Top 13 historical places to visit in London

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Woman and boy looking at Big Ben

Explore the rich tapestry of London's past with our curated list of 13 must-visit historical landmarks. Journey through centuries of stories and marvels.

Dating back to early Roman times, London has a long and illustrious past, and no matter which area you visit, you’re sure to discover some fascinating history. Here, we’ve listed some of the most iconic heritage sites in the capital. From royal weddings to notorious executions, these attractions are sure to satisfy your curiosity… Remember, Boundless members receive discounts on numerous London attractions as well as other UK museums and destination days out, through a free 12-month subscription to Kids Pass.


What is the most historic area of London?

The oldest district in London is The City, and here you’ll find such iconic landmarks as the Tower of London, St Paul’s Cathedral and the 202ft monument to the Great Fire that ravaged the capital in 1666. 

From there, it’s only a short Tube or bus ride to Westminster, home to such attractions as the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and, of course, Westminster Abbey. But even if you pick a district at random, there’s likely to be some history and heritage waiting for you.  


What are some historic places in London?

British Museum

London WC1B

British Museum

With over eight million works, the British Museum’s permanent collection is the largest in the world. Located in the Bloomsbury district, this iconic institution’s displays include artefacts from the Sutton Hoo ship burial, Egyptian mummies and Roman jewellery. While general admission is free, there’s a charge for entering the museum’s temporary exhibitions and events.  


Buckingham Palace

London SW1A

Buckingham Palace

Home to a succession of British monarchs, from Queen Victoria onwards, Buckingham Palace remains the most high-profile of royal residences. While much of it is closed to the public, visitors can explore the magnificent State Rooms for 10 weeks each summer, and on selected dates through winter and spring. There’s a cost for admission, though under-fives go free.  


Tower of London

London EC3N

Tower of London

Founded in 1066 as part of the Norman Conquest, the Tower of London has been the setting for some of London’s most notorious incidents, including Anne Boleyn’s execution in 1536, and the mysterious disappearance of the ‘Princes in the Tower’ in 1483.

Now one of London’s most iconic landmarks, its attractions include the spectacular Crown Jewels and the Torture at the Tower exhibition. Admission fees apply. 


Westminster Abbey

London SW1P

Westminster Abbey

One of the world’s most famous churches, this imposing abbey has hosted the coronations of 40 different British monarchs, and at least 16 royal weddings. It’s also the resting place of many illustrious figures, from Anne of Cleves to Charles Dickens. There’s a charge for entry to this World Heritage Site, though under-fives are admitted free.>


Houses of Parliament and Big Ben

London SW1A

Houses of Parliament-2

Formally known as the Palace of Westminster, the Houses of Parliament is the hub of British politics, containing both the House of Commons and the House of Lords. You can explore both of these – along with the building’s imposing clock tower, known as Big Ben – as part of a guided tour (fees apply). For an extra-special day out, why not combine a Houses of Parliament tour with a Thames cruise and either lunch or afternoon tea through Virgin Experience Days – as a Boundless member, you can get 20% off the price.


Museum of London Docklands

London E14

Museum of London Docklands

While the British Museum encompasses history from across the globe, the Museum of London Docklands focuses on London’s past, from its first settlers to modern times. Through a series of immersive displays, galleries and artefacts, you’ll learn about the city’s slave trade, the building of London’s docks and what it was like to live in the capital during the Second World War. Entry to the museum is free.  


St Paul’s Cathedral

London EC4

St Pauls Cathedral

Designed in the 17th century by Christopher Wren, this Baroque-style cathedral in London’s City district boasts one of the world’s highest and largest domes ­– which, incredibly, remained intact when the building was bombed during the Second World War. With a sightseeing ticket (fees apply), you can explore the Cathedral Floor and Crypt, admire the art collections, and retrace the steps of the royals who’ve married here ­– including, in 1981, Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer. (Please note that the cathedral’s daily services are free to attend.)    


Kensington Palace

London W8

Kensington Palace

Speaking of Charles and Diana, they were among the many royals who’ve lived at Kensington Palace since its construction in the late 17th century. Other occupants of this Jacobean building have included William III and his wife Mary II, Queen Victoria (who was born here), and Prince William and his family (who still reside there). Tours of the palace include visits to the State Apartments and the spectacular landscaped gardens, transformed in the 18th century by Queen Caroline. Admission fees apply.  


Hampton Court Palace

East Molesey KT8

Hampton Court Palace

Designed in the 16th century for Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, Hampton Court Palace became a favoured residence of Henry VIII after his chief minister fell from grace. Located in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, it has many prominent features, including a Tudor gatehouse complete with its original astronomical clock, and a public tearoom housed in what was once the eastern kitchen, commissioned by Elizabeth I. Tickets include entry to parts of the interior, as well as the gardens, courtyards, Maze and Magic Garden.   


Globe Theatre

London SE1

Shakespeares Globe

What better place to enjoy a Shakespeare play than inside a reconstruction of a 16th-century theatre? Built in 1997, around 200m from the site of the original playhouse built by Shakespeare’s company, the Globe is constructed of English oak and topped by a thatched roof – claimed to be the first and only one permitted in the capital since the Great Fire of London. Performances take place during the summer, but tours are available all year round (fees apply).    


Churchill War Rooms

London SW1A

Churchill War Rooms

One of the five branches of the Imperial War Museum, the Churchill War Rooms offer the chance to explore the underground complex where Prime Minister Winston Churchill masterminded British operations during the Second World War. Containing film projections, oral histories and images, it’s a fascinating attraction that’s delighted thousands of visitors young and old. Admission fees apply.


The Cenotaph

London SW1A

The Cenotaph

Erected on Whitehall in 1920, the Cenotaph memorial became a central point for all those whose family and friends had died during the First World War with no known grave. Designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, the 31-foot, Portland stone memorial is inscribed with the words ‘The glorious dead’ and serves as the focal point for Remembrance Day marches through the capital (held every year on the closest Sunday to 11 November). There is no charge to visit the Cenotaph.


Royal Observatory

London SE10

Royal Observatory London

Founded by King Charles in 1675, this popular attraction is the home of Greenwich Mean Time. Visitors can stand on the Prime Meridian Line, marvel at the Great Equatorial Telescope – one of the largest refracting telescopes in the world – visit the Christopher Wren-designed Octagon Room, and discover the Harrison clocks, the ground-breaking timepieces that enabled sailors to determine their longitude at sea. Admission fees apply.


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