London Travel Guide
Updated: Dec 8, 2018
England is one of my favorite countries in the world! I always say, if I had the choice, I would live in a small sheep town that ended in "shire." That's how much I love England! London was our first stop on a two week European tour so you know we did all the touristy stuff people do. I definitely recommend this place as a first international trip if you have never left your home country! So sit back, grab a pint (as the English say) and enjoy this London Travel Guide:
So Yolanda and I arrived the evening before at like 7 PM at Gatwick Airport after flying WOW Airlines. Now here is a fun fact about Gatwick, it is about 45 minutes from London proper. So you have two CHEAP options:
Both are great and cheap options to get you to London, we took Thameslink and it cost us about $18! Theres no need to pre-purchase tickets; we bought the tickets after we landed at the money exchange counter. This train takes you to Victoria Station which is one of the central stations in London. Once you get there, you can take the underground (the Tube) or a double-decker bus to your hotel/hostel/Airbnb or walk.
We got to our adorable AirBnb in the Pimlico area of the city. Click here to get $40 off your first stay!
1. Breakfast at Regency Cafe
The next morning, i.e. Friday, we go to by far the BEST and CHEAPEST ($7) place to get an english breakfast. I don't even tell you guys the name because I don't want it to get popular, but its called Regency Cafe.
Ya'll this breakfast; changed me for the better. I got two eggs, bacon, sausage, baked beans, and black pudding (a.k.a blood sausage). It was pure bliss. This place wasn't at all fancy in the slightest, I mean, this place doesn't even have a bathroom (I kid you not). Start your day right and go to Regency!
2. Westminster Cathedral
After gorging ourselves at breakfast, we started our walk towards Westminster Cathedral. Just the walk getting to the Cathedral, was awe inspiring. Now mind you, I'm an Art History minor so I LOVE this stuff, but even if you're not I highly recommend walking in the area so you can enjoy the architecture. It's free to go inside!
The interior of the cathedral is just beautiful! If you're into Christian architecture and iconography, you'll fall in love. If you're not, you'll just appreciate the beauty of the entire thing!
3. Red Phone Booth
So now, we are just strolling along, and what do we see? The most quintessential London thing to see: a telephone booth!
These are everywhere so if you don't get your picture at first or its filled with people taking their own photos, just walk 50 more feet and I guarantee you'll find another one.
4. Westminster Abbey
After spending 20 minutes posing with that telephone booth, you can walk 10 minutes further to Westminster Abbey. A portion of it was under construction, but that did not take away from the beauty of the Abbey.
Westminster Abbey isn't free to enter, and the lines fill up fast! So if you want to go I would suggest buying tickets before you go or getting there early to beat the line.
We didn't go inside because it was around 8 AM by the time we got there, and they didn't open until 9:30 AM. I had already been there before so it wasn't something I was dying to see on the inside, and Yolanda didn't care either way.
5. Big Ben and Parliament
Around the corner from Westminster is Big Ben and Parliament. Sadly, this was totally under construction until 2021, so all you can see is the clock face. Fun fact, Big Ben is the name of the bell that rings everyone, not the actual bell tower itself!
Attached to Big Ben, is Parliament. Formally known as the Palace of Westminster, it is here where both houses of Parliament (U.S. Congress equivalent), the House of Lords and House of Commons meet. The inside itself is beautiful, but we didn't go inside. If you get the chance, I would definitely recommend doing the hour long tour.
Parliament, for the most part sits on the River Thames. One of the many bridges that cross the Thames, is Westminster Bridge.
6. London Eye and Scotland Yard
Depending on which side you stand on, and where you're facing, you can see the London Eye. It's a giant enclosed ferris wheel, that spins REALLY REALLY SLOWLY. You can get a birds eye view of London, and one of the best views of the City in my opinion. If you decide to go make sure you get your tickets in advance!
As you are moseying along, there is a good chance that you'll pass by The Scotland Yard. Okay nerd moment: Agatha Christie (world's best author, don't fight me on this) talks about Scotland Yard all the time in her Hercule Poirot novel's so I was losing my mind when I saw it in person. Okay, nerd moment over.
In all reality, this building is just the police station, but it was still super cool nonetheless.
By this point we are making our way to Buckingham Palace. We pass by the Ministry of Defense, and on either side of the entrance, there is a silhouette of a soldier with a single red flower, and it was truly something that was so simple but so powerful.
7. Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace is just as beautiful as I remember it! Unfortunately you can't take photos inside of the Palace, so here are some photos of Yolanda and I in front of the gate before the Marching of the Royal Gard:
These next two photos are what happens when you ask someone to take your photo! Sometimes, you're super lucky and sometimes you get these:
8. National Gallery
After spending about an hour at Buckingham Palace, I highly recommend heading over to the National Gallery! We went because I'm obsessed with art and museums; I think going to a museum is a great way to learn about a culture's history! Here a couple of my favorite pieces from that day!
After spending a few hours in the Museum, theres a good chance you'll be walking down the Mall. The Mall is a long road that runs from Buckingham Palace to Trafalgar Square. It is a beautiful place to get instaworthy London shots!
Along the way, I saw some amazing street art by Nathan Bowen (follow him on instagram at @nathanbowenart).
9. Tower Bridge and Tower of London
One of the most iconic images of London, is Tower Bridge. It is often confused with London Bridge, which is a few minutes away. What makes Tower Bridge cool is the fact that you can go up its twin towers and get another great view of the city. I did't go up, I just walked across the bridge.
This 900 year castle has been used for many things, like a fortress, palace and even housing. But it is most famously known for being a prison where many who went against the crown would eventually meet their fate. Three queen's England met their fate in the Tower: Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard and Jane Grey (fun English facts, I know!)
10. Shakespeare's Globe Theatre
And last but not least on my fun England list is visiting Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. This is one of those things, that not too many want to see, but I think everyone should go and see it, since there is a 99% chance you had to read some Shakespeare story while in High School.
The theatre is a reconstruction of the original Globe Theatre. What's super cool about this theatre that it was made the EXACT same way that the original theatre was made, using old manuscripts as a description of how to build it. Because of this and safety, it can only old 1400 people at a time as opposed to during Shakespeare's time of 3000.
The blue hues of the ceiling are awe inspiring and so beautiful! I would have loved to see a show! If you want to, check out show times here! If you can't see a show I highly recommend touring the theatre, it was about $20!
The best and easiest way to get around London is WALKING! I love walking around cities because I feel you can stop at any moment and just admire what you're looking at! Also, it helps that London is a pretty walkable city! I would recommend getting the Oyster card, which you can get shipped to you beforehand or just get one once you land! Fares are really cheap and you can reload at any main station!
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit is truly any time! London in the summer of 2018 was hot as all god given sin! But what's great and not so great about English weather is that you can truly experience all four seasons in a day! I recommend to always check the weather before you travel, and bring an umbrella regardless of what the weather says!
Where to Stay
Being that London is a major city, it can get pretty expensive, especially if you are traveling on a budget! I would recommend staying at an Airbnb (use this link to get $40 off!!). This is the one we stayed at. It was super cheap and a quick walk/bus ride to the city center.
You can also stay in a hostel or if you're truly balling a hotel!
Cool Places Outside London
My favorite day trip was going to visit Stonehenge with City Wonders! We also got the chance to see the Ancient Roman City of Bath as well as the cute town of Lacock! It was a full day trip that cost $117 and I highly recommend if you don't want to drive to Salisbury, to do the tour through them! Check out that blog post here!
And there you have it folks! I hope this travel guide was helpful! Is there anything I missed that you think should be on this list or any other recommendations? Comment below travel family!
Until next time! Happy travels!