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HMS Belfast – Imperial War Museum

Get a tour of the HMS Belfast and see what life is like living on board a ship during war.

London Bridge and Monument Stations are closest. Just walk along the Thames, you can’t miss it!
£12.25 (£13.50 with donation).

Open daily
1 March – 31 October – 10:00~18:00 (last admission 17:00)
1 November – 28 February – 10:00~17:00 (last admission 16:00)
Closed 24, 25 and 26 December

The Tower of London

The Tower of London is actually a castle. Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress to be exact, and it’s right next to Tower Bridge.

The structure itself is impressive, and its history makes it all the more so, being formerly the royal residence, armoury, menagerie, royal mint, prison & of course home to the Crown Jewels. It also is known for the several executions carried out in the tower. You can take a free guided tour by one of the Tower’s Beefeaters (aka Yeoman Warders, the guards dressed in the iconic red uniform and black hat).

Tickets are £20.90 (including a voluntary donation of £1.90), Audio Guides £4. Note, tickets are valid for up to seven days from selected date, so know your dates if booking ahead.

Walk from Tower Hill Station.

Tues – Sat – 09:00 ~ 17:30
Sun – Mon – 10:00 ~ 17:30

(Last admission 17:00)

Tate Modern

The Tate Modern Gallery is one of the world’s busiest modern art galleries, displaying the national collection as well as international works. It’s housed in an old power station, offering huge space and a view of the Thames and St Paul’s Cathedral from the restaurant, bar, and balcony. There are often large displays in the Turbine hall, making use of the huge open space not normally possible in galleries. These works are specially commissioned roughly from October to May each year. (Unfortunately the sponsor is Unilever, a terrible company).

There are free guided tours (daily, 11.00, 12.00, 14.00, 15.00 approx 45min), multimedia guides, and play areas for children. Temporary exhibitions are usually ticketed, at around £10. Current exhibitions here.

On the South Side of the Thames, opposite St. Paul’s Cathedral, over the Millennium Bridge.

Sun – Thurs – 10:00 ~ 18:00
Fri – Saturday – 10:00 ~ 22:00

Trafalgar Square

A landmark in London, Trafalgar Square is a large, open plaza with Nelson’s Column at its center, guarded by the Four Lion Statues and flanked by 2 fountains. There are also four plinths with statues, with the fourth having seen rotating artwork atop it since 2005, as the original statue was never completed.

The Square is used for many festivals, celebrations, protests and events throughout the year, and daily for people having lunch, relaxing, playing, etc. There is basically always a crowd here. It’s worth seeing just for the people watching, but aim to visit during good weather and/or an event.

While previously famous for the number of pigeons in the area (I visited in the 90’s when they were in the tens of thousands!), after laws banning the feeding of pigeons and the use of trained birds of prey, the numbers have dropped to the same as the rest of London.

Walk from Charring Cross or Leicester Square Station, or from Leicester Square, Chinatown, Soho etc.

London Cinemas

To be honest, most of the big cinemas in Central London are crap. They are overpriced, bad seats, huge rooms with small screens, film showings are sporadic at best, and for some ridiculous reason they leave the ceiling lights on at the FRONT of the cinema, above the screen?! Its really quite hard to find a film you want, when you want, and you’re going to pay at least £13 for the privilege.

Most of the UK Premieres are held at one of the Leicester Square cinemas, but there are much better options.

The Prince Charles Cinema is just off Chinatown, showing slightly older releases, classics, art house films and special screenings from £4+ (members).

Curzon Soho is “UK’s busiest Art House Cinema”, usually playing films you’ve never heard of, but sometimes old classics. Ticket prices vary for members and show times, standard is £12.50.

The BFI IMAX is not cheap, at around £22 a ticket, but its a great experience and for films such as The Dark Knight Rises it’s totally worth it.

Cineworld is noted for its £15/month unlimited movie membership, so if your a real film buff and see an average of at least 2 films a month, this deal could be great. However if your seeing only 1 film a month or there isn’t a Cineworld branch near you, it might not be worth it.

Vue Cinemas Westfield, (Shepheards Bush), is probably my favorite cinema for new release films. They are more like the cinemas in Australia, with comfortable chairs, big screens and sound, multiple cinemas for a good selection of start times, and at £10.50 a much better price point. The Finchley Road branch is also not bad, from £11.25.

Chinatown, London

London’s Chinatown is right in the center of London, between Soho and Leicester Square. Here you will find Chinese grocery shops, bakeries, restaurants, souvenirs, decorations etc. It’s also the central point for Chinese New Year celebrations.

There are not many vegan options here to be honest, and its hard to avoid seeing numerous dead animals hanging up in the restaurant windows. If going to a restaurant here you will just have to try your luck at explaining what you want to the staff and hope they understand. The bakeries have a few options, my favorite being the sesame balls with sweet bean paste inside! These are usually vegan but sometimes lard is used so double check. If you really want to eat Chinese food near here, your better off going to one of the Veg Buffets.

It’s worth walking around just to see the gates, lanterns, shops etc. but best during Chinese New Year. You can also catch a classic at the Prince Charles Cinema.

Main Entrance at Wardour & Gerrard St, south of Shaftesbury Avenue, walk from Piccadilly or Leicester Square stations.

Prince Charles Cinema

Prince Charles Cinema is nestled right between Chinatown and Leicester Square, showing a range of classic, art house and recent Hollywood films from £4 (members, selected films). They also run double-bills, midnight marathons, even sing-a-long sessions for musicals! In 2007 they promoted environmental causes by screening “An Inconvenient Truth” every week.

Quentin Tarantino has spoken of his support for the cinema and along with Uma Therman made a special introduction for their Double-Kill-Bill showing.

Their salted popcorn contains butter flavouring, but their Sweet popcorn is vegan! (corn, cane sugar & coconut oil).

Its probably the only cinema in London with real charm and loved by film buffs.

Walk from Leicester Square Station.
See website for cinema times.

Prince Charles Cinema - Ninth Wonder of the World

BFI Southbank & IMAX

The BFI (British Film Institute) promotes understanding and appreciation of film and television heritage and culture in the UK. BFI Southbank (formerly the National Film Theatre) is not just a cinema, but a film library, cafe, book store and exhibition center. Film Festivals are shown here throughout the year and you can research and watch older films, TV shows & documentaries in the library.

BFI IMAX is just down the road from Southbank, and holds the largest cinema screen in the UK, showing IMAX released films in 2D/3D! Great for epic films worthy of the screen and ticket price, around £22.

Walk from Waterloo Station.

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