Five Tourist Sites in London To Avoid

18 May 18
Visiting London

Five Tourist Sites in London To Avoid

18 May 18

An intoxicating blend of culture, history and famous landmarks, rounded off with world-class restaurants and big-brand shopping, London is a trip to trump all city breaks. But not all tourist sites in the London guide book are worth your while. Here are the main ones to skip, and what to do instead.


Oxford Street

If jostling crowds heavily armed with shopping bags appeal, then by all means, head down to Oxford Circus on a Saturday—you’ll find most of London’s tourists had the same idea! Despite it being an impressive stretch of flagship stores, discerning Londoners tend to avoid the Oxford Street gridlock and opt for a more peaceful shopping experience instead. Sloane Street for high-end boutiques, Kensington for a high street without the throngs and Notting Hill for up-and-coming brands.

M&Ms World

Fans of the sugar-coated chocolates and those aged under 10, look away now. The lurid four-storey homage to America’s favourite candy, aka M&M’s World, in the heart of Leicester Square, is a misguided step from the far more exotic and equally colourful London sites of Chinatown behind it and the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery a stone’s throw away, as well as Hamleys around the corner on Regent Street. M&M’s World might nod to a handful of attractions—Abbey Road, a Queen’s Guard, a London Park mix (!)—but let’s face it (controversy alert), M&Ms have nothing on the British Smarties.

The Shard’s Viewing Galleries

Soaring 95 storeys above London’s skyline, The Shard is a towering icon of spectacular architectural measure offering incredible panoramic vistas across the capital. But the viewing galleries on floors 68, 69 and 72 are not the only way to enjoy a glimpse of the city. Gaze out over a leisurely cocktail from one of The Shard’s smart, glass-fronted bars, or head to the Walkie Talkie’s leafy Sky Garden for views of The Shard itself—unlike The Shard’s viewing galleries, it’s free.

The O2

The extraterrestrial structure that sprawls across London’s Greenwich peninsula rose to fame in 1999, when the formerly named Millennium Dome underwhelmed with its doomed Millennium Experience exhibition. Now titled The O2, it’s a major London tourist site specialising in big concerts and includes cinemas, chain restaurants, and not much else. At North Greenwich, it’s a fair trek from central London—you’d be better off disembarking at Greenwich to explore the historic markets, parks and museums there. In short, The Dome is best seen from the comfortable distance of an aeroplane window as you descend into Heathrow Airport.

The Sherlock Holmes Museum

If you’re in Baker Street deciding between Madame Tussauds or The Sherlock Holmes Museum, opt for the latter. But if you’re not a gushing fan of the fictional detective, give them both a miss. The museum is supposed to be at the site of Holmes’ London address, 221b Baker Street. Alas, it’s not (try somewhere between numbers 237 and 241). Queues are up to two hours long in summer, and once inside, you’ll whistle around it in less time than it takes to read a page of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles. Dennis Severs’ House in Spitalfields, a home museum dedicated to a family of Huguenot silk-weavers from 1724, is just as atmospheric, much more authentic and far quieter.

Feature images © Bikeworldtravel/iStock; Imaging/iStock; mbbirdy/iStock; ultraforma_/iStock; oversnap/iStock  

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