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‘London is a roost for every bird, ’ observed Benjamin Disraeli, the UK prime minister in the 19th century. Since then, London has – if anything – become even more cosmopolitan. More than 14 million overseas visitors chose to spend time in the UK capital during 2010, helping contribute over £8.6 billion to the country’s economy. Little surprise then that tourism is at the city’s heart, with ever more attractions and enticements set out to lure foreign visitors. Here are seven of the very best…

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Step into the past

The British Museum is the most popular tourist attraction in the UK. In 2010, more than 5.8 million people visited the museum, which has one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of artefacts in existence.

The museum is a magnet for foreign visitors, who make use of the audio guides to view objects collected from every corner of the globe in a space equivalent to nine football pitches. Perhaps most importantly of all in a city notorious for its money-draining ability, the museum costs nothing to visit.

Taste of the modern

The Tate Modern is London’s second most popular tourist attraction – and it’s not hard to see why. The gallery is free to enter and holds the national collection of British art from 1500 to the present day, as well as both modern and contemporary art. The gallery also holds regular exhibitions from renowned international artists – however, these are not free to get into. Taken as a whole, the artwork found in Tate Modern can communicate a great deal about London.

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Eminent artwork

Home to more than 2, 300 paintings and costing nothing to enter, the ever-popular National Gallery was the UK’s third most-visited attraction in 2010. The gallery’s collection includes works dating from the mid-13th century up until the 1900, and includes iconic images such as van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’, Monet’s ‘The Water Lily Pond’ and Constable’s ‘The Hay Wain’.

A date with royalty

For many foreign visitors, the royal family help define not just London, but the entire country. With this in mind, a visit to the Tower of London and Buckingham Palace is a must for visitors, whether they’re just over for a couple of weeks or taking language courses in the capital. Here you can find more information about London and language courses.

A sacred space

Much of London’s charm is in its history. For those seeking a little temporary immersion in the London of old, the 1, 000-year-old Westminster Abbey is a good place to start. Since Benedictine monks first arrived at the site in the middle of the tenth century, the abbey has been the final resting place of seventeen monarchs. The building itself is one of the UK’s most important Gothic buildings.

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St Paul’s Cathedral

Whether it’s used as a meeting point by ESL Languages students or as a place of worship, St Paul’s Cathedral is one of London’s most impressive buildings. For the ultimate in panoramic views, climb the 271 steps to the very top of the dome.

Away from the city

When the hustle and bustle of London gets too much, some much-needed respite can be found in the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew. The gardens comprise 121 hectares of gardens and botanical glasshouses. There are a variety of guided tours available in a number of different languages, or visitors are free to wander at their own pace.

 

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3 thoughts on “7 ideal places in London for foreign visitors

  1. Just got back from a weekend in London. Thanks to the article, I was able to make the best out of my really short trip. I also discovered this sightseeing bus tour which covers most of the tourist destinations in the city. It is a 2 day unlimited hop on hop off so you can get down at any hot spot and get back on the tour from the same location, there is a bus roughly every 20 minutes if i remember right. Purchased the ticket from this website: https://www.extrapolitan.com/city/london-sightseeing-bus-tour

    I also did a free walking tour which was really informative and interesting. We were a group of around 20 and the starting point was right outside the Temple tube station. Would really urge first time visitors in London to go on both these tours.

  2. I just love London. I’ve been going there for four years in a row now, each time for two days and each time I find new things to discover. Last time I went was in September and I already have a new ‘to do’-list for next year!

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