What to Do in London - Visit the Royal Parks
On your holidays in London, include a visit to at least one of the beautiful parks. London has so many stunning parks and you really need to take the time to enjoy them.
The largest parks are Hyde Park London and its neighbour Kensington Gardens both of which are located at the western part of central London.
Other lovely parks are St. Jamess Park and Green Park which are smaller but closer to Buckingham Palace London.
A trip to the London Zoo is another great place to visit during your holidays in London, as this is the worlds oldest scientific zoo and is located within Regents Park.
Gleaming white Georgian terraced houses overlook Regents Park and there is a beautiful rose garden in the centre. You can see open air performances of Shakespeares plays during the summer.
You could also include a canal cruise of Little Venice on your London vacations on the charming Regents Canal and stop in at the London Zoo, as there is an entrance to the zoo and Regent's Park from the canal.
Make sure you have purchased a ticket to the zoo before you take the canal cruise.
The largest of all the central Royal parks with luscious 600 acres, Hyde Park London is divided by the Serpentine and is neighbour to Kensington Gardens, which home to Kensington Palace.
The Serpentine Gallery holds free exhibitions of contemporary art.
Another feature of Hyde Park London is the infamous Speakers Corner in the north-east corner of the park near the Marble Arch, where soap box orators speak their minds on Sundays.
By crossing a little bridge you enter Kensington Gardens. Here you will find the site of the Albert Memorial and an exquisite statue of Peter Pan. To the west lies Kensington Palace.
Originally built in the 18th century as a town house for the Duke of Buckingham, Buckingham Palace has been remodelled three times by various architects, including John Nash.
The side of Buckingham Palace seen by the public, the east facade, was redesigned in Neoclassical style in 1913. Part of the palace has been open to the public since 1993.
The Queens Gallery at the south end of the palace exhibits selections from the Queens collection of paintings.
On your holidays in London, you can stroll through the Blue Drawing Room, the Throne Room, the Picture Gallery filled with pictures by Rubens, Rembrandt and Van Dyck, and the Music Room where Mendelssohn played for Queen Victoria.
In the opulent White Drawing Room, the large mirror to the left of the fireplace conceals a door used by the Royal Family to make a grand appearance before formal dinners.
The Changing of the Guards takes place at Buckingham Palace London from April to August and only on alternate days from September to March so you really have to check the schedule in advance and plan ahead for your holidays in London.
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Its official name is The Palace of Westminster and was the royal residence from the time of Edward the Confessor to that of Henry VIII (1509 1547).
The magnificent Westminster Hall has survived from the old palace which was destroyed by fire in 1834 and rebuilt in neo-Gothic style.
Its Clock Tower, known as "Big Ben" is an iconic landmark in the United Kingdom and is seen in many photographs of holidays in London, being one of the most popular tourist attractions in London.
Big Ben is the largest four-faced chiming clock and the third-tallest free-standing clock tower in the world with 334 steps to climb.
The London Eye is a giant Ferris wheel located on the south banks of the River Thames, in London, England. This is not a typical Ferris wheel but one with large futuristic glass capsules which can hold up to 25 people.
Being the tallest Ferris wheel in Europe, it is the most popular paid tourist attractions in London and UK and a great London landmark.
If you have a fear of heights, dont worry, the wheel moves very slowly and one revolution takes about 30 minutes to go around.
The panoramic photographs you can take from within the capsule are spectacular and definitely worth the cost and the flight.
Want to experience a unique flight on your holidays in London? The London Eye offers private parties of various kinds, both romantic intimate moments as well as group parties, treating the guests with a choice of Champagne tastings, Wine tastings, Mulled-wine experience and Chocolate tastings, and served by your own private host.
Trafalgar Square is at the center of a busy traffic roundabout.
This square is major London attraction where all the tourists and the pigeons congregate.
This roundabout is one of the major stops for the London Bus Tours.
The National Gallery, with Britains collection of the Old Masters, is situated in the square.
Nelsons Column, a fluted granite pillar, is the centerpiece of Trafalgar Square with four majestic lions guarding the base.
On the north-eastern corner of the square, opposite the National Gallery, is the church St. Martin-in-the-Fields, dating from the 1720s, St. Martin has a gilded but simple interior with chubby cherubim.
St. Martin-in-the-Fields church also has its own world-renowned chamber orchestra.
In the heart of London and near The Strand, Covent Garden is a large square with the Covent Garden Market and home to the Royal Opera House.
Formerly the square had its beginnings as convent garden where the monks of Westminster Abbey grew their vegetables.
Today, Covent Garden is filled with many boutique stores and fashion shops, popular bars, restaurants and outdoor cafes.
The Royal Opera House hosts major performing arts venues and perhaps is the most modern theatre facility in Europe.
The cobblestone streets are full of fun and laughter.
Starting early in the day the buskers begin their entertainment and in the afternoon the visitors and locals alike look for bargains in the many boutique stores.
Before and after the London Opera performances, Covent Garden becomes a stage for the well-dressed theatre goers or the after-work crowd and is great place for partying and people watching. Relax at one of the many charming pubs, restaurants and cafes.
It features pedestrian friendly walking streets with great shopping, eating, laughter and live music bands and buskers.
With lots of pubs, cafes and trendy shops, the streets are bustling, and Friday and Saturday nights are busy with the theatre crowds.
Equipped with stand up heaters, the outdoor terraces and cafes of Covent Garden are equipped to keep you comfortable on those chilly afternoons and evenings on your holidays in London.
Covent Garden is walking distance to Soho, The Strand, Trafalgar Square and Victoria Embankment.
The Victoria Embankment is a stretch of the road along the north bank of the River Thames in London from Westminster Bridge over to Blackfriars Bridge.
This is one of my favourite places to visit in London, even if I am flying in for a one day stopover. I leave my baggage at the airport and take the Tube down to the Thames.
Great Ideas of What to Do in London along the River Thames:
1. Houses of Parliament and Big Ben
2. The beautiful Westminster Bridge
3. Riverboats to the Tower of London, Greenwich, Thames Barrier, Kew, Richmond and Hampton Court
4. Former County Hall and the London Aquarium
5. The London Eye
6. Tattershall Castle Bar
7. Hungerford Bridge and Golden Jubilee Bridges
8. Royal Festival Hall
9. Queen Elizabeth Hall
10. National Theatre
11. Charing Cross Pubs and Eateries along Villiers Street
12. Cleopatras Needle
13. Courtauld Institute Gallery and Somerset House
14. The Temple Church, a medieval church built by the Knights Templar and featured in the novel and film The Da Vinci Code
15. Victoria Embankment Gardens is a quiet park in the heart of the busy activities of the River Thames and the Embankment.
This a wonderful getaway spot in downtown London.
I enjoy wandering around these fascinating sites when I'm on holidays in London, and for a change of scenery, I cross one of the spectacular bridges and have lunch and a glass of wine at one of the eateries or cafes on the south bank of the River Thames, opposite the Victoria Embankment side, and watch the people and the boats go by.
Or, if I stay on the north bank along the Victoria Embankment, I pick up a meal- to-go from one of the charming cafes along Villier Street and retreat to the Victoria Embankment Gardens.
One of the most impressive buildings in London, the Tower was used as a royal residence from William the Conqueror to James I (1603 1624).
This has been a palace and prison of English monarchs for over 500 years and was the site of the first observatory, the Royal Mint, the Crown Jewels, and the Royal Arsenal.
The enormous fortress is well known for its many famous prisoners. The Queens Crown Jewels, robes and crowns have been stored at the Tower of London for over six hundred years.
Originally, they were housed in the Jewel House, but due to the lack of space for all the visitors, they are now exhibited in the magnificent setting in the Waterloo Barracks built in 1845 in the Tower of London.
From the Tower of London you can also see the Tower Bridge and the London City Hall, which are walking distance from here.
Visit one of the most famous bridges in Europe in the fairy-tale style of Victorian Gothic (1894) on your holidays in London.
The granite and steel Tower Bridge resembles a castle and is a masterpiece of engineering with the centre piece and two drawbridges which can be opened in 90 seconds.
The two towers provide magnificent panoramic views of London.
City Hall of London
While you are at the Tower of London, directly across the River Thames is the City Hall of London.
Built to look as if the building is slanting, the London City Hall has unique architectural details.
This is Londons oldest church and contains relics dating from 675 AD. Just inside the south entrance is an arch from the 7th century Saxon church.
It was from the top of this church that Samuel Pepys witnessed the Great Fire in 1666. The tower also survived the bombs of World War II.
In the under croft Crypt Museum are various exhibits from Londons 2,000 year old history including Roman coins, a model Roman London, fragments of Roman paving, a part of the original wall of the church and the remains of two Saxon crosses.
All Hallows by the Tower is near the Tower of London and Tower Bridge so be sure to include a visit to this ancient church on your holidays in London.
London is a dynamic city, rich with history, magnificent art and architecture, diverse culture, evolving science, fun and entertainment, and the quiet beauty of nature. You will want to come back for many holidays in London.
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I can't wait to hear about YOUR holidays in London. What activities and attractions did you enjoy most? Have any tips and advice to offer?