07 April 2016 by Lizzie Greenway
For many by the time the weekend arrives the exhaustion of working and travelling all week has set in, after living in London for years it is easy to forget what drew you to this great city in the first place. It becomes rare you leave your borough, only venturing to local haunts and retreating into your own little pocket of the city. London is still one of the most popular tourist destinations on the planet, even though you live in the capital it is easy to oversee what draws and attracts so many foreigners to the banks of the Thames. So this month why not refresh your memory and become a tourist in your hometown.
As Mayor Boris Johnson stated “London is without doubt the greatest city on the planet. With so many fascinating museums, the best theatre scene in the world and more green space than other European city.” Famed attractions include St Paul’s Cathedral, the National Gallery, the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, the West End and Wimbledon, but where to begin?
Wait for a nice weekend then enjoy a jaunt to two of London’s most famed buildings, if you dreamed of becoming a princess or prince indulge those childhood fantasies and explore what are the spectacular Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace.
How many of London’s residents have actually seen the ‘Changing of the Guard’ ceremony? Do just that at Buckingham Palace, where in summer time you can explore the 775 rooms of the palace, look out for the Royal Standard flag flying as it indicates the Queen is in residence.
Head to Kensington Palace and indulge in cream tea in the orangery, or allow the actors to take you on a tour depicting the royal past, whilst dressed in traditional costumes from the bygone age. Other palaces to explore include St James Palace, Eltham Palace, Richmond Palace, Lambeth Palace and Hampton Court Palace.
Immerse yourself in the city’s history. The Victoria and Albert Museum showcases more than 3,000 years of art and design throughout the ages. There is the Medieval Renaissance gallery, which is home to some breath-taking statues, fine jewellery and the British galleries, which depict Britain’s art history, all of these are permanent fixtures to enjoy, as well as temporary exhibitions throughout the year. The museum is open daily so you can visit at your own convenience and at no cost, as entrance is free.
The Imperial War Museum documents the lives affected by wars from World War I to today. There is a First World War gallery and stories from the Second World War, as well as a Holocaust Exhibition. It is open daily and admission is free. The National History Museum attracts visitors from across the world, exhibiting a large array of specimens and elements of natural history. The museum is in one of London’s most beautiful buildings; explore the Dinosaur gallery and mammals displayed. In the Darwin Centre Cocoon, you can see specimens and view scientists at work. There are also the occasional temporary exhibitions, entry to the Natural History Museum is free and it is open daily from 10am to 17:50pm.
The National Gallery near Trafalgar Square is the perfect place to enjoy the delights of world famous artists, such as Van Gogh, Monet, Michelangelo and Picasso, as well as Leonardo da Vinci and Rembrandt.
One of London’s eight royal parks is Hyde Park, home to the Serpentine Lake, encompassing 350 acres it is home to the Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain, you can swim, cycle, boat, play tennis and horse ride in the park, as well as listen in on the Speakers’ Corner.
As the weather gets warmer London’s parks are perfect for a picnic, Kensington Gardens is a lovely spot with beautiful flower beds, as is Greenwich Park, Regent’s Park and St James Park.
To hang with celebrities’ head to Madame Tussands, where the wax works are so realistic you could be fooled into thinking they are the real deal, close to Baker Street you can rub shoulders with the wax versions of David and Victoria Beckham, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West to name but a few. Tickets cost from £23.80
For an exhilarating day out visit the London Dungeon’s, with an array of horrid history to learn about, the story of London’s dark past is told through live actors, rides and special effects. Tickets cost from £22 per adult and £17 per child.
Catch the bus, flag down a taxi or simply walk around the city and refresh your memory, take in the delights that make up London’s famous skyline once again, there is Big Ben, the Tower of London, St Paul’s Cathedral, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and the gothic inspired Houses of Parliament. Or enjoy the view of the city from above by taking a ride on the London Eye, open daily from 10:00 am until 20:30 pm, tickets cost £21.20 and you spend 30 minutes in the pod.
North of Leicester Square is Chinatown; this East Asian community has bought a slice of authentic Chinese to the city. There are almost eighty restaurants in Chinatown to choose from, set in the heart of the West End it is the perfect place to eat before heading to the West End for a show. Finish the night with a drink in Soho’s many bars and clubs, where hedonism is the order of the day.
You needn’t holiday outside the city when there is still so much to offer on your doorstep.