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In 5

London In 5…

One of Europe’s most beloved cities, London is a unique combination of a two thousand year-old heritage with modern day amenities.  Don’t let the London fog deter you from visiting “The City;” with over 200 museums, world-famous shopping centers and home to the crown jewels, London is well worth the trip. There is so much to see that it is hard to narrow down just five activities to do on your trip, but here a few things you must do when in London.

5…Historic Tower of London
An iconic symbol of London, the White Tower is one of the most famous castles in the world. The first thing visitors will encounter are the Yeomen Warders of Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress the Tower of London, and Members of the Sovereign's Body Guard of the Yeoman Guard Extraordinary. These guards, more commonly known by their nickname, the Beefeaters, are responsible for protecting the Tower and most importantly, the crown jewels, which are on display inside.

Also see Henry VIII’s armor collection and visit the 11th century Chapel of St John the Evangelist. Don’t forget to ask about the ravens at the Tower, which legend says six must remain on the ground else the Tower fall. These magnificent birds can be seen next to the Wakefield Tower, but be careful not to approach them as they should only be handled by the official Ravenmaster.

4…240 Museums
Two hundred and forty museums call London home and since it would be impossible to visit them all on one trip, one you should make a part of your itinerary is the Tate. Founded in 1897, it recently opened at a new location and holds collections of art ranging from the 1500s to the present day. Its modern art museum is one of the most visited of its kind in the world. Entry is free to the Tate Modern except for special exhibits.

Another museum you should add to your list is the British Museum. Admission is donation-based and you can experience the original works of Michelangelo, Raphael, William Blake and many more in person.  The museum also contains a collection started by King George III of more than 60,000 books. The museum itself is something to be seen, so make sure and pay attention to the structure of the building.

3…Take a Shopping Break
After you have toured many of the wonderful museums, visit the town of Camden for a shopping break. Camden is best known for its market which features over seven hundred stalls and shops.  Carve out an afternoon to spend at the biggest market in Europe to shop for clothes, jewelry, art and just about everything a tourist could need.

Search through collections of vintage clothing for hidden treasures at the Stables Market. Find an interesting book for the flight home or unique home furnishings at the Camden Lock Market. Finally stop at the Inverness Street Market to see the last two remaining produce vendors.

2…Take Time to Smell the Roses
Put your walking shoes on and make your way to the Royal Botanical Gardens known simply as the Kew Gardens. Two hundred and ninety-nine acres of land and fifty thousand exotic plants are waiting to be discovered. One of London’s top visited sites, you won’t want to miss this attraction just thirty minutes outside of central London. Visiting during the winter months? Not a problem as 4.5 acres of the garden are indoors.

1…Visit the Royals
Arranging tea with Queen Elizabeth isn’t likely, but you can visit the place where she is served the hot beverage with milk.  Buckingham Palace has an impressive seven hundred and seventy-five rooms. The nineteen State Rooms where the monarchs entertain guests are open to the public.

Watch the Changing of the Guard every day at 11 a.m. from May to July and alternative days the rest of the year. This forty-five minute ceremony has been around since 1660 and is when a new guard exchanges duty with the old guard.  Members of the Queen’s Guard are not allowed to smile or and tourists have fun attempting to produce a smirk on one of their faces. Lucky visitors of Buckingham Palace might even catch a glimpse of a royal family member.