If you're heading to London, don't forget to spend at least a day deep in the heart of the capital - The City of London!
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Surprisingly, many people leave much of the City of London off of their London tour agenda, truly erroneously believing "the City" to be merely the financial and business center of the capital and not venturing beyond The Tower.
In reality, the City should absolutely be on the top of any tourist's list when heading to London. Yes, you'll see your fair share of lawyers and investment bankers, but you'll also see the some of England's best pubs and most historic sites. Take time to explore the City - don't just visit a few top sights and skip out!
What to See on Fleet Street, London
Known as "the Strand" as it leads into The City from the West, and becoming "Fleet Street" upon passing that lovely dragon when it enters The City, Fleet Street is one of the greatest streets in all of London. Formerly home to the center of English publishing, and now largely populated by lawyers, history is around every corner in the heart of London. If you take my advice and stay in Covent Garden, this will be your easy walking path into your City adventure!
St Paul's Cathedral, London
The 17th-century masterpiece, rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren after the Great Fire, looms large over the City, beckoning you down Fleet Street as you enter the City from the West. The tallest building in London until 1967, St Pauls remains once of the most recognizable buildings in the country.
Of course, the Cathedral was famously saved from yet another fire during WWII's Blitz, when Londoners saved it at the expense of their own home and shops, spending hours watching over the building with a bucket brigade.
St Pauls has played host to some of London's most memorable public spectacles, including the wedding of The Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer (1981) and Winston Churchill's funeral (1965).
It, too, is the final resting place of a number of England's most famous inhabitants in its gorgeous crypt, including Lord Nelson, The Duke of Wellington, and Sir Christopher Wren. Somewhat incongruously, the crypt does also house a truly lovely gift shop, which I really would highly recommend, if you're not too weirded out by the location.
Tickets for entrance to St Pauls are cheaper if you buy in advance directly through the St. Pauls website.
St Bartholomew-the-Great, The City of London
If you're a fan of Four Weddings, you'll recognize St Bart's right away!
Constructed in the 12th century by a St Paul's clergyman to commemorate the recovery of his health after a bout of fever, St Bart's quickly gained a reputation as a healing place. The adjacent hospital which subsequently arose surrounds and towers over this quaint church, which actually - unlike its much larger neighbor, St Paul's, survived the Great Fire of 1666.
Benjamin Franklin worked as a journeyman printed in what is now the Lady Chapel, during his youth. For fans of aristocratic history, Deborah Mitford married the man who would become the Duke of Devonshire here in 1941.
The modern Sherlock's Reichenbach Fall
Incidentally, if you're a big fan of the modern adaptation of Sherlock, you'll remember the infamous scene where Sherlock jumps to his "death" in the center of the City - the show's interpretation of the Reichenbach Fall - off the top of the great Hospital.
I'll admit that we actually stumbled upon the site when walking away from St. Bart's - as it's decorated with notes and little trinkets dedicated to Sherlock. If you enjoyed Sherlock, be sure to check out my post on other British detective shows you may enjoy!
Ye Old Cheshire Cheese, London
Undoubtedly one of my favorite spots in Ye Old Cheshire Cheese is one of the coziest pubs in London - and it's not as touristy as you would think, as JK Rowling herself specifically mentioned in the Silkworm.
Located just off of Fleet Street (there's an adorable, slightly illuminated sign pointing the way), you won't regret stopping by!
Reborn after The Great Fire, since 1666, it's been serving out pints and fish and chips to some of London's greatest literary names, including Dr. Johnson and Charles Dickens. Today, you'll still find the cozy charm that attracted these men so many years ago, and at lunch, come to see the Pub's charming waiter (yes, there's just one), serving up lunch to a small group of business people taking a long lunch. There's a roaring (real, wood-burning) fire, a stuffed parrot, and very low ceilings. The restroom is in the basement down a perilous staircase that takes you into the bowels of the ancient building.
Come by for a pint, at least!
Millennium Bridge, London
Opening in the Year 2000, Millennium Bridge is - you guessed it - the bridge from Harry Potter that the Death Eaters make twist and spin...causing all the people to fall off into the Thames below. On the pragmatic side of your tour of the City, it'll connect you to the Southern side of the Thames, including The Globe Theatre. It also offers some of the best views of the City from its famous river.
The Tower of London
The Tower of London is one of the greatest sites in all England - and it'll definitely be on your touring agenda, (especially if you have the London Pass - the Tower alone nearly justifies the cost). Welcoming 3 million visitors a year, you certainly won't be alone during your visit, but you will enjoy your time. With construction beginning right after the Norman Conquest in the 11th century, it's a stunning amalgamation of buildings spanning the history of England. It 100% makes sense to tie your visit to The City with your visit to the Tower, so leave yourself plenty of space on one side or the other to poke around to the sites above!
Thanks so much for stopping by! Leave us your comments on your favorite spots in The City!
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