Visit London Blog » free attractions http://blog.visitlondon.com Enjoy the very best of London Fri, 16 Jan 2015 16:06:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 5 of the best London New Year’s resolutions http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/01/5-of-the-best-london-new-years-resolutions/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/01/5-of-the-best-london-new-years-resolutions/#comments Wed, 01 Jan 2014 11:00:05 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=36934 Conquer a fear of heights with a trip up The Shard

 

Happy New Year! After all the fun and excitement of Christmas and New Year’s Eve, it’s time to turn your attention to 2014. For many of us, that means making a New Year’s resolution; and London is the perfect companion to keep you on the right track.

I’ll detox…

Detox at the Mayfair Hotel SpaAfter all that stodgy Christmas pudding, brandy butter and too much roast turkey, it’s definitely time to get your body into shape. Many join a gym come 1 January, but what better way to start your new regime than by spending a leisurely detox day in one of London’s many spas? The May Fair Spa has a great range of treatments featuring everything from manicures and mud wraps to Moroccan steam cleansing – it’s open daily to guests and non-guests, so it’s easy to start the New Year on the right (newly pedicured) foot.

I’ll spend more time with my kids…

Spend some time with the kids at the Natural History MuseumHas the festive season made you realise you should spend

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more time with your kids? Make 2014 the year to do more parent-child bonding. There are plenty of family-friendly museums and activities in London for all ages to enjoy, from children’s theatres and city farms to hands-on experiments at the Science Museum and exploration at the Natural History Museum.

Delve into one of the many toyshops, from the world-famous Hamleys on Regent Street to the traditional and quirky Benjamin Pollock’s Toyshop in Covent Garden. If you’re only here for a day, you can cram in a lot with our family day out itinerary.

I’ll conquer my fear of heights…

If you’re looking to banish your fear of heights this year, head up all 72 floors of The Shard. From The View – the observation area at the pinnacle – you’ll see all of London and far beyond with stunning 360-degree views. Reward your bravery with afternoon tea at Aqua Shard, which gives the phrase “high tea” a completely new meaning. And don’t forget to pick up a souvenir photo to prove you’ve been all the way up the vertigo-inducing 1,016ft-high (310m) structure.

I’ll save money…

Marvel at the National Gallery's famous artworkIf your resolution is to save money, it doesn’t mean you have to miss out on a trip to London. As well as affordable accommodation such as cheap hotels and hostels, and affordable restaurants, London is jam-packed with free attractions, from some of the world’s best museums to lesser-known stop-offs unique to the city.

Among the major free-to-enter museums and galleries in London are the National Gallery which hosts one of the world’s most impressive collections of art, Tate Modern which satisfies those with a more contemporary taste, and the Victoria and Albert Museum that’s perfect for design lovers. For something more unusual, head to the Sewing Machine Museum or get your teeth into the British Dental Association Museum.

I’ll slow down…

Wander through Epping ForestLet’s face it, life is hectic these days and we all rarely get enough “me time”. After the last-minute hassles and family arguments of Christmas, take time to relax in one of London’s peaceful open spaces.

If you’re looking for a stroll, why not lose yourself in the gladed Epping Forest watched inquisitively by resident deer. On a more reflective note, London has many cemeteries that are the perfect places to contemplate the year ahead, including the large Brompton Cemetery with its elegant chapel modelled on the design of St Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Chelsea Physic Garden (closed until March) is another tranquil haven where you can relax with a book, a cup of tea and some cake nestled among medicinal plants.

What’s your new year’s resolution? Tell us in the comments below…

 

 

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Visiting the Past: Happy 10th Birthday Museum of London Docklands! http://blog.visitlondon.com/2013/05/visiting-the-past-happy-10th-birthday-museum-of-london-docklands/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2013/05/visiting-the-past-happy-10th-birthday-museum-of-london-docklands/#comments Mon, 20 May 2013 11:05:55 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=33259

Written by Tom Wareham, Curator of Maritime and Community History at the Museum of London Docklands.

Today the Museum of London Docklands celebrates its 10th anniversary as a museum – though the building itself is 210 years old and a grand and rare survivor of London’s commercial Georgian past.

Every morning as I arrive at work I am still impressed by the monumental scale of the warehouses built by London’s sugar merchants and plantation owners – even if only two of the buildings survived the firestorm of the Blitz in 1940.

On a warm day, as you cross the dock basin from the modern cityscape of Canary Wharf, the plum-coloured brickwork of the warehouses glows in greeting but, 20 years ago things were very different.  Broken windows, shattered doors and frames, leaking roofs, debris and rubbish cluttered the buildings.  It took millions of pounds to restore the building – and it took years of work to convert it into the exciting modern museum that now attracts thousands of visitors from all over the world.

The museum certainly has a unique effect on visitors who, as they discover the modern galleries, are slowly absorbed and captivated by the soft brickwork and original honey coloured timbers of the building itself. It’s as though the building itself breathes the history of the port that is being narrated in the galleries. No wonder visitors are so surprised and delighted when they come here. So, happy birthday Museum of London Docklands!

A guest post by the Museum of London as part of our Visiting the Past series. Look out for more London history next week.

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Treasures Exhibition at the Natural History Museum http://blog.visitlondon.com/2012/11/treasures-exhibition-at-the-natural-history-museum/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2012/11/treasures-exhibition-at-the-natural-history-museum/#comments Wed, 28 Nov 2012 15:33:41 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=30371  

Fans of the Natural History Museum, rejoice, because it has just opened an exciting new permanent gallery, Treasures, which looks to be a big hitter. Curators have selected 22 extra-special objects from the museum’s vast collection, which heaves with 70 million specimens. From moon rock to a 147-million-year-old fossil, all of the specimens chosen for the gallery have fascinating stories behind them and are of “enormous scientific, historical and cultural significance”, according to museum director Dr Michael Dixon.

Following a sneaky peak of the collection, we’ve picked five of our favourite treasures:

1.    Guy the Gorilla

This stuffed ape was once one of the best-loved animals in London Zoo’s history. The western lowland gorilla first arrived at the zoo on Guy Fawkes Night 1947, hence his name. Clutching a hot water bottle, Guy was so terrified of the fireworks that he wouldn’t sleep until a keeper slept beside him. Visitors loved Guy for his gentle nature as he was known to catch small birds that flew into his enclosure, peer at them curiously and then let them go. Guy died of heart failure in 1978 after dental surgery. Taxidermist Arthur Hayward then spent nine months preparing him for display.

2.    Neanderthal skull

This 50,000-year-old specimen was the first Neanderthal skull ever discovered and has played a huge role in the study of ancient humans. “Researchers have had access to this skull for years, but this is the first time it has been on public display,” says museum researcher Chris Stringer.

3.    The world’s most expensive book

One of the best-known natural history books ever produced, Audubon‘s The Birds of America is renowned for its beautiful life-size, hand-coloured illustrations of birds. With only 120 copies in the entire world, complete bound sets can fetch a staggering £7 million. The museum is displaying a different page of the book every month to prevent fading.

4.    Barbary lion skull

Plucked from the Tower of London’s moat by two workmen in 1937, this Barbary lion is thought to have been part of the royal menagerie from around 1280-1385. “People living nearby must have been petrified to hear the lion’s roar,” says collection manager Richard Sabin.

5.    Charles Darwin’s pigeons

Bred in his garden as an experiment, Darwin‘s pigeons provided him with the evidence he needed to prove the theory of evolution by natural selection.

Treasures at the Natural History Museum opens on 30 November 2012

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Who Am I? Gallery Launches at the Science Museum http://blog.visitlondon.com/2010/06/who-am-i-gallery-launches-at-the-science-museum/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2010/06/who-am-i-gallery-launches-at-the-science-museum/#comments Thu, 24 Jun 2010 14:00:42 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=10978  

Who am I? What makes me unique? A new gallery at the Science Museum addresses these questions and more, with exhibits ranging from a cat with seven toes, to a chimpanzee’s brain, and models of the average UK man and woman.

I took a look around the Science Museum’s new Who Am I? gallery this morning and it was fascinating stuff. 

I learnt how DNA profiling has allowed people track their ancestry with surprising results; how the latest scientific techniques can help repair people’s bodies; and that the human brain might be the most complex structure in the known universe!

The new gallery also looks at sleeping and dreaming, memory, intelligence, phobias, gender identity and ageing.

And on 30 June, there’s a chance to visit the Science Museum after hours, at a free evening event entitled The Science of You, where you can listen to expert speakers, dance to a silent disco, and play with hands-on exhibits normally reserved for kids. 

Who Am I? opens at the Science Museum on 26 June 2010. Entry is free

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Climate Science Gallery to Open at Science Museum in November http://blog.visitlondon.com/2010/05/climate-science-gallery-to-open-at-science-museum-in-november/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2010/05/climate-science-gallery-to-open-at-science-museum-in-november/#comments Sun, 30 May 2010 15:00:44 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=9731

The Science Museum has announced it will open a new climate science gallery in November. Atmosphere: exploring climate science will feature hands-on exhibits and displays explaining how the climate system works.

The gallery is one of many exciting new developments at the Science Museum this year. Look out for the museum’s new Who Am I? gallery, due to open later this month.

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