I have lived in London for nearly eight years now and while it may be an expensive city it is absolutely packed with lots of fantastic free places to visit. You just need to know where to go and what's on, especially during the Olympics, which is why I have put together a top ten tourist attractions guide for London visitors this summer.
National History Museum
The National History Museum is packed full of things to see and information to soak up. From stuffed animals, skeletons, fossils, bugs, dinosaurs to volcanoes and earthquakes, there really is something for everyone, young and old alike. The dinosaur exhibition is extremely impressive and includes many moving life like dinosaurs with a very fierce Tyrannosaurus Rex that is sure to wow (and scare) all who see it. This is definitely one London tourist attraction not to miss.
Entry is free and it is open every day from 10.00 - 17.50 with last admission at 17.30. The Natural History Museum is located at Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD, and the nearest tube station is South Kensington.
Science really comes to life at The Science Museum with a range of galleries to peruse including Making the Modern World where objects and inventions that have marked significant stages and advances in technology can be found such as Stephenson's original Rocket locomotive; Glimpses of Medical History which gives an insight into the evolution of practical medicine and includes a mixture of reconstructions and diorama such as the first operation performed under anaesthetic by John Collins Warren; and Exploring Space where you will find rockets, satellites, space probes and landers, to name but a few of the many exhibits on show. One section not to be missed while there is The Launchpad gallery which houses over fifty interactive exhibits along with shows and demos that give amazing insights into the wonderful world of physics.
Entry is free, but charges apply for the IMAX 3D Cinema, simulators and for some special exhibitions. and it is open every day from 10.00 - 18.00. The Main Entrance to the Museum is on Exhibition Road in South Kensington, London, SW7 2DD and the nearest tube station is South Kensington.
The British Museum is definitely worth a visit if you are in town visiting for the Olympics as it has very special exhibitions featuring the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games medals and Winning at the Ancient Games. The must see items at the British Museum include Egyptian mummies, Parthenon Marbles and the Rosetta Stone.
Entry is free and the museum galleries are open daily 10.00 - 17.30, and most are open until 20.30 on Fridays. Closing starts from 17.20 (20.20 on Fridays). It is located at Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG and the nearest tube stations are Tottenham Court Road, Holborn, Russell Square and Goodge Street.
Harrods, one of the most famous stores in the world, is synonymous with London and is well worth a visit while in town. The Food Hall is full of exotic fayre along with everyday staples and covers a large part of the ground floor. There are 330 departments spread out over seven floors where you can find everything from cosmetics to a toy kingdom, from pet accessories to haute couture. There are also over 27 eateries to satisfy every taste. While there be sure to ride the opulent Egyptian escalator and look out for the famous statue of Mohamed Al-Fayed, the former owner.
Harrods is located at Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7XL and is open Monday - Saturday 10.00 - 21.00 and Sunday 11.30 - 18.00.
Princess Diana Memorial Playground
If you have children the Princess Diana Memorial playground in Kensington Gardens is a must visit place. The playground, which is free to enter, was opened on 30th June 2000 in memory of Princess Diana and is a very fitting tribute to her, being more of a wonderland inspired by Peter Pan than a typical playground. The centerpiece is a large wooden pirate ship with surrounding beach. The pirate ship has lots of things to climb and explore with a crows nest, cabins, ropes and pulleys and most importantly the ship's wheel which all the kids scramble to control. In addition to this there are Teepees, a sandy area for babies and toddlers and a sensory trail which will delight young and old alike.
It is located in Kensington Gardens which is alongside Hyde Park and opening hours during May to August are from 10.00 - 19.45 with children up to 12 years old allowed to enter for free.
Covent Garden is home to many wonderful performers including magicians, opera singers, acrobats and human statues. The atmosphere here is definitely one to be experienced and soaked up with little shops and market stalls to wander about. It is open 24 hours and the nearest station is Covent Garden.
Tate Britain is the national gallery of British art, with a collection dating from 1500 to the present day plus some international modern art. Some of the famous artists work who are on display include those by Gainsborough, Stubbs, Turner and Constable. Kids will love the fact that there are art trolleys to be found which contain materials to make their own masterpiece. A great place to visit for young and old.
The Tate Britain is located at Millbank London SW1P 4RG . Entry is free, except for special exhibitions and opening hours on Saturday - Thursday are 10.00 - 18.00, with last admission to special exhibitions at 17.15 and on Friday from 10.00 - 22.00 with last admission to special exhibitions is at 21.15. The nearest tube stations are Pimlico, Westminster and Vauxhall.
Changing of the Guards
The Changing of the Guard is a ceremony which takes place at Buckingham Palace and occurs when one guard swaps over with the next one that is coming on duty. The guards are easily recognisable with their full-dress uniform of red tunics and bearskins. The Changing of the Guard takes place in the forecourt of Buckingham Palace at 11.30 everyday in summer, every other day in winter, and scheduled to last about 45 minutes.
Camden Lock Market
In Camden Lock Market you are sure to see some wild and wonderful things amongst the six markets which can be found here. There is sure to be music blaring with a mini festival feel to the place, you will see people performing and wildly dressed along with stall after stall selling some truly unique things and fantastic food to be sampled.
Open all week, the nearest station is Camden Town but you can also take a water bus from Little Venice to the nearby canal lock.
Portobello Market has been in London since 1870 and is now one of the longest in London. At this market you will find antiques, fashion both old and new, food stalls and lots of loud, shouty fruit and vegetable sellers. There is always a fantastic atmosphere about and I can recommend this as one to add to your to-do list while in London.
Saturday is the busiest day as the full market is in swing and my recommended day to visit. The nearest station is Notting Hill Gate. Trading times of the market on Monday - Friday are from 9.00 - 18.00 and Sunday from 10.00 - 18.00.
South Bank runs along the Thames from Lambeth Bridge east to St Saviour's Dock just east of Tower Bridge. A walk along the South Bank will give you amazing views of the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and St Paul's Cathedral. There is always something going on around the area with free events and entertainment daily. A great place for young and old to visit.
You have a choice of tube stations to get there including Westminster, Waterloo, Embankment and London Bridge and it is always open.
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