London is a captivating metropolis 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 so plan for that.
If you’re visiting for the first time, I highly recommend checking out these top 5 attractions —
- Big BenCurrently under construction, but is the epitome of London tourist attractions. You’re not able to climb the tower however, the best views would be over the river near the London Eye.
- Tower of London & Tower BridgeEasily our favorite part of the trip. I would plan to head there in the early morning or late afternoon to beat the crowds. Make sure to check out the crown jewels exhibit that was easily my favorite part of the museum.
- 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 make sure if you want to see the inside to plan your trip for then. We went in the fall and were able to catch the changing of the guard. Personally, it bored the hell out of me so we left pretty early on and opted for a photoshoot in front of this beautiful ornate gate.
- Westminster AbbeyThis beautiful gothic church is full of history and has 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…
- Trafalgr SquareThis square is a bustling part of the city. Some people refer to it as the heart of London. Grab a coffee and post up here to admire the art and people watching.
London is a global city rich with capitalism and tourism. There are many different areas of London so inevitably there are tons of hotels that are well worth your stay. A few of our favorites:
Conrad St. James ($$) — Luxury hotel in St. James down the block from the Abbey. We really enjoyed our stay here. You can’t beat the customer service either – the concierge was really on top of their game!
The Ampersand Hotel ($$) — 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 ($$$) — A stone’s throw from Buckingham palace this 41 room hotel (hence the name) is beaming with old-world charm. The exclusive private member’s feel of this hotel will make you feel as if you’re the only one staying in this 5 star!
The Cliveden House ($$$$) — If you’re looking to splurge and want to stay in the countryside this is the hotel for you. It’s one of the worlds most luxurious hotels surrounded by 376 acres of the English countryside. Meaghan Markle stayed here the night before her wedding… Need I say more?
EAT & DRINK
Timmy Green in Victoria ($$) — Beautiful unique atmosphere. Make sure to order the buttermilk blueberry pancakes for a delicious brunch. (PC: londontown.com)
Sketch Tea Room ($$$) — The most Instagram worthy place you’ll ever go. Make sure to order the sketch rich tea for an afternoon adult pick me up! (PC: The Sunday Chapter)
Dandelyan bar ($$$) — 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 it’s definitely a must visit. Make sure to order the Guardians of the Genome cocktail!
Churchill Arms ($$) — You can’t go to London and not visit the Churchill Arms pub – it’s iconic. With an annual flower bill of 25,000 pounds a year, be prepared to be blown away by the exterior.
London is a busy city so it can be hard to get around. Here are some tips to ease your mind so you can focus on sightseeing!
The Tube ($) — The easiest/most cost-effective way to get around the city also referred to as The Underground. The map is easy to follow and the locals are very kind if you need to ask directions. If you’re going to be in London for a couple of days, your best bet is to buy a visitor oyster card to get the most bang for your buck.
Taxis ($$$) — 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 ($$) — I know it’s touristy AF but instead of schlepping all around the city on the tube or taxis this is the best way to get the most of your time. It goes all around the city and stops at the main attractions.
The Heathrow Express ($) — One of the best ways to get into the city of London from the airport. It takes only 15 minutes from the airport to Paddington Station (a major tube hub) and can get you almost anywhere in London with the quick transfer. If you have a lot of luggage, this may not be the best option. However, if you travel light this might be the way for you!
Harrod’s ($$$) — The epitome of London Luxury 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.
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”. Make sure to check out Kingly Court – an open-air restaurant hub with tons of great eats to choose from!
Another place to visit during your time in London is Notting Hill. All about RosaLilla has written a self-guided walking tour of Notting Hill to help you explore. You can check it all out here!
I hope you enjoyed this travel guide and it helped you make your London trip even better! If you enjoyed this share it with your friends and family! And for more of my travel guides head here!