Over the next few months, we will have visitors of several sorts, including cousins, aunts, uncles and friends. The emails have begun as we dole out advice about what to do, how to do it, and which London hotel is in the best location. We love to show people our fair city, and make sure they get the most out of their precious time.  But it is inevitable as I think about the highlights of London to automatically counter with key places to avoid. If you’re headed my way, here is my short list of overrated attractions in London.

1. The London Eye

I’ve decided that in general, it’s not worth it to pay good money to see a city from high above. My other experiences of this have been widely ho-hum, and quickly forgotten. The London Eye is everything I abhor about the city-with-a-view phenomenon. It takes roughly one hour to revolve the full way around, which is too long to stand around looking down. It costs £30 for a general adult ticket. That’s $50…for a ferris wheel. Add to that, the queue is one of the worst I have ever seen, literally hours long on a nice day. No thanks.

2. Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum

In a city with dozens of museums, why does a wax museum draw the biggest crowds? Is it the life size sculpture of Brad Pitt? Or the more recent instalment of One Direction? I pass by this museum most days and am consistently blown away by the hundreds of people who willingly queue up for the pleasure of looking at wax. Here’s some truth – I actually went here when I was 24 because I got a ticket online for £5 and there was no line. Under those circumstances, fine, go look at the wax. But the twisting row of tour buses just make me shake my head. No I will not pay £30 for this (or £65 for a VIP ticket which allows you to skip the line). Never.

Tussauds

3. The O2

Unless you specifically have tickets to an event during your visit, showing up at the O2 ‘just for the fun of it’ is definitely NOT worth your time. This relatively new and massive entertainment complex contains bowling alleys, cinemas, tons of space for concerts and events, dance clubs, restaurants and bars, and an excursion where you can walk to the top of the main structure (kinda like the famous bridge in Sydney, Australia, but less cool). It’s also on the edge of London, not exactly a place where you would find yourself with some down time. It also reminds me of a mega shopping mall I went to once in Florida. I’d skip it.

4. St. Paul’s Cathedral

This will be a controversial addition to the list, but let me put this bluntly. I don’t pay money to go into churches. Ever. If a church charges for entry, I just skip it. There is no church cool enough for it to be worth it to me. St. Paul’s normally has an entrance fee of £17, which gains you entrance to the main hall, crypt, and galleries. You can always enter for free to go to a service, but during ‘off hours’ there is a charge. Obviously I’m not the first person to complain about this because their website even has an explanation for why they charge. My advice: just take a few pictures of the outside and move along.

St Paul's Cathedral

5. Oxford Street

 Oxford Street is the ‘main drag’ shopping street that cuts through central London. It’s also insane. The crowds are crushing, reminiscent of Times Square in NYC. Around Christmas time it’s worth a look because the streets are all lit up and sparkly. During the rest of the year, best to avoid it completely. All of the shops that have flagship stores on Oxford Street have many other locations in less busy areas of London. The one exception to that is Selfridges, a high end department store. But you can find high end stores in every city.London is such an amazing city. With so many spectacular monuments and museums, why would you spend your time doing anything less than the best?

Check out Where to Stay in London: The Ultimate Sightseeing Guide by HotelsCombined to complete your London adventure

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  • February 1, 2015

    I completely agree with you about the London Eye. I mean it’s a good view but I was so pissed off about how much it cost me that I hardly enjoyed the ride. My two favourite London attractions are both free – Battersea Park and the Natural History Museum. That city has such a wealth of free activities, helps to make up for the ridiculously priced accommodation!

    • February 1, 2015

      Emma – totally. I love the Natural History Museum! And they do things one Friday night per month so you can go in the evening for some fun activities!

  • April 13, 2015

    I’d sooner recommend someone go to the Oxo tower for a drink in the bar to see London from high up! And although the drinks are expensive, its cheaper than the eye (and you get a drink too!). View from the bar in the Portrait Gallery also pretty awesome.

    • April 13, 2015

      That’s a great reco – there are so many places to have drinks high up – also the Heron Tower (Sushi Samba), or Tower 42 (Duck & Waffle). And there’s the new building that opened last month fondly called the ‘Walkie Talkie’ building that has a multi-story cafe with amazing views. So many views (and so much construction!). Thanks Sarah 🙂