Sure, relocation logistics can be daunting, but trying to decide exactly what to see and do in London once settled in the city may be the hardest decision for expats, as the choices are seemingly endless. Newcomers are recommended to play tourist on arrival, as this is often the best way to explore a new home city. For instance, those who've recently arrived should make a point of taking the iconic red double-decker buses for a few journeys to get a good feel for the layout of the English capital.
This bustling metropolis is large enough and filled with such a diverse range of attractions and sightseeing opportunities that even locals can be tourists in their own city. For expats especially though, London is a place that can constantly be discovered and rediscovered, full of surprises and new adventures.
There are, of course, lots of well-known sights in London, but the best way to explore the city without getting overwhelmed is to choose a neighbourhood to poke about in for a day.
Here are some of the must-see attractions in London for new arrivals to marvel at.
Recommended attractions in London
St. Paul's Cathedral
Sir Christopher Wren’s 1675 masterpiece is a truly iconic London building that miraculously survived the Blitz in World War II. Head inside for some rare peace and quiet from the frenetic pace of the London streets.
Tower of London
Built in the 11th century, this legendary site has played host to many famous beheadings. The Tower of London is also home to the crown jewels and the famous Yeoman Warders. There’s no doubt it’s a fascinating place and an essential piece of British history.
One of four Tate museums, the Tate Modern boasts an astounding collection of 20th- and 21st-century artworks. An excellent café and restaurant with wonderful views add to the allure.
The National Gallery lines the northern side of Trafalgar Square and is home to works from all the major European schools from the 13th to the 20th century. Audio tours and 'printed trails' of related works enhance an experience already made exceptional by all the variety.
One of the world’s great museums with 80,000 pieces from all over the world on display, the British Museum houses collections of antiquities that include the Elgin Marbles, Portland Vase and the original Rosetta Stone.
Book a pod on the London Eye to catch the best views in town and gain a rare sense of geographical perspective with spectacular 360-degree vistas aboard the gently revolving – and massive – observation wheel famously called the London Eye.
The Globe, an excellent reconstruction of the original theatre, celebrates Shakespeare’s life and times and puts on performances of his plays.
See the changing of the guards outside one of Britain's most famous buildings. Cheesy to some, but a pilgrimage to many, and definitely recommended to newcomers.
Camden Market is a hugely colourful and diverse shopping experience with more than 1,000 stalls for shoppers to browse to their hearts' content. The hustle and bustle of this exciting market is not to be missed.
►Read the Lifestyle in London page to find out more about entertainment options in the city
►The What's On in London page has a list of the city's best festivals and annual events
"The best way to spend a weekend in London is having brunch at a new place, then looking at the tube map and just picking somewhere that you’ve never been before, go there without a plan and just wander around all day." Read more about US expat Wendy's experiences in London.
Are you an expat living in London?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to London. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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