In London for a short trip? Confused by the number of things to do and see in London? Don't despair. London might be a big city, but we think we know just where you need to go to cover the top sights. Check out our top 13 landmarks to see in London.

Our favourite London landmarks

London is a true gem, an architectural goldmine some might even say! Here at The Original Tour, we can’t get enough of this amazing mixture of old and modern and, after over 65 years of operating, we keep falling in love with the city a little bit more every day.

Let us take you on a London tour!

Contents

Big Ben

Houses of Parliament

Buckingham Palace

Trafalgar Square

Piccadilly Circus

London Eye

Tower of London

Tower Bridge

Royal Observatory

Westminster Abbey

St Paul’s Cathedral

Gherkin

Shard

Hyde Park

1. Big Ben

Let’s start our tour with an icon of London and the UK: Big Ben. People usually think of the famous clock tower when you say Big Ben, however it is in fact the name of the bell located inside. The clock tower itself was named the Elizabeth tower in 2012 to commemorate the jubilee of Queen Elizabeth. Big Ben is currently being refurbished to protect the clock mechanism and the tower unfortunately is surrounded by scaffold, hiding Big Ben from the eyes of Londoners and tourists until 2021.

Visitor information

Big Ben and the Elizabeth tower are not open to the public however UK residents can arrange a visit with their local MP. Simply write them at this address

House of Commons, Westminster, London SW1A 0AA

How to get there?

Yellow route: stop 17

Blue route: stops 32 and 33

Back to Top

2. Houses of Parliament

The Houses of Parliament, also known as Palace of Westminster, is a historic site dating back to the 15th century. Most of the current building was built in the 19th century following a terrible fire in 1834. It is home to the British Parliament, which is composed of the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

Visitor information

You can get guided and audio-guided Houses of Parliament tours at these beautiful buildings. Visitors can also watch House of Commons debates and committees when they are in session. Tickets for the tours are from £19.50 for adults and £8 for children.

How to get there?

Yellow route: stop 17

Blue route: stops 32 and 33

Houses of Parliament in London

Back to Top

3. Buckingham Palace

Home of Her majesty the Queen, Buckingham Palace is the symbol of the British Monarchy. It used to be a family home and was transformed into a palace by King George IV. Queen Victoria was the first monarch to live there and transformed it into the administrative headquarters that it is now. Buckingham Palace is also famous for being the backdrop of the Changing of the Guards ceremony.

Visitor information:

The State Rooms are open to visitors for 10 weeks each summer and on selected dates during winter and spring. The Royal Mews are open from February to November each year and the Queen’s Gallery is open to visitors all year long.

How to get there:

Yellow route: stop 19

Blue route: stop 29

Buckingham Palace

Back to Top

4. Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Square is a square in the heart of London commemorating the battle of Trafalgar. In its centre you will find the famous Nelson’s column, which was built in honour of the naval hero Admiral Lord Nelson. You can also find the National Gallery on Trafalgar Square and the iconic four lions guarding Nelson column, a must have photo opportunity for any London visitor!

How to get there:

Yellow route: stop 6

Blue route: 35

Orange route: stop 54

Trafalgar Square

Back to Top

5. Piccadilly Circus

Piccadilly Circus might essentially be a large traffic junction, however it doesn’t stop it from being iconic . Mainly known for its advertising display (the largest in Europe), it’s also one of the liveliest areas in town. Piccadilly Circus is surrounded by a great number of bars, restaurants and theaters, making this area the heart of leisure in London.

How to get there:

Yellow route: stop 5

Blue route: stops 35 and 36

Back to Top

6. London Eye

Also known as the Millennium Wheel, the London Eye was erected to commemorate the millennium. Raising 443 feet high, it offers breathtaking views of London. On clear days, you can see as far as Windsor Castle! The London Eye was planned to be dismantled after 5 years, however, because of its popularity, it was kept and has now become a modern symbol of London.

Visitor information:

London Eye opening times vary between 10am and 8.30pm. As it is a very popular London attraction, it is advised to book tickets in advance. Book your London Eye tickets with your bus tour passes and save 20%.

green book now button

 

 

How to get there:

Yellow route: stop 7

Blue route: stop 32

Back to Top

7. Tower of London

Dating back over 1,000 years, the Tower of London has served many purposes during its life: secure fortress, royal palace, prison… It now hosts a museum where you can learn all about the British history and see the Crown Jewels.

Visitor information:

The Tower of London is open every day. Make sure you check the Tower of London opening times before you travel. Buy Tower of London tickets with your bus tour passes and save 15%.

green book now button

 

 

How to get there:

Yellow route: stop 15

Back to Top

8. Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge is the most famous bridge in London and one of the most recognisable bridges in the world. This suspension bridge was built in a matching style to the nearby Tower of London. It used to open up to fifty times a day in the 20th century but nowadays it only opens about a thousand times a year. To make sure you don’t miss out on seeing the decks lift, check the Tower Bridge lifts timetable.

Visitor information:

Did you know that you can go inside the towers and discover all the stories behind the bridge? A highlight of the visit is crossing the glass walkway from which you can get unusual views from the bridge.Tower Bridge tickets are £9.80 for adults and £4.20 for children.

How to get there:

Yellow route: stops 14 and 15

Back to Top

9. Royal Observatory

The name Royal Observatory might not ring a bell to everyone. However, you may have heard of the Greenwich meridian.This is the centre of the World, where East meets West at Longitude 0°.This line divides the Eastern and Western hemispheres of the Planet - just as the Equator divides the Northern and Southern hemispheres. Also known as the home of time, the Royal Observatory is now almost exclusively a museum dedicated to astronomical and navigational tools.

Visitor information:

You can discover the home of the meridian every day including bank holidays, from 10am to 5pm. Book your Royal Observatory tickets with your bus tour passes and save 10%.

green book now button

 

 

How to get there:

Free Thames River Cruises*: Greenwich Pier (*included in any 24h, 48h and 72h ticket)

Back to Top

10. Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey has played an important role in British history for over 1,000 years. The World Heritage site is mainly known for its royal use. It is indeed the place for coronations and royal weddings but also serves as a burial site for the nation’s greatest achievers.

Visitor information:

The royal peculiar is still a working church with services open to the public. It can also be visited outside of Westminster Abbey service times from Monday to Saturday. Book your Westminster Abbey tickets with your bus tour passes and save 15%.

green book now button

 

 

How to get there:

Yellow route: stop 18

Blue route: stop 30

Back to Top

11. St Paul’s Cathedral

St Paul’s Cathedral has been a place of worship for over 1,400 years and has been rebuilt five times. The present cathedral is one of Sir Christopher Wren’s masterpieces and combines neoclassical, gothic and baroque elements. It is famous for its dome rising 366 feet above ground level, which made the cathedral the tallest building in London for two centuries.

Visitor information:

The cathedral is a working church with services open to the public. It can also be visited outside of service from Monday to Saturday, except planned closures for special services and events. Book your St Paul’s Cathedral tickets with your bus tour passes and save 20%.

green book now button

 

 

How to get there:

Yellow route: stop 11

Back to Top

12. Gherkin

The office building on 30 St Mary Axe is the most recognised example of contemporary architecture in London. Being an office building, most of the Gherkin is not open to the public, except during Open House. However , you can go to the bar and restaurant located at the top of the building and enjoy magnificent views of West and South London.

How to get there:

Yellow route: stop 15

gherkin

Back to Top

13. Shard

The Shard is an architectural wonder, not only because it’s the tallest building in London, but also because of the quality of its design. It was designed to be a ‘vertical city’ and so it’s home to residents, hotels, restaurants and offices. Built in 2012, the Shard is already considered London’s new emblem. Easy when you’re twice as high as any other building in town!

Visitor information:

Being the highest point in London, the view from the top of the Shard is one that should not be missed! You can go all the way up to the last floor and enjoy 360-degree views of London. Book your View from the Shard tickets with your bus tour and save 15%.

green book now button

 

 

How to get there:

Yellow route: stop 14

Back to Top

14. Hyde Park

This is our little bonus. It’s not a landmark per se but we couldn’t not mention it! Hyde Park is to London what Central Park is to New York, a gem of greenery and wildlife ideal to relax away from the busy streets of the city. Covering 142 hectares, Hyde Park is the largest park in central London and used to be the hunting grounds of King Henry  VIII. It is also famous for the Speaker's Corner and the Serpentine Lake and Gallery.

Visitor information:

Hyde Park is free to visit and is open all year round, from 5am until midnight.

How to get there:

Yellow route: stops 2, 3 and 4

Blue route: stops 4 and 39

Grey and red route: stops 3 and 4

Purple route: stops 3, 4 and 73

serpentine lake in hyde park

Back to Top

What are you waiting for to discover London's gems? For more travel inspiration and insider's tips, keep an eye on our blog or follow us on social media.