top 10 tourist attractions in London

Top 10 Tourist Attractions in London.

Today I have decided to take a look at the Top 10 Attractions in London, England. As one of the most visited cities in the world, and with so much historically relevant sights and world class museums, this is not an easy task. There are lots of other lists out there, but i have decided to try and come up with an original list for When trying to tackle a city with so many different attractions, both very old and relatively new, of course requires a little bit of thought. In a city like London, where attractions like the London Eye and Big Ben stand out as icon’s, you still have to make room for the very historic buildings that might not get the same spotlight that they deserve.
The city dates back to the time of the Roman Empire, with the settlement of Londinium, and the Medeival Boundary’s of “The City of London” still exist today, although the surrounding expansion of these boundaries to the modern Metropolis today, make up what is known as Greater London. Within these greater boundaries are four UNESCO World Heritage Sites – The Tower of London (#5 on our list bellow), The Botanical Gardens of Kew, the settlement of Greenwich and the site comprisingWestminster Abbey (#10 on our list), the Palace of Westminster and St. Margrets Church. With so much history and so many attractions, London is one of the best places in the world to soak up part of our shared history. The best part of London, is that just wandering down some of the streets and lanes makes you feel like you have traveled into the past, the city is a mix of old and new.

St. Paul's Cathedral.
St. Paul’s Cathedral in central London. Photo Credit: Rob Sweatman. 2000.

The Top 10 Attractions in London:

1. Trafalgar Square.

The Top 10 Attractions in London:

1. Trafalgar Square.

As the geographic center of London, and one of the most visited public spaces in the world – with an estimated 15 million visitors a year – Trafalgar Square is a can’t miss location in London. With Nelson’s Column as it’s centerpiece, the square is surrounded by attractions, which include the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery, and countless monuments, fountains and sculptures of historical importance. It’s close to many other nearby sights, and is a good place to start your day of sightseeing in London.

2. The British Museum.

One of the premier museums in the world, the British Museum is home to some amazing artifacts collected (or stolen, depending on how you look at it) from all corners of the world. The museum was created in 1753 when Sir Hans Sloane left his collection of “objects of intrest” and today is home to over 7 million pieces. Some of these amazing artifacts that have been preserved include The Rosetta Stone, Elgin’s Marbles (from the Parthenon in Athens), the Mummy of Cleopatra, and a statue from Easter Island to name just a few.

3. Houses of Parliament and Big Ben.

The houses of Parliament, located like many London Attractions, along the banks of the Thames, is one of the most recognizable attractions in the city, and is centrally located within walking distance of Trafalgar Square. The most recognizable feature of this attraction is the clock tower which stands above all the other buildings, nicknamed Big Ben, after the massive bell inside that rings every 15 minutes. Although closed to foreign tourists for most of the year (August and September are the open months) this compound of buildings is still worth checking out, with the best views found on the other side of the river, over the Westminster bridge.

4. St. Paul’s Cathedral.

A personal favorite of mine, St. Paul’s Cathedral is one of the long-standing structures of London, and also one of the most beautiful cathedrals in the world. One of the few structures to survive the great fires of London, and the World War Two bombings, its history dates back well before the current structures completion in the 17th century. There are several tombs located inside the structure, but for me the highlight is climbing the 530 steps to the panoramic viewing area, which provides views of the Thames, the London Eye and the general lay-out of London.

5. Tower of London and Tower Bridge.

The Tower of London is one of the most historical buildings in the City, and was first constructed in 1076 by William the Conqueror, and is today one of the most visited attractions in the city. It is classified a UNESCO World Heritage Site, one of only four spots in London with that classification. It is home to the Crown Jewels and the Royal Armouries, the location of countless moments of historical importance, and the famous “Beefeater’s”. Next door is the slightly less old (built in the 1800’s) but no less iconic, Tower Bridge, and together these two sights should be high up on any vistors itinerary.


The Thames p 1.
The view of the Thames River from on top of St. Pauls Cathedral. 2000.

6. The London Eye.

This is one of London’s newest attractions, built in 1999 to celebrate the turning of the Millennium as part of London’s year 2000 celebration, it has quickly become one of London’s most popular attractions. The 135 meter (443 foot) Ferris wheel which is situated on the banks of the Thames River was the largest in the world until 2006, and provides one of the best views in the city (bring you camera, as the 360 degree view is amazing). The 32 capsules carry an estimated 10,000 people daily, and in 2005 was given permanent status, and today is one of the can’t miss sights in the city.

7. Thames River Cruise.

The city of London is built along the banks of the Thames, with the river being the focal point of the city, and therefor its historic importance cannot be underestimated. Many of the attractions on this list even – Tower Bridge and the Tower of London or the Parliament Buildings and Big Ben – are prominently situated along the bank’s, which makes taking one of the river cruises which meander through the heart of the city the best way to get a feel for how London really works.

8. Tate Modern.

As the second most visited attraction in London, behind only the British Museum, should be reason enough to visit. The fact that it is free and contains some of the best Modern Art Exhibits, including regular ‘installations’ in the Turbine Hall. Across the Thames River is Tate Brittan, along with Tate Liverpool, Tate St Ives and Tate Online, make up one of the greatest collections of Modern Art found in Brittan. Tate Modern is built in a converted power station, which makes the building itself reason enough to visit.

9. Buckingham Palace and Surrounding Royal Gardens.

Buckingham Palace is the Queen’s official residence, and is a major focal point for tourists. Open to the public during the August and September months only, this beautiful building is still worth checking out any time of year, at least for one of the scheduled “Changing of the Guard’s”. Built in the 1700’s for the Duke of Buckingham, the buildings have gone through several upgrades over the years, and was re-designed in 1913 by Sir Aston Web.

10. Westminster Abbey.

A traditional place of coronation (all the Kings and Queens of England have been crowned here since 1066) and the burial place of the same monarch’s, as well as great poets, monks, noblemen and scientists. The large Gothic Church has stood in the same spot for over a thousand years. Inside you can visit the burial spots of many of the greatest people in British History from the King’s and Queens of the British Crown, to poet’s corner, where great writers and poets such as Geoffry Chaucer, William Shakespeare, Percy Bysshe Shelley and William Wordsworth are buried. The historic importance of such a place, as well as the great Arcitecture should make this an obvious attraction in London.

Tower Bridge.
Tower Bridge with the Tower of London in the background. 2000.

Other London Attractions worth mention:

I knew when undertaking this list of attractions that it would be impossible to create something that was acceptable to everyone, because London has such a wide variety of attractions. So in an attempt to counter any criticism, here is a list of other great attractions worth visiting on your trip to London. If you have any other suggestions, please let me know, and they will be added:

  • Public Places: Speakers Corner at Hyde Park, Piccadilly Circus, South Bank Center, Royal Parks and Gardens.
  • Historic Buildings and Churches: St Giles Cripplegate, Southwark Cathedral, Shakespears Globe Theatre, Windsor Castle,Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace, St Bartholomew the Great, St. Johns Gate.
  • Museums: British Library, The National Gallery, the Natural History Museum, Science Museum and the V&A (Victoria and Albert) Museum, National Maritime Museum, The Museum of London, Botanical Gardens of Kew.
  • Other Attractions: Madame Tussauds, The London Zoo, the O2 Arena (formerly the Millennium Center),

Top 10 Attractions based on attendance:

Taken directly from the the Visit London Website ( here are the most visited attractions in London, based on the most recent numbers from 2008 – except for the London Eye (2005) and Madame Tussauds (2000):

1. The British Museum

2. Tate Modern

3. National Gallery

4. Natural History Museum

5. London Eye

6. Science Museum

7. V&A

8. Madame Tussauds

9. Tower of London

10. National Maritime Museum

Big Ben.
Big Ben with the Parliament buildings in behind. 2000.