Go behind the scenes and tour London in style – discovering the true beauty of the European city you thought you knew. Travel to London, a unique destination with a rich, royal history and a creative charisma that lures all kinds of world travelers with a common love for its unmatched arts scene. Take a break from touring Buckingham Palace and the iconic abbeys and cathedrals — and experience the very soul of English culture.
Consider something much bigger than a London vacation. This is the chance to become part of the destination. Take a glimpse at the heart of historic London, where you’ll soak up the unique sights and sounds of England’s legacy. From its long-standing roots in art, theater, music and literature, this place keeps old traditions alive and recaptures the splendor of its artistic energy that has survived for centuries. Shape your London vacation in a whole new way to enjoy the most celebrated places known to the world.
The Musical Legends of England
The golden stage for many performers and composers, London has an unbelievably rich musical history. Follow the Elgar Route, a 40-mile drive through the countryside that is dotted with tributary sites recognizing Sir Edward Elgar. Perhaps England’s best-known modern composer, Elgar created several classical works that have become national anthems. The Handel House Museum recaptures baroque composer George Frideric Handel’s legendary career — which included composing “Messiah,” one of the greatest works in history — and continues to be filled with finely restored Georgian interiors and live music.
Speaking of music, don’t forget that London is also the world-famous home of great rock ‘n roll legends. Consider one of the many London tours that take you to famous gig locations, recording studios, homes, and local hangouts of musicians such as The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Who, Eric Clapton, Pink Floyd, Queen, and Jimmy Hendrix. You’ll get a sense of nostalgia as you travel through Soho, the thriving quarter that was home to many famous painters, philosophers, essayists, poets, and musicians in the ’50s and ’60s. Stroll down Carnaby Street, known as “Swinging London,” which is now is one of the city’s trendiest shopping quarters. If you’re a Beatles fan, take a walk down the famed Abbey Road in Camden.
Your Favorite Books Brought to Life in London
Follow in the footsteps of historic London writers and behold some of the very sights that inspired their stories. Make a stop at Charles Dickens’ preserved home, now a museum of paintings, rare editions, manuscripts, original furniture, and other items commemorating the Victorian novelist. You can trace his early life at Warren’s Blackening Factory or see the Temple Bar and Lincoln’s Inn vividly described in “Bleak House.” For an entertaining experience, visit Dickens World in the nearby county of Kent. Inside this themed attraction, interactive recreation of Dickens’ London, you’ll step back into the urban streets and distinct sounds and smells of the 19th century.
Go due west of Soho to Bloomsbury and see the building that inspired the Ministry of Truth in Orwell’s “1984” and Virginia Woolf’s literary circle, who were commonly described to have “lived in squares and loved in triangles.” Indulge in exploring the British Museum’s vast collection of more than six million items representing the art and culture of mankind throughout history including fragments from two of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World. Nearby is the British Library, where you’ll find an endless archive of manuscripts, a real treasure for book lovers and literary travelers.
Come across the honey-colored stone villages located on the rolling slopes of the Cotswolds region, where you’ll view the inspiration for the Shire in Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” and “Lord of the Rings” series. You’ll be charmed by the serene fields and characteristic cottages of the area fondly called the “Heart of England.” Next, journey into the ancient city of Gloucester, immortalized in Beatrix Potter’s “The Tailor of Gloucester” and modeled in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books. Revisit childhood classics such as “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “James and the Giant Peach” at the Roald Dahl Museum.
Continue your London sightseeing excursion to Stratford-upon-Avon, the market town where William Shakespeare was born. Visit the Tudor-style birthplace of the famous playwright, exploring the setting of his childhood in the typical parlor, bedrooms, kitchen,
buttery, and glovemaker’s workshop used by his father. Back in London, you can intimately learn about the life of Shakespeare, the London where he lived, and the Globe Theatre that honors his extraordinary accomplishments. Take an evening to enjoy a stellar performance at the Globe, which proudly mirrors the same design as the original theater.
Grand Traditions of London Theater and the Visual Arts
No matter how you love to experience the fine arts, you can expect the best in South Bank, the artistic center of the city. In such an eclectic area of prominent theater, exhibition, dance, and cinema venues, you’ll find the legacy of London’s creative and innovative traditions that live on through new generations of young artists, writers, and performers. One of the oldest London theaters, the Old Vic has been famously known for its grandiose design (modeled after the original in 1871) and classic productions. In Camden sits the Roundhouse, a former railway engine converted into one of the legendary performance halls that once hosted rock musicians including Pink Floyd, the Who, and the Doors.
Behold some of the most splendid art and architecture that has rested in London for years. Spend some time visiting East End’s refreshing and challenging contemporary art scene. You’ll come across numerous intimate and big galleries scattered through several blocks, which will continue south into the Brick Lane and Spitalfields shopping districts. If you find yourself at the British Museum, look forward to a magnificent display of art and culture throughout the history of mankind — including fragments from two of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World. You could spend hours feasting your eyes on the beautiful collections of Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt, and Van Gogh at the Tate Modern and National Gallery.
Undeniably one of the greatest masterpieces in Western European architecture, St. Paul’s Cathedral dominates the London skyline with its magnificence. Towering at 365 feet, it was the first cathedral exhibiting a classic design in all of England, and atop the dome, you’ll find tremendous panoramic views of the entire city below you. The Westminster Abbey is also one of the most recognized landmarks of London, as it represents 1,000 years of British history. This structure also includes special memorials, Musician’s Aisle and Poet’s Corner, which serve as the resting place of history’s finest thinkers and artists including Dickens, Chaucer, Darwin, Handel, and Newton.
Perhaps this is your first time in England, or you’re searching for that offbeat London vacation adventure that goes beyond any other trip. Travel to London to experience the finest English traditions and find the world’s most magnificent and historic thinkers and artists.