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London Tower

London’s stunning Tower Bridge could lead to none other than a castle, the glorious London Tower that has been standing on the Thames’ bank for about a millennium. By the looks of it, one could assume that it’s just another castle surrounded by walls and trenches, but this would be a huge understatement compared to its actual story. It has operated as a palace, a fort and a prison, that’s why Kings and Queens, guards, priests, politicians and prisoners have passed its gates. Nowadays, it welcomes anyone that wants to get a sense of those times, find out its secrets and admire its collections. Get inside the White and the Bloody Tower, admire the crown jewels, armories, clothing garments and body armors, as well as the prison cells and execution chambers. It is pretty voluminous, so you might need about three hours to explore the whole of it. If you happen to be around during the evening, don’t miss the chance to watch the Ceremony of the Keys! Finally, you should know that the Tower is considered to be haunted, with its most famous spooky tenant being Anne Boleyn. BOO! Ha. Click HERE to learn more about our experience.

Important note: If you have a London Pass card, you can get right inside.

Suggested visit time: 3-3.5 hours
Open: 09:00-16:30 during the winter months & 09:00-17:30 during the summer months. Closed: December 24th-26th & January 1st. The last tour starts at 14.30 in the winter and at 15.30 in the summer.
Cost: £24.50 for ages 16+, £11 for children aged 5-15. Audio guide costs £4.00.

 The know it all says: The Ceremony of the Keys is the oldest military ceremony in the world and has been taking place at 21.53 every night for hundreds of years!

National Gallery

Would you like to take an artistic walk in one of the world’s largest galleries? Either you are art enthusiasts or not, don’t miss the chance to visit it, when you are in Trafalgar Square. You can’t imagine what you are going to find. There are at least 60 rooms with more than 2,300 works of art that you will need more than 2.5 hours to see! The layout is functional, as the rooms are divided in era-based sections, for a most efficient tour. They feature the works of great artists like Vincent Van Gogh, Botticelli, Rembrandt, Goya, Monet and Michelangelo. Apart from the permanent exhibitions, there is also a temporary display, which hosts various artworks for a limited period of time. The Gallery is fairly crowded, partly due to the free entrance, but it is no bother, as some are admiring the paintings, some are listening carefully to their guides and others are painting!

Suggested visit time: 3-3.5 hours
Open: Everyday 10:00-18:00 Closed: December 24th-26th & January 1st
Cost: Free

 The know it all says: When the Gallery first opened, it displayed only 38 paintings, but today it hosts more than 2,300 works of art!

London Zoo

The London Zoo is always a fun place to spend the day, especially for families. All sorts of animal species, birds, insects and reptiles live there and the whole place is very clean and well taken care of, providing an as best as possible environment for the animals (although living caged is obviously not the greatest living condition for them…). Although it is not divided in specific zones (like Budapest’s zoo) it is really organized, easy to explore and you can see all of it through a pleasant tour. A very impressive trait is the interactive way in which you can collect pieces of information about each animal, making it a delightful experience for all ages! This task gets even easier with the special events that are organized daily.

Suggested visit time: 3-5 hours
Open: Every day 10:00-17:00 (Entrance is allowed until 30 minutes before closing time.) Closed: December 25th
Cost: £25.50 for ages 16+, £18.50 for children aged 3-15, free for 3-.

 The know it all says: The zoo is home to approximately 17,000 animals from 758 different species!

Victoria & Albert Museum

This is the largest museum of applied and fine arts in the world, stretching over 12 acres with a permanent collection of a whopping 4.5 million objects! Yes, you read that right…The artifacts come from various important civilizations, ranging from ancient to modern times. Showpieces like ceramics, glass objects, jewels, paintings, photographs, clothing garments, sculptures and even furniture take you to an exciting journey through history! Visiting this museum is an excellent choice, as its vast variety of showpieces will keep your interest piqued! At the end of your tour, sit in the museum’s wonderful garden and, if you’re lucky, you will enjoy a cup of coffee accompanied by a pianist’s sweet melodies!

Suggested visit time: 3-4 hours
Open: Every day 10:00-17:45, Friday 10:00-22:00 Closed: December 24th-26th
Cost: Free

 The know it all says: It was the first museum in the world to use gas lamps, in order to make afternoon visits possible!

Dungeon Museum of London

If you are looking for an adventurous and exciting way to learn about London’s history, search no more! The Dungeon Museum offers an interactive tour, with actors, props, special effects, costumes and various sketches that take place inside the dark dungeons of medieval London! The dungeons are very dark and gloomy, so watch your step and mind your surroundings because they can be anywhere! They wander among you, follow you and suddenly appear before you, so get ready to be spooked (to say the least…)! Do you think it sounds scarier than it probably is? Well, that’s for you to decide, but it is certainly an entertaining experience, if you have some spare time on your hands. It’s necessary that you speak English fluently or at least be aware of some of the historical events that took place during that time period (like the great fire), in order to understand and enjoy the show.

Suggested visit time: 1.5-2 hours
Open: Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday-Friday 10:00-16:00, Thursday 11:00-17:00 & 10:00-18:00 on weekends.
Cost: £20 for ages 16+, £17 for children aged 3-15, free for 3-.

 The know it all says: Some of the models created in Merlin Studios cost up to £100,000!

Hamleys

Located on the famous Regent Street, this toy store has been in the business for over 250(!) years. This is not your usual toy store; it is the flagship of all toy stores, as it is consisted of not two, not three, but seven vast floors with thousands of toys! No matter your age, you are bound to feel like a kid again, floating in candy! (Our depictions clearly reveal the level of joy!) You can find and buy all kinds of toys; dolls, board games, video games, school-preschool products, outdoor toys, Playmobils, LEGOs, Barbie dolls and thousands more! Their placement and promotion is extremely professional and well-thought, with dozens of salespeople in each floor, demonstrating selected toys and urging potential customers to try them so that they…get in the game! There is a shop on the top floor that serves coffee, smoothies, juice, chocolate ice-creams, snacks, sweets and sandwiches, where you can sit and catch your breath.

Suggested visit time: 2-3 hours
Open: Monday-Friday 10:00-21:00, Saturday 09:30-21:00 & Sunday 12:00-18:00.
Cost: Free

 The know it all says: There are more than 50,000(!) toys for sale!

Science Museum

This museum has the gift of uniting adults and children into one playful bunch, exploring the world of science through interactive, educational exhibitions and activities! On its 7 floors, you have the chance to experiment, participate and learn about the evolution of science and technology. You can also conduct experiments in Alexander Fleming’s laboratory, see the oldest steam engine in the world, Apollo 10’s cockpit and “travel” through space. Finally, you can learn about telecommunications, computers, airplanes and weather phenomena, as well as the history and functions of various home appliances! If you would like to spend 2-3 constructive hours, combining fun and learning, the Science Museum is the perfect choice. The museum’s main exhibition is free, but there is an entrance fee for the simulators, the temporary exhibitions and the IMAX theatre.

Suggested visit time: 2-3 hours
Open: Monday-Sunday 10:00-18:00
Cost: Free

 The know it all says: Some scenes from the movie “The Ipcress File” were shot inside the museum’s old library!

Belfast

For anyone who is familiar or not with warships*, the idea of visiting Belfast may not seem as something particularly special. But it sure proves you wrong, because you simply cannot put a price on the experience of visiting this gunpowder-smoked, WWII ship. Belfast is placed opposite of the London Bridge, it has been kept in great shape, it is pretty big and access is granted from the deck to the kitchen and the armory. The attention is drawn to the figures, the pictures, the special effects and the distinct smells (!) that accompany each thematic unit. The set is completed by the full equipment (weapons, bombs and supplies) so you get the feeling that the ship is ready to set sail! Try to see as many of the spaces as possible, so you can get a grasp of the conditions under which people used to live, with this ship as their home and fighting a great, devastating war. Finally, we should mention that the audio guide provides useful information.

*Nick did his military service in the Navy, so he has some knowledge on warships.

Suggested visit time: 1.5-2 hours
Open: March-October 10:00-18:00 every day & November-February 10:00-17:00 every day. (Entrance is allowed until 1 hour before closing.)
Cost: £14.50 for ages 16+, £7.50 for children aged 3-15, free for 3-.

 The know it all says: Belfast is one of the three cruisers that survived Normandy landings’ bombings!

Arsenal Stadium

A visit to The Gunners’ stadium is a truly pleasant experience and we recommend it, as the big sports aficionados we are*! What impresses everyone right away is its architecture, as the construction based on glass and metal makes the whole stadium shine, even on a cloudy day. Its interior is new, clean, functional, polished with lots and lots of commodities and has nothing to envy from similar, newly-constructed stadiums (like Ajax’s stadium). Another important trait is that access is granted in most spaces, like the seating areas, entertainment halls, locker rooms, physiotherapy rooms, the field and the press room. You have the option of touring by yourselves (with an audio guide) or with a guide (in a group). Finally, you can also visit the museum, which is dedicated to Arsenal’s history.

*With a special love for basketball.

Suggested visit time: 2-2.5 hours
Open: Monday-Saturday 09:30-18:00 & Sunday 10:00-16:00 (game days excluded). Entrance is allowed until 1 hour before closing.
Cost: £20 for ages 16+, £10 for children 3-15, free for 3-.

 The know it all says: Arsenal’s nickname is “The Gunners”, as it was created by a team of cannon manufacturers in 1886!

Westminster Abbey

The Westminster Abbey is the city’s most famous church, with more than 1,000 years of history! Its gothic architectural style contributes a great deal to its imposing and intricate form, compelling you to spend quite some time to contemplate it. We would say that the Abbey’s interior looks less like a temple and more like an art museum, because as you step inside, you see artworks such as sculptures, murals, colorful stained glass and wall paintings. You also have the chance to admire the famed statue of the Virgin Mary with the Holy Infant, the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, as well as Charles Dickens’ and Charles Darwin’s graves. The Abbey, aside from a place of religious worship, is also where the Kings’ or Queens’ coronations take place (the last one being Queen Elizabeth’s II), as well as the place where important ceremonies are conducted, like the 15 royal weddings (the last one was Prince William and Kate Middleton’s) and funerals (the last one was Princess Diana’s).

Suggested visit time: 1.5-2 hours
Open: The schedule changes daily. (Get information from the official website.)
Cost: £20 for ages 16+, £17 for people aged 60+, £9 for children 3-15, free for 3-.

 The know it all says: It features London’s oldest door, dating back to 1050!

Tate Britain & Tate Modern Galleries

These two galleries have a great variety of artworks and large numbers of visitors. Tate Britain is the oldest, built in 1897, and has the largest British art collection in the world, with pieces created between the 16th and 20th centuries. Tate Modern, as its name implies, exhibits works of modern artists like Picasso, Warhol and Dali. Do not hesitate to visit Tate Modern, even if you are not a fan of modern art; this experience could really shift your perspective! You can learn lots of things from the signs placed under each showpiece or at the halls’ entrances. Furthermore, the museum’s employees know enough so they can offer some information about each exhibit. You should also spend some time on the interactive board about the history of modern art that you will find in the gallery!

Suggested visit time: 3-4 hours
Open: Tate Modern: Sunday-Thursday 10:00-18:00 & Friday-Saturday 10:00-22:00 (entrance allowed until 1 hour before closing).
Tate Britain: Every day 10:00-18:00 (entrance allowed until 17:00)
Cost: Free

 The know it all says: Tate Modern Gallery’s building is a construction of 4.2 million bricks!

Aquarium

Even though London’s Aquarium is one of the largest in Europe, it does not surpass others in any way. The lack of spectacular, amusing and interactive material, combined with the high ticket cost, may disappoint visitors. Of course, it is nice and clean, great in size and variety of species, but they are not enough to cover its many flaws. On top of that, during rush hour, apart from the tanks with the sharks, stingrays, turtles and penguins, all the other species’ display areas are very small, so you will probably have to squeeze into them. We would say that it is a pleasant and fun experience, mostly, for our little friends!

Suggested visit time: 1-1.5 hours
Open: Monday-Sunday 10:00-19:00 (last entrance at 18:00).
Cost: £25 for ages 16+, £20 for children aged 3-15. (-£5 for online booking)

 The know it all says: It has 50 water tanks that contain 2 million liters of water!
 


Our experience..:

Before stepping inside, we saw a guard, dressed in his traditional uniform, coming towards us and upon greeting us, he explained that he would show us around the tower and tell us all about it…FOR FREE! And that’s exactly what he did! We joined a group and embarked on a tour that lasted around 30 minutes. At some point, as we were walking and listening to the guard, Nick thought that it would be a real hoot to try and scare some crows! The guard started shouting in fear because, as he explained, according to an old legend “If the ravens leave the Tower, the Kingdom will fall…”. Apparently, all it takes for such a catastrophe is just three of those ravens to fly away! This was followed by a hilarious chase between Nick, the guard and the birds and the whole group broke out in laughter! So, we went on with our tour feeling all refreshed and upbeat!


Travelen.eu is regularly updated on ticket costs and operating hours, but you should always visit your choice of destination’s official site for confirmation.