London baby!!! There is so much to do and see here that its hard to know where to even begin! I’ve been here a couple times and it’s somewhere I never tire of. If you’re planning a weekend away to this capital city then check out the list below.
You can fly into London City Airport, Stansted, Heathrow or Gatwick. There are thousands of flight in and out of London daily with over 1400 flights landing in Heathrow airport alone each day. Websites like Tripadvisor and Skyscanner are excellent for getting the cheapest possible flight.
When picking a flight into London consider the distance from the center of London to the airport:
- Heathrow is the closest airport to London city center. You can get the tube into Piccadilly Circus every 10 mins or grab the Heathrow Express from Paddington Station to the airport for £5.50. This will take 15 mins.
- From Stansted airport, hop on the Stansted Express for £7 and get to Liverpool station in 47 mins. Alternatively, you can catch the bus from the airport for £8 to Liverpool street.
- From Gatwick airport you can get the Gatwick Express train which will bring you to Victoria Station in 30 mins. Buses also run from the airport to Victoria Street every 10 mins daily.
Where do I Stay?!
Where you stay in London will entirely depend on your budget. There are plenty of hotels in the city center such as The Z Hotel Soho, Hotel Café Royal or The Citadines Trafalgar Square however, many of these will be well out of our price range. There are also plenty of more affordable hotel chains like Holiday Inn, Travelodge and Premier Inn. The great thing about London is that the underground makes it so quick and easy to get around meaning you can easily get a cheaper Bed and Breakfast or Airbnb outside the city center without having to spend too much of your trip commuting.
With 11 lines serving 270 stations the London Underground (Tube) is not only the oldest underground rail network in the world but it is also the most effective way to get around the city. The trains typically arrive every few minutes and operate from approx. 5am until midnight Monday to Saturday
I would recommend getting an Oyster card when you go here. This is a travel card that can be topped up and is used on the tube, buses, overground rail and docklands light rail. If you are staying for several days in London it could be worth getting a 7 day pass on your oyster card in order to save money. London is split into zones with most attractions and hotels being in Zone 1 and Zone 2. A breakdown of the fare prices and daily caps can be found below:
There is no shortage of buses and black cabs around that you can also use to get around. Alternatively download the Uber app to get cheaper taxi rates throughout the center.
The Tourist Attractions
Finally arrived but not sure where to start? Then here are my recommendations for your ultimate tourist trip around the city:
Camden is one of the most popular areas of London. It’s situated by the canal its full of alternative shops, restaurants and bars for you to enjoy. It’s also home to Camden Market which is open daily from 10am until late. The market is crammed full of independent unique shops and cafés and quite literally has something for everyone.
Oxford is made up of over 2km’s of highstreet shops such as Primark, Topshop and River Island. There are also plenty of places to grab a drink and some lunch. From here you can easily get to the West End for a show.
This is the intersection of Westminster and the West End. It’s bright, full of lights and bustling with tourists any time of the day or night. From here you head to Oxford Circus for some shopping to Chinatown or towards Trafalgar Square
Here you can see Nelson’s column which was built in 1843 and commemorates Admiral Horatio Nelson who defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Trafalgar. Also stop and check out St. Martin-in-the-Fields which is considered the official parish church for Buckingham Palace. You can also visit the National Gallery which is one of the most visited art galleries in the world.
London Eye is one of the most popular attractions in the city. It opens daily from 10am until 8:30pm and gets 3.5 million visitors per year. Adult tickets start from £25 for a standard ticket. The average wait time is 45mins however it can be over 2 hours on busy days. Last time I went was at the weekend at Christmas and the queue was a couple hours so we opted to get the £34 fast track ticket instead.
Harry Potter Film Studios
It wouldn’t be a trip to the UK without incorporating Harry Potter. After filming wrapped on the Deathly Hollows Part 2 the Studio Tour was opened to allow fans to experience the movie sets, props and costumes from the iconic series. On this tour you’ll get the opportunity to walk around the Forbidden Forest, Great Hall and Diagon Alley. You can see Platform 9 ¾ and Hogwarts Express as well as huge collections of props saved from filming; memory vials, potions, quidditch jerseys, Buckbeak, the Whomping Willow and more. There are a range of tours you can avail of including The Making of Harry Potter Guided Tour (£139pp) which includes transfers to and from the studio, a fully guided tour around the sets and access to exclusive areas. Alternatively you can get the Warner Brothers Studio Tour which includes a guided tour and transfers for £80.
Big Ben and Westminster
Big Ben is one of the most iconic landmarks in London. The name actually refers to the bell housed inside the clock tower which weighs over 13,000kg. At 96 meters the clock tower is a big tourist attraction, unfortunately you can’t get access to the tower unless you are a UK resident. Just around the corner from Big Ben is Westminster Abbey which attracts over 1 million tourists each year. Its £20 for an adult tour inside the abbey which takes approx. an hour.
Stretching over 35 acres Hyde Park is one of the largest city parks in the world. This is a great place to spend a few hours. You can go swimming, boating, cycling or walking. There are plenty of playgrounds and tennis courts and two lakeside restaurants. In winter Hyde Park is transformed into Winter Wonderland and is full of food trucks, amusements, arcades and a large funfair.
It wouldn’t be a trip to London without popping into see how the Royal family is! During the summer months you can get a guided tour of the ornately decorated 19 state rooms in the palace for £24 per adult. You can also arrange to view the famous changing of the guard. Each day at 10:45am the guards and bands begin arriving with the official change taking place at 11am. The entire ceremony lasts approx. 45mins. As the guards move throughout the palace courtyard there is no one position to view the entire ceremony however some recommended viewing points include Buckingham Palace Gates, The Wellington Barracks and The Victoria Memorial. The days and times of the changing of the guard vary and its best to check out changing-guard.com beforehand.
There is no shortage of incredible places to wine and dine here. Meat lovers head to STK or The Hinds Head for a classic English pub dinner. If you’re after seafood try Fancy Crab or Sumosan Twiga. There are also some really unusual places to grab a bite to eat; Bel Canto serves French food delivered by waiters who sing opera! Circus breaks up course with cabaret and circus performers on your table. If you want something the other end of the spectrum you could try Dans le Noir where the entire meal takes place in the dark and the food is served to you by blindfolded servers. Finally if there’s one thing that the English do really well it’s the humble crisp – head to HipChips where you can dip your sweet or savory crisp into incredible dips like katsu curry and smoky cheese fondue or cheesecake and salted caramel!
If you’re looking for a late night, head to Soho where there are plenty of bars like Bar Soho. This is also where the Pride in London festival takes place each year and there are some great gay clubs and bars including Ku Bar and the Admiral Duncan.
Lights, Cameras, West End!
With 40 different theatres there is quite literally something for everyone in the West End. The cast, quality and production of every show I’ve seen here is second to none. Some of the most popular shows include Wicked, Matilda, The Phantom of the Opera and Mamma Mia. I’ve seen Kinky Boots, The Lion King, Miss Saigon and Hairspray and every single one of them has been utterly captivating. The two biggest shows currently on my bucket list are The Book of Mormon and Harry Potter and The Cursed Child. Tickets for west end shows start from around 30 pounds and it is absolutely something that the entire family can enjoy.
…And Finally for Something Completely Different
There’s always something going on in London. On one of my trips to London I went with Richie and his brothers to see the semi-final of the Darts World Championship 2016. Darts were a Christmas staple in both of our houses and we always commented each year that it looked like such a laugh. Finally we all bit the bullet and decided to buy tickets. If you’ve ever watched the darts and had the same thought as us I couldn’t recommend it enough! We all went in fancy dress, got a table and drank A LOT. Such a great night and I would absolutely go again in a heartbeat.
There are some great upcoming concerts in London this year including Childish Gambino (24 & 25 March), Eric Clapton (13, 15 & 16 May), The Beach Boys (24 & 25 June) and for all you 90’s babies Spice Girls (13 June). Why not get tickets to a gig and make a full weekend out of it.