Curious about what makes London truly famous besides its weather? You’re in the right place! In this article you’ll uncover some captivating insights as I will delve into 40+ fascinating highlights that totally reflect what London is famous for.
London, the iconic capital city of England and the United Kingdom, has captured the imagination of travellers and history enthusiasts for centuries. With its rich heritage, world-renowned landmarks, and vibrant cultural scene, London is a city that never fails to fascinate. Whether you are in London for a speedy 48-hour visit or for a relaxing longer vacation, there’s plenty to do and explore.
As someone who has lived and worked in London for decades, the picturesque neighbourhood of Kensington which was once my home holds a special place in my heart. Adorned with Georgian and Victorian architecture, I am still fascinated with its timeless charm even though I now reside just a stone’s throw away. I am uniquely positioned to share firsthand experiences and insights into the city’s wonders. Having immersed myself in London’s vibrant tapestry of history, culture, and hidden gems, I am excited to take you on a thrilling journey through over 40 remarkable highlights that showcase why London holds such a special place in the hearts of millions.
Before I introduce London’s highlights, let’s take care of some basics first.
ARE YOU AN OVERSEAS TRAVELLER VISITING LONDON?
If so, you may find purchasing the London Pass to be an invaluable city pass for your visit. You can select the duration, anything from 2 to 7 or 9 days and enjoy skip-the-line access to a multitude of attractions. You can read about how you can save money and the benefits of the City Pass and buy your London Pass here.
If you’re considering driving in England, you can rent a car from Discover Cars. Another option to explore is joining a guided tour. Look up all possible tours in and from London here and you’ll come across specific suggestions and tips for guided tours in the highlights as you read on.
If you’re planning to visit English Heritage sites such as Stonehenge, Dover Castle, the 1066 Battle of Hastings and Battle Abbey, or Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, you might want to take advantage of the discounted Overseas Visitor Pass. This pass offers savings if you’re visiting more than two of the over 100 sites covered by this scheme.
Looking for a great place to stay in London? No worries! Click this link to find a place to suit your taste and budget for a stay in London city.
With that sorted, let’s dive into what makes this metropolis, a popular destination to travel to.
HERE’S MY GUIDE TO “WHAT IS LONDON FAMOUS FOR?”: UNVEILING LONDON’S FAME, 40+ SPELLBINDING HIGHLIGHTS THAT WILL CHARM YOU COMPLETELY
From iconic landmarks to cultural treasures, along with hidden speakeasies to stunning rooftop vistas, and from fine cafes, quirky themed bars to culinary delights, are all here, in this collective highlights of London. I’ve also included London’s vibrant nightlife and dining scene, offering you an array of unforgettable experiences. So, let’s take a look at what makes London a unique and top travel destination in the world.
3 FAMOUS BRITISH CULTURAL ICONS THAT LONDON IS KNOWN FOR
There are three British cultural icons that are so well-known that I shall mention them first here.
The red phone booth, fish and chips, and English high tea are considered cultural icons of Britain. These three symbols have become synonymous with British culture and are recognised worldwide as quintessentially British experiences, hence, London is best known for also.
The Red Phone Booth
The red phone booth, with its distinctive design, is an iconic symbol of British identity. While their usage has decreased in the era of mobile phones, they remain an enduring image associated with British streetscapes. They can be found in various locations throughout London. Here are some specific locations where you can find them:
Parliament Square: Located near the Palace of Westminster and Big Ben, you can find a red phone booth or two in this area.
Trafalgar Square: This bustling square is home to Nelson’s Column and the National Gallery. You can spot red phone booths scattered around the square.
Covent Garden: This popular shopping and entertainment district is known for its lively atmosphere. Red phone booths can be found near the Covent Garden Market and surrounding streets.
Tower Bridge: Adjacent to the iconic Tower of London and Tower Bridge, you can often find red phone booths along the riverfront and near the Tower Hill Tube station.
Baker Street: Known for its association with the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes, Baker Street features red phone booths that add to the charm of the area.
Leicester Square: Located in the heart of London’s West End, Leicester Square is famous for its cinemas and entertainment venues. Red phone booths can be found in and around the square.
These are just a few examples, as red phone booths can still be found in various locations throughout London. Exploring the streets of the city will often lead you to these iconic symbols of British culture, providing great photo opportunities and a glimpse into London’s rich heritage.
Fish and Chips
Fish and chips is a beloved British dish that consists of deep-fried battered fish served with crispy chips. It has been a staple of British cuisine for generations and is considered a classic comfort food enjoyed by locals and visitors alike.
Fish and chips is best enjoyed freshly cooked and hot. Sprinkle with salt, add vinegar for a tangy kick, and savour the crispy fish and soft flaky interior. It can be eaten with fingers and paired with condiments like mushy peas or tartar sauce. Enjoy them outdoors or in a sit-down restaurant.
English High Tea
English high tea is a traditional afternoon tea experience that typically includes a selection of teas, finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, and an assortment of pastries and cakes. It represents a cherished British culinary tradition and is often associated with elegance and refinement.
London is renowned for its traditional high tea experiences, often served in elegant settings with a selection of teas, delicate sandwiches, scones, and pastries. Here are a few famous places for high tea in London for you to go to:
The Ritz London (Palm Court): The Ritz is synonymous with high tea in London. The Palm Court offers a quintessential British afternoon tea experience in a luxurious and opulent setting. Indulge in a selection of finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, and a variety of exquisite pastries and cakes.
Claridge’s (Foyer & Reading Room): Claridge’s is a renowned luxury hotel in Mayfair, and its high tea experience is highly regarded. Enjoy a classic afternoon tea in the glamorous Foyer and Reading Room, featuring a selection of teas, finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones, and an array of sweet treats.
The Savoy (Thames Foyer): The Savoy is another iconic London hotel known for its afternoon tea. Served in the elegant Thames Foyer, it offers a traditional tea experience with a live pianist playing in the background. Delight in sandwiches, scones, and an assortment of pastries and cakes.
Fortnum & Mason (Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon): Fortnum & Mason is a renowned department store with a rich tea heritage. Their Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon on the fourth floor offers a sophisticated and indulgent afternoon tea. Delight in delicate finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones, and a range of exquisite cakes and pastries.
The Shard (Aqua Shard): Enjoy a high tea experience with breathtaking views of London at Aqua Shard, located on the 31st floor of The Shard. Savour a selection of sweet and savoury treats while taking in panoramic views of the city’s skyline.
Sketch (The Gallery): Sketch, a unique and artistic destination in Mayfair, offers a whimsical high tea experience in The Gallery. Immerse yourself in the quirky ambiance while enjoying an assortment of sandwiches, pastries, and creative desserts.
These are just a few examples of famous places for high tea in London. Each offers its own unique ambiance, menu, and tea selection, providing an opportunity to indulge in this cherished British tradition in style. If you’d like to experience high tea in any of these best known places, it’s best to make reservations in advance, as they are often in high demand for their high tea experiences.
Together, these three cultural icons showcase different aspects of British heritage, and play a significant role in promoting and celebrating British culture both domestically and internationally. There’s no better place to experience the best of British culture than in London.
LONDON’S DOUBLE-DECKER BUS
Double-decker buses are an iconic symbol of London and a familiar sight on its streets. These buses have been a part of London’s transportation system for over a century. The red Routemaster buses, with their distinctive design, are particularly renowned. While the Routemaster buses are no longer in widespread use, they continue to be celebrated as a symbol of London’s heritage.
London’s modern double-decker buses, known as New Routemasters were introduced in 2012. These buses feature a sleek design, and increased accessibility. They blend modern technology and comfort with the charm of the classic double-decker design.
Double-decker buses offer an excellent way to explore the city. The upper deck provides panoramic views of London’s iconic landmarks, including Big Ben, the Tower of London, and Buckingham Palace. Visitors can hop on the iconic red buses to travel around the city, taking in the sights and sounds of London while enjoying a unique perspective from the top deck. In recent years, London has also introduced electric double-decker buses as part of its commitment to sustainability and reducing emissions.
Riding a double-decker bus in London is a quintessential experience. It allows you to immerse yourself in the city’s vibrant atmosphere and enjoy the charm and nostalgia associated with these iconic vehicles.
HARRY POTTER FILMMAKING
Harry Potter and London have a special connection, as the city served as a prominent backdrop for the magical world created by J.K. Rowling.
Platform 9¾ at King’s Cross Station: In the Harry Potter series, young witches and wizards catch the Hogwarts Express from Platform 9¾ at King’s Cross Station. To commemorate this, there is a real-life platform 9¾ installation at the station, where fans can take photos pushing a luggage trolley halfway through the wall.
Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter: Located just outside of London, this popular attraction offers an immersive experience showcasing the sets, props, and costumes used in the Harry Potter films. Visitors can explore iconic locations like the Great Hall, Diagon Alley, and Platform 9¾.
Leadenhall Market: This covered market in the City of London served as the inspiration for Diagon Alley, the magical shopping street in the Harry Potter series.
Millennium Bridge: In the sixth Harry Potter film, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” the Millennium Bridge is destroyed by Death Eaters. Though it’s not a magical bridge in reality, fans can still visit this pedestrian bridge spanning the River Thames.
Reptile House at London Zoo: In “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone,” Harry speaks to a Burmese python at the Reptile House, which triggers his ability to speak Parseltongue. The Reptile House can be visited at the London Zoo.
Lambeth Bridge: This bridge makes an appearance in “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” when the Knight Bus squeezes between two double-decker buses to avoid an accident.
Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square: These famous London landmarks are mentioned in the books and can be visited by fans exploring the city.
London is a famous destination for Harry Potter enthusiasts, providing them with numerous opportunities to immerse themselves in the wizarding world. There are various tours which you could join to discover the city’s magical connection to the beloved series.