“London opens to you like a novel itself. [...] It is divided into chapters, the chapters into scenes, the scenes into sentences; it opens to you like a series of rooms, door, passsage, door. Mayfair to Piccadilly to Soho to the Strand.” Anna Quindlen, Imagined London: A Tour of the World's Greatest Fictional City
London is one of the most popular capital cities in the world due to its connection to UK politics, fashion, history and it being the home of the British royal family. If you are new to London, you will not be disappointed with the amount of things to see and do and you will of course want to see all of the iconic sights, however, there are some places whose reputations have been so exaggerated that you are guaranteed to be slightly disappointed when you visit. That is not to say that some of these places shouldn’t be seen. They should, but briefly in passing.
This guide looks at some of the more famous London tourist attractions that have an astounding reputation but don’t live up to it. By all means visit them, but don’t put aside an entire day to do it.
Number one on the list has to be Downing Street. It is a 25-minute tube ride away from the Montcalm Royal London House – Finsbury Square Hotel so it is easy to get to, however it's location isn't obvious, and you may find yourself walking past it at first. Once you find it, thanks to the armed guards at the front, you can’t even see the number "10" properly. You will have to crane your neck at an awkward angle and stand by the guard but you still won’t see the famous door. You will simply find yourself looking down a street that looks familiar for being on television.
Leicester Square is a place that is world famous due to the large amount of film premieres and celebrities that can be seen here on various nights of the year. However, if you’re visiting on a normal day, it is a simple square that has a few cinemas, a range of London restaurants and an M&M store and that’s it. There is nothing else there and you will find that you will simply walk through on your way to Piccadilly Circus and barely bat an eyelid.
Buckingham Palace is a lovely building in the City of Westminster that’s just under half an hour away from London City. Obviously, it is home to Queen Elizabeth II, however, it is just that…a large building. The queen does mainly reside here, but you will only know that if the flag is flying. You will not actually not see her, not unless there is a major event taking place, where you will have to fight through thousands to see a colourful speck figure on the balcony in the distance. There are guards stationed outside the palace that you can have photographs with but, aside from that, that’s all there is to see.
Marble Arch is situated on the edge of Hyde Park and is right next to an incredibly busy main road which leads to Oxford Circus. It was originally built to be the main entrance to Buckingham Palace, but it was moved to Hyde Park where it has remained completely out of the way - with nothing to build it up to be the famous landmark we hear so much about. You can walk through it and come out on the other side but that is it.
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