The City of London is an area on the north bank of the River Thames that sits between the Waterloo and Tower Bridges. ‘The City’, as it is also known, is considered to be the business capital of Europe and is home to some of the world’s biggest banks and corporations, with 2.5 per cent of the UK’s GDP generated here.
That suggests it wouldn’t be much fun for visitors to the capital, but think again, as the district features many of London’s most iconic buildings and there’s plenty to keep tourists busy.
For guests at the Park Grand London Lancaster Gate Hotel, getting to The City is easy. Jump on the Central Line at Lancaster Gate Tube Station, and alight at Bank Station. The entire journey should take around 20 minutes.
(Address: Silk Street, EC2Y 8DS)
This performing arts centre is the largest of its kind in Europe with three cinema screens, a 1,943-seat concert hall, one of London’s largest public libraries, an art gallery, and two theatres – one with 1,156 seats, 288 in the other. There is also the Museum of London, numerous informal performance spaces and no fewer than three restaurants.
With so much going-on, it’s worth checking the Barbican’s upcoming events to see if your time in the capital coincides with any concerts and exhibitions you’d like to attend.
The Barbican sits close to remnants of the ancient London Wall, so keep your eyes peeled for some history if you’re nearby.
(Address: 8 Southwark Street, SE1 1TL)
Just over London Bridge is Borough Market – one of the capital’s best food markets. It celebrated its 1,000th anniversary in 2014, making it one of the city’s oldest food markets, but there’s nothing stale about the varied and vibrant range of stalls on offer.
You’ll be able to find virtually anything to eat here, from traditional English pies to Indian curries and greasy burgers to wholesome vegan and veggie options.
(Address: Bankside, SE1 9TG)
Housed in a decommissioned power station, the Tate Modern is one of the world’s largest museums of international modern art going back as far as 1900.
This is no admission charge generally, but major temporary exhibitions command an entry fee.
(Address: Tower Bridge Road, SE1 2UP)
Arguably the capital’s most recognisable bridge, the 244-metre long Tower Bridge is relatively short, compared to others further down the River Thames, such as the Millennium Bridge, but some 40,000 people use it to cross the Thames every day. Halfway between its two iconic towers, the bridge splits and raises to an angle of 83o to allow river traffic to pass.
You can enjoy some breathtaking panoramic views of London from 42 metres above the river on modern glass floor walkways in the Tower Bridge Exhibition.
St. Paul’s Cathedral
(Address: St. Paul’s Churchyard, EC4M 8AD)
At 111 metres high, this magnificent Baroque church was the tallest building in London until 1967, so here’s another great spot to take in some stunning views.
Built in 1673, St. Paul’s has been the setting for some truly historic events over the centuries, such as the funerals of Lord Nelson and Sir Winston Churchill, as well as the jubilee celebrations for Queen Victoria and the wedding of Charles, Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer.
The cathedral’s interior is as beautiful as its exterior, so if you can afford the fairly pricey entry fee then it’s worth it. Otherwise, you can enjoy a picnic lunch in the churchyard gardens with the Millennium Bridge in the background.
The View from the London Monument
(Address: Fish Street Hill, EC3R 6DB)
This is a cheap way to see London from above. The only catch is that you have to be prepared to scale the 311 steps, and it isn’t for the faint of heart.
This stone column was erected by famous London architect Sir Christopher Wren, the same man behind St. Paul’s Cathedral, and it is located just a few metres from where the Great Fire of London started, in a baker’s shop on Pudding Lane in 1666.
Tower of London
(Address: St Katharine’s & Wapping, EC3N 4AB)
One of the world’s longest-running tourist attractions, the Tower of London is the site of some particularly grisly tales linked to the British monarchy.
The Tower of London has been used for all sorts of things over its thousand-year history, serving as a royal residence, an armoury, a treasury and a zoo.
Today, it gives visitors the chance to see the Crown Jewels, and from mid-November until early January, it has an outdoor ice-rink.