London is one of the most incredible cities I’ve ever been to and I’m so happy stoked to return. I’ve been there a few times so I thought making a handy London guide might help out some fellow travelers, especially those who have never been there before. As you may have already noticed, there is a lot of material to work with, so take it one step at a time while you plan your trip. I’ve tried to talk about all the different things I’ve done in London, so there are many, many attractions discussed below but hopefully it will help you narrow done what you want to do on your visit! (Quick disclaimer: these are my honest opinions about everything!)
Both times that I’ve stayed in London, I found hostels to be the most affordable. St. Christopher’s the Oasis is a female-only hostel located near London Bridge. There is an underground station nearby, so it’s in a great location. The reception can be found at St. Cristopher’s Inn, which is for men and women, located only a short walk away. You check in there and get key cards that give you access to the Oasis. (At first the entrance might be a bit difficult to spot because it is down a small alley.) This is the place where you can have breakfast (included in the price), consisting of cereal, toast, coffee and tea. I really liked staying here, as the staff were all really friendly and the rooms were clean. There are these sort of cage-like lockers under the bed to keep your belongings safe (you will need to take your own lock or can buy one there). I had a bit of a mishap because I misplaced my lock key but the staff was kind enough to break it with pliers!
The other hostel I’ve stayed at is the YHA near St. Pancras. Again, it has an amazing location, as you have train stations and underground ones nearby. This time, my friends and I booked a private room because we were five, although there are all kinds of private and shared rooms available. I have absolutely no complaints about the room because it was clean and the staff was also very helpful. It was a bit warm at night because of the heating in summer, so there is that. This time, I didn’t have to worry about locking things up since we had a private room and I much preferred it. We didn’t have breakfast included either, as I believe there was a fee. Overall, I was really happy with both hostels I stayed at and would definitely go again.
The transport in London is expensive, so be ready for that! I usually bought the underground day travel card for around £9 a day. This gets more expensive the more areas you choose but if you’re going for general sightseeing, area 1 and 2 at the most should be sufficient (the price obviously goes up the more you include). With this daily pass, you can use the tube as many times as you want! It’s very useful if you’ll be covering different areas of London since everything is so far! It’s frequent and well-connected, so the underground is your best bet. At night, after it closes, there are buses available apart from taxis.
Big Ben and London Eye
Let’s start by the most obvious. Big Ben and the London Eye, which are nearby, are an obligatory stop if it’s your first time in London. Although I’ve heard the London Eye is pricey (I haven’t been on it myself), the views are supposed to be very good! And don’t forget to take a picture in one of the famous red phone booths!
Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square
Although some write Piccadilly Circus off as just a bunch of ads (which they are), it is an iconic place in London you should see, even if you prefer not to take pictures. Trafalgar Square is another one of those places. Here you’ll find beautiful fountains, Nelson’s Column and the very well-known lion sculptures. You’ll also find the National Gallery there.
One of my personal favorites, Tower Bridge is an amazing sight.
Buckingham Palace, Knightsbridge and Harrod’s
Although I did like seeing Buckingham Palace, it is quite far from the rest of the attractions. It is quite spectacular and you will see the guards that are part of the iconography of London. Nearby is a shopping area called Knightsbridge, where Harrod’s is located. The building itself is beautiful, but inside it’s just a fancy department store.
Covent Garden and Neal’s Yard
Covent Garden is another shopping area that you might want to check out. Neal’s Yard is an adorable courtyard with buildings painted in bright hues. Although both are interesting, I wouldn’t visit them if I was on a tight schedule.
A great place to shop, featuring stores like Primark, Adidas and Lush. If you don’t want to browse any stores, definitely skip this one.
I’ve never been a huge fan of Camden and each time I’ve visited I’m even more convinced that it’s just not my cup of tea. I know some people love it, but it’s market and punk rock atmosphere don’t appeal to me all that much. I will say, however, that Poppie’s Fish and Chips was a great experience. I was expecting the food to be better, honestly, but the live music really made up for it. We were sitting in long tables, with the band at the end and it was definitely something I’d never experienced before. Also, we bought donuts from one of the stands; it as the end of the day and they were being sold four for a pound. So, of course we bought some and they were amazing.
Queen Mary’s Rose Garden
Located in Regent’s Park, this idyllic little corner is spectacular. It features a wide variety of roses in every color, as well as other flowers. I would recommend paying it a visit, especially in the summer.
Portobello Road and Abbey Road
Portobello Road is famous for its markets, although I found it quite boring apart from the colorful buildings. I definitely wouldn’t return. As for Abbey Road, it is quite far from the city center and it was full of people when we went. The cars were nice enough to stop temporarily to let us take the iconic Beatles picture. It was interesting to see Abbey Road Studios too but once you have the picture and can say you’ve been there, there’s no real reason to return.
Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum and M&M’s World
We went to Ripley’s because you can get a 2 for 1 deal with any train ticket. It took us 2 to 3 hours to explore the museum, which was full of weird and wacky things. Some highlights included a mirror maze, touching water at the temperature of the one that the Titanic sank in, the infamous blue and black/white and gold dress and avoiding spy-like lasers! It was lots of fun! As for M&M’s World, all I can say is stay away. I don’t know why anyone would want to see a huge M&M’s shop because that is all that it is. It’s boring and the whole time I was in there I was wondering why in the world people were taking pictures with an M&M’s replica of Abbey Road.