Originally Published: February 20, 2014

As you would expect from the world’s greatest capital city, there are many top London attractions. Any capital city with a history that goes back more than a couple of millennia will have a healthy hit list of must-sees.

It’s likely that on your first trip to London you’ll have powered through the streets hungrily ticking off your bucket list items like a sightseer possessed. And then you’re home, happy with your travel memories, but with a sinking realisation that London had yet more to reveal – so much more to show you!

So you plan another trip, deciding to revisit a few old favourites as well as explore some of the sights you didn’t get chance to see first time round. You decide to avoid the obvious and go beyond the top London attractions, to find others that still define the city’s beating heart. So, where to start? Add some of these to your updated bucket list and you’ll be on your way to discovering something new!

6 London Attractions for Second-Time Tourists

Houses of Parliament

More than politics, the Houses of Parliament reveals London's history and pageantry. Photo: James Blunt Photography
More than politics, the Houses of Parliament reveals London’s history and pageantry. Photo: James Blunt Photography

You may have seen the Houses of Parliament, the UK’s seat of government, while on your first trip to London. But short of spotting its Gothic exterior and hearing Big Ben’s bongs ring out across the city, there are few visitors who have seen any more.

The Houses of Parliament are located inside the Palace of Westminster – the official name for the building. The houses are the two chambers inside: the House of Commons where the country’s members of Parliament (MPs) meet, and the House of Lords, which scrutinises bills from House of Commons. Both are open to the public and there are guided tours of Parliament most Saturdays throughout the year, and on weekdays during the summer opening period.

Most of the buildings were built in the mid 19th century, but construction began in 1097 on the spectacular Westminster Hall, where the Queen enjoyed a Diamond Jubilee lunch in 2012. It is also the room where William Wallace, Guy Fawkes, and King Charles the First stood trial.

A visit to the Houses of Parliament is more than a look at the UK’s political life, it also reveals the history, pomp, and ceremony of London.

Kensington Palace

The women of the British royal family have figured prominently in the history of Kensington Palace, and none more so than the late Diana, Princess of Wales. The palace, which borders Hyde Park in central London, is her former home. It was also once home to Britain’s longest reigning monarch, Queen Victoria.

Even today Kensington Palace remains a popular home for many members of the Royal family. Currently living here are the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry and Zara Philips.

A visit here takes in the historic King’s and Queen’s State Apartments, which give an insight into 17th and 18th century life. It also houses a number of artworks from the Royal Collection.

The Monument

Hit the stairs for one of the best views in London, from the Monument. Photo: William Pearce, Flickr
Hit the stairs for one of the best views in London, from the Monument. Photo: William Pearce, Flickr

The Monument is the oldest stone column in the world and was built to commemorate the Great Fire of London and celebrate the rebuilding of the city.

The column, completed in 1677, stands 202 feet high and 202 feet from the location where the fire began on Pudding Lane.

Designed by famed architect Sir Christopher Wren, who also designed St Pauls Cathedral, the Monument gives those with a head for heights spectacular views of London. And that’s not the only reward for your vertiginous efforts. All visitors who climb the 311 steps to the viewing platform are awarded with a certificate to prove they made it.

British Music Experience

Get your groove on at the British Music Experience. An interactive museum, it is dedicated to charting the last 60 years of British popular music.

The museum has more than 3,000 images, 600 video clips, 3,000 artist videos, and 600 items of music memorabilia. These include original hand written lyrics, instruments, outfits and many other personal artefacts previously owned by The Beatles, The Spice Girls, Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, The Sex Pistols, Coldplay, Amy Winehouse, and many more. You also get the chance to play instruments, sing, and record and mix a track!

Tower Bridge Exhibition

There are many famous bridges in the world, indeed London Bridge was relocated to America, but there’s only one Tower Bridge. Adorning the River Thames since 1894, Tower Bridge is one of London’s most recognisable landmarks.

The exhibition shows that there is much more to Tower Bridge than even its iconic structure. Head up to the high-level walkway for astounding views over London, and down to the Victorian engine rooms, home of the bridge’s original steam engines.

You can also experience a virtual bridge lift, and a unique view of its bascules being raised. There are interactive displays and videos showing the history of the bridge, how and why it was built, and the technology used over the years to keep it working.

Chelsea Physic Garden

Flowers Chelsea Physic Garden. Photo: Tim Waters
Flowers Chelsea Physic Garden. Photo: Tim Waters

This may be a physic garden, but it’s not too physical, so don’t be put off by the unusual name. This walled garden celebrates the beauty and importance of plants, and has more than 5,000 species.

Nestling beside the River Thames near Chelsea Embankment, the Chelsea Physic Garden is a lovely and relaxing space. Opened in 1673 to provide samples for the study of plants’ medicinal qualities, it became one of the world’s most important centres for botany and plant exchange. The garden is a perfect setting for those who want to escape the hustle and bustle of London’s streets for a few hours solitude.

There are many top London attractions that make it a perfect city for second, third, or even fourth time visitors. So on your next visit go for the less obvious and tell us what you’ve discovered!

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No matter how many times you’ve visited London, there is always something new to discover. Come with us on a mouth-watering food tour and let us introduce you to the flavours of the East End! Join us on Facebook for more London travel tips!

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