Samuel Johnson’s pronouncement that “when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life,” seems as apt today as it did in the 18th century. The cultured and cosmopolitan British capital has attractions to suit a variety of tastes. Traditionalists might visit Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, and hop on a double-decker bus, while history buffs have their pick of the Tower of London, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, and St. Paul’s Cathedral. Vaunted institutions such as the British Museum and Tate Modern appeal to culture vultures, while the East End’s hip neighborhoods are perfect for a night on the town. London sightseeing tours make it easy to cover all the major sights with transport, entrance tickets, and guides often included. Many day-trip itineraries make leaving city limits simple and head to destinations including Windsor Castle, Stonehenge, Bath, Oxford, and Cambridge.
Tower of London
Though it looks like a romantic castle from the outside, the Tower of London once served as a prison and was the site of numerous executions. Today, the Thames-side landmark—first built by William the Conqueror in 1066—hosts the glittering Crown Jewels, and is guarded by uniformed Beefeaters. Visitors can glimpse the UNESCO World Heritage Site during river cruises and hop-on hop-off bus tours, while guided tours guarantee admission and offer a way to skip past ever-present lines.
Visitors not only enjoy a more tranquil experience at the Tower of London and its key highlights during this exclusive, early-morning tour—they also see the Beefeaters at work and attend the Tower’s opening ceremony.
As one of the UK’s most-visited attractions, the Tower of London always has long lines. By securing advanced entrance tickets, travelers can skip the lengthy wait times and head straight inside.
The Tower of London is often combined with other in-demand destinations on London sightseeing tours. This itinerary makes it easy to visit the Tower and its Crown Jewels, plus see Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, and more.
Ideal for those who are visiting London with kids in tow, this family-friendly tour provides early entry (and a less crowded experience) at the Tower of London and includes a Thames sightseeing cruise.
Read more about Tower of London tour options here.
The official London home of the British monarch, Buckingham Palace is one of the city’s most recognizable attractions; yet, it’s rarely accessible to visitors. The palace State Rooms are open to the public for only two months in the summer, creating long lines and a frenzy of tourists. Guarantee admission by booking a tour that includes State Room access far in advance. The rest of the year, experience the palace during the outdoor Changing of the Guard ceremony and by visiting the Queen’s Gallery.
Tickets to the State Rooms are only available in the summer and are in high demand, but this tour guarantees palace entry. Guests also witness the Changing of the Guard ceremony, which happens once daily on select days.
Visitors can see two of Britain’s storied castles in one day on this combination tour. The tour stops first at Windsor Castle—the world’s oldest and largest inhabited castle—and continues to Buckingham Palace.
This tour supplies a good dose of British pomp and ceremony by pairing an exclusive visit to the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace (only open in summer) with traditional afternoon tea in a lavish, central London venue.
An accessible and affordable Buckingham Palace option that’s available throughout the year, this small-group tour provides a personalized way to take in the traditional Changing of the Guard ceremony.
Read more about Buckingham Palace tour options here.
Westminster Abbey—one of London’s UNESCO World Heritage sites—has a quite a history. The soaring Gothic church is an architectural marvel in its own right, and its regal pedigree as the site of royal weddings and coronations makes it a top-tier attraction. Wait times can exceed an hour during peak summer months, but pre-booking a tour ensures a hassle-free experience. Many tours offer combined itineraries that include Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, located just steps away.
This British capital tour makes the most of a half-day itinerary, which includes a guided tour of Westminster Abbey and—if the option is selected—the special opportunity to venture within the Houses of Parliament.
While Westminster Abbey always attracts crowds, this private tour offers a more tranquil way to explore the landmark. Visitors also see Banqueting House, the only remaining building of what was once the Palace of Whitehall.
This full-day tour immerses visitors in London’s royal heritage. Included are a guided tour of Westminster Abbey and the rare chance to visit Buckingham Palace’s State Rooms—open just two months per year.
Visitors beat the crowds and bypass lengthy wait times with this walking tour, which offers fast-track admission to Westminster Abbey. The itinerary also includes a Changing of the Guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace.
Read more about Westminster Abbey tour options here.
Situated in the British countryside and within easy day-trip distance of London, Stonehenge is one of England’s most visited attractions with as many as 1.5 million people making the pilgrimage to the Neolithic stone circle each year. Day trips leave the city daily, and offer perks such as before- or after-hours access to the usually roped-off inner circle. Many itineraries also include stops at Windsor Castle, Lacock (featured in the Harry Potter movies) and Bath.
This three-in-one itinerary offers visitors a stress-free introduction to three of the UK’s most in-demand attractions—Stonehenge, Windsor Castle, and Bath—plus comfortable, Wi-Fi-equipped coach transit.
Most Stonehenge tours keep visitors a short distance from the stones, but this itinerary offers the rare opportunity to venture into the landmark’s Inner Circle.
Most tours from London to Stonehenge are group outings by coach, but this itinerary offers a more intimate way to visit the UNESCO-listed site, as well as Windsor Castle and Bath.
Perfect for time-pressed clients, this introductory tour whisks visitors to four UK highlights—Stonehenge, Bath, the Cotswolds, and Stratford-upon-Avon—in the space of a single day.
Read more about Stonehenge tour options here.
Things to Know
When to Visit
London benefits from a temperate climate; however, summer and early autumn usually promise the least rain.
The London Underground—colloquially known as the Tube—offers a quick and reliable way to explore the city. Double-decker buses and black cabs offer a charming but also efficient way to travel.
Pubs are a quintessential part of the British social life, and visiting (at least) one is a must. Luckily, there are plenty scattered all over town.
Things to Bring
A portable umbrella that can be stowed away in a small bag is always a good idea. True to reputation, London is frequently taken by sudden showers.
What the Locals Know
London is famed for its greenery. Visit popular green spaces such as Hyde Park or Regent’s Park, or head to secret gardens such as Holland Park’s Kyoto Garden or the Chelsea Physic Garden.