The Shard – one of the most famous and recognisable…
When you’re in the middle of London, everywhere always seems busy. But have you ever wondered which is the hottest ticket in town? What are the London attractions that you simply can’t miss?
This week, the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA) released their figures for the year 2015, revealing their list of the UK’s most visited attractions. The great news for visitors to London is that all of the UK top 10 are situated in the capital city! Even better news – most of the top 10 are actually free to enter! Here, we run down the top 10 and other notable features on the list.
1. British Museum
This incredible museum dedicated to human history is filled with amazing artefacts from across the globe. The British Museum also has the incredible Great Court with a beautiful glass roof. It’s the most popular UK attractions, is free to enter, and often features optional special exhibitions which carry an entry fee.
2.The National Gallery
Just off London’s Trafalgar Square, The National Gallery is the second most popular attraction in the UK. It features art works from the 13th century right up to 1900 and is also free to enter!
3. Natural History Museum
Free to enter, The Natural History Museum can sometimes have a queue, so it’s best top head there early. This incredible building in Kensington explores, as the name would suggest, the natural history of the earth, featuring everything from dinosaurs to the skeleton of a Blue Whale.
4. Southbank Centre
Europe’s largest centre for the arts takes spot number four – the Southbank Centre is made up of several smaller venues hosting dance performances, film screenings, art exhibitions and literature talks. Most events in the Southbank Centre are ticketed but it also holds loads of free events throughout the year, so check to see what’s on while you’re visiting!
5. Tate Modern
The place to go in London if you want to see modern art, such as Francis Bacon, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, David Hockney or Damien Hirst. The Tate Modern is free to enter and is also located on London’s Southbank, so you can swing by after your trip to the Southbank Centre!
6. V&A Museum
A museum focused on fashion, art and design, the Victoria and Albert Museum is just up the road from the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum. It’s free entry and also features special exhibitions which hold an entry fee. Founded in 1852, this beautiful building has a gorgeous courtyard, perfect for resting or having lunch on a sunny day.
7. Science Museum
Also in London’s museum district, The Science Museum is just around the corner from The Natural History Museum and the V&A , it’s also free to enter! Here you can explore everything science, from space exploration and technology, to mechanics and The Big Bang.
8. Somerset House
This stunning building on the south side of The Strand plays host to lots of cultural events throughout the year, so check out their events calendar to see what’s on when you’re in London. If you visit in the summer, the grand courtyard plays host to open-air film screenings and if you’re in London in the winter, there is a beautiful outdoor ice-rink in the lead up to Christmas.
9. Tower of London
One of the oldest and most iconic features of the River Thames, there is so much history packed inside the walls of the Tower of London. The Crown Jewels, Beefeaters and over 1000 years of history make this one of the must-do attractions of the city. As it’s so popular, it’s best to book your tickets in advance.
10. National Portrait Gallery
Positioned right behind the number two slot, The National Gallery, The National Portrait Gallery is well worth a visit. Free to enter, the gallery features an amazing range of portraits of historical and significant figures from the past as well as current celebrated artists and public figures.
Most Popular Outside of London?
Coming in at numbers 11 and 12, the most popular UK attractions outside of London are the Library of Birmingham – the largest public cultural space in Europe which holds an impressive range of social gatherings and cultural events – and Chester Zoo, the most visited wildlife attraction in the UK.
Most Popular in Scotland
Standing proudly at number 18, Edinburgh Castle is Scotland’s most visited attraction. The castle stands in the middle of the city, providing both a beautiful focal point for the city and incredible views across Edinburgh and the surrounding landscape. The castle itself is filled with lots of activities and pieces of Scottish history, including the Scottish Crown Jewels! Book a day trip to Edinburgh, including entry to the castle here.
Most Popular in Northern Ireland
Coming in at an impressive number 40, the Giant’s Causeway on the Northern Irish coast is the most popular attraction in this little corner of the UK. An extremely rare result of an ancient volcanic eruption, the Causeway is an UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Great Wonders of the UK. It’s free to visit, but you do have to pay an entry fee if you want to go into the Visitor Centre.
Most Popular in Wales
Coming in at number 120, the most popular attraction in Wales is Bodnant Garden, a gorgeous National Trust property with an incredible Laburnum Arch, the longest in the UK (pictured above) – go during May or June to see it flowering.
Which UK attraction do you most want to visit?
Images from Abhishek Mishra, Andreas Wecker, Mariano Mantel, Gary Ullah, Dave Pearce, Aurellen Guichard, Neil Turner, DncnH, Enrique Guadiz, Ian, dun_deagh, Stefan Klopp and ukgardenphotos via Flickr.