It’s a bank holiday weekend, on the verge of summer and rather than head off to guaranteed sunshine Brits are staying put and holidaying in the UK.
A poll commissioned by Travelodge found that 65% of UK residents plan to take their summer holiday in the UK this year – a higher proportion than the past two years.
London has emerged as the top UK destination this year, over Cornwall in 2012, as city breaks overtake traditional seaside holidays as the favourite domestic getaway.
‘Staycationing’ in the capital
The rise of city breaks as the favourite choice for Brits holidaying in the UK may have something to do with our unpredictable weather.
Bob Atkinson, travel expert from TravelSupermarket, said: “British coastal resorts are great, but you’re not guaranteed Mediterranean weather. If it rains and you’re in London there are still hundreds of things to do and places to see”.
Top ten London attractions for tourists - and locals
The London Eye
Taller than Big Ben and more popular than any other paid-for London attraction, the London Eye offers the most spectacular views of the city, with visibility of up to 40km in all directions. Originally built as a temporary structure, the Eye has proved so successful that it has just celebrated its 10th birthday and looks set to remain one of the best-loved landmarks on the London skyline.
Find out more about the London Eye
The Tower of London
It is impossible not to be drawn in by the (often grisly) history of the Tower of London. See the spot where Anne Boleyn was beheaded, the infamous White Tower where Richard III imprisoned his young nephews, and, of course, the Crown Jewels, still proudly in place despite the best efforts of Colonel Blood in 1671. It’s well worth employing a Yeoman Warder as your guide – they're often as entertaining as they are informative.
Find out more about the Tower of London
Sitting grandly on the banks of the Thames is Tate Modern, Britain's national museum of modern and contemporary art. Its unique architecture is due to it previously being a power station. Inside you'll find temporary exhibitions by top artists from Damien Hirst to Gauguin. The gallery's restaurants offer fabulous views across the city. Entry is free to the main collection but special exhibitions require the purchase of a ticket.
Find out more about Tate Modern
St Paul’s Cathedral
Christopher Wren’s masterpiece has squatted imposingly in the City of London for the past 300 years. It withstood the bombardment of the Blitz and has become something of a monument to the determination and resilience of London and Londoners in general. Visit the cathedral to admire its architectural splendour, its crypt – including Nelson and Wellington’s tombs – and marvel at the uncanny acoustics in the famous Whispering Gallery.
Find out more about St Paul’s Cathedral
The River Thames
There’s no better way to see the sights of Britain’s capital than from the Thames. Taking a boat trip on the Thames is a must for any visitor to London. A river cruise gives you the chance to sit back and enjoy as you drift past the Houses of Parliament, St Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge and more.
Find out more about river cruises
The Royal Observatory
Part of the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, the Royal Observatory is home to the National Meridian Line. This line officially separates East from West at Longitude 0º and is known as the ‘Prime Meridian’. It also represents the official centre of world time – Greenwich Mean Time. By placing your feet on either side of the line, you can stand in both the eastern and western hemispheres simultaneously. The Observatory also has a cutting-edge planetarium, some of the oldest timekeepers in the world, and the UK’s largest refracting telescope.
Find out more about The Royal Observatory and the National Meridian Line
The Houses of Parliament
Once a royal residence, the Palace of Westminster – more commonly known as the Houses of Parliament – has been the seat of the British Government since the 16th Century. Visitors from all over the world can visit Parliament to attend debates, watch committees and tour its labyrinth of ancient, Gothic and modern buildings, including the Clock Tower affectionately known as Big Ben.
Find out more about the Houses of Parliament
The British Museum
The world famous British Museum exhibits artifacts from all over the world from prehistoric to modern times. Highlights include the Rosetta Stone, the Parthenon sculptures, and the mummies in the Ancient Egypt collection. Entry is free but special exhibitions require tickets.
Find out more about the British Museum
A visit to Her Majesty’s place of residence is a must. Of the Palace’s 775 rooms, only the 19 State Rooms – used by the Queen and her guests for official and state entertaining – are open the public, between August and September each year. These are well worth seeing as they contain some of the greatest treasures from the Royal Collection, including paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens and Canaletto, sculpture by Canova and priceless pieces of porcelain and furniture. Visitors can also take a stroll around part of the Palace gardens during the Summer Opening weeks.
Find out more about Buckingham Palace
And that’s only a small sample of what London has to offer, with its famous street markets, theaters, restaurants and nightlife.
No wonder so many people from the UK and all over the world choose to holiday in London.
Take a look at our own guides to London life for more information about the city’s varied neighbourhoods, history and attractions.