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London Attractions and Tours
BBC Television Centre
Take a behind-the-scenes tour of the world famous BBC Television Centre. Experience the excitement and thrill of a working TV centre where you could see the News Centre, production galleries, studios or even the odd star! Every tour is different, depending on filming that day, so you never know where it could take you! Pre-booking is essential.
Information line 0370 901 1227 or +44 28 9053 5904 from outside the UK or visit BBC Tours.
Tube: White City or Wood Lane. Bus: routes 72, 95, 220 and 272 stop outside.
The British Film Institute London Imax Cinema
At the BFI London IMAX Cinema you can be transported from the depths of the ocean to the far reaches of outer space, via 3D and 2D films.
Times and booking: 020 7199 6000 or visit BFI London IMAX Cinema.
Tube: Waterloo. Bus: Routes 1, 26, 68, 76, 77, 168, 171, 172, 176, 188, 211, 341, 381, RV1
Buckingham Palace is only open to the public from August to September each year. This is the official London residence of the Queen and one of the few working palaces in the world. You can visit the magnificent State Rooms or the Royal Mews (the royal stables). Open daily in summer.
Ticket information and sales: 020 7766 7300 or visit Royal Residences: Buckingham Palace.
Tube: Victoria, Hyde Park Corner or Green Park. Bus: Routes 11, 211, C1 and C10.
Covent Garden is the home of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden Market and lots of shops and restaurants. It is a vibrant and busy area that attracts street performers and a lot of visitors. As always, be aware of your personal belongings in this area, pickpockets are particually active in areas where people are distracted by street performers. Don't let that put you off though, a walk around the piazza and the market followed by a coffee in one of the street cafes is a great way to spend an afternoon. If go to Covent Garden for the shopping also try Neal Street which is on the opposite side of the road (down the side of Marks and Spencers) to the rest of Covent Garden when you come out of the tube.
For more information visit the Covent Garden website.
Tubes: Covent Garden, Leicester Square.
Hampton Court Palace
Hampton Court Palace is the oldest Tudor palace in England and was where King Henry VIII courted his queens. Visitors can see the State Apartments, Tudor kitchens and the famous maze. The impressive interiors are brought alive by costumed guides. Outside there's over 60 acres of riverside gardens and surrounding parkland.
Telephone bookings: 0844 482 7799 or visit Hampton Court Palace.
Rail: Hampton Court (30 minutes from Waterloo). Bus: Routes 111, 216, 411, 451, R68, 513.
London Sealife Aquarium
The London Sealife Aquarium has hundreds of varieties of fish and sea life from all over the world, displayed around two huge tanks representing the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. You could come face-to-face with sharks, and watch divers feeding gigantic conger eels. Seahorses, rays, starfish and piranhas are on show, too.
Ticket line: 0871 663 1678 or visit London Aquarium.
Tube: Waterloo or Westminster.
The London Dungeon is a creepy themed attraction that takes you through some of the darkest history of the capital. It includes a 'boat ride to hell' through Traitor's Gate and the 'Extremis: drop ride to doom'! There's also a torture chamber and the chance to unmask 'Jack the Ripper' - the infamous serial killer. It's not suitable for very young children or those of a nervous disposition!
Telephone bookings: 0871 423 2240 or visit The Dungeons.
Tube: London Bridge, Bank/Monument. Bus: Routes 21, 35, 40, 43, 47, 48, 78, 133, 149, 381.
The London Eye is the world's highest observation wheel and its 30-minute slow-moving flight gives some of the best views over London. From its steel and glass capsules, you can see into the back garden of Buckingham Palace and, on a clear day, see across seven counties.
Booking/information line: 0870 5000 600 or visit London Eye.
Price: Adult from £18, although discounts are available for pre-booking.
Tube: Waterloo, Westminster, Embankment or Charing Cross. Bus: Routes 211, 77 and 381. Boat: Millennium Pier.
London Zoo is one of the world's most famous zoos and is home to over 12,000 animals. 'Meet the Animals' shows are held daily, giving visitors the opportunity to learn more about the animals from their keepers. Rare and beautiful animals can be seen in the Aquarium, Elephant House, Penguin Pool, Snowdon Aviary and the new 'Web of Life' exhibition.
Information line: 020 7722 3333 (24hr information line) or visit London Zoo.
Tube: Baker Street and Camden Town.
Lord's Cricket Ground Tour
Lord's is the home of cricket and on the Lord's Tour visitors can see behind-the-scenes at Lord's Cricket Ground. Highlights include the Long Room, The Ashes (which are fought over by England and Australia) and the MCC (Marylebone Cricket Club) museum.
Tel: 020 7432 1033 for exact tour times or visit Tour of Lords Cricket Ground.
Tube: St John's Wood.
Madame Tussaud's Waxwork Museum is the world famous collection of figures of the famous - and infamous. Here you will find sports people, pop stars, royalty, politicians, Hollywood stars, fashion icons, important historical figures, TV stars and cartoon characters. No visit is complete without taking a photo standing next to your idol!
Booking line: 0871 894 3000 or visit Madame Tussauds London.
Tube: Baker Street. Bus: Routes 13, 18, 27, 30, 74, 82, 113, 139, 189, 205, 274 and 453.
This is the UK's primary venue for contemporary photography. There's a year-round programme of exhibitions and educational events and a broad range of photographic work is on show, with the emphasis on developments in the art. There is also a bookshop and area where you can buy prints.
Telephone: 0845 262 1618 or visit The Photographers' Gallery.
Tube: Oxford Circus.
At Kew Gardens you will find 300 acres containing living collections of over 40,000 varieties of plants. The Palm House is world-famous and there are other magnificent tropical, alpine and temperate houses. The Princess of Wales Conservatory recreates ten different kinds of environments, with appropriate plants in natural settings. Click here for more information.
24 hour visitor information line: 020 8332 5655 or visit Royal Botanic Gardens
Tube: Kew Gardens. Bus: Routes 65 and 391.
Royal Opera House
The Royal Opera House re-opened in December 1999 as a theatre at the heart of the nation's artistic and cultural life. It is open to the public Monday to Saturday from 10am. There is a wide range of daily free events, while in the evenings, there is a programme of world class opera and ballet. During the day, a programme of backstage tours and open ballet classes offers visitors the opportunity to experience the behind-the-scenes life of the theatre.
Box Office: 020 7304 4000. Official Royal Opera House website or see our Music page for further information.
Tube: Covent Garden.
St Paul's Cathedral
St Paul's Cathedral is one of the world's most famous cathedrals and was designed by Sir Christopher Wren. This London landmark is a Christian place of worship, but it also represents inspiration and craftsmanship on a grand scale. The Light of the World by Holman Hunt is its most famous work of art, but it also contains fabulous carvings, statues and mosaics. The Cathedral is open for sightseeing Monday-Saturday but for services only on Sundays.
Telephone: 020 7246 8357 or visit St Paul's Cathedral.
Tube: St Paul's. Bus: Routes, 4, 11, 15, 23, 26.
Shakespeare's Globe Theatre
Shakespeare's Globe Theatre and Exhibition is the fascinating story of the re-creation of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. Visitors can see the reconstructed Elizabethan theatre built with materials, techniques and craftsmanship from 400 years ago. The largest exhibition in the world devoted to Shakespeare explores the playwright's London Elizabethan theatre and the Shakespeare's influence around the world. The summer season of plays sees Shakespeare performed in an authentic setting. Exhibition and guided tours of the auditorium are available during the year.
Tel: 020 7902 1400 or visit Shakespeare's Globe.
Tube: London Bridge, Mansion House, St Paul's or Southwark. Boat: Bankside Pier.
Within the elegant 18th century walls of this former tax office, there are three attractions, the Courtauld Gallery, the Gilbert Collection and Hermitage Rooms. There's also a restaurant and riverside café and ice skating in the winter. Open daily.
24 hour information line: 020 7845 4600 or visit Somerset House.
Tube: Covent Garden or Temple. Bus: Routes 6, 9, 11, 13, 15, 23, 77a, 91 and 176. Boat: Embankment and Savoy Piers.
Thames River Boat Trip
Seeing London from the river gives a whole new view of the city. It is also a great way to escape the busy buses and tubes and travel more peacefully whilst enjoying the sights along the river. You can catch a normal river boat service or you can book a special tour on the river.
For information on river boats visit the Transport for London website.
For information on special tours visit the Bateaux London website (telephone 020 7695 1800).
For information on the Thames Disco Cruise visit the Thames Cruises website (telephone 020 7928 9009).
Tower Bridge Experience
At the Tower Bridge Experience visitors can see one of the most famous bridges in the world and spectacular views from the high level walkways 140ft above the Thames. In the two towers, there's an exhibition which explains the history of Tower Bridge.
Tel: 020 7403 3761. or visit Tower Bridge Exhibition.
Tube: Tower Hill.
Tower of London
At The Tower of London, guarded by the celebrated Beefeaters, visitors can see Traitors' Gate, the priceless Crown Jewels and the famous ravens. Over the centuries, this amazing building has been a fortress, prison, palace - and even a zoo. The carefully-restored medieval part of the Tower is brought alive by costumed guides. There are also exhibitions of armour and swords and you can see the spot where Henry VIII's Queen, Anne Boleyn, was beheaded.
Tel: 0844 482 7777 or visit Historic Royal Palaces: Tower of London.
Tube: Tower Hill. Bus: Routes 15, 42, 78, 100, RV1.
Vinopolis, City of Wine
Vinopolis, City of Wine is dedicated to the entire world of wine and related pleasures - including demonstrations and tasting sessions.
Tel: 0207 940 8300 or visit Vinopolis.
Tube: London Bridge. Boat: Bankside Pier.
Westminster Abbey is one of Europe's finest Gothic buildings and the scene of coronations, marriages and burials of British monarchs. It dates back to the 11th century, and highlights include the Coronation Chair made in 1300, Poets' Corner and the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior.
Tel: 020 7222 5152 or visit Westminster Abbey.
Tube: Westminster or St James's Park.
Open-top Bus Tours
A good introduction to the sights of London are the hop on hop off tours on double-decker buses with English-speaking guides or a taped commentary in various languages. You don't have to book in advance - just turn up at the most convenient departure point.
The Original London Sightseeing Tour
The largest operator of its kind, with over 50 years' experience, is the Original London Sightseeing Tour. It offers five routes for the price of one. They have live English speaking guides, seven language commentaries, a 'Kids Club', and a hop-on, hop-off service with tickets valid for 24 hours. You don't have to book in advance, simply pay on the bus at any of the 80 stops and enjoy your tour of London. The Original London Sightseeing Tour website. Enquiries: 020 8877 1722.
The Big Bus Company
The Big Bus Company has live or digitally recorded commentary in 12 languages. The 48 hour hop-on hop-off ticket includes a free River Thames Cruise, three different walking tours and discounts on entry to some attractions. Click here to see a map of the stops where you can join the tour.
Telephone: 020 7233 9533 or visit The Big Bus Company website.
Sightseeing Coach Companies
Another great way to see London is on a sightseeing coach tour. Several companies provide multi-lingual tours on air-conditioned coaches. You are often accompanied by a Blue Badge guide (a professional London guide), and usually with all entrance fees paid in advance of your arrival at sites visited.
Golden Tours cover all of the well known attractions in London, offering a wide choice of tours daily. All their tours are escorted by a London Tourist Board qualified Blue Badge Guide, renowned not only for their historical knowledge but for their sense of humour. They also offer private tailor made tours or regular escorted coach tours.
Telephone: 020 7233 7030 or visit Golden Tours website.
Evan Evans Tours
Evan Evans Tours offer comprehensive London tours with a courtesy coach pick-up service from 60 London hotels. Their tours include a Thames cruise, St Paul's Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London and Buckingham Palace in the summer months.
Telephone: 020 7950 1777 or visit Evan Evans Tours website.