London has become one of the top tourist destinations in the world. With so many exciting historical attractions driving people to visit, many cultural, architectural and natural landmarks as well as the buzz of a big city, it is definitely a must-visit. In 2019, figures show that more than 21 million people visited England’s capital city with a total visitor spend of £2,104 million and 1.3 million overnight stays. Tourism is incredibly important for the city when it comes to its economy, and has a huge impact on the number of jobs available to people especially when it comes to the hospitality industries.
So what are the tourist hotspots? And what places are a must see when it comes to planning a holiday in London? Here’s all you need to know.
Big Ben and Westminster Bridge
It’s one of the most famous views in the world and a photo to remember. Big Ben is the nickname for the Great Bell of the striking clock. One of the most prominent symbols of the United Kingdom, Big Ben is located at the north end of the Palace of Westminster and close to the Westminster Bridge.
Formerly known as the Clock Tower, it was renamed the Elizabeth Tower in 2012. 41 Prime Ministers and six monarchs have come and gone since the bells first struck their music. It’s definitely a sight to be seen and its central location makes it a perfect kick off point for the rest of London has to offer. And an excellent photo for the Instagram grid!
Casinos has taken on a life of its own in the UK, the growth of casino online games has inspired the land-based casino to up their game and ‘wow’ their guests.
For casino lovers and general tourists alike, London’s casinos are a fantastic entertainment option. The biggest of these is the Hippodrome Casino, which houses three gaming floors, 24-hour food and drink and more.
The West End
London’s West End is one of the famous areas where tourists visit and spend their hard earned coin. And it’s quite clear why. Loosely related with the West End are the neighbourhoods of Mayfair, St James’s, Knightsbridge, Trafalgar Square, Covent Garden, Piccadilly and SoHo. Known by some as the theatre district, it’s one of the best places to catch a play at the theatres marked by star-studded marquees.
The area is also the home to London’s Chinatown, which runs south of Shaftesbury Avenue with an incredible amount of Chinese food available from spicy hot Szechuan and Hunan as well as Catonese and Hong Kong. It’s also a fantastic area for Chinese New Year’s celebrations.
London’s West End is also the home to many incredible shopping areas including Oxford Street, Regent Street, Carnaby Street, Piccadilly, Bond Street and more.
The London Eye is definitely a tourist hotspot as it’s one of the best places to get a bird’s eye view of the city. Formerly known as the Millennium Wheel, this revolving observation wheel is based in the borough of Lambeth. Once the world’s tallest ferris wheels, it’s a great place to spot some of the capital’s most famous landmarks — especially if you’re in the city for a limited amount of time.
Make sure to bring a camera along to get shots of all the incredible sights.
Opened back in 2012, The Shard is one of the most recognisable scenes in London. Encompassing 95 stories and standing at 1,016 feet tall, it’s also home to the Shangri-La Hotel and three incredible restaurants where tourists can enjoy fabulous food and drink options that are on offer. There’s also some viewing platforms on the uppermost levels including indoor and outdoor.
The Shard is definitely at the heart of luxury when it comes to tourist destinations.
The Natural History Museum
One of the most beautiful buildings in the world, the Natural History Museum is home to life and earth science specimens including 80 million items across mineralogy, palaeontology, zoology, entomology and botany. Officially known as the British Museum until 1992, it’s free to enter but you may incur some charges for special exhibitions in the museum.
St Paul’s Cathedral
If you’re looking to visit an Anglican cathedral when visiting central London, St Paul’s is the place to be. Built between 1675 and 1710 after its predecessor was destroyed during the Great Fire of London it sits at 365 high, with a dome that remains the highest in the world. A traditional staple architecturally part of London’s skyline, it’s definitely a sight to be seen.
Oxo Tower London
The Oxo Tower is a sight in itself; but for unparalleled views of St Paul’s and the rest of the city, a visit to the OXO Tower Restaurant Bar and Brasserie is a good place for tourists to spend their pennies while enjoying afternoon tea, cocktails and enjoying seasonal British food. Featuring a garden terrace and floor to ceiling windows to get the views in, the OXO is just an eight minute walk from Waterloo and Southward stations and a ten minute walk from Blackfriars station. It’s also a great place to be to access other tourist hotspots, not far from the National Theatre, the London Eye, Trafalgar Square and Big Ben.