THE 5 MUST SEES OF LONDON
London is filled with beautiful architecture and historical sites, but this large city can be intimidating for anyone who wants to see everything, but only has a short amount of time. But don’t fret! If you are unable to see everything you would like while in London, below are the "Five Must Sees” that are totally worth your while.
The Tower of London
The Tower of London is a beautiful medieval castle right in the middle of modern skyscrapers, which makes its placement in the city almost funny. Surrounding the castle is an empty moat that is now filled with grass and tourists trying to photograph the best angle of the massive Tower. The Tower overlooks the Thames River and it is one of London’s #1 tourist attractions. It was the home to many Kings and Queens of London, but it was also a place of torture, murder, and scandal. I highly advise you to book a tour early in advance because it sees visitors from all over the world. The tour guides are also the Queen’s Guards, and they are incredibly knowledgeable and give awesome history about each part of the castle. If possible, book a twilight tour of the Tower of London because it will give you such an eerie yet fascinating feeling under the dark night sky.
Pictures by (1) Victoria Doda, (2) Kelly Schwager, (3) Kelly Schwager
If you are visiting London, this must be on your list because this is where the Queen of England lives! It is as grandiose as you might expect with its high golden gates and beautiful architecture. Each morning, the guards shift and hand over the key of the palace during an official ceremony known as the "Changing of the Guard." The ceremony includes an orchestra that plays ceremonial music but also classics from the composer John Williams. It's pretty neat to hear the iconic songs of Indiana Jones, Star Wars, and Jurassic Park while also knowing that the Queen is in the house as all this is going on. For all we know, she could be peeping at us outside of her window! This takes place from 10:45am daily and lasts around 45 minutes, but the actual handover of the key occurs at 11am. Be sure to get there extra early to secure your spot beside the gate (hint: the very right side of the Palace has great views).
Pictures by (1) Kelly Schwager, (2) Kelly Schwager, (3) Kelly Schwager, (4) Victoria Doda, (5) Kelly Schwager, (6) Kelly Schwager
After the Changing of the Guard, take a nice short stroll over to Hyde Park. It is one of the most serene and tranquil places in London, and its few miles are filled with green grass, swans swimming in the Serpentine, and lots of Londoners playing with their dogs. From a bustling city to this soothing park, it will help any person slow down and enjoy their present surroundings. This is another great location to visit, especially because it is only a short walk away from Buckingham Palace. You can rent a bicycle and travel through the paths of the park and really take in London's natural beauty.
Pictures by (1) Victoria Doda, (2) Sarah Goranson, (3) Victoria Doda, (4) Victoria Doda, (5) Victoria Doda, (6) Sarah Goranson
Shakespeare's Globe Theatre
As many of us know, William Shakespeare is a renowned playwright, and he plays a prominent role in British literature. The Globe Theatre is the third remake of the original theatre, and it still has performances of Shakespeare's many plays. It is the only building in London that is allowed to have a thatched roof, so it is a very adorable! Our tour guide was full of enthusiasm and passion as he described what comes to life on the stage, so we highly suggest booking a tour and learning how Shakespeare's plays have evolved from the time he was alive until now. It is a historical part of London’s history, and those who enjoy theatre and literature would really appreciate exploring Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.
Pictures by (1) Kelly Schwager, (2) Victoria Doda, (3) Kelly Schwager, (4) Kelly Schwager, (5) Kelly Schwager
The V&A Museum
A.K.A. the Victoria and Albert Museum. It is one of the world's top museums of art and design, and it is filled with thousands of artifacts from many different cultures and time periods. It is huge in size and you could spend a whole day getting lost in it and exploring artwork from many different time periods. Even after visiting twice, we were still unable to see the entire museum! Our favorite part of the museum was looking at the classic Italian sculptures, such as the statue of David by Michaelangelo. Even though this was a replica of the original, looking at this huge statue that looked exactly like the real thing was breathtaking. Whether you are looking for something from a specific time period or just walking around, you are sure to find something that captivates your interest. While there are many museums throughout London, this is a "must see" because not only does it include lots of history, it is located in beautiful Kensington. So after you spend a few hours in the museum, you can grab a bite to eat at any of the quaint restaurants right next door. My friends and I stopped in a French pastry shop and enjoyed a nice cup of coffee before going back to the museum to finish up for the day.