The capital of Britain, London is often regarded to be the best city in the world. I am inclined to agree, thanks to London’s rich history, varied neighborhoods, and selection of vibrant scenes that take you from day to night. With such a rich and diverse history, there are almost too many answers to the question “What is London famous for?”
Apart from Big Ben and Buckingham Palace, London is famous for its status as one of the world’s greatest cosmopolitan cities, with an incredible array of museums, shops, and restaurants. It’s also known for its interesting history in regards to royalty, politics, arts, science, and architecture.
When discovering London, you can find evidence of what London is famous for around every street corner, from its rich history, to its pulsating present. Let’s jump into the list of what London is known and famous for.
London’s Famous Landmarks
1. Big Ben
Big Ben is surely one of the most recognizable things that London is known for. Little do many know, however, that Big Ben is the name of the bell that strikes on the hour, and the building itself is actually Elizabeth Tower. Nevertheless, this striking monument beside the Houses of Parliament is one of London’s most famous attractions, dating back to 1843.
2. Tower Of London
The Tower of London is perhaps one of the best examples of just how long and varied London’s history is. As the oldest part of the original building dates back to 1078, it has played a number of pivotal roles in the history of the UK, from the Norman Conquest, to a prison and torture chamber, hosting everyone from Elizabeth I to the infamous London gangsters, the Kray twins. It is also the home of the Crown Jewels of England. The Tower of London certainly offers some interesting juxtaposition with the modern skyscrapers of The City on the London skyline, and its notoriety definitely merits a visit.
3. London Eye
The London Eye is one of London’s more recent additions, but is still known worldwide as a true landmark on the London skyline. Considering that the London Eye, or Millennium Wheel, was first unveiled on New Year’s Eve 1999, it has fast become one of London’s most popular tourist attractions – and something that London is famous for. When visiting London, a trip on the London Eye is well worth it for the spectacular views of the rest of the city.
4. Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge has become an undisputed symbol of the city of London, and so is often confused with London Bridge. Tower Bridge was completed in 1894 and has been the site of a number of exciting stunts because of its ‘see-saw’ style opening. Visit the towers to learn more about its history, or pass beneath it on a River Thames cruise.
London is Famous for its Attractions
5. Buckingham Palace
Of course, the UK is known for being one of the last remaining countries on Earth with a royal family. Whatever your stance on the monarchy, Buckingham Palace is one of the most iconic tourist attractions in London, drawing visitors from far and wide. Not only is it the home of Queen Elizabeth II, but it is a place of architectural interest as well as a must-visit for history buffs.
6. Houses Of Parliament
London is also famous for being the home of a style of government that has gone on to have longevity all over the world, with parliament being established and led by the concepts of parliamentary sovereignty and the rule of law. In this way, London is famous for being the blueprint for most modern parliamentary democracies. Not only that, but the Palace of Westminster, where the UK parliament sits, is a fantastic place to visit for its beauty and history. You can even go inside and watch the UK parliament in action.
7. London Olympic Stadium
The Olympic Games in London in 2012 was a huge boost to the city of London, and the rest of the UK. London saw the development of a number of new spaces and stadia to host the games, and they have lasted until today as hugely popular tourist attractions. With one of the stadiums becoming the new stadium for West Ham Football Club, and the Olympic Park continuing to draw in people from the world over, these locations are a fantastic place to visit and soak up London’s very recent history.
8. Westminster Abbey
In the wise words of Joey Tribbiani, Westminster Abbey is “hands down, the best abbey I’ve ever seen”. Founded as far back as 960, this imposing structure has been a lasting reminder of the city, and country’s, relationship with the Christian Church since the origins of England as we know it. The host to coronations and royal weddings, such as that of Prince William and Kate Middleton most recently, Westminster Abbey also hosted the funerals of Princess Diana and Charles Darwin, and is the final resting place for Sir Isaac Newton and Charles Dickens – some of London’s most famous minds.
9. St. Paul’s Cathedral
St Paul’s Cathedral is one of London’s most beautiful landmarks, towering over the skyline on the highest point in the City of London. As well as being yet another example of the stunning architecture that London boasts, it is also one of Sir Christopher Wren’s most famous projects, and was built as part of a city-wide project to rebuild the city after the devastating Great Fire of London in 1666. Once again, St Paul’s Cathedral is but another attraction that makes London famous, not just for its historic value, but also its architectural beauty and religious importance.
10. The Shard
Moving on, the Shard in London is both literally and figuratively the cutting edge of London’s skyline, and is now officially the tallest building in the United Kingdom, and the sixth tallest building in Europe. It’s home to some of the city’s most luxurious offices, apartments, bars, and restaurants.
Since the Shard opened its doors in 2012, visitors have been able to experience the most breathtaking views of London from its top floor observation deck, or treat themselves to a swanky meal. Even if you don’t go inside the Shard itself, its imposing structure makes it clear to see why London is so famous for its revolutionary design and architecture.
11. The Gherkin
The Gherkin is yet another iconic structure speckling the famous London skyline. Also in the financial district of London, ever since The Gherkin was completed in 2004, this swanky skyscraper has been housing luxury offices and exquisite eateries, from bustling street food on the bottom floor, to exclusive fine dining at the top.
12. Wembley Stadium
London is, of course, famous for its talent, from music to sports. This is why Wembley Stadium is such a well-known landmark in the city, being one of the UK’s most important venues. Some of the world’s biggest music artists have performed at Wembley, as well as some of the biggest sporting stars – not least the England football team. If you’re a fan of football, American football, or your favorite band is performing here, Wembley is a superb place to be entertained.
London’s Famous Parks & Gardens
13. Hyde Park, London
Hyde Park is one of London’s most famous parks, due in part to its central location, and the fact that it is the largest of the royal parks of London. However, what makes Hyde Park particularly interesting is its famous Speaker’s Corner.
At Speaker’s Corner, people stand up and make speeches freely to the passers-by who may, or may not, stop to listen and debate. These speeches can be on any topic, from contemporary political issues to their own personal manifesto, and has attracted the likes of Karl Marx, George Orwell, and Vladimir Lenin so they could exercise their freedom of speech. When visiting Hyde Park, be sure to visit this incredibly famous quirk of the park.
14. Kew Gardens
Kew Gardens is famous for housing the largest and most diverse botanical collections in the world. If you want to visit London but escape the concrete jungle of the city centre, a short trip to Kew Gardens might be just what you need to feel at one once again with nature. Opened in 1759, Kew Gardens is yet another fantastic place to discover more about London’s history, and witness some of nature’s most beautiful species for yourself.
London’s Famous Streets
15. Baker Street
London is also famous for its rich cultural significance, spanning art, literature, and film. Among London’s most famous literary characters is the undisputed icon of Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle’s super-intelligent detective. Living in the, once fictional, 221b Baker Street, a trip to this address will now land you in the Sherlock Holmes museum: a must-visit for any fan of the books, films, or any one of the TV series that this mythical figure has inspired.
16. Oxford Street
Oxford Street is London’s busiest shopping street, and probably its most well-known. Playing host to all the favorite brands and labels, Oxford Street is always a hassle to stroll down because of the throngs of people that flock there, but is also always rewarding for the resilient shopaholic. London is known for its shopping and fashion status, so no first-time trip to London is complete without a visit to Oxford Street to purchase a souvenir.
London is Famous for its Shopping & Dining
Harrods is one of London’s most famous establishments, and is now a globally recognised brand. This veritable London institution has been running since the 1800s, and draws in customers due to its exclusive selection of luxury goods, famous food courts, stunning architecture, and its iconic green bags that have become something of a status symbol. Whilst it is on the pricey side, Harrods is more than just a department store, but a piece of London’s fame and history.
18. The Savoy
London is also famous for its luxury: the sheer number of Michelin star restaurants, exclusive hotels and designer boutiques in the city tells you that. One of London’s most well-known luxury hotels is The Savoy, that has been providing unrivalled service in the heart of London for over 130 years. Whether you want to treat yourself to a meal in its sublime restaurant, or stay at The Savoy when visiting London, you will find yourself in a true institution.
19. Fish and Chips
Everyone knows that the UK is home of fish and chips, and in London you are spoiled for choice for where to go. Whether you’re in trendy Camden, or the honest East End, you will be able to find a ‘chippy’ to give you a delicious taste of authenticity.
20. Borough Market
Borough Market is just one of many covered markets in London, but is undoubtedly the most popular. Selling fresh, local produce in the heart of London city center, as well as a veritable smorgasbord of street food stalls – from fried chicken to noodles and everything in between – and bars, Borough Market is a wonderfully vibrant place to stop for a stroll, a beverage, and a bite.
London’s Famous Neighbourhoods
21. Camden, London
Camden is one of London’s coolest and quirkiest neighborhoods, the stomping ground for the likes of Kate Moss and Amy Winehouse, and a firm favorite for alternative tourists to London. Explore its independent stores and vintage shops, before heading to the street food market around the canal where your senses can be overwhelmed by the sights, smells, and flavors of this delicious district.
22. Notting Hill, London
Notting Hill is another of London’s most famous, and most affluent, neighborhoods. Having risen to international fame thanks to the films of Richard Curtis (think Bridget Jones, Love Actually, etc.), Notting Hill is a quirky and colorful part of the city, that is also known for its annual Notting Hill Carnival. Notting Hill Carnival is one of the city’s hottest events, celebrating Caribbean culture in the best way possible.
23. Covent Garden, London
Covent Garden is another of London’s most bustling neighborhoods, boasting a covered market and a huge selection of boutiques, restaurants, and bars. It is an incredibly popular area in central London and you could spend all day exploring its cobbled streets in search of fantastic fashion and exquisite gastronomy.
London’s Famous Museums, Galleries & Theatres
24. William Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre
William Shakespeare is arguably the UK’s most high-profile export so, naturally, he has left quite the mark on the capital. Although born and raised in a West Midlands town called Stratford-Upon-Avon, it was in London that Shakespeare made his fame and fortune, writing plays for the Queen, and later King, and founding his legendary theatre: The Globe.
Despite being ravaged by fire in 1613, rebuilt, and then subsequently shut down again by the Puritans during the English Civil War, a modern reconstruction of the theatre was unveiled in 1997 on the original site, and people are able to come and watch Shakespeare’s plays in an authentic location to this day. Whether you’re a thespian, a literary lover, or just want to explore the very best of London, a visit to Shakespeare’s Globe theatre can’t be missed!
25. Tate Modern
The Tate Modern is one of four Tate art galleries in the UK, and is probably the most popular. From its iconic tower that overlooks the River Thames, to its ever changing array of exhibits inside, the Tate Modern offers visitors a selection of the best British and international contemporary art in the world. London is revered for always being on the cutting edge of art, design, and culture, and the Tate Modern is an incredibly accessible way to see that.
26. The West End
London’s West End is famous worldwide for being one of the best places in the world for live theatre. No trip to London is complete without taking in a show in one of London’s historic theatres in its West End. Everything from hit musicals to independent plays are showcased in London’s West End, so there is always something that will appeal, featuring the best in London’s theatrical talent, and even some big names.
27. Museum of Natural History
London’s Museum of Natural History is one of the city’s most famous and influential museums, housing an extensive collection of fascinating artefacts from the prehistoric era and beyond. If you want to learn more about our dinosaur ancestors and the beasts that lurk beneath the surface of the sea, there is no better place to visit than the London Museum of Natural History.
London’s Famous Quirks
28. Rainy Weather
The UK in general is famous for its drizzly weather and London, of course, is no exception. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but there’s nothing more atmospheric than strolling around London under its trademark grey skies, or sitting in a pub with a traditional ale as the rain splutters down the windows.
29. Red Telephone Boxes
Another of London’s most iconic sights are its red telephone boxes. People may no longer need them, thanks to the mobile phones they keep in their pockets, but you will still find these babies bedazzling almost every street in central London.
20. Black Taxi Cabs
Another of London’s iconic symbols is, of course, the black cab. These are driving all over the city at all hours of the day. Not only are they a true staple of London, but they are also actually a really useful method of transport for when you visit London.
31. Double Decker Bus
Another of London’s iconic methods of transport is the bright red double decker bus that are constantly lined up in the London traffic. If you want to get to the corners of London that the Underground doesn’t reach, for a fraction of the price of a black cab, then hop on a red double decker bus and get exploring the city!
32. London Underground
The best, easiest, and most convenient way to get around London, however, will always be the London Underground or the ‘Tube’ as the Brits call it. This subway system was the very first in the world, and it is still transporting Londoners and tourists around this magnificent city to this day, with each train emblazoned with its trademark logo.
33. Tea Culture
If there’s one thing that Brits are renowned for, its their love of (or obsession with) the perfect cup of tea. If you want to see what all the fuss is about, you’ll be hard pressed to find a café in London that doesn’t sell tea. Depending on who you ask, you’ll get different answers for what constitutes the perfect British cuppa, but when in London you must try and figure out your own version.
London has far more that make it one of the best and most famous cities in the world, but this list will definitely keep you occupied when you next find yourself in the British capital.
What else is London famous for? Share it in the comment box below!