Welcome to London! One of the most visited cities in the world and largest global influences. London is an amazing city to visit in England. The history of the English monarchy, some of most amazing minds of our time and more all reside in London. Get ready for an English tea time, put on your favorite football jersey and get ready to explore London at it’s finest.
Top 5 Things To Do
- Buckingham palace – There is a lot you can’t miss in London but you have to obviously visit where the queen lays her head! Make sure not to miss the changing of the guard ceremony. Get there early to make sure you have a good place to watch from as it does get very busy during this time.
- Westminster Abbey – The Gothic Abbey church, just a quick walk from Buckingham palace. Take the tour inside to see where some of the most amazing historical figures of England are buried along with where coronations occur.
- Darwin House – A short day trip out of London but a fantastic visit to look into the mind of Charles Darwin. Beautiful grounds and a lot of history behind the founder of the theory of evolution.
- Tower of London – Home to the crown jewels and a castle that has stood the test of time. So much history to see and hear within the castle. It’s a must to walk through in London and also has a wonderful view of the London bridge.
- Hampton court palace – The summer home of Henry VIII and you can see why. Luxurious palace that easily takes half a day to walk through but you won’t regret it! The gardens are amazing and there is also a lot of history to see within these walls.
- Stamford Bridge (Home of Chelsea FC)
- The British Museum
Our first trip to Europe had us visiting the main cities that are top on the list of places to first go on a European trip. We chose to first stop in London. London is the most visited city in the world, for good reason. There is so much to see and do in the area and right outside the city. Heathrow Airport in London is very accessible and easy to navigate through when you first land. I was actually surprised that it took longer to get into England through customs than it does in the US. I also probably didn’t help myself when I said that I was visiting my partners family outside the city and couldn’t tell them where I was going! The airport has plenty of locations for food and was also easy to transfer sim cards so that I didn’t have to use my international data plan. If you get a sim card here, you can also use it almost anywhere in Europe, which was very handy when we started traveling through the rest of the countries. The biggest thing initially that we had to get used to was everyone driving on the left side of the road. It was so strange to sit on the left side of a car and not drive. It took a bit to get used to but once we did, we were on our way!
Stamford Bridge: If you are a Chelsea fan than yes this is the place to go! If you obviously have another club in the premier league and they happen to be in London, then obviously change your choice. Sadly Chelsea was not playing that day we visited but I still wanted to see Stamford bridge. A lot of neat memorabilia in the area and plaques from some of the greatest to play for the blues. Obviously, if you have the chance to see a match, do this but if not, it’s a nice stop in town to see a part of history.
Harrods: Harrods was founded by Charles Henry Harrod in 1849 and is famous for being the store to sell it all. There was even a time that they sold exotic animals! Working in retail, it could be a little confusing as why I wanted to visit another retailer on my vacation. Harrods is what the Herald Square is to Macy’s. This amazing store takes up the block and has everything possible in it. From amazing coffee to chocolate to handbags to clothing, they have it all in a one stop shop. Spend some time in this beautiful location. Take a second to see the Princess Diana memorial in the middle to pay tribute to an amazing woman.
British Museum: A lot of controversy behind this museum. Often thought of as the British museum of thievery. A lot of artifacts within this museum were taken from countries through British invasions during the British empire and are still here. Be as it may, it’s one of the largest collections of ancient artifacts in existence and the first public museum in the world. As I have traveled to various countries after, it becomes a very familiar theme that a lot of artifacts around the world from ancient cultures from countries reside in England. It includes ancient marble from the Parthenon in Greece and the Rosetta Stone from Egypt. The museum is beautiful from an architectural standpoint and some amazing exhibits that you would think would surely be in their country of origin, but of course they aren’t. It’s a free museum along with all museums in England, but you can decide for yourself if you feel right on it or not.
As we finished our first day in London, I have to say that it’s a beautiful city with very friendly people. It was interesting to see the Middle Eastern influence in the city. As we made our way back to where we were staying in Crawley (outside the city) we stopped at a Starbucks. This was when the nitro coffee was first starting and I got a taste of it. I love nitro for anything. Very smooth flavor and it didn’t take away from the coffee taste.
- Buckingham Palace
- Westminster Abbey
- House of Parliament & Big Ben
- Tower of London
- Tower Bridge
- Emirates Stadium
*Buckingham Palace: We got up early the next day to experience a very busy day of sightseeing. We started out at Buckingham Palace and got to watch the changing of the guard. It’s very neat to watch the whole ceremony. There were a lot of people around to watch so you might be fighting over getting a good view of the ceremony. Obviously it’s a beautiful palace that is fit for a queen, Queen Elizabeth of course! You have the option to do a tour of the palace but it needs to be booked in advance. We had a pretty large itinerary for the day so we chose not to do the tour. This is one of the most famous houses that you will ever visit so take the time and enjoy a little bit of the English monarchy.
Westminster Abbey: Very close to the palace is Westminster Abbey. There are many amazing people that have been buried at the Abbey and royal weddings have taken place here for centuries. Since 1066 when William the conqueror was coronated, it’s been the sight of coronation every year after. Even though you will probably find yourself in a line to get in for a tour, it’s well worth it. The cathedral is absolutely stunning from the outside and in. Take your time and experience some of the most amazing history that London has to offer.
House of Parliament: Literally across the street from the Abbey is where all of the magic happens in England. The English government is very interesting coming from the United States. Both the House of Lords and the House of Commons meet here. What’s interesting is that you see two different parts to government in one building. On one side you have the House of Lords which are appointed mostly by heredity which includes the royal family, is in a separate part of the building. The House of Commons started in the 13th century and members for elected. Since 1942, the Queen is not allowed into the House of Commons. It’s very interesting history and it was wonderful to see the place where everything happens in this country.
Big Ben: The icon does England for a lot of people sits at the top of the tower of the House of Parliament. It was under heavy construction when we went so I didn’t get the overall feel but it’s a lovely bell tower that has a lot of history attached to it. A stop that everyone must have when they come to London.
Tower of London: we made our way across town and made it to the Tower of London. Take your time and walk through to see many iconic locations in the history of England. The tower has been used since 1066 and has even held many in prison, including Elizabeth I and Sir Walter Raleigh. A lot of history within these walls so take your time and spend at least a half of a day here if you can.
Tower Bridge: We didn’t walk across the bridge but had a great view of this fantastic structure. Also an icon for the city that you have to see when you visit London. This bridge was opened to traffic in 1973 and is known as a box girder bridge built of concrete and steel. It’s often confused as the London bridge, but I do feel that this bridge is a bit more iconic than the actual London Bridge.
Wagamama: After our tour of the tower of London, we needed to stop for a quick bite. We stopped at Wagamama which is actually right next to the tower. The food was actually very good, but the service was lacking a bit. They had a wide variety of food. If you are feeling the need to grab a bite after a tour of the tower, stop on in.
Emirates Stadium: Even though I would have rather gone to a Chelsea match, they weren’t available at the time we were in London. If you are in London, there are a lot of football clubs in the city and a premier league match is something that everyone should experience when in the city. Emirates stadium was beautiful and was kept up nicely. We took the train to the opposite part of London to get to the match. It was a little odd to me that you can’t have a beer in your seat, you actually have to drink them at the concession stands. This actually lead to us chugging beer for the most part! The match was very exciting to watch, especially with Arsenal being a club that has been around for a long time. Sometimes the best part of watching a match is also watching the people! The fans for premier league are extremely dedicated to their clubs and a match is a full day affair.
- Charles Darwin Down House
- Hampton Court Palace
Charles Darwin Down House: Our stop to start the day was a place that I had on my bucket list for a while. I’ve always been a fan of Charles Darwin, and the English obviously are too, since his picture is on their currency! A visit to the Down house where he lived and the museum inside has wonderful articles about who he was and how he made the theory of evolution. Take your time and spend time going through the house and touring the outside premise. It is a very neat stop that I enjoyed as a good 2-3 hour experience.
Hampton Court Palace: We made our way to the opposite side of London and decided to take a tour of the summer home of Henry VIII. This is a remarkable palace and can easily take you a half day to tour through, if not a whole day. The outside grounds are remarkable and the inside museum is also amazing. To think that this was just a summer home? When you first make your way from the parking area and up to the front of the palace, you are already mesmerized by the architecture of the place. It was an amazing stop that anyone should put on their list of things to do in the London area.
- Bath Abbey
- The Raven of Bath Pub
- Pulteney Bridge
- B Bakery
- Roman Baths
Stonehenge: Our final day brought us to my last item on my bucket list. Stonehenge has been a wonder of the world for so long and they are still putting theories out on how the rock formations have been placed. We did a full day tour from London. It was perfect because we didn’t have to worry about driving and it gave us Stonehenge along with visiting Bath. Stonehenge was interesting to see and mystifying to the mind. It’s well worth a visit but it won’t take you more than an hour or two to go through and see it at all different angles.
*Bath Abbey: We made our way over to Bath as our next stop and it was a beautiful town to visit. The Abbey is set at the center of the city and is also a beautiful place to see. We actually had an opera singer in the courtyard that was singing when we walked up.
The Raven of Bath Pub: We stopped into a traditional old English pub just outside the city center. It was small and filled with local people. They had some great food and also several different types of english beers to try that go perfect with your meal. They are known for their meat pies and sausage.
Pulteney Bridge: The bridge has some great picturesque areas around it and is a great stop off if you want to grab lunch and just watch people. It crosses the river Avon and was completed in 1774. What is also neat about this bridge is that there are shops on both sides of the bridge, which you don’t always see placed into bridges. There are also several restaurants around the bridge that can serve as a great stop to watch people or just enjoy the beautiful view.
B Bakery: This was actually our first time that we stopped off at a place for tea time. This little tea cafe is right next to the bridge and had several choices of teas and something to eat with it. We enjoyed our tea and I had to even put the pinky up as we did our tea time. It was very relaxing and the people were extremely friendly with everyone.
Roman Baths: The baths are pretty neat to go and see. The baths were created for public bathing around 60-70CE and were used up until the 5th century CE. It is a natural spring and does put off a little bit of an odor because of the sulfur. It’s a great tour to go through and learn about the history of these baths. They used to think that these baths could even cure many health concerns. These baths were an integral part to the ancient world and it’s neat to see how they have been kept largely in tact over the years.
*Top people watching spot