Iconic Sights & Sites in London

If you are headed to London, there are some iconic sights and sites that you will not want to miss, with a bit of travel commentary.

Transportation - Taxis and The Tube (or Underground)

The classic London black taxi cabs are our hands-down favorite for big city taxis. They are roomy and clean, and a blessing to tired feet, weary legs, and travelers who are getting just a wee bit grumpy as the day wears on.

The Tube (or the Underground) will zip you all over the city with great efficiency. Don't expect to find elevators to get you (or your luggage) from one level to the other though. Purchase a Visitor Oyster card before you travel (shipped to your home address), pre-loaded with the amount you choose, and you are ready to hit the ground running when you arrive. The Visitor Oyster card is good on The Tube and on London's buses. And don't forget to "mind the gap".

We surfaced from The Tube at Baker Street once. But, no, we did not walk to find the actual 221B Baker Street (the home of the fictional Sherlock Holmes). And you should know that the actual 221B Baker Street and the outside of the building that is supposed to be 221B Baker Street in the current Sherlock series are two different locations.

Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Square is a bustling area of tourists, cars, taxis, buses and a host of iconic London sites all within one glance about you. There is this monument to the British Naval hero, Admiral Lord Nelson. At its base sit the famous giant lions. Behind it is the National Gallery. And in front of it, you have a view of Big Ben.

Buckingham Palace

Just a short walk (about 10 minutes) from Trafalgar Square is Buckingham Palace. We headed there to see the changing of the guard. (Photos actually snapped on two different days.)

A large monument of Queen Victoria sits in front of Buckingham Palace.

If you want to watch the changing of the guard, I'd highly recommend arriving at least one hour early, so you get a place right up against the gate. Otherwise you will be, like we were, at best five people back from the fence/gates, and it will be very difficult to get any photos without the bars of the fence in your photo.

The Albert Memorial

This large and impressive memorial to Prince Albert, Queen Victoria's husband, is found in Kensington Garden and is a short walk from the Victoria & Albert Museum. 

Picadilly Circus and Regent Street

Picadilly Circus is a gathering place at the start of Regent Street. I would best describe it as the Times Square of London, minus the Jumbotron screens.

Getting ready to shop Regent Street!

Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, The London Eye, Parliment

All within a short walk of one another, you can find Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament (shown above), the London Eye, and Westminster Abbey...and all located roughly on the Thames. We were happy we were there to hear Big Ben toll the nine o'clock hour.

We toured Westminster Abbey this sunny morning. (No photography allowed inside.) And then we returned one evening for evensong. Evensong was definitely one of the highlights of the trip! So beautiful to hear voices raised in praise to God filling a cathedral of this size! Just glorious! If you want to go to evensong, check the online schedule for the time on the particular day you are going. Then arrive one hour early to get in the queue. The people near the front of the line will be allowed to sit in the quire (with the members of the choir), and that is THE BEST way to experience it! Don't miss it!

Keep Left

You will see these reminders posted near stairways. Just as the British drive on the left side of the road, so they ascend and descend stairs on the opposite side that Americans do. This can get very confusing, however, in highly multicultural London. I found myself descending on the left...when in England, do as the English. But then the next group of people coming up towards me were speaking German, and they were on the traditional side of the stairway, and I was now in their way. The next group was speaking Spanish. Then a group of Swedes. Then several middle eastern peoples. Sigh. Now, I was no longer polite, but just a hindrance to all these people. Giving up, I'd switch to the right side of the stairs, only to find the next three groups of people were British, and now I was being rude. Oh dear. 

Phone Booths

And don't forget to step inside one of the famous British telephone booths! Hubby did, and I took his picture. Colette did, and I took her picture. And only after we'd been home for a couple of weeks, did I realize that I never did! So disappointed! That seals the deal. I'll just have to return!

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