The Royal Wedding is only a couple days away, which means London is swamped with tourists and well wishers right now. I’ve been to London loads of times so I thought I’d share with you my experiences thus far. That being said-I couldn’t possibly fit everything in one post, or we’d be here all year. So I’ve decided to break it down into several different guides. If you’ve never been to London, this is for you. I’m spilling the beans on the top attractions-which are worth it, which aren’t and tips for getting around quickly! Now off you go, darlings!
Big Ben & The Houses of Parliament
I mean, if you went to London and didn’t see Big Ben, did you even go? Rising to three hundred sixteen feet, Big Ben is probably the most iconic structure in London. Disappointingly, the clock tower isn’t open to tourists, but if you’re a UK resident you can arrange a visit by writing to your MP. Now you can tour the Houses of Parliament, year round Monday-Saturday. I’ve never done this because it’s quite a long tour, but it’s on the bucket list. Even if you don’t do tours, it’s quite an impressive view and you really get the feeling of being surrounded by history. Pro tip: Your best bet of getting a great picture is stop at Westminster Abbey and take the photo from there-there’s even a telephone box! Alternatively, you can get Big Ben and Parliament in the whole picture by crossing Westminster Bridge and taking the photo from across the Thames.
Buckingham Palace is the Queen’s official London residence and a working royal palace. Even so, you can actually tour the State Rooms and the Gardens. You aren’t permitted to take photos inside, but you can in the Gardens. If you don’t want to spend the time or money for the tour, just going to see the famous palace guards is quite fun. They really won’t break face, no matter what you do. The palace is located next to Green Park and just in front of St. James’ Park, so it’s a lovely walk in any case. The Changing of the Guard takes place at 11am on Monday, Wednesday, Friday & Saturday and daily in the summer. Be sure to get there early, because getting a good view isn’t easy. Or if you hate crowds, go to literally a different part of the city because there are always a bajillion people there!
The London Eye
The London Eye is basically a giant Ferris wheel with clear pods that slowly circle the loop, giving you a rooftop view of London. I’ve been on it once, and it’s was just alright. If you’re afraid of heights, as I am, you probably won’t like this very much-but the views are pretty cool. I went at night, which I later regretted, as you can probably see more during the day. If you decide to go on it, I highly recommend purchasing a fast track ticket, because the queue to go on is absolutely insane. Also, you can opt to purchase combo tickets to other London attractions, such as Madame Tussaudes and the London Dungeon. Pro tip: Keep in mind that in winter the sun can start to set as early as 4pm, so if you want to go in the day time, don’t leave it too late!
I personally loved my visit to Westminster. It’s got a real vibe to it, almost like you can feel time within her walls. It’s humongous, bigger than it looks on the outside, and there’s so much to see. Westminster Abbey is usually open Monday-Saturday for general visits. Sundays and religious holidays are open for worshippers only, so make sure you don’t go on those days. The Abbey is also sometimes closed for state holidays such as Commonwealth Day, so just be sure the check the website before attempting a visit. It’s take you at least an hour and a half to see the Abbey, and that’s if you’re moving quickly. There’s loads to famous people and monarchs buried here, or at least honored. Important: You can’t take photos inside the Abbey, and they’re quite strict about it!
Tower of London & Tower Bridge
I was not prepared for how long the Tower of London would take, so be warned. It isn’t just a single tower, it’s a complex of different exhibits and collections. Is it worth it? Absolutely. Within her walls, the Tower holds tons of artifacts and historical documents, as well as the Crown Jewels. Just going to see those alone is worth it, in my opinion. You can also stand in the exact spot where famous figures like Anne Boleyn lost their heads. It’s actually a really cool place to visit, with lots to do inside. Just don’t go on an empty stomach, because it’ll take you a few hours to make the rounds! After your visit inside the Tower, take a stroll across Tower Bridge. Pro Tip: if you walk across the Bridge, there is a little bar called The Vault that is actually under the bridge and you have a close up view of the Thames. It’s a neat little bar for a quick bite!
This is a really easy and quick stop to make, unless you go inside the gallery. Trafalgar Square consists of mainly statues and fountains, and although it’s an overall impressive view, it’s not really that special. As in, there’s not that much to actually do. That being said, there is almost always some kind of street performance or interesting thing happening in the Square, so it can be quite cool to stop by. And it’s surrounded by restaurants and quick stops if you’re hungry! If you do fancy a bite, I suggest going to St. Martins-in-the-Field. There’s a cafeteria in the crypt!
Helpful Tips for London
- The London Underground, or ‘The Tube’ is by far the easiest way to get around. Get an Oyster card that you can refill with money as you go, and it will make getting from one side of the city to the other much easier.
- London is super expensive. Be sure to save plenty before you go. It’ll cost you a pretty penny to eat out, so I recommend eating breakfasts or even lunches at smaller, cheaper venues such as Pret-A-Manger or Costa Coffee. Try to avoid touristy places near big attractions because they are usually pricier.
- Buy attraction tickets in advance. This will save you wasting hours in super long queues.
- Plan your days in advance. London is terribly huge and it wastes so much time trying to get from one side to the other. If you plan your days so that each attraction you visit per day is relatively close to each other, you can fit more sight-seeing in your trip.
Now, of course there is much more to London than what I could get in this post-but hopefully this will help you out with deciding what is worth the trek or not. Whether you’re over for the Royal Wedding or it inspired you to go, you’ll never get bored. What are your favorite things to do in London? What touristy things do you think are worth it or not? Let me know in the comments below!
As always, thanks for reading & stay golden!