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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.

gastropub

5 of the Best Gastropubs in North London

Gastropubs are big news in London. However, while they’re two a penny around the capital, most people have their favourites. If you’re exploring London for the first time and are new to the London gastropub scene, how do you know where to start?

Here’s the lowdown on five of the best gastropubs in London.

1. The Duchess of Kent

North London can be a crazy place. The Duchess is one of those spots where you can slip away from it all and indulge in a rejuvenating sensory experience. This cute little pub is just around the corner from Highbury and Islington.

If you’re into exploring top-notch gastropub cuisine while downing a couple of pints, the Duchess will capture your heart. The place has an enormous range of drinks from beers to wines to some exclusive spirits. With its relaxed home-like ambience, it’s an awesome space to catch a game on telly with some friends.

2. The Grafton

Kentish Town is many things to many people. However, one thing everybody agrees on is the Grafton. You can’t visit this quaint part of London and leave without experiencing it. There’s a quaint Victorian-style pub downstairs and a beautiful bar on top.

The pub boasts eight hand pumps, local beer via tap or in bottles, and a bevvy of ciders, wines, spritzes, and soft drinks. The pub also has a charming roof terrace where you can chill with dinner and drinks throughout the year.

the grafton

3. The Exmouth Arms

If you enjoy a delicious, juicy beef patty washed down with a cold beer, the Exmouth Arms could be your personal heaven. This cosy little pub has an extensive international crowd, with tourists flocking from across the world.

Other than its amazing burgers and sides, the Exmouth is famous for a wide range of drinks and quirky craft beers. Bring your chums on a Tuesday for the pub quiz and see how you work your intellectual charms over a pint of ale.

4. The Queen’s Primrose Hill

A stone’s throw from Primrose Hill, the Queen’s is a pub with a lot of character. It has an old country vibe with stone fireplace and cask ales. You get an amazing view of the hill from upstairs.

Apart from a scintillating range of home-brewed craft beers and exclusive London spirits, the Queen’s is sought out for its traditional British menu prepared with ingredients from South East England.

queens primrose hill

5. The Gipsy Queen

Yet another jewel from Kentish Town’s famous pub haunts, the Gipsy Queen is the quintessential all-rounder when it comes to London gastropubs. It has a smart space arrangement that makes it great for hanging out with friends, family, and yes, you can take your pet pup along too.

You can choose your ambience – park yourself in the garden, huddle down by the fireplace, or just hang out in the back if you want some quiet time. To accompany your pint of ale, the Gipsy Queen presents an extensive menu that has foodies scampering in from all over the country. The Barbary duck breast and fresh cod fillet hold celebrity status here.

As London experts, not only do we know a lot about London’s amazing gastropub scene, but we can also recommend some quirky places to go for afternoon tea

Dining London

7 Funky Restaurants in London You’ll Love

London is one of the culinary capitals of the world with a vast choice of eateries covering every type of cultural cuisine from around the globe.

If you’re tired and hungry after a long day of exploring London, going for a delicious dinner is the perfect way to feel rejuvenated. Don’t just go to a chain restaurant, instead, why not go somewhere a little offbeat and quirky, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. London is full of funky restaurants that put the fun and unusual back into dining.

Here are seven of the best funky restaurants in London you’re sure to love.

1. The Cheese Bar

Located at Camden Stables Market, The Cheese Bar is an absolute must for cheese lovers. The indulgent, cheese-centric menu features oozy delights such as smoked sausage fondue, four-cheese rotelle pasta, as well as their trademark cheese toasties.

The restaurant prides itself on using only the very best British cheeses.

2. Attendant

The Attendant in Fitzrovia offers a seasonal, fun and fresh menu as well as serving great tasting coffee reflecting the style of Australian brunch cafes. It’s the perfect place for breakfast, brunch or lunch.

But the quirky feature of this cafe is its location. It was once a Victorian gentlemen’s public toilet! Beautifully restored, Attendant has a quaint underground entrance and features urinal seating booths and white tiled walls.

3. Bubba Gump Shrimp Co

‘It’s all about the shrimp.’ If you loved Forrest Gump, don’t miss a trip to the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co in Soho. Based on the two characters from the film, the Old South eatery features a delicious menu of Alabaman favourites such as ribs, steak, jambalaya and of course, shrimp!

shrimp

4. Beach Blanket Babylon

Situated in an old Georgian mansion in the heart of Notting Hill, the incongruously named restaurant has a wonderfully eclectic mix of colonial British, French Chateau and gothic decor and furnishings.

Serving seasonal modern European cuisine, the elaborate restaurant has a wonderful choice of intimate spaces for a decadent and private dining experience.

5. Dans le Noir?

Dining at the Dans le Noir? in Clerkenwell is a sensory experience you simply must try. Sight-impaired waiters serve the fantastic menu, taking you on a culinary journey where your sense of taste and smell will be challenged in total darkness!

6. Rainforest Café

The Rainforest Café just off Piccadilly Circus is the perfect venue to bring the kids for a fun-filled dining experience. Animatronics, tropical fish tanks, waterfalls and special thunder and lighting effects add to the thrill of the Amazonian Jungle right in the heart of the West End.

The American-based menu features family-friendly classics such as ribs, steaks and burgers, as well as a dedicated kids menu and activity packs.

Rainforest Café

7. Fifteen

Sleek and stylish, this flagship Jamie Oliver restaurant not only produces fabulous dishes from local and seasonal products but most notably is a non-profit training ground that has been turning disadvantaged and unemployed young people into professional chefs since 2002.

The kitchen is front of house and open plan so you can see the young chefs in action. You may even spot the ‘cheeky chappy’ himself if he’s around.

 

As London experts, we know all the best places to eat in this delicious capital city. For more information on our London tours, get in touch today.

London

Here Are the 37 Most Beautiful Places in London

London, one of the most famous and iconic cities in the world, is a wonderful blend of historical and modern landmarks. It’s a mixing pot of cultures with a liberal sprinkling of greenery, yet it still retains its quintessential Englishness.

It’s a city like no other: frenetic, buzzing, colourful, and yet serene. The fast-paced lifestyle, crowded streets, noisy traffic and sheer size of this sprawling capital city sometimes make it hard to stop and appreciate its beauty. A tour of London will allow you to stop and appreciate every aspect and every moment.

Here are the 37 most beautiful places in London definitely worth taking time out to see.

1. The View from Waterloo Bridge

Offering one of the most beautiful views of the Southbank, the London Eye, Big Ben, the Palace of Westminster and Canary Wharf, Waterloo Bridge is one of the best places to capture the very essence of London. Even more spectacular at sunset – just ask the Kinks!

2. The Shard

If you want a spectacular view of the entire city, head to the tallest building in Western Europe: the Shard. On a clear day, views from the 310-metre high building stretch as far as Windsor Castle, 40 miles away.
To appreciate the stunning views across the capital, you should visit twice: during the day, then return in the evening to see this magnificent city illuminated at night.

the shard

3. The Sky Garden

Right in the heart of the City, at the top of 20 Fenchurch Street, the Sky Garden is a unique and lovely venue offering 360-degree views across the City over three floors of beautifully landscaped gardens.
Enjoy the views and the lush greenery of London’s highest public garden from the viewing platforms or dine out at one of the exclusive rooftop restaurants, Fenchurch Restaurant or Darwin Brassiere, each with its own beautiful interior and fabulous menu.

4. St Paul’s from the Inside

Although photography inside the cathedral is not permitted, the sight of its overwhelming beauty will stay in your mind forever. Just don’t forget to look up! The byzantine mosaic artwork and the paintings of St Paul by James Thornhill, especially when viewed from the Whispering Gallery, are quite literally breathtaking.

5. St Paul’s from Millennium Bridge

One of the best places to appreciate the beautiful dome of St Paul’s Cathedral, designed by Christopher Wren, is from the Millennium Bridge. The bridge itself is a masterpiece of modern architectural design. With the backdrop of St Paul’s, it’s a beautiful blend of history and modernity.

st pauls

6. The Great Court at the British Museum

Spanning over two million years of human history, the treasures of the British Museum are awe-inspiring in themselves. But the truly breathtaking feature of this incredible museum is the magnificent Great Court with its mystical glass ceiling made from over 3,000 unique panels of glass.

7. Leadenhall Market

Another impressive ceiling can be found at Leadenhall Market. This beautiful indoor market is covered with an ornate Victorian wrought iron and glass roof. That, with the cobbled streets and quaint shop fronts, are why Leadenhall was chosen to feature as Diagon Alley in the first Harry Potter film.

8. Hintze Hall, The Natural History Museum

Speaking of Harry Potter, the magnificent stone staircases in Hintze Hall at the Natural History Museum make you feel like you’ve stepped straight into one of the movies. The central hall is just how you’d imagine Hogwarts to be. You can almost believe the staircases move!

9. The Hogarth Staircase, St Barth’s Hospital Museum

On the subject of staircases, check out the Hogarth staircase located in the Museum at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in Smithfield. The stunning mural leading up the staircase was painted by William Hogarth in the 18th century, free of charge! The paintings depict Christ at the Pool of Bethesda healing those with diverse ailments. Apparently some of the figures in the paintings were based on real patients of the hospital.

10. Shoreditch Street Art

Shoreditch is now one of the trendiest and liveliest areas of London, filled with wonderful markets, eateries and colourful streets. Don’t miss the incredible street art where artists from all over the world have left their mark projecting a magical kaleidoscope of colour and positive energy.

street art

11. Little Venice

This has got to be one of the most picturesque spots in London. The colourful canal boats, waterside pubs, quaint shops and eateries create a wonderful feeling of calm and tranquillity in London’s very own Little Venice.

12. Kynance Mews

London is well known for its fashionable, cute mews. But one of the prettiest has got to be Kynance Mews in South Kensington; a narrow cobbled lane of lovely 19th century wisteria-clad cottages.

13. Belgravia

Belgravia is one of the most expensive neighbourhoods in London, and it’s easy to see why. The impeccable streets lined with magnificent white stucco townhouses simply ooze elegance and luxury.

14. Notting Hill Gate

Some of the prettiest streets in London can be found at Notting Hill Gate. You can’t help but fall in love with the rows of pastel coloured houses along Kensington Park Road, also home to some of the best restaurants in the area.

notting hill

15. The Churchill Arms, Kensington

This has got to be one of the most beautifully decorated pubs in London, both inside and out. During the spring and summer, the pub is adorned with 190 flower baskets and pots, replaced at Christmas with a magical display of twinkling fairy lights.

16. The Oak, Westbourne Park

Talking of restaurants, if you want to enjoy fabulous food in beautiful surroundings, you can’t get more sumptuous than The Oak in Westbourne Park. The dark red curtains, gold-framed mirrors and squashy sofas make you feel like you’re in a fabulous drawing room on a large country estate rather than a gastropub in the West End of London.

17. Clos Maggiore, Covent Garden

Beautifully presented, exquisite dishes served in the lovely candlelit courtyard conservatory which features a magnificent open fire and hanging blossoms, make this idyllic French restaurant in the heart of Covent Garden one of the most beautiful and romantic in London.

18. Queen Mary’s Rose Garden, Regent’s Park

One of the most tranquil and loveliest spots in London can be found in the heart of Regent’s Park. Queen Mary’s Rose Garden is home to over 12,000 roses, Mediterranean flowers, delphiniums and 9,000 begonias. There are benches along the borders so you can sit, relax and literally smell the roses!

19. Kensington Palace Gardens

The beautiful formal gardens of Kensington Palace are a lovely spot to spend an afternoon. Enjoy a traditional afternoon tea or light lunch in the orangery within the grounds. The 18th century orangery with its magnificent floor-to-ceiling windows was built for Queen Anne to entertain guests in elegant surroundings.
kensington gardens

20. Richmond Park

Richmond Park has such an abundance of forests, wilderness and herds of deer; you’d never believe you are still in London. Head up to Henry VII’s mound to take in the breathtaking views of the sprawling capital in all its glory.

21. Orleans House Gallery, Richmond

Not only does Richmond boast a beautiful park, but also a stunning 18th century baroque gallery with breathtaking floor-to-ceiling windows and ornately decorated ceilings.

22. Green Park

With its magnificent tree-lined walkways, memorials and fountains, Green Park situated next to Buckingham Palace is a haven of tranquillity right in the heart of London. In the spring, the park is an explosion of yellow with over one million daffodils in bloom.

23. St James’s Park

The beautiful, tranquil centre lake of this former deer park is a wonderful place to spot water-loving birds, while the little bridge offers lovely views of Buckingham Palace.

st james's park

24. Greenwich Park

Set on a hilltop overlooking the River Thames, Greenwich Park is a vast expanse of green with flower, herb and orchard gardens offering spectacular views over London.

25. Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew

The stunningly beautiful landscape of this UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to the world’s most diverse collection of plants and flowers. Highlights include the lovely Treetop Walkway and the magnificent glasshouses: Palm House, Princess of Wales Conservatory and Waterlily House.

26. Kyoto Garden, Holland Park

Kyoto Garden is a Japanese oasis set in the 55-acre grounds of Holland Park. The garden has a lovely waterfall and a little bridge where you can spot koi carp swimming below.

27. Victoria and Albert Museum

There’s over 5,000 years of artwork to see at the Victoria and Albert Museum, but don’t forget to take a look outside. The stunning exterior features 32 statues of great British artists, architects and craftsmen.

victoria and albert museum

28. Postman’s Park

Tucked away near St Paul’s Cathedral you’ll find the lovely little Postman’s Park. But its real beauty lies in the touching plaques located here that commemorate the selfless acts of everyday people who lost their lives trying to save others. It’s a beautiful place for contemplation.

29. The Old Royal Naval College

While in Greenwich, take time to visit the Old Royal Naval College, an architectural masterpiece designed by Christopher Wren. Considered one of the finest buildings in the world, the college features a magnificent Painted Hall whose beautifully painted ceiling has been dubbed ‘The Sistine Chapel of the UK’.

30. St Pancras Station

Exterior scenes of King’s Cross Station in the film Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets were actually filmed at St Pancras, and it’s easy to see why. The stunning red brick Victorian gothic exterior was considered far more beautiful and in keeping with the film than the drab exterior of King’s Cross.

31. Tate Modern

The Tate Modern Gallery is one of the finest examples of how ugly can be made beautiful. The decommissioned power station was transformed into a beautiful space, which today displays some of the most famous works of modern art in the world.

tate

32. Liberty, Regent Street

This beautiful wooden-panelled department store was built in the 1920s to resemble a Tudor mansion. Wonderfully quirky, the store is filled with fireplaces and creaky floorboards that only add to its charm.

33. Royal Albert Hall

Opened in 1871, this magnificent circular concert hall was built in honour of Prince Albert, a keen supporter of the Arts and Sciences. Queen Victoria laid the first stone in homage to her late husband. The Grade I listed building has a magnificent glass and wrought iron domed roof and a mosaic freeze around the outside walls depicting several subjects honouring the ‘Triumph of Arts and Sciences’.

34. Shri Swaminarayan Mandir

3,000 tonnes of Bulgarian limestone and 1,200 tonnes of Italian Carrara marble were hand-carved in India before being shipped to London to construct this magnificent Hindu temple in Neasden. The temple, inaugurated in 1995, is the biggest Hindu temple outside of India and is a stunning example of intricate Hindu architecture.

35. Southwark Cathedral

Westminster and St Paul’s are impressive, but don’t forget Southwark Cathedral on the South Bank. This beautiful cathedral dates back to the 12th century and was the venue for the royal wedding ceremony of James I in 1423.
The magnificent organ, built in 1897, is a centre point of the cathedral and is still prominent in the music programmes and choir concerts Southwark Cathedral is famous for.
Outside is lovely too. Don’t miss a walk along the Shakespearean Botanical Trails, the ancient churchyard and the sweet-smelling Herb Garden, a wonderful place for calm reflection.

36. Borough Market

Set in the shadows of Southwark Cathedral you’ll find London’s oldest farmers’ market. Borough Market is a food lover’s delight: a riot of colours and aromas where artisan producers sell their wares and beautifully displayed stalls feature traditional British products alongside the best regional specialities from around the world.

borough market

37. Columbia Road Flower Market

London’s oldest flower market, trading every Sunday, is an explosion of colours and aromatic scents where you’ll find the most amazing displays of flowers, plants and craft stalls. Running along a traditional Victorian terraced street, it offers a beautiful, authentic East End experience that you’ll never forget. Just make sure you get there early!

Get in touch with us today to find out more about our London tours.

Houses of Parliament

29 of the Best Photo Spots in London

London is one of the most recognisable cities in the world, thanks in part to its many iconic landmarks that offer some great photo opportunities around this fascinating and remarkable city.

Whether you’re looking for panoramic view shots, atmospheric photos of typical London streets and markets, or you just want a quick selfie with an iconic symbol that best identifies the capital, this guide will show you some of the ideal vantage points and locations to get the best photos during your visit.

Here are 29 of the best photo spots for capturing the essence of London and for taking a few selfies.

1. Tower Bridge

One landmark that best symbolises London is the iconic Tower Bridge. The bridge looks great in photographs, whatever time of day, although the evening lights look especially stunning.

Anywhere on the South Bank is a good vantage point, as is London Bridge further along. Don’t forget to take a photo on Tower Bridge itself. Get some close-ups of the interesting architectural details and stop off at the Tower Bridge exhibition.

Nearest underground station: Tower Hill

2. Tower of London

Built for William the Conqueror in the 11th century, the Tower of London is one of the capital’s most famous and popular landmarks.

Get up early in the morning to take the best shots of the famous Tower of London. There are fewer crowds to fill up the frame. The Beefeaters are very approachable and usually more than happy to pose if you’re quick.

Nearest underground station: Tower Hill

3. Houses of Parliament

Another iconic landmark that symbolises London is the Palace of Westminster, home to the Houses of Parliament. Take a boat trip for a good riverside vantage point, or stand from anywhere along the South Bank between the London Eye and Westminster Bridge.

Nearest underground station: Westminster

westminster

4. Big Ben

One of the best views of Big Ben is directly outside the Westminster tube station, Bridge Street exit. Take a walk along Westminster Bridge, which offers great photo opportunities of the 96-metre high Elizabeth Tower.

Nearest underground station: Westminster

5. The London Eye

The London Eye is a great place for photographs, both the structure itself and from inside one of the capsules. Take a photograph from nearby Westminster Bridge to get the whole wheel and River Thames foreground in the frame. Then take a ride on the Eye for some panoramic shots of the London Skyline.

Nearest underground station: Waterloo

6. Downing Street

10 Downing Street is the most photographed front door in the world, although for security reasons the road is blocked off by armed police guards.

One of the best ways to get a photo of the famous black door is from the top deck of a double-decker bus on route 11. Or, if you just want to photograph the street, you can do it from the black railings that block off the street.

Nearest underground station: Westminster

7. The Shard

The tallest building in London offers spectacular views of the River Thames winding through the London landscape. Climb to the viewing platform and take a photo of the sun setting over the capital.

Nearest underground station: London Bridge

8. The Oxo Tower

Enjoy a cocktail or lunch with views in the top floor restaurant while snapping the fantastic views of the Millennium Bridge and St Paul’s. If you just want to take photographs, the viewing gallery is open to the public.

Nearest underground station: Southwark

9. The Millennium Bridge

Take a photo or selfie on the famous bridge that connects the City with Bankside. The Millennium Bridge is a great vantage point for photos of the Tate and the Globe Theatre in one direction and St Paul’s in the other. Or aim downriver for photos of Tower Bridge, Westminster Palace and the London Eye.

Nearest underground station: Southwark

10. St Paul’s Cathedral

Anyone who loves Mary Poppins should stop and get their photo taken sitting on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral, where the old lady fed the birds. Or pop back to the Millennium Bridge in the evening and take a shot of the iconic dome lit up in the night sky.

You’re not permitted to take photos inside the cathedral, but there are plenty of fantastic panoramic photo opportunities from the Stone Gallery, Golden Gallery and the viewing platform at the top of the cathedral, which offers spectacular views of the Millennium Bridge and the Tate Modern Gallery.

Nearest underground station: St Paul’s

st pauls cathedral

11. Richmond Park

For a truly spectacular photo shot of St Paul’s Cathedral rising above the London landscape, head up to Henry VII’s Mound in Richmond Park. It offers one of the most far-reaching and breathtaking views of the capital.

Nearest underground station: Richmond

12. Buckingham Palace

No visit to London is complete without a photo of Buckingham Palace. The ornate gold and iron gates form a beautiful backdrop or snap a shot of the famous Portland Stone balcony.

Nearest underground station: Green Park, Victoria

13. The Changing of the Guard

The Changing of the Guard takes place most days at 10.45am. The best place for a photo is in front of the railings, but make sure you get there early as it gets crowded. Alternatively follow the route from St James’s Palace to Buckingham Palace, which allows plenty of snapping opportunities.

changing of the guard

14. Kensington Palace

Another royal residence worth photographing is Kensington Palace, former home of Diana, Princess of Wales. Snap a selfie in front of the ornate black and gold gates with the palace in the background. The beautiful flower gardens also offer some fantastic photo opportunities.

Nearest underground station: High Street Kensington

15. Victoria and Albert Museum

The Victoria and Albert Museum is the world’s largest museum of art and design covering 5,000 years of artworks, sculptures, drawings and photographs. Photography is permitted in the galleries, however, the stunning exterior is also worth snapping.

Nearest underground station: South Kensington

16. Harrods

The best place for a wide-angled photo of the iconic London department store is across the road on the intersection. In the evening, the exterior is completely lit up, so be sure to take your camera if visiting after dusk. If you’re discreet, Harrods don’t mind you taking photos inside the building either.

Nearest underground station: Knightsbridge

17. Piccadilly Circus

Another of London’s most photographed locations is Piccadilly Circus. Grab a selfie in front of the dazzling billboards, even more spectacular in the evening when they’re lit up.

Nearest underground station: Piccadilly Circus

18. Regent Street

Situated in the heart of the West End, Regent Street is famous for its many department stores including Hamleys and Liberty.

If you’re shopping in Regent Street don’t forget to take some street view photographs of the impressive sweeping curve of Georgian buildings that line the busy street. Even better if you can get a shot of a traditional London black cab driving past.

If you visit at Christmas time, the lights along Regent Street offer a fantastic photo opportunity, as do the beautifully decorated shop fronts. The Christmas lights are switched on from mid-November to 6 January.

Closest underground stations: Oxford Circus, Piccadilly Circus, and Green Park

regent street

19. Covent Garden

Bustling Covent Garden with its markets, pavement cafes and street entertainers is a fantastic spot to get some great atmospheric shots of the vibrant centre.

Nearest underground station: Covent Garden

20. Columbia Road Flower Market

For colourful photos of vibrant flowers, market stalls and good old East End charm, head to Bethnal Green and take some snaps of Columbia Road Flower Market, one of the most beautiful outdoor markets in London. It’s also a great spot to take some snaps of traditional East End terraced houses, just like the ones in Eastenders.

Nearest underground station: Old Street

21. Leadenhall Market

This indoor market is simply stunning and an ideal location for those who want to photograph some fine Victorian architecture. Don’t forget to get some shots of the spectacular glass and iron roof.

The cobbled streets and quaint shop fronts were used as a location for Diagon Alley in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. If you’re a Harry Potter fan don’t forget to take a selfie in front of the blue optician’s door. It was used as the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

Nearest underground station: Monument

22. Platform 9 and ¾

Speaking of which…

If you’re a Harry Potter fan visiting London, make sure you don’t pass up on the chance of a perfect photo opportunity at Platform 9 and ¾, Kings Cross Station.

Head along the West Concourse at Kings Cross Station. There you’ll find a plaque on a brick wall indicating Platform 9 and ¾. Directly under the sign is a baggage trolley part embedded into the wall.

You can get a friend to take a photo of you pretending to run at the wall, or you can pay for a professional photographer from the Platform 9 and ¾ gift shop nearby.

Nearest underground station: Kings Cross

23. Baker Street

On the other hand, if you’re a fan of Sherlock Holmes, head over to Baker Street where you can find lots of photo opportunities of the famous sleuth such as the Sherlock Holmes statue at the entrance to Baker Street underground station and in front of 221b, now home to the Sherlock Holmes Museum.

Nearest underground station: Baker Street

sherlock museum

24. Speedy’s Cafe, North Gower Street

Fans of the BBC Sherlock series will recognise the red awning shop front of Speedy’s Cafe in North Gower Street. It was the famous hangout of Holmes and Watson in the TV series. It also serves pretty good coffee!

Be sure to take a selfie in front of the black door next to the cafe. It was used for the exterior shots of 221b Baker Street in the series.

Nearest underground station: Euston Square

25. London Pubs

Another popular tourist attraction is a traditional London boozer, typically adorned with flower baskets outside and a traditional Victorian-styled bar inside. Two of the best for photographs are, coincidentally, the Sherlock Holmes in Northumberland Street, and The Churchill Arms in Kensington Church Street. They both serve pretty decent pub grub and beer too!

Nearest underground station to Northumberland Street: Charing Cross

Nearest underground station to Kensington Church Street: High Street Kensington

26. Abbey Road

Die-hard Beatles fans won’t be able to resist a photo opportunity at the zebra crossing on Abbey Road, famous for being used on the cover of the band’s album of the same name. Grab three more friends and take the famous walk or just grab a selfie on the crossing, but watch out for traffic!

Nearest underground station: St John’s Wood

27. Madame Tussauds

For the ultimate selfie alongside your favourite celebrity, don’t miss a visit to Madame Tussauds on the Marylebone Road. With 14 interactive areas and over 300 unnervingly true-to-life wax figures, Madame Tussauds provides plenty of photo opportunities where you can get up close and personal with waxwork replicas of stars such as Johnny Depp, Usain Bolt, David Beckham and Her Majesty the Queen.

Nearest underground station: Baker Street

28. Underground Signs

Another iconic symbol of London is the red-circled underground sign. Choose your favourite tube stop and grab a free and simple selfie. One of the most popular signs is the one for Bond Street.

29. Red Phone Booth

One of the most iconic and best-loved symbols that identify London has got to be the red telephone booth. Unfortunately, in the digital age of mobile phones, these London treasures are slowly disappearing. But there are still a few around. Covent Garden and The Strand still have plenty for a fun photo opportunity.

They’ve even become a popular photo location for couples getting married in London.

If you want a photo of an original blue phone box like Dr Who’s Tardis, you’ll find one just outside Earl’s Court tube station.

phone booth

As London experts, our knowledgeable tour guides know all the best photo spots in London. For more ideas, information and booking advice on our range of exclusive London tours, contact Premium Tours today.

7 Great Spots for a Quirky Afternoon Tea in London

Afternoon tea in a posh London hotel is a quintessentially British tradition. But it can be a little stuffy and boring, especially if you want to take the children along.

However, there are a few clever venues that have decided to inject a bit of fun into the traditional afternoon tea ritual.

Here are seven great spots for a quirky afternoon tea in London that all ages will enjoy.

1. Science-Themed Afternoon Tea at the Ampersand Hotel

The Ampersand Hotel in South Kensington is perfectly located within a stone’s throw of the Science Museum, the Natural History Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum. Here, families can enjoy a delightful, science-themed afternoon tea in the plush Drawing Rooms.

Younger children especially will enjoy searching for mini shortbread dinosaurs under the ‘chocolate soil’. Other delights include cream cheese planet-shaped mousses with spacemen, and test tube toppings that can be sprinkled over scones, while Mum and Dad can sit back and relax with a chilled glass of champagne.

2. Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea at the Sanderson Hotel

Tumble down the rabbit hole and experience an enchanting afternoon tea, inspired by Alice in Wonderland, at the Sanderson Hotel.

Tables are laid with Alice-themed crockery and the menu features exquisite delights such as pocket watch macaroons, chessboard gateau, clock face mini Victoria sponges, and cinnamon, apple and peach potions in miniature glass bottles labelled ‘drink me’.

cake

3. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Afternoon Tea at One Aldwych

Roald Dahl fans of all ages will love this afternoon tea at One Aldwych. The indulgent menu features golden chocolate eggs, colourful candyfloss and chocolate caramel milkshakes, while adults can indulge themselves with a speciality ‘Cocktail Charlie’.

4. Art Tea at the Rosewood London

The delicate pastries and cakes are so beautiful it seems a shame to eat them. Held in the stunning Mirror Room, afternoon tea at the Rosewood London is a dedication to modern artists. The menu includes The Banksy chocolate cube and Damien Hirst jelly, which are artworks in themselves.

5. Sherlock Holmes Afternoon Tea at St James’s Court

The intriguing Sherlock Holmes afternoon tea at St James’s Court, Taj Hotel is definitely an adult only affair. The boozy menu features 221B Scotch-infused macaroons, a stout cupcake topped with Watson’s moustache, and Moriarty’s Bomb coffee and Baileys cheesecake.

strawberry shortcake

6. Prêt-a-Portea at the Berkeley

Fashion lovers are in for a delightful treat at the fashion-inspired afternoon tea at The Berkeley. The savoury dishes are unusual and delicious but the hand-decorated miniature cakes are the stars of the show. The Fashionista’s Tea features Burberry trench coat biscuits, Gucci candy floss and mousse jumpers, Stella McCartney Battenberg cake and Mulberry’s ‘it’ bag cake.

7. 1840 Afternoon Tea at St James’s, Mayfair

Step back in time to 1840 and enjoy a historical-themed afternoon tea just as Queen Victoria herself would have, at St James’s Hotel in Mayfair. The menu is based on authentic recipes of Victoria’s favourites, including Tipsy Cake infused with Sherry, custard tarts and, of course, Victoria sponge.

coffee

As London experts, our tour guides know lots of useful information such as where to find the best afternoon tea in London. For more information on our London tours, please do get in touch.

Platform 9

A Guide To Harry Potter’s Platform 9 and ¾

But Hagrid, there must be a mistake. This says Platform nine and three quarters. There’s no such thing…is there?’ (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone)

Indeed there is, Harry. Platform 9 and ¾ is magically concealed through a wall that divides platforms 9 and 10 at Kings Cross Station in London. It’s where wizard students can board the Hogwarts Express that will take them to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

In order to reach the platform, students must walk straight at the wall between platforms 9 and 10, or as Molly Weasley advises ‘Best do it at a bit of a rush if you’re nervous.’

Muggles shouldn’t know the platform exists, but if you take a trip to Kings Cross Station, you’ll see that it does. For Harry Potter fans, no visit to London is complete without checking out the key filming locations and places of interest, and don’t miss the Warner Bros. Studio.

Here’s a guide to everything you need to know about visiting Harry Potter’s Platform 9 and ¾.

hogwarts railway

Visiting Platform 9 and ¾

The popularity of Harry Potter inspired station authorities at Kings Cross to place a plaque honouring the books and films on a brick wall in the West Concourse.

Directly under the plaque is a baggage trolley that appears to be half-embedded in the wall. The site has attracted Potter fans from all over the world, who flock here to get a memorable photograph of them pretending to enter Platform 9 and ¾.

The wall is located on an open platform so you won’t need a train ticket to visit it. You can choose to take a photograph yourself or pay for a professional photographer from the Platform 9 and ¾ shop nearby (one photograph £9.50).

The site is very popular, so during busy periods, you may need to queue between 30 minutes to an hour for a photo opportunity.

If you want to skip the queue, the shop also offers VIP passes that include a Platform 9 and ¾ lanyard, photograph and queue jump for £20.

Platform 9 and ¾ Shop

Directly next to the plaque is the Platform 9 and ¾ shop, a charming store selling authorised Harry Potter memorabilia, including wands, Horcruxes, time turners and the Hogwarts’ uniforms and house robes.

The shop has been styled to resemble Ollivander’s Wand Emporium with atmospheric wooden panelling and a treasure trove of drawers to delight all Harry Potter fans.  The shop was officially opened on 15th December 2012 by actor Warwick Davis who played Prof. Flitwick and Griphook in the films.

The shop is open 7 days a week from 8am – 10pm (9pm Sundays). Closed, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

harry potter

 

Curious Facts

  • The image J. K. Rowling had in mind was actually Euston, not Kings Cross Station.
  • The wall to Platform 9 and ¾ is actually situated under a footbridge between platforms 8 and 9, as there is no brick wall between platforms 9 and 10.
  • Platforms 4 and 5 are the actual platforms that feature in the movies.
  • Kings Cross Station building is not that attractive, so exterior scenes of the station were actually filmed at nearby St Pancras, as its Victorian architecture was more in keeping with the films.

For more information on our Harry Potter tours, get in touch today.

london eye

The Ultimate Guide to the London Eye

There are few places in London that allow you far-reaching views across the vast, sprawling city and the winding curves of the River Thames.

If you’re looking for the very best views over the capital and beyond, then a visit to the London Eye is unmissable. Here you’ll have a bird’s eye view of our great city and so much more, making it a unique and unforgettable experience.

If you’re planning a visit to one of the UK’s most popular attractions and one of the most iconic London landmarks, then read this ultimate guide for everything you need to know about the London Eye.

What Is the London Eye?

The London Eye may look like a giant Ferris wheel, but it is, in fact, the world’s tallest cantilevered observation wheel, which means it’s supported on one side only.

Located on the banks of the River Thames opposite the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, the London Eye dominates London’s skyline, offering visitors 360 degrees of spectacular panoramic views across the capital and beyond from their custom designed glass capsules.

The views stretch for over 40 kilometres. On a clear day, you can even see Windsor Castle in Berkshire.

Attracting around 3.75 million visitors a year, the Eye is one of the most iconic and symbolic landmarks of London. This unique structure has been used for film locations, corporate events, celebrations in the capital and even weddings.

The sleek, contemporary and simply designed wheel towers over historical landmarks, symbolising everything London is today: a seamless blend of history and modernity.

london eye thames

Why Was the London Eye Built?

In 1993, a competition was held to design a landmark in honour of the new millennium, in seven years time. Husband and wife architect team, David Marks and Julia Barfield came up with the idea of a wheel. They originally wanted a high tower structure that would dominate the city, much like the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

They finally settled on a wheel, which aptly symbolises time and change. Although the competition was eventually annulled, Marks and Barfield went ahead with the project. The London Eye, as it came to be known, took seven years to build, and, on 9 March 2000, was officially opened.

It was initially meant to be a temporary structure, but it proved to be so popular that it remained as a permanent fixture, and has become one of the most iconic landmarks, one of Londons mot popular attractions and globally famous symbols for London.

Film Location

The iconic status of the London Eye means it’s a sought-after setting for films and TV series depicting the capital. The famous landmark has featured in a range of international productions including Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, The League of Gentlemen, 28 Days Later, The Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Independence Day: Resurgence and Paddington. It’s also featured in some of the most popular UK dramas such as Sherlock, Doctor Who, Primeval and Hustle.

Serving London and the Nation

One percent of the revenue made by ticket sales is donated to the local community. The London Eye also supports local charities by hosting events and supporting causes such as Help for Heroes, The Royal British Legion and Sports Relief.

In 2012, the Eye featured in both the opening and closing ceremonies of the London Olympics. At one point, the Olympic torch was positioned on one of the capsules.

Every New Year’s Eve, the London Eye is the central focal point for the spectacular Lord Mayor’s firework display. The end of year display is so impressive, it’s considered one of the finest in the world.

Facts and Figures

  • 17,000 tonnes of British Steel was used to construct the wheel. It was shipped up the Thames on barges in sections, before being assembled on the South Bank.
  • The Eye is 135 metres high, has a circumference of 424 metres, and weighs 2,100 tonnes. That’s equivalent to 1,272 London black cabs!
  • The Eye is made up of 32 capsules which each hold up to 25 people. The entire wheel can hold up to 800 people per rotation. The 32 capsules represent the boroughs of London.
  • The Eye has recently been fitted with LED lighting, cutting energy costs by 75%. All oils and cleaning products used to lubricate and clean the structure are biodegradable and anti-pollutant.

london eye pod

The Flight Experience

The ride (or flight, as it’s often known) is very smooth, steady and slow as the capsules only travel at 0.6 miles per hour. A complete rotation takes approximately 30 minutes, and, as the wheel moves so slowly, people can easily board and disembark without it having to stop.

To make the ride even more interesting, the capsules are equipped with tablets that point out various landmarks to spot.

The Eye was specifically designed and built to be accessible for all, therefore facilities for disabled guests are of a very high standard. These include:

  • Extra wide access and ramps for wheelchair users
  • Voice and visual alarms
  • Slower boarding times to accommodate boarding for disabled visitors
  • Carers accompanying a disabled visitor may board free of charge
  • A fast-track service for elderly and disabled visitors.

Highlights

4D Cinema Experience

Before you board the London Eye, enhance your visit with the 4D Cinema Experience. Located in the ticket office at the base of the Eye, the film lasts for four minutes and takes you on a sensory journey featuring a live-action 4D show. Special effects include lighting, sound, wind, water, bubbles and even snow! The show is particularly popular with families and is FREE with all London Eye tickets.

Dining at 135

A private capsule can be hired in the evenings, where up to eight guests can enjoy an exclusive champagne reception, followed by a luxury, gourmet three-course meal and accompanying wines. The dining experience takes place over three rotations, lasts around 90 minutes and includes impeccable service from attentive waiting staff.

Special Occasions

If you’re looking to celebrate a special occasion at the London Eye, there is a range of packages available for private capsule hire:

  • Private Capsule: available for 3–25 guests. Price includes exclusive use of the capsule and entry to the Eye Lounge at the base of the Eye, where you can enjoy a chilled glass of champagne and canapés while waiting to board.
  • Friends & Family Capsule: available for 3-15 guests. An ideal setting for landmark celebrations such as birthdays, anniversaries, and stag and hen parties. Price includes champagne and canapés.
  • Cupid’s Capsule: available for couples to celebrate a romantic occasion such as Valentine’s Day or a special anniversary. Price includes champagne and a box of chocolate and champagne truffles.
  • Proposal Capsule: available for couples. It’s the perfect location to pop the question in style. Price includes a professional photographer to snap the special moment, and also champagne and truffles.

Weddings

The London Eye is a truly spectacular and unique wedding venue where you can take your vows with the backdrop of breathtaking views across the capital. The flower-adorned capsule accommodates up to 20 guests to share your special ceremony with you. The civil ceremony is performed by a registrar from Lambeth Registry Office.

The wedding package includes two rotations, the first in which the ceremony is performed, and the second to enjoy champagne and canapés, and toast the happy couple.

london eye

Fascinating Facts

  • The London Eye is also known as the Millennium Wheel, however, it’s had quite a few official names including the British Airways London Eye, the Merlin Entertainments Eye, and EDF Energy London Eye. Its official name today is actually The Coca-Cola London Eye, but, most will agree, the London Eye is far preferable.
  • The London Eye is not the first giant observation wheel to be built in London. Its predecessor, the Great Wheel was built in 1895 in honour of the Empire of India Exhibition in Earl’s Court. Equipped with observation cars, the wheel turned until 1906 when the exhibition closed.
  • Although the Eye has 32 capsules, you can ride in capsule number 33. That’s because number 13 has been purposefully missed out and the capsules jump from 12 to 14. Who said Londoners were superstitious?
  • The London Eye is one of the most popular tourist attractions, not just in London and the UK, but worldwide. It receives more visitors per year than the Taj Mahal and the Pyramids in Egypt.
  • Over the past 15 years, the rotating eye has travelled the equivalent of around 33,000 miles – the same as travelling the world 1.3 times.
  • Around 5,000 marriage proposals and over 500 weddings have taken place on the London Eye since 2000.
  • One of the capsules is Royal. It was named the Coronation Capsule to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s 60th jubilee anniversary.
  • The Eye is a popular place for celebrity watching. Matt Damon has made 5 trips, Kate Moss has been on 25 times, and American actress Jessica Alba has been on the Eye an incredible 31 times!
  • The Eye has been lit up in different colours over the years. In 2005, it was lit pink to celebrate the legalising of gay civil marriages. It was lit up in the Union Jack colours, red, white and blue, to celebrate the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011, and also to celebrate the Queen’s 60th Jubilee in 2012.
  • The London Eye was also one of many famous landmarks around the world lit up in the colours of the French flag to show unity with France after the terror attacks in Paris and Nice.

Insider Tips

  • Don’t be put off if you’re scared of heights. The capsules are completely closed and secure. They are fully air-conditioned in the summer and heated during the winter so you can enjoy the sights in a spacious and comfortable environment.
  • The queue for the London Eye can be very long, especially in peak times, although it does move fairly quickly. The average waiting time in busy periods is approximately 20–30 minutes.
  • To quicken up the process it’s recommended you book your tickets in advance online. Fast-track tickets for priority boarding are available at an additional cost. However, online tickets are non-refundable and non-transferable and have an allotted slot time for you to visit.
  • A Flexi ticket allows you to visit the London Eye at any time during the day of your visit so you can choose the best time of day to come.
  • Make sure you arrive 30 minutes before your time slot so you can experience the 4D Cinema Experience before your ride. The experience is FREE and is included with ticket purchases.
  • You will need photo ID such as a passport or driver’s licence when collecting your tickets from the ticket office at the base of the wheel.
  • The ticket office area at the base of the wheel is equipped with toilets and baby changing facilities, a gift shop and first aid point. Wi-Fi is available at the ticket office but not on the wheel itself.

When Is the Best Time to Visit the London Eye?

As one of the most popular attractions in London, the Eye can get crowded during peak periods, and queues can be long. Peak periods include UK school holidays (especially summer), weekends and bank holidays.

The best times of day to visit the London Eye are 10.00 am (opening time) and later on in the afternoon, especially after 4 pm.

In the peak periods such as Easter and summer, the Eye stays open until 8.30 pm. One of the calmest and less crowded times to visit is sunset, especially if the weather is good. You can then enjoy the added spectacle of London’s twinkling lights in the dusk.

london eye sky

Standard Admission/Ticket Prices

Correct as of September 2017

Adult (16+)                 £22.45

Child (3-15)                £17.95

Under 3s                     Free

Fast Track Tickets can also be purchased to beat the queues from £37 per person.

Opening Times

Open every day except Christmas Day (25th December)

January – April            10.00 – 18.00

May – September         11.00 – 20.30

October – December    11.00 – 1800

Opening times may vary during special events or on special occasions such as Valentine’s Day.

Getting There

Nearest Tube Stations:

Waterloo

Embankment

Charing Cross

Westminster

By Bus:

Lines 211, 77, 381 and RV1 route

Premium Tours offer full day tours to London including a visit to the London Eye. You can have a look at all of our London tours here.

microphone

5 Great Places for Free Live Music in London

The live music scene in London is one that no other destination can rival. The city is brimming with pubs reverberating with the sound of guitars, underground clubs where the collective youth heaves to the sounds of local DJs and grime acts, lively jazz venues that transport you to a different time, and grand halls and stadiums filled with classical and contemporary music.

Listening to free music is one of the best free things to do in London. Save yourself a few quid and read on for five of the best spots across the city to enjoy some free live music.

1. The Old Blue Last – Indie & Alternative Rock

The cradle of live music in London, The Old Blue Last is legendary when it comes to free, live music. The pub venue is located in Shoreditch and, while some gigs come with a price tag, a lot of nights are free entry.
This classic London-style pub is lined with dark wood and has a distinctive alternative and indie vibe inside, which is also the main types of bands they have playing. A lot of now-famous bands have started out with gigs here, including Foals, Hot Chip, and Lily Allen, to name but a few.

audience

2. The Nightjar – Jazz, Swing & Blues

As soon as you enter The Nightjar, you’ll be transported back in time to the 1920s. The cosy and stylish cocktail bar is all class, the service impeccable and the drinks pricey. But at least the music is free – they regularly host the biggest names in jazz, swing, and blues, which only lends to the stylish throwback atmosphere in the bar.

3. Covent Garden – Buskers

For some of the best street performers and buskers in town, Covent Garden never fails to have something happening. Full of shops, restaurants, bars and theatre, the cultural destination would be amiss not to include any live music. Wander through the marketplace to find the best buskers the city has to offer, warbling melodically to onlookers.

4. Southbank Centre – World, Classical and General Music

A surprising amount of free live music is offered at the Southbank Centre, right on the River Thames, smack bang in the middle of London. The diversity is astounding; you might hear classical music played by a local orchestra one day, only to witness tribal African music the next.

guitar

5. The Lock Tavern

Head to Camden where The Lock Tavern resides, one of the most popular spots to catch a live gig in the neighbourhood. Grab some pub grub and set yourself up with a pint before enjoying one of the many free shows that are put on in the bar. The rustic aesthetic of the brick walls glimmer under the disco ball and dazzling spectrum of lights, as DJs and indie alternative acts take to the stage and get the crowd dancing. Don’t be surprised to see some hip-hop or funk here as well – anything goes.

As London experts, Premium Tours offers a number of tours around the UK’s capital and beyond. For more information or prices, book online or call 0207 713 1311.