six landmarks in london you simply can't miss

Although the London that we love isn't necessarily found in the centre, as with any major city there are several landmarks that any first-time visitor simply has to check out. Iconic buildings such as St Paul's Cathedral and Big Ben, as well as the perennially popular London Eye, dominate the capital's sky-line, and for many this is the London of postcards and souvenirs. 

Thankfully, especially for those keen to get out and see what else the city has to offer, with a few hours and a good pair of shoes (or a topped up oyster card!) you can tick off most of them in a day, and still have time to discover the rest of the city.

Here are our top six landmarks for your first trip to London.


#1 Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament

When Augustus Pugin submitted the designs for his clock tower, we doubt he imagined the icon that it would become. In fact, the tower, commonly (and wrongly) known as Big Ben (that's just the name of the bell), is not just a hugely important landmark in London. Overseas, its image has come to symbolise the entire United Kingdom.

In the last 10 years, we have both spent a huge amount of time living in the capital, time enough to become accustomed to the grandeur of iconic buildings such as the Houses of Parliament. However, even with its scaffolding, and teeming with tourists, it's difficult not to be a little astounded by its beauty. We simply don't construct buildings like this anymore.

Nobody should leave this city without witnessing Big Ben ring out across London.

Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, London

Did you know that UK residents can take a tour INSIDE Big Ben? Yep, we didn't realise either. To do so, contact your local MP (who has a limited number of tour places that he can assign each month for their constituents) and they will be able to advise you on who to contact. As you can imagine, tours book up incredibly quickly and is often something that needs to be arranged a full six months in advance. 

Tours take place at 9 a.m., 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., as well as an additional one at 4 p.m. between May - September. For more information about tours of the Houses of Parliament (especially for international tourists), please click here.

Please do note that due to essential maintenance that will be commencing in 2017, the tours will be temporarily suspended at the end of December - so get in quick! 

Nearest tube station: Westminster


#2 Downing Street

For more than three hundred years, Downing Street has housed the official residences of the two most senior British Cabinet ministers: the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. And, whilst heightened security means that there is often little more to see than a group of heavily armed police, a trip to take a glimpse of the famous 'No. 10' door  (or as close as you can get!) is an essential part of any tourist's itinerary.

Downing Street, London

Still, who knows, if you time it just right, you may just see someone important!

Nearest tube station: Westminster


#3 the London Eye

There are several places in London which claim to have the best view of London. The Shard and the Sky Bar (at the top of the Walkie Talkie) are just a couple. However, why settle for a view from the top floor of a building when you could instead take a ride on the world's highest observation wheel.

Situated on the Southbank, the 135m tall London Eye provides those who choose to ride it with stunning views over the capital which, on a good day, stretch out for miles. 

The London Eye, London

You can of course buy your tickets on the day but given it's popularity, at busy times queues can be frustratingly long. Why not use a booking site like Get Your Guide to arrange and pay for your tickets in advance - and beat the queues!

Nearest tube station: Waterloo


#4 St Paul's Cathedral

St Paul's cathedral is one of the most visited tourist sites in London for good reason. This stunningly beautiful church, built in the late 1600s (after its predecessor was destroyed in the Great Fire of London) to this day dominates the city's skyline, and whilst it may no longer be the highest building in London, it is certainly one of the most memorable. 

St Paul's Cathedral, London

Whilst entry to the cathedral is not cheap (a very steep £18 per person at time of writing), there is no denying that to truly appreciate the remarkable architecture and design, one needs to step foot into the building itself. 

Included in the admission price is not only entry to the cathedral floor, but also to a number of viewing galleries in the dome for spectacular views over the city.

Nearest tube station: St Paul's


#5 Trafalgar Square

Although appealing to Londoners and tourists for entirely different reasons (Londoner's choose to gather, celebrate or protest, tourists to capture of photo sitting next to a lion), there is no denying that Trafalgar square is a hugely important, and popular, site in the capital.

Trafalgar Square, London

Home to Nelson's column (a tribute to one of Britain's greatest war heroes) and the four bronze lions that guard it, the square is at its most beautiful in the run up to Christmas when a huge tree, donated by Norway, is erected in the centre making this an ideal time to visit.

However, don't fret if you're heading to London in the summer, as there are often free outdoor events held here during the warmer months. Click here for further information.

Nearest tube station: Charing Cross


#6 Buckingham Palace

Everybody has heard of Buckingham Palace, and judging by the numbers of people posing daily for photos outside of those metal gates, everybody visits it. Whether you're a fan of royalty or not, there is no denying that the Queen lives in a beautiful home!

Buckingham Palace, London

How about you time your visit to the palace with the Changing of the Guard? This famous ceremony, where the old guards hand over responsibility for protecting Buckingham Palace to the new, epitomises the pomp and circumstance for which the British military is famous.

The ceremony happens everyday around 11 a.m., but make sure to get there at least an hour early if you want a good view. For more information, including how to pick the best spot and a little more history, please click here.

Nearest tube station: Victoria Station or Green Park

Plan your route with our handy map!


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Although the London that we love isn't necessarily found in the centre, as with any major city there are several landmarks that any first-time visitor simply has to visit. Iconic buildings such as St Paul's Cathedral and Big Ben, as well as the perennially popular London Eye, dominate the capital's sky-line, and for many this is the London of postcards and souvenirs. Click on the pin to discover six landmarks that you simply can't miss!

Did you know that entrance to a number of these famous London landmarks can be paid for online with Get Your Guide, the website that allows you to book tickets for top attractions around the world. To avoid the queues, book here and spend less time planning, and more time enjoying your next trip to the UK's capital.

This post has been sponsored by Get Your Guide. All opinions are our own.