In my opinion, the most livable city in the world outside of the U.S.: LONDON TOWN BABY.
For starters, YES THIS CITY IS DEFINITELY WORTH VISITING.
As a plus: London is probably one of the cheapest cities to fly into and out of when it comes to getting to Europe from America (or anywhere else probably lol). In order to save money I normally start my trips here and then make my way around Europe.
Flights from London to other cities in Europe cost less than a T-shirt from H&M.
How To Get Around:
For transport: you take the underground EVERYWHERE. It’s so easy to use and it’ll be your best friend. Plug wherever you are heading into google maps and the underground route will tell you exactly where to go. You’ll get the hang of it. It’s the most cost-efficient way to get around. Uber is another option if I’m desperate, but 99.9% of the time you’ll catch me on the Tube. You can get individual tickets, but I think the best way is to get the Oyster card and just “top up” when you run out of money. I do like 10-15 pound increments on mine.
I have a lot of friends in London so I’ve been to the city a quarter of a million times. My perspective of London will hopefully provide touristy insight, but also maybe a little local insight as well.
How Many Days?
If it is your first time in London I would say about 3-4 full days here if you are pressed for time. More if you can afford it; I just love this city. Preferably over a weekend since its got amazing nightlife and Sundays are my favorite day of the week here.
Things to Do:
All the touristy sites are pretty much in the same area (around Piccadilly). You MUST see the Westminster Abbey if you have not been. It’s where the royal weddings are held and it’s just really cool to see. I was in there for literally 4 hours. Do the audio tour; lots of history.
Buckingham Palace is around the bend from here. Obviously you (usually) can’t go inside, but it’s nice to stop by and take a look.
Tower of London is also pretty cool to visit and take a tour of the fort. I quite enjoyed it for a little bit of history in the city. Now, as far as London Bridge goes; it is unfortunately just a bridge. I know; shocking. Nothing to see here.
Big Ben, currently as of 1/10/2020 is under construction, so you may not be able to see it. It’s supposed to be completed in 2021 but you can still see the Parliament building it’s attached too. To be honest, it’s not that cool anyways so you aren’t missing much. It’s more of a walk by it, see it, keep walking type of thing.
There’s also the London Eye…I think this is SO TOURISTY AND SO OVERPRICED. I AM GONNA PASS.
PERSONALLY, I would not recommend it. Save your money and go grab a drink at The Shard. You can see all of London from a better view and it’s great vibes (pricey drinks though, but worth it for the view to have one espresso martini).
Another thing I don’t recommend is HARROD’s tea. I know, I’m sorry but it’s just so touristy to get tea here and it’s SO expensive. Use your money elsewhere than having tea in a mall.
Trafalagar Square is probably the “main” touristy square in London. Right in the center of Piccadilly. Lots of shopping and museums and fountains around here. I love it, I think it’s so pretty.
Up the road is Piccadilly Circus which may or may not be the busiest are of London. LOTS of typical shopping, street performers, cafes, etc. Personally this area is a little too touristy for me but it’s easy access to Buckingham, Trafalgar, Carnaby Street, the Abbey, Big Ben, etc.
Oxford Street and Regent Street are RIGHT here. They’re all connected. It’s the big white buildings that go down a curved street. You’ve seen it in typical “London” pictures. Very pretty. The main shopping streets of London. Take a walk around here.
Carnaby Street is right around Piccadilly area and is a cute little shopping street with lights hanging from the buildings and has a lot of restaurants! Walk around this area, it’s one of my favorites in London.
Camden Markets is another area you can go that may be more “local” I suppose. It’s a little bit further away but worth the trek on the underground. Bunch of trendy, hipster markets. A LOT OF THEM. Amazing food stalls too. It’s like a maze of markets and food stalls. I love this area.
Shoreditch is another area you can go. I love this area; it’s the “hipster” neighborhood of London. I love the Spitalfields Market here. Great food, great shops, great vibes. I’d say go here for lunch one day and pick a stall. Also, Brick Lane is here and every Sunday they have a street market here ALL DAY. If you are here on a Sunday I would definitely recommend going! Overall, Shoreditch is just a really cool area to walk around. It’s like walking around Urban Outfitters but it’s a neighborhood; what an analogy.
WHAT NOT TO DO:
Now, I know that a lot of people go to London to get that photo of them on Abbey Road….Ugh, kills me. I was so excited to go and was so disappointed. First of all, it’s like an hour from anything in London in a residential suburbia area. You get off the tube and it’s literally just suburban homes. Then you get there and it’s literally just a crosswalk…with a line of people waiting to do the exact same thing you came to do. I DO NOT recommend this. WASTE OF TIME. Don’t go.
London is known for their PARKS; big, gorgeous parks. If you are here in the summer I recommend going to Regent’s Park and having a picnic. In London (and all of Europe) there are no open container laws. So, grab some #whiteclaws or a bottle of wine and a crate of beers and head to the park and enjoy. I love Regent’s Park. I think it’s the prettiest one. This is what people do in the summer in London, it’s so much fun. Hyde Park is nice to walk around as well! You can see the Marble Arch in Hyde Park. It’s a really nice walk. I would definitely recommend a stroll here.
Kensington is another typical area of London that people generally know about. It’s the rich area with all the pretty white houses. The Notting Hill district in Kensington is my favorite area. They have Portobello Rd, which has a bunch of pretty pastel colored house. INSTAGRAM OPPORTUNITY. The Portobello Road Market is also here, which is great. Open everyday except Sundays, but Saturday is the main day and I recommend going then. Pubs everywhere, so shop and drink, drink and shop, repeat.
As I said, Sunday is my favorite day in London. For one, all the markets are out to play, but also it’s ROAST DAY. The British get Thanksgiving once a week and it’s unreal. Roasted meat, roast potato, mash potato, Yorkshire pudding (WHICH IS UNREAL), stuffing, bread, vegetables and gravy. The whole nine yards. The best place for it is Duke of Wellington in my opinion. I recommend probably making a reservation just in case. Go drink some Pimm’s (basically a British spritz) and eat! There’s a really good Duke of Wellington in Notting Hill, then after you can walk to Portobello Market…
Covent Garden and Leicester Square are also great (and a little less touristy and busy than Piccadilly, in my opinion). Awesome areas for shopping and exploring. I recommend going to walk around here. Bop in and out of stores and just take in London. Love both of these areas.
London has GREAT broadway and pretty much all of it is in Leicester Square. If you can swing it, go see a Broadway show! It won’t disappoint.
SOHO is the place for nightlife in my opinion. It’s like the classy “red light district” of London. It’s amazing. Whether you want live music, clubs, speakeasys, gay bars, etc. You can find it in SOHO. It’s also walking distance to pretty much anything. This area is just buzzing: shopping, music, great food, nightlife. Probably my favorite area of London. If you are here for food go to La Bodega Negra; great tacos and drinks and amazing ambiance. DOZO Ramen is here as well and I promise you that you will NEVER have better ramen in your life. GO HERE. Hoppers is also here! You may have never heard of Sri Lankan food, but it WILL. NOT. DISAPPOINT. YOU. Guaranteed there will more than likely be a line, but wait in it; it’s worth it. Or make a res.
SOHO is just the best well-rounded best place in London. Love it.
The final site that I think is worth seeing once is St. Paul’s Cathedral. It. Is. Massive. Go walk around. It’s beautiful
- WHERE TO STAY: There’s SO many places to stay in London. The most important factor is location. I recommend staying near Leicester Square or SOHO area. I think it’s best and easily accessible to all other things. I always stay with friends so unfortunately have no recs. on hostels here. Hostelworld or Booking.com are my go-to’s.
- TIME SPENT: 3-4 FULL days…minimum
- WHAT I WOULD CHANGE: Nothing. If you have questions on London I’m your girl.
- Ministry of Sound: this place is too young for me. It’s a CLUB CLUB. As in night club; I’m more of a bar gal myself. So if that’s your vibe then have at it.
- The Shard: This place has an incredible view of the entire city. The drinks are pricey but the view is worth it. It’s a classy place where you can grab an espresso martini and enjoy the view.
- Mr. Fogg’s: Really cool bar with multiple locations. “Old-time” British pub. Grab a couple pints here! Really cool and crazily presented cocktails here as well. They have a live band sometimes too! You can get Pub food here as well.
- Old French House: Old time British Pub. I love it here. Cool one in SOHO. Grabs some pints here!
- Aqua Nueva: really cool rooftop with great views of the city. Spanish restaurant! Go here at night!
- Archer Street!!: I LOVE this place. It’s SO fun and gets pretty rowdy. There’s a cool basement as well. This is in Soho. Highly recommend a night out here.
- DOZO Ramen: You will never have better ramen. Promise you
- La Bodega Negra: Great tacos and cocktails in a trendy atmosphere. Dinner and drinks place.
- Camden Markets: Lots of good food stalls for a quick lunch.
- Spitalfields Markets: Good food stalls for lunch!
- Duke of Wellington: Go Sunday for a Roast!! The one in Notting Hill is good vibes.
- The Ivy Chelsea Garden: Good for brunch or lunch and to eat outside!
- Da Mario: This is in Kensington. The bread, the Italian food, I have no words. I am not one for Italian if it’s not from Italy (snobby bitch) but wow this is worth a visit. There will be a line but wait in it.
- Dishoom: I never liked Indian food until I went here. It’s a chain in London, but it’s SO good. Super reasonable prices. I love the one in Kensington, there’s a good one in Shoreditch too.
- Sexy Fish: great sushi, cool atmosphere, and a cool bar area too.
- MUST SEE:
- Westminster Abbey: Where the Royal Weddings are held. A ton of history here. I loved it. Do the audio guide and walk around.
- St. Paul’s Cathedral: Massive and really beautiful church. I would take the time to see it. You can go to the top for a great view of the city.
- Big Ben: I guess…The “must see” part is going to be walking along the other side of the river to get the view. There’s some cool places to stop for a pint along the river and just chill. This is really nice; highly recommend.
- SOHO: LOVE THIS AREA. Go to dinner here, shop here, walk around, go out to the bars here. I love it. Lots of shopping, lots of amazing restaurants.
- Covent Garden: no cars allowed here so you can literally just walk around and shop and stop at cafes and people watch. I love walking around here.
- Leicester Square: The home of Broadway! I love the Broadway in London so if you can swing it then definitely go see one, but if not this area is still great to wander around.
- Tower of London: If you are looking for a little history it’s going to be here. Take an audio guide and walk around it’s pretty cool.
- Kensington: Portobello Road Market, Notting Hill, those pretty white rich houses that you think of when you think of London. Yeah those are here. Love the Portobello Rd Market. Go on Saturday!
- Hyde Park and Regent’s Park: Beautiful parks that are MASSIVE. Go for a run, bike ride, or just stroll through them. If you are going in the summer time grab a bottle of wine and go have a picnic; everyone’s doing it…
- Camden Markets: Hipster area with never-ending mazes of shopping stalls with vintage clothing, jewelry, bags, quirky items, etc. So much fun to walk around all the stalls and they have amazing food as well. Have lunch here and go wander.
- Carnaby Street: Walking distance from Piccadilly near all the action. Cute little side street with lights hanging from above and lots of pubs, shops, and restaurants. This is a great place to go on the weekend or around 6pm when people get off work and head to the pubs.
- Oxford Street and Regent Street: The main shopping streets of London!
- Trafalagar Square: I love this square. It’s beautiful with a huge fountain in the middle and a museum. Easy access walking distance to other sites. Worth a visit, but it won’t take you more than 20 min to see it. It’s just a big pretty square. Regardless, I love it.
- Buckingham Palace: Self-explanatory, walk up, take a picture, stare a little bit, and then you keep walking. It’s big and beautiful and definitely a must see but once again you won’t spend more than 20 min here.
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