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The London Pass: Exploring the City's Historic Landmarks

Welcome, fellow adventurers, to the bustling streets of London, where history and modernity seamlessly intertwine! Prepare to embark on a captivating journey through time as we uncover the hidden treasures of this iconic city - and best ways to visit them. From majestic palaces to ancient cathedrals, London's historic sites will leave you in awe. So, grab your favorite walking shoes, and let's dive into the enchanting world of London's historic wonders!

The best way to visit most these iconic sites is by purchasing a London Pass for the duration of your trip. The London Pass offers admission to countless places in and around London, as well as walking tours and river tours on the Seine - for a relatively low price. You can save up to 50% on top attractions, it is super easy to use, and it gives you access to 90+ attractions with just a simple scan! Another amazing benefit from purchasing and using the London Pass is the discounts that are available at certain sites; for example, at the Tower of London, you can receive 10% purchases at the gift shop using your London Pass!

1. Tower of London:

Our first stop takes us to the magnificent Tower of London, which stands proudly on the banks of the River Thames. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is steeped in history, having witnessed centuries of royal dramas, political intrigue, and even executions. Immerse yourself in the grandeur of the White Tower, gaze at the Crown Jewels, and meet the famous Yeoman Warders who guard this iconic fortress.

The White Tower located in the middle of the Tower of London
The Tower of London

It is true that the best way to visit the Tower of London is by using the London Pass, but be aware that the hours of operation for the Tower of London vary, so be sure to check their website in advance! Pro tip: arrive roughly 30 minutes before they open to avoid waiting in a long queue - by the time they open there is already a 30+ minute wait just to get in.

The London Pass gives you admission to the Tower, but it does not include a guided tour or and audio-guide. When you enter, you have the option to walk around on your own, follow a Yeoman Warder on one of their tours (free of charge), or purchase an audio-guide. Self-guided is more challenging as you don't have the opportunity to learn as much during your tour, whereas the Yeoman Warder gives a lot of details and information on the history and even modern uses of the Tower of London. But, one drawback with Yeoman Warder tours is the crowds: they draw a lot of attention and the crowds following them can be overwhelming if not claustrophobic. The audio-guides are roughly 5 euros each and are a good option for those who just want to go at their own pace but still learn as they go.

The Tower Bridge located just outside of the Tower of London
The Tower Bridge

2. Westminster Abbey:

A short stroll away, we find ourselves at Westminster Abbey, a true marvel of Gothic architecture. This sacred site has been the coronation venue for British monarchs since 1066 and is the resting place of numerous historical figures, poets, and scientists. Stand in awe beneath the soaring vaulted ceilings as you explore the hallowed halls that have stood witness to countless significant events throughout British history.

Westminster Abbey in London
Westminster Abbey

Believe it or not, you can also access Westminster Abbey using the London Pass AND it includes an audio-guide! There is a vast amount of history inside these walls and the audio-guide does a great job of explaining the importance and significance of what you're seeing as you walk through.

Definitely check the hours of operation for Westminster Abbey beforehand as they change as well. Another thing to note is that the Abbey is an active church and does randomly close for holidays and events, so look out for that as well.

3. St. Paul's Cathedral:

Next, let's venture to the iconic St. Paul's Cathedral, a masterpiece designed by Sir Christopher Wren. Ascend to the Whispering Gallery for a breathtaking panoramic view of the city or explore the crypt, where notable figures such as Sir Winston Churchill and Lord Nelson rest in eternal peace. Don't forget to witness the mesmerizing beauty of the cathedral's awe-inspiring dome, a true testament to human ingenuity.

Once again, the London Pass does give you access to this amazing site! Included with admission is an audio-guide or the option to join a 30-minute or 1 hour guided tour of the cathedral. I personally did not opt for either of these and just walked around on my own, but I can say from my experience that a guide would have been great but is not necessary.

St. Paul's Cathedral is also an active church so, once again, double check the hours of operation and whether they will be open during your visit or not. You can even choose to visit during one of their services, all they ask is that you not take pictures or videos and just to be respectful and quiet as you observe.

Buckingham Palace in London, England
Buckingham Palace

4. Buckingham Palace

Visiting Buckingham Palace is an absolute must for any traveler venturing to London. As the official residence of the British monarch, this iconic palace stands as a symbol of majesty and grandeur. Marvel at the stunning neoclassical architecture, adorned with intricate details and the famous balcony where the royal family makes appearances during special occasions. Don't miss the Changing of the Guard ceremony, a spectacle of precision and tradition that takes place right at the palace gates. While you may not be able to explore the interior, the sheer presence of Buckingham Palace is enough to leave you in awe and create lasting memories of your time in London.

Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace and St James Palace in London England
Changing of the Guard

Your London Pass does include a few options regarding the Buckingham Palace, but it does not allow you admission to see the interior. The London Pass includes a Changing of the Guard walking tour as well as admission to the Royal Mews and the Queen's Gallery. But fret not, there are options to book tours of the State Apartments using other sites like Get Your Guide or Viator.

If you choose to do the Changing of the Guard walking tour, you'll just need to book your place using the link provided on the London Pass website. The tours typically happen regardless of bad weather but, because it is included with your London Pass, you don't need to worry because you didn't pay extra for it and you can rebook for another day, if your schedule allows.

5. Churchill War Rooms

Located underground, this fascinating museum offers an immersive experience, allowing visitors to step into the secret bunker where Prime Minister Winston Churchill and his team strategized during World War II. Explore the labyrinth of rooms, preserved exactly as they were during the war, and gain a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by the nation. From the Map Room to Churchill's personal quarters, the exhibits offer a unique glimpse into the intense atmosphere of the era. The museum also features an impressive collection of artifacts, documents, and multimedia presentations that provide rich insight into Churchill's leadership and the events that shaped the course of history. A visit to the Churchill War Rooms is not only educational but also deeply moving, leaving visitors with a profound appreciation for the resilience and determination of the British people during one of the most challenging times in modern history.

Sadly, the London Pass does not offer admission to the Churchill War Rooms. But nevertheless it is an amazing site and you don't want to miss it. You can purchase tickets directly from their site for roughly $35 or you can use a site like Get Your Guide or Viator to find a guided tour that fits your needs. Some of the guided tours also include other iconic places like the Houses of Parliament and Parliament Square, so they might be worth checking out!

The Houses of Parliament and Big Ben or Elizabeth Tower in London England
The Houses of Parliament and "Big Ben"

While these places are must-sees, be sure to check out what else the London Pass gives you access to. You can join movie-based walking tours, pretend to be Sherlock Holmes as you solve mysteries in the heart of London, visit Hampton Court Palace which known as the former home of King Henry VIII, and so much more!

But also be sure to look into things that the London Pass does not include that may be worth it. You could go see a play at His Majesty's Theatre, ride the London Eye, visit and shop in Piccadilly Circus, etc. There are countless things to do in this amazing city, just remember to slow down and take it all in.

As we bid farewell to London's historic sites, we reflect on the remarkable journey we've undertaken. From the imposing Tower of London to the serene halls of Westminster Abbey, each site leaves an indelible mark on our understanding of history. London truly is a city where the past comes alive, inviting us to walk in the footsteps of those who shaped our world. So next time you find yourself in this metropolis, take the time to discover the stories hidden within its historic gems. Safe travels and happy exploring!


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