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Everything You Need to Know About Tower Bridge

One of London’s most symbolic structures and one of the most famous bridges in the world, Tower Bridge is a must-stop photo opportunity for almost every visitor to the capital, and should be included on your London tour.
But there’s so much more to this fascinating bridge than meets the eye. History, purpose, function and a stunning example of Victorian architecture, Tower Bridge has a character all of its own.
If you’re planning to visit this treasured and iconic London landmark, here’s everything you need to know about Tower Bridge.

History

Tower Bridge is not as old as many assume. This is probably because it is often confused with London Bridge further downstream, which has existed in one form or another for 2,000 years. Tower Bridge only dates back to the late 19th century.
In 1876, the City of London Corporation faced the challenge of constructing one more river crossing due to the high level of traffic arising from London’s East End commercial development. However, a traditional ‘fixed’ bridge couldn’t be built as it would disrupt the river traffic activities and cut off access to the port between London Bridge and the Tower of London.
Faced with this dilemma, a ‘Special Bridge or Subway Committee’ was formed and a design competition was announced to the public. The committee, chaired by Sir Albert Joseph Altman received over 50 ideas for consideration.

It wasn’t until 1884 that a final design was approved. Engineer Sir John Wolfe Barry, together with city architect Horace Jones designed a Gothic styled ‘bascule’ suspension bridge with two towers at both ends connected by 2 horizontal walkways. The hydraulically powered bascules could be raised to allow sailing ships to pass.
After receiving the go ahead from Parliament, the construction finally got underway in 1886. It took eight years, five major contractors and over 430 construction workers to build the bridge.
Horace Jones died in 1886 and was replaced by George D. Stevenson, who designed the Victorian Gothic framework in Cornish granite and Portland stone to match the look of the bridge with the Tower of London. The bridge was officially opened on 30 June 1894 by Edward, Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) and his wife, Alexandra.

Facts and Figures

• The total cost of construction was £1,184,000 (around £120m today).
• The bridge is supported by two massive piers containing 70,000 tonnes of concrete sunk deep into the riverbed.
• The framework of the bridge, including the towers and walkways, consists of over 11,000 tonnes of steel.
• 31,000,000 bricks were used to construct the bridge.
• It takes just five minutes for each bascule to rise to their highest level (86 degree angle).
• Each tower is 213 ft. high.
• The total length of the bridge is 800 ft. long.
• The bridge connects Tower Hamlets on the north side with Southwark on the south side of the River Thames.
• The weight limit for vehicles crossing the bridge is 18 tonnes.
• The speed limit for vehicles crossing the bridge is 20 mph.
• The bascules are raised approximately three times a day.
• Around 40,000 motorists, cyclists and pedestrians cross the bridge every day.
• In 1974, the hydraulic steam-powered machines to raise the bascules were replaced with an electro-hydraulic system.
• In 2000, a remote computer-controlled raising system was installed.
• The bridge underwent a massive renovation project between 2008 and 2012. It now has a state-of-the-art protective coating system consisting of six layers of paint, and energy-efficient LED lighting.

Did You Know?

• The high-level, open-air walkways weren’t very popular when the bridge first opened. Due to the number of steps and dark lighting, they soon became the regular haunt for prostitutes and pickpockets. In a bid to rid the bridge of unsavoury types, the walkways were closed in 1910. They were re-opened in 1982 with an admission fee.
• In 1912, pilot Francis McClean, during an emergency, flew his Short Brothers floatplane between the bascules and the high-level walkways to avoid an accident.
• In 1952 as the number 78 bus was passing over the bridge, the process of ringing a warning bell failed, and the bridge began to open. The driver Albert Gunton, accelerated and managed to ‘jump’ the bus over a 3 ft. gap. There were no serious injuries and Albert was awarded £10 by the City Corporation for his bravery.
• In 1968, Flight Lieutenant Alan Pollock, in protest at the lack of aerial displays for the 50th anniversary of the RAF, flew a Hawker Hunter jet three times around the Houses of Parliament before flying under the top span of Tower Bridge. He was arrested on landing and discharged from the RAF.
• In 1977, Tower Bridge (originally painted brown) was re-painted red, white and blue in honour of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee.
• Ships always have the priority. In 1997, Bill Clinton’s presidential motorcade was split between bascules when the bridge opened to allow Thames sailing barge Gladys to pass. A Tower Bridge spokesman said they had tried to contact the American Embassy about the scheduled opening but ‘they wouldn’t answer the phone’.
• In 2012, Tower Bridge became a symbol for the 2012 London Olympics. A set of Olympic rings weighing 13 tonnes were suspended from the bridge and the west walkway was transformed into a live music sculpture featuring 30 classical musicians positioned along the entire length of the bridge.
• Vessels don’t have to pay for the bridge to be opened. Passage is free for ships that are over nine metres in height, although 24 hours notice is required.
• When the bridge was first built, there were concerns that horses wouldn’t be able to pull their carts up the incline to the bridge, so horses were stabled at the bridge to provide extra help if needed.
• In Victorian times, so many dead bodies were washed up under the north side of Tower Bridge that it was nicknamed ‘dead man’s hole’. A mortuary was built at the bridge to temporarily house the bodies until they were collected by the coroner. Although the mortuary is long gone, visitors can still see a ‘dead man’s hole’ sign at the base of the bridge on the East side.
• As an iconic symbol of London, Tower Bridge has featured as a backdrop in many films and television series including Doctor Who, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Independence Day: Resurgence.

Visiting Tower Bridge

There’s so much more to visiting Tower Bridge than meets the eye. As well as seeing the magnificent Victorian Gothic architecture up close, visitors can also step inside and find out about the history of the famous bridge while enjoying breathtaking views of London at the Tower Bridge Exhibition.

Tower Bridge Exhibition

Travel back in time to the 19th century inside the Tower Bridge Exhibition. Entry is via a grand Victorian staircase or a four-level lift that will take you up to the north tower. The exhibition is fully accessible for all and is fully equipped for disabled visitors.
Visitors can learn about the construction of the bridge inside the Exhibition Room, which displays photos, exhibits and films including some of the 50 designs that were submitted.

Family Days

The Exhibition also hosts family days each month with hands-on interactive family-friendly activities to encourage exploration and imaginative learning. If you’re visiting with children, be sure to download the family trail app beforehand. It includes games, stories about the bridge’s history and fun interactive functions younger visitors will love.
The walkways are the settings for Tots at Tower Bridge play sessions held for younger children. Tower Bridge also holds regular yoga sessions on the glass floor walkways for both adults and children throughout the year.
There are British Sign Language guided tours the last Saturday of every month at 11am, for hearing-impaired visitors. And there are also early opening Autism Friendly sessions throughout the year.

Glass Floor Walkway

The highlights of the Tower Bridge Exhibition are the incredible high-level glass floor walkways on the east and west sides of the bridge leading from the north tower to the south tower.
The glass floors allow visitors a unique and spectacular view of London from138 ft. above the River Thames. Made up of six half-tonne panels on each level, the glass floors are perfect for getting a bird’s eye view of the bridge below, and maybe even a bridge lifting if you’re lucky to be there when one’s scheduled.
If you’d rather not look down, the walkways offer spectacular panoramic views of London including famous landmarks such as the Tower of London, HMS Belfast, St Paul’s Cathedral and the Monument.
On the east walkway visitors can enjoy the Great Bridges of the World exhibition featuring 40 of the most famous bridges around the world.

Victorian Engine Rooms

The exhibition includes a tour of the Victorian Engine Rooms, where visitors can learn about the unsung heroes of Tower Bridge and learn about the working history of the bridge and those who worked here. Over 80 workers were needed to maintain the bridge, which would have been raised around 20-30 times a day at the end of the 19th century.
Explore the coal-driven steam engines and experience the noise and smells of the historic steam engines that once powered the mighty bascules.

Insider Tips

• If you want to coincide your glass floor walk with a bridge lifting, the daily bridge lift times can be found on the official Tower Bridge website.
• Before you visit Tower Bridge, make sure you download the free app that includes a 360-degree video of the bridge being raised. You can also perform your own virtual bridge lift!
• The bridge and exhibition are fully accessible and equipped for disabled visitors. There are two lifts, one in the north tower and one in the south. Wheelchairs are also available to borrow.
• Toilets are located in both towers and the engine rooms. Disabled toilets are located in the south tower and the engine rooms.
• Benches are located along the walkways, in the towers and in the engine rooms.
• Blue uniformed staff are available for information and guidance throughout the exhibition.
• Glass bottles and glass items are not permitted near the glass floor.
• One of the best vantage points to snap a photograph of the bridge and watch one of the bridge lifts from afar, is on the South Bank or just in front of the Tower of London on the north side.
• The Tower Bridge Exhibition also features a gift shop. If you don’t have time to browse on the day, the official Tower Bridge website also has an online store.

Exhibition Opening Times and Admission Prices

Summer Opening Hours: April to September, 10.00 – 17.30 (last admission)
Winter Opening Hours: October to March, 09.30 – 17.00 (last admission)
Closed 24 – 26 December

Standard ticket prices (as of May 2018)

Adult £9.80
Child (5 – 15) £4.20
Disabled, Students, Seniors £6.80
Under 5s FREE
Family, group (10 or more), and joint Tower Bridge and The Monument ticket discounts are available.

How to get there

The main entrance and ticket office are based in the northwest tower. The Victorian engine rooms can be found on the south side at ground level. A blue painted line connects the two parts of the exhibition.
The nearest transport links to Tower Bridge are:
By Bus
Routes 15, 42, 78, 100 and RV1 all stop at Tower Bridge.
By Tube
To access the north side of the bridge: Tower Hill Station (District and Circle lines).
To access the south side of the bridge: London Bridge Station (Northern and Jubilee lines).
By Train
The nearest stations within walking distance to the bridge are London Bridge, Fenchurch Street, and Tower Gateway DLR.
By Boat
Riverboats stop at St Katherine Pier and Tower Pier on the north bank and at London Bridge City Pier on the south side.
By Car:
The nearest car park is located at Tower Hill coach and car park, 50 Lower Thames Street, London EC3R 6DP, next to the Tower of London.

For booking information on Premium Tours’ fantastic range of best-selling London tours, contact our friendly travel experts today or visit us online.

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.

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!

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