BRITS BITS: London for tourists: 10 must-see attractions

The London Eye is a gigantic Ferris wheel located on the south bank of the River Thames in London. Standing at 443 feet tall and with a diameter of 394 feet, it is the tallest Ferris wheel in Europe. (Courtesy Photo by Airman 1st Class Kyla Gifford/Released)

The London Eye is a gigantic Ferris wheel located on the south bank of the River Thames in London. Standing at 443 feet tall and with a diameter of 394 feet, it is the tallest Ferris wheel in Europe. (Courtesy Photo by Airman 1st Class Kyla Gifford/Released)

The Houses of Parliament, also known as the Palace of Westminster, is an impressive sight along the River Thames in London.  One end of this structure is marked by Big Ben, which was completed in 1859 and stands more than 96 metres tall.  (Courtesy Photo by Airman 1st Class Kyla Gifford/Released)

The Houses of Parliament, also known as the Palace of Westminster, is an impressive sight along the River Thames in London. One end of this structure is marked by Big Ben, which was completed in 1859 and stands more than 96 metres tall. (Courtesy Photo by Airman 1st Class Kyla Gifford/Released)

Often mistakenly referred to as "the London Bridge," this iconic structure is located adjacent to the Tower of London, hence its name - the Tower Bridge.  The bridge has a bascule design, meaning one of its sections (in this case, the center) can be raised and lowered, allowing large boats and other water vehicles to travel through.  (Courtesy Photo by Airman 1st Class Kyla Gifford/Released)

Often mistakenly referred to as "the London Bridge," this iconic structure is located adjacent to the Tower of London, hence its name - the Tower Bridge. The bridge has a bascule design, meaning one of its sections (in this case, the center) can be raised and lowered, allowing large boats and other water vehicles to travel through. (Courtesy Photo by Airman 1st Class Kyla Gifford/Released)

Located in London and a stones-throw from Big Ben, Westminster Abbey is one of the most recognized Gothic buildings in the United Kingdom.  A number of famous people are buried in the Abbey to include Geoffrey Chaucer, the author of the Canterbury Tales, and Sir Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister during World War II. (Courtesy Photo by Airman 1st Class Kyla Gifford/Released)

Located in London and a stones-throw from Big Ben, Westminster Abbey is one of the most recognized Gothic buildings in the United Kingdom. A number of famous people are buried in the Abbey to include Geoffrey Chaucer, the author of the Canterbury Tales, and Sir Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister during World War II. (Courtesy Photo by Airman 1st Class Kyla Gifford/Released)

One of the most easily recognized clocks in the world, Big Ben (which is actually the name of the bell inside the clock tower) lords over much of London.  The structure, completed in 1859, stands more than 96 metres tall.  (Courtesy Photo by Airman 1st Class Kyla Gifford/Released)

One of the most easily recognized clocks in the world, Big Ben (which is actually the name of the bell inside the clock tower) lords over much of London. The structure, completed in 1859, stands more than 96 metres tall. (Courtesy Photo by Airman 1st Class Kyla Gifford/Released)

RAF MILDENHALL, England -- London is one of the most vibrant cities in the world, but it can be overwhelming to tourists. There are so many beautiful and historical sites to visit; it's hard to choose where to go. After visiting London for the first time, I came up with a list of "must-see" attractions that I highly encourage anyone stationed in the U.K. to see during their time here.

1. London Eye: The London Eye is a gigantic Ferris wheel located on the south bank of the River Thames in London. It stands 443 feet tall and has a diameter of 394 feet, making it the tallest Ferris wheel in Europe. The Eye offers one of the highest viewing points in the city. Inside each capsule you are able to have a full 360 degree view, which is a perfect opportunity to take photos and to look at London's historical beauty. For more information, go to www.londoneye.com.

2. St. Paul's Cathedral: The beauty and history of this old cathedral is quite impressive. Observe the architecture, climb up to the tower, and venture down to the crypt to see the tombs and memorials of some of the nation's greatest heroes. The cathedral also offers mass services, a restaurant and a gift shop. The intricate detail is breathtaking and is worth a visit. For more information, go to www.stpauls.co.uk.

3. The Tower of London: The Tower of London is the oldest palace, fortress and prison in Europe. It has a reputation as a place of torture and death, but you will discover it has the history of a royal palace, an armory and a powerful fortress. The tower was also the first London Zoo, back when King Henry III reigned. One of the main attractions the tower has to offer is the Crown Jewels. These are ancient jewels symbolizing royalty such as the crown, scepter and sword. This historical fortress is an impressive experience for all tourists. For more information, go to www.daysoutguide.co.uk/tower-of-london.

4. The Tower Bridge: Often mistakenly referred to as "the London Bridge," this iconic structure is located adjacent to the Tower of London, hence its name. It has a bascule design, meaning one of its sections (in this case, the center) can be raised and lowered, allowing large boats and other water vehicles to travel through. Those interested in the history of the bridge can visit the Tower Bridge Exhibition, located in the high-level walkways 42 metres above the River Thames. For more information, go to www.towerbridge.org.uk.

5. Big Ben/Parliament: One of the most easily recognized clocks in the world, Big Ben (which is actually the name of the bell inside the clock tower) lords over much of London. The structure, completed in 1859, stands more than 96 metres tall. It marks one end of the Houses of Parliament, also known as the Palace of Westminster, and is an impressive sight along the River Thames. For more information, go to www.parliament.uk/about/living-heritage/building-palace/big-ben/.

6. Buckingham Palace: Buckingham Palace is one of the few working palaces remaining in the world today. It serves as both the office and residence of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. Dating back to the early 1700s, this palace did not become the official residence of the British monarch until 1837, after Queen Victoria came to the throne. Located in the heart of London, with 19 state rooms and a garden with more than 350 different species of wild flowers, a trip to Buckingham palace is a must for any London tourist. For more information, go to www.royalcollection.org.uk/visit/the-state-rooms-buckingham-palace/plan-your-visit.

7. Natural History Museum: This museum offers hundreds of exciting, interactive exhibits in a beautiful London building. It features the Dinosaurs gallery and central hall which is home to the iconic Diplodocus skeleton. The museum exhibits life and earth science specimens in five main categories: botany, entomology, mineralogy, paleontology and zoology, and it has a recent addition, the Darwin Centre. This is a publicly funded museum and does not charge an admission fee. For more information, go to www.nhm.ac.uk.

8. West End: London's West End is the largest theatre district in the world. Since the opening of the first venue in 1663, it has enterainted many locals and visitors with its various shows. Very few other cities offer the variety and quality of theatrical performances as West End, with shows such as Wicked, The Lion King, Mamma Mia, Jersey Boys, Dirty Dancing and many more. For more information, go to www.londontheatre.co.uk/londontheatre/whatson.

9. London Zoo: Opened in 1847, the London Zoo is the world's oldest scientific zoo. Offering more than 760 animal species, with more than 12,000 animals to see and exciting exhibits, a trip to the zoo is a great day out with the family. There are different attractions to see including Rainforest Life, African Forest, Penguin Beach and Tiger Territory. This zoo could be a wonderful experience for all ages and a great escape into "the wild" in the middle of one of the largest cities in the world. For more information, go to www.zsl.org/zsl-london-zoo/.

10. Westminster Abbey: Located a stones-throw from Big Ben, this giant church is one of the most recognized Gothic buildings in the United Kingdom. A number of famous people are buried in the Abbey to include Geoffrey Chaucer, the author of the Canterbury Tales, and Sir Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister during World War II. This church is also home to select royal weddings, to include the April 29, 2011, marriage between His Royal Highness Prince William of Wales KG and Miss Catherine Middleton. For more information, go to www.westminster-abbey.org.

With so many attractions, a diverse culture and rich history, London is definitely a city worth checking out. For those Airmen who want to travel into London but do not want to worry about how to get there, the base's Information, Tickets and Travel office has regularly scheduled daytrips into the city. For more information, contact the base ITT office at DSN 238-2630 or commercial at 01638-542630.