Whether you live in the capital or not, many of us struggle with knowing how London fits together and where some of the main sights are located in relation to one another. This can be a problem for the GTO, who needs to know distances and relative locations in order to plan a practical itinerary.

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The Household Cavalry, both past and present

The Household Cavalry, both past and present

The Household Cavalry Museum is a great central London visitor destination, especially as it can be combined with viewing the ceremonial guard changes on the hour from 10am until 4pm outside at Horse Guards. Originally opened by Her Majesty The Queen in July 2007, it has just reopened after a short closure during which some splendid new features were installed. New displays have been created which are geared to the commemorations of the outbreak of WW1 (2014) and the Battle of Waterloo (2015). New displays trace the changing role of the cavalry from horse and sabre (pre-WW1) right up to these days of riding in high-tech armoured vehicles and light tanks. In addition to these new displays, a state-of-the-art multimedia guide mounted on an easy to use handheld device with earphones has been developed by Imagineear. The guide traces the history and accomplishments of The Household Cavalry over the years, but more importantly gives vivid insights related by former and serving officers and troopers of what it is like to serve today either on duty at Horse Guards, as part of great ceremonial state pageantry or in recent combat situations.

Situated in the heart of Royal London at Horse Guards, the museum is housed in the 1750 stables of the building which to this day is still the official entrance to the Royal Residences. Unlike other military attractions, it offers a rare opportunity to take a behind-the-scenes look at the ceremonial and operational role of the Household Cavalry. Through a large glass screen, visitors can view troopers attending to their horses in the working stables of The Queen’s Life Guard. Exhibitions include a dazzling display of uniforms, weapons, horse furniture and highly prized artefacts.

The museum traces the history of the regiments which make up the Household Cavalry (The Life Guards and the Blues and Royals), from their foundation early in the reign of Charles II to the present day, describing the exploits of many of the regiments’ heroes, who fought for their country all over the world. Each exhibit in the museum has its own compelling story to tell and is brought to life using a mix of graphics, audio-visual and interactive displays.

The Household Cavalry Museum is a charity. Profits from the museum go directly to support Household Cavalry troopers and their families who have been adversely affected by current operational deployments. Open daily from 10am, groups of eight or more get 10% discount on the admission price.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”Bateaux London”]

Bateaux London is an exceptional way to combine sightseeing with quality dining. Viewing the Houses of Parliament, St. Paul’s Cathedral, The Tower of London and The London Eye among others while moving gently along the Thames is surely the most sophisticated way to see the best of the capital and all its most famous sights. Groups are welcomed onboard for lunch, afternoon tea or dinner cruises, and there are also private dining and exclusive hire options. With over twenty years of experience in providing dining cruises, Bateaux London are the experts in their field. Just because the venue is moving along a river doesn’t mean that the dining quality is compromised either; teams of chefs prepare fresh and seasonal meals onboard which can rival those served in London’s top restaurants on solid ground.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”The ArcelorMittal Orbit”]

The iconic symbol of the 2012 Olympic Games, Anish Kapoor’s ArcelorMittal Orbit

The iconic symbol of the 2012 Olympic Games, Anish Kapoor’s ArcelorMittal Orbit

The UK’s tallest sculpture, the ArcelorMittal Orbit, re-opens to the public on Saturday 5 April this year. It offers visitors a totally new perspective of London and unrivalled views of the capital’s newest, must-see destination – the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The Orbit was designed by Turner Prize winning artist Sir Anish Kapoor and it quickly became an icon for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and the regeneration of east London.

At 114.5 metres high, the ArcelorMittal Orbit is taller than the Statue of Liberty and gives visitors views of over 20 miles across London. From two spacious viewing galleries, London’s architectural and social history can be seen like never before – from old listed buildings and ultra-modern skyscrapers to the green fields at the edge of the capital.

The ArcelorMittal Orbit will open to the public at the same time as the south of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, which is being transformed into a beautiful new space with meadows, wetlands and waterways. There is lots for groups to see and do, including visiting the Copper Box Arena, the Aquatics Centre and the Velodrome, or shopping at Westfield Stratford City, Europe’s largest shopping centre.

Group tickets are on sale now and group prices are available for any group of 15+ individuals booked onto the same timed entry at least five days in advance. There is a 28 bay coach park in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park available to book from April.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”Ripley’s Believe It or Not!”]

Ripley’s Believe It or Not! is a fascinating collection designed to intrigue all visitors. Located in the heart of London’s West End at number one, Piccadilly Circus, Ripley’s is home to over 700 exhibits from across the globe, such as the infamous collection of authentic Ecuadorian shrunken heads. It is the only place in the UK where visitors can check out a life-sized knitted Ferrari, take a peek at 75-million-year-old dinosaur eggs and come face to face with an albino alligator. Children will love the portrait of the attraction’s founder, explorer Robert Ripley, made entirely from bubble gum balls.

Ripley’s has a new dedicated in-house group reservations team who can create a bespoke package for groups. GTOs and coach drivers get free entry. There are guided tours which can be arranged on request for a small additional cost, or for those who would rather enjoy the attraction at their own pace, audio guides are available in English, French, German, Italian and Spanish. Group rates are available and members of a group can benefit from a 15% discount in the gift shop. New all-inclusive packages for groups of ten or more are now also available. The attraction has teamed up with some popular restaurants, including Planet Hollywood, Café Rouge and Bella Italia to offer a complete package.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”City Cruises”]

City Cruises use boats with lots of glass, to ensure guests see all the sights on either side

City Cruises use boats with lots of glass, to ensure guests see all the sights on either side

City Cruises offer a range of excursions on their modern, bespoke craft, including lunch, dinner, afternoon tea, sightseeing and jazz cruises. A typical cruise firstly takes guests past HMS Belfast, along the Thames in the direction of Westminster, with London’s iconic sights passing on either side. The City Cruises boats have sides and fronts made almost entirely from glass, so there is no question of being unable to see everything, in addition to large open-air decks upstairs on all the bigger craft, and commentary makes sure that everyone is aware of the sights. Passing under Tower Bridge, the boats pass St. Paul’s Cathedral, Shakespeare’s Globe and the Tate Modern, before reaching the London Eye and the Houses of Parliament. After turning, the boats go on to Canary Wharf and Greenwich, before turning once more and heading back to the starting point. Different cruises take slightly different routes and City Cruises also runs a ‘hop on, hop off’ service. The cruises combine the very best of sightseeing with great food in comfortable surroundings.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”The London Bridge Experience & The London Tombs”]

The London Bridge Experience is a fun and interactive tour through the arches of London Bridge exploring the history of the local area and its inhabitants. Visitors are given a chance to become part of London’s gruesome history and travel back in time to an age of adventure, while uncovering the dark secrets that lie beneath the world’s most famous and apparently most haunted bridge. The London Bridge Experience is a multi-sensory experience which lets visitor see, hear, feel, taste and even smell what London Bridge was like through the ages. Romans, Vikings, an encounter with the expert executioner of William Wallace, a first-hand experience of medieval life as guests pass through the Chapel of Thomas Becket and onto the shop-lined streets of the old London Bridge, an opportunity to learn the old trades before the Great Fire of London sweeps through the city … these are all part of the experience.

The London Tombs, formerly a plague pit, completes the experience. Walls drip with blood, visitors must squeeze through confined spaces, meet spiders, snakes, ghosts, ghouls and many more. The exciting journey uses the latest in Hollywood-style wizardry and brilliant live actors. Groups of any sort are welcome, and the venue is known for hosting all sorts of corporate events for something a bit different. Groups should complete the online form before booking.[/toggle]

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