London is one of the oldest cities in Europe. Its foundation can be traced to Roman times, as far as 43 CE, when the Romans first conquered Britain. It has been the capital of England for centuries and the cultural hub of intellectuals during the Enlightenment. The polycentric capital has no obvious organization and structure as it was constantly upgraded over time creating a spider’s web, with thousands of streets, subways, and even water canals. It is home to Buckingham Palace, the Parliament, London Bridge, and Shakespeare’s Globe theater. The historical significance of this ancient city equals that of its counterparts, Paris and Rome, and during the span of two millennia, the city kept most of its historical sightings making it a perfect tourist attraction. Here is some advice on what to do while you’re visiting this extraordinary jewel.
When visiting London for the first time, it would be wise to make sure you are near the city center. Though the price might be repellent, you give twice as much in transportation and other fees if you take a cheaper alternative far away. Make sure to find something in the Waterloo area as it is only a 10-minute walk from one of the most popular attractions, the London Eye. Also, have in mind to plan what you are going to visit the day before and make sure to avoid holidays and other celebrations to make your stay more memorable.
Some popular attractions
First, the Tower of London. This 900-year-old structure is standing still and stable even after numerous wars, revolutions, fires, and family feuds. The Tower of London was first founded by no other than William the Conqueror himself, in 1078 AD. Later, Richard Lionheart upgraded the tower with thick defensive walls. The tower is most famous for it being a prison for high-ranking political prisoners, some being kings and at one point even a high-ranked nazi officer.
If you are a lover of art and music, London is home to over 170 museums and the legendary London Musicals, regularly having on their schedules hits such as Mamma Mia and Phantom of the Opera. For more, you can get travel advice from Hellotickets, a unique platform offering 75 attractions worth checking out at this enormous capital. This will narrow down some of the choices and will help you keep better track of where you have been and what to visit next. If you are a lover of the grotesque and dreadful, you can take the Jack the Ripper tour around it, visiting the crime sites and learning more about the details of these gruesome acts.
It is worth looking at some of the more modern attractions like the Emirates Air Line cable car and the London Eye. For families, there is the option of going to London’s sea world, the zoo, and the place where Harry Potter was created. Shop at the best markets London has to offer and enjoy the rich heritage of the city.
The lesser-known ones
A city this old and famous should never be restricted to some of the best-known attractions. For the more curious and enthusiastic adventurers, London offers several unique things to see.
We’ll start with the legendary Aldgate Pump. The ghastly history of the pump is associated with an epidemic in the late 19th century. Several hundred people died, yet this event was a turning point as it contributed to stricter regulations on the quality of water, and thousands of lives were saved later. The pump still stands as a reminder.
41 Cloth Fair
41 Cloth Fair is the oldest house currently standing in London. This little house is the only one surviving the Great Fire of London in 1666 as it was well tucked in between eleven other houses, so the fire did not reach it. On the windows, you can find the signatures of famous people, among others Queen Elizabeth herself.
London’s Roman heritage is an inseparable part of this ancient city. Though this was millennia ago, some traces of Roman presence preserved the wheel of time and are still there. For example, you can find the remains of the last Roman Bath behind thick glass, the foundations of the Roman basilica, and even an excavated Roman amphitheater.
Foods and treats
One thing to do when in London is to take a peek at its legendary restaurants. London will tickle your palate and arouse your senses, as the culinary experience is as rich as everything else in the city.
Start your day off with a traditional English breakfast, including some red pudding (or blood pudding), sausages, eggs, potatoes, baked beans, and some mushrooms. This well-balanced breakfast has all the nutrition you need to keep you going during your busy day sightseeing the many attractions around the city.
For lunch, you might try some classic fish and chips. It is said, the first restaurant was founded in the second half of the 19th century, by a Jewish immigrant, and not long after it became a staple meal known across the UK and abroad. The simple dish includes some good old fried potatoes and fresh fish. The meal was a sailor’s favorite and due to England’s rich waters, you’ll never run out of this delicious meal.
Before dessert, there is the afternoon tea, and also try visiting the iconic coffee houses. London was one of the first places to host coffee evening gatherings, where politics and other matters were regularly discussed, the oldest one still running dates back to the 17th century.
For cities this big, it will probably take more than a few days to get to know them, therefore take your time and make sure you appreciate every moment.