London According To Cara - Favourite Galleries, Museums and Sights

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If you're a long term follower of my blog then you may remember that back in 2013 I did my first "London According to Cara" post, which is a series where I tell my personal favourite things to do, see and eat in London. I'm finally getting around to doing the next post and today I'll be sharing all of the museums, galleries and sights that I love to visit when I'm in the city. 

Museums and Galleries 

Besides being into fashion I love to visit art and photography exhibitions and it's no secret that London is one of the best places in the entire world for a slice of artistic culture. My all time favourite gallery is probably the most well known one in the city but that doesn't make it any less wonderful and awe-inspiring, and that is The National Gallery. Located in the iconic Trafalgar Square right next to Charing Cross station and a mere stone's throw away from Buckingham Palace, the building's exterior alone is as classic, wonderful and awe-inspiring as the artwork inside. I've been to this beautiful gallery countless times over the years and there is always something new to see. There is every art style imaginable dating as far back as the 1200s and some of the world's most famous and celebrated artists have work housed here including Monet and Van Gogh (his beloved Sunflowers painting is housed here). Besides this, there are always fantastic exhibitions on both here and at the National Gallery's sister establishment The National Portrait Gallery next door. 

One of my other favourite galleries is the Saatchi Gallery which finds it's home on King's Road in Chelsea. With it's modern art theme it's much more of an acquired taste than The National Gallery, with controversial and taboo breaking artwork commonly seen. The gallery often changes up it's pieces too which means that every visit is different and refreshing. However my personal favourite part of the Saatchi is the 20:50 installion by Richard Wilson - I don't want to give anything away but it's well worth a visit if you're ever in Sloane Square. The best part is, it's free! 

Also worth a look if you're ever in the Kensington Gardens area is the Serpentine Gallery. Similar to the Saatchi, the content is ever changing and always eye opening and unique - I recently saw the Duane Hanson exhibition and it blew my mind (it's on until the 13th so go have a look if you can - you'll be wowed). Plus this year for a limited time there's also the Serpentine Pavilion, a gorgeous and eye catching installation where you can grab a drink and just generally be enthralled by how pretty the place is. You can't miss it. Another huge plus is the location, situated amid beautiful park land and near to both Hyde Park and South Kensington's famous Exhibition Road. Other honorable mentions of the London art gallery scene include the Tate Modern and the Tate Britain. 

Onto museums, London is definitely a great place to visit if you're interested in this type of attraction. There is literally a museum for everything from fashion to childhood to science and Sherlock Holmes (which is actually pretty cool - check it out). My personal favourite isn't an obscure one but is indeed the Victoria & Albert Museum in South Kensington. South Kensington has to be one of my top three places in the entire city because there's a kind of charm and magic to it which I can't explain. I used to go there a lot as a child so it has a certain nostalgia for me, especially Exhibition Road where you can find the "big three" of London museums. The V&A will forever be my favourite though as it mixes all my passions - art, music, theatre, photography and of course fashion. I could spend hours strolling around the fashion exhibit which showcases pieces from different designers through the ages to show the progress of style and trend. There are outfits on display by everyone to Chanel and McQueen and it's just a visual treat for any fashion fan. Similar to the National Gallery, the building itself is absolutely gorgeous - if you enter from the tunnels in the tube station you will find yourself first of all in the Sculpture Room which is, in my opinion, the most stunning part of the whole museum. Other highlights for me include the Theatre & Performance room (featuring actual costumes from The Lion King on the West End!!) and the jewelry room which is stunningly designed.

 The other museums on Exhibition Road certainly hold their own too - I'm not a huge biology buff (that's more my sister's game) but the Science Museum is a worthwhile and engaging visit even if you can't tell your Carbon from your Chlorine. There is everything in here from actual planes and trains to fun interactive activities, and it's genuinely awesome for kids and adults a like. Last but by no means least on this road is the Natural History Museum which I've been spending a lot of time in recently - never ever a bad thing, folks. There is so much to see here that it's hard to choose a best bit; from the awe inspiring entrance hall, to activities in the Biology room and that escalator that only takes you INTO THE SUN. It's impossible, however, to miss the dinosaur room. There are actual skeletons. There are machines that let you pretend to walk like a dinosaur. There are raptors, and most famously there's a giant animatronic T-Rex that has to be seen to be believed. Go, marvel at all the wonders and most importantly - pretend to be Chris Pratt in Jurassic World. I wish I could write about all my other favourite museums because London has so many gems but also worth visiting are the British Museum, the RAF Museum in Hendon (just outside Central so you may need to buy an overground ticket for this one) and the London Film Museum near Covent Garden.

Sights and Attractions

This category is possibly the hardest of them all. London is chocka full of iconic landmarks - the London Eye, Big Ben and even Piccadilly Circus to name but a few. My number one personal favourite place in the city, however, is Somerset House. If you cross Waterloo Bridge from the South Bank end, you'll see a huge neoclassical white building looming over the strand - that's her alright. Though it is well known by fashion bloggers and editors all over the world as the former home of London Fashion Week and Weekend, there is so much more to Somerset House than that. It is home to several small galleries and spaces where I've seen exhibitions by Valentino, Tim Walker and Miles Aldridge over the last few years alone to name but a few. In summer there is a giant fountain in the courtyard (and sometimes a cinema screen) which gives way to an ice skating rink in the winter, both equally stunning and Instagram-able. Add to this not one, not two but seven amazing eat and drink places inside and unbeatable views over the Thames and you have a location that is perfect for anyone, Londoner or tourist.

 There is also a million and one "family friendly attractions" in the city, from the London Dungeon (you couldn't pay me to go there) to the newly opened Shrek Adventure. My favourites both involve animals. Located in County Hall on South Bank, the Sealife Aquarium will take you unda da sea in a truly immersive experience while the ZSL London Zoo is home to every wild creature you could hope to see, be this a giant giraffe or a sleepy bat. Fun fact: The reptile house was used in Harry Potter. Though I haven't been in a while this is undoubtably one of my favourite zoos in the UK and is super well located too, well within walking distance of Camden Town and another of my favourite sights Primrose Hill. I was recently introduced to here by my best friend Emily who loves this place more than anywhere else and I can see why. It's potentially the perfect picnic spot boasting unbeatable views of the London skyline and for free! There's also a bounty of cute dogs being walked there, and the chance for some major celebrity spotting. Other personal favourites of mine include St Paul's Cathedral and The Tower of London.

So, what do you all make of my list? What would you rank as your top things to see in the Ol' Smoke? 

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