So you are going to London! Lucky for you we have spent time finding the best this metropolitan city has to offer so that you easily can too. It is such an expansive city it can be tempting to want to try to do and see it all but alas it is impossible. Fortunately, the upside is that it does offer something for everyone so here are the things we loved best for you to focus your adventures on.
First things first we were sure to get an Oyster Card! London’s underground rail system called The Tube is one of the best in the world and allowed us to reach all of the locations across the city that we wanted to. We were able to keep the card and refill over the course of our adventures needing only to take the occasional black cab when absolutely necessary.
Once our transportation was secure, we headed right to the London Eye. The line was about 45 minutes, but we did not want to purchase a ticket in advance as the weather in London can change drastically very quickly. It resides on the South Bank of the Thames so it can be a good time to also hit up the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace and Big Ben before or after depending on what time you prefer to catch the views from the Eye. We happened to catch the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace beforehand which was so fun to pass by at the right time but if it is something high up on your to do list you can check when it happens each day. The wait for The Eye was worth it as the slow and steady rise lasts a good 30 minutes with the most breathtaking and unobstructed views of the whole city. We were able to take some of our favorite pictures from here! Afterwards we took a walk through the South Bank as it is a beautiful tree lined stroll along the river full of many historic pubs and restaurants that made us feel truly in the heart of London.
One of the things we were most excited to explore were the markets we had heard so much about. Borough Market is located right next to The Shard and it was easy for us to spend a few hours taking in all of the choices of food and drink in a space that has existed for centuries. Any food we could have imagined was available here and everything we tried was delicious. We also took some time to explore the street markets of Camden Town. This was a bustling space also full of many incredible food stalls while in addition offering clothing, art, music, and crafts with each section catering to a different style. While we enjoyed exploring the differences between each area you can always find and stick to the type of style that best suits you. Although we love the energy of the markets we also enjoyed doing some of our shopping in Shoreditch. We found quirky vintage and gift shops for souvenirs to take back for our loved ones and the more high end brands specific to London. After we shopped til we dropped we treated ourselves to a craft cocktail at speakeasy Lounge Bohemia. It was nice reprieve from the classic pubs we had been frequenting. If you know where to look the city is filled with hidden gems of underground bars to discover and this one takes the cake.
When exploring London’s West End we made sure to check out Covent Garden. We loved making a fun game out of trying to find all of the hidden noses and ears scattered about the beautiful architecture. Somerset house is a gorgeous historic palace that often offers fun events such as screenings and concerts combining the ancient and modern so well just as London is known for. If you have the time the Royal Ballet and Royal Opera perform nearby at The Royal Opera House and it will undoubtedly be a memorable London experience.
As we mentioned we found that just as important as many of these other sites to the London experience is pub culture. We found them on every corner and even came to have a few that we favorited for a pint or some chips when we needed a rest. However, even more essential was finding a pub and enjoying a traditional and delicious Sunday roast there. This is central to the British culture and is a meal that is sure not to disappoint. While this can be found at most classic pubs on Sundays we had an incredible meal at The Holly Bush after a day of walking through Hampstead Heath. This a sprawling green space that we absolutely adored wandering through. We couldn’t believe our luck when we discovered there are three ponds available for swimming! We chose the mixed pond so that we could swim together but if you prefer there are also one for only men and only women. We found the trails to be easy and some of the views we stumbled upon were magical. Our day at Hampstead Heath was a surprise of wonders to be sure.
London is host to an incredible selection of museums. We were delighted to find that many of them are even free! We recommend Tate Modern, The National Gallery, Science Museum and The British Museum to spend days soaking up all of the British history, culture, and art. As always we are sure to check the times that museums are open and closed to avoid any disappointments in our daily travel plans. Tate Modern was our favorite as it is one of the largest modern art museums in the world. The exhibits were both interactive and classic and even being inside the building felt like it’s own installation. However, there is truly a museum experience for everyone in this urban center of history.
Overall remember that in London they use British pound, drive on the left side of the road, when in doubt find the closest pub and of course be sure to pack your brolly (umbrella)! All of this in mind you are sure to have the time of your life in this bustling hub of European culture.