To call the London Eye a giant ferris wheel captures none of the architectural drama or thrill of discovery that this feat of engineering, which soars more than 442 feet above the Thames, offers. Its official web site declares it “the tallest cantilevered observation platform in the world.” Passengers ride in 32 capsules, which provide 360 degree views of the city, a glorious landscape of historical and modern buildings that are seen together to their best advantage from on high. Tickets, which begin at 8.50 pounds, should be booked in advance online. Open October to April 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; June 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; July and August 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and September 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Editor’s Tip: You can buy Fast Track tickets to skip the long lines. After or before your “flight”, catch the Tate Boat at the pier for the Tate Britain or Tate Modern.
Portobello Road and Bermondsey Flea Market
John Oddy, the executive director of the Royal Oak Foundation travels to London three times a year. He recommends: “I am a huge fan of antiques shopping, so I love the Portobello Road and the Bermondsey flea markets. The latter is for more hard-core antiques hunters who come at the crack of dawn equipped with flashlights to see what the dealers unload before the goods even hit the sidewalk.”
It’s not easy to get an invitation to Buckingham Palace—most visitors are thrilled to see the Changing of the Guards out front—but it is possible to go just around the side of the palace and visit the stables, or Royal Mews. The visit begins with an introduction to some of its royal residents, the Windsor Greys and Cleveland Bays, the horses bred on the Queen’s Studs to pull the state carriages. (If you are lucky, you may even see some of them at work pulling the cart that delivers mail between Buckingham Palace and Clarence House, where Princes Charles resides.) As you continue through the stately stable building, which was designed by the architect John Nash, you will visit the harness room, learn about the staff who lives on premises and see various carriages and limousines that the royal family rides in. (The vehicle that Prince Philip has been known to drive himself around London in—a London taxi cab—is not on display, but vintage Rolls-Royces are.) Open most days but check the web site for closed occasions. We recommend guided tours, which you can book through an Indagare advisor
Tate to Tate Boat
This 220-seat catamaran—with exterior and interior designs by artist Damien Hirst—ferries passengers between Tate Modern and Tate Britain, in Pimlico. The boat runs every forty minutes, and it also stops at the British Airways London Eye.