Set Your Sights on These London Attractions
London is proudly a city for tourists. Yes, there are showstopping landmarks, but there are some unique places to visit which you might find even more interesting too.
London may be huge, but really it is just an amalgamation of lots of villages. Just look at the street names: virtually every borough has a high street, a church street and an old market square. It’s not even clear which village should be 'downtown' – the centre of London. Depending on your viewpoint, you may look for the heart of London in Mayfair with its fine-art galleries, exquisite restaurants and close proximity to Buckingham Palace. If you are in London for work, the City may well be your centre of gravity. And while this all underscores the British capital’s diversity, it also means that the best attractions in London are all over the place. That's where our expertise here at Plum Guide comes in to help. (As usual...)
Here, we've compiled a list of the best London attractions across the city that you definitely should not miss. So, get up out of your luxury Plum Guide London home and start exploring the wonders of the city...you're in for a treat.
Discover Mayfair and Piccadilly
If you're in the city for a few days of condensed sight-seeing of London tourist attractions with manageable walking and plenty of spots for coffees, cakes and people watching, nothing beats Westminster’s central neighbourhoods of Mayfair and Piccadilly.
The City of Westminster, as it's formally known, also includes famous stretches such as Soho, Strand and St James’s, so you are never far away from a theatrical performance or a royal crest. The borough boasts the highest number of blue plaques – more than 300 of those English Heritage plates adorn homes of (long-dead) famous residents. Big Ben often peeks out at the end of a road, if you look vaguely south, so you can concentrate on visiting the less touristy sites in easy reach. Walking is a very London past-time, and driving around can end up taking you longer and costing you more. For example, it's much easier to walk from The Wallace Collection to Selfridges.
You can have breakfast at The Wolseley on Piccadilly, tea at Claridge’s and dinner in Chinatown, all without the need for a cab. For film buffs, Westminster has lots of treats in store too: from Sherlock Holmes’ “home” at 221B Baker Street to James Bond’s brooding strolls along Whitehall, the perhaps most fitting location is Covent Garden – backdrop to Alfred Hitchcock’s Frenzy. The Sir John Soane Museum in Holborn (just outside the Westminster border, but we won’t tell anyone if you don’t) is within easy reach of the West End with its theatres and watering holes like the old-school Salisbury pub on St Martin’s Lane.
Where to stay
If you're a fan of the finer things in life, then we're sure a home in the heart of Mayfair like this one would do rather nicely.
Saunter through South Kensington
The only problem with being close to so many London attractions is that there are so many people who want to see those attractions - you'll find often that unless you've booked well in advance, it can be hard to stay centrally. Even when you do, factors like noise pollution and the sheer overwhelming crush of bodies might not sound like your idea of fun. That's why the borough of Kensington and Chelsea is a great alternative sight-seeing base.
If you stay close to the Museum Mile in South Kensington, the most refined version of London is at your doorstep as world-class collections line Cromwell and Exhibition Roads. Marvel at dinosaurs and rainbow diamonds at the Natural History Museum, check out the latest blockbuster fashion exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum, and have your mind blown at the Science Museum. A short walk north takes you to the tiny Serpentine Gallery in Hyde Park, and the brave can even hire a boat or take a little swim in the Serpentine lake, where the views of Big Ben and the London Eye are free (although subject to a duck swimming into view). The Chelsea Physic Garden is a stroll to the south but definitely not to be missed.
Where to stay
This home, just seconds away from Kensington Palace, is in a prime location for seeing some of the best London attractions around.
Relax in Hampstead
Just thinking about all these locations can make an old Londoner pine for their favourite part of the city. After all, the beauty of the city is to be close to so many London attractions – but not too close. If this sounds like you, then somewhere like Hampstead is going to be perfect.
Hampstead is the picturesque North London home of writers and artists, and it has a true village feel. The roads wind up and down along the hills, the streets are leafy and teeming with excited Labradors pulling their owners to the famous Hampstead Heath, a huge rugged park overlooking London.
Follow their lead past the house of Erno Goldfinger, who built and furnished his Modernist home and served as inspiration to his neighbour, Bond-creator Ian Fleming. There's also a chance to pop in to Keats House, and see where he penned his Ode on a Grecian Urn and Bright Star. Stroll north via Parliament Hill for a view of London's skyline to Kenwood House, a stately home and museum with a lovely café.
Head to Haggerston
You probably don’t have this particular name on your list of London attractions, but hear us out: it’s that bit between Shoreditch, Dalston and Bethnal Green which manages to capture the best of East London cool, while still being friendly. Spend time at the Geffrye Museum and gardens on Kingsland Road before heading to Brick Lane for a curry. Kids will love the Hackney City Farm in Haggerston Park, the Victoria & Albert Museum of Childhood and the (almost impossible to describe) Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities. For an adventure in time, head south to Spitalfields and visit Dennis Severs’ House on Folgate Street. On a Saturday, go food-shopping on Broadway market, and on a Sunday join the other visitors in London on Columbia Road flower market. It may be crowded, but you have to see it before heading back to your London apartment.
So, that's your guide to the best London attractions sorted, but there's so much more to discover. The city's parks and gardens are unmissable so be sure to visit at least a few of these. And if you're planning a trip with the whole family, then our guide to what to do in London with kids is sure to keep everyone entertained.