I've written a few posts about Fabulous Things to in London. These are really aimed at those who have been many times and are looking for new things to enjoy in the city. I have been asked by both friends and people online to suggest things to do for a first trip to London and so here are the top 10 things I always suggest as 'must sees'.
Now before you start reading I have to say this was quite a difficult post to write.... because there are so many things to do in London.
I love London. I love when people take my advice and have a great trip. I love that people enjoy this great city. There is truly something there for everyone.
I lived there for 16 years and visit monthly to keep my sanity and get my 'city fix' so I'm fairly confident that I have covered the top things to do here...
The first thing I would suggest to anyone visiting London is to get an Oyster Card at the first tube station or train station you get to. There is a small cost for the card and you load it up with money to use on all the tubes and buses. It saves standing behind all the people who are trying to work out how to use the tickets machines at every tube station. You just tap it on the yellow reader at the gates to the tube or next to the driver on the bus and your card will be deducted the amount for the fare. The reader also gives you an update on how much is still on your card.
You can use contactless payment cards, like Visa debit and credit cards for this too, but you might get hammered with bank charges and a bad exchange rate if you do this from an overseas account.
Also because of this remember not to keep these cards together, you don't want to pay twice for every trip!!
Using the Tube or Underground is easy. The lines are colour coded and on the information boards on the platform the final destination (not next stop) of the next train is shown so you know if you are getting on the right train. ALWAYS check a street map before going into the tube because the tube map can be a bit deceptive. For example its much easier to walk from Leicester Square to Covent Garden than it would be to get the tube. And you never know what you might stumble upon on the way.
If you can, its worth consulting the Transport for London site before any day out. It is great for working out the best routes and it gives bus arrival times too. Here are some FREE apps you can also download to you phone for help getting around London.
In London we have amazing museums and galleries, and the fabulous thing is that its usually free to enter. There are often special exhibitions with a charge but the main / permanent exhibitions are usually free.
Everybody I know who visited The British Museum absolutely loved it. Not only is it an amazing building but it is HUGE. There is lots to see and you could easily spend a whole day here. (especially if it is raining) There is a lovely cafe and a restaurant inside which I would suggest over any of the places to eat in the area. I found that the pubs in this area offering 'Traditional Fish and Chips' serve miserable attempts at 'food'. I think its much better to enjoying the beauty of the library and eat under the glass dome.
The National Gallery is located in Trafalgar Square so you get to see this landmark as an extra. Entrance is free, unless you want to see a special exhibition. I like to go to see the BP photography exhibition every year and there is a small cost for this. As with most places in London, there are discounts for children, students and old people.. so make sure you bring your ID with you.
You are a hop skip and a jump from Covent Garden here and pretty close to Chinatown so there are limitless food options too.
From here you can walk down The Mall to Buckingham Palace. During the summer - when the Queen usually isn't around, the palace is open for visitors. I'd recommend booking in advance though to get the dates and times you want.
If you are up for a walk you can easily go from here to the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben... which is the name of the bell and not the tower. Tours of Parliament are restricted to Saturdays and when Parliament is not in progress. You can find details and times on their website.
Again this is a stunning building.
From here you can enjoy a nice walk over Westminster Bridge, getting some great photos down the river and go for a flight on the London Eye. This is not cheap, and its better to book online than to join the queues for tickets, but if you have a clear day the views over London are spectacular.
If your are the energetic type you can actually walk from here all along the South Bank of the River Thames until you get to Tower Bridge..If you are lucky, or checked the times in advance, you can even see the bridge opening. After all this foot work I highly recommend a glass of champagne or a beer in the bar at Aqua in the Shard. You get an amazing view without having to pay the entrance to the View From the Shard. Double winner in my book... but you can decide.
On the South Bank on the way to Tower Bridge you will walk past the Royal Festival Hall, Tate Modern and more restaurants than I can even list. A quick detour over the 'wobbly bridge' opposite the Tate Modern will land you near to St Paul's Cathedral. One of my favorite London buildings. Another quick detour at London Bridge (also where the Shard is) you can grab something scrummy to eat at Borough Market.
The Natural History Museum, The V&A and The Science Museum are all close together, although they may be a bit much to do in one day. The V&A is my hands down fave in London. They have fabulous exhibitions and the cafe is beautiful. Not only the food but also the interior.
The Natural History Museum is in an absolutely breathtaking building and is worth a visit for that alone in my opinion. The Science Museum is not really my thing but loads of people love it, so it could be your new favourite too...
So that is the end of my Top 10 list... There were slightly more included there but 10 is such a hard number to keep to when giving London tourist tips.
Of course everyone is different and I hope I have given you enough to choose from... If not, here are some more things to consider...
How about a West End Show? I went to see Kinky Boots one of the newest additions in 2015 and it was amazing. You can also visit to Westminster Abbey, relax in Hyde Park, go shopping in Harrods or my favorite store Selfridges.
Fancy fish and chips ? my personal favorite is close to Waterloo station / The South Bank and its Masters Super Fish. There is always a line of Black Cabs outside while the drivers eat here.. not a bad sign. In Soho Berwick Street The Dining Plaice next to the market is very good too. Pretty much all the pubs advertising they do traditional fish and chips serve frozen and re heated versions that no true Brit would consider eating... well at least this one wouldn't.
I hope this was helpful. Please let me know what you have enjoyed on trips to London in the comments. Its always good to hear what others people have enjoyed.
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