This tour is about 3.5 miles of walking through pedestrian walking areas (well-populated sidewalks, etc). Depending on what you do at each stop, or what additional stops you add, this tour could be a rushed half-day or a more leisurely full-day. Whatever you decide to do, this path will take you by several main must-sees. Enjoy 😀
Start at Westminster Abbey. The nearest tube stops are St. James’s Park and Westminster (both on the District and Circle lines) and you’ll have three options, 1′”locate one of the many street corner signs that point you in the direction of major attractions, 2′”look up and find Big Ben and head in that direction, or 3′”follow the crowds of people who will inevitably looking for the same place you are.
Westminster Abbey is a beautiful cathedral located near Parliament and Big Ben. If you plan to go in during the summer, be prepared for a line. In addition to stunning architecture, paintings, and sculptures, Westminster also has Poets’ Corner. Poets’ Corner is where many famous writers have been buried or memorialized. If you decide that walking through a large church isn’t your thing (although you should do it at least once in your life), make sure to walk around the outside of the building and take some pictures. That way, no one will know you never went in.
Hours: 9:30-3:30 (check for exact hours depending on what you’d like to do and they day you’re going)
Charges: £16 for an adult (there are also student prices and family packages available)
Leave Westminster’s yard and head toward Parliament. Walk across Westminster Bridge and admire the view (you’ll see Big Ben, Parliament, and the London Eye). Once on the south side of the Thames, walk towards the London Eye. While this is another way to wait in line and pay to see London, I’ve never done it myself so I can’t say anything about the experience. Go to http://www.londoneye.com and save time and money by making a reservation. Please do keep in mind that weather is incredibly unpredictable in London though, and if you’re enclosed in fog, you probably won’t see much.
Between Westminster Bridge and the London Eye, you’ll pass the London Sea Life Aquarium, the London Film Museum, and The Dali Universe.
Continue walking Southbank. There is almost always something going on here, whether it’s art exhibits, street performers, or open markets. As you walk, you’ll pass a variety of places to eat (yum!) so if you’re ready for lunch, grab a bite somewhere. Places like EAT and Pret have sandwiches ready to go while there is a variety of sit-down places and food carts.
You’ll pass by the Tate Modern, a huge collection of art. Admission to most London museums, this one included, is free. If you’re interested, stop in for a quick run-around. The Tate Modern also has late night hours on Fridays and Saturdays if you want to go back later.
Keep walking and you’ll reach Shakespeare’s Globe Theater! There are two ways to get inside to see the open-air theater. You can take a guided tour, but if you’re there during a matinee, you’ll be touring the Rose Theater instead of the Globe. Check out hours ahead of time. The other way to see the theater is to buy a ticket for a play! Whatever you decide, you’ve now been to the Globe! Go in and buy something for your Literature teacher.
Charges: £12.50 for adults
Continue down the Thames until you get to Southwark Cathedral (follow the signs). This church has been around since 600 AD, and it’s another beautiful site. Inside is the Harvard Chapel (John Harvard was born in Southwark) and a monument for William Shakespeare. While entry to the cathedral is free without a guided-tour, donations contribute to the funding of the building.
Cross the London Bridge; don’t worry it won’t fall down. From this bridge, you’ll have an awesome view of the Tower Bridge. Take some pictures. Once you get across the bridge, take the path down the Thames, and now walk along the north bank. Eventually you’ll arrive at the Tower of London. If you have advanced tickets, you can walk right up to the gates. Make sure you arrive by 4pm. Last entry is at 5pm and the place closes at 5:30. (If it’s winter, bump all times up an hour) You’ll need more than 30 minutes to go through, but you should be able to do it in an hour and a half. In the summer, expect a line for the crowned jewels. ake advantage of free tours inside the Tower to hear some really good stories about the place. Also, use a map to make sure you see everything. Make sure you walk the walls.
Charges: £19.80 for adults
You’ve had a busy day. London is full of fabulous places to eat. From independent pubs to delicious chains, you’ll be able to find whatever type of food you’re craving. I recommend Zizzi’s (Italian), it’s my new favorite.