London, England has always been my ultimate favourite city to visit and you will be surprised that I just never get tired of this beautiful city.
London, a city which cut in half by the river Thames and has one of the best public transport in the world – The Tube. Aside from these, it is one of the most diverse cities in the world, with a wealth of history and a vibrant culture. There is always something for everyone out there regardless you are a food hunter, a fashionista, a museum geek or even a drama queen!
Hence, there is no reason not to pay the glorious city a visit (aside from the strong Sterling Pound). If you’re planning to visit London, I’ve compounded a huge list of things you MUST do when you’re in London.
Here’s the thing you need to take note, London is massive, and as a visitor, you got to utilise your time! Without further ado, let’s jump straight to the point.
Tip 1: Get yourself an Oyster card.
The best way to save your transport cost while you’re in London is to get yourself an Oyster card! You can either purchase it online in advance or get it at any Tube station.
Reasons You Should Get Yourself An Oyster Card
– You can use the card for almost all public transport such as the Tube, DLR, MBNA Thames Clippers river bus service, London Overground and most National Rail services in London.
– 50% cheaper than buying a paper Travelcard or single tickets with cash
– There us a daily price cap – once you have reached this limit, you DON”T NEED to pay any more (excluding MBNA Thames Clippers River Bus where there is no capping).
– Enjoy special offers and promotions at leading London restaurants, shops and entertainment venues – plus on the Emirates Air Line cable car.
Tip 2: Visit the popular tourist attraction first
Your first day in London should consist of acquainting yourself with the most popular touristic sites, so that you can start to explore deeper later.
Tips 3: Download their tube app
Download London’s Tube Map for your phone so you can easily access to London map, real time travel information and smart journey planner.
1. Big Ben, Palace of Westminster & Westminster Bridge
London’s monuments really don’t get any more iconic than the majestic Big Ben, Palace of Westminster a.k.a Houses of Parliament and the Westminster Bridge. You can either admire the incredible architecture from the outside or you can actually book tickets online for a Houses of Parliament tour inside the Palace of Westminster. I’ll suggest you to come by during the sunset or evening again as the night view is absolutely gorgeous!
How to go: There are several London bus routes that go past the Westminster bridge and the Westminster Tube station is directly across the road, serviced by Jubilee, District and Circle lines.
2. London Eye
The London Eye is a giant Ferris wheel on the South Bank of the River Thames in London. You can easily spot them when you visit the Big Ben. Hence, I highly recommend you to stop by the London Eye when you visit the Big Ben. You can either just go for sightseeing or take an approximately 30 minutes ferris wheel ride and have a closer look on this gorgeous city. The London Eye ride is quite expensive as it costs approximately 30 pounds but the views are definitely worth it. Though pricey, if you purchase it online, you can actually save a few pounds.
3. Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey is a must-see living pageant of British History. Westminster Abbey is not only the extraordinary church where Prince William and Kate Middleton get married but also a final resting place for many famous people such as Britain’s former kings, queens, nation’s most influential figures such as poets, playwrights, scientists and statesman. Westminster Abbey is usually open to visitors from Monday to Saturday throughout the year. On Sundays and religious holidays such as Easter and Christmas, the Abbey is open for worship only. All are welcome and it is free to attend services. Get your ticket here via online.
FYI Westminster Abbey and Big Ben are practically just next door to each other.
4. Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace is the official London residence of the Queen, and it’s the only one royal palace which is still fully operating today. You can purchase tickets here to tour the palace’s lavish state rooms and see all the exquisite furnishings, sculptures, and paintings.
If you ain’t planning to go in for the palace tour you should definitely check out the changing of the guard ceremony. Immaculately turned out guards, precision drill and bands playing stirring music all combine to make Changing of the Guard ceremony one of London’s most popular attractions that epitomises the pop and military ceremony for which Britain is famous. The ceremony always begins on the forecourt of Buckingham Palace at 11.30am sharp. Please check the confirmed dates when planning a visit as time may vary from time to time.
Take Note: Reach no later than 10.30am to grab a good sport to watch the Changing of Guard.
How to go:
By tube: the nearest tube stations are:
Victoria serviced by District, Circle & Victoria line – 15 minutes walk
Green Park serviced by Piccadilly, Victoria & Jubilee line – 10 minutes walk
St James’s Park serviced by District & Circle line – 10 minutes walk
Bus Numbers: 11, 211, 239, C1 & C10 Stop on Buckingham Palace Rd.
5. St Paul Cathedral
St Paul’s Cathedral is one of London’s most widely recognised buildings. First, you can actually spot its dome from many places throughout the city. Second, it is extremely breathtaking. If you have watched the movie “London Has Fallen” you will probably recognise St Paul as it has been featured in the movie. St Paul Cathedral was constructed between 1675 and 1710 and it is surrounded with gardens which gives you a wonderful setting to relax your feet and admire the church’s beauty. For more information, check out the official site. If you plan to have a small picnic there, I will highly recommend you to grab your coffee or savoury from Paul Bakery which is locate near the St Paul Cathedral. I always love to grab their macarons and hot chocolate.
How to go: The nearest tube station to St. Paul’s Cathedral is St. Paul’s
6. Millennium Bridge
I will highly recommend you to take a walk to Millennium Bridge after you’ve paid a visit to the St Paul Cathedral to have a different look on the cathedral as well as London’s skyline and the River Thames. In addition, take a moment to admire the brilliant architecture and engineering of the Millennium Bridge. Aside from these, if you’re the Harry Potter fan, you should definitely check out this place as this was the bridge which terrorised by Death Eaters and The Half- Blood Prince.
Don’t forget to snap a photo of the bridge, with St Paul’s big beautiful dome peeping over the background buildings.
7. Borough Market
Never ever miss the opportunity to visit the local market when you’re in London. Borough market is the oldest food market in London, which has a rich history yet remains as relevant now as it has ever been. Hence, if you’re the food hunter, don’t miss this food heaven. P.s don’t try the don’t try the first food stall you see despite the incredible small as they all do. Try to have a stroll then decide which to go for. Borough Market is open six days a week from Monday to Saturday and it is closed on every Sunday. For more information have a look on their official site.
How to go:
The Market is located next to London Bridge station, which is serviced by the Jubilee and Northern lines on the London Underground and by mainline trains from all over London and the south of England.
8. Tower Bridge
The Tower Bridge is another iconic landmark you must not miss when you’re in London. You can visit the Tower of London, which you can have the opportunity to experience the spectacular new glass floor and have a stunning London views from the high-level walkways. You can also challenge yourself to look down the River Thames and see the boats pass underneath. You can get your ticket here if you wish to visit the Tower. After you’ve finished your tour in the Tower of London, you can make your way over this bridge to take some photographs. Make sure you check the tower bridge lifting times to take a look on the fantastic bridge lifting ceremony which open for a passing ship!
How to go:
By Bus: The following routes will take you to Tower Bridge: 15, 42, 78, 100, RV1
Tower Hill Station can be accessed from the District and Circle lines to the north side of the Bridge.
London Bridge Station is served by the Northern and Jubilee lines and brings you to the south bank of the River Thames. Tower Bridge is just a short walk away.
Reach Tower Bridge Exhibition from either London Bridge, Fenchurch Street or Tower Gateway DLR Stations.
9. Natural History Museum
If you are spending a few days in London, I will highly recommend you to pay a visit to this museum. The Natural History Museum has been one of my favourite museum as it features specimens from different eras throughout the history, including this gigantic dinosaurs. Trust me, you will be mesmerised even though your are not a museum geek. Another bonus point of this museum is the entrance fee is FREE unless you want to check out some of their temporary exhibitions. The operating time is 10 am to 5.50pm every day and only closed on 24-26 December. For more information please visit their official site.
How to go:
The nearest Tube station is South Kensington on the District, Piccadilly and Circle lines. The station is approximately five minutes’ walk from the Museum.
Routes 14, 49, 70, 74, 345, 360, 414, 430 and C1 stop close to the Museum.
10. Victoria and Albert Museum
If you’re obsessed with arts, V&A museum is a big YES for you. The Victoria and Albert Museum aka V&A is the world’s largest museum of decorative arts and design, which consists of a permanent collection of over 4.5 million objects. The Museum holds numerous UK’s national collections and some of the greatest resources for the study of architecture, furniture, fashion, textiles, photography, sculpture, painting, jewellery, glass, ceramics, book arts, Asian art and design, theatre and performance. The entrance fee for this museum is also FREE except for some exhibitions and events. The museum opens daily from 10am to 5.45pm except for Friday, it extends its operation hour to 9pm. For more information, please visit their official site.
How to go: The V&A museum is located beside the Natural History Museum. Hence, you can actually visit both together.
11. The British Museum
The British Museum is the largest museum in the United Kingdom with a collection of eight million objects. Its collection holds artifacts from many civilizations, from the beginnings to the present. The museum has 10 curatorial and research departments. In addition, the four most common masterpieces that attract the world are the Rosetta Stone, Elgin Marbles, the Great Court and the Magna Carta. P.S if you’re a fan of Night at the Museum, Secret of the Tomb was filmed on location at the British Museum. The entrance fee for this museum is also FREE, and it operates daily from 10am to 5.30pm and for Friday it extends the operation hour to 8.30pm. For more information please visit the official site.
How to go:
Nearest underground stations:
- Tottenham Court Road (500m)
- Holborn (500m)
- Russell Square (800m)
- Goodge Street (800m)
Buses that stop near the Museum:
- 1, 8, 19, 25, 38, 55, 98, 242
- Stop on New Oxford Street
- 10, 14, 24, 29, 73, 134, 390
- Stop northbound on Tottenham Court Road,
- southbound on Gower Street
- 59, 68, X68, 91, 168, 188
- Stop on Southampton Row
12. Kensington Palace
Kensington Palace is a royal residence set in Kensington Gardens, in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London, England. It has been a residence of the British Royal Family since the 17th century, and is the official London residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, the Duke and Duchess of Kent, and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent. If you love to see beautiful landscaping, Kensington Palace will make you fall head over heels with its gorgeous royal park and gardens. For more information, head over to their official site.
How to go:
The tube stations that surround Kensington Gardens are:
- Lancaster Gate & Queensway (Central Line)
- Bayswater (District Line)
- High Street Kensington (Circle and District Lines)
- 9 Aldwych – Hammersmith
- 10 Hammersmith – Kings Cross
- 27 Chalk Farm -Turnham Green
- 28 Harrow Road (Prince of Wales) – Wandsworth
- 31 Notting Hill Gate – Camden Town
- 49 Shepherd’s Bush – Wandsworth
- 52 Victoria – Willesden
- 70 South Kensington – Acton
- 94 Piccadilly Circus- Acton Green
- 148 Victoria – Shepherd’s Bush
- 274 Angel Islington – Lancaster Gate
- 360 Elephant and Castle – Royal Albert Hall
- 390 Notting Hill Gate – Archway
13. Hyde Park
Hyde Park is one of the largest parks in London and also one of the Royal Parks. The park is the largest of four that form a chain from the entrance of Kensington Palace through Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park, via Hyde Park Corner and Green Park past the main entrance to Buckingham Palace and on through Saint James’s Park to Horse Guards Parade in Whitehall. If you’re blessed with good weather, a stroll, or a nice picnic, or even a bike ride through the park will be a lovely way to spend a couple of hours. Hyde Park operates from 5am to 12am daily. Head over to the official site for more information.
14. Portobello Market and Nottinghill
Portobello market is a famous market amongst Londerners and tourists who come for a spell of antiquing, nibbles and spotting as many local celebs a you can. Here you can find some lovely vintage pieces to bring home as a reminder of your London trip. Main market days are Friday and Saturday with a smaller market running Monday to Thursday. The opening time for Monday to Wednesday is from 9am to 6pm, for Thursday is 9am to 1pm whereas it opens from 9am to 7pm during Friday and Saturday. For more details, check out the official site. Aside from antique and food hunting, you can also spot beautiful colourful pastel Notting Hill houses alongside which are all perfect for your OOTD. In addition, you can also check out the film location of The Notting Hill Movie which was stared by Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant.
How to go:
Easily accessible from Notting Hill Gate, Ladbroke Grove and Westbourne Park tube station and by bus routes servicing Ladbroke Grove and Notting Hill Gate.
15. Oxford Circus
If you want some serious shopping, oxford circus is definitely a shopping heaven for you! It is the busiest intersection of Oxford Street and Regent Street in the West End of London which consists of numbers of high street shops (what the Brits call affordable retail stores). You can find Primark, H&M, TopShop, Nike, River Island and Liberty which are all super massive! Since all of the flagship stores are in an independent store, their operating hours might vary from each other. Hence, do some research on shops you wish to visit first.
How to go:
Bond Street: Operating the Central Line & Jubilee Line
Marble Arch: Operating the Central Line
Oxford Circus: Operating the Bakerloo Line & Central Line & Victoria Line
Piccadilly Circus: Operating the Bakerloo Line & Piccadilly Line
Tottenham Court Road: Operating the Central Line & Northern Line
There are plenty of bus routes to Oxford Street: 3, 6, 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 23, 25, 53, 73, 88, 94, 98, 113, 137, 139 & 159.
16. King’s Cross Station and St Pancras International Station
King’s Cross Station is a major railway and underground station in London. It is next to King’s Cross St Pancras Underground Station and St Pancras International Station for the Eurostar. You must be thinking why bother to visit a railway station? First, it has underwent a multimillion dollar development recently and the design turned out to be magnificent. Hence, if you love architecture definitely check out this station.
Second, it has the platform 9 3/4!!! If you’re the fan of J.K Rowling’s best selling series you’ll know what I am talking about. YESSSS! it is where students of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizard catch the Hogwarts Express. In addition, you can also buy Harry Porter merchandise here as they have The Harry Potter Shop just beside the platform where you can find wands, time turners, horcruxes and games, as well as Hogwarts school jumpers in house colours and even full set of robes.
After you’ve checked out the Harry Potter platform 9 3/4 and King’s Cross station, remember to walk to the next building which is the St Pancras International. If you’re traveling to London from Paris, Brussels or some continental Europe, you’ll definitely stop by this station as it is the home to Eurostar, London’s high speed train. St Pancras international is widely known for its gorgeous Victorian architecture and the 3 iconic statues which has been featured in numerous dramas and movies.
The Meeting Place
A 9m tall bronze statue of an intimate pose by the world renowned sculptor Paul Day.
The Betjeman Statue
Sir John Betjeman was responsible for saving the Station and the Chambers from demolition in the 1960’s. In tribute to the famous poet and railway enthusiast an 8.5ft sculpture by Martin Jennings has been designed to celebrate the man and his poetry.
The St Pancras International Clock aka Dent Clock
The famous St. Pancras Clock has been re constructed by the original makers Dent and now hangs high in the apex of the Barlow shed once more.
17. Covent Garden
If shopping spree at Oxford Circus is not enough for you, definitely check out Covent Garden. Covent Garden consists of three markets which has the eclectic mix of options ranging from high end designer brands like Channel and Mulberry to fancy sweets like Laduree and Venchi to cheap offhand stands.
Operating Hours: 10am to 6pm
The Apple Market – Opens Daily
The East Colonnade Market – Opens Daily
The Jubilee Market – From Tuesday to Friday, a general market operates with traders selling clothes and household goods. At weekends, the market offers arts and crafts.
18. Trafalgar Square
Trafalgar Square is one of London’s most vibrant spaces in the middle of the city. It is surrounded with museums, galleries, cultural spaces and historic buildings where you can soak yourself in this vibrant ambience. While you’re at Trafalgar Square remember to spot the fountain which were added in 1845 which has mermaids, dolphins and tritons sculptures. In addition, do check out the statues which situated at the square.
How to go:
Charing Cross Station which serviced by the Bakerloo and Northern lines is the closest Tube station, with an entrance/ exit on Trafalgar Square.
19. China Town, Leicester Square and Soho
If you kind of miss Chinese food or want to soak in Chinese culture, I will strongly recommend you to visit London’s China Town. You can explore lots of delicious authentic Asian cuisine here. After visiting China Town, you can walk around Leicester Square and SOHO as both are very near to China Town. Leicester Square is an entertainment area with cinemas, restaurants and theatres. Whereas, Soho is a great place to find live entertainment, interesting food and pulsing nightlife.
How to go:
By tube: The nearest underground stations to Chinatown are Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus.
20. The Shard
This is another alternative besides London Eye to have a best view on London city. The Shard has the highest and best view of London as it gives you the unparalleled 360-degree views for up to 40 miles on floors 68,69 and 72. It costs slightly cheaper than London Eye if you purchase it online. Besides having a breathtaking view, you can also have a fancy dine in experience in The Shard.
How to go:
Underground and mainline trains come into London Bridge station, which is directly next to The Shard and a short journey from other major transport hubs in London.
The Shard is a pleasant 30-minute walk along the South Bank of the Thames from Waterloo station, and a 15-minute walk across London Bridge from the City.
That’s all for today!
I hope you find this travel guide to London useful.
Don’t hesitate to leave me any question regarding this London guide.
If you have any useful tips do share it with us so other readers can enjoy it as well.
Ciao & XOXO