People all over the world know about London, but what is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of England’s capital? Is it Big Ben? The London Eye? Or maybe you see the big red double-decker buses driving down every main street in the city? There are so many things that London is known for, and you can’t refine it down to one main attraction.
If you’ve been considering visiting London, or if you’re just curious to find out more about this fascinating city, you may want to know about the biggest things it is known for. That’s why we’ve put our detective skills to work and found out what ten attractions and items London is famous for.
The London Underground
The London Underground is the city’s most popular method of transport and something that over a billion people use every year. Also known as the ‘tube’, this underground railway system has been around since 1863 and developed 270 stations across 250 miles of London over the years.
When walking through any area of London, you’ll be able to find an underground stop marked with the distinctive red circle sign. People can easily hop on and off, as trains often arrive at a station every 10 minutes. There are six zones you can travel within, with zone 1 in the centre of London and zone 6 surrounding the outskirts of the city. Some trains run 24 hours a day, so there is no surprise that this method of transport is so popular and well-known.
Have you ever walked through London and heard a loud chime? Did you wonder where it could have come from? Well, this fantastic time-telling sound comes from the clock tower of the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben. Built and completed back in 1859, it has since been chiming quietly every 15 minutes and loudly every hour.
Big Ben is one of the biggest sights that London is known for, and people travel all across the world just to see it. If you have ever seen anything from popular culture based in the city, such as a film or tv series, then they always show this attraction to mark the location. It is historical, large, and great to look at, so it is something you can’t miss when visiting London.
If you’ve ever seen a panoramic image of London, then you’ve probably noticed a long stream of water going through the city. This is the River Thames, a 215 miles long river that spans across the capital of England. It is one of the cleanest rivers in the world, but it wasn’t always this way. In fact, it used to be impossible for anything living to use it as its habitat.
The River Thames is now home to 125 species of fish, and some people even try to spot some other unique aquatic animals in it. Once, a Northern Bottlenose Whale was even found swimming through the water. If you ever visit London, you may want to have a close look yourself and see if you can find something special.
Red phone boxes
You can’t visit London without taking a photo in one of their iconic red phone boxes. It is known by people around the world and is typically just used for display. However, this wasn’t always the case, and they were used regularly as telephone kiosks since 1921. The design has changed over the years, but the K2 telephone box is the most iconic design.
Although there aren’t as many British red telephone boxes around London as in the past, you can still find them dotted across the city. In 2006, it was voted one of Britain’s top 10 design icons, and in 2009, it was chosen by the Royal Mail to be added to their ‘British Design Classics’ commemorative postage stamp.
You can’t turn anywhere in London without seeing one of the iconic black cabs. This staple of London is one of the city's most popular modes of transport and is great for whenever someone wants to get from one place to another quickly. They have been known as London’s Hackney Carriages from as far back as 1662 and are particularly famous since the drivers have excellent knowledge of how to get around the city without the use of a map.
As mentioned, it is extremely easy to find one of these black cabs driving past and to get the attention of one, all you need to do is wave it down. If the taxi light is on, that means that they are available to pick you up. The cab driver will notice you, pull up, and you can get in to travel to where you need to go.
The London Eye
Similar to Big Ben, you can’t watch any form of popular culture without seeing the London Eye panned across the screen. Also known as the Millenium Wheel, this cantilevered observation wheel is visited by over 3 million people each year. It was first launched in 2000 as the world’s largest ferris wheel at 135m tall.
Designed by Marks Barfield Architects, this beautifully designed wheel allows you to see all the views of London when you walk into one of the 32 capsules. Over the years, it has achieved 85 different awards, which is no surprise as it is the UK’s most popular paid tourist attraction and will undoubtedly remain this way.
Double decker buses
While the London Underground is the most famous London mode of transport, it isn’t the most widely used method. In fact, the popular double-decker red buses are used by double the number of people that the underground does, with over two billion passengers riding the buses each year. This is not such a surprise because they are seen all over the city, and you can’t help but try one out at least once.
There are bus routes all over London, and there is almost nowhere you can’t travel to on one of these double-decker red buses. You get to see a lot of the capital city while riding on them, and you feel like a local once you start learning where to get on and off.
You can’t think of London without thinking of the tallest building in the country. The Shard is a 310m tall building based in Southwark and is home to many different types of offices, restaurants, and hotels that you can make the most of when you visit the city. On the upper half of the 72 storeys, you can see some fantastic views of the rest of the skyline and other big attractions.
After being specially designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, The Shard was officially built on March 16, 2009, using a groundbreaking 11,000 panels of glass. It may be the tallest building in the UK, but it also places as the 96th tallest building in the world and the fourth tallest in Europe.
The green spaces
Since London is a city, you may think that it is full of streets, cars, and tall buildings. However, it is also full of some fantastic green spaces, some of which are the finest natural areas in the world. Many people come from all over the world to see some of the most popular parks in the city, whether it’s for a family picnic day out or simply to take in the beauty of the spaces.
Some of the most popular parks in London that people tend to flock to are Hyde park, Regent’s Park, Richmond Park, Greenwich Park, and Crystal Palace Park. It allows you to take a break away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the busy city and take in the calm surroundings of nature.
Free museum visits
You don’t have to spend a ton of money to have a great time in London, which is why many people go to the city and take advantage of many free museums. Not only is it a fun-filled and inexpensive day out, but you also get to learn a lot about what makes London so great and some other historical facts about the world.
There are over 250 museums in the city, which is amazing, and 23 of these allow you to enter for free. Some of the biggest names include the Natural History Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, Tate Modern, Science Museum, and The National Gallery. There are so many to choose from, and none of them disappoints.
London is truly a city of wonders, full of rich history and some fantastic architectural delights. You can go for a month and feel like you haven’t seen everything the area offers, which makes it so great.
We have made things easier for you by providing you with 10 of the top attractions that London is known for. It should help you plan your next trip to the capital city so you can see some of the biggest sights.