London hotspots you have to visit in the capital
There’s a different type of attraction to suit everyone in London. However, there’s a few that are visited by millions each year, becoming iconic landmarks for tourists and favourite places for Londoners to visit. Take a look at some of the most-visited attractions in 2017 (with information from Alva) as well as the trendiest hotspots in town that you won’t want to miss.
London attractions and hotspots
Royal Museums Greenwich
Home to the Prime Meridian Line which divides the planet into its east and west sides, Royal Museums Greenwich saw over 2.6 million tourists in the year. The attraction is split into parts, visitors can go on Cutty Sark as well as walking around the National Maritime Museum and the Queen’s House art gallery, featuring the painting of Elizabeth I before the Spanish Armada. With exhibitions on the South Pole to the Tudors, there’s something for everyone at the Royal Museums Greenwich, which was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.
Tower of London
2.84 million tourists went to the Tower of London during 2017. There’s plenty of exhibitions for visitors to take in, including the White Tower that dates back to 1075. See the Imperial State Crown in the Crown Jewels room and visit the ravens that guard the Tower to keep it safe. Visitors can also go to the cells where prisoners kept before they were hung, drawn and quartered. The Tower of London is a secure fortress right in the middle of London continuing to attract historical lovers and tourists from across the world.
Want to see even more history? Why not buy a Three Palace Royal Pass, granting access to the Tower, Hampton Court Palace and Kensington Palace.
Consisting of five venues, the Southbank Centre hosts shows and exhibitions with a total audience of 3.23 million in 2017. Audiences flocked to the Grade I-listed hall which is one of the world’s leading performance venues for classical music, right on the banks of the River Thames. The Purcell Room and Queen Elizabeth Hall showcase performers in more intimate venues, and the Hayward Gallery displays contemporary art, regularly changing exhibitions throughout the year. Priding itself on international pieces, the Southbank Centre is a cultural hub of the capital.
Established in the 1880s, the Science Museum is a firm favourite for school trips and tourists, so it’s no surprise that 3.25 million stepped through its doors in 2017. Packed with award-winning exhibitions from around the world, the museum celebrates the pinnacles in scientific discovery. With interactive galleries for younger visitors, as well as virtual reality experiences and special exhibitions changing throughout the year, the Science Museum is great for everyone, from families to science geeks!
A gallery that houses modern and innovative art, the Tate Modern comes in second place, with 5.6 million visitors viewing exhibitions in 2017. A mix of free collection displays and exhibitions that cost to enter, the Tate Modern sits on the bank of the Thames and continually changes its pieces on display. Previously, it held exhibits such as “Global Cities” and “The Tanks”. Take a look at our guide to the best places for arts and culture in the capital and kickstart a London adventure.
Holding the title of the most visited attraction in London since 2008, the British Museum saw 5.9 million through the entrance in 2017. Founded in 1753, the British Museum was the first national public museum in the world and is free to enter. Visitors can take in free exhibitions such as “What Is Europe?” but some exhibitions cost to enter. The British Museum regularly hosts events led by professors and curators to discuss artefacts, and the British Museum holds over 4 million collection objects.
Somerset House took in 3.22 million attendees in 2017 who visited contemporary art and cultural artefacts across the year. With an ever-changing programme, it has recently hosted artists talking about their work, as well as tours of the building and exhibitions. The venue is soon opening an exhibition on Snoopy and Charlie Brown and a line-up of live music throughout the winter period, so it’s a diverse venue to see things off the beaten track. Somerset House gets very popular as people go on the ice rink, which is a great attraction to go to during the Christmas season.
Victoria and Albert Museum
Visited by over 3.8 million people in 2017, the Victoria and Albert Museum is the largest art and design museum in the world, making it one of the capital’s must-visit hotspots. The museum holds a collection of over 2.3 million objects displaying some of the most elegant furniture, jewellery and textiles the world has seen. Colloquially known as the “V&A”, the museum is full of decorative pieces, also hosting free lunchtime talks on a variety of artistic topics. Exhibits including “Visual Feast” and “Art in the Age of Computers”, but some cost around £15 each to enter.
Natural History Museum
Hope the Blue Whale’s skeleton sits at the centre of the Natural History Museum, which saw 4.4 million individuals in 2017. Once visitors have taken in the skeleton of the largest creature to have ever lived, world-class exhibitions featuring groundbreaking discoveries in every room. The museum is home to a staggering 80 million specimens, with the stories of skeletons and plants on show, telling visitors about the natural world. With hidden treasures lurking around every corner, the Natural History Museum mission to tell the stories of scientific endeavours is loved around the world.
Regularly featuring in the top 3 most visited attractions in London, the National Gallery located in Trafalgar Square welcomed 5.2 million attendees in 2017. Made up of free and paid exhibitions, the attraction is made of regularly changing collections. From well-known artists like da Vinci and van Gogh to contemporary artists, it’s a hub of artistic talent housing priceless works of art that is one of the capital’s greatest hotspots.
Information provided by Alva.