London 2012 Olympics

Royal London - The Capital's Top Royal Attractions

In 2012 London will be associated with sport but at other times the UK's capital city is most loved by visitors for its close links with royalty. From stunning gardens to historic palaces, and from eery towers to the Queen's Guards, there are many royal wonders to behold. For a real insight into the British monarchy throughout the ages, we have put together a list of the must-see attractions. Be sure to include at least a few of the following on your itinerary during your trip to London for the Olympic Games.

Buckingham Palace

First up on a tour of royal attractions has to be this stunning palace, the official London residence of Britain's sovereigns since 1837. Although it is a working, residential palace still very much used and lived in by the royal family, the State Rooms are open to the public every summer when the queen makes her annual visit to the royal castle at Balmoral in Scotland. The grand State Rooms are lavishly decorated with some of the most beautiful, important and valuable treasures from the Royal Collection, including artwork by Rubens and Rembrandt, sculpture by Canova, delicate Sèvres porcelain and some of the finest examples of English and French furniture in the world. Be sure to arrive just before 11.30am to see the Changing the Guard on the palace forecourt.

The Tower of London

A place of both beauty and horror, The Tower of London has been royal palace, prison, torture chamber, place of execution and home of the Crown Jewels in its incredible 900 year history. On a tour with one of the Yeoman Warders you can see evidence of all this and even see ancient graffiti left by some of the tower's former prisoners. A highlight is of course the magnificent Crown Jewels, which have been kept safe in the tower since the reign of King Henry III.

Kensington Palace

The former official London residence of Princess Diana, you can today view the State Apartment, including the incredible art collection lining King George I's staircase and Queen Victoria's bedroom. Perhaps most interesting is the Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection and, until 2012, the fantastic Enchanted Palace exhibition, featuring stunning dresses by top designers and artists such as Vivienne Westwood and Bruce Oldfield, and evening dresses belonging to Princess Margaret and Princess Diana.

Royal Parks

With eight Royal Parks to choose from, visitors can spend hours wandering past beautiful gardens, sparkling lakes and historic buildings, ending up on a stripy deckchair on an immaculately tended lawn watching some outdoor theatre or just relaxing in the sunshine. Green Park, between Buckingham Palace and Piccadilly, is a former royal duelling ground, Greenwich Park is home to the Royal Observatory, the Queen's House and the prime Meridian Line, the Diana Memorial is located in famous Hyde Park, the Prince Regent commissioned John Nash to construct grand Regent's Park in 1811 (don't miss Queen Mary's beautiful rose garden), and St James' Park borders the regal Mall and offers fantastic views of Buckingham Palace.

Don't forget to buy international travel insurance before you fly over to London - being at the Olympic Games will be something to remember forever but you don't want to remember it for the wrong reasons!

2012 Olympics Dates

July 27th - August 12th

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Tickets will not go on sale until 2011 but the prices are finally out! Check out the London 2012 tickets page for more details.

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