From the rolling hills, to the country villages, the bustling cities to the beachside townships, England is a thriving country that is as modern as it is historical. Travelling to England and you will find yourself immersed in a mix of castles, museums and art galleries, stately homes, cottages and royal palaces, zoos, gardens and theme parks.
London is the capital and is home to Queen Elizabath II, as well as an abundance of activity for all kinds of traveller.
Things to see and do
London is a mixture of worlds and there is so much to see and do in the city, whether you take a tour, or navigate your way through the streets by foot, bus or train. These are some of the highlights you are likely to encounter along the way:
Tower Bridge is gothic style and was opened in 1894. It’s still a working bridge, which opens around five times a week to allow boats to pass under it and it’s also a museum with interactive computers, holograms and working models showing how it was built.Construction of the Tower of London started in 1078 by William the Conqueror, who wanted to impress Londoners. Its primary function was a fortress, a royal palace and a high-status prison – Queen Elizabeth I was even imprisoned there. It’s also served as a place of execution and torture, an armoury, a treasury, a zoo, a mint, a public records office, an observatory, and since 1303, the home of the Crown Jewels.
Visit Monument and walk the 311 steps to the top for some views of the city. Monument was built in 1671-77 to commemorate the Great Fire of London in 1666. Its height is 62m, the exact distance from the fire’s source in a bakers shop. It’s the tallest freestanding Doric column in the world and is made from Portland Stone.
Trafalgar Square is famous for its museums, sculptures, fountains and pigeons. Feeding the pigeons was popular with locals and tourists, but with so many pigeons, the buildings were covered with excrement, which not only made them look ugly but also caused some major damage. In 2003, by-laws were introduced to stop the feeding of pigeons.
Westminster Abbey is the resting place of royals and one of the most visited churches in Christianity. The building is full of tombs and monuments, and was made particularly famous worldwide in 1997 with the coverage of Princess Diana’s funeral.
The Queen's official London residence Buckingham Palace and its Changing of the Guard ceremony are a London “must-see”, as is Big Ben - the nickname for the Great Bell of the clock at the north end of the Palace of Westminster.
The British Museum was established in 1753 and is one of the largest museums of human history and culture. There are more than seven million artefacts here and it’s an awesome display of Roman Ruins – with the actual ruins rather than replicas - statues, Babylon artefacts and the largest collection of ancient Egyptian materials outside Cairo - including Egyptian mummies and coffins.
Covent Garden in central London is where you will find street performers and markets taking over the malls providing hours of entertainment. From the 1500s, the area was a flower, fruit and vegetable market but in the 1960s traffic congestion caused the area to become unsustainable. Threats of a redevelopment caused outcry from the public and the market was moved. Every day, the area is crowded with tourists and locals flocking to the theatres and restaurants.
Also take some time to visit Leicester Square where film premieres are typically hosted; Piccadilly Circus – a major traffic intersection highlighted by tall buildings with neon signs and video displays, and the Shaftsbury memorial fountain, the perfect central meeting point for friends; and Soho – the gay hub of London. Soho is famed for its clubs, pubs, bars and restaurants, as well as its sex shops and red light district. It is home to industry, commerce, culture, entertainment, and is residential to both rich and poor.
Some of London’s most popular attractions have become so as a result of the board game Monopoly and these provide a fantastic insight into London’s past and present.
Park Lane is one of the busiest and noisiest roads in central London, and although it was originally a country lane, it became a popular residential area in the 1800s. It runs from Hyde Park Corner to Marble Arch.
Mayfair was named after the annual May Fair that was held here between 1600s and 1700s. Most of the area was developed after the Fair was banned in the mid-1700s, and the wealthy families moved in. A large part of Mayfair belongs to the Queen, who lived here as a child, and it’s now very commercial with houses converted into offices, luxury hotels and restaurants.
Bond Street is one of the principal streets in the West End shopping district. It runs to Oxford Street – one of the world’s most famous and largest shopping streets, with more than 300 shops.
Marlborough Street (actually called Great Marlborough Street) runs though the western part of Soho, joining onto Regent Street – named after Prince Regent (George IV) and built as part of a ceremonial route from the Prince’s residence to Regent’s Park.
Pall Mall is best known for its gentleman’s clubs, while Whitehall is lined with government ministries.
The Strand was once just a muddy riverside bridle path linking the City to Westminster until Victoria Embankment was constructed in the 1860s. The Strand is lined with shops, theatres and offices.
Fleet Street was traditionally home of the British national Press until the 1980s – crossed the bridge and wandered along the river past the site of the old London Waterworks near London Bridge and along to Old Kent Road.
Whitechapel is where the Elephant Man was exhibited in the 1800s, and is an area that became notorious in the 19th Century for the murders of Jack the Ripper, who was originally known as the Whitechapel Murderer, and who is the world’s first recognised serial killer. It’s more recently known as the home of the Brick Lane Festival.
Must Do Activities
Get yourself on a Big Red Bus, sit right at the front and lose yourself in London. It doesn’t matter where you go, or how long for, just enjoy the ride.
Enjoy a Monopoly Tour. It’s much easier than you think to take a walk or train from Park Lane, to Mayfair and Whitehall – to name just a few.
Visit Parliament House and if you’re lucky, the flags will be up and the Queen might just step out of the building.
Take a leisurely stroll through Hyde Park - once a royal hunting ground, a venue for duels, executions and horse racing.