by Catherine Tressa
London is vast and has many interesting sights. It is a city steeped in tradition, from royal ceremonies to magnificent castles. This article will focus on the more important ones enabling the first time visitor to prioritize what to see and ESTA will help you to get a fascinating memory for a life time.
Changing the Guard:
Nothing quite defines London’s heritage like than the Changing the Guard. Millions of tourists flock to Buckingham Palace each year to witness this ultimate symbol of pageantry. Best of all, the Changing the Guard ceremony is free, but be sure to arrive early to beat the crowds.
The Royal Mews:
Next door to Buckingham Palace is the Royal Mews, which is home to The Queen’s horses. The horses are often on duty or in training and are therefore not always on display, but visitors can still tour the stables and view the impressive collection of State vehicles – both carriages and motor cars – that are used for coronations, State Visits, royal weddings, and other official engagements.
Tower of London:
London’s biggest tourist attraction is the Tower of London. The Tower of London bears the distinction as London’s – and perhaps the world’s – most haunted attraction. At the Tower of London, visitors can join a tour led by one of the resident Yeoman Warders, explore the stories of the Tower’s famous prisoners through interactive displays, or view the famous Crown Jewels. Family trails and audio guides are also available. Because of some of its graphic displays, the Tower of London is not suitable for very young children.
Hampton Court Palace:
Situated on the River Thames to the south west of London is Hampton Court Place. The history of Hampton Court dates back to the 13th century. Its most famous resident was Henry VIII, and his fifth wife, Catherine Howard, can supposedly still be seen roaming the Haunted Gallery. Hampton Court Palace offers a wide range of family activities, from costumed guided tours and ghost tours to family trails and live cookery demonstrations in the Tudor kitchens. The sprawling gardens also feature a “world-famous” hedge maze that is a big hit with children.
Windsor Castle is actually located in Windsor, about 40 minutes by train from the center of London, but no trip to the English capital would be complete without touring this famous royal residence.
Westminster Abbey is a must-see for most London tourists. One of the sites most tourists want to see on a London vacation is Westminster Abbey. This is where Queen Elizabeth II was crowned in the tradition of English royal coronations. It’s also where Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer and where the funeral of Princess Diana (as she became) took place.
This great building has been one of England’s leading churches since 1066, when it started as a shrine. Westminster Abbey tours are available from guides on the spot. It is easy to take a self-guided tour of Westminster Abbey, with or without a rented audio guide.
You don’t have to go into Westminster Abbey to have the experience of appreciating its grandeur. There is much to see outside. Merely to look closely at the intricate carvings above the west door, for example, is an inspiration. Stand back and consider that this great place was built of stone by human hands, one piece at a time, and compare that to today’s modern concrete towers, and you will begin to feel the spirit of the place.
River Thames Festival:
During the Mayor’s River Thames Festival, the area from Westminster Bridge to Tower Bridge turns into one big party venue. This popular Festival of the River Thames in London attracts, in equal measure, both visitors to the capital city and Londoners themselves. The visitors to the festival participate in the fun. People take part in the spectacular parades, open air arts events and river events, and to enjoy the street theatre and massed choirs.
Natural History Museum:
A statue of Sir Richard Owen stands at the top of the stairs overlooking the Wonders of the Natural History Museum Gallery. When you visit the Natural History Museum, be certain to notice the ornate carvings in the museum walls, supports, and doorways. Waterhouse incorporated German Romanesque designs of animals and plants that symbolized the building’s function as a museum of natural history. The building itself is very interesting.
World Famous Stores:
Harrods is an upscale department store and one of the biggest in the world. It is a store with a substantial history and is famous for catering to any customer’s whims and fancies. Located in Knightsbridge, it can be easily accessed by the London Underground. While visiting, take time to see the memorial for the owner’s son, Dodi Fayed and Princess Diana. For children, Hamley’s, London’s largest toy store may be an alternative. It’s located on Regent’s Street, near Oxford Circus.
European countries does not require ESTA approvals for the tourists. ESTA is a visa waiver scheme that is needed for all European travel to the United States and is mandatory for entry into the country. Visiting Europe is an experience you will never forget.