Upon our arrival in London, we were persuaded at the airport information desk to purchase 24-hour “London Passes” that cover admission to many of the city’s most famous attractions. Determined to make the passes worth their (appreciable) cost, we spent our last day in London cramming in as many typical tourist attractions as possible.
We started the day early with a trip to Westminster Abbey, the large abbey church that was rebuilt by King Henry III in 1245 and has been the site of royal coronations since the 11th century. In the abbey, we were able to tour the graves of famous kings and queens, like Queen Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots, and admire the ornate gothic architecture.
Refueled by some street food, we headed to Tower Bridge and the Tower of London.
Contrary to what I expected, the Tower of London is not, in fact, a giant tower. It is actually a historic site that has served different roles as a palace, prison, and fortress on the Thames River under different monarchs since the 1080s. Now, visitors can spend the day in the fortress exploring the different pathways and exhibits and grabbing lunch at one of the cafes.
From the Tower of London, I took the Underground to Kensington Palace. The part of the palace open to visitors is arranged to look almost like it would have when English royalty resided there in the 18th century. Current royals like King Harry still live in the private areas of the palace. After touring inside, I also spent a few hours in Kensington Gardens. The seemingly endless gardens that surround the palace are popular for picnics, playgrounds, and beautiful greenery.