EuropeTravelUnited Kingdom

London Calling

This blog post is a long time coming so I apologize for the delay. London is our favorite city on earth. It is where we met while studying abroad in college and it has an indescribable draw that keeps pulling us back every year (or however often we can go!).

Since living there in 2011 we have been back various times and there are some things we do every single time we’re there, and other things are brand new to us. That’s one of the reasons why I love London so much, there is literally always something to do! There is so much history while new things pop up all the time. Here are some of our favorite things to do, in a list that is continuously growing.

 

Eating:

Borough Market– this stop is a constant for us. This amazing market is open everyday (except most Sundays), it’s right off the tube stop (Borough or London Bridge) and it’s got a great atmosphere. It’s located right next to a beautiful church so you can bring your food and picnic with a view. Speaking of food, my favorite is the grilled cheese cart, it’s like this amazing melted raclette cheese they scrape off and pile high on crusty bread. Also, don’t miss the delicious fruit juices and the adventurous choices like wild boar sausage!

Borough Market

 

Camden Market– a quirky stop, similar to Venice Beach,CA with cheap food and crazy shops.

Portobello Market– in contrast, the Portobello Market in Nottingham Hill is more upscale, specializing in vintage finds with pretty pastel colored houses as the backdrop. Make sure to see the Travel Bookshop if you’re in the area and you’re a fan of the movie Notting Hill!

Churchill Arms– another bonus to this area is that it hosts our absolute favorite restaurant in the city, Churchill Arms. You must go here if you’re looking for the authentic British pub experience but you also get hungry and want the most delicious Thai food of your life (and I’ve been to Thailand). You won’t miss it’s flowery exterior and the line out the door. This is definitely a must-visit.

churchill arms

 

Brick Lane– besides Thai food, London also has awesome Indian food. You’ll find the best and most options on Brick Lane, but be prepared to barter with the men working outside and luring you in.

The Orangery– this is our favorite spot for high tea in the city. After a pretty walk through Kensington Park, you will find the Orangery. It has a delicious variety of tea and treats for even the pickiest of eaters.

the orangery

 

Touristying:

Buckingham Palace– obviously a must see! Although the Changing of the Guards ceremony can be extremely crowded, it’s very interesting to watch. They do it almost everyday when they switch out the royal guards to the next shift, so just check ahead of time to see when it’s taking place. For a less crowded viewing option you can go to St. James Palace right down the road to watch the ceremony there.

buckingham palace

 

Westminster– this is the main “downtown” area with Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and the London Eye. The London Eye is the giant Ferris Wheel on the other side of the water. It is expensive to ride but it does offer amazing views! We’d recommend going right before sunset to see the city go from day to night.

london eye

 

See a show- the West End has so many wonderful theatres and you can get same day tickets for less around Leicester Square. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was of course our favorite show that we’ve seen in London, we’d highly recommend trying to snag some of those tickets!

cursed child

 

Hyde Park– one of the largest and most famous parks in the area, Hyde Park always has something fun and unique to offer.

Thames River Cruise– there are many different companies offering cruise options to get out on the Thames and see the sights. The one that is linked is a great option because it is part of the London Pass which allows you to do other activities at a discounted rate. You can also go with the cheap option of the River Taxi, where you can actually use your Oyster Card (London transport card used on the tube and buses).

thames river

 

Tower of London/Tower Bridge– there is so much history and iconic views from these two London spots. In the Tower of London you can even see the amazing Crown Jewels.

tower of london

 

Harry Potter stops- if you’re a mega fan like us, there is plenty to do around town to get your HP fill. We already mentioned the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child show, playing at the Palace Theatre. You can also visit Platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross Station and the gift shop right next to it. You can also do the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London to find out about the making of Harry Potter, and there’s another great gift shop here too. They also have special events throughout the year, so check out the website for more details!

harry potter

 

Museums:

British Museum– this one is a definite must and will be at the top of every London list, for good reason. It houses the Rosetta Stone and the Parthenon sculpture from the Acropolis in Athens, plus it’s FREE!

Tate Modern– if you feel like getting ahtsy, this is the spot for you. It’s also in a great location along the South Bank, across the Millennium Bridge from St. Paul’s Cathedral.

tate modern

 

London Transport Museum– this is a lesser-known option, and you do need to pay to get in, but it’s definitely worth it! It’s right inside Covent Garden so you can do some shopping and eating after.

london transport museum

Shopping:

Convent Garden– this outdoor complex has lots of great shopping and snacks. Our favorite snack to enjoy while you browse the stores is Ben’s Cookies. This is a chain, but for some reason we like the Covent Garden stop best. Make sure to try the white chocolate macadamia nut cookie, it will change your life! Our favorite shops here are: Lush, kikki.K, Apple store, Stanfords, Sass & Belle, Pylones, London Transport Museum gift shop and much more!

covent garden

 

Fortnum and Mason– if you’re already at Covent Garden you can walk here through Trafalgar Square for some iconic London views. F&M is fancy department store with the best tea selection you will ever find. You’ll want to buy a classic hamper too. You can have high tea here on the top floor, or a glass of champagne down on the bottom floor to refresh you while you keep shopping.

fortnum and mason

 

Harrods– the classic huge department store that will have everything you could ever want or need. That includes an amazing food court area. If you visit at night during the holidays, the lights covering the entire building will be sure to put you in the Christmas spirit!

harrods

 

This is just our initial list, but if you’re planning your trip and need more suggestions or have any questions, please let us know. We LOVE talking about London and all the things to do there!

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