Up In The Air
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.