Top 10 Tourist Attractions in London

Top 10 Tourist Attractions in London
London is replete with attractions for discerning vacationers looking to absorb a slice of British culture. While Buckingham Palace or Big Ben are definitive specimens of the culture, there are a number of other attractions that have recently gained even greater favor amongst outside visitors. The following attractions are ranked in order based on the total visitor numbers in 2008 as tabulated by the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The British Museum

The British Museum was founded in 1753 by an Act of Parliament and is largely based on the collections of the museum's founder, Sir Hans Sloane. Considered one of the most authoritative sources of human history and culture in the world, the museum contains over 7 million objects culled from every continent on the planet. Some of the most famous objects housed here include the Rosetta Stone and sculptures from the Parthenon.

Tate Modern

Tate Modern is Britain's national museum of modern art, and it is housed inside the former Bankside Power Station, which sits on the banks of the River Thames. Most of the collections consist of international contemporary art from the early 1900s onward, including abstract expressionism, cubism, futurism and pop art.

The National Gallery

Founded in 1824, The National Gallery is known to hold one of the most respectable and revered collections of European paintings in the world. Visitors will find over 2,300 paintings dating from the mid 13th century to the early 20th century by artists ranging from Leonardo da Vinci to Rembrandt and from Renoir to Van Gogh. The main collection is free to see and is most often compared with the Louvre in Paris and the Museo del Prado in Madrid.

Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum has literally hundreds of fun and intriguing interactive exhibits, ranging in subjects from dinosaurs to insects to human biology. Housing more than 70 million items through five main collections, the museum particularly targets young people and families.

The London Eye

Also known as the "Millennium Wheel," the London Eye is one of the most famous and recognizable structures to grace the London skyline. Rising 443 feet into the air, the rider is presented with unrivaled views of London, which makes it no surprise that this is London's top paid attraction. Built in 1999, it is the largest Ferris wheel in Europe and third largest in the world.

The Science Museum

The Science Museum was founded in 1857 by Bennet Woodcroft using surplus items from the collection of the Royal Society of Arts and the 1851 Great Exhibition of London. Its seven stories contain numerous galleries filled with exhibits displaying past, present and future science and technologies.

The Victoria and Albert Museum

The Victoria and Albert Museum is the largest museum in the world designated specifically to decorative arts and design. It houses a permanent collection of over 4.5 million objects, from ceramics to fashion ware, jewelry to metalwork, from textiles to paintings, all spanning the course of some 3,000 years of history. Admission to the general collections is free.

Madame Tussauds

Madame Tussauds is a wax museum named for its progenitor, Marie Tussaud, a wax modeler in the mid 18th century. Wax figures range from titans throughout the annals of history, such as Shakespeare and King Henry VIII, to modern day pop culture figures like Britney Spears and Kylie Minogue.

The Tower of London

Guided tours are available through the Tower of London, also known as "Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress," a historic monument located in central London, which is more than 900 years old. It was originally built by William the Conqueror following the Battle of Hastings in 1066 and was known for housing some incredibly high profile prisoners, including the future Queen Elizabeth I. Currently the tower is home to the Crown Jewels and various other historical artifacts.

National Maritime Museum

Located in Greenwich, the National Maritime Museum is often identified as the largest of its kind in the world. Tourists wander through an array of themed galleries that house more than 2 million items with exhibits ranging from ship models to navigational instruments to maritime art and cartography. The museum has a program that includes free family events, lectures and a reference library.

Article Written By Mark Heidelberger

Mark Heidelberger has been writing for more than 17 years, with recent articles appearing on various websites. He has also written, rewritten and developed dozens of feature-film screenplays and manages a number of film and television writers. He holds a master's degree from University of California, Los Angeles in film and television producing.

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