advertisement
  • Climbing the Dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral: Wren’s baroque masterpiece, St. Paul’s Cathedral, stirs emotion in everyone who lays eyes on its lead-coated wooden dome. But it’s the climb to the Golden Gallery for a 360-degree panorama that will stay with you forever. As for Wren, he was forced to add the balustrade for Queen Anne. “Ladies think nothing well without an edging,” he complained.
  • Surveying the City from Southbank: In 1957, the Thames was declared “biologically dead.” Today, it flows with life. Alongside it, as restaurants, bars, and creative developments continue to pop up, a walk along the South Bank from Westminster Bridge to Tower Bridge has become one of the world’s great promenades. The ever-changing perspective from Parliament to the Tower is ceaselessly inspiring.
  • Following in Royal Footsteps: London is where some of the most famous characters in history played their scenes. Nearly every British monarch since 1066 was crowned in Westminster Abbey. Henry VIII strutted around Hampton Court Palace, Charles I lost his head at The Banqueting House, and Queen Elizabeth resides at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle. And the story goes on: The future King George VII is probably romping elsewhere in Kensington Palace even as you explore it.
  • Flying High on the London Eye: Ride to the top of our generation’s contribution to London’s beloved landmarks for a far-reaching shot of the cityscape. Time your trip for early evening as the sun starts to sink and the lights come on across the metropolis.
  • Honoring the struggles of World War II: More than 70 years later, the Blitz isn’t far from many Londoners’ minds. Dig into the power of their resistance at the superlative time capsule of the Churchill War Rooms, the immersive Museum of London Docklands, the floating military museum HMS Belfast, and by seeing original bomb scars on the side of the V&A. The just-renovated Imperial War Museum is currently honoring World War I as well.
  • Taking Afternoon Tea: Look smart at Brown’s, Fortnum & Mason, or the Langham, where the traditional tea ritual carries on as it did in Britain’s colonial heyday.
  • Spending an Evening at a West End Theatre: London is the theatrical capital of the world. The live stages of Theatreland around Covent Garden and Soho offer a unique combination of variety, accessibility, and economy — but the shows of the Fringe are where the future can be found.
  • Meeting the Heroes and Villains of History: Get face-to-face with a rogue’s gallery from the past at the National Portrait Gallery, where faces seem to watch you across time with a sparkle in their eye. The gang’s all here, from a supercilious Henry VIII to a pugnacious Hogarth to a kind-eyed Princess Diana, already becoming a memory.
  • Taking a Tour of Royal London: From palaces and parks to the royal art collections, history, geography, and culture have been shaped — or owned — by centuries of aristocratic rule. You can see the best of it in a day, including the Queen’s favorite grocer, Fortnum & Mason, plus any one of 800 other Royal Warrant holders.
  • Peering into a Time Capsule: Some museums preserve scenes that were frozen in time. No reconstructions or fakery here: You’ll gaze upon authentic World War II military operations at the Churchill War Rooms; admire the graves of great artists and the location of epic rituals at Westminster Abbey; and roam the very rooms used in daily life by kings and queens at Buckingham Palace, Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace, and Windsor Castle.
  • Shopping in the Grandest Department Stores of Them All: And, no, it isn’t Harrods. Liberty of London, founded in 1875 and moved to its current half-timbered, mock-Tudor home in 1924, and Selfridges, both designed and built by Americans, redefined sales methods and played crucial roles in world history.
  • Imagining Domestic Life Through the Ages: At the Geffrye Museum, period re-creations of interiors from the spartan 1630s to the flashy 1990s allow visitors to understand how home life has changed. But nothing immerses you in the past quite like the brain-bending role-playing of a night visit to Dennis Severs’ House.
  • Staying at a Classic Hotel: From the Art Deco interiors of The Savoy to the liveried door attendants of the Goring, nothing epitomizes historic London quite like its upscale hotels. Discretion has never gone out of style here.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.