What Is London Known For?

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London is one of the world’s most iconic cities, somewhere where you can immediately picture the skyline and famous landmarks. England’s capital is brimming with almost too many well-known things to list, although it’s particularly famous for all of its beautiful historic buildings. Attractions like Big Ben, Tower Bridge and Buckingham Palace are just a few small examples of London’s amazing architecture.

The latter is home to the city’s most famous resident, the royal family, second only to the Prime Minister who lives behind the famous black door at 10 Downing Street. Other famous buildings which are more functional include the capital’s stunning department stores, ranging from Selfridges and Harrods to Fortnum & Mason and Harvey Nichols, which have been around forever.

Other things that might pop into your mind when thinking of London are quirkier, like London black cabs, red buses and red telephone boxes, which can actually be found across the UK. There are many more well-known things to list in London, from historical events to its wealth of unique neighbourhoods, popular sports grounds – and sports teams; and the famous West End, home to London’s best shops and theatre shows. If you’re visiting London, you’re in for a treat, although you’ll want to come back again and again to see it all.

What Is London Known For?

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1- Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace In London, United Kingdom
Buckingham Palace is what London is known for.

Buckingham Palace is one of London’s most famous buildings, right in the heart of the city next to Green Park and St James Park.

The main residence of the royal family, on any given day, you can find hundreds of tourists pressed up against the gates taking photos, although most know that the royals are only inside when the flag is up.

The palace and Constitution Hill, which sits in front of it, is where many of London’s most prestigious and historic events relating to the monarchy take place, including the Changing of the Guard, Beating Retreat and the late Queen’s Jubilee parade.


Lucky visitors who book in advance can also head inside Buckingham Palace during the summer months to see the state rooms and gardens, but tickets book up very fast!

2- Royal Family

Inextricably tied to Buckingham Palace are London’s most famous family, the Royal Family.

British people can’t get enough of them and neither can visitors to the city, who love the pomp and circumstance surrounding the monarchy.

Events for the Queen and now King, along with related attractions, can be found around Westminster – just head to Horse Guard’s Parade on Whitehall to try and make the horsemen smile.

Although the royal family aren’t usually seen day to day, if you manage to be in London for a major event, then you might catch sight of them.

No matter where you go in the city, you can spot the faces of the queen, king, William, Kate and more on souvenirs everywhere, in case you want something special to take home.

3- Big Ben And The Houses Of Parliament

Big Ben And Houses Of Parliament In London
Big Ben and The Houses of Parliament are what London is known for.

Photographed from every angle by tourists visiting London, the magnificent Big Ben and the attached Houses of Parliament are two of London’s famous symbols.

Big Ben underwent a five-year renovation, meaning it was hidden from view between 2017 and 2021, but it’s back and shinier than ever.

Located in Parliament Square, the clock has been going since 1859, and Big Ben is actually just the name of the clock itself – the tower is known as Elizabeth Tower after the late Queen.

Parliament is at the centre of the British government, where the House of Lords and House of Commons decide on laws and regulations.

One of the most famous events to occur here was the Gunpowder Plot by Guy Fawkes in 1605 when he plotted to blow up the King and was luckily thwarted, but the building still holds a fascinating history. The hop-on hop-off bus will get you there.

4- The London Eye

The Eye London
The London Eye what is London most known for.

Just over the River Thames from Big Ben sits another, more modern London landmark, the London Eye.

Although it’s now a staple part of the London skyline, the big wheel wasn’t always there, as it was actually only built in 2000 to celebrate the millennium.

At the time, at 135m tall, it was the world’s highest observation wheel, and although this isn’t the case anymore, one of the best things to do while in London is to take a slow, scenic ride on the wheel to enjoy amazing views over London.

At night, it’s usually lit up in an array of colours and is also used each New Year’s Eve when thousands of fireworks are placed on the Eye, ready to go off at midnight.

5- Department Stores

London's Flashiest Shopping Mall
Shopping and department stores are what London is known for.

Milan might be famous for fashion, and New York has Fifth Avenue, but nowhere else has the incredible and historic department stores of London.

The most famous luxury stores are Harrods and Fortnum & Mason’s, which have multiple floors of high-end designers and everything from cigar rooms to personal shopping experiences, not to mention the epic food hall at both stores where you can enjoy every kind of delicacy.

Similarly popular are Selfridges, on Oxford Street, which houses both high-end and high-street brands, plus jewellery, makeup and food, and Harvey Nichols, which sits almost next door to Harrods, which focuses on luxury and boutique brands but also has some lovely dining experiences.

These shops are amazing year-round, but for the real magic, visit at Christmas when they dedicate entire floors to their Christmas departments, with baubles and decorations galore.

6- Tower Bridge And The Tower of London

London City Skyline With Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge and the Tower of London are what London is known for.

Tower Bridge is named for the two huge towers on either side of it, with a still-working bridge in the middle that can be raised for large ships.

You can easily walk across the bridge for great views over the river or head up one of the towers, where a museum explains more about the bridge’s history, and there’s a glass walkway for those brave enough.

Next door is the equally historic Tower of London, built by William the Conqueror in 1078.

It is not only home to the crown jewels, which have been stolen on more than one occasion, but also holds a museum and hundreds of historic artefacts and weapons.

It’s also home to the Beefeaters, or Yeoman Warders, London’s famous guardsmen who wear red coats and bearskin hats, and the resident ravens – legend says if the ravens leave the tower, then England will fall, which is why their wings have been clipped!

7- Royal Parks

St. James's Park In London
The Royal Parks are what London is known for.

Unsurprisingly, London’s Royal Parks are named this because they were originally used by the royal family for their own leisure, although luckily, they’re now open to the public.

Just a few of the city’s wonderful parks include Hyde Park, St. James Park, Richmond Park, Regent’s Park and Primrose Hill.

Hyde Park is the biggest, home to the Serpentine River and lake, where you can go boating in summer, but the parks encompass a whole range of activities, from rose and Japanese gardens to a pet cemetery, royal residences, epic city views and even London Zoo, which sits next to Regent’s Park.

Another fun fact about London’s wildlife is that the royal family still owns it, such as the pelicans that live in St James Park and all of the swans in the city!

8- The Tube

The Tube is what London is famous for.

London’s underground is one of the most famous and affordable ways to get around the city, and it is super easy for visitors to understand.

Not only is the logo a classic, but the map is straightforward, going to every part of London via the different lines, such as the Victoria, Piccadilly, Central and Jubilee Lines.

Although the red and white tube carriages and underground stations can be a little dated and hot, this is due to their history, as the tubes have barely been updated in a hundred years.

London has recently introduced the new Elizabeth Line, as well as newly named Overground lines that head further outside the city.

If you need to get around, then the tube is one of the easiest ways to explore the city. A great way to learn about its history is to join an underground tube tour.

9- Red Buses And Black Cabs

London Red Buses
Red Buses and Black Cabs are what London is known for.

The two other famous modes of transport that can be found in London are the city’s black taxis and bright red double-decker buses.

London’s buses are sleek and modern now, but they used to be the iconic route masters, which you could jump on and off via the open backdoor. But you can also join a Vintage London Bus Tour (which includes a Thames Cruise and optional London Eye ride) for a historic experience.

Today, there are dozens of routes spanning the entire city, and for just £1.50, you can jump onboard to navigate the city easily.

The tourist hop-on hop-off buses are also on similar style buses and offer a great rooftop deck perfect for seeing the sights.

For a more expensive way to get around, black cabs drive around all over London and can be easily hailed down.

The most traditional black cabs are the ones where you won’t need a map – London black cab drivers study ‘The Knowledge’ for two years, memorising every street in the city by heart!

10- West End

Defocused Background Of The West End Of London
The West End is what London is known for.

The area of central London that comprises Oxford Street, Soho, Piccadilly Circus, Covent Garden, Chinatown and Leicester Square is known as the West End, although it isn’t really in the west of the city.

This is where you’ll find some of London’s best shopping, dining, bars and entertainment.

It’s filled with London’s biggest theatres, which often run special deals so you can watch a show while visiting before going shopping on Oxford Street or Regent Street and exploring the late-night bars and eateries in Soho.

Covent Garden has a historic covered market square, which usually has live entertainment or other fun events going on, and the best part is that you can easily walk between these areas, making for a fun day out.

11- Museums

National Gallery And St Martin In The Fields Church
Museums are what London, England, is known for.

London and the UK, might be well known for the rainy weather, but luckily, the capital city has created the perfect escape from six months of winter.

London’s museums are second to none, thanks to how many there are in the city covering all kinds of interests.

Some of the best are in South Kensington, including the Science Museum, which is great for kids, the Victoria & Albert Museum, for art lovers, and the incredible Natural History Museum, which combines both beautiful architecture with cool dinosaur skeletons and other fascinating animals exhibits.

Elsewhere, you can visit Tate Britain, home to classic paintings and sculptures, the Tate Modern, which houses quirky modern art and the British Museum.

There’s also the Design Museum in Kensington and multiple other weird and wonderful museums, from a cinema museum to a magic museum and even a toy museum!

12- Afternoon Tea

Traditional Afternoon Tea Of British Ceremony
Afternoon Tea is a food tradition that London is known for.

Afternoon tea is a quintessentially British experience, and you can enjoy it in cosy tea shops and cafes across the UK.

However, if you want the best afternoon tea of your life, opt for the real princess experience at one of London’s best hotels or restaurants.

It can be pricey, but the experience is unrivalled, with champagne, sweet patisserie treats and delicious sandwiches to enjoy.

Some London favourites, which are held in stunning surroundings, include afternoon tea at The Savoy, The Ritz, Hotel Cafe Royal, Harrods and Fortnum & Mason’s.

There are hundreds of different afternoon teas at all price ranges and for all diets.

Plus, there are often hotels and cafes that do themed teas, such as London-themed or themed around a movie, which can be fun to take children to.

13- 10 Downing Street

Downing Street Sign, London
10 Downing Street is another place London is famous for.

Just down the road from the royal family at Buckingham Palace is London’s next most famous residence, 10 Downing Street.

Although the street itself is locked away behind high gates, everyone is familiar with the black door that is the official home of the Prime Minister and every former Prime Minister in history, from Margaret Thatcher to Winston Churchill.

Although you can’t access the street, you’ll often see tourists and protesters gathered around the gates taking photos, but the PM usually takes the back entrance to go to events or to parliament.

However, on certain days, you might be lucky enough to see other MPs and politicians who work in this prestigious area, as they often walk near parliament carrying their famous red briefcases.

14- Sports Grounds And Stadiums

West Ham Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Park, Newham
Sports Grounds and stadiums are what London is famous for.

British people are sports-obsessed, as they have plenty of options to choose from, such as football, rugby and cricket.

There’s serious competition between the nation’s football teams, particularly in London, where both Chelsea and Arsenal have stadiums that can get extremely rowdy on match days.

In the centre of the city, you can also find two world-famous cricket grounds, The Oval and Lord’s Cricket Ground, which come to life in summertime with matches for which the public can get tickets.

Other major stadiums, which don’t just host sporting events but also live music events throughout the year, include Wembley Stadium, Wimbledon, Twickenham, Tottenham Hotspurs Stadium and London Stadium, which was built for the 2012 Olympic Games.

15- The Great Fire Of London

Modern Office Buildings Surround The Monument In London
The Great Fire Of London is what London is famous for.

With all the city’s history, it’s hard to narrow down just one famous historical event that London is famous for, but the Great Fire of London is one of the most well-known.

The fire started in 1666 in a bakery in Pudding Lane, a place you can still visit to this day.

The fire lasted five days and was the most devastating the city has ever seen, destroying one-third of London and leaving 100,000 people homeless, as many buildings were made from wood in the 1600s.

Many famous buildings were also destroyed or burnt, such as St Paul’s Cathedral and the Royal Exchange.

There are statues, plaques and museums in London relating to the fire that you can visit, such as Monument, which sits outside Monument tube station.

There’s a plaque explaining where the fire began on Pudding Lane and 229 The Strand, which was the only building in the area to have survived the fire.

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India-Jayne Trainor
India-Jayne Trainor is a British/Australian freelance writer, photographer and contributor to various online blogs and travel websites. She has travelled to almost 30 countries, most recently Cuba and Sri Lanka. Her work focuses on solo female travel, having spent two months backpacking alone through South East Asia as well as living in Germany for a year. Her favourite country to date has been Hong Kong, but she is happy in any country by the ocean. Her next destinations are Uzbekistan and a road trip through the American Mid-West. India is currently based in London, UK.