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 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
Currently 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
Easily 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. If you want early access and to cut the lines, I recommend booking a tour with Viator, we did this one and loved it!
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. If you want to get real fancy with your tour head to the Tower of London on a vintage bus, sipping tea. Click here for that once-in-a-lifetime experience!
Address: St Katharine’s & Wapping, London EC3N 4AB, United Kingdom
Visiting Buckingham Palace
If 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 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
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
Built for the 2000 Millenium celebration is the London Eye. It’s 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. Click here to book your London Eye fast-track tickets before you go!
Address: Riverside Building, County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road, London, SE1 7PB
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:
While all opinions are always my own, my content on this blog post may contain affiliate links for hotels I’ve traveled to and recommend. This means I get a small commission if you book a stay after clicking one of these links. As always, I am so thankful for your support and will continue to share the best properties!
($$) — Luxury hotel in St. James down the block from the Abbey. We really enjoyed our stay here. It was conveniently located across from the tube. You can’t beat the customer service either – the concierge was really on top of their game!
($$) — The Ampersand 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!
($$$) — A stone’s throw from Buckingham palace this 41 room hotel (hence the name) is beaming with old-world charm. The exclusive private member’s feel of this hotel will make you feel as if you’re the only one staying in this 5 star!
($$$) — A true London Icon, the Langham London Hotel has been serving guests since 1865. It’s located on one of the most popular streets in London (Regent Street) and has an award-winning spa to relax in when visiting London.
Restaurants + Bars in London
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 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)
Dandelyan bar ($$$) — Named “World’s Best Cocktail Bar” at the 2017 spirit awards in NOLA. This neighborhood vibe bar is incredibly glamorous and with imaginative cocktail creations. Order the Guardians of the Genome cocktail and thank me later!
Churchill Arms ($$) — 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 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.
($$$) — London’s “black cabs” are very quintessential to London. But can be very expensive. Plan to spend a pretty penny – er, pound – if you opt for the Taxi life (most accept credit cards).
Hop on hop off bus
($$) — 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. You can book your tickets here.
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.
($$$) — Home to London’s most luxurious shopping. Founded in 1894 and owned by the state of Qatar, this department store is the largest in Europe covering 1.1 million square feet across 7 floors. You have to swing by Shoe Heaven (yes it’s literally called that) containing 17 high-end shoe boutiques that will make you want to drop your entire year’s salary in one swipe.
Address: 135 Brompton Rd, Knightsbridge, London
($$) — 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!
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