There are some famous tourist attractions in London that you won't find on a typical bus tour but are worth visiting when you are there.
Think of bus tours as brief introductions to London. Even if your tour is two or three hours long, it will only show you a slice of what the city has to offer. There are some famous tourist attractions that aren’t included in most bus tours, and you’ll miss them entirely if you don’t seek them out on your own or stumble upon them by luck.
We encourage you to enjoy a London bus tour or two, but don’t limit your itinerary to the attractions you see on those tours. The following list will introduce you to some of the most famous attractions and hot spots in London that typically aren’t viewed from the windows of a bus. Hop off the bus and see how they might enrich your London vacation.
We’ve mentioned this famous tourist attractions in London on this website before, but it’s often left out of bus tours. It’s a massive sculpture located in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park that doubles as an observation deck and a thrilling ride. It stands more than 370 feet tall and is more about 60% recycled steel. More than half of the sculpture was made from old cars, washing machines, and other items that otherwise fill our landfills.
Getting to the top of this sculpture and staring out at London for about 20 miles is exciting, but it’s the slide that takes you back down to the ground that makes this one of the best attractions for families in London. It’s a tunnel slide that stretches out for more than 580 feet, containing a series of twists and turns that will get your heart pumping with excitement.
A lift will take you to the top of ArcelorMittal Orbit. You then have the choice or returning to the ground on the lift, taking the slide, or climbing down 455 steps.
The minimum age requirement for the slide is 8. The minimum height requirement is 1.3 meters for all guests. You can book your tickets online to make sure your family gets to ride on the day that best fits your itinerary.
Find the Waterloo train station and board a bus heading southwest from Central London. Get off in Richmond and find your way to the gates of Richmond Park. You’re about to enter London’s largest Royal park, which also serves as home to a large population of deer. You can see them wandering around this natural paradise as you look at exotic plants in the woodland garden, burn off some energy at the playground, or get to the top of King Henry’s Mound and look out to the River Thames and St. Paul’s Cathedral.
You can do everything from flying a kite to riding a horse at this park, but it’s not one of the primary parks that visitors want to see when they step foot in London. That’s a shame because there is so much to see and do in Richmond Park.
You’ve heard of Oxford Street, but what about Seven Dials for shopping that includes smaller shops with more unusual products? Most bus tours aren’t going to even mention this area, but you don’t want to miss the quirky personality that shines bright through more than 50 stores and a host of restaurants, pubs, and cafes.
Neal’s Yard is another one of the famous tourist attractions in London that is a part of the Seven Dials district. You can buy everything from organic soap to high fashion when you take the time to explore the area. You may even stretch your shopping budget further than it would go if you only shopped Harrods and other high-end retailers in London.
You can find the Seven Dials shopping and entertainment district within a 10-minute walk of the Covent Garden, Holborn, and Leicester Square tube stations. While it’s close to many of the big attractions in London, it’s often overlooked as a rewarding London shopping destination.
Sherlock Holmes Museum
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created the character Sherlock Holmes in the 19th century, and he remained a popular figure in American culture through the early 20th century. While he’s no longer a common feature on television or radio, you can catch him in London at 221B Baker Street.
This quirky museum features a variety of memorabilia related to the most popular cases solved by Sherlock Holmes years ago. It’s designed to whisk visitors back to the Victorian days when this beloved detective was in action. You can even explore the personal living space where this fictional character may have lived if he were ever to walk amongst us in the real world.
While you may not see it pointed out in many London bus tours, this is one of the more famous attractions. It attracts thousands of visitors each year, many of whom have fond memories of Sherlock Holmes from their earlier years of life.
Despite having a great ice-skating rink suitable for family fun in the winter, Somerset House is one the most underrated attractions in London. It’s positioned around a beautiful courtyard and contains more than 50 fountains, but what makes it worthwhile is the eclectic collection of art exhibits and the focus on supporting creative artists from around London and the world.
Stop by the fountains in front to let the kids cool off in the fountains while you admire the architectural beauty of the building. Then head inside to browse the gallery and take in more of the structural style and learn about the creative arts supported by the Somerset House.
You can enjoy a free guided tour of the house if you aren’t sure what to look for in the wings. There are also restaurants, shops, and cafes that offer everything from snacks and drinks to full meals plus a lot of fun souvenirs to take home.
The best vacations allow you to explore your personal interests and thoroughly relax. You don’t want to return home from a trip feeling like you’re desperate for a vacation.
That’s why we suggest families step away from the crowded beaten paths of London to explore lesser-known areas of the city that still have some of the famous tourist attractions in London and other great places to visit. Whether you get lost wandering through a residential area and discover your new favorite café or spend an afternoon hiking through the trees with your little ones, many of the best moments are likely to happen in unexpected places.
So, how do you create a vacation plan that caters to your unique interests and leaves you feeling rejuvenated rather than drained? Visiting some of the famous tourist attractions in London listed on this page is a good start.
You can also think about places you frequent at home and then explore similar places in London. For instance, you may spend a day wandering through art galleries if your hobby is painting. If your family loves camping and horseback riding, you may enjoy trips into the more mountainous areas surrounding London.
When you think beyond the tour buses, you’ll find an amazing world of exciting things to do in London with kids. From small museums that don’t get the attention they deserve to outdoor recreation areas that offer spectacular views, there’s so much to do in this amazing city.