This is an alphabetical listing of what I consider to be the top sightseeing attractions in London.
BIG BEN The 320' tower, built in 1859, is the most enduring symbol of the British people. The famous chimes are still recognized throughout the world. View.
BRITISH LIBRARY Contains displays of many of the world's most important religious and historical documents, like the Magna Carta, along with literary and musical treasures. Stunning,six-story exhibit of King George III's entire library. Free.
BRITISH MUSEUM This is the world's oldest museum, established in the 1750's. Priceless antiquities from Egypt, Greece, Rome, China, etc., are featured in 94 separate galleries. Displays range from mummies and the Rosetta Stone, to modern Japan. Free.
BUCKINGHAM PALACE Built in 1703, it has been the primary residence for the British Monarch since 1837. Best known for its "Changing of the Guard" ceremony, portions of the the palace are open for public viewing during the months of August and September. Charge.
CHURCHILL MUSEUM AND CABINET WAR ROOMS Churchill's underground headquarters during WWII, largely intact with original maps, phones, sleeping quarters, etc. Also includes the museum of Churchill's life. Charge.
COVENT GARDEN A centuries-old indoor and outdoor market place, with something for everyone retail shops, food, clowns, acrobats, etc.
HARRODS One of the world's largest and most famous department stores. Housed in a landmark seven-floor building with 22 restaurants and over 1 million sq. ft. of shopping space, Harrods offers everything from upscale merchandise to souvenirs.
HOUSES OF PARLIAMENT The home of the legislative branch of the British Government. Completed in 1860, its famous debates can be viewed by visitors. Charge.
IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM Award-winning museum that traces the history of British military operations since 1914. Features full-scale reproductions, military artifacts and weaponry from WWI and WWII. Free.
KENSINGTON PALACE AND GARDENS A royal residence since 1884 and still presently in use. Once the home of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, there are special exhibits and guided tours. Charge.
LONDON EYE Located on the bank of the Thames, the world's largest observation wheel towers 450 feet above downtown London. Built in 2000, the slow moving yet state-of-the-art colossus gives riders a panoramic, 30 minute ride. Charge.
LONDON ZOO This famously well-run zoo, open since 1828, is noted for its conservation and research programs. It has a world class petting zoo, fun rides, and of course, giraffes,lions, tigers, penguins, etc. Charge.
MADAME TUSSAUD'S A popular attraction, at this site since 1884, containing first-class wax figures notables in sports, entertainment, history and politics. Charge.
MUSEUM OF LONDON This museum contains over 1,000, 000 objects in 7 different galleries, depicting the history of the City of London from pre-historic times to modern day. Free.
NATIONAL GALLERY Founded in 1824, the National Gallery contains 2300 Western European paintings, dating from 1260 to the early 1900's. On display are works by DaVinci, Michelangelo, Monet, etc. Free.
NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY A multi-floored museum containing portraits of famous characters from English history. Represents over 600 years of important paintings, including the current Royal Family.
NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM Huge and eye-catching, this museum is home to more than 50 million specimens. Though built in the 1870's, this ultra-modern attraction has a wide range of exhibits ranging from interactive displays and costumed characters, to simulated earthquakes and dinosaurs that move and roar. Free.
PICCADILLY CIRCUS The London equivalent of New York City's Times Square, this famous gathering place abounds with neon lights, action, and people of all sorts. State-of -the-art game arcades and themed restaurants all contribute to the upbeat and stimulating atmosphere of Piccadilly Circus.
PORTOBELLO ROAD MARKET The world's largest antique mart, but also has sections for produce and a flea market. Indoor shops are open Monday thru Saturday. Over 2000 outdoor booths are added on Saturday only.
SCIENCE MUSEUM Located on museum row, this five-floor wonderland documents scientific achievement from the 18th century to the present. Numerous hands-on and interactive displays keep children thoroughly entertained, but there is also much to keep adults fascinated as well. Free. (IMAX theater carries admission charge)
SHAKESPEARE'S GLOBE A faithful, open-air reproduction of Shakespeare's original theater, performances run from mid-May thru September and are usually sold out. It is also home to a museum containing the world's largest Shakespeare exhibit, offering year-round, actor-guided tours on the ½ hour. Charge.
SOMERSET HOUSE The Somerset House consists of three separate collections 1) famous paintings dating back to the masters of the 16th century, 2) a decorative arts collection, and 3) a rotating collection of Russian art from the famed St. Petersburg Museum. Charge for each.
ST. PAUL'S CATHEDRAL Rebuilt after the Great Fire of 1666, this Christopher Wren masterpiece still dominates the London skyline, and its 360' high dome is equally majestic whether viewed from the inside or out. St. Paul's has been the site of many famous ceremonies, including the marriage of Charles and Diana, and is also the burial place for numerous English heroes. Charge.
TATE BRITAIN Museum of British paintings from the 16th through the 20th centuries, displayed chronologically. Also features rotating displays of contemporary artists, along with guided tours. Free.
TATE MODERN Open since 2000 and home to a huge collection of international 20th century art, grouped by theme. Contains examples of work by Picasso, Dali, Warhol, etc. Free.
TOWER BRIDGE Recognized throughout the world and instantly associated with the city of London, this famous drawbridge is not nearly as old as it looks. Built in 1894 and still very much in use, it spans the Thames River carrying both people and vehicles. Free to cross and view. Charge for guided tour of interior.
TOWER OF LONDON A royal residence and castle for over 1000 years, the Tower was also used as a prison and place of execution. Presently home to the Crown Jewels and watched over by the red-clad "Beefeaters". Charge.
TRAFALGAR SQUARE Dominated by the 185-foot-tall statue of Lord Nelson, Trafalgar is the central square of London. It is bounded by famous buildings, home to public rallies and gatherings, and the premier location for "not feeding the pigeons".
VICTORIA AND ALBERT MUSEUM The world's largest and finest decorative arts collection, housed on six floors, with pieces dating from 3000 BC to the present. Categories of exhibits include tapestries, clothing, furniture, Italian sculpture, photographs, etc. Great hands-on displays for children. Free.
WESTMINSTER ABBEY World famous medieval architectural wonder. This Anglican Church has been in continuous use for over 900 years and the site of nearly all British coronations. Charge.