Days Out in London
London is full of history and culture, with attractions to suit every taste. Visitors from around the world come to enjoy London's museums, shops, parks, theaters and famous sights.
London contains some of the finest museums in the world. The most visited is The British Museum, which houses a vast collection of over 13 million items from all periods of history around the world. Highlights include the Rosetta Stone and the Elgin Marbles. The museum once included natural history exhibits, but these were moved to their own museum in Kensington, the Natural History Museum, which opened in 1881. Displays there include a permanent dinosaur collection, a life-sized whale skeleton and specimens from Charles Darwin's voyages. Other museums in Kensington are the Science Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum. There are many other fascinating museums that are devoted to specialist areas, including the Design Museum, The London Transport Museum and the Royal Museums at Greenwich where you can find the National Maritime Museum, the Cutty Sark and the Royal Observatory.
One of the most popular things to do in London is visiting the countless shops of the city. From historic stores like Harrods and Fortnum & Mason, to modern boutiques and malls, the streets of London are full of opportunities to buy unique items, or simply to browse and window shop.
Enjoy a birds-eye view of the city on the London Eye. This revolving observation wheel was built in 2000 as part of the Millennium celebrations. It rotates slowly, taking 25 minutes to complete one revolution; giving ample time to see all of the capital's famous sights from above. On the opposite bank of the Thames stands the Palace of Westminster, also known as the Houses of Parliament, with its iconic clock tower, Big Ben. Adjoining it is the magnificent Westminster Abbey, where numerous Royal weddings, coronations and funerals have taken place over the centuries. Many famous Britons have their resting place inside the Abbey, including Charles Dickens, Geoffrey Chaucer and Isaac Newton.
Days out in London can be tiring, and fortunately the city is filled with beautiful open spaces in which to relax. Many parks contain boating lakes and playgrounds, and a visit to London Zoo in Regent's Park is one of the best things to do in London with children. There are eight Royal Parks in the city, the oldest of which is St James's Park. Lying next to The Mall, Horse Guards Parade, Buckingham Palace and two other palaces, this park is a great place from which to view colorful ceremonies such as the Trooping of the Color.
London's West End is famous throughout the world for its high-quality productions, held in over 40 theaters. From long-running classics to the newest sensations, tickets can be purchased to suit all tastes and budgets. Theatrical history can be experienced with a visit to Shakespeare's Globe, a perfect reproduction of the original theater that was built in 1576. Other historic theaters are still staging shows after many centuries, like The Theater Royal, Drury Lane, originally founded by King Charles II , and The Royal Opera House. More recent theatrical buildings can be found on the South Bank of the Thames, where the National Theater is located. Next to it is the Southbank Center, the largest arts center in the world. This complex includes the Royal Festival Hall, the only building remaining from the 1951 Festival of Britain.