Hey, friends! I’m back from my three week European getaway and ready to share some things about my first stop, London, with you!
This was my second trip to London and I have yet to branch out to the countryside and explore some of the outer neighborhoods, so this is a quick n’ dirty guide to the city of London. If you only have a few days, here are my top 10 must-do’s of this city:
- Westminster, The Big Ben, Parliament Buildings: Touristy, yes, but very much worth it. My personal favorite time to see these is at sunset and into the evening. Make your way across the Westminster bridge in the early evening for a view across the Thames River. This will also bring you close to the London Eye. A tip: go elsewhere for dinner. This area is packed with people and mediocre dining options, and we made the mistake of staying here due to laziness. Head to the West End (theater district) for a variety of dinner options.
- Notting Hill/Kensington: For a brief respite from the crowds, check out this area for a look into the posher side of life, as well as streets with boutiques, restaurants and pubs. We stumbled upon Churchill Arms, a pub with a Thai menu. Great staff, lots of locals, many beer and cider options, and pretty tasty food. For a quick snack, get the prawn crackers. But you’re in England, so stay a while!
- Rent a bike: The cycle share was my favorite discovery in London. This is a great way to see the parks (St. James Park, Hyde Park) and take a walking break. The cost is £2 for a 24 hour period, and you need to return the bike to a docking station every 30 minutes. The stations are everywhere, so don’t worry about not being able to find one. If you see the little red light, meaning that the bike is out of order, be patient and wait it out. People return bikes all the time so you won’t be left without one!
- Ice Cream: It is just SO good.
- The Pub: Obviously, it doesn’t get more British than this. Do some research and ask the locals for suggestions, as you might be disappointed if you go into just any pub.
- London Bridge: This neighborhood is just a hop from Tower Hill, where we stayed. Prepare to make your way through the tourists, check out the Tower Bridge, and then walk across it to this adorable little area of restaurants, shops, pubs, and craft beer and wine shops.
- Borough Market: After a stroll through London Bridge, make your way along the bank to Borough Market, where you’ll you’ll likely encounter more mobs, but also a huge selection of cheeses, meats, juices, international foods, breads, and you guessed it: beer. Try some samples and get your lunch here.
- Sit on the top front of a double decker bus: If you can get a seat, it’ll be worth it. This is my favorite way to get around London. Watching the bus weave seamlessly through narrow streets as the city passes me by is fascinating.
- Walk: When you can walk, do it. This is a good way to see the spots you don’t want to miss (museums, Trafalgar Square, Westminster, The Big Ben, the parks, etc.) and the little streets in between. It’ll help balance out the experience and make it feel more genuine when you don’t have much time to branch out.
- Interact with the locals: Don’t be shy and chat up the bartender. I’ve found Londoners to be very nice and cheerful, and they’re your best resource for finding great food, bars, activities, etc.