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London is one of the great historical cities of the world and the best thing is that you can literally see that history all around you. Having stood since Roman times, you can find the fascinating remains from so many different eras here. This list gives you 10 top places to visit to get a good insight into our rich past, and hopefully inspire you to look further and discover lots more for yourself.

Good for
  • History Buff

10 Places

4 City Tips

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Map

10 Places

Roman Amphitheatre

Theatres

Tower of London

Historic Sites, Points of Interest & Landmarks

Churchill War Rooms

Historic Sites, History Museums, Military Museums

Westminster Abbey

Architectural Buildings, Sacred & Religious Sites, Historic Sites

Hampton Court Palace

Castles, Historic Sites, Mysterious Sites, Gardens

Shakespeare's Globe Theatre

Architectural Buildings, Historic Sites, Theatres

Houses of Parliament

Architectural Buildings, Government Buildings, Historic Sites

Banqueting House

Architectural Buildings, Historic Sites, Art Museums

Museum of London

History Museums

Greenwich

Neighbourhoods

Sue H's City Tips

  • Most places you visit will have a good cafe and gift shop, which are great for taking a short break and buying souvenirs and postcards.
  • The key to getting around London's transport system (tube, train and bus), is the Oyster card. You can buy it on arrival or in advance, and add credit at any tube station.
  • London can be very busy around rush hours and during peak holiday times, so relax and enjoy the very British pastime of queuing (though book ahead where you can!)
  • Cash is not accepted on buses. You must pay by Oyster card or contactless card.
  • Save
    Roman Amphitheatre
    Theatres
    See more photos
    Sue H Says:

    There is a Roman amphitheatre under London, and amazingly, this treasure was only discovered in 1988! Built back in AD70 it was once the scene of bloody battles featuring wild animals and gladiators in front of 6,000 screaming spectators. It's hidden from sight in the basement of the Guildhall Art Gallery — all you can see from the outside is the dark brick line across the courtyard, tracing the shape of the amphitheatre. Venture inside and you'll find the ruins, well explained through signage, plus digital displays that help fill in the gaps. Step inside and imagine the roar!

    Good for
    • Like a Local
    • History Buff
    Tips
    • It’s free to visit.
    • Why not pop in to see the historic document The Magna Carta while you are in the Gallery.
    Plan to stay:/
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #591 of 1,736 things to do in London
    • Hidden gem 06/11/2017
    • Interesting 26/05/2017
    • Roman Amphitheatre
    Address:
    Guildhall, City of London
    London
    England
    Phone:
    +44 20 7332 3700
    Other:
  • Save
    Tower of London
    Historic Sites, Points of Interest & Landmarks
    See more photos
    Sue H Says:

    Step back in time and explore 900 years of history through this castle right in the heart of London. The Tower of London dates from 1068 and is full of stories telling of its violent past, especially when the Tower was a formidable prison and a site of execution for victims including Henry VIII’s second wife, Queen Anne Boleyn. Look out for Traitor’s Gate, where the condemned entered, the Bloody Tower where the dark mystery of the two princes is still unsolved, and don’t miss the Crown Jewels where you'll be dazzled by the sheer size and number of diamonds on show.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    Tips
    • Buy your tickets in advance and arrive as early as you can.
    • Look out for the guards in bright red, known as Beefeaters, who know all the history of the Tower.
    • There are cafes and shops inside the Tower, where you can rest up during your visit.
    Plan to stay:/
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #3 of 1,736 things to do in London
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • A must see on the travel bucket list. 16/12/2017
    • Favorite Stop in London 16/12/2017
    • Tower of London
    Phone:
    +44 7544 282007
    Price range:
    US$44 - US$44
    Hours:
    Sun - Mon
    10:00 - 16:30
    Tue - Sat
    09:00 - 16:30
    Other:
  • Save
    Churchill War Rooms
    Historic Sites, History Museums, Military Museums
    See more photos
    Sue H Says:

    As you enter this underground bunker, it's as if Churchill and his staff left only yesterday, after planning Britain’s Second World War campaign from this fortified basement. As you explore the maze of tiny corridors of the War Rooms, you can see Churchill’s office/bedroom, the rooms of maps that battles were directed from, and the sombre records of the sheer numbers of planes and men lost on the bad days and nights. You can feel the claustrophobia and sense of danger even now, with some great recordings of those who worked here to add to your understanding of life in the bunker. You can also learn more about Churchill’s life, which spanned and influenced so many historic events.

    Good for
    • History Buff
    Tips
    • There can be quite a queue so it’s worth getting there early.
    • There is a fun and good-quality underground cafe that keeps the wartime theme going, and a shop full of nostalgic gifts.
    Plan to stay:/
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #6 of 1,736 things to do in London
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Fascinating 17/12/2017
    • Walk back in time. 17/12/2017
    • Churchill War Rooms
    Address:
    Clive Steps
    King Charles Street
    London SW1A 2AQ
    England
    Phone:
    +44 20 7930 6961
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    09:30 - 18:00
    Other:
  • Save
    Westminster Abbey
    Architectural Buildings, Sacred & Religious Sites, Historic Sites
    See more photos
    Sue H Says:

    This beautiful church oozes history, having been the venue for the coronations of British monarchs since 1066 (and you can even see the actual chair used in this ancient ceremony). There has been a church on site here since 960 AD, and the present one has seen some 16 Royal Weddings (including that of the current Prince William). Plus, the tombs are a roll call of Kings, Queens and famous historic figures such as Charles Darwin, Geoffrey Chaucer and Isaac Newton. More recent history is on show inside and out where you can see bomb damage from the Second World War.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    Tips
    • It usually closes around 3.30pm so make sure you get there in plenty of time.
    • Look out for the sign that says "Britain’s oldest door", dating back to the 1050s!
    Plan to stay:/
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #14 of 1,736 things to do in London
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Take a guided tour otherwise youll miss loads 17/12/2017
    • History Lovers dont miss this 17/12/2017
    • Westminster Abbey
    Address:
    20 Dean's Yard
    Broad Sanctuary
    London SW1P 3PA
    England
    Phone:
    +44 20 7222 5152
    Hours:
    Mon - Tue
    09:30 - 15:30
    Wed
    09:30 - 18:00
    Thu - Sat
    09:30 - 15:30
    Other:
  • Save
    Hampton Court Palace
    Castles, Historic Sites, Mysterious Sites, Gardens
    See more photos
    Sue H Says:

    Historic Hampton Court offers visitors two magnificent palaces to explore: the Tudor Palace, home to Henry VIII, where he flaunted his wealth and power; and the Baroque Palace, with its sumptuous state apartments. Events from history are brought to life as you walk in the footsteps of generations of monarchs here, and perhaps you will even see the ghost of one Queen who lost her head. The extensive grounds have their own history too – you can see a massive vine planted in 1769 and is still giving grapes, while the maze dating from the 1690s is harder to escape from than you’d think!

    Good for
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • History Buff
    Tips
    • This is a very large venue so allow plenty of time.
    • To get here, take a frequent train from Waterloo station. The station at Hampton Court is just next to the Palace.
    Plan to stay:/
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #1 of 9 things to do in East Molesey
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Nice Palace to drop by on the way back to London from Stonehenge 17/12/2017
    • Lengthy but Lovely historical visit 17/12/2017
    • Hampton Court Palace
    Address:
    A308
    East Molesey KT8 9AU
    England
    Phone:
    +44 870 752 7777
    Price range:
    US$37 - US$37
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    10:00 - 16:30
    Other:
  • Save
    Shakespeare's Globe Theatre
    Architectural Buildings, Historic Sites, Theatres
    See more photos
    Sue H Says:

    Go behind the scenes and back in time at this recreation of the Globe theatre where Shakespeare performed his plays in Elizabethan England. Take a guided tour with one of their experts and hear tales of the original Globe and about London during this era, or watch a play — either from a seat or standing just as someone would have done as a 'groundling' in Shakespeare’s day ... no heckling tho’!

    Good for
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    Tips
    • The theatres have hard seats so think about renting a cushion! Standing is easier on the pocket but requires a good constitution.
    • The more recently added Sam Wanamaker Playhouse offers candlelight Jacobean atmosphere for when you need to be under cover, and they have tours and performances too.
    Plan to stay:/
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #35 of 1,736 things to do in London
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Must see 17/12/2017
    • What a fabulous experience 13/12/2017
    • Shakespeare's Globe Theatre
    Address:
    21 New Globe Walk
    London SE1 9DT
    England
    Phone:
    +44 20 7902 1400
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    10:00 - 17:30
    Other:
  • Save
    Houses of Parliament
    Architectural Buildings, Government Buildings, Historic Sites
    See more photos
    Sue H Says:

    The seat of power for the United Kingdom is in an impressive building with its famous bell tower 'Big Ben' watching over the proceedings. A guided tour not only lets you explore some fine state rooms, but within parliament's walls is the magnificent Great Hall, with its stunning wooden roof built at the end of the 1300s. This masterpiece has survived time, wood worm and a major bombing attack in the Second World War. If the walls could only tell their tales....

    Good for
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • History Buff
    Tips
    • There is airport style security to get into this venue so be ready with those belts and coats.
    Plan to stay:/
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #9 of 1,736 things to do in London
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Finally got to go 17/12/2017
    • Nice view 17/12/2017
    • Houses of Parliament
    Address:
    Parliament Square
    London SW1A 0AA
    England
    Phone:
    +44 20 7219 4114
    Other:
  • Save
    Banqueting House
    Architectural Buildings, Historic Sites, Art Museums
    See more photos
    Sue H Says:

    This hall witnessed one of the most dramatic and shocking moments in all of English history, when King Charles I walked onto a scaffold from this room and was beheaded by his own people. Part of a grand palace which burned down in 1698, the banqueting hall luckily survived with its glorious Titan ceiling. This is a smaller venue than many other historical spots in London, making it a good place to pop in for a quick visit.

    Good for
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • History Buff
    Tips
    • This is easy to walk past and many miss this on Whitehall. Look out for it just opposite the horses at Horse Guards Parade.
    Plan to stay:/
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #192 of 1,736 things to do in London
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • An absolute must! 28/11/2017
    • Architectural & Historic Landmarks Not to be Missed... 20/11/2017
    • Banqueting House
    Address:
    Whitehall Palace
    Horse Guards Avenue
    London SW1A 2ER
    England
    Phone:
    +44 844 482 7777
    Hours:
    Mon - Sat
    10:00 - 17:00
    Other:
  • Save
    Museum of London
    History Museums
    See more photos
    Sue H Says:

    At the Museum of London you can journey back in time to pre-historic London and then work your way right through to the present day via all the major events in London’s rich cultural past. Plus, much of what is on display has been found locally, helping to bring it all to life. Each passing era has left its mark on London and you will learn about every one of them in turn, from Roman times, through the medieval era and invasion of William the Conqueror, to the Great Fire and Plague of the 1600s and on to the years of expansion and wealth from the new empire. Explore the reconstructed streets of Victorian London, the wealthiest city in the world at that time, through to the devastating impact of the bombing during the Second World War and the reconstruction that followed. Coming up to date through the 2012 Olympic Games, you will see exactly how London’s culture, diversity and vibrancy have made it the world-class city that it is today.

    Good for
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • History Buff
    Tips
    • This venue can be hard to find. Follow the signs you see from St Paul's underground (tube) station and around the Barbican centre.
    • The museum is free to enter.
    • There is a good cafe on site, and a great gift shop for London souvenirs.
    Plan to stay:/
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #48 of 1,736 things to do in London
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Another great free museum 15/12/2017
    • Great museum shame about the clockroom 15/12/2017
    • Museum of London
    Address:
    150 London Wall
    London EC2Y 5HN
    England
    Phone:
    +44 20 7001 9844
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    10:00 - 18:00
    Other:
  • Save
    Greenwich
    Neighbourhoods
    See more photos
    Sue H Says:

    Royal Greenwich is packed with history and you’ll not be surprised to discover it has been given World Heritage Site status. Standing on the deck of the Cutty Sark, you'll find yourself aboard one of the fastest sailing ships on the 1870s high seas. Visit the original 1670 Royal Observatory and see where GMT started, standing on the Prime Meridian, thanks to the 7th Astronomer Royal. Walk around the magnificent buildings of the Old Royal Naval College and soak in the atmosphere, pop into the Painted Hall and see how it got its name, and don’t miss the National Maritime Museum if you want to understand more about Britain’s naval history and see the coat Nelson wore when he was fatally shot.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • This is an extensive site so allow plenty of time, or just chose one or two venues.
    • For the best way to arrive, take a river boat. The Thames Clipper operates a regular river service and accepts Oyster cards.
    Plan to stay:/
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #30 of 1,736 things to do in London
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Winter festival Greenwich 17/12/2017
    • History of Time and Clocks 17/12/2017
    • Greenwich
    Phone:
    +44 870 608 2000
    Other:
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