Top Tourist Attractions in London for History Lovers 

These top tourist attractions in London will not let you down if you’re searching for a history fix on your next vacation.

 In fact, the city’s biggest attractions are so steeped in history that the problem is likely narrowing down your options to create a history-drench itinerary that suits your personal interests.

As always, our goal is to help you find the best London attractions and places of interest for your personal needs. We created this list of our favorite tourist attractions in London for history lovers. Steal our ideas if they fit your interests and use them as jumping off points to even more London attractions for history lovers.

History Lovers Top Tourist Attractions in London

History Lovers Top Tourist Attractions in London

The British Museum

This is one of the top tourist attractions in London for history lovers because there are millions of items on display at this massive museum dedicated to the history of humankind. Some exhibits focus on specific cultures like the Mexico gallery while others focus on time periods like the Enlightenment gallery.  

Most British Museum galleries are available for all guests with free admission, but there are some special exhibitions that require a paid ticket. All guests are now required to reserve free admission tickets online in advance.

Download the podcast to keep up with the British Museum at home. It’s a great way to learn about some of the exhibits in preparation for your visit.

What to do here:

Churchill War Rooms

Churchill’s war-time bedroom

Dip below the streets of Westminster to see the bunker where Winston Churchill resided during World War II. Walk through expansive corridors while listening to guides reveal stories of the people who worked and lived in the attached cabinet war rooms. See where Churchill broadcast speeches and made private telephone calls in complete secrecy, plus much more.

What to do here:

  • Check out the private bathroom that served as Churchill’s exclusive phone booth.
  • Step into Churchill’s war-time bedroom.
  • Explore the map room.
  • Glance through the museum before leaving.

Clink Prison Museum

Prisons are often referred to as “the clink” because of a notorious London prison that dates back to the 1100s. It was known as the Clink Prison, and this museum is located on the grounds it once occupied. Prisoners sent to the Clink were often tortured and abused, making this one of the most unsettling museums in London for some visitors today.

What to do here:

  • Touch some of the devices once used for torture—if you dare!
  • Walk through recreated prison cells.
  • Review archaeological artefacts.
  • Hear stories of noteworthy prisoners.

Cutty Sark

Cutty Sark is a tea clipper ship that was built in 1869. It was used to transport tea between London and China and is one of the last tea clippers still standing today. You can tour the ship and museum by purchasing tickets in advance online

What to do here:

  • Give the ship’s wheel a turn.
  • Walk through the captain’s cabin.

Eltham Palace and Gardens

The Eltham Palace was once occupied by members of the Royal family but was taken over by new owners of considerable wealth. You can now tour the extravagant palace to see what it’s like to live like a Royal, or at least like millionaires with enough cash to buy a Royal palace.

You must schedule your visit online in advance. You can become an English Heritage member to get a discount on this London attraction plus many others well suited for history lovers.

What to do here:

  • Admire the architectural beauty of the palace.
  • Walk through the gardens, which cover 19 acres.

Great Fire of London Monument

Also known as The Monument, this free London attraction is found at the intersection of Monument Street and Fish Street Hill. It stands in honor of the Great Fires of London and represents the rebuilding of the city.

What to do here:

  • Grab a cup of coffee or sandwich at a nearby shop and look at the monument in awe.
  • Climb the 311 steps to reach the top, and then enjoy panoramic views of the city.
  • Enjoy live video of real-time views from the top if you’re unable to climb up there.

HMS Belfast

Once used by the Royal Navy during the Second World War, you can now tour this warship as its moored on the Thames River. From firing shots on D-Day to serving in the Korean War, this was a high-performing ship with a rich history to explore.

What to do here:

  • Schedule a private tour to learn about the warship’s history from a knowledgeable guide.
  • Tour nine decks and listen to stories from crew members to see what it was like living and working on the ship.

Museum of Brands

History crosses with the study of culture and marketing at this unique London museum for history lovers. If you love looking at old product packaging, advertisements, and commercials, you will find your happy place at the Museum of Brands. It covers 200 years of branding evolution, highlighting changes in culture through the decades.

You’ll find this London museum on Lancaster Road in Notting Hill.

What to do here:

  • Walk through the Time Tunnel.
  • Pick up quirky gifts and souvenirs in the gift shop.
  • Walk through the exhibits.

Museum of London

How can any history lover visit London without learning about the history of London in great depth? You’ll have the chance to do just that when you visit the Museum of London in Barbican. There are even more exhibits to enjoy at the Museum of London Docklands.

What to do here:

  • Stop by the café in the front foyer.
  • Slip into the gift shop to take home a touch of London history.
  • Enjoy a packed lunch in the Ellipse Hall.
  • Pick up an activity bag to help kids under 5 enjoy the museum.
  • Sign up for a group tour or walk.

Palace of Westminster

Also known as the Houses of Parliament, the Palace of Westminster is the building where the House of Commons and the House of Lords meet to conduct official business and is one of the top tourist attractions in London. The building was designed by architect Sir Charles Barry, and the palace’s history goes back more than 900 years.

What to do here:

  • Visit Big Ben, the clock tower located at the north end of the palace.
  • Tour Westminster Hall, which is the oldest building still existing on the parliamentary estate.
  • Visit St. Stephen’s chapel.

St. Paul’s Cathedral

St Pauls Cathedral London UK

With a dome known around the world and seen easily from the London skyline, St. Paul’s Cathedral is a great place to visit if you love history and architecture. You can book tickets online and then wander freely through the cathedral, which remains a functional place of worship and prayer today.

The cathedral offers historical exhibitions that are available to all visitors, so you can get your history fix when you aren’t taking in the elaborate design of the building. There are some interactive galleries that make the visit entertaining as well as educational even for those who don’t know much about the cathedral’s rich history.

What to do here:

  • Make your way to the top level and enjoy sweeping views of London.
  • Visit the Stone Gallery, Whispering Gallery, and Golden Gallery.
  • Visit the crypt and learn about the heroes buried within.
  • Sign up for a guided tour to learn about the cathedral’s architecture and history from a knowledgeable guide.

Tower of London

One of of the top tourist attractions in London, the Tower of London’s history goes back close to 1,000 years, so there’s a lot more to learn than you can possibly pick up in one visit. The tower has served various duties over the years, including its use as a prison complete with stories of devastating torture.

From the collection of Royal jewels that is kept under watch by armed guards at all times to real armor worn by well-known historic heroes, there are a lot of noteworthy exhibits to explore within the tower. Studying the history before your trip may help you pick out small details of historical significance that many visitors miss.

What to do here:

  • See the Crown Jewels.
  • Spot the black ravens and try to count them all.
  • Visit the Medieval Palace.
  • Explore the Bloody Tower and learn why it was given that name.
  • View the Torture at the Tower Exhibition.
  • Go on a Yeoman Warders tour for a unique glimpse into the tower’s history.

Preparing for Your London Trip 

If your goal is to pick up as much history knowledge as possible while having some fun in London, it’s a good idea to read about the top tourist attractions in London you want to visit before you head off. Most top tourist attractions in London offer brief introductions to their history on their websites, and you can find even more if you read blogs and websites dedicated to London and UK history.

Reading a book or two about the history of London will give you a ton more ideas for stopping points on your trip. There’s nothing like reading about the lively past of a place and then stepping into it in real time weeks or months later.

Also, try to keep up with current news and events in London. History is far more fun to learn about when you see where it has brought the world in current times.

If you’re traveling as a family, remember to include the kids with some picture books. Instill that love of history from a young age by showing them it’s a lot more fun in travel than it is in some textbooks and classrooms.

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