As a kid, visiting London was a big event. We only lived a few hours outside, but it was still a massive adventure. And I love London still. No matter how many times I visit, I can never get enough. With so many boroughs and areas, there’s something there for everyone. So, I’ve compiled a list of 36 London landmarks to add to your bucket list.
“Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” – Samuel Johnson
Historic London Landmarks
The Globe Theatre
Although the original building burned down in 1613, a modern recreation of the original building is located 230m from the original. The modern building houses plays, educational talks and is an approximated reconstruction of the original design. So, whilst it may not be the real deal, it’s a great visit for any Shakespeare fan.
The Monument To The Great Fire of London
The Monument To The Great Fire of London, officially named ‘The Monument’, stands at the junction of Monument Street and Fish Street Hill. Built between 1671 and 1677, a statue of Charles II stands atop the column, which in total in 202ft high and 202ft west from where the Great Fire started in Pudding Lane. Charles II was the reigning monarch of the time and directed the firefighting efforts in the Great Fire.
The Cutty Sark is a magnificent ship turned museum found in Greenwich. Meet the crew, learn about the boat’s history and explore the ship yourself. It’s worth noting that different crew characters perform on different days and each focus on different aspects of the ship and life aboard, so make sure to align your visit with what you’re most interested in learning.
Another boat turned museum, but this one a magnificent warship. With nine decks to explore, you’ll get a great taste of the warship that fired some of D-Day’s first shots.
Trendy Places To Visit In London
London’s oldest food market – Borough Markets have been serving for over 1,000 years (yes, you read that right), but don’t think of it like a museum, the market is ever-changing and ever-evolving, keeping pace with the times and its shoppers.
It’s modern, bubbly and busy, with street-food vans and all the yummy farm-shop produce any good British farmer’s market would supply. They also have a massive focus on their environmental impacts – they’re zero plastic. Even the coffee grounds are collected and turned into fertiliser. This is easily one of my favourite London landmarks.
Leake Street Arches
One of the quirkiest and little known London landmarks. Just outside of Waterloo station, you’ll discover tunnels and arches covered in years of some of London’s best graffiti. With artists working day and night, the art here is constantly changing, so it’s worth a visit whenever you’re nearby.
Famous Sites In London
Trafalgar Square, known for it’s community gatherings and political demonstrations, commemorates The Battle of Trafalgar and houses the monument, Nelson’s Column, built for Admiral Horatio Nelson, who died in the battle. The square will be familiar, even to those who have never been. It’s used in many films and the column, and the four famous lion statues guarding it, are synonymous with London.
The London Eye
The London Eye is the most popular paid attraction in the United Kingdom. When it was first opened, it was the world’s tallest ferris wheel, but has since been surpassed, now it’s the tallest wheel of its type: a cantilevered wheel (which means it has an A-shaped frame on one side only). Take a ride for a great view of London, or just admire the structure itself, against the background of the River Thames.
Find restaurants, bars and events in among the exotic plants and incredible views that make the Skygarden what it is. See what events are on, maybe you’ll be able to catch a show or a sunrise yoga class. Or, head up just to see the view.
Covent Garden and Jubilee Markets
Covent Garden is known for its high-end stores and street entertainment. Acts appear regularly in the Piazza, a car-free square littered with coffee shops and performers. Behind the Piazza are the Jubilee Markets, your typical street market with a revolving list of stalls.
West End Theatre District
Even if you’re not catching a show (although I very much recommend that you do!), the theatre district is a great place to wander. Piccadilly Circus is the junction that unites each theatre road and is a famous shot you’ll often see, with its large, neon advertising screens.
Another iconic London scene. The Mall stretches from Buckingham Palace to Trafalgar Square and on days of Royal importance will be lined with streams of people. It’s often the heart of national celebrations and a ceremonial route when necessary. When a head of state is visiting, they will be taken up the Mall, which will have been decorated with union flags, as well as the flags of the visiting nation, towards the palace.
Iconic Buildings in London
Buckingham Palace, the London residence of the royal family. In the Summer months, the Palace is open for tours, which allow entrance to specific sections of the Palace, usually including the State Rooms, Throne Room, Grand Staircase and a tour of whichever exhibitions are currently housed there. Some tickets also include access to the Royal Mews. But, if you’re on a budget or tight for time, witnessing the building from outside the gates is still a great way to soak up the grandiosity of the Palace.
Big Ben and The Houses of Parliament
One of the most iconic London landmarks, the Palace of Westminster and its Great Bell, are both better known by their common names, The Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. The Houses of Parliament is the meeting space for both the House of Commons and the House of Lords, the two houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom.
Tower of London
See the Crown Jewels, meet the famous guardian ravens and learn the elaborate and long history of the Tower of London. Immerse yourself in British history with period-dressed characters and stories.
10 Downing Street
Although you can’t exactly visit 10 Downing Street, you can see the famous door through the gates barring entrance to the street. As the official residence to almost three hundred years of Prime Ministers, 10 Downing Street is one of the most famous addresses in British History. So no, you can’t really visit, but you’ll be able to snap a picture of Britain’s most famous door.
The Shard, alongside the Gherkin, the Cheese Grater and the Walkie Talkie (we do love our nicknames), has become an iconic part of London’s skyline. Standing at 95 stories high, the glass building is incredible. Fun fact: it takes 17 (brave) cleaners 3 months to clean all those windows! You can visit The Shard for the highest view of London. I’ve also heard very good things about the cocktails from the bar on the viewing floor.
Famous for being the shop of choice for boughie purchases, Harrods is just as you’d picture it. But, it’s far from just a department store. I was pleasantly surprised by the not-too-vomit-worthy prices on many of the food items and how much I enjoyed exploring the building. The architecture and design of the building and each of its rooms is what makes this place – it’s like an adult shopping playground.
Famous London Landmarks From Films, Books, Music and TV
Platform 9 ¾
Famous Platform 9 and ¾ is any easy one to miss. Located inside King’s Cross Station, is the iconic memorial to one of Britain’s most famous franchises. Snap a picture pushing your luggage trolley through the walls between platforms nine and ten. Magic.
Top tip: King’s Cross Station is only just across the road from St Pancras Station, so if you find yourself heading to St Pancras, know that it will only take you ten minutes to head over and see it.
Similarly, if you find yourself near Paddington Station, come in to find the charming bronze statue of the marmalade-loving bear with whom this station shares its name. This station is also home to the only official Paddington Bear store, if you want to grab souvenirs.
Tardis Police Box
Right outside Earl’s Court Underground Station (on the right hand side as you leave the station), you’ll be met with yet another British Classic. The Tardis Police Box, from Doctor Who, is a must see for any fan.
Visit Abbey Road in St John’s Wood. Home to the famous recording studio and the zebra crossing that features on The Beatles album of the same name (just be careful when taking your photos!).
London Landmarks: Churches and Cathedrals
Westminster Abbey has witnessed some of the biggest moments in Britain’s history. It’s the site for coronations (every one since 1066) and the final resting place for many great royals, artists, scientists and politicians of the past. And it’s continued to be updated. Some murals might strike you as familiar, and they should. Many ‘modern martyrs’ are represented in sculpture here.
St Pauls Cathedral
Discover the cathedral’s history and be wowed by its interior – a great example of English Baroque style. Sitting at the highest point in the city and its dome and spire are famous across the world. They also host many exhibitions, usually of art as well as talks, activities and events. Many famous ceremonies have happened here including the funerals of past prime ministers Margaret Thatcher and Winston Churchill, the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana and the celebrations for the Silver, Golden and Diamond jubilees of the Queen.
Famous Bridges In London
Visit the engine rooms to discover the inner workings of London’s most iconic bridge and discover the stories of those who built and worked on the bridge. For those not afraid of heights, walk along the tower’s glass floor, looking down onto the road below.
The Millenium Bridge
Building began on the bridge in 1998, erecting it to celebrate the turn of the millenium.The Bridge opened in June 2002. However, after comments from pedestrians about feeling extreme movement in the bridge, earning it the nickname ‘the wobbly bridge’ it was closed and worked on for another two years, reopening in February 2002. Now, it’s wobble free and you can visit it to cross from the City of London to Bankside and to admire the design of an iconic bridge.
The National History Museum and The Natural Science Museum
I adore both of these museums and will visit them again and again. They share the same building, but have separate entrances. They’re both always hosting really interesting exhibitions. Last time I visited the Natural History museum had an incredible exhibition with a huge floor to ceiling screen showcasing live footage of Earth from orbiting satellites and played classical music written especially for the exhibition.
I’d allow the majority of a day to visit them both, but with them both having free access, you can fit your visits around your itinerary.
The Victoria and Albert Museum
The Victoria and Albert Museum, commonly the V&A Museum, is one of the largest collections of art, textiles and fashion in the world. Again, this one’s free to visit and right by the National History and Science Museums, so tick them off in one go!
The British Museum
The British Museum was the first ever national museum for the public. A large collection of global artefacts (50,000 on display) discovered by British explorers, including the Rosetta Stone and Parthenon sculptures.
Tate Modern is a must for anyone interested in modern and contemporary art. See the iconic works of Warhol, Dalí and Hockney, among many more.
Or… Head to Trafalgar Square and visit the National Gallery if Da Vinci, van Gogh, Rembrandt, Michelangelo, Turner, Picasso, Matisse and Cézanne are more your style.
National Maritime Museum
If you’re planning on visiting the Cutty Sark, make sure to stop by the National Maritime Museum which is only a short walk away. If you’re into anything nautical, this will be for you.
Imperial War Museum
With permanent and pop-up exhibitions, the Imperial War Museum shines light on a number of stories of conflict from WW1 through to today.
And there you have it, 36 London Landmarks for your bucket list. Please leave any other recommendations you have below, I’d love to hear your guy’s suggestions! Happy exploring.
Love, Ella-Rose x