There is so much to see and do in London that it can be slightly overwhelming to create a plan that will capture the very essence of the city in your trip but, never fear, this guide aims to help you make the most out of your trip to London.
So, where do you begin? Well if you have travelled into Heathrow airport, the first thing you have to do is explore the airport itself. It is known for its five terminals and each terminal has its own wide range of shops, bars and restaurants for you to explore so why not do a spot of shopping before venturing into the city. Near the airport lies the Park Grand London Heathrow hotel, a London Heathrow hotel that lies a few minutes away from the airport itself but has easy access to London’s city centre which is perfect for those who are making a fleeting visit. However, if you are in London for a week or two and intend to make the most of it, catch the Heathrow Express and head into the heart of the city.
After checking into your hotel, such as the Park Grand Paddington , it is time to head out and explore the capital. The best way to explore London is by relying on your own legs to get you around. Don’t be put off by travelling the city on foot as everything is much nearer than you think, for example, if you start at Trafalgar Square, within a few hundred yards you have the National Gallery and the National Portrait Museum while a five minute walk away will take you the Leicester Square and the Westend, 10 minutes walk away will land you at Piccadilly Circus or, if you walk through Admiral’s Arch and walk through St James’s Park, you will be graced with the sight of Buckingham Palace, one of the main Royal residences.
The Royal family have dominated London since 1066 when William the Conqueror was crowned in Westminster Abbey. Since then, many of the royals have chosen London as their residence and, throughout time, there have been a fine selection of palaces such as Nonsuch Palace, Richmond Palace, Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace, the Palace of Whitehall, the Palace of Westminster and Hampton Court; 4 of the 7 listed still remain today. If you’re a fan of the royal family or you’re fascinated by history, here are a few places you must visit while you’re in London.
- Buckingham Palace
The main living quarters of the Elizabeth I has to take the top spot on the list because, well, she is the current reigning monarch. Buckingham Palace became the royal residence during the reign of Queen Victoria and has remained the royals favourite abode ever since. It is a very grand building, made even more so by the London guards standing to attention at the front and, if you happen to catch it, the changing of the guard really is a spectacular sight. In the summer months, the palace opens its doors to allow the curious public access to a small amount of its rooms so they can gaze enviously at its breathtaking interior and hundreds of rooms which include an onsite post office, doctor’s surgery and state rooms. It is a great opportunity to see how the royals really live.
2. Kensington Palace
Surrounded by Kensington Gardens, Kensington Palace is a breathtaking palace that has been home to the royal family since the end of the 17th century. It has housed King William and Queen Mary, Queen Anne, King George I and II, Princess Diana and now the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. It is open to the public who can take a stroll around its large apartments, some of which are created to look like the homes of the royals from the past. The grounds of the palace are stunning with fountains, lakes and statues commemorating Queen Victoria and the late ‘People’s Princess’ Princess Diana whose death created a carpet of over 5 million flowers over the ground of the palace in 1997. It may be one of the newer palaces but, what it doesn’t have in rich history it makes up for in beauty.
3. Hampton Court
Whether your UK trip is a once in a lifetime opportunity or a trip that you will be making year upon year, it is important that you explore life just outside the city centre. Hampton Court is situated in East Molesey and is a place that is steeped in rich tudor history. It was the home of the esteemed Cardinal Wolsey before he bestowed it upon King Henry VIII where it became one of his main place of residence. It will most definitely need a whole day to look around, from early morning to late afternoon, mainly because there is a story to every little part of the palace as well as you not being able to move at some point due to being completely awe-struck (the gardens will take your breath away). There is an entry fee but when you are guaranteed to spend most of your day within its walls, exploring the gardens and getting lost in the maze, it is completely worth it.
- The Palace of Westminster
It is impossible to venture to London and not see where parliament is held and where the world famous clock Big Ben stands. The Palace of Westminster, or Houses of Parliament as it is now known, is the political hub of Britain and, because Britain is a democracy, it is open to the public. It is advised that you take a tour of the Houses of Parliament because the history is absolutely fascinating, let’s not forget that this was the building that Guy Fawkes tried to blow up and that it was devastated by many fires in its lifetime. You even get to venture into the House of Commons and the House of Lords and, if Parliament is in session, you are able to stand in the public gallery and watch the proceedings. Who knows, if you’re lucky you may even get a glimpse of the Prime Minister while you’re there.