This post is going to be slightly different because I’m going to combine several of our trips to England’s capital city.
When you peel back all the layers of London, as with any city, you will find that it really is a superb city with lots to offer.
Things to do in London
No trip to the Capital is complete without a trip to Buckingham Palace. Stand in awe outside this suburb building which is guarded by the “Queens Guards”, the Calvary, with their red uniforms and bearskins (the tall fur caps). You will be feeling all of the British vibes standing here. The Queen usually doesn’t stay at the Palace in the summer months between August and September. During this time, it is open to the public, so if you are keen to have a look around, Summer is your best bet! According to the ‘Buckingham Palace guide’ the highlights of the tour include: –
- “The 19 beautifully decorated State Rooms, used for receiving guests and official functions
- The Throne Room – often used as a backdrop for royal wedding photos
- The magnificent Grand Staircase
- The special exhibition, which changes each year
- Fine art, including works by Canaletto, Rembrandt and Vermeer
- An audio tour by Prince Charles!”
From Buckingham Palace if you walk through Green Park to Wellington Arch and continue a bit further you will come across Hyde Park.
Here, in Hyde Park, during the winter months you will find Winter Wonderland. We went for the first time last year (2019) and we had an incredible time. I won’t lie to you, it is expensive but hey, you are in London!
We queued for a long time as it is free entry into Winter Wonderland. You are able to purchase ‘queue jump’ tickets ahead of time. I’d strongly recommend this for families because the queue is like being part of a herd of cattle (not pleasant and very claustrophobic).
Once we, finally, got in we walked around, taking in the bright lights, sounds and smells. We were totally shocked by how big it was. They had huge looping rollercoasters set up, not just the usual small fayre ground rides I’d expected. Cosy Bavarian themed bars surround the park with all kinds of dining options, Street food, seated dining by candlelight and a woodfire, bar food, the whole lot!
We had already enjoyed a delicious meal at Wagamamma for lunch so, as we only needed a snack, we headed to the STREET FOOD! Street food is a traveller’s dream, cheap (usually), quick and delicious!
Some of Winter Wonderland’s street food options are: –
- Fish ‘n’ Chips
- “Oh my Dog” – hotdogs
- “Makatcha” – traditional Indonesian cuisine
- “Hanock” – Korean
- “Ghetto Grillz” – Cuban
- “Tincan” – Vintage coffee truck (I like what they did there!)
- Dutch Mini Pancakes
- Mac ‘n’ Cheese
Alex went for the good ol’ Mac ‘n’ Cheese. I, however, went for a dessert option and had a yummy coffee from “Tincan” and the Dutch Mini Pancakes. Yum is all I have to say. It was delish. Alex’s Mac ‘n’ Cheese also was very tasty, I had to have a bite, I couldn’t resist.
Whilst on the subject of food, I really want to mention the absolutely amazing Borough Markets. If you haven’t been before, you need to add it to your bucket list. We went during my birthday visit to London in 2013 (I think – it was so long ago!) and it was brilliant.
The vibrant foods on offer are endless. Cookies bigger than your face, freshly sourced meats and cheeses, home baked cakes, breads and pastries and of course, delicious options for lunch.
You can spend hour’s exploring this superb market, just be careful you don’t get lost in the maze of food stalls.
I promise I’ll stop talking about food, after this one last thing…
…Bertie Blossoms, Ed Sheeran’s new restaurant, I haven’t been but it is definitely on my bucket list. If you are in London, go check it out! Let’s show the love for our local Suffolk boy Ed. He was brought up just 20 minutes from where I was brought up. I can say we Suffolk folks are very proud!
If you have been to Bertie Blossoms, what is it like? I’d love to hear from you. I have been following the restaurant’s instagram and it looks totally yum.
If, whilst you’re in London, you can squeeze a visit to Wembley Stadium to see one of your favourite Artists, definitely do it! We went to Wembley a few years ago now but the atmosphere of the stadium still gives me chills. We managed to get a hostel really close to the stadium, just one tube and we arrived. We had dinner at the stadium too. There are lots of shops and restaurants to enjoy pre-event. It really was an amazing experience.
You’ll find Big Ben by the River Thames. Close by you will also see the London Eye. On a clear day it really is a wonderful view across the river. We took a “ride” on the London Eye once before and it was a fantastic experience. You can really see so much of London from up there. I would recommend doing this if you haven’t been on anything similar before.
Big Ben at the moment is covered by scaffolding for a restoration project of the roof and spire. They have uncovered the clock face and are slowly working to remove more of the scaffolding as they complete the work. When the scaffolding isn’t there, Big Ben is magnificent.
In Trafalgar square you will see the famous statues of four lions, surrounding Nelson’s Column. As it was the Christmas season when we visited, more recently, we were pleased to find a lovely Christmas market which followed the wooden “ski village” theme.
We made a quick detour through Covent Garden where we were greeting with an American marching band which was a great experience in itself. We took in the shops and stalls around the area before leaving the crowds behind for a quiet walk along the river. We meandered our way through the crowds, past the Houses of Parliament and nipped into Nero’s for a coffee whilst we took everything in.
All of these places are worth a visit. Of course, it highly depends on what you are into but if you are on a budget, like us, then just simply walking around London sightseeing makes an unforgettable day out.
There are lots of free events in and around London that you can stumble across. During our visit in the Summer of 2015, we wandered upon a free music festival and, we spent the afternoon on the banks of the Thames soaking in the sun and music. It was absolutely fabulous.
I had this little urge to visit the Tailor shop from the Kingsman movies on Saville Row, Mayfair. So, if you’re a movie fan, you can google maps the word Kingsman in London and it will bring you straight to the shop which is surprisingly rather known as “Huntsman“. You may bump into a tour guide showing a group of Kingsman fans around this shop, if you do, be sneaky and follow them in for a listen!
Since returning from the life of a backpacker, and not having to live out of a single backpack, Alex has taken to new shoes. He likes a nice pair of shoes and who can blame the guy?
So, with this in mind, we headed to Selfridges on Oxford Street. I think Alex just wanted to have a nose to be honest. He didn’t end up buying anything but the whole experience was very interesting. The shop is spread over several floors and quite honestly seems never ending. As you walk from floor to floor, room to room, the music and theme changes. The music is sometimes loud and sometimes a little softer so you kind of don’t know whether you are coming or going. I am not one for much shopping if I’m honest but I’m pretty sure, if you wanted to, you could spend the whole day exploring this maze of rooms.
Of course, Oxford Street is pretty cool and is definitely worth a look if you are in London. There is a real range of shops, starting with your usual high street stores up to your designer specialty stores. There really is something for everyone!
Last but not least, I must mention, Piccadilly Circus. Everyone has heard someone joke “this place is like Piccadilly Circus!” and well, that’s because Piccadilly Circus is a bit wild! It is London’s equivalent to the ‘Shibuya Crossing’ in Tokyo (just not on the same scale) and is definitely worth checking out!
Getting into the city
There are connecting transport options into the city from each of these airports. Click on the appropriate airport above to be redirected to each of their getting to and from information pages.
National Express are a great value company to travel with from anywhere in the Country!
Download the trainline app or head to their website for the latest train times and to buy your train tickets.
We parked at Stratford International, just outside of the city, for £6.00 for the whole day. From here we had a look around Westfield Statford City before hopping on a tube which takes you directly to the city. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. You also miss all of the scary London traffic!
Getting around the city
Use the tube like a local! We found out that you can use the tubes for a capped amount by just using your contactless debit card. We paid just £5.00 for our transport on the tubes for our day in London. It certainly saves having to worry about purchasing train tickets and tube passes. If you’d like some more information for getting around London, check out the Transport for London website.
If you have any questions about any of the places or businesses mentioned in this post, feel free to drop a comment below, I’d love to hear from you.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my post. If you’d like to know more about a particular place, let me know and I’ll see what I can do!
I wonder where in the world we will be next time?
Check back next week to find out!