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Top London Attractions Families, Couples - What to do in London Attractions Map

Popular London Attractions Map - What to Do in London

OVERVIEW OF TOP LONDON ATTRACTIONS MAP FOR FAMILIES, COUPLES

There is a multitude of interesting sights in this vast, vibrant city. First of all, you’ll want to check out Buckingham Palace, even if just to look at it from outside, and if you time it right you can see the Changing of the Guard. The Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Tower of London and Westminster Abbey are instantly recognisable iconic symbols of London. There are the lively markets such as the well-known one at Camden where many a bargain can be found, and colourful street performers in Covent Garden and Trafalgar Square. Explore the city’s nefarious past at the London Dungeon, and see gigantic dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum. For amazing views, climb to the top of St Paul’s famous Dome or take a ride on the London Eye. For a fun day out with the kids, travel to the outskirts for a visit to Chessington World of Adventures or LegoLand in Windsor, which offer a variety of rides.

Top Free Attractions Map in London - What to Do in London

Houses of Parliament (Free)

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The Houses of Parliament consist of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, which meet in the Palace of Westminster. The building you see today was built between 1840 and 1870, after a fire destroyed the Old Palace in 1834. There are many options for visiting the Palace and seeing decisions being made that affect the UK and wider world. To see debates for free, you can turn up on the day and queue outside St Stephen’s entrance, but be prepared to possibly wait for a couple of hours. The Public Gallery at the House of Lords generally has a shorter waiting time. You can also go to see exhibitions for free in Westminster Hall - the oldest surviving part of the original Palace, built in 1097. This means you won’t have to wait in the queue for debates. This is a great option that will add an educational element to your visit.
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British Museum (Free)

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It’s hard to know where to start with the British Museum. With 8,000,000 objects in its collection, of which 80,000 are on display at any one time, it would take at least a couple of visits to take everything in. Your best bet is to do a bit of forward planning and home in on the areas you have the most interest in. Top of many people’s lists would be the Rosetta Stone, dating from 196 BC and on display at the Museum since 1802; it holds the key to our understanding of Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics.

There’s also the Elgin Marbles which once adorned the Parthenon (link) in Athens, and the Lewis chessmen, beautiful ivory pieces from the 12th century.

The collection holds pieces from every stage of man’s development and from every continent, going as far back as a handaxe carved 1.2 million years ago. The museum was started in 1753 with 71,000 objects from the collection of naturalist Sir Hans Sloane.

Disabled access information
The British Museum near Tottenham Court Road is also one of the most accessible for disabled visitors. Home to many treasures from throughout history, a visit here is always fascinating. Any previous visitor however knows that it is not possible to see all the collections in just one trip! It is best to head for one of the major collections (such as the Egyptian, Greek or Roman galleries) or to one of the regular special exhibitions.

The vast majority of the collections can be easily enjoyed by disabled visitors. Wheelchair access is available at each museum entrance and most of the galleries are fully accessible (a good map is available on the museum website and on arrival). The museum offers a comprehensive audio guide (with extra charge) as well as large print and braille guides to many of the collections. Regular sign language talks are also scheduled.

Access to the main museum collections is free for all visitors, and in addition disabled visitors are offered concessionary prices to special exhibitions, with an accompanying person admitted free of charge. The museum also offers special parking facilities for disabled visitors which can be reserved by calling in advance. The museum is busiest in the summer months, but the large gallery space and less popularity with younger visitors mean it is less crowded than the popular museums around South Kensington.

Floor and gallery plans showing disabled access features are available online: http://www.britishmuseum.org/visiting/floor_plans.aspx
Full details of disabled access as well as provisions for hearing and vision impaired visitors: http://www.britishmuseum.org/visiting/access.aspx
Transportation to the museum: http://www.britishmuseum.org/visiting/getting_here.aspx
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Big Ben (Free)

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You can’t get much more of an iconic symbol of London than Big Ben. Since its construction in 1858, it has become universally recognisable and has been used in countless films to establish location. The name “Big Ben” actually refers to its enormous bell which weighs over 13 tons, while the tower itself, previously known as the Clock Tower, was renamed Elizabeth Tower in 2012 as part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Don’t miss seeing the Tower at night when its four clock faces (the largest in the world at seven metres in diameter) are spectacularly lit. The origin of the name Big Ben is an interesting topic. Officially, it is named after Sir Benjamin Hall, who commissioned the bell; his name is inscribed on it. However, another popular theory is that it was named after British heavyweight boxer Benjamin Caunt. Both men were known for their size!
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Tower of London (Paid)

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The Tower, which is actually a castle situated on the north bank of the Thames, has a long, fascinating and often bloody history. It is one of the oldest castles in England; the White Tower, from which the whole complex takes its name, was built by William the Conqueror in 1078, and is the best-preserved keep from that period. Although it is usually thought of as a prison, and served as such for over 800 years, it was originally intended as a royal residence and has had many other uses, often at the same time. These include the home of the Royal Mint and the Crown Jewels, and even a menagerie which included a polar bear and an elephant. You can discover more about all these roles when you visit, and view the world famous Jewels. There is also a memorial at Tower Green to those who were executed here, including Anne Boleyn.
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Changing of the Guard (Free)

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This is one of the most famous ceremonies in the world and certainly makes for an impressive sight. If you haven’t got time to do a tour of Buckingham Palace, you can still go and see Her Majesty’s Guard changing over for absolutely nothing. You will see the Old Guard and New Guard lining up at each end of Horse Guards Parade. The exchange of duty is accompanied by a Guards band, who don’t just play traditional military marches - there are songs from films and musicals and even pop songs. The Changing of the Guard is a highly popular display of the pomp and circumstance that is associated with the British Royal Family. The crowd can get pretty large, so check the times below and make sure you arrive early to get a prime viewing spot! If you want to take a picture, Wellington Barracks is the best place to be (to the left as you face Buckingham Palace) where you can photograph the guards just after the ceremony.
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Westminster Abbey (Paid)

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Westminster Abbey is one of the most famous and important religious sites in Britain, and has seen a long line of coronations, burials and marriages in its history of over a thousand years - including, most recently, the marriage of Prince William and Kate, viewed by millions. There are many interesting features to explore in the Abbey, which dates in its present form from 1245. You can choose to find your own way around with the help of the audio guide, available in eight languages, or join one of the popular tours led by the verger. These take in the Shrine of St Edward the Confessor, the Royal Tombs, Poets’ Corner, the Cloisters and the Nave. All are welcome to join in one of the daily services. You can also explore the history of the Abbey in the Museum, located in the vault beneath the former dormitory - a space which dates back to the 11th century.
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Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre (Paid)

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A faithful recreation of the theatre which saw the first productions of arguably the most famous plays in history. You can take a tour around and soak up the atmosphere, imagining what it would have been like to see a production here in Shakespeare’s day. It’s actually the third Globe theatre; the first, from 1599, burnt down in 1613 due to an accident with a cannon during a performance of Henry VIII; it was rebuilt the following year, only to be pulled down by the Puritans around 1644. The current theatre was opened in 1997, under the guidance of American actor and director Sam Wanamaker, and sits about 230 metres from the site of the original structure. Of course, it is not just a historical curiosity, but a working theatre, with regular Shakespearean productions as well as modern plays. It makes for a good experience so it’s well worth getting hold of tickets.
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Tower Bridge (Paid)

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Tower Bridge is another instantly recognisable sight of London. It’s situated a short distance from the Tower of London, from which it takes its name, although it is well known for its own towers which house the mechanism which raises the bridge. It’s great just to walk along the bridge, giving fantastic views along the Thames in both directions, but it’s also well worth venturing inside the towers where you will find museums that display the old hydraulic machinery used for lifting the bridge. There are also displays and artefacts explaining its history. The bridge enjoyed a fresh coat of paint and a renovation of the interior walkways in 2008-12. These walkways are used for occasional exhibitions and functions. The bridge being raised is a sight to behold, and occurs about three times a day. Although river traffic is now much less common than road use, it still takes priority.
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Museums and Art Galleries (Free)

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London has a wealth of wonderful museums and galleries, with something to interest everyone. And the great news is that the majority are free. Head to Kensington just outside the centre and you can take in the Science Museum, with its interactive exhibits and fascinating range of artefacts such as Stephenson’s Rocket, one of the earliest steam engines; and the Natural History Museum, a great place for the kids with its famous dinosaur skeletons among more than 70 million items. The most famous gallery in the country, the National Gallery, faces Trafalgar Square; see our article here (link) for more details. You should also check out the Tate Modern on Bankside, just upriver from the London Eye, to see works by Picasso, Turner, Dali and many more. Why not book a hotel in Kensington from our selection below and take in all the delights that the area has to offer at your leisure? There are always special events and exhibitions going on, so even if you come back again, no two visits will ever be the same.

Tate Modern
Housed in a converted power station on the popular South Bank of the river, the Tate Modern is the leading museum of modern art in the capital. It displays works by leading artists from the 20th and 21st centuries, in interesting themed categories which are regularly changed. There are also temporary exhibitions dedicated to particular artists.
Whilst most of the leading London museums provide good disabled access, the Tate Modern goes one step further! Unlike many other museums, which have had their historic structures updated to accommodate visitors, the interior of the Tate Modern has been specifically designed as a modern museum. It is generally busiest at weekends, but the spacious galleries mean higher visitor numbers still do not present much of a problem.
There is good lift access to all area and the galleries and other areas are all open and spacious. An audio guide (and a video guide displaying sign language) is offered for the main collections and large print printed guides are available for all exhibitions.
The Tate Modern also offers special tours and talks for hearing and visually impaired visitors, with a schedule on their website. They offer an excellent choice of “Touch Tours” which enable visually impaired visitors to interact and learn more about modern art. These are available to book on request.
For easiest access to the museum it is recommended to take a bus or make use of the free disabled parking available. The museum is around 800 meters from the nearest underground station, along busy roads.
Disabled access information
Full accessibility information is given on the museum website: http://www.tate.org.uk/visit/tate-modern/access-and-facilities
To book a Touch Tour, call in advance on +44 (0)20 7401 5113
Transport to the museum: http://www.tate.org.uk/visit/tate-modern/getting-here

Science Museum
The Science Museum is one of the most popular family museums in London. Part of a group of historic museums in the South Kensington area, it features permanent collections and changing exhibitions focussing on the fascinating history of science, exploration and discovery.
Some of the more popular galleries include space exploration, computers and technology and past geniuses such as Leonardo da Vinci. Like most of the public museums in London, the Science Museum is well equipped for disabled access, with accessible entrances and lifts installed throughout the museum.
A full map is available showing all access routes and facilities.
In addition, large print maps and gallery guides are available at the museum; several can also be printed in advance as needed.
The museum is also well regarded for its extensive programmes of talks and “hands-on” demonstrations. Many of these are suitable for visual and hearing impaired visitors, and detailed can be obtained from the museum.
Whilst disabled access is very good, it should be noted that the museum can get very crowded during school holidays, and also during weekends. Many of the galleries and exhibitions have limited space and wheelchair users may prefer to avoid these busy periods. Also, the nature of some of the exhibitions means the interiors can be quite dark in places.
The museum can be easily accessed from South Kensington underground station, with level pedestrianised street access. There is also free disabled parking available (first come first served) on Exhibition Road by the main entrance.
Disabled access information
Accessibility map for museum: http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/~/media/Documents/info_map/newer_accessibility_map.pdf
Transportation to the museum: http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/visitmuseum/getting_here.aspx
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St Paul’s Cathedral (Paid)

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St Paul’s, with its magnificent dome, is an iconic and instantly recognisable symbol of London. Designed by Christopher Wren after the previous Cathedral was gutted by the Great Fire of London in 1666, it was the tallest structure in London for almost 300 years, and remains highly popular today as a place of worship and tourist destination. There are many options on offer when you visit. You can climb the dome, ascending to the Golden Gallery at the top where you can enjoy incredible views of London from 366 feet. Or going the other way, you can explore the crypt and see the tombs of Wren, Lord Nelson and the Duke of Wellington. There is also Oculus, a 270? film experience which takes you on a virtual journey through 1400 years of the site’s history and all around the building. Or you can simply join in the daily prayers and worship. Whatever you do, no visit to London is complete without taking in St Paul’s.
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South Bank (Free)

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The South Bank is known as a cultural hotspot of London, featuring such famous venues as the Royal Festival Hall, the Queen Elizabeth Hall and the National Theatre. There is always a diverse range of productions going on, but if theatre isn’t your thing, there are all sorts of other attractions in the area, from the London Eye to the Sealife Aquarium and the London Dungeon. This makes the South Bank an ideal location to spend the day whether you are a young couple, retired, or a family with kids. There is also an amazing array of cafes and bars to seek out - you’re bound to find something that takes your fancy, and it’s an ideal place to sit and watch the world go by. Add in the high accessibility of the area, with a high concentration of Tube stations and seven bridges connecting it to its northside neighbour, and you can understand why the South Bank is so popular!
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Street Performers (Free)

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London has an amazing wealth of talented street performers plying their trade for the delight of onlookers every day of the year. You can find them on the South Bank and in Trafalgar Square (links here for these articles), but let’s home in on the area with the highest concentration of entertainers, Covent Garden. The tradition of performance here has a long history: Samuel Pepys noted the first known Punch and Judy show in Britain in May 1662 in Covent Garden. Today, you can meet acrobats, illusionists, human statues, jugglers, escapologists, stilt walkers and many more. Humour is often an integral part of the act and helps the performers to draw a crowd; just be aware that audience members are often called upon to participate! Many of these acts have been established for many years and put on an exceptional show to make you gasp. So why not reward them with a few minutes of your time, and a generous handful of change in the black hat.
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Buckingham Palace (Paid)

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The most famous Royal residence in Britain, Buckingham Palace is a place you really have to get to in London, even if it’s just to take a picture outside. However, from late July to late September, you can also take a tour of the Palace’s nineteen State Rooms, which house treasures from the Royal Collection including masterpieces by Rembrandt, Rubens and Canaletto. Many of these are found in the Picture Gallery, but you can also visit the Throne Room, the Music Room, and the Guard Room with its white marble statues of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. There is always a special exhibition as part of the tour; previously, these have included the Queen’s wedding dress and Coronation gown and the Ballroom set for a state banquet. After the tour, you exit into the Palace Garden where you can visit the shop and take a walk along the south side of the Garden, past the lake.

Disabled access information
The entire visitor area is wheelchair accessible. Modifications are made as necessary (to avoid stairways and trickier parts) and there is a well signed special route, with staff on hand to guide and assist. A full audio tour is offered as part of the visit, and printed information is available on request. Note that are no toilets available along the tour route (only in the garden area at the end of the visit). Buckingham palace is busiest during the month of August. However, access is by timed entry ticket so at peak times there may be a longer wait, but once inside the palace will not be too busy. An enhanced ticket gives access as well to the Royal Mews and the Queens Gallery. These too are fully accessible, but note that the Royal Mews is a longer route and the entrance is around 1 kilometre from that of Buckingham Palace.

Guide to access routes: http://www.royalcollection.org.uk/visit/buckinghampalace/plan-your-visit/access
Transportation route to the palace: http://www.royalcollection.org.uk/visit/buckinghampalace/plan-your-visit/access
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London Eye (Paid)

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The London Eye, the tallest Ferris wheel in Europe at 135 metres, allows visitors a bird’s eye view of the skyline of one of the most architecturally rich cities in the world. Buckingham Palace, St Paul’s Cathedral, and the Houses of Parliament are among the visible sights. One of the most iconic structures in the city, it is ridden by over 3.5 million people every year. If you are frantically rushing about London for the day, a trip on the Eye makes for a restful half an hour where you could perhaps pick out what attraction you are going to take in next. It’s an elevating experience which shouldn’t be missed, especially on a clear day in summer, while a night-time visit allows a magical panorama of the city’s lights. The Eye itself is lit up in blue in the evening, making for an attractive sight.
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Trafalgar Square (Free)

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Trafalgar Square is home to the famous Nelson’s Column and provides access to the National Gallery, also free. Following a recent redevelopment, it can now be entered via a wide set of steps from the Square and disabled access is provided. It houses famous works by van Gogh, Monet and da Vinci among its collection. There are four plinths in the Square, three topped by George IV and a pair of generals, but it is the Fourth Plinth that has gained notice recently. Empty until as recently as 1998, it now features a constantly changing series of art installations, including the intriguing One & Other scheme in 2009 during which 2,400 members of the public spent one hour each on the Plinth in succession. Who knows what you will find when you visit? Another well-known feature of the Square are its fountains. They have recently been renovated and now send water 80 feet into the air, and make an alluring sight at night with their multi-coloured, eco-friendly LED lighting.
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Cutty Sark (Paid)

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This is a great family day out: the Cutty Sark is the finest and fastest tea clipper of the 19th century and the best surviving example. It’s preserved on dry dock at Greenwich, giving visitors the opportunity to go all around and even underneath the ship. The website promises the possibility of “balancing a 963-tonne national treasure on just one hand”. She was built on the River Clyde in 1869, representing the pinnacle of technology for tea clippers before the steam era came in. Her time transporting tea was actually quite short-lived before she was moved to the wool route to Australia on which she made record speeds. After some time as a cadet training ship, she came to rest at Greenwich in 1954. The Cutty Sark was severely damaged by fire in 2007 but rose from the ashes five years later, having undergone a complete restoration. There is a cafe situated right under the ship which appropriately serves the popular Cutty tea loaf.
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The View from the Shard (Paid)

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For the most spectacular view in all of London, take an elevator ride up the Shard, Western Europe’s tallest building at 310 metres. You will be able to see all the major landmarks, including Big Ben (link), Tower Bridge (link), St Paul’s Cathedral (link) and the London Eye (link). You will enter this modernist building, designed by master architect Renzo Piano, and ascend in two “kaleidoscopic” lifts. Floor 69 offers your first look at the panoramic view, extending to 40 miles around. This floor is enclosed, but if you go up to Floor 72, you’ll be in the open air, a thrilling experience on a fine day with the neverending sounds of the city all around and a view of the topmost “shards” of the building as they seem to disappear into infinity. As the Shard is extremely popular, it’s best to book tickets in advance online so you can skip the queues.
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Madame Tussauds (Paid)

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This famous waxworks museum is one of the most popular attractions in London, as visitors queue up to get a picture with their favourite celebrity, whether it’s Barack Obama or Beyonce. It is also one of the longest running attractions, having been operating on the same site in Marylebone Road since 1884. Walk through 14 themed areas, from the glamour of Hollywood to the interactive sport area. As well as the wax figures, Madame Tussauds also features the Spirit of London ride, a journey in a black cab past London’s most renowned landmarks, and the incredible Marvel Super Heroes 4D movie. There are also chances to look behind the scenes at the painstaking process that goes into creating each model, and discover the museum’s long history. And for the brave, get up close and personal with serial killers in the live fear experience, SCREAM. All in all, there’s something for everyone at Madame Tussauds.
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Parks and Gardens (Free)

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London is filled with beautiful parks and gardens, ideal for a pleasant stroll or just a peaceful break in the middle of a hectic day of sightseeing. Hyde Park is one of the largest and probably the most famous. The area also includes Kensington Gardens (which runs on directly from Hyde Park), Green Park and St James’s Park. Let’s focus on the 350-acre Hyde Park, which includes such notable features as Speaker’s Corner, where anyone is free to turn up and talk on any subject (not necessarily political), the Serpentine Lake, and the Diana Memorial Fountain. There are many recreational activities on offer: boating and swimming in the Serpentine Lake, and tennis, lawn bowls and putting facilities. Or if that all sounds like too much, kick back with a drink and take in the spectacular views of the Lake from the Lido Bar & Cafe. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for the interesting wildlife of the Park, including butterflies and song birds.
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Street Markets London (Free)

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London is well known for its vibrant, colourful street markets where you can buy almost anything, often at bargain prices. From vintage clothes to fresh fruit and vegetables, to fabrics, art and antiques. There are many markets dotted all around the city, but let’s focus on arguably the most famous, Camden Market. There are actually several different markets contained in the area: from Camden Stables Market, with its alternative fashions, crafts and collectables, to the famous original Camden Lock, with everything from books, music and films to home furnishings including unique fabrics, paintings and mirrors. And of course there is the vast range of vintage clothing, one of the largest in Europe - try the Arches in Stables Market. Add in a diverse range of multicultural food options, and you have an exciting day out - who knows what you’ll find when you visit! Many shops and stalls are open through the week.
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Free music in clubs and theatres (Free)

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You don’t have to spend a fortune to have a great night out and enjoy some live music in London. In fact, entry for some gigs is completely free. Let’s have a look at what’s out there. After a hard day’s shopping at Camden Market (link), why not enjoy a drink and some free live music from fantastic DJs and bands at the Lock Tavern on Camden High Street. See here for upcoming events and check our article for directions to Camden. For a wealth of wonderful talent, a great place to check out is the Ain’t Nothin But Blues Bar which provides live blues every night of the week. Enjoy free admission all night from Sunday to Thursday, while on Friday and Saturday it’s free if you arrive before 8.30pm. Kick back and relax at what’s described as “The best blues bar this side of the Atlantic!” and see below for how to get there.
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SEA LIFE London Aquarium (Paid)

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This makes for a great day out for all the family, whatever the weather. Located in County Hall in the South Bank, it is also close to many of our other top rated attractions. You can walk with the sharks, immerse yourself in a stunning recreation of the Pacific ocean, feed the stingrays, and coo at the gentoo penguins. Clownfish, green sea turtles, and even crocodiles are also among the creatures on display. The aquarium also plays a big part in marine conservation, with many of the animals being on the endangered list. It works with breeding programmes to promote the proliferation of our seagoing life. There are two classrooms where you can learn more about the conservation activities supported by the Centre. The Aquarium is a great place to take the kids if you’re looking for something both fun and educational.
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London Dungeon (Paid)

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The London Dungeon offers visitors an immersive experience into one thousand years of gruesome history in the capital, through the use of interactive exhibits and actors playing the parts of such characters as Jack the Ripper and Sweeney Todd. There are also theatre shows with special effects - you just might not want to sit too near the front! Your experience will start with the Descent, a ride in a creaking, groaning medieval lift down into the Dungeon, guided by the Lift Leper. Then you will join Anne Boleyn on a boat ride down the River Thames to the place of her execution. Acclaimed actor Brian Blessed appears in a 3D rendition of Henry VIII. In March 2013, the Dungeon moved from its previous location near London Bridge, to County Hall on the South Bank right next to the London Eye, making it easy to take in both attractions in one day.
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River Cruises (Paid)

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For a really fun and adventurous way to take in the sights of the city, take a River Cruise down the Thames. Here we shine the spotlight on one of the companies operating these popular trips, City Cruises. Based at Westminster Pier, boats also run from Waterloo, Tower and Greenwich Piers. Trips range from a quick thirty-minute ride to the full three-hour experience. There is an informative commentary from one of the crew for the entire duration. You can view many of the sights featured on this website from the water, including Westminster, the London Eye, St Paul’s Cathedral and the Tate Modern. The boats are extremely comfortable, with bars selling snacks and drinks, and most are wheelchair accessible with disabled toilets provided. A River Red Rover ticket allows you to travel all day, hopping on and off whenever and wherever you like. If you want to push the boat out - literally - you can plump for the evening Showboat Dinner and Dance cruise, with fine wine and hit songs performed live.
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