When London is Calling.
Every time I visit this fascinating city, I become a child again! I am walking in the streets of London always looking up, with my mouth open in admiration, like a 5-year-old girl full of wonder! Am I too small or is this city too big?
Well, to answer my first question, yes, I am too small. In addition, London is big! Coming from Athens, the biggest city of Greece, being here, I feel like I am coming from a little town. Indeed, that is the exact proportion! And in a city that is always busy, everything can happen! Even I can get bigger!
In London, there is plenty of everything, everywhere! For me, it has only two negatives: Firstly, you can never predict the weather. You may also experience all four seasons within a day. Secondly, London is too expensive! Way too expensive!
There are so many things to do in London that you have to visit the city again and again in order to see everything (and this never ends).
Samuel Johnson once said: “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford”. And it’s true.
Below you will find places to visit in London and some advices. I know it’s impossible to do everything within 5 or 7 days, but you will get the idea. For me, better choose what you want to do in London first and then have a mix and match from every category.
For example, visit the Changing Guard at the Buckingham Palace, go to Hyde Park and enjoy an afternoon tea. By night, choose a Theatre Play.
Next day, visit the British Museum, go to Westminster Abbey, take a picture at Thames River with the view of the Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster and enjoy a nice meal in the South Bank area.
Another day, visit the commercial streets around Oxford Circus, Regent Street and Bond Street, go to Harrods, the famous department store. By night, go for a drink at the Shard.
So here we go:
- Firstly, get an Oyster card so that you can travel on bus, tube, tram, DLR etc. Moreover, of course you need to download Citymapper, the best application for public transport, cycling, even walking! I would suggest to walk in distances that can be walked, if not, take the bus so you can look outside, and lastly I would think of the tube for more distant areas. I have this as a rule, so that I can see the most.
- In the United Kingdom, they drive on the left. So you have to keep in mind if you are coming from a country that drives on the right. The good news is that there are written signs on the roads telling you which way to look at.
- Watch out for the buses! They are way too crazy when they are driving! Always double check when crossing the roads!
- London is literally uploaded on the internet. (Ok, you know what I mean). There is absolutely nothing you can’t find online.
- Always check for discounts online wherever you go. Especially for tourist attractions, but for theaters as well.
- Be aware to check for pre-booking, as there might be a chance of sold out performances if you try last minute. (Especially if there are celebrities on stage, you might want to check for pre-booking even months before)
- If you run out of battery on your cell phone, it’s good to know that Starbucks (and other chain coffee places), have many plugs to charge your phone or your laptop. My personal favorite Starbucks was at Great Portland Street where they offer the (amazing) wireless charging system. (Yes, I am a little bit geeky so I get excited about stuff like this :P)
- Visit the Buckingham Palace and watch the 45-minute ceremony of Changing the Guard. It takes place daily at 11:30 from May to July. From January to March and weather permitting, the ceremony takes place between 10.15 – 11.45am on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Click here for more information
- Visit Westminster Abbey (there is an entrance ticket for Westminster Abbey) and St Paul’s Cathedral.
- Visit the Museums and the Art Galleries! British Museum, Science Museum, Museum of London, Natural History Museum, Tate Modern, The National Gallery of London, Victoria and Albert Museum… just to name the most important. (Check on their sites for entrance fees because by the time I am writing this, that is May 2016, most of the Museums have free entrance, But of course this might change, So, please always check on their sites).
- Visit the historic Royal Palaces in the Tower of London! It’s just beautiful! (There is an entrance ticket here, but totally worth it if you ask me).
- Take a walk along the river Thames. You will see the stunning view of the Big Ben, Palace of Westminster and the London Eye. Walk through the Tower Bridge (one of London’s famous landmarks – while you are there, you might also see the bascules to be raised. You can always check on their site, as there are specific timetables for this). The two other bridges close to the Tower Bridge on the west of the river are London Bridge and Millennium Bridge. Walk along the City Hall and if the weather is sunny; take a break for a drink or for a meal at South Bank area along the river.
- Cannot forget to include the famous squares such as Piccadilly Circus with the famous illuminated signs, Russel Square, Leicester Square with its famous cinema Odeon Leicester Square and Trafalgar Square where the National Gallery of London is there.
- Visit Madame Tussauds the famous wax museum.
- Don’t forget to visit Covent Garden Market, and take a walk around this popular shopping and tourist site that is also full of street performers and amazing arts and crafts.
Eating and Drinking:
- London is the culinary capital of the world, therefore; you can find all the cuisines of the world here. However, do not look up for your local cuisine! I am sure you won’t miss it for just a few days. Try something new! Try the English dishes to a pub, like fish and chips or a full English breakfast or Sunday Roast or Shepherd Pie etc. Something important for the pubs: It’s self-service. So do not wait for the waiter to come and take your order.
- Drink tea as a proper British! Try different tastes, experience yourself! Even if you don’t like drinking tea, I am sure that once you find your taste, you will love it!
- Near Bond Street, you will find St. Christopher’s Place. A small area full of pubs, restaurants, coffee places and delicate boutiques
- If you visit the famous international chain of bakery restaurants “Le Pain Quotidien” try the almond croissant! It is the best I have ever tasted.
- Around Halloween, I loved drinking nearly every day the Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks!
- One of my favourite pubs in London is Churchill Arms, located on Kensington Church Street. There are flowers everywhere! Outside, inside, EVERYWHERE! Depending on the season, different flowers are hanging in every possible corner of this amazing pub and Thai restaurant!
- Visit the Upper Street in Angel district for coffee shops, trendy bars and restaurants from all over the world! It is amazing!
- Enjoy a dinner or a cocktail at London’s highest and best view at the Shard skyscraper.
Things to do:
- Visit the parks! There are so many! Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens (you can also visit Kensington Palace), Holland Park, St. James Park, Green Park, Regent’s Park, only to name a few.
- Visit Sea Life London Aquarium and enjoy one of Europe’s largest collections of global marine life.
- Visit London Zoo at Regent’s Park
- Visit London Dungeon. A 90-minute theatrical story about the history and the legends of this city, by walking through the dungeon, from show to show that is guided by professional actors and special effects.
- Take a walk along the canal of stylish Little Venice borough. There also are many restaurants and pubs there.
- Go to a theater! London offers some of the world’s best theaters and West End Shows. You may choose from a wide range of London shows, musicals and theatre plays. Check here for more information.
- There are also many concert halls that are really interesting and worth paying a visit. Some of the most important are: 1. Royal Albert Hall. Especially if you are visiting during summer, you might want to check for The BBC Proms, an eight-week summer season of daily orchestral classical music concerts and other events held annually. 2. The O2 Arena holds a full capacity of 20,000 spectators and it is used as an entertainment venue showcasing the latest technology. 3. The historic entertainment venue, Alexandra Palace.
- Visit Sherlock Holmes Museum at 221B Bakery Street.
- If you are in London on November 5th, that is the Guy Fawkes Night, (also known as Bonfire night), try to join one of many celebrations with fireworks, bonfires and parades around the city.
- Watch a movie at The BFI London IMAX, the largest cinema screen in Britain.
- If the weather is good, visit the Royal Botanic Gardens at Richmond and see the world’s largest collection of living plants
- If you are visiting around the Christmas period (London can be very Christmas-y), don’t forget to visit Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park.
- Stroll around romantic Notting Hill and the Portobello Road Market which is famous for the antiques and collectibles. Take a picture outside The Blue Door. (280, Westbourne Park Road). If you have watched Notting Hill the movie, it’s the entrance to William Thacker’s flat.
- If you are a fan of Harry Potter movies, you can plan your visit at Warner Bros Studios Leavesden, the production home of Harry Potter. Visit their site for more information.
- For shopping, visit the famous department stores such as: Harrods, Selfridges, Westfield shopping centre, etc. and the commercial streets such as Oxford Street, Regent Street, Bond Street, Marylebone High Street, Carnaby Street, Piccadilly Street, Kensington High Street, Sloan Street for many of the world’s most famous brands in fashion.
- Visit Camden Lock Market at Camden Town. An alternative market that sells any type of goods such as fashion, books, food, junk/antiques and other unique items by artists and independent sellers.
- On Regent Street, you can find Hamleys, the oldest toy shop in the world and one of the world’s best-known retailers of toys. No matter your age, you have to visit it!
- Leadenhall Market at Gracechurch Street is also worth paying a visit, as it is one of the oldest markets of London.
- Visit Burlington Arcade at the luxury district of Mayfair and Duke of York Square at classy Chelsea,
- My personal favourite place to be is 7 Dials. A network of seven atmospheric streets that link Covent Garden and Soho.
More things to do:
- Visit Canary Wharf, one of the United Kingdom’s two financial centers (the other is the City of London). Canary Wharf is a new area full of skyscrapers, which many of them are Europe’s tallest buildings.
- Visit St Kathrin’s Docks! A beautiful yacht marine in the heart of London that is surrounded by many bars and pubs.
- Go to Greenwich Village, visit the National Maritime Museum, Cutty Shark, Queen’s House and The Royal Observatory, home of Greenwich Mean Time, and stand on the historic Prime Meridian of the World. More information can be found here.
- If you love “Black Books” TV Series as much as I do, you can visit the location of the shop used for the outdoor shots of Bernard Black store “Black Books” at 13 Leigh Street, Bloomsbury, WC1H 9EW. If you don’t know what I am talking about, just watch the show!
I believe I have covered some of the most well-known spots of the city. More posts will come about London and other facilities this amazing city can offer!
What are your favourite places in London? Until next time…
Hugs and kisses ♥
The pictures are from my recent trip to London.