With between 20 and 30 million annual visitors, there’s no question that London is a popular tourism destination. People from around the world flock to the city to experience its historical sites, cultural institutions, world-famous monuments, restaurants, classy London boutique hotels, and much more. But which of London’s top attractions is its most popular? Let’s dive into London’s top sites and find out which is London’s biggest tourist attraction!
Buckingham Palace and the Changing of the Guard
For many, the city of London is synonymous with Buckingham Palace, which has been the residence of the Royal Family since 1837. Built in 1703, the palace itself contains a whopping 775 rooms. To get a glimpse into how the royals live, take a tour of the palace between mid-July and September, on which you can see the 19 state rooms where the family hosts important events. More than 15 million people visit the palace every year.
Of course, you can’t miss the famous Changing of the Guard when you visit the palace. This formal ceremony happens when the Queen’s Guard soldiers are relieved of their duty by a fresh group of soldiers. It happens every two hours, so you have plenty of chances to catch it throughout the day!
The Tower of London and Tower Bridge
For those who’d like to explore the darker side of London’s history, a visit to the Tower of London may be in order. The tower guards, in particular, love to share bloody tales from the tower’s past with over 2 million yearly visitors. Inside, there are twelve towers open to the public, and you can check out the Crown Jewels exhibit as well.
Nearby, you’ll find the exquisite and lavish Tower Bridge, another symbol of the city. Though it’s now one of the city’s most-visited landmarks with over 500,000 annual visitors, its completion in 1849 was originally met with disdain. An 1849 issue of The Builder actually called it “monstrous” and an “architectural sham.”
Big Ben and Parliament
If there is one landmark that’s almost universally associated with London, it’s Big Ben. Most people think of Big Ben as the clocktower attached to the Palace of Westminster, but the tower is actually called Elizabeth Tower. Big Ben is the name of the large bell that chimes inside the tower.
The clock is noted for its accuracy. Unfortunately, only UK residents who meet a strict set of criteria are allowed to go inside, but everyone can enjoy the tower from outside. However, visitors can tour the Palace of Westminster, which is home to the Houses of Parliament. Roughly 75,000 UK residents visit the tower ever year.
The Victoria and Albert Museum
Founded in 1852, another contender for London’s biggest tourist attraction is the Victoria and Albert Museum. Considered the world’s leading museum of art and design, it is home to over 2.27 million unique objects in 145 galleries.
The art displayed there, which includes sculptures, paintings, ceramics, glasswork, metalwork, fashion, jewelry, books, and more, spans from ancient times to the present day! Around 4.3 million people visited the museum between April of 2018 and March of 2019. If you stay at hotels near Paddington Station, London, the museum is only an 18-minute car ride away!
The Two Tates: Tate Britain and Tate Modern
Lovers of art will certainly not want to miss the two Tate museums in London: Tate Britain and Tate Modern. They’re part of a larger family of four museums that also have locations in Liverpool and Cornwall. At Tate Britain in Millbank, you’ll find British art from 1500 to the present day, including rooms dedicated to sculptor Henry Moore and a gallery dedicated to the life and work of painter Marie-Louise von Motesiczky.
The items on display at Tate Modern are pieces of international modern and contemporary art. There, you can check out live art, as well as video, performance, and film art. Among the many offerings are pieces with social and political messages, and a Living Cities exhibit that utilizes a variety of materials to create the pieces on display. Just under 6 million people visit both museums annually.
While these London attractions are all extremely popular, there is no doubt that, with 15 million yearly visitors, Buckingham Palace is London’s biggest tourist attraction. They’re all worth your time, though, and visiting each will further immerse you in the city’s culture and history. After you’ve checked them out, grab a bite to eat at Chiswell Street Dining Rooms, which offer the best British cuisine in a classy yet comfortable setting. Book a trip to London today to experience all of these amazing places for yourself!