London Attractions, Activities and Things
This is a list of the attractions you can
find on this page - click on an item to go to a particular attraction's
Houses and Palaces
The original Eltham Palace was built in
Tudor times and was the boyhood home of Henry VIII. It was once an
important royal palace but only the magnificent medieval Great Hall
The most recent part of Eltham Palace, completed in 1936, has a red brick
design that is in sympathy with the older building. However, the interior
combines Art Deco and ocean liner style.
The dining room features pink leather upholstered chairs, bird’s-eye maple
veneered walls and a silver ceiling. The vaulted bathroom is lined with
onyx and features gold-plated bath taps and a status of the goddess
Upstairs are original furniture and family photographs. The house was
built with all the latest conveniences, including under floor heating, a
centralised vacuum cleaner and built-in audio system.
Outside, 19 acres of beautiful gardens surround the palace, with 20th
Century and medieval elements. These include a rock garden, moat and
medieval bridge, herbaceous borders, a sunken rose garden and picnic
Tours of the house and gardens take around one hour each and guided tours
can be booked for groups. A tea room and shop are available and events for
the family are held throughout the year. Discovery visits are provided for
educational purposes as a range of site-based workshops and interactive
tours. Various rooms are available for hire.
Opening hours: 10.00-17.00 from Spring to Autumn, 11.00-16.00 in Winter
Closed 22 December-31 January
Eltham Palace, Greenwich, SE9 5QE
Phone: 020 8294 2548
This fine Stuart mansion on the banks of
the River Thames was built in 1610. Between 1637 and 1639 the interior was
remodelled with the creation of the Great Staircase and a suite of
sumptuous rooms on the first floor - the Great Dining Room (now the Hall
Gallery), the North Drawing Room and the Long Gallery.
Ham House, reportedly one of the most haunted houses in Britain, has
important collections of textiles, furniture and paintings. Its
outbuildings include an ice house, a dairy and the earliest known
purpose-built still house (the 17th Century equivalent of an in-house
The beautiful gardens are a rare example of 17th Century design and
include the much photographed Cherry Garden, a maze-like wilderness,
Orangery and formal listed avenues comprising over 250 trees. The
traditional kitchen supplies the Orangery Café while the shop has gifts,
arts and crafts, books and plants.
Events include an open-air theatre, concerts and special openings. Free
guided tours are available at 14.00 and 15.00 on Wednesdays and selected
Saturdays. Pre-bookable ghost tours, behind-the-scenes and treasures of
the stores tours also operate throughout the year.
Ham House is licensed for civil wedding ceremonies, which take place in
the Great Hall. Receptions and other functions can be held in the Orangery
or in a marquee if numbers are too large.
Opening hours: Monday-Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday
House 12.00-16.00 from mid March until early November and on Good Friday
Garden 11.00-18.00 all year
Closed 25-26 December and 1 January
Ham House, Ham Street, Ham, Richmond-upon-Thames, TW10 7RS
Phone: 020 8940 1950 Fax: 020 8439 8241
Tower of London
A premier tourist attraction, the Tower of
London is a World Heritage Site.
There are many things to see, not least the Crown Jewels that include
among the collection of 23,578 items the enormous Cullinan I and the
notorious Koh-i-Noor diamonds. One of the most famous castle keeps in the
world, the White Tower was built by William the Conqueror to awe, subdue
and terrify Londoners and to deter foreign invaders. It houses displays
from the Royal Armouries’ collection, including Henry VIII’s armour.
The Medieval Palace has surprisingly rich colours and comfortable
furnishings and the continued presence of the famous ravens, according to
legend, ensures the kingdom and the fortress will stand. Traitors’ Gate is
where prisoners accused of treason are supposed to have passed through
while the Scaffold Site was the location for the execution of seven of the
Towers’ most important prisoners.
A range of tours is provided and audio guides are available in nine
languages. Yeoman Warder guided tours, which last 60 minutes and run every
30 minutes, are conducted by the famous 'Beefeaters', who also provide
Yeoman Warder talks. White Tower tours run daily at 10.45, 12.45 and 14.15
and children’s activity trails are available. Live costumed re-enactments
are performed daily on the South Lawn.
Refreshments are available from the New Armouries Restaurant and the Tower
Wharf Café & Kiosk. Five shopping outlets offer a range of gifts and
souvenirs. The Tower of London provides a spectacular and historic venue
for functions and events, with the whole site or specific areas available
Opening hours: 9.00-17.30 on Tuesday to Saturday and 10.00-17.30 on Sunday
and Monday from 1 March until 31 October; closing one hour earlier from 1
November until the end of February
Closed 24-26 December and 1 January
The Tower of London, EC3N 4AB
Phone: 0844 482 7777
Hampton Court Palace
This enchanting and majestic building and
its surroundings have many attractions for visitors to see. The
Information Centre in Clock Court has suggested itineraries while behind
the colonnade in Clock Court is an introductory exhibition.
Other attractions are Henry VIII’s State Apartment, the Tudor Kitchens,
the King’s Apartments (William III), the Queen’s State Apartments, the
Wolsey Rooms and the Georgian Rooms. The Great Hall is England’s last and
greatest medieval hall and is spanned by a large and sumptuously decorated
hammer-beam roof. Its walls are hung with Henry VIII’s most splendid
tapestries - the Story of Abraham.
Outside, the formal gardens include the famous Hampton Court Maze. The
Privy Garden has been restored to how it would have looked in 1702 and
features the Tijou Screen, whose central motifs symbolise parts of the
United Kingdom in wrought iron.
A audio guide is available in nine languages and staff are on hand to
answer questions. Tours are conducted by costumed guides and group visits
can be arranged. Refreshments are available from the Tiltyard Café and the
Privy Kitchen Coffee Shop. There are four gift shops.
Hampton Court Palace runs a number of daily and special events. Fishing is available
and there is a golf club and real tennis court. There are also two craft
organisations — the Royal School of Needlework and the Embroiderers’
Accommodation is available at the palace and various parts can be hired as
venues for weddings, conferences and other functions. Educational visits
are encouraged and the Clore Learning Centre has many educational
Opening hours: Daily 10.00-18.00 in Summer and 10.00-16.00 in Winter
(informal gardens and park open earlier)
Closed 24-26 December
Hampton Court Palace, Surrey, KT8 9AU
Phone: 0844 482 7777
Surrounded by Kensington Gardens,
Kensington Palace is a stylish palace with an intriguing history. Places
to see include the Orangery, North Dining Room, Red Saloon, State
Apartments, Teck Saloon, Queen’s Gallery and the Lower Hall.
The King’s Staircase was the route for the King and his visitors to enter
the State Apartments. The staircase walls and ceiling are painted with
William Kent’s vivid, life-sized portrayals of George I’s court and its
Kensington Palace is associated with many royal figures, most recently
Princess Margaret and Diana, Princess of Wales. There is an exhibition of
Diana’s dresses while other exhibitions, events, activities and displays
are staged at various times.
An audio guide is available in seven languages and describes the State
Apartments, the exhibition and the Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection.
Staff are also available to answer questions. Group visits can be
pre-booked at discount rates and educational visits are welcome.
Two shops offer palace-inspired gifts and stylish products while
refreshments, including one of the finest tea selections in London, are
available from the Orangery Restaurant. Venues within Kensington Palace
are available for corporate, charity and private events, including wedding
Opening hours: Daily 10.00-18.00 from 1 March until 31 October and
10.00-17.00 at other times
Closed 24-26 December
Kensington Palace State Apartments, Kensington Gardens, W8 4PX
Phone: 0844 482 7777
Having served as the official London home
of Britain’s sovereigns since 1837, Buckingham Palace is the Queen’s
official residence. It is also the busy administrative headquarters of the
Monarchy and is used for royal ceremonies, state visits and investitures,
with over 50,000 people attending each year as guests at various
functions. The 775 rooms include 19 state rooms, 52 royal and guest
bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices and 78 bathrooms.
Buckingham Palace is furnished and decorated with priceless works of art
that form the Royal Collection. During August and September, when the
Queen makes her annual visit to Scotland, the Palace’s 19 state rooms are
open to visitors. These are the heart of the working palace and have
paintings by Rembrandt, Reubens, Poussin and Canaletto, sculpture by
Canova, exquisite porcelain and some of the finest English and French
furniture. Visitors end their tour with a walk along the south side of the
Admission is by timed ticket at 15 minute intervals throughout the day and
a visit takes between 2 and 2½ hours. Audio tours are available in eight
languages while there is also an English-version family audio tour and
activity trail. Private guided tours may also be available and a Royal Day
Out ticket combines a visit to the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace with
tours of the Royal Mews and the Queen’s Gallery.
Outside the palace, the Changing of the Guard takes place at 11.30 daily
from May until the end of July and on alternate days for the rest of the
Opening hours: Daily 9.45-18.00 through August and September
Ticket Sales and Information Office, The Official Residences of the Queen,
Phone: 020 7766 7300 Fax: 020 7930 9625
Built between 1825 and 1827, Clarence House
has been a royal residence for over 170 years. It was the London home of
Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother from 1953 until her death in 2002 and is
now the official London residence of The Prince of Wales and The Duchess
of Cornwall. It also provides office accommodation for The Prince of
Wales' Household. Very much a home, Clarence House is the last remaining
great London house to be maintained in the purpose for which it was built.
Clarence House is open to the public during the summer months each year.
Visitors can see the five ground floor rooms where The Prince of Wales and
The Duchess of Cornwall undertake official engagements and receive guests.
The rooms and their contents remain much as they were in Queen Elizabeth’s
time, including outstanding 20th Century paintings, superb examples of
Fabergé and English porcelain and silver.
Admission is by guided tour only, with all tickets pre-booked and set for
a specific time. Group visits are available for fifteen or more people. A
shop sells a range of merchandise, much of which has been designed
exclusively for the Royal Collection.
Opening hours: Daily 10.00-17.30 through August and September
Clarence House, St James’s Palace, SW1 1BA
Ticket Sales and Information Office, SW1A 1AA
Phone: 020 7766 7303 Fax: 020 7930 9625