Are you ready for Day 2 of London Travel Guide? Put on comfortable sneakers and get ready for a bit of walking today. We are heading towards the east side of the London to visit a number of well-known attractions. If you missed day 1, click here to get started.
Just a reminder, this is by no means a comprehensive London travel guide. This London travel guide is written for those who might go to England one day and want ideas on what you can see and do based on my own experience.
The guide will be shared over 6 posts:
- Day 1 – Places you can go by utilizing the London Pass
- Day 2 – Places you can go by utilizing the London Pass
- Day 3 – Museums (Free!)
- Day 4 – Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter
- Day 5 – Windsor, Bath, and Stonehenge
- Day 6 – Different parts of London, London eats, Tips, and Accommodation
London Travel Guide – Day 2
The London Pass includes a number of paid attractions located fairly close to each other in the eastern part of London. It’s going to be fairly rushed so don’t spend too much time at each place. The attractions we’ll visit in order are:
- St Paul’s Cathedral
- Monument to the Great Fire of London
- Tower of London
- Tower Bridge
- HMS Belfast
- Shakespeare’s Globe
- City Cruise London
Click on above map to enlarge.
St Paul’s Cathedral
St. Paul’s Cathedral was built in 1675 and was the city’s tallest building for centuries until the skyscrapers were built in the 1950s and 60s. The architecture is grand and absolutely breathtaking. Similar to Westminster Abbey, there is no photography allowed inside the cathedral. The cathedral was built by Sir Christopher Wren and is the site of royal weddings and national funerals.
You see the top of the dome? It’s 365 ft tall and you can hike all the way to the top. There is no elevator and many of the staircases to the top are really tight so keep in mind if you are traveling with elders or young children. It takes quite awhile to get to the top but the view is worth it. Needless to say, the way down takes some time as well.
I love the intricate details on the exterior walls.
The entrance fee includes a digital voice guide that takes you around the cathedral. It was fascinating for me to learn about the history of the St Paul’s Cathedral and the famous figures that are buried there including Sir Christopher Wren and other British war heroes.
Monument to the Great Fire of London
Felt like your legs got a work out from climbing to the top of the cathedral dome? Well, just to warn you there’s a bit more climbing to do. Head east towards the Monument to the Great Fire of London (aka the Monument). In 1666, there was a fire that swept through most of London and burned up most of the city. Today, a monument designed by Christopher Wren and Robert Hooke stands not far from the bakery where the fire started.
As you can see in the image, it’s a very long and steep staircase. Since it’s the same narrow staircase for folks going up and down, the workers at the Monument control how many people can visit the top at a time.
There are some sitting areas built into the wall for those who need a break while climbing up or down. There is no elevator so if you want to go to the very top, you have to climb!
View of the London from the top of the Monument.
Tower of London
Now again head east towards the Tower of London. It is a royal castle with almost 1,000 years of history and probably one of the world’s most famous jails. Unlike Japanese castles, there is no water in the moat surrounding the castle walls.
The castle ground is surrounded by a tall and thick castle wall, with a very large courtyard in the middle lined with buildings and the White Tower in the center.
When you first enter the Tower of London, there is a Royal Mint to the left. There you can learn the history of Royal Mint at the Tower along with the display of ancient coins.
You can walk all over the castle grounds, including on top of the surrounding walls.
View of Tower Bridge from the Tower walls.
The White Tower in the center of the courtyard.
Replicas of the exotic animals that used to reside at the castle.
The line to see the Crown Jewel is pretty long but it moves quickly.
Time to see the Royal Collection of Crown Jewels! These gems are regularly used by the Queen during ceremonies. No photos allowed.
Exhibition about torture at the bottom of the Wakefield Tower.
One of the torture device on display, known as The Rack.
Visitors can enter the White Tower and enjoy various exhibitions.
Armors on display inside the White Tower.
Tower of London model.
3 times a day there is the Defend the Tower show which visitors can enjoy.
As you exit the castle, you will see one of the most iconic symbols of London – the Tower Bridge. The Tower Bridge is the splendidly ornate bridge (sometimes confused as London Bridge) that crosses the River James. With your London Pass, you can go inside the tower and cross the high-level walkway.
Inside of the tower, visitors can learn about the history of Tower Bridge.
Glass floor! It was fun to look down at pedestrians and cars below. The kids were pretending falling down from the bridge.
Film on the history of Tower Bridge.
View of London from the high-level walkways. We’ll be visiting the ship you see right in the middle of River Thames next.
Now that you’re across the river, head westward up the river to HMS Belfast. HMS Belfast is a Royal Navy cruiser that fought in many wars for the British. You can explore all over the ship and see various rooms, cabins, kitchen, engine, and etc. It is maintained very well and interesting to see how the sailors lived.
You can explore different levels of the ship, the staircases are very steep and narrow so not recommended for elderly and young children.
What cooking in the kitchen was like back then on a ship.
Inside the missile towers.
An exciting day so far? Let’s change the pace a bit and enjoy the historical theater! The Shakespeare’s Globe is a replica based on historical evidence of the Globe Theater from the 1600s.
Based on what the guide at the Globe told us, the original one was burnt down because of special effects firing into the thatch roof for a play. The Shakespeare’s Globe is one of the few (could be the only) thatch roof building in London today.
As you enter, there’s a museum about the history of the theater, Shakespeare, and life on the South Bank back then.
Life on the River Thames.
There is a guided tour of the theater and I highly recommend it. Our guide was hilarious and kept us really engaged and entertained while telling us about the history of the globe.
City Cruise London
Right outside of the globe is one of the piers where you can take City Cruises (part of London Pass). Take it back up to Westminster and enjoy the views of the city from the water.
The tall glass building in the back is the Shard, tallest building in the UK.
The “real” London Bridge (vs. Tower Bridge we talked earlier).
Tate Modern Museum, we’ll go there on day 3!
Royal Festival Hall.
Hope that was a fun filled Day 2 for you. If you missed London Day 1, click here. On Day 3, we’ll go to the great museums of London. The best part?? They’re all free!
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