50+ Must-See London Attractions

It's been 250 years since Samuel Johnson wrote, "When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life"—but it rings true to this day. Indulge your inner Anglophile (and start planning your next trip) with our countdown of the top 50 London attractions.

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London attractions - Tower Bridge
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London Attractions to See Before You Die

Tower Bridge

Topping our list of must-see London attractions is the iconic Tower Bridge. Completed in 1894, Tower Bridge is one of the world’s most famous bascule (a French term for “see-saw”) bridges: It opens in the middle to allow tall boats on the Thames to pass through. Catch a glimpse of the bridge opening (lift times are posted on the Tower Bridge website), and walk across its high-level glass floor walkways 42 metres above the Thames!

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London attractions - Victoria and Albert Museum
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Victoria and Albert Museum

Named after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, the V&A wears the crown as the world’s largest museum of decorative arts and design. Its priceless collection includes sculptures, paintings, ceramics, fashion, drawings, and books from ancient times to present day. Like most of London’s museums, admission to the Victoria and Albert is free.

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London attractions - Tower of London
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Tower of London

Home to the Crown Jewels, the iconic beefeaters, and (allegedly) several spooks, the Tower of London’s history dates back nearly 1,000 years. Standing guard by Tower Bridge and the River Thames, the medieval compound has served as a royal palace, prison, and execution site.

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London attractions - View From the Shard
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The Shard

Scraping the sky at 306 metres, western Europe’s tallest building boasts a high-end hotel, restaurants and bars and London’s highest viewing platform—an unobstructed 360-degree view stretching as far as 64 kilometres.

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London attractions - Sherlock Holmes Museum
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Sherlock Holmes Museum

Fans of Sherlock Holmes have already deduced why London’s so special. Make the pilgrimage to the Sherlock Holmes Museum at 221b Baker Street (yes, it really exists!), or follow the path of the BBC’s latest version of the legendary detective with stops at St. Bart’s Hospital, Speedy’s Restaurant on North Gower Street, or Leinster Gardens.

Holmes himself would have a hard time cracking these strange unsolved mysteries!

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London attractions - Westminster Abbey
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Westminster Abbey

If walls could talk, Westminster Abbey would have plenty to say! The site of every coronation since 1066, this Gothic church is the final resting place for 17 monarchs, Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Dickens, Sir Laurence Olivier, and many, many others. It’s also a favourite for royal weddings—in 2011 Prince William married Kate Middleton here.

Don’t miss these fascinating facts about royal weddings past.

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London attractions - National Theatre
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The National Theatre

More than 10,000 actors have tread the boards at the National Theatre including Benedict Cumberbatch, Judi Dench, Laurence Olivier and Maggie Smith. (If you’re a fan of Smith, you’ll love this collection of Downton Abbey quotes.) See a play, indulge in one of the theatre’s delicious restaurants, or treat yourself to a backstage tour.

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London attractions - Buckingham Palace
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Buckingham Palace

The official London residence of Britain’s sovereigns since 1837, Buckingham Palace boasts a priceless art collection and 775 rooms—78 of which are bathrooms. Want to know if The King’s home? Check out the flag above the Palace: When the Royal Standard is flying, he’s there.

Discover the secrets of the Royal Yacht Britannia.

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London attractions - Warner Brothers Harry Potter Studio Tour
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The Making of Harry Potter

No need to hop on a Quidditch broomstick—the magical world of Harry Potter is only a 20 minute train trip from London’s Euston Station. The Warner Brothers London Studio Tour gives you the opportunity to visit the original Harry Potter film sets, explore the collection of costumes and props, and even indulge in a refreshing mug of Butterbeer.

This is the best Harry Potter movie, according to Rotten Tomatoes.

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London attractions - Harrods
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The famous Knightsbridge store with the iconic green awnings has been offering luxury goods to its customers for over 160 years. Across seven floors and 330 departments, shoppers will find only the best fashions, accessories and homewares. Shopped out? Toast your purchases with some bubbly at the Champagne Bar, or a box of rainbow-hued Ladurée macarons.

Discover more of the world’s greatest department stores.

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London attractions - London Transport Museum
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London Transport Museum

At the London Transport Museum, you can explore the history of the iconic Underground system, and discover how horse-drawn carriages, trains, and all of those bright red double-decker buses have kept the city moving since 1800. Best of all, you can get interactive and climb on board to see for yourself!

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London attractions - St. Paul's Cathedral
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St. Paul’s Cathedral

Completed by Sir Christopher Wren in 1710, St. Paul’s Cathedral stands at the highest point in the City of London. Visit the crypt, scale the 528 steps to the dome’s spectacular Golden Gallery, and stroll down the aisle that was walked by Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer on their wedding day.

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London attractions - Tate Modern
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Tate Modern and Tate Britain

Tate Modern is a must for contemporary art lovers. Housed in the former Bankside Power Station, the vast collection includes works by Picasso, Warhol, Dalí, and Matisse. For a decidedly British take on modern art (1500 AD to the present day, that is), Tate Britain will be your cup of tea. Located up the Thames from Tate Modern (there’s a boat that ferries passengers between the two galleries every 40 minutes), Tate Britain is where you’ll find pieces by Turner, Hirst, and Bacon. Oh, and did we mention admission to both museums is free?

Here are 20 fascinating artefacts you’ll find in Canadian museums.

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Rumpus Room, Mondrian London at Sea Containers
Photo: Niall Clutton, Mondrian London at Sea Containers

Sea Containers London

Staying on the South Bank? There are few hotels better situated (and certainly none more strikingly decorated) than Sea Containers. Designed under the creative direction of the legendary Tom Dixon, the impossibly chic digs are located just steps away from London landmarks like the National Theatre, Tate Modern and Borough Market. Even if you’re not spending the night, make it a point to pop up to the hotel’s twelfth-floor rooftop bar, 12th Knot. Between the stylish decor and breathtaking views of the City of London through the floor-to-ceiling windows, it’s an attraction in its own right. – Brett Walther

Here are 10 great Canadian hotels worth adding to your bucket list.

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London attractions - Houses of Parliament
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Houses of Parliament

The Houses of Parliament—also known as the Palace of Westminster—is the seat of Britain’s political power. Completed in 1870, the Gothic-style building, and its Elizabeth Tower (housing the 13-ton bell, Big Ben) is one of the most iconic London attractions. Book a tour and get the political scoop on the House of Commons and House of Lords.

Do you know the difference between Great Britain and the United Kingdom?

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London attractions - Wembley Stadium
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No, we’re not talking pigskin and quarterbacks. Football—known as soccer to Canadians and Americans—is one of Britain’s favourite pastimes, and in London, footy fans are spoiled for choice. Premier League teams such as Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham hit the pitch August through May, and their stadiums are also open for tours. Want to go one bigger? Head to Wembley Stadium (shown here).

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London attractions - Changing the guard
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Pomp and pageantry

Love a parade? Once daily from April to July (and every other day the rest of the year), visitors gather outside Buckingham Palace to watch the colourful Changing the Guard ceremony. If you’d rather wave at the King, June’s the month for you: Trooping the Colour is an annual celebration that marks the Monarch’s birthday with marching bands, horse guards on parade, and a fly-past by the Royal Air Force.

Here’s why the Queen celebrated two birthdays every year.

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London attractions - Leadenhall Market
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Leadenhall Market

Look familiar, Harry Potter film fans? Leadenhall Market stood in for Diagon Alley in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. When it’s not lighting up the silver screen, this covered Victorian market in the City of London hosts pubs, shops and market stalls selling flowers, meat, cheese and fresh produce.

Here are 20 Harry Potter jokes every muggle should memorize.

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London attractions - London Eye pod
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London Eye

Keeping watch over the Thames since 2000 (when it was known as the Millennium Wheel), the London Eye boasts breathtaking views of London’s skyline—and beyond. From the comfort of your climate controlled pod, you’ll gently rise 135 metres above the Thames and back down to terra firma in a half-hour. Although admission to London attractions like the London Eye isn’t cheap, you can often save big by purchasing bundled tickets that grant access to multiple sites.

Find out more budget travel tips that can help you save big on your next vacation.

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London attractions - Hampton Court Palace
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Hampton Court Palace

A favourite royal residence of Henry VIII, Hampton Court Palace takes you back in time to the tumultuous days of the Tudors and Stuarts. Marvel at the Great Hall, be awestruck by the Chapel Royal, and get lost in the famous garden maze.

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London attractions - National Gallery
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National Gallery

Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt, Turner, Renoir and Van Gogh—a roll call of Western European masters await you at London’s National Gallery. Boasting more than 2,000 paintings from the 13th to the 19th century, the overwhelming collection is yours to discover free of charge. And if you’re hungry for more art, stop by the National Portrait Gallery next door.

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London attractions - Trafalgar Square
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Trafalgar Square

Go wild and climb atop one of Trafalgar Square’s enormous bronze lions. The big cats guard Nelson’s Column, a memorial to Admiral Horatio Nelson who died in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. With its glorious fountains and close proximity to the National Gallery, the square is always buzzing with activity.

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London attractions - Greenwich Prime Meridian
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Greenwich Royal Observatory

Span space and time! At the Greenwich Royal Observatory, you can stand on the world’s prime meridian, with one foot in the Earth’s eastern hemisphere, and the other in the western hemisphere. Discover Greenwich’s Planetarium and Astronomy Centre, and stroll through beautiful Greenwich Park. The Cutty Sark and National Maritime Museum are also nearby.

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London attractions - British Museum
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The British Museum

Two million years worth of artifacts, sculptures and antiquities—including Egyptian mummies, the Elgin Marbles and the hieroglyph-busting Rosetta Stone—call the British Museum home. Don’t be surprised if your family’s history buff goes missing for several days.

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London attractions - Kensington Palace
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Kensington Palace

Once the home of Princess Diana (and before that, a young Queen Victoria), Kensington Palace is currently one of the residences of the new Prince and Princess of Wales—that’s William and Kate. The lush gardens and the King’s and Queen’s state apartments are open to visitors year round.

Here’s what Kensington Palace looked like right after Princess Diana’s death.

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London attractions - Hyde Park Serpentine
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Hyde Park

Established in 1536 by Henry VIII, Hyde Park is one of London’s largest green spaces, with more than 4,000 trees, vibrant flower gardens and a large meadow which plays host to many public concerts and celebrations. Check out the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain, enjoy a bite in the royal park’s lakeside restaurants, or rent a row boat for a leisurely paddle on the Serpentine.

Discover eight London landmarks frequented by Princess Diana.

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London attractions - Camden Market
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Saturday market hopping

Saturdays are made for exploring London’s thriving outdoor markets. Slip on some comfy shoes and head north to Camden Market (shown here) for vintage clothing; Broadway Market in Hackney for fresh produce, artisan foods, and crafts; and Brixton Market in south London for a culture clash of delicious street treats.

Check out 10 must-visit farmers’ markets across Canada.

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London attractions - The Mall, Buckingham Palace
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The Mall

Headed to Buckingham Palace? Take the scenic route along The Mall. This regal tree-lined boulevard stretches from the Admiralty Arch to the Palace, and is hugged on its south side by St. James’s Park, and Green Park on the north. During ceremonial occasions, The Mall is draped with fluttering Union Jack flags, making for an irresistible photo opp.

Ready to pound the pavement? We’re counting down the world’s 10 most famous streets.

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London attractions - Old Spitalfields Market
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Old Spitalfields Market

One of the few surviving Victorian Market Halls in London, Old Spitalfields Market (established in 1876) peddles antiques, food, clothing, collectable vinyl and bric-a-brac to a bustling crowd seven days a week.

These are the antique market finds you should never pass up.

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London attractions - Parliament Hill Hampstead Heath
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Hampstead Heath

Get back to nature in Hampstead Heath: an ancient woodland and wild green space in the north of London. Climb Parliament Hill, which offers a breathtaking view of the London cityscape, and explore the heath’s various nature trails and playgrounds.

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London attractions - London pubs
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Old-school pubs

Like red phone boxes and double-decker buses, pubs are everywhere in London—on main streets, in back alleys and even in parks. Order a pint and a plate of fish and chips, and enjoy British hospitality at its best. A helpful hint: Table service is rare in a traditional pub. You’ll likely have to order your pint at the bar, and walk it back to your seat.

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London attractions - blue plaques
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Blue plaques

I spy with my little eye something that is blue… You’ll find that many of London’s buildings sport a round blue plaque on their exterior, and each one commemorates a famous person or historical event connected with the site. With nearly a thousand permanent plaques on display, you could spend your whole vacation hunting them all down.

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London attractions - Borough Market
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Borough Market

A popular food market has existed on Borough High Street near London Bridge since the 13th century. Today, London’s oldest fruit and veg market boasts a blue plaque and over 100 individual stalls. Feast your eyes—and taste buds—on fresh cheese, meat, baked goods, seasonal produce and seafood.

Do you tend to let your tastebuds guide your travel plans? These are the world’s best destinations for foodies.

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London attractions - Churchill War Rooms
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Churchill War Rooms

Did you know that during the Second World War, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill ran his nation’s war effort from a secret underground bunker? Tucked away beneath busy Whitehall, you can turn back the clock and experience these historic rooms as they were left in 1945.

Here are 11 British words and phrases every Canadian should know.

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London attractions - Admiralty Arch
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Admiralty Arch

Look up, look waaaaay up! If you’re travelling between The Mall and Trafalgar Square, that’s Admiralty Arch stretching elegantly overhead. Completed in 1911 to commemorate the reign of Queen Victoria, the Portland stone structure is more than an arch—it’s actually a functional building.

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London attractions - Brick Lane curry
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Brick Lane

Fancy a spicy curry? Brick Lane in London’s East End is the go-to destination for authentic Bangladeshi cuisine. Work up your appetite beforehand at Brick Lane’s weekend flea market, where you can browse the stalls for vintage clothes, handmade jewellery and music.

Willing to travel to satisfy your craving for south Asian cuisine? Check out these helpful hints for Canadians travelling to India for the first time.

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London attractions - Seven Dials
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Seven Dials

Looking for that village feel in the middle of London? Check out Seven Dials. Named after a large pillar affixed with six sundials (the seventh sundial is the pillar itself), the popular area is marked by seven short streets that converge at the dial’s foot. Independent shops and small chain stores rub shoulders with cafés, bars, and theatres.

No sundial handy? Here are five more ways to tell the time, no matter where you find yourself!

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London attractions - Pride in London
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Pride in London

Everyone’s welcome, everyone belongs. Every June, London’s awash in rainbow flags to celebrate the Pride Festival, and the city’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. The week-long event culminates in the Pride Parade, when participants march through London raising awareness for LGBTQ+ issues.

Here are 25 inspiring LGBTQ+ quotes to celebrate pride every day.

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London Attractions - Wimbledon Museum
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Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum and Tour

The Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum is a grand slam winner. Go behind-the-scenes to visit Centre Court, see the gleaming trophies, and test your backhand. Enjoy interactive displays, mementos of stars past and present, and get an inside look at Wimbledon traditions—strawberries and cream, anyone?

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London attractions - Portobello Road Market
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Portobello Road Market

Vintage bargain hunters swear by the eclectic finds at Notting Hill’s colourful Portobello Road Market. The world’s largest antiques market is in full swing every Saturday with more than 1,000 dealers of secondhand goods and forgotten treasures.

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London attractions - Globe Theatre
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Shakespeare’s Globe

This period-perfect reconstruction of the original Globe Theatre allows you to experience Shakespeare’s classics the way they would’ve been performed in the 16th century. Not into the Bard? The playbill also includes works by acclaimed contemporary playrights.

These classic Shakespearean insults still sting today!

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London attractions - Somerset House
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Somerset House

London is bursting at the seams with historic architecture, but the neo-classical Somerset House is a true standout. Built in the late 1770s, it’s home to art exhibitions, open-air concerts, and 55 sparkling fountains. It’s worth a visit in the winter, too: the courtyard hosts one of the world’s best skating rinks.

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London attractions - River Thames Cruise
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River Thames cruises

Much of London’s history and culture is tied to the River Thames, and a cruise down this world-famous waterway offers a new perspective on familiar London attractions. See the Houses of Parliament, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Shakespeare’s Globe and the Tower of London as you’ve never seen them before.

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London attractions - Imperial War Museum
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Imperial War Museum

Housed inside the former Royal Bethlem Hospital (known as “Bedlam”), the Imperial War Museum offers visitors a unique and engaging look at conflict since World War I. Photographs, artifacts (such as a Spitfire plane and Harrier jet suspended from the ceiling of the atrium), and extensive exhibits convey the great losses, sacrifices and experiences faced in times of war.

These great military movies are worth watching again.

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London attractions - Abbey Road
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Walking tours

London is a city best explored on foot, and themed walking tours cater to to every conceivable interest. Want to see the seedy side of Victorian London? Try a Jack the Ripper tour. Beatles fanatic? There’s a walk for that as well. It’s a great way of focusing in on a slice of the city that you find particularly fascinating.

Check out the most bike-friendly cities on Earth.

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London attractions - the West End
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The West End

Welcome to London’s playground! By day, shopping, tourist attractions, and cafés hold court, but by night the West End sheds its inhibitions and dons heels and a party frock. Restaurants, theatres and bars in Soho and Covent Garden guarantee a fun-filled night out.

Can’t get enough British drama? Enjoy it from the comfort of home with the best shows on Britbox Canada.

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London attractions - Fortnum & Mason
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Fortnum & Mason

Want to shop where The King shops? Spend a few quid at Fortnum & Mason, purveyor of fine foods since 1707. Famous for its indulgent hampers, delicious teas, and decadent food hall, Fortnum & Mason holds a royal warrant signifying that the household of His Majesty The King is a customer.

Here are 10 royal family holiday traditions you’ll want to steal for yourself.

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London attractions - Notting Hill Carnival
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Notting Hill Carnival

Dance your heart out at Europe’s biggest street festival. Since 1964, the Notting Hill Carnival has brought Londoners together on the August Bank Holiday weekend to celebrate Caribbean culture through delicious food, steel bands, and Calypso tunes.

Can’t get enough of the Caribbean? Check out the best things to do in the Cayman Islands.

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London attractions - Picadilly Circus
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Piccadilly Circus

More charming than New York City’s Times Square, tourists love the bright flashing advertisements adorning Piccadilly Circus. Sit at the feet of the Eros statue, and watch London whisk by. It’s a popular meeting point, and is within a few steps of Regent Street, Leicester Square and Soho.

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London attractions - Oxford Street Christmas lights
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Oxford Street

A 2.4-kilometre stretch of department stores, popular chains, and independent retailers makes Oxford Street London’s prime shopping destination. Selfridges, John Lewis, Marks & Spencer and Topshop call this famous street home. If you can deal with the crowds at Christmas time, you’ll be well-rewarded: the street is decked with thousands of dazzling holiday lights.

Check out the world’s most festive Christmas cities.

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London attractions - Covent Garden
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Covent Garden

Looking for retail therapy? Head to Covent Garden. Stroll across the piazza’s cobbles and shop to your heart’s content at the hottest chain stores, hip independent shops, and the famous covered market (shown here). Foodies will swoon over the dining options, while kids of all ages will fall under the spell of eclectic street performers and magicians.

Now that you know the best London attractions, discover the 10 things to do in Ireland off the beaten path.

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