Top Things to Do in London!Monday, May 16, 2016
Tyler and I were in London April 27 through May 5. (We flew on the 26th.) We had the most amazing time! It truly was a trip of a lifetime. I have wanted to go to London since I was in high school, so it was incredible to finally get somewhere I have been dreaming about seeing for years! Today, I am going to be sharing my list of the top things to do in London that I hope will help you plan a trip over there, especially if it is your first time in London!
There is obviously much more to do in London than this list, but these are the favorite things we saw/did/ate while there (in no order).
1. Bus Tour: Our first day in London we did a Hop On/ Hop Off Bus tour through Big Bus London . I could not recommend this enough! It gave us a tour of the city, which was so important as it helped us really grasp a layout of the city. (We never got lost while we were there!) This was also very fun because it let us see all of the main tourist attractions in London, and gave us the opportunity to walk around anywhere we wanted to explore more. They have headphones on the buses so you can listen to an audio guide which tells you what you are looking at, as well as the history behind it. (Some of the buses have live commentary, but none of the ones we got on had it.) I would also recommend the company we booked through. There are quite a few hop on/hop off bus tours in London, and it was honestly overwhelming to choose one. We chose this one even though it was a little more expensive because they have more buses going through the city, so your wait time while waiting to "hop on" is much shorter. (Someone from another bus was complaining about waiting almost 20 minutes for her bus to come around to the stop she was waiting at. Yikes!)
2. Tower of London Tour: Tyler and I decided we wanted to do the Tower of London Tour after we rode past it on our bus tour. We were immediately intrigued about the history behind it! Make sure you go at a time when there is a Beefeater (Yeoman Warder) tour you can walk with. (It costs to get into the Tower, but a guided tour is free with admission.) I learned that in order to be a Beefeater they have to serve in the military for for a minimum of 22 years! Ours was incredibly entertaining and knowledgeable. The guided tour itself takes about an hour and then you have time to explore the rest of the grounds. The Crown Jewels are also stored here, and they are beautiful! (We had to wait in probably a 15 minute line to get in and see them.) The Tower is also right next to the Tower Bridge! Where to eat? Stop for a coffee and grab-and-go sandwich at Pret a Manger outside of the Tower.
3. Explore Westminster: Exploring the Westminster area is a must on any London itinerary. It is here that you will find Big Ben, the Palace of Westminster, Westminster Abbey, the London Eye, etc. All are very cool to see. (The first time I saw Big Ben in person I was in awe!) Tyler and I did the London Eye while we were there, and we loved it! We paid for the fast pass so we were in our "pod" within 10 minutes (so worth the extra money). It gives you amazing views of the city, but if you are trying to find ways to save money while in London I would not go on it. You can also see a view of the city for free at the Sky Garden. We didn't go there but the reviews online seem like it's really cool!
4. Santander Cycles: London has hire-a-cycle bikes all around the city that you can rent for two pounds a day. You can check them out for 30 minutes at a time. There are stations all over the city so it is easy to get to a new one to check your bike in before the time expires. After you check in at one station, you can check out another bike for 30 minutes and keep riding to the next attraction. Tyler and I rented bikes for a day of exploring Notting Hill and Hyde Park. It was one of our favorite days! (Also one of the cheapest days as we only paid the two pounds for the bike.) Where to eat? Try Itsu for sushi in Notting Hill.
5. South Kensington Museums: Three museums can be found in the South Kensington area. Tyler and I stayed in South Kensington, so we explored this area quite a bit. The museums here are the Natural History Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Science Museum. All are free, but they do ask for a donation when you walk in. Our favorite was the dinosaur exhibit at the Natural History Museum. Where to eat? There are so many good places around South Kensington! My favorite was the Kensington Creperie. We also both really liked pizza from Pizza Sole Luna (they had great lunch specials) and gourmet waffles from Wafflemeister.
6. Changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace: Seeing the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace is most likely on everyone's list for things to do in London. You will want to get to the Palace around one hour prior to it starting in order to have a front row seat. (We showed up about 45 minutes prior to it starting and got one of the last open places in front of the gates.)
7. Fish and Chips at a British Pub: One thing you must eat while in London is fish and chips! You can find it at pretty much every pub (and each one will claim to have "the best"). Tyler ordered fish and chips at least four times while we were there haha! His favorite spot was Bunch of Grapes.
8. See a Broadway Show: While we were in London, we went to see Kinky Boots at the Adelphi Theatre. This show is currently touring the United States, but it was one of the only Broadway shows in London that I hadn't seen yet. It was such a fun show! Going to this show was one of our favorite parts of our trip. It was cool to see what the theater looked like in a different country and it was fun to get dressed up for a dinner + show date night. Aladdin starts there later in May, and if I were going this summer that would definitely be on my list. It would also be really cool to go to a concert over in London. Where to eat? We had burgers, fries, and milk shakes at Byron - Proper Hamburgers.
9. Shopping at Harrods: Harrods is one of the most famous department stores in the world. It is in Knightsbridge, which was very close our flat in South Kensington. The store itself is huge as it has seven stories. There are over 20 restaurants inside and there is a food hall inside with chocolate, fresh produce, meats, etc. It is very cool to see in person. Most everything you will find in the store is pricey, but Tyler and I both had fun walking around looking at the different sections. We spent quite a bit of time in the home goods section, as well as the books and toys! I would recommend stopping here because in the food hall is where I bought some delicious macarons!
10. Thames River Cruise: A free river cruise was included with our hop on/hop off bus tour ticket, and Tyler and I both loved it! It was very cool to see London from the Thames River. We had a Double Decker Boat with live English commentary explaining everything we saw. Our guide was hilarious, and always cracking jokes. The cruise itself was probably only 30 minutes as it took us from the Tower Bridge to the London Eye, but we still saw quite a bit. The bus tour covered most of London, but there were some things we could see from the water that our bus did not drive us past. I don't know that I would have paid for a cruise ticket, but if you do a bus tour and it includes a river cruise... take it!
I hope this list helps you make your London itinerary. Our trip was amazing, and I could honestly go on and on with tips! If you have any specific questions feel free to email me. I think I am going to do one more post dedicated to our London trip, specifically a review of the Warner Bros Harry Potter tour in London! I will also be uploading a travel diary to my YouTube channel, so make sure you are subscribed :).
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