The late May sun is shining and, amazingly, it’s apparently meant to stay for a little while longer than we’re used to! Couple that with seeing ice cream vans dotted along the side of the Thames and we’re inclined to actually believe that summer is here!
It’s got us thinking about places everyone should be visiting in the coming months, to take in a bit of history in culture in the best city on the planet – and these are our top four…
Tower Of London
Within these famous walls, sat just next to the iconic Tower Bridge, is the world famous castle whose routes go back all the way to 1078. Despite its grim reputation as a place of torture and death, there is so much more to the powerful fortress than you could possibly imagine.
The history of this royal palace and armoury is astounding. For example, did you know the many wild and wondrous animals have inhabited the Tower in its near-1,000 year use, making it officially the first zoo in London?
You can also see the priceless Crown Jewels up close and personal as you join the very recognisable Beefeaters on a tour to hear their bloody tales about executions and the like. While you can also get to grips with swords and armour and much more!
Originally a Royal Navy light cruiser, the Belfast forms part of the Imperial War Museum’s collection and is permanently moored nearby Tower Bridge.
The ship tells the stories of life on board a warship during the Second World War and beyond, with displays and exhibitions showing what life was like during convoy duties in Arctic waters. How would you have coped living in tightly-packed hammocks for months on end?
You’re able to explore nine of her decks, steeped in incredible history – including the guns, shell rooms, and the interactive operations room. The Life at Sea exhibition also allows you to hear veterans’ real-life stories of their time at sea.
And if you’re bringing the family, children under the age of 15 can visit for free!
Houses Of Parliament
Sitting just by the River Thames, the Palace of Westminster – better known as the Houses of Parliament – is an essential London visit.
There are options for both audio and guided tours, including the route taken by the Queen during the traditional State Opening of Parliament – from the Queen’s Robing Room, through to the Royal Gallery and into the incredible Lords Chamber.
You’ll also have the opportunity to move through the Central Lobby, Members Lobby and the Commons Chamber, the scene of Prime Minister’s Questions and government debate. The tour ends in the 900-year-old Westminster Hall, where Guy Fawkes was tried and powerful figures like Nelson Mandela and Barack Obama have addressed Parliament.
Well, where do we even start with Greenwich? There’s something for absolutely everyone in what is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Understandably a top 10 destination with tourists in the UK, it’s home to the Royal Observatory – and the home of Greenwich Mean Time.
Plus its routes are intrinsically based with the River Thames; there’s also the iconic Cutty Sark sailing ship and the National Maritime Museum, which is the largest museum of its kind in the world. With exhibitions on Britain’s encounters at sea, the Royal Navy, Admiral Nelson and lots more, you can lose yourself in there for hours.
And when you’re hungry, there are plenty of places to eat – whether in a restaurant or greens by the riverside to graze on your packed lunch.
Remember that you can easily access all of these places on the River Thames, so start planning your summer in London now!