As promised, I’m back to share details about all of the fun things my friends and I did while spending two incredible weeks in London. After working hard to plan and budget a fantastic trip, we made sure to play even harder.
First, let’s talk about arrivals. As I mentioned in my previous planning post, we booked transportation from and to the airport through Delta Vacations. Having a prepaid shuttle made traveling easy after arriving in London and getting to our hotel. After taking a redeye, the last thing we wanted to do is drag our luggage through the city while trying to figure out where to go, so this was perfect for us.
The shuttle service that Delta Vacations booked was amazing! Our driver was friendly and gave us a grand tour of the city. He also dropped some knowledge about the cities’ history and random facts like the following: Did you know that London taxi drivers (or cabbies) have to study for years to memorize London’s streets before taking one of the world’s hardest tests to become drivers?! Much respect.
Once we arrived at our hotel in South Kensington, we put our bags down and started to explore. We stayed at Citadines South Kensington London, which was surrounded by plenty of stores, restaurants, and tube stations. The hotel was also walking distance from Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park, where we went almost every day for morning runs.
If you missed my post where I broke down planning and budget and wonder how we were able to find an affordable hotel in a nice area, check it out here!
Navigating the city is pretty easy but fair warning, it is a lot of walking. Make sure to pack walking shoes and an umbrella for your trip (do not underestimate people when they say it rains a lot). My group solely depended on walking and their tube system, which was surprisingly easy to learn.
The Big Attractions
I’m sure just about every tourist wants a picture in, near, of, and possibly on one of those classic red phone booths. Don’t worry, the city knows this, and they are almost on every block (especially in tourist areas). I found that the nicest ones with the best backdrops were in Westminster. They have a few placed in front of the London Eye that are great for photos.
One word comes to mind when I think of Buckingham Palace: GOLD. Seriously, anyone that knows me knows how much I love gold, and seeing the gates at the palace was euphoric. Seeing that Buckingham Palace is probably one of the most popular attractions in London, I say the earlier you get there, the better. The crowd is crazy, and you will more than likely have to wait in line to get pictures.
If you are looking to catch the Changing of the Guard ceremony, again, the earlier, the better. The ceremony times vary depending on the time of year and usually lasts for about 45 minutes each. I recommend getting there early enough for the first one.
Tower Bridge was one of the attractions that I was most excited to see. It was just one of those staples that you always saw in movies, tv shows, postcards, etc. Whenever someone speaks of the UK in general, a photo or scene of Tower Bridge more than likely popped up. I always thought it was beautiful (especially at night) lighting up the sky and standing tall over the water. So, of course, we went to see it at night, and it went above and beyond my expectations. There is a bit of a crowd walking across, but the group stays moving so it won’t ruin your time.
If you want beautiful photos of the bridge, walk across to an area called Southwark – Bermondsey. It is a hip area with trendy restaurants and bars with a fantastic view of the bridge, then step in one of those bars and get yourself a drink!
I honestly thought the London Eye might be overrated, but it was a lot of fun. The pods were extremely spacious, and the views were amazing. We bought our tickets online in advance for about £37.00, but the birdseye view of the city was priceless.
Clubs and Pubs
Honestly, my friends and I aren’t big clubbers, but we did go out one night to have the experience. Taking a tube to Piccadilly Circus one night will definitely put you in the center of a lot of their clubs. We went to a few spots that played mostly Top Hits and House Music.
If you’re more of a Pub person or prefer a quiet lounge for a few drinks, we did stop in a few friendly pubs in Westminster and Southwark – Bermondsey would be a cool place to pop in for a few drinks.
The Art Scene
My friends and I love to check out art, so we made sure to visit a few modern museums during the trip. I’m big on manifesting, so before going, I set intentions on finding some cool art around the city and just so has it, a local suggested an art show that was happening in Battersea Park. The art show had the coolest art I’ve seen in a while and even had the artists on-site that you can talk to and get their perspective on their work.
We also decided to visit Tate Modern and check out their collection of contemporary art. Sticking with the budget-friendly costs of the trip, most museums in London are free, and merely welcome donations.
I decided to save the best for last: Shoreditch!! Whenever I’m asked about London, I’m usually mentioning Shoreditch within the first 2 seconds. This neighborhood is my absolute favorite with its creative street art, trendy boutiques, fashionable nightclubs, eclectic restaurants, and modern pubs that really go against the traditional “pub”. *Deep Breath* Shoreditch is a bit of me!
Oh…there is more
London is probably one of my favorite cities in the world so far. My friends and I truly felt at home, and once COVID travel restrictions are lifted, I’m sure we will be planning to visit again…on a budget, of course.
However, if you saw my last post, you will know that this trip included the City of Love, Paris. Be sure to subscribe to the blog below, so you don’t miss my chronicles running around the French city!
Until next time!!! XO