Up In The Air

Where London - - Sightseeing -

In 1993 the coun­try was on the hunt for a land­mark to cel­e­brate the mil­len­nium. Out of hun­dreds of de­signs, the hus­band-and-wife team Ju­lia Barfield and David Marks’ London Eye (p. 24), a gi­ant Fer­ris wheel on the Thames, was cho­sen. The wheel, which is the tallest in Europe, stands at 135 me­tres high, and on a clear day of­fers views as far-reach­ing as Wins­dor Cas­tle. Coca-Cola takes over as a spon­sor of this mod­ern-day icon from 17 Jan­uary. This is a wheel that just keeps turn­ing!

Crys­tal, The

The world’s first cen­tre ded­i­cated to im­prov­ing knowl­edge of ur­ban sus­tain­abil­ity. The re­cent land­mark (a sus­tain­able ci­ties ini­tia­tive by Siemens) fea­tures an in­ter­ac­tive ex­hi­bi­tion and events for vis­i­tors. Its aim is to ed­u­cate on im­por­tant global is­sues, re­veal­ing po­ten­tial fu­ture chal­lenges and so­lu­tions. Open Tue-Sun 10am-7pm. Ad­mis­sion £8. www.the­crys­tal.org. One Siemens Brothers Way, Royal Vic­to­ria Docks, E16 1GB. T: 020-7055 6400. Off map. Sta­tion: Royal Vic­to­ria.

Cutty Sark

The 19th-cen­tury ship is one of London’s most fa­mous mar­itime land­marks and the last sur­viv­ing tea clip­per. It re­opened in 2012 after ma­jor restora­tion work and you can now ex­plore above and be­low decks, with in­ter­ac­tive dis­plays. Reg­u­lar free fam­ily ac­tiv­i­ties. Daily 10am-5pm. Adult £12.15; child £6.30. www.rmg.co.uk/cut­tysark. Cutty Sark, King Wil­liam Walk, SE10 9HT. T: 020- 8312 6608. Off map. Sta­tion: Cutty Sark.

Den­nis Sev­ers’ House

This unique venue was opened by artist Den­nis Sev­ers in 1979 as a kind of 18th-cen­tury time cap­sule. Ten rooms, from the cel­lar to the at­tic, il­lus­trate the lives of the peo­ple liv­ing here be­tween the 17th and 19th cen­turies. ‘Silent Night’ tours ev­ery Mon and Wed 6pm-9pm; tick­ets £14. Day­time vis­its on se­lected Mon, noon-2pm. Adult £ 7; child £3.50; Sun noon- 4pm, adult £10; child £5. Please check for dates. www.den­nis­sev­er­shouse.co.uk. 18 Fol­gate St, E1 6BX. T: 020-7247 4013. D11. Sta­tion: Liver­pool St.

Elvis At The O2

To 31 Aug: Ex­hi­bi­tion that chron­i­cles the rise of rock ‘n’ roll legend Elvis Pres­ley, ex­plor­ing his im­pact on the mu­sic world. Open daily 10am-7pm. Tick­ets £9-£18. www.theo2.co.uk. Build­ing Five, Penin­sula Sq, SE10 0DX. T: 0844524 4824. Off map. Sta­tion: North Green­wich.

Ful­ham Palace

This at­trac­tive 15th-cen­tury build­ing was the sum­mer re­treat of the Bishops of London. It is now a mu­seum with ex­cel­lent gar­dens, a café and a gallery dis­play­ing palace-in­spired art. Open MonThur 12.30pm-3.30pm; Sun noon- 4pm; botan­i­cal gar­dens open daily, dawn-dusk. Ad­mis­sion free. www.ful­ham­palace.org. Bishop’s Ave, SW6 6EA. T: 020-7736 3233. Off map. Sta­tion: Put­ney Bridge.

Golden Hinde II

A full-size, sea­wor­thy re­con­struc­tion of the 16th-cen­tury ves­sel in which Sir Fran­cis Drake cir­cum­nav­i­gated the globe. Look out for Tu­dor Fun Days where vis­i­tors can dress up in pe­riod cos­tumes for tales and games. Daily 10am-5.30pm, please check for oc­ca­sional clo­sures. Gen­eral ad­mis­sion £ 7; child £5 (please check prices for spe­cial tours). www.gold­en­hinde. com. Pick­fords Wharf, Clink St, SE1 9DG. T: 020-7403 0123. C8. Sta­tion: London Bridge.

Ham House And Gar­den

One of Europe’s great­est 17th-cen­tury houses. Its gar­dens are said to be haunted. House closed. Gar­dens, be­low stairs area, shop and Orangery Café Sat-Sun 10am- 4pm. Adult £4; child £2. www.na­tion­al­trust.org.uk/ham­house. Ham St, TW10 7RS. T: 020- 8940 1950. Off map. Sta­tion: Rich­mond, then bus 371.

HMS Belfast

Per­ma­nently moored on the River Thames, this ship is Europe’s only sur­viv­ing World War II cruiser. Launched 75 years ago and in ser­vice un­til 1965, it is now a re­minder of Bri­tain’s naval her­itage. 10-11 Jan: Cracking Codes. Learn about the skills in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cers had to have as well as some of the dan­gers that sur­rounded the ship at sea dur­ing the Sec­ond World War and beyond. Open daily 10am-5pm. Adult £15.50; child free. www.iwm.org.uk. The Queen’s Walk, off Too­ley St, SE1 2JH. T: 020-7940 6300. E11. Sta­tion: London Bridge.

House­hold Cavalry Mu­seum

Dis­cover the his­tory of the mounted guards, who par­tic­i­pate in the Chang­ing The Guard cer­e­mony, and wit­ness their day-to-day life, in­clud­ing work­ing their horses in 18th-cen­tury sta­bles. Daily in­spec­tion at 4pm. Open daily 10am-5pm. Adult £ 7; child £5. www.house­hold­cav­al­ry­mu­seum.co.uk. Horse Guards, White­hall, SW1A 2AX. T: 020-7930 3070. E7. Sta­tion: West­min­ster.

Houses Of Par­lia­ment

The site of Bri­tish Par­lia­ment’s home since 1265, this build­ing was con­structed in the 19th cen­tury in neo-gothic style. Hear the bell Big Ben chime from its clock tower. Watch de­bates free from the Pub­lic Gal­leries or en­joy an audio or guided tour of ar­eas in­clud­ing the Queen’s Rob­ing Room and the Lords and Com­mons Cham­bers (most Satur­days).

From 20 Jan: Par­lia­ment In The Mak­ing. A new ex­hi­bi­tion opens in West­min­ster Hall cov­er­ing 800 years of po­lit­i­cal his­tory. Af­ter­noon tea on se­lected days. Open­ing days and times vary. Audio tour £17.50; child £ 7. Guided tours £25; child £10. Af­ter­noon tea (only per­mit­ted with a tour ticket) £27.50. www.par­lia­ment.uk/vis­it­ing. Palace Of West­min­ster, Dean’s Yard, SW1A 0AA. T: 020-7219 4114. F8. Sta­tion: West­min­ster.

Keats House

This el­e­gant 19th-cen­tury build­ing was once home to ro­man­tic poet John Keats. See his books, paint­ings and house­hold items, plus the en­gage­ment ring he gave to sweet­heart Fanny Brawne. Open Fri-Sun 1pm-5pm. Adult £5.50; child free. www.city­oflon­don.gov.uk/ keat­shouse­hamp­stead. Keats Grove, NW3 2RR. T: 020-7332 3868. Off map. Sta­tion: Hamp­stead.

Kens­ing­ton Palace

This glo­ri­ous palace, with gar­dens link­ing to the park, was the birth­place of Queen Vic­to­ria and the last home of Princess Diana. Long-term ex­hi­bi­tion, Vic­to­ria Re­vealed, de­picts the Queen’s life in her child­hood home since her birth in 1819. 9, 16, 23, 31 Jan: Eerie Evening Tours. Mys­te­ri­ous sights and un­ex­plained hap­pen­ings at Kens­ing­ton Palace; tick­ets £27.50. To Jul: Fash­ion Rules: Dresses From The Col­lec­tions Of HM The Queen, Princess Mar­garet And Diana. Dresses ex­plor­ing how royal fig­ures rep­re­sented the spirit of each decade. Open daily 10am-5pm. Adult £15; child free. www.hrp.org.uk. Kens­ing­ton Gar­dens, W8 4PX. T: 0844- 482 7777. E3. Sta­tion: High St Kens­ing­ton/Queensway.

Ken­wood House

Grace­ful 18th-cen­tury villa on the edge of Hamp­stead Heath filled with beau­ti­ful friezes and a world-class col­lec­tion of paint­ings by Ver­meer, Turner, Gains­bor­ough and Reynolds. Open daily; house 10am-5pm; gar­den & shop 10am- 4pm; café 9am-5pm. Ad­mis­sion free. www.english-her­itage. org.uk/ken­wood. Hamp­stead Lane, NW3 7JR. T: 020- 8348 1286. Off map. Sta­tion: Hamp­stead.

London Bridge Ex­pe­ri­ence

An ex­cit­ing his­tory les­son de­scrib­ing the past of the 1,700-year-old London Bridge site and spooky scare at­trac­tion. Tick­ets also inc The London Tombs that are housed in a for­mer plague pit. Hol­ly­wood-style wiz­ardry and ac­tors bring the ex­pe­ri­ence to life. The Guardian An­gel Tour is suit­able for chil­dren un­der 11. Sun-Fri 10am-5pm; Sat 10am- 6pm. Adult £24; child (tombs for over 11s only). www.th­elon­don­bridge ex­pe­ri­ence.com. 2- 4 Too­ley St, SE1 2SY. T: 0800- 043 4666. E10. Sta­tion: London Bridge.

London Dun­geon, The

In­ter­ac­tive hor­ror at­trac­tion now in the un­der­ground vaults of County Hall. Take a terrifying tour of 1,000 years of grue­some his­tory, with 18 shows bring­ing to life grisly London res­i­dents such as Sweeney Todd. State-of-the-art ad­di­tions inc an adrenaline­fu­elled boat ride to es­cape the clutches of Henry VIII. Not rec­om­mended for young chil­dren. Open Mon-Wed & Fri 10am-5pm; Thur 11am5pm; Sat & Sun 10am- 6pm. Adult £25.20; child £19.80. Joint tick­ets with Madame Tus­sauds, Sea Life London Aquar­ium and the London Eye avail­able. www.the­dun­geons.com. County Hall, West­min­ster Bridge Rd, SE1 7PB. T: 0871-423 2240. F8. Sta­tion: Water­loo/Em­bank­ment.

London Eye

This London icon is one of the world’s largest ob­ser­va­tion wheels. In­ter­ac­tive screens in each pod give an in­sight into the land­marks on view (p. 22). Joint tick­ets with Eyeskate pop-up ice rink, river cruise, London Aquar­ium, Madame Tus­sauds and the London Dun­geon are avail­able.

To 4 Jan: Eyeskate. Pop-up ice rink un­der the London Eye with amaz­ing view of the Houses Of Par­lia­ment. Times vary. Tick­ets from £10.50; child from £ 7.50. Open daily 10.30am8.30pm. Adult from £20.95; child £15. Joint tick­ets with Eyeskate avail­able. www.lon­don­eye.com. County Hall, South Bank, SE1 7PB. T: 0871-781 3000. E8. Sta­tion: Water­loo.

Madame Tus­sauds

Cel­e­brated home of life-sized wax fig­ures de­pict­ing fa­mous peo­ple from the worlds of pol­i­tics, sport, his­tory and en­ter­tain­ment. Pose with your favourite legend, from The Queen to Adele, and visit the terrifying Cham­ber Of Hor­rors and Scream ex­pe­ri­ences. Open Mon-Fri 9.30am-5.30pm; Sat & Sun 9am- 6pm. Adult £30; child £25.80. Joint tick­ets with the London Eye, London Dun­geon and London Aquar­ium avail­able. www.madame­tus­sauds.com/london. Maryle­bone Rd, NW1 5LR. T: 0871- 894 3000. C6. Sta­tion: Baker St.

Mar­itime Green­wich World Her­itage Site

Stun­ning neo-clas­si­cal build­ings on the River Thames, with World Her­itage sta­tus, inc The Old Royal Naval Col­lege, The Chapel and The Painted Hall. Col­lege grounds open daily 8am6pm. Look out for be­hind-the-scenes tours of the Painted Hall led by a Yeo­man of the Col­lege, re­veal­ing the ar­chi­tec­tural splen­dour of its richly-dec­o­rated in­te­ri­ors. Painted Hall and Chapel open daily 10am-5pm. Tour £5. Ad­mis­sion free. www.ornc.org. 2 Cutty Sark Gdns, SE10 9LW. T: 0870- 608 2000. Off map. Sta­tion: Green­wich/ Cutty Sark.

Mon­u­ment, The

This beau­ti­ful stone col­umn stand­ing in the heart of the City was built in 1677 to com­mem­o­rate the 1666 Great Fire Of London. Climb the 311 steps for views of the City. Open daily 9.30am-5.30pm. Adult £4; child £2. Joint tick­ets with the Tower Bridge Ex­hi­bi­tion avail­able. www.the­mon­u­ment.info. Mon­u­ment St, EC3R 8AH. T: 020-7626 2717. E10. Sta­tion: Mon­u­ment/London Bridge.

Queen El­iz­a­beth Olympic Park

For­merly the site of the London 2012 Olympic and Par­a­lympic Games, this im­pres­sive park has now re­opened to the pub­lic, inc the North Park, plus the Aquat­ics Cen­tre for pub­lic swimming, and ArcelorMit­tal Or­bit ob­ser­va­tion tower. Park open 24 hours a day; Or­bit 10am- 4pm. Park ad­mis­sion free. www.queenel­iz­a­betholympic­park. co.uk. Queen El­iz­a­beth Olympic Park, E20 2ST. T: 0800- 072 2110. Off map. Sta­tion: Strat­ford.

Ri­p­ley’s Be­lieve It Or Not!

This cu­rios­ity-filled mu­seum with more than 700 arte­facts is a big hit across the globe. Ex­plore a huge range of odd­i­ties over six floors, from a shrunken head to an al­bino al­li­ga­tor and the world’s tallest man. Ven­ture into the Mir­ror Maze and the Dun­geon Zone for a dose of fun. Open daily 10am-mid­night (last en­try 10.30pm). Adult £26.95; child £19.95. www.rip­leys london.com. 1 Pic­cadilly Cir­cus, WC1 ODA. T: 020-3238 0022. E7. Sta­tion: Pic­cadilly Cir­cus.

Royal Botanic Gar­dens, Kew

Bet­ter known as Kew Gar­dens, this World Her­itage Site has over 250 years of his­tory, with more than 38,000 plant species in 300 acres, inc the Palm House, the 18m-high Xs­trata Tree­top Walk­way and the Chi­nese pagoda.

To 3 Jan: Christ­mas At Kew. Sea­sonal il­lu­mi­na­tions light up Kew after dark. Open 5pm-10pm. Gar­dens open 9.30am- 4.15pm; glasshouses and gal­leries 9.30am-5.30pm. Tem­per­ate House is closed for restora­tion un­til 2018. Adult £9.50; child free. www.kew.org. Kew Gar­dens, TW9 3AB. T: 020-8332 5655.

Off map. Sta­tion: Kew.

Royal In­sti­tu­tion Of Great Bri­tain, The

Re­fur­bished Grade-I listed Ge­or­gian build­ing with in­ter­ac­tive exhibitions high­light­ing events and de­vel­op­ments here since 1799. Inc sci­en­tific ap­pa­ra­tus and Fara­day Mu­seum, plus paint­ings and sculp­tures of his­toric events. World-fa­mous lec­ture se­ries plus fam­ily events. Good restau­rant and bar. Open Mon-Fri 9am- 6pm. Ad­mis­sion free; charges for talks. www.rigb.org. 21 Albe­marle St, W1S 4BS. T: 020-7409 2992. C5. Sta­tion: Green Park.

Royal Ob­ser­va­tory, The

In the court­yard, stand on the world-fa­mous Prime Merid­ian line at Lon­gi­tude 0°, which strad­dles two hemi­spheres. Inside, the four Time Gal­leries house exhibitions. To 4 Jan: Lon­gi­tude Punk’d. A fun, lav­ish ex­hi­bi­tion which rein­ter­prates sci­ence and the 18th-cen­tury de­sire to find lon­gi­tude at sea. Open daily 10am-5pm. En­try to the As­tron­omy Cen­tre is free, oth­er­wise adult £ 7.70; child (6-15) £3.60; plan­e­tar­ium show adult £6.50; child £4.50. www.rmg. co.uk. Black­heath Ave, SE10 8XJ. T: 020- 8858 4422. Off map. Sta­tion: Green­wich/Maze Hill/Cutty Sark.

Sea Life London Aquar­ium

One of Europe’s largest aquar­i­ums, with 500 species of global marine life and walk-through tank tun­nels. Go on the VIP Tur­tle Feed­ing Ex­pe­ri­ence to learn about one of the world’s largest species of sea tur­tle (ticket £55), or Snorkle With Sharks (ticket £125). Open daily 10am-7pm. Adult £24.95; child £16.50. Joint tick­ets with the London Eye, London Dun­geon and Madame Tus­sauds avail­able. www.seal­ife.co.uk/london. County Hall, West­min­ster Bridge Road, SE1 7PB. T: 0871- 663 1678. F8. Sta­tion: West­min­ster/ Water­loo.

Shake­speare’s Globe

Visit this ac­cu­rate re­con­struc­tion of Wil­liam Shake­speare’s orig­i­nal El­iz­a­bethan-era Globe The­atre and ex­plore its ex­hi­bi­tion to learn more about per­for­mances of the era. Check for tours of the new Sam Wana­maker Play­house, which stages plays by can­dle­light. Mul­ti­lin­gual audio guides avail­able. Ex­hi­bi­tion open daily 9am5.30pm. Tours daily 9.30am-5pm. Ad­mis­sion £13.50; child £8. Sam Wana­maker Play­house tours on se­lected dates. Adult £10; child £7. www.shake­spear­es­globe.com. 21 New Globe Walk, SE1 9DT. T: 020-7902 1400. E10. Sta­tion: Black­fri­ars.

Shri Swami­narayan Mandir

Also known as Neas­den Tem­ple, this is the largest Hindu tem­ple in the north­ern hemi­sphere, with soar­ing white mar­ble pin­na­cles and in­tri­cate carv­ings inside. Mod­est cloth­ing re­quired for en­try. Un­der­stand­ing Hin­duism ex­hi­bi­tion on the his­tory and prac­tice of the re­li­gion (adult £2; child £1.50). Free guided and audio tours of the tem­ple. Open daily 9am- 6pm; ex­hi­bi­tion MonFri 9am-5pm; Sat-Sun 9am- 6pm. Ad­mis­sion free. www.lon­don­mandir.baps.org. 105-119 Brent­field Rd, NW10 8LD. T: 020- 8965 2651. Off map. Sta­tion: Neas­den.

Som­er­set House

Beau­ti­ful 18th-cen­tury palace over­look­ing the River Thames, with foun­tain court, restau­rant, gal­leries (inc the Cour­tauld) and ter­race.

To 11 Jan: Skate. Out­door ice rink for the fes­tive sea­son, part­nered with Fort­num & Ma­son. Look out for the after-dark ex­pe­ri­ences, which inc Club Nights with DJs, which trans­form the rink into a disco. In­dulge in one of the spe­cial pack­ages, which inc Cham­pagne and Truffles or a Cream Tea in Fort­num’s Lodge, or for an ex­traspe­cial ex­pe­ri­ence at Fort­num & Ma­son Pic­cadilly store or at The Savoy. Times vary. Tick­ets from £ 7.50. Em­bank­ment level open daily 10am- 6pm; river ter­race and Sea­men’s Hall open daily 8am-11pm; court­yard open daily 7.30am-11pm. Ad­mis­sion free, charges for some events and exhibitions. www.som­er­set­house.org.uk. Strand, WC2R 1LA. T: 020-7845 4600. E8. Sta­tion: Tem­ple/Char­ing Cross.

St. Martin-In-The-Fields

Land­mark Pal­la­dian church with live clas­si­cal mu­sic and a brass-rub­bing cen­tre, plus tours. Daily ser­vices, reg­u­lar exhibitions plus oc­ca­sional tours. Free lunchtime con­certs Mon, Tue and Fri 1pm; reg­u­lar evening con­certs. Jazz In The Crypt per­for­mances on se­lected Wed 8pm in the at­mo­spheric Café In The Crypt. Brass Rub­bing Cen­tre Mon-Wed 10am- 6pm; Thur-Sat 10am-8pm; Sun 11.30am-5pm. En­try free; brass rub­bing from £4.50, con­certs vary. www.stmartin-in-the-fields. org. Trafal­gar Sq, WC2N 4JJ. T: 020-7766 1100. E8. Sta­tion: Char­ing Cross.

St. Paul’s Cathe­dral

Sir Christo­pher Wren’s 300-year-old cathe­dral is filled with stun­ning mo­saics and crafts­man­ship. Climb up the dome to the Whis­per­ing Gallery, and a fur­ther 271 steps to the Golden Gallery for views over London. Down in the Crypt, see mon­u­ments to fa­mous Bri­tons inc Wren and Lord Nel­son, plus Ocu­lus: An Eye Into St. Paul’s, a 270-de­gree film ex­pe­ri­ence. Free tours. Open Mon-Sat 8.30am- 4pm (last ticket). Adult £16.50; child £ 7.50. www.stpauls.co.uk. St. Paul’s Church­yard, EC4M 8AD. T: 020-7246 8357. D9/10. Sta­tion: St. Paul’s.

Tower Bridge Ex­hi­bi­tion

This breathtaking bridge, de­signed in 1884, is one of London’s most fa­mous land­marks, of­fer­ing won­der­ful views of the city from the high-level walk­way. Don’t miss the new glass floor­ing which lets you see right down to the river be­low. To 29 Mar: En­gi­neer­ing Tours. Twohour tours of ar­eas that are not nor­mally open to the pub­lic (p. 20). Sat-Sun 3pm (not Feb). Tick­ets £50. Open daily 9.30am-5pm. Adult £9; child £3.90. Joint tick­ets with The Mon­u­ment avail­able. www.tower­bridge.org.uk. Tower Bridge Rd, SE1 2UP. T: 020-7403 3761. E11. Sta­tion: Tower Hill.

Tower Of London

En­joy a tour with a cos­tumed Yeo­man guard (’Beefeater’) around this land­mark, inc the Jewel House, home of the Crown Jew­els. Vis­i­tors can also at­tend the nightly tra­di­tion of The Cer­e­mony Of The Keys for free (ad­vance book­ing es­sen­tial. To se­cure your free place, send names, dates and an SAE two months ahead of your visit to: Cer­e­mony Of The Keys Of­fice, Tower Of London, Tower Hill, EC3N 4AB). Open Tue-Sat 9am-4.30pm; Sun-Mon 10am-4.30pm. Adult £22; child £11. www.hrp.org.uk. Tower Hill, EC3N 4AB. T: 0844-482 7777. E11. Sta­tion: Tower Hill.

Up At The O2

This ex­cit­ing at­trac­tion at The O2 gives in­trepid vis­i­tors with a head for heights the op­por­tu­nity to walk right over the top of the iconic arena, with the help of a guide. There are some fan­tas­tic views over the sur­round­ing area, inc Ca­nary Wharf, Green­wich and right across London. Wheel­chair ac­ces­si­ble. Open 10am, clos­ing times vary; please check web­site for fur­ther de­tails. Tick­ets from £26. www.up­attheo2.co.uk. The O2, Penin­sula Sq, SE10 0DX. Off map. Sta­tion: North Green­wich. Boat: The O2.

View From The Shard, The

The lat­est ad­di­tion to London’s sky­line, Western Europe’s tallest build­ing of­fers un­ri­valled views from 310m above the city’s streets. Ear-pop­ping lifts magic you up to the heady heights, while ‘tell:scopes’ al­low you to zoom in on the mi­nus­cule sights be­low (p. 24). Open Sun-Wed 10am-7pm; Thur-Sat 10am-10pm (ad­vance book­ings rec­om­mended). Adult £29.95; child (4-15) £23.95. www.the­viewfromthe­shard.com. Joiner St, SE1 9SP. T: 0844- 499 7111. E10. Sta­tion: London Bridge.

Vi­nop­o­lis

Ex­plore and sam­ple wines from around the world with self-guided tours and tast­ings, or en­joy a guided tour with an ex­pert. Fresh new fa­cil­i­ties inc a Win­ery and Ge­og­ra­phy Zone stocked with wines from across the globe. 22 Jan: Aus­tralian Wines Un­corked. Dis­cover rich whites and ripe reds of some of Aus­tralia’s best bou­tique pro­duc­ers. 23 Jan: Burns Night Sup­per And Whisky Tast­ing Master­class. Whisky ex­pert and res­i­dent Scot, Tom For­rest, cel­e­brates the life and po­etry of Robert Burns. Open Wed 6pm-9.30pm; Thur-Fri 2pm-10pm; Sat noon-9.30pm; Sun noon6pm. Tours and tast­ing from £27. www.vi­nop­o­lis. co.uk. 1 Bank End, SE1 9BU. T: 020-7940 8300. E10. Sta­tion: London Bridge.

Warner Bros. Stu­dio Tour London

Ex­plore be­hind the scenes on The Mak­ing Of Harry Pot­ter tour for a gen­uinely mag­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ence. Vis­i­tors can wit­ness some of the film se­ries’ most iconic sets, inc the Great Hall, Ha­grid’s Hut, Di­agon Al­ley and the Gryffindor Common Room. Of­fers a fas­ci­nat­ing in­sight into film-mak­ing. To 1 Feb: Hog­warts In The Snow. The iconic sets get a fes­tive makeover. The Great Hall has a sea­sonal feast, which inc prop ver­sions of tur­keys, ham, fruit, vegetables and snow cakes. For the first time ever, the spe­cial ef­fects depart­ment has also used coloured lights to cre­ate a flicker for the ‘fire’ in the Gryffindor common room. Open daily, please check web­site for times. Adult £31; child £23.50. www.wb­stu­dio tour.co.uk. Stu­dio Tour Drive, Leaves­den, Hert­ford­shire, WD25 7LS. T: 0845- 084 0900. Off map. Sta­tion: Euston to Wat­ford Junc­tion, then shut­tle bus.

West­min­ster Abbey

Con­se­crated in 1065, this mag­nif­i­cent abbey is the crown­ing and burial site of most English mon­archs. It also houses Po­ets’ Cor­ner, the burial place of Dick­ens and other fa­mous writ­ers. Free 30-minute or­gan recital most Suns at 5.45pm. Check for tours. Open Mon, Tue, Thur-Fri 9.30am- 3.30pm; Wed 9.30am-6pm; Sat 9.30am-1.30pm. Adult £18; child £8, un­der 11s free; tour £3. www.west­min­ster-abbey.org. Broad Sanc­tu­ary, SW1P 3PA. T: 020-7222 5152. F7/8. Sta­tion: West­min­ster.

WWT London Wet­land Cen­tre

Forty two-hectare wildlife re­serve with more than 100 species of rare and wild birds, plus a fam­ily of ot­ters who live in a spe­cially de­signed holt (fed daily at 11am & 2pm). Path­ways make it easy to get around the site and you can visit bird-spot­ting hides to peer out with binoc­u­lars. Reg­u­lar tours, plus fam­ily ac­tiv­i­ties and the Wa­ter’s Edge Café. Open daily 9.30am-5pm. Adult £11.23; child £6.27. www.wwt.org.uk. Queen El­iz­a­beth’s Walk, SW13 9WT. T: 020- 8409 4400. Off map. Sta­tion: Ham­mer­smith & ‘Duck Bus’, or via the Thames tow­path.

ZSL London Zoo

There are more than 750 species in this fan­tas­tic zoo, from mighty Su­ma­tran tigers and go­ril­las to Ko­modo dragons and tiny hum­ming­birds. Tiger Ter­ri­tory sees the zoo’s stripy res­i­dents treated to an In­done­sian-in­spired en­clo­sure, com­plete with cus­tom-built pool and in­door dens. The liv­ing Rain­for­est Life has mon­keys and ar­madil­los, plus trop­i­cal fish in the Aquar­ium. Pen­guin Beach fea­tures a fan­tas­tic pool with un­der­wa­ter view­ing, feed­ing and dis­play ar­eas for the zoo’s Hum­boldt and Mac­a­roni pen­guins. There are VIP ex­pe­ri­ences, which inc Meet The An­i­mals and Keeper For A Day. Dur­ing the day you can meet meerkats, aard­varks and pen­guins. Open daily 10am- 4pm. Adult £20; child £15. www.zsl.org. Re­gent’s Park, NW1 4RY. T: 020-7722 3333. Off map. Sta­tion: Cam­den Town/Baker St.

RIVER TRIPS City Cruises

Daily guided sight­see­ing tours on the River Thames be­tween West­min­ster, Water­loo, Tower and Green­wich piers. Lunch, tea and din­ner cruises are avail­able. Red River Rover of­fers all-day, hop-on, hop-off sight­see­ing. Thames Cir­cu­lar Cruise is a 45-minute sight­see­ing trip. London Show­boat cabaret cruise of­fers a four-course meal with live mu­sic. Ticket prices, times and de­par­ture points vary. www.city­cruises.com. West­min­ster Pier, SW1A 2JH. T: 020-7740 0400. F8. Sta­tion: West­min­ster.

London Eye River Cruise

From 25 Jan: Forty-minute sight­see­ing cruise on the River Thames with live com­men­tary. Daily 11.45am- 4.45pm. Adult £13; child (4-15) £ 7. Dis­counted joint tick­ets with the London Eye avail­able. www.lon­don­eye.com. London Eye Pier, South Bank, SE1 7PB. T: 0871-781 3000. E8. Sta­tion: Water­loo.

MBNA Thames Clip­pers

The fastest and most fre­quent fleet on the river, with de­par­tures from ma­jor London piers ev­ery 20 min­utes. Serv­ing 19 piers across London. River Roamer tick­ets for hop-on, hop-off travel. Adult £16.50; fam­ily £36. Sin­gle and re­turn tick­ets avail­able; Oys­ter cards valid. www.thamesclip­pers. com. T: 020-7001 2200.

TOURS & GUIDED WALKS Big Bus Tours

Daily sight­see­ing trips aboard a fleet of open­top dou­ble-decker buses. Take in London’s best sights, guided by a mul­ti­lin­gual com­men­tary (Blue Tour) or live guide (Red Tour). A hop-on, hop-off ticket for 24 hours or 48 hours inc a river cruise and three guided walk­ing tours. Tick­ets £32; child £12. www.big­bus­tours.com. The Big Bus In­for­ma­tion Cen­tre, 48 Buck­ing­ham Palace Road, SW1W 0RN. T: 020-7233 9533. F6. Sta­tion: Vic­to­ria.

Black Taxi Tours

Take a London tour in an iconic black taxi cab. Get col­lected from your ho­tel for a two-hour drive, stop­ping at ma­jor sights inc the Houses Of Par­lia­ment, St. Paul’s Cathe­dral and Trafal­gar Square. Ask about the Harry Pot­ter tours. www.black­tax­i­tours.co.uk. T: 020-7935 9363.

GoToMid­town Tours

More than 100 themed 45-minute tours around Blooms­bury and Hol­born. Tours are free and there’s no need to book. On th­ese walks you can see ev­ery­thing from where The Bea­tles and Jimi Hen­drix recorded songs to sites of pub­lic ex­e­cu­tions. Check the web­site for dates and fur­ther de­tails. The 10am & 1pm walks start by the orange in­for­ma­tion kiosk out­side Hol­born sta­tion; walks start­ing at 11am, 2pm & 5.30pm meet at the Gotomid­town tourist in­for­ma­tion shop at 56 New Ox­ford St, WC1B 3ST. www.gotomid­town.co.uk. 229-231 High Hol­born, WC1V 7DA. T: 020-7078 7077. D8. Sta­tion: Hol­born.

Jack The Rip­per Tour

Blue Badge Guide Richard Jones de­vised th­ese walks, which look at Jack The Rip­per. Tours de­part daily from out­side Exit 4 of Aldgate East sta­tion at 7pm. Tick­ets £10. www.rip­per­tour.com. T: 020-8530 8443. Off map. Sta­tion: Aldgate East.

London Chauf­feur Drive

Tai­lor-made tours in a chauf­feur-driven car, suit­able for in­di­vid­u­als and small groups. It is a great way to see the city for peo­ple who dis­like pub­lic trans­port and want a feel­ing of ex­clu­siv­ity. www.lon­don­chauf­feur-drive-co.uk. T: 020-7708 5000.

London Duck Tours

Ex­plore the cap­i­tal by road and river from a bright yel­low am­phibi­ous ve­hi­cle that dates back to the Sec­ond World War. See the city’s iconic sights as you tour the streets be­fore tak­ing to the River Thames with a thrilling ‘splash-down’, and a new per­spec­tive of iconic land­marks inc Houses Of Par­lia­ment and Big Ben from the wa­ter. Please check for de­par­tures times. Adult £24; child £16. www.lon­don­duck­tours.co.uk. Chiche­ley Street, SE1 7PY. T: 020-7928 3132. F8. Sta­tion: Water­loo.

London He­li­copter Tour, The

Twenty-minute tours de­part from Bat­tersea, of­fer­ing un­for­get­table bird’s-eye views of the city. The he­li­copter climbs to more than 1,000 feet as it fol­lows the River Thames from Put­ney in the west to Green­wich in the east. There are three dif­fer­ent routes to choose from, inc a cen­tral London tour from Chelsea to London Bridge; London Sights and the longer London Max. From £199 per seat. www.th­elon­don he­li­copter.com. 1 The POD Build­ing, Bridges Court, SW11 3RE. T: 020-7887 2626. Off map. Sta­tion: Clapham Junc­tion, then a 15 min walk.

London Walks

London’s old­est walk­ing tour company of­fers more than 300 walks. Favourites in­clude the Jack The Rip­per Walk (de­part­ing daily at 7.30pm, plus Sat 3pm from Tower Hill), Harry Pot­ter tour and Charles Dick­ens’ London. Vis­i­tors can en­joy spooky sto­ries on the West End Ghost Walk ev­ery night at 7.30pm. Tick­ets £9; child free (if ac­com­pa­nied by an adult). www.walks.com. T: 020-7624 3978.

Orig­i­nal London Sight­see­ing Tour

With more than 60 years’ ex­pe­ri­ence, th­ese live and mul­ti­lin­gual open-top guided bus tours take you to the city’s best attractions, al­low­ing you to hop on and off at more than 80 stops, with tick­ets valid for 24 hours. Tick­ets inc walk­ing tours and a Thames River cruise. Tick­ets £29; child £14. www.the­o­rig­inal­tour.com. 17-19 Cock­spur St, SW1Y 5BL. T: 020- 8877 1722. E7. Sta­tion: Char­ing Cross.

Orig­i­nal London Sight­see­ing Walk

Walks de­part daily from the Orig­i­nal London Vis­i­tor Cen­tre and inc Chang­ing The Guard (de­part­ing 10.30am), Rock ‘n’ Roll (1pm) and Jack The Rip­per (3.30pm from Tower Hill Sta­tion). Walk­ing tours are free with Orig­i­nal London Sight­see­ing Tour. www.the­o­rig­inal­tour.com. 17-19 Cock­spur St, SW1Y 5BL. T: 020- 8877 1722. E7. Sta­tion: Char­ing Cross.

Royal Al­bert Hall Tours

Take a 90-minute Be­hind The Scenes Tour around this neo-gothic Vic­to­rian con­cert hall, inc the Royal Re­tir­ing Room and the au­di­to­rium. Other tours inc the Af­ter­noon Tea Tour. Check for dates. Tick­ets from £12.25; child £5.25. www.roy­alal­bert hall.com. Kens­ing­ton Gore, SW7 2AP. T: 020-7959 0558. F4. Sta­tion: South Kens­ing­ton.

Walkit

In­no­va­tive site aim­ing to get peo­ple out on foot. En­ter your start­ing point and des­ti­na­tion (inc street, place or post­code) and the site will work out a route map, dis­tance, time, calo­rie burn and car­bon sav­ing. www.walkit.com.

Wem­b­ley Tours

Go be­hind the scenes at one of the world’s most fa­mous foot­ball sta­di­ums and con­cert venues. The 75-minute tours inc a look around the dress­ing rooms as well as a chance to walk down the play­ers’ tun­nel on to the pitch. You can even have your photo taken with a replica of the FA Cup. Daily 10am- 4pm. Adult £16; child £9. www.wem­b­leysta­dium.com/wem­b­ley-tours. Wem­b­ley Sta­dium, HA9 0WS. T: 0844-800 2755. Off map. Sta­tion: Wem­b­ley Park.

West­ways Car­riage Horses

Get col­lected from your ho­tel and ex­pe­ri­ence the sights of London from the com­fort of a beau­ti­ful horse-drawn car­riage. Tours last from two-and-a-half to three hours in a four-seater or six-seater car­riage. £450 per car­riage. www.west­wayscar­riage­horses.co.uk. T: 020- 8572 3155.

OUT OF TOWN Ash­molean Mu­seum Of Art And Ar­chae­ol­ogy

Bri­tain’s first pub­lic mu­seum dates back to 1683, when Elias Ash­mole, a politi­cian, left his col­lec­tion of an­tiq­ui­ties and nat­u­ral cu­riosi­ties to the Univer­sity Of Ox­ford. See some of the world’s finest archaeological arte­facts, preRaphaelite paint­ings, Egyp­tian mum­mies and Oliver Cromwell’s death mask. To 1 Mar: Wil­liam Blake: Ap­pren­tice And Master. Ex­hi­bi­tion about the life and work of the great Bri­tish painter, print­maker and poet. Open Tue-Sun 10am-5pm. Gen­eral ad­mis­sion free. Ex­hi­bi­tion: adult £9; child £4.50. www.ash­molean.org. Beau­mont St, Ox­ford, OX1 2PH. T: 01865-278 000. Off map. Sta­tion: Padding­ton to Ox­ford.

Blen­heim Palace

Famed as the birth­place of Sir Win­ston Churchill, this master­piece of English Baroque ar­chi­tec­ture is set in 2,100 acres of Ca­pa­bil­ity Brown park­land and for­mal gar­dens, plus mag­nif­i­cent state rooms with three cen­turies of trea­sures. Palace open daily 10.30am-5.30pm; for­mal gar­dens 10am5.30pm; park 9am- 6pm; plea­sure gar­dens 10.30am-3.30pm. Adult £22.50 (park & gar­dens only £13.50); child £12.30 (£6.60). www.blen­heim palace.com. Wood­stock, Ox­ford­shire, OX20 1PP. T: 01993- 811 091. Off map. Sta­tion: Vic­to­ria to Ox­ford, then bus S3.

Eltham Palace & Gar­dens

Deca­dent 1930s Art Deco man­sion, built by the mil­lion­aire Cour­taulds, which is ad­ja­cent to the re­mains of a me­dieval palace, Henry VIII’s child­hood home. High­lights inc its stun­ning in­te­ri­ors with pan­elled din­ing room and gold-plated bath­room, plus the sunken rose gar­dens. Open Sun 10am- 4pm. Adult £10.20; child £6.10. www.english-her­itage.org.uk. Court Yard, SE9 5QE. T: 020- 8294 2548. Off map. Sta­tion: Vic­to­ria to Eltham.

Hamp­ton Court Palace

Mag­nif­i­cent river­side palace, loved by Henry VIII and George II. There are su­perb for­mal gar­dens and the fa­mous maze, as well as the me­dieval hall and art col­lec­tions. Don’t miss the royal choco­late kitchens with orig­i­nal char­coal bra­ziers. Make sure you check out Henry VIII’s im­pe­rial crown, which was de­stroyed fol­low­ing the English Civil War and has now been recre­ated cour­tesy of the Crown Jew­eller’s master craftsman.

To 4 Jan: Hamp­ton Court Palace Ice Rink. En­joy the beau­ti­ful sur­round­ings of his­toric Hamp­ton Court Palace while you skate around the grounds. Tick­ets £13; child £8.50. Palace & maze open daily

10am- 4.30pm; for­mal gar­dens 10am-5.30pm. Palace, gar­dens and maze: adult £16.50; child (5-15) £8.25. Maze only: adult £4.40; child £2.75. Gar­dens only: adult £5.62; child free. www.hrp.org.uk. Hamp­ton Court Palace, KT8 9AU. T: 0844- 482 7777. Off map. Sta­tion: Water­loo to Hamp­ton Court.

Leeds Cas­tle

Fairy­tale 900-year-old moated cas­tle, beau­ti­ful gar­dens and park­land in a stun­ning lo­ca­tion, used by me­dieval queens and loved by Henry VIII. Lose your­self in the spi­ralling yew maze to seek out the un­der­world grotto, and see the 100 species of daz­zling birds in the aviary.

To 4 Jan: Win­ter Trail. Col­lect fes­tive clues as you go round with the chance to be en­tered into a prize draw. Open daily 10.30am4pm. Adult £19; child £11. www.leeds-cas­tle.com. Maid­stone, Kent, ME17 1PL. T: 01622-765 400. Off map. Sta­tion: Vic­to­ria to Maid­stone.

Stone­henge

The world’s most fa­mous stone cir­cle, a World Her­itage Site, is over 5,000 years old. With ob­scure Ne­olithic ori­gins, it is per­fectly aligned with the ris­ing sun at the sol­stice. English Her­itage mem­bers get ex­clu­sive early-morn­ing tours. New vis­i­tor cen­tre, with a mul­ti­me­dia ex­hi­bi­tion, shop and café. 15 Jan: Stone­henge: Up Close. A rare and fas­ci­nat­ing in­sight into the revered stone cir­cle with an ex­clu­sive tour around the site led by one of English Her­itage’s ex­perts. Mem­bers only. Open daily 9.30am-5pm (last ad­mis­sion 3pm). Adult £13.90; child £8.30. www.english-her­itage. org.uk. Nr Shrew­ton, Wilt­shire, SP3 4DX. T: 0870-333 1181. Off map. Sta­tion: Water­loo to Sal­is­bury, then bus or taxi.

Wad­des­don Manor

Re­nais­sance-style chateau built in the late 19th cen­tury for the Roth­schild dy­nasty’s out­stand­ing art col­lec­tion and their lav­ish sum­mer par­ties. Mag­nif­i­cent house and wine cel­lars, plus won­der­ful gar­dens and aviary.

To 4 Jan: Win­ter Light At Wad­des­don: Bruce Munro. Ev­ery af­ter­noon, artist Bruce Munro’s light in­stal­la­tions in the gar­dens will be il­lu­mi­nated from 4pm. As this is an out­door trail, wrap up warm and wear out­door footwear. Fri-Sun 4pm- 8pm. Gar­dens, aviary and play­ground open Wed-Sun 10am-5pm. House Wed-Fri noon- 4pm; Sat & Sun 11am- 4pm. Closed from 5 Jan. House and gar­dens: adult £18; child £9; gar­dens only: adult £8; child £4. www.wad­des­don.org.uk. Nr. Ayles­bury, Bucks, HP18 0JH. T: 01296- 653 226. Off map. Sta­tion: Maryle­bone to Ayles­bury.

Wind­sor Cas­tle

The Queen’s mag­nif­i­cent week­end home and the world’s largest, old­est in­hab­ited cas­tle, cov­er­ing 26 acres and 900 years of his­tory, inc glo­ri­ous State Apart­ments fur­nished with art­works, Gothic chapel and Draw­ings Gallery. George IV’s pri­vate apart­ments (semi-state rooms) are richly dec­o­rated (p. 28).

From 31 Jan: Water­loo At Wind­sor: 1815-2015. Ex­hi­bi­tion mark­ing the cen­te­nary of the Bat­tle Of Water­loo. Chang­ing The Guard Mon-Sat 11am. Open daily 9.45am- 4.15pm (last en­try 3pm). Adult £18.50; child (5-17) £11. www.roy­al­col­lec­tion. org.uk. Wind­sor Cas­tle, Wind­sor, SL4 1NJ. T: 020-7766 7304. Off map. Sta­tion: Water­loo to Wind­sor & Eton River­side.

GO TO THE TOP of The Shard for a great view of London (p. 26)

Come face to face with a wax­work of Adele and other su­per­stars at Madame Tus­sauds

It’s time to get your skates on at Hamp­ton Court Palace’s ice rink

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