London is like a third home to Ashley and I. We have both lived there at one point in our lives, and we have visited several times. For the first timers, or the ones who just want a new perspective, here are our Top 10 musts when visiting London, England.
1. London Eye
Now, The London Eye might sound like the biggest tourist spot in London, and to be frank it is. In spite of that, I recommend that everyone participate. It takes 30 minutes to make a full rotation, and the views are absolutely breathtaking. This is a great chance for first timers to get acclimated to the city.
2. Picnic in Hyde Park
Hyde Park is the “Central Park” of London. The greenery is outstanding. Having a picnic in the park whilst people watching was one of Ashley and I’s favorite things to do when we lived in London. Trust me, you won’t be alone. You don’t have to spend a lot of money, Marks & Spencer, Tesco, Pret, and EAT are all quick options to grab a bite on the go.
One of London’s best gems are their markets. There are many to choose from, but Borough and Portobello are at the top of my list. Borough Market is London’s food market. If you are in the area around lunchtime it is a great place to pick up a bite. Portobello Market lines Portobello Road in Notting Hill and is filled with one-of-a kind antiques. You can also stop by the Notting Hill bookshop if you are just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her (or just to be in the same room that Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts once were).
Buckingham Palace is the main residence of Queen Elizabeth II. The staterooms are open to the public every year usually from the end of July through September. I’ve only been able to visit once, but it was a once in a lifetime experience I will never forget. I was able to go in 2011, the summer after the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Princess Kate. We were able to see many things from the wedding, including the infamous wedding dress. Changing of the Guard happens everyday outside the palace.
5. Walk the canals of Little Venice
When I lived in London I stayed in Maida Vale, just a block away from the “Canals of Little Venice”. Having a sunset evening walk by the canals was a pastime I loved. You can also take a boat ride through the canals over to Camden Market.
Westminster Abbey has a vast history. It is the home of some high profile weddings and the final resting place for some of the greatest thinkers our world has seen. When visiting, you can also see the coronation chair. Like Buckingham Palace there are no pictures allowed, unless you happened to have a professor who had a connection and you get a private nighttime tour 🙂
7. Afternoon Tea at the Orangery
Afternoon Tea is a British staple. You can go almost anywhere in the city to have afternoon tea. Our favorite, though, is at The Orangery, which is the refurbished greenhouse on he grounds of Kensington Palace. I promise you won’t be disappointed. If you want something a little more formal try out the afternoon teas at Claridge’s, The Ritz, and The Mandarin Oriental.
As I’ve mentioned before London has a very fascinating history. London Walks is an amazing and cheap way to see different parts of the city. From The Jack the Ripper Walk to the Harry Potter Walk there is something for all ages. Check them out here to see the different offerings.
Museums are another great way to see what London has to offer. The best catch of all, they are completely free. Some of our favorites are the Victoria and Albert Museum, The British Museum, and the National Portrait Gallery. The V&A has a special fashion exhibit every year that we love to catch. If you are one for modern art, the Tate Modern is for you.
10. West End
Last but certainly not least, you need to visit London’s west end, AKA Broadway. Between Ashley and I we have seen many shows on the west end. Our favorites were Matilda, Mary Poppins, and Les Mierables. This is one of the more expensive options on this list, but if you are up for a night in Leicester Square, then this is the right thing for you.
What are your favorite things to do in London? We’d love to hear! Leave us a note in the comments and we’ll be sure to work it into our next trip.