This is a London Guide for How to do London in 2 days. Here is a plan to cover the four World Heritage Sites, commerce, education, entertainment, fashion, finance and healthcare. Experience the diversity of its people, culture, & religion is reflected in the 300 plus languages spoken across London . If you arrive in London and have just 2 days then read on for how to do London in 2 days.
Among things to do in London, the first would be a visit along the northern Banks of River Thames to Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress, more popularly known as the Tower of London. It was built by William the Conqueror in 1078. Over the years the Tower has served as a royal residence, prison, place of execution, an arsenal, royal mint, menagerie and jewel house. Today the Tower of London houses 3 of the most precious aspects of Britain- the Yeoman Warders, Ravens and Crown Jewels.
The admission ticket for the Tower of London provides you access to Yeoman Warder guided tour and talk, live historical re-enactments, Whiter Tower tour, children's activity trails, entry to the Henry VII: Dressed to Kill exhibit and Prisoners of the Tower exhibition.
The ghost of Anne Boleyn who was beheaded in 1536 for treason against Henry VIII, has supposedly been often spotted around the White Tower. People claim they have seen her carrying her head in her arms! Some people also say they have seen Edward V of England and Richard of Shrewsbury, 1st Duke of York who were popularly known as the Princes of Tower. The brothers who were the sons of Edward IV of England, were murdered in 1483.
Westminster Abbey is another must in the list of things to do in London. It is a Gothic Church which serves as the place for coronation as well as the burial site of the British Royalty. Benedictine monks first came to this site in the middle of the tenth century. The Abbey houses many marvels like paintings, stained glass, pavements, textiles and other artifacts. The archives, printed books and manuscripts belonging to the Dean and Chapter of Westminster can be seen at the Library and Muniment Room. The Westminster is often called the third seat of learning in England, after Oxford and Cambridge. In fact King James BibleOld Testament and the last half of the New Testament were translated at Westminster Abbey.
Take the audio guide while touring the Abbey. Guides are available in eight languages. The other option is a verger led tour. There is a shop inside the Abbey for merchandise inspired by the life, history and architecture of Westminster Abbey.
The Buckingham Palace is not far behind in this London guide for things to do in London. It is the official residence and office of the British monarch. The Palace was originally a townhouse built for the Duke of Buckingham in 1705. It was enlarged in the 19th century with three wings around a central courtyard. Queen Victoria was the first monarch to reside at Buckingham Palace. Under the reign of Queen Victoria, the Buckingham Palace used to host lavish costume balls, royal ceremonies and Investitures like the conferring of knighthoods by dubbing with a sword. Even today visiting Foreign Head of State are entertained by the Queen at the Buckingham Palace. The state rooms are open to the public each year during August and September.
Another interesting aspect of the Buckingham Palace is the Garden and Lake at its rear. Spread over 40 acres, it is the largest private garden in Britain and features a helicopter landing area, a lake, and a tennis court. The Royal Mews are located adjacent to the Palace and house the famous Gold State Coach. The Gold State Coach is an eight horse-drawn carriage weighing 4 tons. It has been used to coronate all Monarchs of Britain since George IV. The body of the coach is slung by braces covered with Moroccoleather and decorated with gilt buckles. Velvet and Satin make up the luxurious interiors.
Trafalgar Square is one of the most famous public spaces of the world and deserves to be included in the things to do in London. It commemorates the naval victory of Britain over France during the Napoleonic wars. At the center of Trafalgar Square is Nelson's Column, which is guarded by four lion statues at its base. A statue of Horatio Nelson, the vice admiral who commanded the British Fleet at Trafalgar, is at the top of the Column. The Square was used by Sir Winston Churchill to declare the end of the Second World War on 8 May 1945 when the allies defeated the Nazi. Today Trafalgar Square is popular among revelers during New Year eve.
There used to be 35000 pigeons in the Trafalgar Square at a time! Feeding them was a favorite activity of tourists. However the feeding was banned in 2005 as the Pigeons were posing a health hazard. Birds of prey were also encouraged to drive away the Pigeons. Today you can spot Pigeons only during festivals.
Another recommendation of this London Guide for things to do in London would be The London Eye or Millennium Wheel. It is the tallest Ferris wheel in Europe, attracting 3.5 million tourists annually. In fact London Eye is supposed to be the largest paid attraction of Britain. The London Eye has 32 sealed and air-conditioned ovoidal passenger capsules which are operated by electric motors. Each capsule represents a Burough of London and can hold 25 passengers. One rotation takes about half an hour and the speed is such that you can easily walk in and out of the capsule. It is scenically located in the Borough of Lambeth at the western end of Jubilee Gardens, on the South Bank of the River Thames.
No London Guide for things to do in London is complete without mention of One of the most famous Bridges in the world, The London Bridge is over the River Thames, connecting the City of London and Southwark, in central London. While the current bridge opened in 1973, a bridge had existed over Thames in the current location ever since AD 50 when the Romans put up a military Bridge!
A thrilling way to experience the London Bridge is to take the tour of “London Bridge Experience and London Tombs”. This tour starts in the tunnels below the London Bridge and takes you on a journey through time, from the Roman Invasion 2000 years ago to the present day. This is followed by London Toombs which is a Scary Ride! The venue is the old plague pit of London and you will experience walls that are dripping in blood, spiders, snakes, ghosts, and ghouls to name a few horrors. Monument and London Bridge are the nearest Underground Stations.
Big Ben, the great bell of the famous Clock in the Palace of Westminster was built in 1858 is one of the most prominent things to do in London. The clock dials are set in an iron frame 7 meters in diameter and supporting 312 pieces of opal glass. The Clock famous for its reliability was designed by horologistEdmund Beckett Denison, and astronomer George Airy.
At the base of each clock dial in gilt letters is the Latin inscription "Domine Salvam Fac Reginam Nostram Victoriam Primam”. It means “O Lord, keep safe our Queen Victoria the First”. The belfry of the clocktower is located above the dials at a height of about 200 feet from the ground. Big Ben the great hour bell is one of the 5 bells in the belfry.
Archeological discoveries like the remains of a Bronze Age bridge north of Vauxhall Bridge takes London back to 1500 BC. The first major settlement around present day London happened around 43 AD by the Romans. Anglo-Saxons created a new settlement called Lundenwic in the 7th Century near present day Covent Garden. London became a Political center by the 10th century after unification of England. London was the world's largest city from about 1831 to 1925. Post the World Wars, London became a center for the worldwide youth culture. The Swinging London subculture of The King's Road, Chelsea and Carnaby Street had a dominant influence on the world’s youth. The 21st Century London is exemplified by the Millennium Dome, London Eye and Millennium Bridge.
Samuel Jackson captured the essence of London in 1777 when he said
“You find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”
For a travelogue on a quaint English town which has shaped the Astromical and Nautical developments of England, visit Greenwich, where time starts!
For my travelogue on places around New York, visit Holiday Ideas around New York.