Leicester Square is one of London’s most famous squares. It is a pedestrianised square in the West End of London and is a great place to hang out and watch some street entertainment.
In the centre of the Square is a small park, with a water feature and a statue of William Shakespeare surrounded by dolphins. The most recent statue to be located at the park in Leicester Square is of film star and director Charlie Chaplin. Similar to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Square is surrounded by floor mounted plaques with film stars names and cast handprints on display.
Leicester Square is the centre of London’s cinema land, where four of Britain’s leading cinemas are located.
UK film premieres attended by A list celebrities such as George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, are regularly hosted at one of the Leicester Square’s four cinemas.
Also in Leicester Square is the Hippodrome Casino, which as well as providing 24 hour gambling also in an exclusive setting in one of London’s iconic buildings, it also has regular live music performances.
Nearest Tube: Leicester Square (Piccadilly and Northern Lines)
NB: Leicester Square is sometimes wrongly written as Lester Square or Leister Square
Kensington Palace, is a magnificent Royal Palace in Central London that was the official home of Princess Diana before her tragic death, and has been a residence of the British Royal Family since the 17th century.
Located on the Western edge of Hyde Park, Kensington Palace is now the official London residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (Prince William and Kate Middleton), despite this a large portion of the house is open to the public and is well worth a visit if you wish to see how the British monarchy lived.
You can visit: The King’s State Apartments and The Queen’s State Apartments, and walk round the palace’s pretty gardens.
There is also a fascinating exhibition on Queen Victoria. Victoria Revealed uses the Queen’s own journals and displays her personal objects in the rooms where she once lived, to give an intimate account of Queen Victoria\’s incredible life.
And don’t forget to check out Luminous Lace a magnificent lighting display at the centre of the palace which is made from almost 4 km of glowing cables and contains nearly 12,000 Swarovski crystals.
Top Tip: Finish your tour of Kensington Palace by taking tea or lunch in The Orangery. Queen Anne’s 18th-century Orangery, was once the setting for the most lavish of court entertainments,in London. It now serves elegant lunches and afteronoon teas. If the weather is good, sit outside on the terrace and enjoy the spectacular views of the palace and gardens.
Trooping of the Colour is a spectacular annual event that showcases Britain’s pomp and majesty. Trooping the Colour is a military ceremony held outside Buckingham Palace that features over a thousand British soldiers and 200 horses. It is held to mark the
Queen’s Official Birthday.
After the parade, the Royal Family gather on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to greet the crowds and watch a fly-past of airplanes belonging to the Royal Air Force.
When: Every year in June exact date changes each year
Where: Horse Guards Parade by Buckingham Palace
Tickets: It is not necessary to have tickets as you can stand and watch for free but if you wish to have a seat in the stands you need to apply by post in January by sending a stamped addressed envelope to:
The Brigade Major
Headquarters Household Division
London SW1A 2AX
The event is always oversubscribed so tickets are allotted by a ballot system.
Covent Garden is one of London’s favourite tourist destinations, with the market and street entertainers attracting tourists from across the world
Covent Garden has some of the best street entertainment in the whole of Britain. The cobbled courtyard at Covent Garden is the only part of London licensed for street entertainers. Performers – jugglers, gymnasts, musicians – have to undertake auditions and sign up to timetabled slots. As a consequence the standards are very high.
From the 17th century Covent Garden was London’s premier fruit and veg market and continued to be so right up to 1974 when traffic congestion forced the market to move 3 miles away to Nine Elms in South London.
Now Covent Garden is dedicated to boutiques shops and cafes and restaurants and is a lovely place to spend an afternoon.
Location: Covent Garden, London WC2E 8BE
Nearest Underground Tube Stations:
Covent Garden station, but at peak times the station can become very busy so it may be easier to go to Leicester Square station which is just a ten minute walk away.
Big Ben is probably the world’s most famous clock and one of London’s best-known landmarks, Big Ben is a four faced clock located at the north end of the Palace of Westminster / Houses of Parliament.
Big Ben looks most spectacular at night when the clock faces are illuminated. You even know when parliament is in session, because a light shines above the clock face.
The four dials of the clock are 23 feet square, the minute hand is 14 feet long and the figures are 2 feet high. Minutely regulated with a stack of coins placed on the huge pendulum, Big Ben is an excellent timekeeper, which has rarely stopped.
The name Big Ben actually refers not to the clock-tower itself, but to the thirteen ton bell hung within. The bell was named after the first commissioner of works, Sir Benjamin Hall.
Unfortunately the clock is not open to the public.
London Zoo is a great place to spend a day in London. Located at the north end of Regents Park, the 35 acre site has over 750 different species of animals.
Founded in 1828, London Zoo is the oldest scientific zoo in the world. One of the most popular attraction is the Monkeys walkthrough. The enclosure houses a breeding group of black-capped squirrel monkeys in a habitat designed to recreate the Bolivian rainforests. Well as close as is possible in the centre of London!
TIP: London Zoo is very popular and its queues can be very long. The fastest way to get into the Zoo is by buying your ticket in advance.
Location: Regents Park (North Side) London NW14RY London Zoo Opening Times: London Zoo is open every day of the year except Christmas Day
From 6th March until 16th July 10.00 – 17.30
From 17th July until 5th Sept 10.00 -18.00
From 6th Sept until 30th Oct 10.00 – 17.30
Madame Tussauds is a waxworks museum that contains wax sculptures of famous celebrities, world leaders.and cultural icons. Set up by wax sculpture Marie Tussaud in the late 19th century, it is over 100 years old and is one of London’s favourite tourist attractions.
The wax sculptures are lifesize and range from Princess Diana to Hollywood A list stars like Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig to David and Vctoria Beckham and Adolf Hitler. One of the most popular sculptures is of High School Musical’s Zac Ephron.
TIP: The queues for entry can get very long, so its best to buy your tickets in advance.
Location: Madame Tussauds is on the Marylebone Road , Central London.
Nearest Underground Tube Station: Baker Street.
Madame Tussauds Opening times: Open every day of the year.
Piccadilly Circus is one of London’s most famous landmarks and sightseeeing attractions.
Situated at the junction of five busy streets in the centre of London, Piccadilly Circus is dominated by huge neon advertising signs.
At its heart is a bronze fountain topped by a figure of a winged archer. The statue is popularly called Eros, the pagan god of love, but it was in fact designed in the 19th century as a symbol of Christian charity – a monument to Lord Shaftesbury, a philanthropist.
Piccadilly Circus is often wrongly spelt as Picadilly Circus or Picadily Circus
The Tower of London is a Royal Palace and Fortress, a UNESCO world heritage site and one of London’s oldest buildings. The Tower of London is a fantastic place to visit, full of history and artefacts. If you want to get a sense of London’s history and monarchy this is a super place to spend a day.
The Queen’s Royal Jewels are kept here, guarded by the Tower’s Beefeater guards in their famous red and black uniforms.
It is located on the north side of the River Thames and within walking distance of Tower Bridge.
Tower Bridge is probably the world’s most famous bridge and certainly one of the most photogenic. With its two spectacular towers it dominates the River Thames.
Opened in 1894, the bridge is 800 feet (244 meters) in length with two towers each 213 feet (65 m) high, built on piers. The central span of 200 feet (61 m) between the towers is split into two equal bascules or leaves, which can be raised to an angle of 83 degrees to allow river traffic to pass.
To learn more about the history, design and building of Tower Bridge, the people involved in its construction and why it was needed, visit The Tower Bridge Exhibition which is situated inside the bridge’s towers and is open daily.
Location:Tower Bridge, Tower Bridge Rd, London SE1 Nearest Tube: Tower Hill