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First Timer’s Travel Guide to London

First Timer’s Travel Guide to London

London is a captivating city known for its pubs, royalty, museums, history, and theatre district. It’s filled with endless sights, high-end shopping, friendly locals, and a lively nightlife. If you’re looking to visit Europe for the first time, London is a great place to start since most everyone speaks English. With that being said, it’s also one of the most expensive cities in Europe. That’s why I’ve created this “First Timer’s Travel Guide to London” so you can plan the best way to spend your time in London.

When to Visit London

The weather in London can be quite tricky as it’s rains 106 days out of the year in London. The summer months are the driest but also highly visited. I would opt to visit in Springtime (mid-March-April) because the blooms add to London’s charming streets and tourism is lower.

Things to Do In London

Visit Big Ben

big ben view from across the thamesCurrently under construction, but Big Ben is the epitome of London tourist attractions. At the moment you are not able to climb the tower until the renovations are completed. If you’re looking for a great view head over to the south side of the Thames. Head here for more info as to when Big Ben will resume tours.

Address: Westminster, London SW1A 0AA, United Kingdom

Tower of London & Tower Bridge

tower of londonEasily our favorite part of the trip. I would plan to head to the Tower of London early to mid-morning in order to beat the crowds. Make sure to check out the crown jewels exhibit while visiting. Currently, it costs 25 pounds for an adult entrance fee. Head here for more info. Finally, the Tower Bridge is adjacent to the Tower of London so it’s easy to walk across afterward and take in the beauty that this bridge possesses.

Address: St Katharine’s & Wapping, London EC3N 4AB, United Kingdom

Visiting Buckingham Palace

an ornate gate near buckingham palaceIf you go to London and don’t visit Buckingham Palace you’re doing something wrong. Palace tours are only done in the summer so if you want to see the inside make sure to plan your trip for then. We went in the Fall and were able to catch the changing of the guard. Personally, it was extremely boring so we left pretty early on and opted for a photoshoot in front of this beautiful ornate gate instead.

Address: Westminster, London SW1A 1AA, United Kingdom

Visiting Westminster Abbey

westminster abbey in londonWestminster Abbey is a stunning gothic church that is full of history. It’s also been the venue for some of my favorite Royal Weddings. Did you know that Prince William and Kate Middleton were married at the Abbey in 2011? What I would have done to be at that wedding! Currently, it costs 12 pounds to enter and you can pre-book your tickets here.

Address: 20 Deans Yd, Westminster, London SW1P 3PA

Visit Trafalgar Square

trafalgar square

This square is a bustling part of the city. It is often referred to as the heart of London. Grab a coffee and post up here to admire the art and people watching.

Address: Trafalgar Square, Charing Cross, London WC2N 5DN, United Kingdom

The London Eye

london eye across the thames

Built for the 2000 Millenium celebration is the London Eye. Its Europe’s largest observation wheel and it’s situated along the Thames for sweeping views of London. It takes 30 minutes to ride the wheel and costs 30 pounds per person.

Address: Riverside Building, County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road, London, SE1 7PB

Piccadilly Circus

piccadilly circus at night

Londons’ most famous square, Piccadilly Circus, is reminiscent of Times Square in New York City. The streets are filled with large neon signs, shops, clubs, and restaurants galore. There are endless things to do in Piccadilly Circus!

Address: Piccadilly Circus, London, UK

Hotels in London

There are many different areas of London so inevitably there are many hotel options that are well worth your stay. A few of our favorites:

Conrad St. James

Image result for conrad st james london

($$) — Luxury hotel in St. James down the block from the Abbey. We really enjoyed our stay here. It was conveniently located across from the tube. You can’t beat the customer service either – the concierge was really on top of their game!

The Ampersand Hotel

($$) — The Ampersand is surrounded by some of London’s most famous districts, from Knightsbridge and Mayfair to Hyde Park and Chelsea — all within walking distance – which makes this a premier place to stay!

Hotel 41

Image result for hotel 41

($$$) — A stone’s throw from Buckingham palace this 41 room hotel (hence the name) is beaming with old-world charm. The exclusive private member’s feel of this hotel will make you feel as if you’re the only one staying in this 5 star!

The Cliveden House

($$$$) — If you’re looking to splurge and want to stay in the countryside this is the hotel for you. It’s the world’s most luxurious hotel surrounded by 376 acres of the English countryside. Many royals have stayed here over the years so you may bump shoulders with some famous people while staying here.

Restaurants + Bars in London

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Timmy Green in Victoria ($$) — Beautiful unique atmosphere. Make sure to order the buttermilk blueberry pancakes for a delicious brunch. (PC: londontown.com)

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Sketch Tea Room ($$$) — The most Instagram worthy place you’ll ever go filled with pink art deco decor. Make sure to order the sketch rich tea for an afternoon adult pick me up! (PC: The Sunday Chapter)

Image result for dandelyan london

Dandelyan bar ($$$) — Named “World’s Best Cocktail Bar” at the 2017 spirit awards in NOLA. This neighborhood vibe bar is incredibly glamorous and with imaginative cocktail creations. Order the Guardians of the Genome cocktail and thank me later!

Image result for churchill arms

Churchill Arms ($$) — You can’t go to London and not visit the Churchill Arms pub – it’s iconic. With an annual flower bill of 25,000 pounds a year, be prepared to be blown away by the exterior!

Getting Around London

London is a busy city so it can be hard to get around. Here are some tips to ease your mind so you can focus on sightseeing!

The Tube

($) — The easiest/most cost-effective way to get around the city also referred to as The Underground. The map is easy to follow and the locals are very kind if you need to ask directions. If you’re going to be in London for a couple of days, your best bet is to buy a visitor oyster card to get the most bang for your buck.

Taxis

($$$) — London’s “black cabs” are very quintessential to London. But can be very expensive. Plan to spend a pretty penny – er, pound – if you opt for the Taxi life (most accept credit cards).

Hop on hop off bus

($$) — Super touristy but instead of schlepping all around the city on the tube or taxis, this is the best way to get the most of your time. It goes all around the city and stops at all the main attractions.

The Heathrow Express

($) — The best way to get into the city of London from the airport. It takes only 15 minutes from the airport to Paddington Station (a major tube hub) and can get you anywhere in London with the quick transfer. I would only advise against this if you have a lot of luggage.

SHOPPING

Harrod’s

harrods in london

($$$) — Home to London’s most luxurious shopping. Founded in 1894 and owned by the state of Qatar, this department store is the largest in Europe covering 1.1 million square feet across 7 floors. You have to swing by Shoe Heaven (yes it’s literally called that) containing 17 high-end shoe boutiques that will make you want to drop your entire year’s salary in one swipe.

Address: 135 Brompton Rd, Knightsbridge, London

Carnaby Street

($$) — In the heart of London’s West End is this unique shopping & dining area which covers 14 streets and has over 100 shops and 60 restaurants. It was the birthplace of the fashion and cultural revolution in the ’60s and is commonly known as the “Capital of Cool”. Don’t miss a visit to Kingly Court – an open-air restaurant hub with tons of great eats to choose from!

Address: Carnaby St, Soho, London, UK

I hope you enjoyed this “First Timer’s Travel Guide to London” and it helped you make your first visit to this charming city even better! For more of my European travel guides head here!

Cheerio!

Courtney

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