If you have ever been to New York City, you will notice that London has
many similarities, including the theater district, the Tube (Subway)
system and Trafalgar Square, which is reminiscent of Times Square. Once
you are in an area, you will find that much of the sightseeing
highlights are within 4 to 5 miles of each other.
One of the best ways to get around is to take an Open Bus Tour where you can hop on and off all of the major sightseeing attractions throughout the city. The cost is around $24 Euro, which is currently around $34 US Dollars.
Spend time around the Hyde park area, and you can walk to Kensington Gardens, the famous department store Harrods, as well as Victoria and Albert Museum. In Hyde park, you can enjoy time on the lake with boats for rent. You can also pay to ride horses in the park, or walk over to see the Marble Arch.
Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus and St. James’ Park are all close to one another. In Trafalgar Square you will find an 18 foot statue of Lord Nelson standing on top of a 171 ft. column. The Square was built in his honor after his victory over Napoleon’s army in 1805. Within walking distance of Trafalgar Square, you can go shopping in the Covent Garden area, eat in Chinatown, walk to Parliament Square or to Buckingham Palace. In Piccadilly Circus you will find the status of Eros. Piccadilly looks a lot like Time Square in New York with neon signs, and it is the entrance to the city’s entertainment district. There are lots of restaurants, shops and bars. Planet Hollywood and HardRock are in this area if you get home sick for American food.
Buckingham Palace was first built in 1705. Between 1824 and 1831, George IV commissioned to extend the house into a substantial palace, which was first occupied by Queen Victoria in 1837. More work was done on the front of the building by Sir Aston Webb in 1913. The palace is now home to the present Queen. State rooms are open to the public only in August and September. If you want to see the Changing of the Guards, it is done at 11 a.m. Monday through Saturday, and at 10 a.m. on Sundays. There is no charge.
Take a ride over to Westminster Abbey. Westminster Abbey is a Church, and a glorious example of Medieval architecture. Queen Elizabeth’s coronation was held here in 1953, and Princess Diana’s funeral in 1997. You can hear the choir sing at services each day at 5 p.m. or at all services on Sundays. Hop back on the bus, and the next stop you will want to see is Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. Big Ben is the huge Clock Tower of the Palace of Westminster. In Parliament Square you will also see a Statue of Winston Churchill.
Get back on the bus and ride over to British Airways London Eye. This London Eye is a giant observation wheel that allows for fascinating views of all of London. There are 21 enclosed capsules that hold 25 people each, and offer visibility in all directions. A ride on the London Eye takes about 30 minutes. On a clear day you can see approximately 25 miles across England.
Next you can visit the Tower Bridge, the Tower of London and The Monument. The Tower of London is a riverside fortress. It takes about 2 hours to tour the area and see the Crown Jewels. The jewel collection dates back to 1661. Coronation jewels are on display as well. The Imperial State Crown has 2,868 diamonds, 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds, 5 rubies and 273 pearls. It was designed in 1937.
Another thing you must do in my opinion, is take a Thames river cruise. The cruises depart from Westminster Pier, London Eye Pier and Tower Pier. You can take a shorter cruise of 20 to 30 minutes, or you can do a full round trip which takes about 3 hours. Just like the buses, you can hop on, hop off throughout the day.
London is easy to get around, however if you do not feel comfortable traveling on the Tube, via the buses or along the river, you can take a full day motorcoach tour of London which visits most of the areas I highlighted above. I recommend a London package with a minimum of 3 nights Classical Concerts to enjoy the city, more time if you are planning to take any day trips to fascinating areas such as the Cotswolds, Warwick Castle, Stonehenge, Oxford or Bath.