I’ll be honest, I did not think I’d like London. For some reason, I had this notion that London was this rainy, overcast, gloomy place where the only thing colder than the weather were the people (horrible, I know, but just being truthful). BOY WAS I WRONG. London is this amazingly beautiful, clean, vibrant city where the sun does shine and the people are some of the friendliest I’ve encountered in the world! My husband actually proposed in England so of course it now holds an even more special place in my heart. I absolutely love London now and I know you will too—here’s my list of the top things you should do in London!
B U C K I N G H A M P A L A C E
I mean, duh. Especially if you’re American like me and don’t fully comprehend the notion of a monarchy, everything royal in England is a must-see. We went a few times just because it’s amazing every single time, and our favorite time was right as the sun was setting and all the tourists (except us) had finally gotten bored and left. It was quiet and uncrowded and the beautiful golden hour light was so peaceful. Hyde Park is right on the way—I’d recommend taking a stroll through the park to or from the palace, you’ll enjoy it!
T R A F A L G A R S Q U A R E + P I C C A D I L L Y C I R C U S
These are some of those types of city hubs where there’s a million things to see and do (and eat!). The enormous lion statues are super cool and the fountain is really romantic (we even witnessed a proposal there!). The entrance to The National Gallery (beautiful art museum) is right there and it’s FREE. Definitely worth stopping in. I could’ve sat in the square and soaked up the sights all day. Don’t forget the tons of stores and restaurants to visit, too.
T A T E M O D E R N
Speaking of museums…YOU HAVE TO GO. It’s also free (ok, America, can we learn from this?) and the art in there is amazing, hypnotizing, compelling, earth-shattering. Loved, loved, loved Tate Modern. I went a few times and still didn’t finish scouring the museum.
L O N D O N E Y E
A little more on the mainstream fun side, I will say the view from London Eye is pretty incredible. It was a little pricier than I expected and the ride was not long at all, but it’s one of those things that you just have to do if you’re in the city (kind of like climbing to the top of the Eiffel Tower).
N O T T I N G H I L L
Notting Hill did not disappoint—it’s so colorful and lovely and the Portobello Road Market is just a walk down the street. Portobello Market is an enormous outdoor antiques market (Portobello Road is shut down for the market-goers to walk around in peace without fear of being hit by a car!) with simply amazing historical artifacts and cool items for sale. We took the tube from London to Notting Hill and explored the area. Such a unique experience!
K I N G ‘ S C R O S S S T A T I O N
Harry Potter fans, rejoice—Platform 9 3/4 exists! I totally nerded out with this and I am not ashamed to admit it! Beware of the line though—I can tell you I definitely was NOT the only Harry Potter fan in London as I had to wait in line for 45 minutes to take the picture (don’t judge lol). Your best bet will be to get there either really early in the day or really late (mid-morning/afternoon is impossible).
W E S T M I N S T E R A B B E Y
Ok, I am not the kind of person who loves going to churches and admiring the architecture…boooring. I will say, though, Westminster Abbey is very pretty. Plus, it’s super close to Big Ben so you can hit two birds with one stone (I’m not even bothering to write about Big Ben as it’s been under construction for the last year, as you can see from my aerial shot of the city from The London Eye earlier in my post).
R O M A N B A T H S
This one’s a little further out, but so cool to see if you have the time. About two hours west of London (and an easy and affordable train ride away), the city of Bath is famous for just that—fancy baths! I know it sounds lame and I’ll admit I was totally skeptical at first, but the ancient Roman baths are actually super amazing. The Roman baths form part of one of the oldest religious spas (still flowing with natural hot water from a thermal spring) and it was really interesting to learn about the ancient Roman influence on the British city.
Though you can’t swim in the ancient Roman baths anymore, you can still swim in the thermal waters of the natural spring at Thermae Bath Spa. More modern than the original, but still the same healing water! We did the couples’ spa and it was sublime. By the way, the city of Bath in general is totally worth a visit! I was expecting some dinky town in the middle of nowhere (no offense) and was met with a sophisticated and fashionable metropolis with amazing history and architecture (and lots of restaurants and shopping, of course!). The town of Bath is where my husband proposed (at Royal Victoria Park near the Royal Crescent) so we usually try to go back there when we’re in London.
R O Y A L C R E S C E N T
You cannot leave England without having high tea. First of all, it’s delicious, and it made me really appreciate the English tradition of taking some time in the afternoon to refresh and slow down. The tea, finger sandwiches, scones, and biscuits tied with the cliché but still British fish and chips (with beer!). There are plenty of places to have high tea in London (like the London Marriott Hotel overlooking the London Eye) but my favorite was at the Royal Crescent Luxury Hotel and Spa in Bath. You will love it, guaranteed!
R O Y A L H O R S E S H O W
We totally lucked out with this one—we had no idea this even existed! We happened to be going to see Windsor Castle on the day the Royal Horse Show was happening. We bought last minute tickets and had the most amazing night! The horse show is absolutely incredible and really, really fun (and the Queen always attends, usually in costume dressed up as someone else so no one recognizes her!). Such a unique and unforgettable experience.
So, basically, you will LOVE England! You definitely have to plan a trip and I hope my list of cool things helps you make the most of it.
Thanks for reading and keep on flying!
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