what’s available to keep your little ones amused. Britain’s notoriously fickle weather is bound to make an impact on your visit, so whether we’re basking in glorious sunshine or it’s raining cats and dogs, having a great supply of interesting options is just what you need to keep the fun times going.

Luckily, most of the best London tourist attractions cater for young people, and more interesting places than ever are being created for our children, so you don’t need to feel like you’re missing out.
With that in mind, here’s our handy guide to 19 of the top things to do with your toddlers on your next trip to London, to keep them amused whatever the weather…

1. Buckingham Palace, Changing of the Guard

Taking place from 10.30am four days a week, this is an exciting spectacle for children and adults alike. Accompanied by music, the changing of the guard takes around an hour or so and is weather dependant, so check the ceremony schedule online first and get there early to beat the crowds. You can always do a bit of Queen spotting beforehand!

2. London Zoo

It’s never too early to start a fascination with the natural world, and London Zoo is a great day out for all the family. With under 3s going free, buy your tickets online in advance to get discounts and beat the queues. With plenty of interactive areas to get involved with and frequent feeding displays, there are over 660 species of animals to see. There are great family-friendly refreshment options, plenty of toilets and baby changing facilities across the site, as you would expect, along with plenty of indoors and outdoors seating areas to stop and re-group.

3. Museum of Childhood

Based in Bethnal Green, this museum is really well designed for family day out. Free admission is a good start and free family backpacks can be picked up from the reception desk, filled with age-appropriate items for children from 6 months to 5 years old, including activity ideas, a guide to the museum, and toys to interact with to bring the museum displays to life. With a great café offering child’s portions and baby foods, as well as delish cakes, coffees and lunches for the adults, everything is here for an easy day out.

4. Diana Memorial Playground

Based in Kensington Gardens, this memorial is brilliant – but busy. Open everyday from 10am, it’s best to arrive as early as possible to avoid queuing (yes, queuing for a park – that’s how good it is!). The main attraction is a massive wooden pirate ship adventure playground, surrounded by sensory trails, sculptures and tepees, all set in a beach surrounded by trees. For the younger visitors, there’s plenty of space to do their own thing and plenty of benches for the adults too.

5. HMS Belfast

Permanently moored as a museum on the Thames near Tower Bridge, this ex-warship is sure to impress if you have a big boat fan in your family! With under 5s getting in for free, they can sit in the captain’s chair and explore this massive ship through interactive displays and activities. There are toilets and baby changing facilities as well as a café and there’s a great gift shop too – perfect for those pocket money treats. You probably want to allow at least a couple of hours to explore the boat and then, when you’re done, you’re in the centre of the city with restaurants and public transport links within easy walking distance.

6. Sea Life London Aquarium

An opportunity to see the creatures of the deep is sure to wow the little ones, and with free admission for children under 3, it doesn’t cost the Earth either. A great escape if the weather isn’t so obliging outside, this is an impressive attraction for the whole family. There are feeding events daily and hands-on displays to keep toddlers entertained as you go around. It can get busy during school holidays so, if you have the option, aim for an off-peak visit to get the best views (and shortest queuing times).

7. Hackney City Farm

For over 20 years, Hackney City Farm has been giving Londoners a taste of country life in the city. If farm animals are more your toddler’s vibe – think goats, not gorillas – this is the place to be. Free to visit, there are regular activity classes for a small fee, such as children’s pottery classes and baby music classes, as well as all the fun of the farm to explore. If you’re particularly taken with a certain furry friend, you can sponsor an animal to contribute towards their care. For the grown-ups, there’s also an excellent shop selling honey from the farm’s own bees and freshly laid eggs.

8. London Transport Museum

What toddler, at some point, isn’t obsessed by buses? When the phase hits, this is the place to be – a museum exploring the history of London’s public transport network. Under 17s get in free and there is a full family guide to make sure you get the most out of your visit with the little ones. There are craft workshops, story times and hands-on exhibitions to enjoy. Its convenient location, close to Covent Garden, also means there’s plenty to explore nearby to make a real day of it.

9. Baby Loves Disco

As the name suggests, this is not a regular day out – it’s a family disco! A monthly event in London, these family discos are run across the country, with Fatboy Slim even playing at their Brighton Fringe event in 2016. Essentially it’s music adults can enjoy, played at a safe level for children from 0 years and up, with all the disco lights, bubble machines, drinks and snacks you could ever need. But don’t worry, if you don’t have the energy you used to, there are also chill-out areas for when it all gets too much and you need a sit down. Tickets need to be booked in advance, non-walking children get in free, and you can find event dates and locations on their website.

10. Covent Garden Street Performers

Magicians, street artists, singers, musicians and poets all showing off what they can do best line the streets around bustling Covent Garden. Make sure you have some coppers for the kids’ favourites and it’s an easy way to while away the hours (and there are cafes and shops right there for you, too).

11. St. James’s Park

London has an abundance of beautiful parks, but set against the stunning backdrop of Westminster, St James’s is ideal for you and the children alike. There is a wide array of ducks to feed, resident pelicans to watch, and vibrant flowerbeds to marvel at. And when that gets too much for the little ones, there’s a great café too, doing breakfasts, lunches and snacks.

12. The Dockland Light Railway (DLR)

To most people, this is just part of the public transport network of London, a way to get to work, or a normal mode of transport. But to a toddler, it is a magic train without a driver! The DLR trains are automated, which means your little one can have a go sitting at the front being ‘the driver’, while you enjoy the views. Much of the network is above ground, which means you can see some of the sights as you go, such as the Emirates cable car, Canary Wharf, and the planes coming in and out of London City Airport.

13. Science Museum

The Science Museum is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the city, with displays and exhibitions on everything from antibiotics to space travel. While that does sound a bit grown up for toddlers, there are also designated spaces for the under 5s, including The Garden. Not an actual garden – it is in fact in the basement – it is an interactive space designed specifically for children between the ages of 3 and 6, where they can learn about science through play. Experts are on hand to help answer questions so you can make the most of your time there. The museum is free to enter, with family-friendly cafes open daily.

14. Tumbling Bay Playground

Part of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, the Tumbling Bay Playground is a park on an epic scale. Designed to create fun spaces from the natural environment, there are sand pits, rock pools and rope bridges between trees. There are also, of course, the obligatory slides and swings to keep everybody happy. Alongside, is the Timber Lodge community centre and café, with toilets, changing facilities and a range of hot and cold snacks and drinks for parents and children.

15. Natural History Museum

History lovers old and young have flocked to this great museum since its opening in the 1880s. The ornate interiors are breathtaking and the displays are curated to inspire and inform. Although the giant skeleton of Dippy the Dinosaur has been replaced by Hope the Blue Whale in the great hall, there is still so much to see for the avid dinosaur fans in your family. Free entry (to the main exhibitions), a kid-friendly café and specific themed events over school holiday periods means a busy and exciting day for you all.

16. Pottery Café

With cafes in Battersea and Fulham, Pottery Café has been going for 20 years and is London’s original paint-your-own pottery experience. With a massive range of pre-made items for you to decorate, and excellent coffee, cakes and snacks on offer, you can get creative with your little one here. All the paints are water based so safe for everyone – and washable! Booking is recommended and staff are on-hand (excuse the pun) if you fancy trying a handprint or footprint to commemorate a milestone for your little one.

17. Tate Modern

An art gallery may not be the first thing you think of when contemplating a toddler-friendly day out, but the Tate is not the norm when it comes to galleries! Its industrial setting means there are plenty of open spaces for toddlers to run around and burn off that excess energy, and with the dedicated family-friendly Start Gallery – a collation of the best-loved artworks – it’s a great introduction to the world of art. With a buggy park, baby changing facilities and various kid-friendly café and refreshment options, it has everything you need for an interesting and fun day out.

18. Brockwell Park

Visiting Brockwell Park, near Herne Hill in South London, is a great idea if the sun is shining on your day out in London. There is a large adventure playground including zip line, as well as a duck pond, paddling pool and recently refurbished lido for those odd occasions where it really gets hot enough to strip off! Brockwell Hall, dating from the early 1800s, is situated in the centre of the park and now houses a café for snacks, drinks and ice creams to top off an excellent trip.

19. Mudlarks, Museum of London Docklands

Mudlarks is a permanent exhibition at the London Docklands Museum, specifically targeted to children under 8 years of age, explaining the history and stories of the rest of the museum through hands-on activities and displays. With easy access, Mudlarks is on the same floor as the main entrance and right next door to the restaurant, café, toilets and baby changing facilities, so it makes for an easy and informative day out. Open every afternoon and all day during the school holidays, entry is free but you need a ticket that you can buy on the day or in advance online.

If you have been inspired to visit the vibrant capital city with your family, have a look at our amazing range of London tours, or call our team. We can help you to plan the ideal day in London for you and your toddler. If you are looking for the best free things to do in London then you can see our guide here

wine glasses

9 Great Places to Go Wine Tasting in London

Tasting your way through the wines of the world doesn’t necessarily mean you have to get on a plane; in fact, you can learn to fine-tune your palate right here in London.

There are several venues in the capital that hold enjoyable and social wine tasting events, giving you the chance to taste an interesting variety of local and international wines while learning a thing or two along the way.

Here are nine great places to go wine tasting in London.

1. Winemakers Club

Atmospheric and intriguing, the Winemakers Club is located within the exposed brickwork vaults of a Victorian wine cellar beneath Holborn Viaduct. Specialising in organic, biodynamic wines from small, traditional wineries around the world, the venue holds regular wine tasting events.

Guests are invited to try six to eight wines focusing on a specific theme. Tastings take place around a large communal table, and emphasis is on informal fun rather than education.

2. Cork & Bottle

Tucked away in a basement in the heart of the theatre district, the Cork & Bottle wine bar offers a fantastic menu of sharing platters and a range of fine cheeses to complement their selection of wines.

Every month they hold one or two bespoke dinner and wine tasting events hosted by winemakers and industry experts. Themes include American wines, cava and champagne tastings.

wine tasting

3. Cavas de Gaucho

As well as a host of events and special dinners, this delightful wine bar in Piccadilly holds wine tasting masterclasses focusing on their fantastic collection of wines from Argentina. The masterclasses are conducted by the head sommelier, who guides you through the carefully curated selection.

4. Vivat Bacchus

South African wine specialist, Vivat Bacchus, has two venues at Farringdon and London Bridge where they regularly host a range of enjoyable and informal wine tastings events, such as ‘winter steak reds’, wine and cheese evenings, and even a wine knowledge quiz.

5. Copa de Cava

This gorgeous, atmospheric brick-vaulted wine cellar hidden in the alleyways off St Paul’s is London’s first dedicated cava bar.  Tastings and classes feature a range of cava and other Spanish wines accompanied by delicious, authentic tapas.

wine sampling

6. Bedales of Borough

This intimate wine bar situated in the heart of Borough Market specialises in rare and unique wines.  They hold a variety of wine tasting classes including a blindfolded tasting to get all your senses working!

7. The Wine Tasting Shop

The ‘try before you buy’ motto of this wine shop and wine bar specialist in Balham extends to weekly wine tasting events and classes including blind tastings. Tastings are accompanied by canapés and cheeses to complement the wines.

8. Cheese at Leadenhall

Another wine tasting experience in a famous London market can be found at Cheese at Leadenhall. Their cheese and wine tasting experiences focus on pairing fine cheeses with wines, ports and sherries.

wine and cheese

9. London Cru

Finally, you can even visit a winery right here in London! London Cru in SW6 holds winery tours including tastings that are educational and fun. You can even book a ‘winemaker for the day’ course.

Our London experts can advise you on the best places for wine tasting in the capital. Contact Premium Tours today for more information on all our London tours.

windsor castle lawn

10 Interesting Facts about Windsor Castle

Situated in the county of Berkshire, just 44 miles from the centre of London, Windsor Castle is one of the most well-known and favourite royal residences of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

If you want to find out more about the oldest inhabited castle in the world, then here are 10 interesting facts about Windsor Castle you may not know.

  1. In 1066 after the Battle of Hastings, William the Conqueror built a series of fortresses to secure the city of London and keep the unruly Saxons in their place. One of these was the Tower of London; another was Windsor Castle. The castle was strategically placed to overlook the River Thames and the surrounding Windsor Forest.
  2. Built as a fortress, the original castle was constructed from wood in the motte-and-bailey style. In the 1200s, it was reinforced with stone and withstood a two-month siege during the Barons War. Today, you can still see the murder holes in the Norman Gate from where invaders were bombarded with boiling oil.
    windsor castle
  3. Henry I was the first monarch to use the castle as a residence, while Edward III used money from his battle victories in France to make lavish expansions, making it the most expensive building project of the Middle Ages.
  4. Henry VII spent even more, around £300 million in today’s money, to update it. He used the castle as a playground for hunting, shooting and entertaining.
  5. Windsor Castle was a favourite of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. On 14th December 1861, Prince Albert died in the Blue Room here. In deep mourning, Victoria spent most of her time at Windsor or at Balmoral in Scotland and insisted his rooms were maintained exactly as they were when he was alive. She became known as ‘The Widow of Windsor’.
    windsor castle grounds
  6. During the First World War, George V wanted to distance the Royal family from their German heritage so, inspired by the Royal residence, he changed the family’s surname from Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to Windsor.
  7. The devastating fire of 1992 which highlighted the Queen’s ‘Annus Horribilus’, began in the Queen’s Private Chapel at 11.15 am on 20th November. The heat from a spotlight ignited a curtain it was leaning against. The extensive damage cost £36.5 million to repair.
  8. The Great Kitchen has cooked up meals for 32 monarchs including the Queen. Today there are 33 kitchen staff, 20 chefs and sous chefs, 3 pastry chefs and 10 porters. The clocks in the Great Kitchen are always set to be five minutes fast so that the Queen will never be served late.
    windsor castle turrets
  9. St George’s Chapel in the grounds of the castle is the burial site of 10 monarchs including Henry VIII and Charles I. On her death, the Queen will also be buried here.
  10. The chapel at Windsor Castle is the chosen location for the upcoming wedding ceremony between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. The young royals will tie the knot here on 19th May this year.

Our expert tour guides have plenty more facts and fascinating stories about Windsor Castle. You can see our tours featuring Windsor Castle here, or have a look at our London Tours Page for more general information.

london night

27 Fun Things to Do in London in the Evening

Historic landmarks, royal palaces and attractions galore, London is also full to the brim with fantastic eateries offering an array of international cuisines from across the globe, lively bars, gastropubs, and a wealth of museums and galleries to explore.

But the fun doesn’t stop when the sun goes down. In fact, it just gets better. The UK capital really is the city that never sleeps, with a variety of fun activities to enjoy until the early hours.

Whether you want to continue your cultural experience, try innovative, quirky and fun places to eat and drink, or simply want to soak up the lively and buzzing atmosphere of the capital in the dark hours, London offers one of the best nights out you’ll ever have.

Here are 27 fun things to do in London during the evening and even into the small hours.

1. The Tower of London, Ceremony of the Keys

Every night at 9.50pm, the Ceremony of the Keys takes place at the 950-year-old Tower of London. Although you need to plan ahead and get tickets, the event is free to watch. The brief ceremony, which has been taking place since the 14th century, is performed by the Beefeaters and marks the official locking of the Tower.

But don’t worry about being locked in for the night. Once the ceremony is over and ‘all’s well’, they’ll let you out through a small side door.

2. London’s Museums

If you fancy visiting one of London’s museums after dark, there are plenty to choose between. Many museums have a weekly late night opening and most are free of charge, such as the British Museum Spotlight Tour that takes place every Friday evening. The Science Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Natural History Museum all have monthly after-hours access and special evening exhibitions.

For a more atmospheric visit, you can take a candlelit tour of Sir John Soane’s Museum in Lincoln’s Inn on the first Tuesday of every month.

natural history museum

3. Art Galleries

Housing one of the world’s most extensive collections of modern art from 1900 to the present day, the Tate Modern is one of the most visited galleries in the capital. If you haven’t got time to fit it into your day, you can visit the Thames Side gallery in the evening. It’s open until 10 pm on Fridays and Saturdays.

The National Gallery, home to a world-class collection of art from some of the greatest artists in history including Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Renoir and Turner is open until 9 pm on Fridays. If you’re feeling creatively inspired, The National Portrait Gallery holds drop-in drawing classes on Friday evenings.

4. Haunted London Bus Tour

Step back in time and explore the dark and haunted streets of London from the safety of a vintage open-top double-decker bus. Then retrace the steps of Jack the Ripper in the sinister East End, and learn about the body snatchers while walking through the deserted Smithfield Market. Finish off with a comforting drink at the warm and inviting Sherlock Holmes pub.

5. Twilight Open Bus Tour

See the beauty of London lit up in the evening sky. Take an open top bus tour around some of London’s most popular landmarks such as the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, the Houses of Parliament and St Paul’s Cathedral, and see them illuminated in all their glory.

6. Walk along the South Bank

If you prefer to stretch your legs, a gentle evening stroll along the South Bank will give you a stunning view of the River Thames and London’s landmarks twinkling in the night sky.

london south bank

7. The London Eye

A ride on the London Eye will give you spectacular far-reaching views along the River Thames and across the sprawling capital. But watching the sunset and the city light up from up high is a truly special experience. You can even buy ‘Day and Night Experience’ tickets to enjoy the ride during the day, then once again in the evening.

8. Views from the Shard

Europe’s tallest building also offers ‘Day and Night Experience’ tickets to see the fabulous views during the day, and the sparkling lights illuminating the River Thames at night.

9. The Sky Garden

Another fantastic place to get sunset and night-time views of the capital is from the Sky Garden at 20 Fenchurch Street. Spanning three storeys, London’s highest garden can be visited for free and the atrium stays open until late at night. The 360-degree views are lovely during the day, but at night they’re spectacular. Enjoy an evening cocktail at the Sky Pod or City Garden bars while you’re there.

10. Thames River Cruise

Enjoy a closer look at London’s illuminated landmarks while sipping champagne and savouring a delicious dinner on a Thames dinner cruise. Whether you want a sunset cocktail or want a five-course meal with music, entertainment and dancing, an evening cruise along the Thames is an unforgettable experience.

the london eye at night

11. Late Night Shopping

Enjoy a spot of retail therapy among the bright lights of the West End. The department stores, designer boutiques and high-street brand stores on Oxford Street are open until 10 pm on Thursdays.

12. Piccadilly Circus

A popular tourist attraction during the day, Piccadilly Circus really comes into its own at night. Soak up the bustling atmosphere and the bright neon lights before taking a stroll around nearby Soho, Chinatown and Leicester Square.

13. Jazz and Italian Coffee in Soho

As well as its risqué red-light reputation, Soho is also famous for its vibrant nightlife. You’ll find some great bars and restaurants here, ranging from casual and quirky to high-end fine dining venues. Head to the iconic Ronnie Scott’s for a great evening of jazz before savouring a late night espresso at the buzzing Bar Italia.

14. Covent Garden

Covent Garden is just as lively and vibrant in the evening as it is in the daytime. Head to the cobbled central piazza and enjoy the amazing talents of the street performers, from the famous ‘living statues’ to magicians and musicians, before grabbing a bite to eat in one of the nearby eateries.

15. A West End Musical

London’s West End is famous worldwide for its theatre scene. Grab an early pre-show dinner, then enjoy one of the iconic musicals such as The Lion King, Les Misérables or Mamma Mia!

16. Hippodrome Casino

If you fancy a flutter in sumptuous surroundings, then a night at the Hippodrome Casino in Leicester Square is definitely on the cards. This magnificent venue has four gaming floors, six bars, a music and cabaret theatre, and a fantastic restaurant that claims to serve the best steaks in London.

roulette

17. The Globe Theatre

Enjoy a night of Shakespeare at the faithful reconstruction of the original Globe Theatre on Bankside. The Bard’s most famous plays featuring some of the world’s most talented actors can be seen at incredibly affordable prices. You can buy a standing ticket for just £5!

18. Comedy Clubs

Not only can you laugh the night away enjoying some top comedy acts, but you can do it for free! The Angel Comedy Club at Camden Head and the Top Secret Comedy Club in Drury Lane host a range of top-class stand-up acts and shows with free entry and incredibly cheap drinks for a great value night out. Comedy clubs are extremely popular and tickets sell out quickly, so be sure to book early to avoid disappointment.

19. Immersive Theatre

Alternatively, if you want to get in on the action, you can take part in an immersive theatre show.  From murder mysteries and battle-against-the clock escape rooms to Agatha Christie courtroom dramas, there’s a range of thrilling shows and events that will have you battling your wits and visiting other eras in a fun night of escapism.

20. After Hours Shrek’s Adventure

The adventures of the loveable green ogre aren’t just adored by kids. Shrek’s Adventure London, near the London Eye, hosts after-dark adventures for adults only. Release your inner child with 10 live interactive shows peppered with hilarious adult humour and take a 4D bus trip driven by Donkey. Then finish up your evening with a tipple at the Poison Apple Pub.

21. Quirky Bars

London is full of quirky bars! Drinking out has never been such fun. Step back in time to 1920s Chicago and choose from a range of ‘prohibition’ cocktails at Bart’s on Sloane Avenue. Dress in a vintage outfit and dance along to music from the 40s and 50s in an underground station bar at Cahoots in Soho.

For a truly bizarre experience, spend a night out in a lavatory! The WC underneath Clapham Common station is a 100-year-old former toilet, and now serves a fantastic range of fine wines and cheeses on cubicle door tables, while offering live music on Sunday and Mondays from 8-10 pm.

vintage outfits

22. Mad Hatters Tipsy Evening Tea

Many London venues serve Afternoon Tea. But how about an ‘Evening Tea’ with a difference! Every evening the Sanderson Hotel hosts the quirky Mad Hatters Tipsy Evening Tea with an Alice in Wonderland theme.  Enjoy a delicious indulgence of savoury and sweet delights such as smoked salmon scotch eggs, vodka and cranberry tartlets and aged rum trifle, while sipping on speciality cocktails. The Hot Bouquet cocktail is a must try during cold winter evenings.

23. Pub Theatres

Enjoy a pint and a play in one of London’s pub theatres. Venues such as The Finborough Theatre in Earl’s Court and Upstairs at the Gatehouse in Highgate offer a great value night out featuring fringe theatre, comedy acts and edgy drama as well as discount drinks.

24. Haunted Pubs

Considering London’s long and turbulent history, it’s no surprise that there are a few haunted pubs around. Enjoy a pint and soak up the atmosphere while listening to spooky stories at the following pubs:

  • The Ten Bells in Spitalfields was the famous stalking ground of Jack the Ripper. Unchanged since the autumn of 1888, the pub is said to be haunted by the ghost of a Victorian landlord who was axed to death there.
  • The ghost of highwayman Dick Turpin is said to haunt the Spaniards Inn at Hampstead Heath, once his local pub.
  • The Viaduct Tavern near St Paul’s, once a gin palace, sits on top of former underground prison cells. It’s said to be haunted by the ghosts of previous inmates.

25. A Brick Lane Curry

If you’re a curry fan, then a trip down iconic Brick Lane is a must for a great night out. The vibrant and colourful Bangla Town, full of the unmistakable aromas of heady eastern spices, really comes to life in the evening.

As well as the main strip, there are lots of tiny side streets to explore with a wealth of lively bars and restaurants, not to mention the famous curry houses. Cinnamon and Sheba are two of the best known, with a wonderful selection of authentic Bengali dishes.

And if you’re feeling peckish after a hard night’s partying, be sure to grab a hot and fresh beigel from the famous Brick Lane Bakery.

26. A Late Night Dinner

London really is the city that never sleeps. No matter how late it is, you can enjoy a delicious meal with views at the Duck and Waffle in Bishopsgate. The restaurant, located on the 40th floor of the Heron Tower, is open 24/7 and offers a special late-night menu featuring sharing plates of snacks, generous main dishes and champagne cocktails.

eating dinner

27. A Dino Snores Night at the Natural History Museum

A fun night out in London doesn’t just have to be for adults. Kids from ages 7 to 11 can enjoy the thrilling experience of a sleepover with the dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum. Once the doors have closed, set up camp in the famous Hintze Hall gallery and spend an action-packed night exploring a torch-lit trail and taking part in workshops and science shows before settling down to sleep (if you can) at midnight.

You can find more information on our range of London tours here. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to get in touch.

museum

17 Museums in London You Have to Visit

London is famous for its history and culture, so it’s no wonder that there are so many attractions to see. You could spend months visiting everything this spectacular city has to offer.

When it comes to visiting museums, you’re spoilt for choice. There are hundreds to visit right in the capital. Whether you’re interested in war, history, art or even famous personalities, you’ll be sure to find a museum just around the corner.

If you are visiting London on a budget, then you’ll be pleased to know that the majority of the more popular museums in London are free to visit, offering a wealth of exhibits that you won’t find anywhere else in the world.

If you’re not sure where to start, here’s a guide to 17 of the best museums in London you just have to visit on your trip to the capital.

1. Museum of London

It seems only right to start with the museum that documents the turbulent past of one of the world’s most famous and historical cities. Located on the London Wall, near the Barbican Centre in the City of London, the Museum of London overlooks the remains of the Roman wall in one of the oldest parts of the city.

With over six million artefacts, the Museum of London takes you on a journey in time through a range of interactive galleries from the prehistoric, ‘London before London’, to ‘Medieval London’, ‘War, Plague and Fire’, which covers the Civil War, the Plague and the Great Fire, to ‘Victorian London’ and World Wars I and II, up to the present day.

Nearest Tube Stations: Barbican, St Paul’s

2. Museum of London Docklands

The Museum of London has a sister museum based in an old warehouse in Docklands. It documents the history of London as a port from the 1600s through to the present day. Learn about early traders, London’s involvement in the sugar and slave trade, how the port served the Empire, and Docklands during World War II. Then take a walk in the shoes of a Victorian sailor and explore the dark alleyways of Sailortown, a fascinating recreation of a Docklands street in 19th century London.

Nearest Tube Station: Canary Wharf

3. British Museum

The incredible collection at the British Museum spans over two million years of human history. It’s one of the only museums in the world to display such a vast amount of treasures from across the globe under one roof.

The museum is divided into galleries, each depicting a specific period in time or geographical location such as Roman Britain, Ancient Egypt and Ancient Greece. Here you can see the world famous Rosetta Stone, Samurai Armour, the Parthenon Sculptures, the preserved Iron Age body of the Lindow Man, and Egyptian Mummies, to name but a few. The rooms are centred on the spectacular glass roof of the Great Court.

Nearest Tube Stations: Tottenham Court Road, Holborn, Russell Square

british museum

4. Victoria and Albert Museum

Just around the corner from the Natural History Museum, the splendid Victoria and Albert Museum is the largest museum of art and design in the world. It’s home to millions of artefacts, sculptures, drawings, paintings, photographs, jewellery and objects from around the world.

The exhibits are divided into categories from different areas around the world. As well as permanent exhibitions, the ever-changing museum holds a range of temporary exhibitions throughout the year. Highlights include the spectacular Jewellery Gallery, the British Gallery and the Medieval Renaissance Gallery.

Nearest Tube Station: South Kensington

5. V&A Museum of Childhood

A fascinating museum for all the family is the V&A Museum of Childhood at Bethnal Green. This delightful museum displays the UK’s largest collection of objects to do with childhood from the 1600s through to the present day.

Not only does the museum display toys throughout history, but also objects relating to life for children in the home, at school, and in everyday life.

Nearest Tube Station: Bethnal Green

6. Science Museum

The third museum located in South Kensington is the Science Museum. With a variety of interactive displays, the museum is home to over 15,000 objects spread over seven floors that cover anything and everything to do with science, such as medicine, nuclear power, food, space and technology.

You don’t have to be a science geek to enjoy the museum. The interactive exhibits are fun, fascinating and truly hands-on for all the family. Explore the Apollo 10 command capsule, experience what it’s like to fly with the Red Arrows, or take on a mission in space with 3 and 4 D simulators.

Nearest Tube Station: South Kensington

7. Imperial War Museum

Disturbing, emotional and life changing, the Imperial War Museum documents the real life and death stories of people who have experienced war, from the Great War, World War I through to the present day.

Permanent galleries include The Lord Ashcroft: Extraordinary Heroes and Secret War, A World War One trench, The Second World War, A Family in Wartime, and the Holocaust Exhibition.

There are often free talks from people who survived the war that give a first-hand account of life in London during the Second World War.

Some of the most fascinating yet disturbing items you’ll see include a pair of children’s shoes from a Nazi concentration camp, a damaged window frame from the World Trade Centre, destroyed on 9/11, and a terrorist bomber’s suicide vest.

Nearest Tube Station: Lambeth North

8. Natural History Museum

Situated in South Kensington, the Natural History Museum displays over 80 million artefacts from the natural world. As well as the iconic T. Rex fossil and Blue Whale in the magnificent central Hintze Hall, visitors get a chance to discover dinosaurs, reptiles, mammals, planets, volcanoes and earthquakes all divided by colour zones throughout the museum.

Highlights include the largest gold nugget in the world, a 4.6 million year old meteorite, the casts of a man and a dog from Pompeii, and an earthquake simulator where the room really shakes.

Nearest Tube Stations: South Kensington, Victoria

natural history museum

9. Churchill War Rooms

The Churchill War Rooms are part of the Imperial War Museum collection and are located in Westminster. The museum includes the original Cabinet War Rooms, the wartime bunker used by Winston Churchill and his staff during the Blitz of World War II. Visitors can explore the underground rooms where the Government met and see where Churchill slept. The Map Room has been left exactly how it was when the lights were eventually switched off in 1945.

The Churchill Museum gives a deeper insight into the life of Britain’s most famous prime minister, and explores his life and legacy through objects, photographs and artefacts.

Nearest Tube Stations: Westminster, St James’s Park

10. National Army Museum

Located in Chelsea, the National Army Museum is spread over six floors and offers a range of exhibits, objects and artefacts relating to the role of the British army from the English Civil War up to the present day.

Permanent exhibitions include the British Army in World Wars I and II, the Falklands, the Napoleonic Wars, the Boer War, and displays on Iraq and Afghanistan. There’s a range of interactive displays and visitors can dress up as wartime medical assistants, build their own rocket or put together a parachute.

There’s a soft play area for younger children, while older bloodthirsty kids can enjoy gorier items such as the amputation saw used to chop off the Earl of Uxbridge’s leg during the Battle of Waterloo, or a blood-stained uniform worn by a soldier in World War I.

Nearest Tube Station: Sloane Square

11. National Maritime Museum

For those interested in the fascinating history of the British Navy, the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich is a must see. The largest museum of its kind in the world, the UNESCO World Heritage Site offers over two million objects relating to life and death on the seas including exhibitions dedicated to famous sea-goers such as Captain James Cook, Captain Scott and Admiral Lord Nelson.

There are plenty of interactive exhibitions for children including a gallery where kids can fire their own canons and destroy a pirate ship, as well as fascinating displays about British maritime trade and slavery. A must see is the original blood-stained uniform worn by Admiral Lord Nelson when he was fatally wounded at the Battle of Trafalgar.

Nearest Train Stations: Docklands Light Railway, Cutty Sark, Greenwich, Maze Hill

12. HMS Belfast

The floating museum is a Royal Navy ship permanently docked on the River Thames and is part of the Imperial War Museum Collection. The ship itself played an important role in the British naval blockade against Germany during the Second World War.

Today visitors get the chance to experience what life was like aboard a ship during times of war. There are nine decks to explore featuring the Captain’s deck, sickbay, mess decks, sleeping quarters, the galley and the gun platform.

Interactive exhibitions include the Operations Room where you can help recover a drowned plane or climb down to the lungs of the ship and explore the boiler and engine rooms, 15ft below sea level.

Nearest Tube Station: London Bridge

hms belfast

13. London Transport Museum

The London Transport Museum is a fascinating story of London and its transport system from 1800s through to the present day. The museum in Covent Garden has over 450,000 items relating to London transport and its influence on the capital’s history and culture.

Exhibits include one of the earliest wooden railway coaches, which you can climb aboard, a horse-drawn omnibus from the early 1800s, the very first underground steam-powered engine, and a sedan chair, the very first licensed public transport used in London.

Nearest Tube Station: Covent Garden

14. British Library

Spread over 14 floors, The British Library is the largest library in the world. It also holds a treasure trove of priceless documents such as the Magna Carta, Jane Austen’s notebook, Leonardo da Vinci’s handwritten notes, Shakespeare’s first folio and lyrics to Beatles’ songs handwritten by John Lennon to name just a few.

Every year the library hosts a variety of free exhibitions. The latest is dedicated to the world of Harry Potter. As well as magical artefacts, the library also displays original material from J K Rowling’s archives such as lists and scribblings about possible plots and characters.

Nearest Tube Station: King’s Cross

15. Charles Dickens Museum

The Charles Dickens Museum is situated in the original London home of the great writer and his wife Catherine at 48 Doughty Street. It’s the house where Dickens wrote some of his greatest masterpieces including Oliver Twist, Pickwick Papers and Nicholas Nickleby.

Fans of Dickens can explore his study, the bedchambers, and servant’s quarters. The museum also houses Dickens’ treasures such as his original desk, handwritten notes and drafts from his novels, Catherine’s engagement ring and original artefacts that belonged to the family.

Nearest Tube Station: Russell Square

16. Sherlock Holmes Museum

The Sherlock Holmes Museum is aptly located at one of the most famous street addresses in the world: 221B Baker Street. Fans of the world’s most famous detective will be greeted by a real-life Mrs Hudson who will accompany them through the various Victorian rooms spread over four floors.

The rooms, which include Holmes’s parlour, study, bedroom and bathroom, are filled with fascinating Sherlock Holmes’ memorabilia relating to Arthur Conan Doyle’s books.

Here are some other spots in London which Sherlock Holmes fans should check out.

Nearest Tube Station: Baker Street

sherlock

17. Jack The Ripper Museum

Those who are fascinated by the most gruesome and infamous serial killer of all time shouldn’t miss a visit to the Jack the Ripper Museum at 12 Cable Street near Tower Hill.

Situated in a Victorian terrace house in the heart of Whitechapel, the area where most of the grisly murders took place, the museum will take you back in time to the autumn of 1888 where you can discover the lives and deaths of the victims, the main suspects and daily life in Victorian East End London.

Spread over four floors, the museum faithfully recreates the Mitre Square murder scene of Catherine Eddowes, the Ripper’s sitting room, the police station, the victim’s bedroom and a mortuary in the basement.

Nearest Tube Station: Tower Hill

Depending on your interests, there really is something for everyone in London.  After spending the day exploring London’s museums, you can relax and enjoy some delicious food in one of London’s best restaurants

drinks london

7 of the Best Beer Gardens in London

There’s nothing like sipping a cold lager in the great outdoors on a nice sunny day in London. Here’s our lowdown on seven of the coolest outdoor beer gardens in the city.

1. The Avalon

Located in Clapham, the Avalon is a pub that draws a steady crowd during the evenings. And with three magnificent outdoor spaces, it’s consistently named amongst London’s top beer gardens. In addition to the spacious main garden, there’s a spectacular terrace that’s open all year round, along with a cute courtyard. An added bonus is the barbecue grill, open on weekends.

2. The Rye

The Rye has a nice backyard park setting with rows of benches set up between heavily branched trees and outdoor table tennis. The prime attraction is locally brewed beer. It’s a great garden to spend the day, as you can follow the sun’s path until it makes an exit at sundown.

cocktails

3. The Albion

The Albion is full of old world charm, enhanced by heavy wooden beams and hard-stone floors. But it’s the garden, dripping with beautiful wisteria, which steals the show during summer. This Georgian gem offers a fine selection of lagers, beers, real ales and ciders, and their menu is based upon traditional, seasonal food.

4. The Axe

The Axe is a relatively new pub that’s been on the receiving end of some rave reviews. The local population has warmed up to it quickly owing to its nicely set up beer and smoking yard. It’s a cosy spot with a warm, inviting ambience, perfect for a small group of friends. Choose from 22 taps or opt for the standout G&T. If you’re feeling peckish, they have a novel gastropub menu.

dinner

5. Canonbury

This pub has a fascinating history. The Canonbury used to be the preferred haunt of legendary author George Orwell. That said, this isn’t an old world pub. The ambience is modern and minimal, fresh from a remodelling. There’s a walled-in garden where you can chill on designer sofas, very snug and dark. The outdoor bar serves an impressive menu of pickles, fries, burgers, gnocchi, baby leeks, and a whole lot more along with your favourite chilled lager.

6. The Edinboro Castle

The Edinboro Castle has a modest interior space, but outside there’s a large open space with the capacity to seat around 300 guests. Despite the fact it’s situated between a railway line and a busy road, you never notice owing to its high walls and thick foliage, which nearly silences the din. The ambience is perfect to chill with a beer under the bright sunny sky along with some delicious barbecue food and hog roasts. The place fills up in a flash when the sun is out, so getting a table may require some planning.

set table

7. Faltering Fullback

The Faltering Fullback is small but perfectly formed. Its clever seating plan is arranged over three floors, but it’s the garden that draws most people in. An extensive space with lush plants and flowers arranged around the tables, it’s one of the cutest places to down your cold beer. This deliciously quirky pub serves a great Thai menu in the evenings.

As London experts, we know a thing or two about London’s best beer gardens. After you’ve built up an appetite, be sure to check out Brick Lane’s best curry houses.