London for First Timers: The Essential Sights

Posted on 10. Oct, 2011 by in Destinations, Europe Travel, United Kingdom

A famous person once said that it is not possible to get tired of London, because London offers everything one could want. That much is entirely true, but it can also be quite overwhelming for first timers. So make sure to come up with an effective itinerary so you can make the most out of your time in the capital.

Let’s start with the basics.

London for First Timers: The Essential Sights

Tower of London

london for first timers

Tower Bridge

The iconic riverside fortress is one of London’s most important landmarks, visually and historically, and it will give you a good introduction to the city’s long, agitated history and key characters. Make sure to get there early during the peak season to avoid the queue – you will not want to miss the Crown Jewels and the Traitor’s Gate, to name a few. You might even try to get a spot in the Ceremony of the Keys!

Houses of Parliament / London Eye

Houses of Parliament

Not that you will spend a lot of time there, but it is a mandatory stop on any “London for first timers” itinerary. After all, Big Ben is one of the most recognizable marvels on the planet, and for a reason! Make sure you cross Westminster Bridge to get access to both the London Eye and great picture-taking spots in front of the Houses of Parliament. Let your imagination flow!

Buckingham Palace / St. James Park

london for first timers

St James Park

Pay a visit to the Queen and admire the beautiful surroundings of the Palace, including the luxuriant St. James Park nearby. You can also attend the changing of the guard ceremony every morning at 11. Why not keep up with the royalty and treat yourself and book a room in one of the many 5 star establishments around the palace? If however you are on a more realistic budget (like the rest of us), you can still experience English luxury and book your place for an afternoon tea.

Notting Hill

Kensington, London

Notting Hill

Famous for more than just the movie (although it definitely helped), this lovely neighborhood is a hedonist’s and a photographer’s mecca, offering everything from vintage thrift shops to cupcakes to quaint pubs. Notice the beautiful Victorian architecture and the artsy quirks on Portobello Road, at its best on Saturdays mornings during the flea market.

These four attractions are a great introduction to London for any first timers, including lessons on history, architecture and English traditions. London is a relatively cheap destination to fly to, so therefore there is no reason for you not to visit and experience the hustle and bustle of the city for yourself. Remember, London has everything you can wish for!

What are your recommendations for London first timers? Cross off the main attractions, find secret places or a mix of both? What’s the best deal you’ve had on flights to London?


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8 Responses to “London for First Timers: The Essential Sights”

  1. melodie

    10. Oct, 2011

    I agree with yours. I’d add the area around the Globe theater, for a feel of Shakespeare’s London, and St. Paul’s.

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  2. Anonymous

    11. Oct, 2011

    While they are at Tower of London, first-timers will be able to look at the Tower Bridge too!

    You can see it perfectly from the Tower of London, but it’s nice to cross the bridge and have a closer look at the Gherkin (an iconic tower) and the HMS Belfast. As a bonus for walking a little bit, you’ll be able to grab a picture of the Tower of London exactly like the one in the post :)

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  3. Abby

    21. Oct, 2011

    I’ve been to London in a few times, but I don’t think I’ve ever even seen Notting Hill!

    Reply to this comment
  4. Katrina

    22. Oct, 2011

    Not a first timer to London, but have rarely had time to plan things out. Going in a few weeks and will definitely follow some of your advice. One day, however, is going to be entirely devoted to the British Museum! :D

    Reply to this comment
  5. JoAnna

    23. Oct, 2011

    What about Big Ben and Westminster Abbey?

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie

      24. Oct, 2011

      Big Ben is covered by the Houses of Parliament suggestion. As for Westminster Abbey, while I think it’s interesting, I wouldn’t necessarily suggest it to a first-timer.

      Reply to this comment
  6. Craig

    28. Jan, 2012

    Greenwich with the Royal Observatory, Cutty Sark, Maritime Museum, Market, Park and historical pubs etc. A great day out. Catch the river boat there or back from Central London.

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie

      31. Jan, 2012

      Yup, Greenwich is definitely a great place to go, just far enough from the center to feel it’s another city, but close enough so it’s still accessible.

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