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A trip around the Circle Line Sights

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As one of the oldest lines on the London Underground, the Circle Line links east and west in the centre of the city and gives access to a number of sights that are well worth seeing. Popular at weekends with stag and hen parties, you will often see almost as much colour on the Tube as you’ll see off it, with brightly costumed men and women making their way around the line with a pub at each station.

While some of the stops are not worth the fare, there are plenty of things to be seen on the line that make a beep on your Oyster card very worthwhile.

 

Embankment

Getting out of the Tube station at Embankment will bring you face-to-face within the London Eye on the opposite side of the Thames. It’s a spectacular sight, and one that shouldn’t be missed on any trip to London.

Once you’ve seen your fill of the Eye, take a walk along the Embankment towards our next stop on the tour – Westminster. Along the way, you’ll pass the Battle of Britain Monument that commemorates the servicemen who took part in the battle during World War II. The monument was opened in 2005 and features a number of panels of high-relief bronze sculpture depicting airmen scrambling to their aircraft during the battle. The monument also lists the names of all the airmen who took part in the Battle on the Allied side.

 

Westminster

At the top of Embankment, you can’t miss one of the sights that is instantly evocative of London. Queen Elizabeth Clock Tower, better known as Big Ben, stands on the corner and marks the start of the Palace of Westminster.

In addition to the Palace, containing the Houses of Parliament and Lords, Westminster has its abbey, which was the venue for the marriage of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge William and Catherine in 2011. Outside the abbey and in front of the Houses of Parliament is a small green where you can usually see protesters with placards trying to attract the eye of passing MPs.

 

Paddington

Jump back onto the Tube at Westminster and out again at Paddington Station. While there isn’t all that much to see outside the station, as a commuter hub with just a few restaurants and bars to serve weary travellers, inside there is a lovely bronze statue that’s worth a look.

Paddington Station with its most famous resident, Paddington Bear

Paddington Station with its most famous resident, Paddington Bear

Most Brits will be familiar with Paddington Bear, the character from the Michael Bond books who later made it into his own televised cartoon. As the unofficial patron of Paddington Station, the bear has a bronze statue where he sits on his suitcase and waits with travellers pausing before their train.

 

Baker Street

As a key interchange on the Circle Line for commuters to switch to the Jubilee, Bakerloo, Metropolitan and Hammersmith and City lines, Baker Street is a workhorse on the Tube system. However, that isn’t the main reason why Baker Street is famous.

“Winding your way down to Baker Street”, Home of the famous Sherlock Holmes

“Winding your way down to Baker Street”, Home of the famous Sherlock Holmes

The most well-known inhabitant of Baker Street was the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes. Having seen many incarnations in books, films and on television, Holmes has been a staple in drama across the world. Although 221b Baker Street didn’t exist at the time Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was writing his novels and short stories, it has now been created and is the home of the Official Sherlock Holmes Museum.

 

Conclusion

The Circle Line has a great many attractions along its length that are worth a visit on your trip to London. Take a step into some of Britain’s military, parliamentary and military history with some of the stops on the way.

Image Credits: Zoe Goodacre and Zoe Goodacre

Essential London weekend breaks and getaways

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If you’re planning a lightning break in London and want to get the essentials in during your trip, planning is everything. Making sure you have an idea of what you want to see is the first part, then plotting out where things are in relation to each other will make sure you spend your time seeing the sights instead of looking at the inside of a tube train.

Take a look through our suggested itineraries for a guide on how to make the most of your brief time in the city.

 

If you have one day

If you’re really limited on the time you have to spend in the city and want to see the most iconic sights that London has to offer, your best place to start is Westminster.

First up on your tour is the iconic Palace of Westminster, also known as the Houses of Parliament. With the Queen Elizabeth clock tower soaring up on the south side of the building housing the famous Big Ben bell, the gothic structure with its intricate columns and imposing façade it is one of the most well-known symbols of London around the world.

Palace of Westminster

Palace of Westminster

The houses themselves are open to members of the public to visit on organised tours at the weekends, or to UK citizens by contacting their MP. Tourists visiting from outside the country are only able to visit during the summer recess and can join one of the organised tours of the house.

Once you’ve taken in the Palace, a quick walk across the road will bring you to Westminster Abbey. In 2011, the vast abbey was the venue for the British wedding in over 20 years when Prince William married Catherine Middleton, making her the Duchess of Cambridge and future Queen of England. Tours depart regularly taking visitors around the cavernous interior and give a comprehensive history of abbey and the site on which it stands.

Once you’re done in Westminster, head for the Thames and walk down the embankment away from the Houses of Parliament. The length of the embankment makes up the last mile of the London Marathon and has often been seen on television. You’ll be able to see Westminster and Waterloo Bridges, as well as the London Eye on the south bank of the river.

Walk to Embankment Tube station and jump on the Northern Line northbound and hop off at Tottenham Court Road. From there, it’s a short walk west to Oxford Circus, where you’ll be able to see some of London’s famous theatres, cinemas and get a feel for the beating heart of the city’s West End.

 

Two days or more

If you have a little more time in London, there are plenty of things to fill your time. For lovers of museums, a trip to South Kensington brings you to the middle of the main museum district and allows you to visit the Science, Natural History and Victoria and Albert Museums in one trip. Take a packed lunch with you and walk by the Royal Albert Hall to Hyde Park. Just the other side you will find Knightsbridge, with some of the most famous and prestigious shopping in London.

Shakespeare's Globe

Shakespeare's Globe

For culture, the South Bank Centre has much to offer. The Royal Festival Hall has some wonderful restaurants that offer beautiful views over the Thames, and from there it’s not far to walk to the Tate Modern or Shakespeare’s Globe.

 

Conclusion

There is more than enough to keep you busy in London for weeks, but if your time is limited it’s possible to prioritise and see the most important sights. Think ahead about what you most want to see and get your Tube map out to make sure you’re not losing time travelling when you could be seeing the sights you want to see.

Image Credits: Wikipedia 1 & 2

Three fabulous London walking tours

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Although London is a large, sprawling city, getting around the inner city sights is relatively easily done on foot. Flat and well-signposted, the city is well laid-out to be explored on foot and there are plenty of opportunities to stop and have a cuppa en route as you make your way around the attractions.

Take a look at our three recommended tours and find something to inspire you to take to your own two feet on your next trip to the city.

 

1)  Iconic sights of London

Our first tour takes you from the heart of what’s known as Westminster Village through the heart of the UK’s administrative heart and back to Jubilee Gardens at the foot of the London Eye.

Starting at Westminster Tube station, you’ll see the tower of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament before heading down Abbingdon Street past St Margaret’s Church – a 11th century parish church that serves as the local church for the Palace of Westminster. After reaching the prestigious Westminster School, the route loops back towards the vast and imposing Westminster Abbey, where you can stop for a look around.

Heading into Horse Guards Road, you’ll pass the Cabinet War Rooms where Churchill held his War Cabinets during World War II and on to the Cenotaph at the start of Whitehall. After passing Downing Street on your left, where the Prime Minister and Chancellor reside, and Horseguards with its mounted sentries you’ll head to St James’s Park where you can stop for tea in sight of Buckingham Palace.

A handsome steed at Horseguards
Horseguards

After walking towards the Palace, you turn onto The Mall and reach Trafalgar Square through the Admiralty Arch. After taking in Nelson’s Column and the plinths leave the square along Duncannon Street and find your way to the London Eye across the river via Jubilee Bridge. As your final stop on the route, get an ice-cream and enjoy the view of Westminster from across the Thames.

 

2)  The shopping tour

If you’re in town to give your credit card a workout, take a walk through the heart of London’s finest shopping and find your way to some bargains.

Starting at Goodge Street Tube station, turn south down Tottenham Court Road to find some of the best electrical shops in the country. If you’re looking for cameras, phones or computers, you won’t do any better than here!

Once you hit Charing Cross Road, electronics stores become book shops with plenty to interest any bookworm. Foyles has a great selection of best-sellers and less popular works while Stanford’s Travel has maps and travel books galore.

Following along Gerrard Street will bring you to Chinatown, where there are dozens of shops selling Oriental goods and trinkets to take home. From there, head for Jermyn Street for fine gentlemen’s tailoring before heading for Knightsbridge and the shopping temple that is Harrods.

 

3)  City of London Tour

Taking in some of the best sights in what’s known as the Square Mile, this tour brings you a whole lot of history. Starting out at the Tower of London, you’ll also see the famous Tower Bridge, which opens to allow large vessels up the Thames. From there, head to Monument, where the commemorative column marking the Great Fire of London can be climbed for spectacular views across the City.

Onwards to Bank, and you’ll see the Mansion House. As home to the Lord Mayor of the City of London, its grand columns at the entrance welcome members of the establishment to grand banquets in the heart of the City.

St Paul's Cathedral
St Paul’s Cathedral

 

Walking up Poultry and onto Cheapside, you will begin to see signs of the dome of St Paul’s, which has hosted many state occasions and royal weddings. Here you can take time to pause before walking back towards the river and finishing your tour on the south bank at the Globe Theatre, London home of Shakespeare’s players in 1599; a delightful cultural end to a historical tour.

 

Conclusion

London has a great many sights that can be toured on foot. Going above ground helps you see a different angle on the city and spot things you would have otherwise missed.

Image Credits: Wikipedia 1 & 2

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