After a week in London, it is safe to say that its grey cloudy skies, brick buildings, and rich history have absolutely stolen my heart. I hope to make many more trips to London in the future and would definitely recommend that you add this charming city to your bucket list.
So, what’s a weekend in London like? While I spent more than a weekend’s time in London, I thought I would create a 3 Day itinerary of the top things you MUST do on a very first trip to London.
Day 1: Explore City Centre and walk along the South Bank
Since my friend and I were staying in East London, we walked with our lovely hosts all the way from Canary Wharf to the Tower Bridge. (Note: Getting around England is really easy! It was only a forty minute walk to the city centre. You could also bike as they have rental bikes everywhere.)
After gazing upon the Tower of London and St. Paul’s Cathedral, walk along the River Thames towards Borough Market for a tasty lunch. Note: Borough Market is closed on Sundays, but there are also a variety of pubs in the area!
If you are feeling rather adventurous this day, you can continue to walk(or take the tube) to see the London Eye, the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben.
Day 2: Spend the day in Kensington Gardens and Notting Hill
A morning in Kensington is an absolute delight. You could spend the entire day just walking through the gardens at Kensington Palace, home of Princess Diana. Afterwards, have high tea at The Orangery as the sounds of classical music and Roman statues make you feel as though you are dining at a garden porch in the middle of summertime.
From there, walk through the neighbourhoods in Notting Hill and then take the tube to Marylebone where there are plenty of restaurants and shoppes to choose from. For all my book lovers, I highly recommend making a stop at Daunt Books, an old bookstore that was originally built as a book shop in 1912 and was one of the only buildings in the area to have survived The Blitz.
For dinner, we enjoyed crepes and hot chocolate underneath an umbrella, close by the Natural History Museum and Victoria and Albert Museum. These museums are free, so whether you spend twenty minutes or several hours walking through, depending on your timetable, I highly recommend it!
Day 3: Have Tea with the Queen (Explore Westminister), dance through Picadilly Circus and spend the afternoon at Covent Garden
Westminister is full of so much history and charm! We had breakfast at The Grand Cafe(right next to Green Park and across from The Ritz), and then made our way to Buckingham Palace. For those who would love to walk through the palace, plan your trip accordingly as Buckingham Palace is only open for two months out of the year when Queen Elizabeth is away on holiday. We had strategically planned our trip so that we could visit Buckingham and I have to say that it was one of the greatest highlights of our trip!
Afterwards, walk to Picadilly Circus, and take a sit at Trafalgar Square. The buildings alone are worth the trip over.
You can then take the tube or walk to Covent Garden where live entertainment and afternoon tea is the loveliest of all combinations. This was one of my favourite ways to spend the evening and we actually ended up at Covent Garden a couple times!
While this is only a rough itinerary, I hope it gives you some insight/options to what a weekend in London could look like.
Here are some additional facts/tips for your trip to London:
Contrary to popular belief, the food is quite wonderful. I absolutely loved everything we ate and would recommend that you try British food during the entirety of your stay. Foods that you must try: a full English Breakfast(Brekkie), Cornish Pasties, Scones and Cornish Clotted Cream with afternoon tea, Fish n’Chips, and meat’s pie. I must also give a special shout-out to our lovely host, Tim, who had us try Hob Nobs, a tasty biscuit that is paired wonderfully with a cuppa English Breakfast (cuppa=cup of tea). These delightful biscuits can be purchased at any market for only 50 pence! What a steal of a deal.
Afternoon tea really is apart of British culture. It is not overplayed in books or television. While we had made a list of cafes that we had wanted to check out, we actually ended up at none of them! So, my recommendation is to go with the flow and have tea at whatever place looks good in the area you are travelling.
Buy an Oyster Card for public transportation. You can purchase an Oyster Card at the airport and most tube stations. Your oyster card will allow you to travel on the underground and overground tube lines, trains to and from the airport, and most double-decker buses throughout London. Top up as you travel.
Bring a travel umbrella. You never know when it will rain and even if the forecast says sunny, don’t trust it. The weather is very bi-polar, but I kind of loved the unpredictability of it all.
Get lost in London! Yes, have an itinerary and an idea of what areas you would like to see during the day, but once you are there, don’t worry so much about the map or time of day. We loved just walking through the neighbourhoods and exploring an unfamiliar city that by the end of it became like home.
I am counting down the days until I’m back in London, but for now, I shall enjoy it vicariously through friend’s photographs. Until next time, cheers!