Click here to see my 1-week itinerary for London.
1. Hampton Court Palace (starting at £18.20)
Towards the outer edges of London, Hampton Court Palace is a fascinating look into historical royal life. It is a massive complex that can take a full-day to explore at leisure, and is well worth the time. It has a very storied past, being re-built and added to several times over in both the Tudor and Baroque styles. Notable residents include Thomas Wolsey, King Henry VIII and his wives, and William III and Mary II. Admission includes access to the palace, gardens, and maze, as well as optional activities conducted by costumed staff.
2. Natural History Museum (free for most portions)
London’s Natural History Museum is housed in a gorgeous Romanesque building, which was built in the 1860s after it was determined that the collection had outgrown its previous space at the British Museum. Exhibits include such topics as dinosaurs, human biology, insects, and volcanoes, and are fascinating for all ages if you’ve a curious mind.
3. Afternoon Tea at Kensington Palace Orangery (starting at £27.50)
What foreigner’s vacation to London is complete without a traditional British afternoon tea? And there is no better place to have tea than at a palace! Seated in a beautifully bright-windowed dining space, this experience includes tea sandwiches, delightful scones with cream and jam, and delicate pastries. A lovely selection of hot and cold teas as well as coffee is sure to cover most tastes.
4. The Parks (free)
London may not have a massive Central Park like New York City, but the (relatively) smaller parks that are sprinkled throughout the city are just as tranquil and green. Having them spread out allows more Londoners and visitors to enjoy them, and it’s allowed them to each take on their own park personality. If you love green spaces, it is worth it to visit each one that you can.
St. James’s Park:
5. Tower of London (starting at £25.00)
The Tower of London is another wonderful opportunity to dive into the past lives of the country’s first royalty. Even older than Hampton Court Palace, the Tower of London has ties to quite a few famous monarchs, some of which lost their lives here. The Yeoman Warders, the guards in residence, put on daily tours included in admission which impart a great deal of information about past inhabitants and events. The Tower of London also houses the Crown Jewels.
Bonus: Harry Potter Studio Tour (starting at £31.00 child, £39.00 adult)
As Britain is the birthplace of Harry Potter, this list wouldn’t be complete without something relating to the boy wizard. Technically outside of London, but easy to get to by train or car, the WB Studio Tour London is a major attraction to fans of the series. At the self-paced tour, fans are able to check out actual movie sets, costumes, props, and more. Lasting from an hour to all day, depending on the depth of your fascination, there is so much to see here, that it is certainly worth it for fans.