Cool off in London's top pools and parks.
Walking tours show visitors London's dark side: her violent, haunted past.
Few buildings and monuments symbolize an entire nation quite like London’s Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster. Westminster has housed the British Parliament for nearly 1,000 years. Royals, including Prince William, have historically wed in the Abbey. The clock tower, nicknamed Big Ben for its massive bell, has been keeping time with its 9-foot-long hour and 14-foot-long minute hands since 1859.
The official London residence of the British Monarch, Buckingham Palace is steeped in history. Feel like the ambassador to your own personal kingdom when you ogle the ornate décor of one of the 19 State Rooms where the monarchy entertains visiting dignitaries. Or witness the pomp and pageantry of the Changing of the Guard, the 45-minute ceremony in which one regiment replaces another’s palace watch. No trip to Buckingham Palace is complete without attempting to make the guards flinch -- just don’t land yourself in a British jail.
London’s historic skyline received a contemporary jolt when the 41-story 30 St Mary Axe, better known as The Gherkin, opened in 2004 in the financial district. Designed by renowned architect Sir Norman Foster, the eco-friendly glass tower uses just half the power of similarly sized buildings and offers some of the best 360-degree views of the city—if you’re lucky enough to gain access to them. The site’s restaurant and bar, located on the 39th and 40th floors, are open only to tenants and their guests.Designed by renowned architect Sir Norman Foster, the eco-friendly glass tower uses just half the power of similarly sized buildings and offers some of the best 360-degree views of the city—if you’re lucky enough to gain access to them. The site’s restaurant and bar, located on the 39th and 40th floors, are open only to tenants and their guests.
Even London’s Tower Bridge has Olympic fever -- the city’s iconic bridge was decked out with the Olympic rings a month ago in preparation for the games, but now that the Olympics are here, the rings continue to light up Tower Bridge and ignite London’s excitement for the competition. The 800-foot bridge was opened in 1894, and has previously been the focus of a London celebration -- it was painted red, white and blue back in 1977 for the Queen’s silver jubilee.
“In Flanders fields the poppies blow/Between the crosses, row on row.” During WWI, only the blood-red poppy could be seen blooming up from the grave-covered, barren landscape of northern France. An image immortalized by John McCrae in his poem In Flanders Fields, the poppies went on to symbolize the country’s staggering loss of life. Ceramic artist Paul Cummins paid tribute to this sentiment with his art installation piece Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, filling the Tower of London’s moat with 888,246 ceramic poppies, each one representing a British military fatality.
Explore Windsor Castle, visit nearby Eaton and take a boat ride on Dorney Lake.
Floyd Miller discusses running a marathon in every continent.
See London's best museums.