You say London, you say the biggest and most famous city in Western Europe! And we’ve had the pleasure to explore this popular capital so many times. We first visited London back in 2015 and somehow, we keep going back twice each year. Luckily, London is not that far from where we live now so it’s a perfect choice for a weekend getaway!
Tips: Most museums in London are free! For everything else, get the London Pass with access to over 80 attractions in order to save time and money. Alternatively, for a great experience, book a Big Bus Open-Top Hop-on, Hop-off Sightseeing Tour!
Getting to London from other cities in Europe or from anywhere in the world is quite simple. London has six major airports: London City, London Gatwick, London Heathrow, London Luton, London Stansted and London Southend so I would suggest a price comparison before booking your flights. Budget freak here, as you’ve noticed in the other two blog posts! More information about the facilities and connections to and from the airports could be found here.
We stayed at the Oxford Street Apartments, a complex of sparkling clean apartments, very close to restaurants and all amenities, and only a few minutes away from two underground stations. It is quite obvious why we chose this particular place for a 3-night stay. Just like any other tourists, we wanted to visit as many attractions as possible in a short time, as a result, the central location was essential.
I guess it’s not a secret that driving in London, especially as a tourist, is a big no-no! Instead, the easiest way to get around and tick all the famous landmarks is to get the tube. We bought an Oyster card each and used a contactless payment card since cash is the most expensive way to pay. Allow yourself enough time to understand the London Tube Map and you’re ready to go!
So here it is: our top 15 things to see and do in London!
This is by no means an exhaustive list of things to see and do in London, but it gives an insight of the main attractions we have visited.
First of all, let’s get this straight as some people get a bit confused. Tower Bridge is not London Bridge! The latter is further down the river. Tower Bridge is a suspension bridge that has stood over the River Thames in London since 1894 and is one of the most popular bridges in the World. It’s definitely a favourite of mine as the design is amazing, and crossing it was a unique experience.
Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament
Probably the most recognisable landmark in London, the Big Ben is considered a masterpiece of Gothic Revival architecture. It has been undergoing restoration work since 2017, due for completion in 2021, so it’s high time you started planning your trip! We have admired the stunning architecture so many times and it’s never ceased to amaze us. Last but not least, I hope you’re around when the Big Ben strikes – the feeling gave me goosebumps!
Getting to the London Eye is quite hassle-free as it is opposite the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. At 135 metres, the London Eye is one of the world’s tallest observation wheels; the experience displays breathtaking 360-degree views of the capital and its famous attractions. I could spend hours just watching it rotate over the River Thames! For affordable tickets (prices starting from £27.50), I suggest booking online beforehand.
Buckingham Palace has been the official London residence of the UK’s sovereigns since 1837, therefore it is a place rich in history and exquisite art. This landmark is a must-see, and with the summer opening of Buckingham Palace being extremely popular, booking tickets in advance is a must. The prices start from £25 pp and, if time permits, I recommend spending a whole day exploring the palace.
Another must-see attraction in London is the Westminster Abbey, which is a large, mainly Gothic abbey church. This magnificent and world-famous building has hosted some of the most significant ceremonies over the past 1000 years (Prince William and Catherine, my favourite couple, got married there!), therefore it is England’s most important church! Since it displays such imposing architecture, it is very appreciated by tourists all over the world.
St. Paul’s Cathedral
We admired St. Paul’s Cathedral from the Millennium Bridge before exploring it closely. And I must say, this is probably one of my favourite views in London because I just love the magnificent structure and the combination between Neoclassical, Gothic, and Baroque elements.
London City Hall
It’s pretty impossible to miss the unique design of the City Hall, which is the home of the offices for the Mayor of London and the London Assembly. Luckily, this impressive building is within walking distance from the Tower Bridge and the Shard so get some comfortable shoes and explore the area on foot; I guarantee there are plenty of photographable elements everywhere you look.
Attention, adventure seekers! A 95-storey supertall skyscraper in sight! Being the tallest building in the United Kingdom, and the sixth-tallest building in Europe, the Shard certainly offers breathtaking views of London. Don’t you just love the contrast between the old and the new?
National History Museum
Spending half a day exploring the National History Museum is simply not enough! There is so much information to take in since it displays a vast range of specimens from various sections of natural history, therefore make sure you take lots of photos and notes! And if you’re still not convinced, the entry to the Natural History Museum is free! How cool is that?
Honestly, this was the highlight of the day! A once in a lifetime experience I would highly recommend is standing on the Prime Meridian of the world, where east meets west, at the home of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)! Whether you then decide to explore the National Maritime Museum and admire great art, culture and maritime history or just roam through the Royal Greenwich Park looking for breathtaking views across London, you won’t be disappointed.
River Thames Cruise
Well, a trip to Lonon wouldn’t be complete without a Thames River Cruise. There are plenty of options to choose from, but make sure you book online beforehand as it’s quite a popular attraction and the queues are endless. If you’re not travelling on a budget and want to taste the luxurious life, you could combine sightseeing on the River Thames with elegant fine dining experiences that will delight the senses.
Since English was introduced as a new subject in school when I was about 8, I grew up reading about Trafalgar Square and the history of London. I have always been fascinated by the culture and architecture in the UK so my first trip to London was really important and emotional. Needless to say, as soon as I stepped in the square, I started crying!
Admiralty Arch is a landmark building in London providing road and pedestrian access between The Mall (the road leading to Buckingham Palace) and Trafalgar Square. These attractions, including St James’s Park, are all within walking distance from each other, therefore take your time; enjoy the nice stroll and admire the amazing surroundings.
Explore the streets on foot
This is probably one of my favourite activities to do on a trip! Yes, that’s right: I sometimes walk 20 km each day. Not only it relaxes me, but it gives me the chance to explore the narrow streets and discover the charming, less popular places. One could ride a bike instead of walking, but that’s a skill I do not possess!
When in London, make sure you try the old-school pubs which literally take you back in time. Some of London’s pubs date back as far as the 1600s, therefore you get to experience not only the classic British fish and chips or the traditional pint, but also the cosy interior and atmosphere!