With a population soon hitting the 10,000,000 mark, London is a city that has everything to offer when it comes to visiting this city that was founded 2000 years ago by the Romans. EZ has selected 10 things one should not miss when visiting the City of London in 2014.
The London Underground is the oldest underground network in the world. If one wants to really get a feel of what this city is all about, the best choice is to buy a ticket and move around. If you are there for a few days, buying a weekly Oyster Card is more cost effective. This comprehensive network may be old but it still has its own charm. Remember to stand on your right if you are on an escalator or travellator.
Coming to this city and not experiencing London’s West End shows is embarrassing. Many if not most in Asia may feel that going to a theatre show is dull and unexciting, but it is only true for those uncultured or stingy human beings. These live performances will definitely be an eye opener for both adults and children. If you are new to this and have children, then shows such as Lion King, Wicked or Charlie & The Chocolate Factory will be good choices for the family. Others such as Let It Be, We Will Rock You or Les Misérables will be more suitable for matured audience.
The world has been enchanted with the Harry Potter books and movies for over a decade. Harry Potter – Warner Bros Studio Tour for the first time offers visitors an insider’s view to where it first began and how the journey was completed. Amazing costumes, outstanding special effects and breath-taking details are all revealed. See Hogwarts Castle, walk through the Great Hall or take a photo beside Riddle’s Gravestone – these are just some of the highlights. Last but not least, remember to try the Butter Beer.
If you are interested in museums and do not want to travel from one end to the other, then stopping at South Kensington Station will be the best choice as three of London’s best museums are only within walking distance of each other. The Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A) is a place where thousands of years of creations are housed. Anything can turn up in this museum and currently the museum is also keeping up with time by exhibiting contemporary exhibits that are relevant to history. Across the road is the Natural History Museum that boasts a collection of the biggest and rarest animals in the world. The Vision of Earth and The Vault will definitely impress anyone walking into this museum. At the back of Natural History Museum lies the Science Museum. This high-tech museum provides visitors to experience major scientific triumph and advances of the last 300 years. It is a fun and a great place for kids as it evokes an interest in the world of science.
Converted from former Bankside Power Station on the bank of the Thames, Tate Modern is a must visit for art lovers. This prestigious contemporary art gallery offers visitors a close encounter with some of the most famous names in the art world, including Picasso, Dali, Monet, Matisse, Warhol and many more. Contemporary art by new influential artists are also exhibited through its special exhibits. The gallery is currently undergoing an expansion that is expected to be completed in 2016.
One cannot miss the London Eye as it stands firmly with its gigantic round structure demanding for attention in South Bank. It is a slow ride to the top but provides a magnificent view of the city of London, provided the weather is good. If one is afraid of heights but strives for scary excitement, the London Dungeon will be the place to go where you are supposed to be frightened and end up screaming. There are two interesting rides included, adding to the excitement of paying to be scared. For more child-friendly entertainment, Sea Life London Aquarium is a good choice. Taking a walk along the South Bank of the Thames is both relaxing and interesting as there are still a lot to venture.
This is London’s most traditional area where the royalties and the law-makers have co-existed for centuries. The Buckingham Palace is the main residence of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II since 1952. This majestic residence offers visitors some State Rooms during summer. It is usually crowded from mid to late morning as many gather to witness the traditional Changing of the Guard. The Palace of Westminster, or commonly known as the Houses of Parliament is one of the city’s four World Heritage Sites where the elected sit and uphold the constitution of United Kingdom. No one leaves London without posing next to the famous clock tower – Big Ben.
Portobello Road in Nothing Hill is one the most famous streets in the world where visitors can enjoy a few markets in one place. Although it is open every day, Saturday is when all things happen. The antique market is the main attraction but most stalls are only open on Saturday after dealers have spent most of the other days hunting for treasures throughout the country. One can expect to see antiques and collectables from every corner of the world dating back to the Roman Empire. Other markets include the fruit and vegetable market, fashion market and second hand goods market. Even if one is not into markets, taking a stroll and having a freshly brewed coffee with some street food will be an enjoyable experience.
This is one of London’s most popular squares where film stars around the world walk the red carpet whenever premieres take place in this heart of British cinema. Leicester Square is also packed with restaurants and bars with a few casinos for those feeling lucky. Plenty of London souvenirs to choose from but families should make an effort to visit M&M’s World and Ripley’s Believe It or Not! where all age groups will be amazed with what they see. Chinatown is just right at the corner for those craving for Chinese delicacies. Trying not to be biased, somehow the Ben & Jerry’s and T.G.I. Friday’s there seems to taste better than those in Malaysia.
A trip to London will not be complete if one does not spend a few nights in the proudly Malaysian-owned The Royal Horseguards Hotel. A historical building that was once used by the Ministry of Defence during both World Wars, the hotel later housed Her Majesty’s secret services; M15 and M16. Today, it is one of London’s finest hotels, led by General Manager Niels Sherry. The hotel’s setting is simply stunning with first class services and very comfortable rooms. It also serves one of the best high-teas in town, catering for around 15,000 guests annually. Located next to the Embankment station, it is within walking distance to South Bank, Trafalgar Square, Chinatown and Leicester Square.