London Calling – Why London is the Perfect School Tour Destination
London Calling – Why London is the perfect school tour destination
London, one of the world’s most important cities and the capital of our nearest neighbour, is the ideal destination for you to bring your students on a school tour. For us in Ireland, we are fortunate that London is extremely accessible via air the various airports in and around London, with flights departing more frequently than some bus routes here at home run! With a population of nearly 9 million London is a thriving city filled with history, culture and the arts and with superb transport facilities, there is plenty to keep you and your students entertained for however many days you choose to spend there. Here are some suggestions of activities to try and slot into your itinerary!
Museums in London
With 170 museums scattered all over the city, you are never too far from one when walking the streets of London. Depending on the purpose of your trip, whether it’s science, history, art or general interest, you’ll find plenty of museums that will suit you and your students. Some of our top picks include:
- The Victoria & Albert Museum: Founded in 1852 the V&A is the world’s largest museum of applied and decorative arts and design. With free admission and over 2 million objects on display across a variety of genres, it is very easy to lose a few hours taking in what the museum has to offer.
- Shakespeare’s Globe: This reconstruction of the Elizabethan playhouse, the Globe Theatre, in which William Shakespeare wrote his plays. Visitors of the Globe can avail of the guided theatre tours to learn all that there is to know about the theatre's history, or see a performance of one of Shakespeare’s works, check to see if the play your students are studying is showing soon here!
- Other noteworthy museums include Madame Tussauds, The London Dungeons, the National History Museum, the Science Museum and the Sherlock Holmes Museum.
Trafalgar Square is another tourist hotspot in London. The square has existed since the 14th century, while the National Gallery that can be found there today, as well as Nelsons Column, the fountains and bronze lions were all added to the space during the 1800s. With a large pedestrianised area, it is often used as a centre for national democracy and protest today. Even if going to the National Gallery is not on your trip’s itinerary, Trafalgar Square is a nice spot to stop the group for a break or even lunch if the weathers nice and take in the hustle and bustle of the Londoners going about their day.
The London residence of the Monarchy since 1837, Buckingham Palace, can be found in the City of Westminster. The palace is seen as a centrepiece to the Royal Family in regard to events and ceremonies, such as the hosting of foreign Heads of States. The balcony of the palace is one of the most famous in the world with appearances by the Royal Family taking place on it since 1851. Time your visit to the palace accordingly so as to see the spectacles that are the changing of the guards ceremony that takes place daily or four times a week, depending on the time of the year, and lasts for approximately 45mins. Buckingham Palace is open to the public at certain times throughout the year, check to see if there’s availability for your London dates!
The London Eye is the perfect way to see all the attractions that you have already visited on your trip from the second-highest public viewing point in the city. Opened to mark the millennium the London Eye has nearly 4 million visitors every year. Discounted ticket prices are available for school groups when booked online in advance.
A hub of commerce and entertainment, the West End is one of the busiest areas in London. Most notably known for the Theatre District where 40 theatres can be found showing a wide variety of plays and musicals to suit everyone’s tastes. The shows being performed change regularly, besides The Mousetrap shown in the St Martins Theatre since 1952. Seeing a show in the West End comes hand in hand with a visit to London and is definitely an experience your students will remember! See what’s showing and book tickets here!
Big Ben of London
As one of the most notable London landmarks, the Big Ben isn’t actually the name of the tower that everyone associates it with, it is the named of the bell housed within the tower. The tower was originally called the Clock Tower but was renamed Elizabeth Tower in 2012 following the Queens Diamond Jubilee. The tower is a photo opportunity that your students won’t want to miss. Due to the maintenance that is currently taking place the bell, unfortunately, doesn’t chime on the hour anymore. International visitors are not permitted to tour the clock tower, but can instead join a talk about the Elizabeth Tower or tour the adjacent Parliament Buildings.
With plenty to offer students with varying interests whether it be art, history or culture, a few days in London is the perfect place to spend a few days. May be particularly suited to junior cycle students as a first school tour abroad as it’s not too far from home and wouldn’t be too expensive for parents.