London is steeped in history that dates back to when the Romans inhabited the area through the Victorian age and beyond. Stroll through London proper and marvel at the distinctive architectural styles that make up many of the historical landmarks and sites.
Ambling along the streets and soaking up the history of the city is a great way to immerse yourself in the storied past of this fantastic city. Several tour companies offer walking tours of the historic neighborhoods.
History buffs can easily lose track of time as they wander through the city. Still, there are a few key places to visit while in London to learn about its history and the people who helped create this iconic city.
Because you will be moving in and out of buildings, walking through the streets, and riding public transportation, it’s best to stow your bags at a luggage storage facility in London. Most of the places you will visit have a strict bag policy.
Historical Buildings and Landmarks
London is full of beautiful buildings and historical landmarks that are easily recognizable because of their prominence within the city’s history. If you only have a few short days to explore the city, do not miss these three impressive buildings and landmarks.
Tower of London
Officially known as Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London, it really is easier just to say the Tower of London! Sitting in central London on the northern bank of the River Thames, this magnificent landmark was built in 1066.
Built by William the Conqueror, the tower has served as a prison, a meeting place, a mint, a menagerie, and even a storage locker for the Crown jewels. Sign up for a tour and get the full experience while inside.
- Get up-close-and-personal with the Crown Jewels, which are, of course under lock and key but still beautifully displayed.
- Stroll down memory lane with Yeoman Warders, also known as Beefeaters, and listen to gory tales of torture, intrigue, and executions that have taken place within the Tower.
- View the legendary Guardians of the Tower, the iconic ravens behind the phrase “If the ravens leave the Tower, the kingdom will fall…” Listen to the history of the ravens of the Tower.
Just about everyone has heard the famed “London Bridge Is Falling Down” nursery rhyme and wondered about this rather famous London landmark. The London Bridge has had many different facelifts since it was first built by the Romans in the first century A.D.
The most recent bridge opened in 1973 and replaced the bridge that had been used since 1831. The old bridge was sold to an American oil tycoon, who had it dismantled and shipped to Lake Havasu, Arizona.
Guided tours are available to walk through all parts of the bridge and learn about the construction process and engineering behind the current bridge. Visit the Walkway and Victorian Engine Rooms.
- Stroll along the Walkway with its glass floor and panoramic views of London.
- Listen to stories about the heroes of the London Bridge, the construction workers who brought the bridge to life.
- Discover the inner workings of the bridge by learning how the mechanisms work in the Victorian Engine Room.
Walk the halls where kings and queens of times gone by have been crowned, and several historical figures have been buried. Notable people buried at Westminster Abbey include:
- King Henry V
- All the Tudors (except Henry VIII)
- Charles Dickens
- Isaac Newton
- Edward the Confessor
Get your tickets early to tour Westminster Abbey, and sit in the ornate cathedral taking in the stained glass windows, hand-carved coronation chair, and breathtaking tapestries.
View the memorials of political, religious, and literary persons who have influenced the church and country. It is still an active parish and is where Prince William and Kate Middleton held their wedding.
Several museums in London will leave history buffs totally enthralled and transport you back through time. Get a better understanding of the magnificent men and women who have helped shape London into the city it is today.
The Brunel Museum
This museum takes you on a journey through a time when the city was under siege during World War II. The underground rooms guide you through the British generals’ plans to push the Germans back and keep the city protected.
During this unsettling time, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill kept the government functioning and coordinated efforts with the troops to counterattack the Nazis. Churchill’s communication center is still set up as he left it after the war.
These underground rooms are known as the Cabinet War Rooms or the Churchill War Rooms. View the exact furnishings, maps, notes, and technology used during the war by Churchill and his generals.
Imperial War Museum
Considered to be one of the best museums for history buffs, the Imperial War Museum is all about wars from the 20th century, starting with World War I. Dive into the trenches with British soldiers as they fight for freedom.
World War I trenches have been recreated, tanks and aircraft have been restored, and chronological periodicals lead you through the First World War through the Second World War and beyond.
Check out service uniforms from each war, hear some of the stories of heroic soldiers, and watch as history comes to life. Letters from those on the front lines are displayed for everyone to understand the hardships faced.
British Museum of Natural History
History lovers will rejoice when they get their tickets for the Natural History Museum in London. London is not all about war and conquering kings and queens. It is also about the natural earth and life sciences of the area.
Become lost in history as you wander through the exhibits and breathe in the importance of the history of mankind. Over 80 million different items on display cover these five main collections:
Wander through on your own, using the information plates to learn about the exhibits or sign up for a guided tour with one of the museum’s expert guides.
If you are a history lover, London is a must-see city. As you stroll through the neighborhoods checking out the historical landmarks and sites, you will have a better knowledge of eras gone by and feel connected to the past while here.