City Guide: London

London was my first time leaving the US. And it’s the city I’ve been back to the most. The accents, the charm, the history; I just can’t get enough. Here’s my guide to London, with everything you’ll need to explore this beautiful city.

What to see/do:

London’s main tourist attractions are no secret. Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, and Buckingham Palace are well-known world wide. Here are some tricks to these attractions, as well as some places you might not have previously known.

The main attractions: You can see Big Ben, The Eye (Farris wheel), Westminster Abbey, and Buckingham Palace all in one day… and they are all within walking distance! If you only have a few days in London, these are the must-sees in order to get the full London experience. Follow the links to find prices and opening times.

Me in the main square of Covent Gardens
Me in the main square of Covent Gardens

Covent Gardens: My personal favorite area in London, this square, located in the heart of the London Theater district, is where you will find street performers, outdoor vendors, a wide array of boutiques, and many delicious restaurants. If you want a taste of real London culture, this square has it all. Any night you will find locals dining before making the short walk to one of London’d famous theaters, which brings me to my next point…

London Theater: I don’t think most young people today know that the London theater is argued to be better than the NYC broadway. Even if you’ve seen broadway shows before, I strongly urge you to see one in London! My favourite that I’ve seen is Mousetrap, the longest running show in London. A great choice if you want to see something unique to London rather than something that you can see back in the States.

Exploring back streets of Camden Market
Exploring back streets of Camden Market

Camden Market: Another one of my personal favourites, Camden Market is full of the young edgy, overall awesome youth of London. The open-air clothing markets mostly sell knock-offs and vintage things at great deals, so if you’re into that, you’ll love it. Even if you’re not, walking around this cultural hub and sampling the delicious ethnic food abundant in the area is a great way to spend an afternoon.

The National Gallery: I realize that not everybody likes art museums. However, I am not one of those people, so here you go. The National Gallery is located in the heart of downtown London and guess what… It’s free! If you’re feeling in need of some good art, pop into the main gallery or the portrait gallery for a variety of things dating from the 13th through the 20th centuries.

How to get around:

london-underground-sign-1020x355

Tube: The under ground transport in London is called the Tube. Look for that sign ^ on any street to find an entrance. Upon arrival, you’ll have to purchase an Oyster card, which is how you’ll pay for your transport, and load it with however much at a time you want. London charges by how many stops you travel, but there is a daily cap for how much they will charge you. For example, you can travel within zones 1 and 2 however many times you want in one day, and you won’t get charged more than £6.40.

Bus: You can pay for the bus using the same Oyster card you bought for the tube. I’ve found the bus system to be very easy to figure out. Its nice to be able to see the city while your getting around, plus who doesn’t want to say they’ve ridden one of the famous red double decker busses? My advice? Walk or take the bus.

Where to eat:

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It’s no secret that London isn’t known for their food. Some people even say they have terrible food. I happen to disagree.

The Grind: So I found this cool cafe on my most recent trip to London and I’m obsessed. I even wrote a whole post about it. The Grind has seven locations around London, but my two favorite are the Covent Garden and Shoreditch locations. Grab a coffee, smoothie, açai bowl or alcoholic drink for a mid day break.

Fish and chips: I would suggest going a little outside the city for this. The best I’ve had is right on the river when visiting Windsor Castle, but I can’t remember the name of it.

Something ethnic: So many immigrants come to London every year its no surprise they have great ethnic food. My favourites I’ve had is Indian and Chinese.

Where to stay:

I usually stay with family, but the first time I went I stayed in an Airbnb (can’t find the exact one) just a couple streets east of Regents Park. However, if your trying to go cheap, I would suggest looking into Couchsurf. You have to make an account, but you will get to crash on a locals couch for free. London gets extremely pricy, so save money where you can!

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