As London is such a big place to visit and live in you never seem to run out of things to do, however if you are lacking some London inspiration check out this random A-Z list of places to visit and things to see in the capital.
I always find that there are loads of things left to see and visit but can understand that the overwhelming choice in the capital can be stifling for some people. Perhaps you could use this random list as a way to picks things out and avoid any stress!
A- London Aquarium
The London Aquarium is located in the South bank area of London on the South Bank of the River Thames. The aquarium is situated in the ground floor of the County Hall and receives over a million visitors a year.
The aquarium features over 400 different species of fish and sea-life and has a massive shark tank in which you can see sharks of various sizes swimming in a large open water space. Although they are located behind thick glass when the sharks glance up against the glass it’s still pretty scary!
A good educational day out and you can even spot some of the fish from Finding Nemo including clown fish, porcupinefish, Regal Blue Tang and my favourite the yellow tang.
B- Big Ben
Big Ben is the nick name for the main bell of the clock tower at the north-eastern end of the Palace of Westminster in London. Built in 1288, Big Ben is the largest four-faced chiming clock and the third-tallest free-standing clock tower in the world and is best reached by Westminster station on the underground.
Big Ben turned 150 in 2009 and is a firm favourite of London tourists due to it’s photogenic qualities it also provides some good inspiration for funny photos including wearing the clock tower as a hat and taking a bite out of Big Ben.
C- Covent Garden
Covent Garden is an area of central London which homes several market style shopping areas and is home to the Royal Opera House. The area is chock full of quaint English shops and a good place to hang out before heading to the Theatre or a show.
The journey from Covent Garden underground station to Leicester Square is the shortest on the underground system and works out at an average of £24.84 a mile so it’s best to walk the 260 metres between the stations!
D- London Dungeon
London Dungeon is one of London’s most popular attractions and opened in 1976. The dungeon takes a look at London’s bloody past with a comical slant and changes it’s collections regularly to themed attractions such as Sweeny Todd, the Great Plague, Jack the Ripper and the Great Fire of London.
Don’t underestimate how scary the Dungeon is going to be, as even the newly opened Dungeon section of Madame Tussauds scared the pants out of me with people jumping around and blood literally everywhere!
E- The Evening Standard
The Evening Standard is a Russian owned London regional paper which covers national news but does show a preference to London related news stories. The daily paper covers most aspects of London life from a slightly right-wing stance and often features stories relating to the latest London politics and debates regarding London transport prices.
The magazine supplement to the Standard called ‘ES Magazine’ covers a great deal of local fashion news and events in the London area and often features a comprehensive theatre guide aimed at older readers.
F- London Fashion Week
London Fashion Week takes place following New York Fashion Week and provides glamorous parties and shows throughout London lasting roughly (surprisingly) a week. The fashion week events take place semi-annually and are often themed to specific genres or locations.
The four Fashion Week events (New York, London, Milan and Paris) are an ideal way of catering to industry participants such as photographers, journalists and buyers, as they are able to easily travel to each of the events. In the past the events have been criticised for neglecting the growing fashion scenes in Los Angeles and other parts of the globe.
G- London Gatwick
London Gatwick is London’s second largest and busiest airport and the ninth busiest in terms of passengers in the world. Mainly used for flights to America and the base of the following operators, Aer Lingus, British Airways (BA), EasyJet and Virgin Atlantic.
To be honest Gatwick isn’t too easy to get to as it is located a little way out of central London. The best bet in getting there is either the Gatwick Express from London Victoria or Kings Cross. You can even get buses there which should take around an hour and a half from London Victoria station.
The London Hippodrome was originally intended for animal circus acts and the name hippodrome originally comes from it’s animal show past. Recently the Hippodrome has undergone a great deal of restoration work and is due to open as a casino in the near future.
In the past the London hippodrome has been home to a wide variety of acts including circus troops, animal acts, variety shows such as the recent La Clique and stars such as Tom Jones, Shirley Bassey and The Temptations have all performed at the Hippodrome.
The BFI Imax is located on the South Bank of the River Thames close to Waterloo Bridge and boasts the UK’s biggest cinema screen which stands at 20 metres high and 26 metres wide which is nearly the height of five double-decker buses.
The Imax building was opened in 1999 and funded by the Arts Council and Lottery Grant. Designed by Avery Associates Architects the building is often multi-coloured acts as a beacon for the regeneration of the South Bank area along with the National Theatre and Tate Modern gallery.
J- The London jazz Festival
The London Jazz Festival or (LJF) is held around November each year and is run in association with BBC Radio 3. The festival takes place at a number of different venues across London chosen for their jazz backgrounds which include the Roundhouse in Camden, the Barbican and the Royal Festival Hall.
The festival is considered by the Guardian to be the “UK’s biggest and best jazz festival”, the festival although jazz orientated does reflect the latest fashions in the jazz world and differs slightly each year to reflect the changing jazz landscape.
K- Kings Cross Station
Kings Cross Station is the mainly entrance to London for people and tourists arriving by train especially if you hail from the North. The station famously features in several of the Harry Potter books as the mystical entrance to the Hogwarts Express train which departs from platform 9 and 3/4’s.
Interestingly enough there is actually a platform nine and three quarters at Kings Cross which is hidden away towards the rear of the station. There is even a trolley lodged in the walls. This I suspect has been added to the platform wall to discourage people from running into the wall and attempting to get on the Hogwarts Express. However it does make for an interesting photo opportunity and most people don’t even realise it’s there!
L- London Eye
The London Eye which is also known as the Millennium Wheel was originally intended as a temporary London landmark however due to an overwhelming success and expectance into the London landscape the London Eye is here to stay.
The London Eye is the biggest ferris wheel in Europe and has become the most popular paid attraction in the United Kingdom and is visited by over three million people each year. The London Eye features 32 pods which hold up to 25 people in each, a rotation takes just over half an hour and gives passengers some pretty good views of London and the cities skyline.
M- Millennium Bridge
The London Millennium Footbridge is a pedestrian only bridge which links bank side and the South Bank of London to the city. The bridge cost nearly nineteen million to build and was opened two months late and looked doomed from the start.
However since the millennium the bridge has become a firm favourite amongst Londoners and has been seen to add a great deal to the makeup of London. Also it provides a much prettier backdrop than the existing bridges when heading into central London after poking around in the Tate. Personally I just like the fact that is sways a little in the wind!
N- London Newspapers
Being the capital, London Newspapers can at times be a little London-centric and heavily cover and feature stories and articles relating to London life and the latest goings on in the capital.
There are a few free papers which are distributed daily in London called the London Paper and London-Lite. The Metro is also a firm favorite amongst London commuters and if you take a morning trip on the tube you will see pretty much everybody is reading one of the publications in a seemingly impossibly small space.
O- London Overground
The London Overground is a Tfl (Transport for London) owned over ground commuter rail service that operates in London. The London Overground is also part of the Network Rail Network.
Although the London Overground is not technically part of the tube and underground network Oyster cards can still be used on the system whether they are top up or season or monthly passes. However higher entrance rates will apply due to the larger areas that the over ground covers.
P- London Palladium
The London Palladium is a theatre off Oxford Street in the West end of London which has 2,286 seats and has been home to a wide variety of shows and productions over the years which have included Oliver!, The King and I and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
The building is grade II listed and dates from the early 1900’s and even has a revolving stage. The Palladium is rumoured to be haunted by the ghost of an actress and has been seen on a number of occasions during productions!
Q- London Quotes
As London has been home to many literary and comedy greats over the years including Charlie Chaplin, George Orwell and Oscar Wilde to mention a few, there are a great number of quotes about London and London life. Here are a few of my favourite quotes that sum up living in the capital.
“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.” – Samuel Johnson
“The man who can dominate a London dinner-table can dominate the world.” – Oscar Wilde
“Im leaving because the weather is too good. I hate London when its not raining.” – Groucho Marx
R- London Restaurant Week
London Restaurant Week usually runs during April and sometimes last for more like two weeks. Basically Restaurant Week is a chance to sample some of the finer eateries in London at more accessible and reasonable prices.
There are bucket loads of offers on for restaurants around Restaurant Week and some really good deals to be snapped up. It means that you can check out some celeb eateries or sample some Michelin star approved dishes at prices around twenty five quid for three courses and fifteen quid for a two course lunch.
S- Somerset House
Somerset House is an amazing Neoclassical building which is located near to Waterloo Bridge and Trafalgar Square to the side of Strand. Somerset House is seen to be the home to the arts in London and regularly hosts exhibitions relating to art, fashion and architecture.
In recent times Somerset House has also been used for more unusual events such as outdoor ice skating in the Winter and the Film4 Summer Screen events which projects specialist and art house films in the courtyard which are free to see and make for an amusing festival atmosphere.
T- Tower of London
The Tower of London has it all ghosts, ghouls, beheadings, executions and the crown jewels! Reputedly the most haunting building in England the Tower of London has been home to the crown jewels since 1303 and the buildings primary function was that of a fortress and prison.
The Tower is a scary old place that has witnessed the death of many Kings and Queens of British past and is supposedly guarded by ravens. It has been said that at least six ravens have been living in the Tower for years and that if they should ever leave then the White Tower and subsequently the Kingdom will fall!
U- London Underground
The London Underground system has been serving London and it’s boroughs since 1863 and now consists of 270 stations which are spread across 200 plus miles of track. Famous for overcrowding and delays the system is usually pretty reliable and although expensive beats the lengthy bus alternatives and is definitely better than walking.
Unfortunately as the Underground System has been built on Victorian lines and subway tunnels upgrading the lines is lengthy work and as such the Underground currently doesn’t have air conditioning or mobile phone signal so get can get pretty hot during Summer periods, so make sure you take some water with you!
V- V and A Museum
The Victoria and Albert Museum is often called the V and A, is the worlds largest collection of decorative arts and design goods. Mainly free although some seasonal attractions are ticketed the museums collections are massively expansive and rival the British Museum.
Mainly focused upon arts and design sectors the museum covers a great deal of fashion, pottery and crafts from around the world. The museum building itself is spectacular and the tearooms feel like you are sitting in the middle of Victorian England as they are lavishly decorated and covered in gold leaf.
W- Wembley Stadium
Wembley Stadium is located in North London and hosts all major national sporting events and several annual cup finals. It is the home of national football and has recently been used for events such as American Football, Wrestling and for live music concerts such as Live Earth.
The stadium is often simple referred to as Wembley and cost around 800 million pounds to build! It is the largest stadium in the world with every seat under cover and features a parasol roof which has been designed to ensure that no shadow is cast on the pitch during events and sporting matches.
London Xfm originated from a pirate radio station called Q102 and is London’s most popular radio station. It has a reputation for showcasing alternative music and is owned by Global Radio.
The station broadcasts on 104.9FM and has featured some major celebrity hosts in the past including the likes of Zane Lowe, Ricky Gervais, Russell Brand and Alex Zane
The YMCA in London just off Tottenham Court Road is the first ever YMCA centre in the world and since that one opened the centres for health, fitness and Christian values have sprouted all over the world.
Originally designed as a place for London workers to avoid squalor and destitute living conditions and learn a little bit more about the Christian way of life and partake in some bible studies, the centres have now become associated with gyms and the Village People’s hit song.
Compared to other gyms in central London the YMCA establishments are very competitively priced and offer good new started deals and trials.
The Zoological Society of London or more commonly known ZSL, was founded in 1826 by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles and a few other friends. Now the oldest Zoo in the world, London Zoo was originally intended for the scientific study of animals but has since become a excellent place to learn more about animals and their behaviour.
The Zoo has a wide collection of animals and even boasts an aquarium and several more unusual animals such as the magnificent Gorillas, Tigers and Lions. Prices can be quite expensive but there are usually some 2for1 deals to be had somewhere on the internet!