We have a few friends in London and Francisco wanted to spend his birthday there, especially before Europeans need visa to enter into the UK (just kidding).
This was my 4th time in this amazing city and I think I´ll never get tired of going, although my wallet might be affected. It was more or less the same for Francisco, so we decided to spend most of our time visiting the museums and having fun with our friends.
Anyway, I´ll add some of my past experiences in London in case you are going for the first time, and don´t forget to buy the Timeout magazine (or just look for it online) where you can find all the latest London restaurants, bars, films and theaters, art, gigs, clubs, shops, etc.
Where to eat?
- Dishoom. Amazing indian restaurant. It´s not easy to get a table at night, but if you can, go for brunch, is excellent
- Balthazar, in Convent Garden. Also amazing to have a brunch
- Borough Market. London´s oldest food market
- Camden Market. Street food and creative sellers
- There are also a lot of options in Soho, and all the chinese food you want in Chinatown
Where to stay?
London is a huge and expensive city, so even the simplest hostel won’t be cheap and you also have to take into account that the underground/trains are expensive compared to other european cities, in case you find a nice hotel outside the city. So, with that said, here are the hotels I have stayed in:
- In this trip we stayed at the Double Tree by Hilton in Islington, close to King’s Cross St Pancras station. It was great, but 145£ per night
- In other occasions, I had stayed at the Collin House (Guest House) close to Victoria Station. It’s a lot cheaper, also pretty basic, but clean and in a very good location. Totally recommended but book with time
- I had also stayed at the Meliá White House next to Regent’s Park. It’s fantastic, even though you will need to take the underground to go to must of the places, not like Collin House that it’s from a walking distance from lots of the sites. This is the hotel I use when I go for work purposes
- Premier Inn next to Waterloo Station (one of the main stations) is also another option I used in one of my trips. Definitely cheaper than Hiltons, more comfy than Collin House and in a good location
In terms of transportation, my recommendation is to get the “Oyster Card“ at one of the main train stations (Victoria, Waterloo..). It costs 5£, that they will give back to you if you return the card after your trip (or anytime), and you can add money in all of the trains and metro station. The cost depends on how far you go and from/to where. Another option is to buy it online and supposedly they send it to your location, but honestly I haven´t used this option.
We walked from Waterloo station to Covent Garden and then to Oxford Street. Passing in front of:
- Covent Garden Market, which is a cozy market to walk around
- Soho Square. It has a garden area at its centre that dates back to 1681. Also, all soho area is a great place to find live entertainment, interesting food and nightlife.
- Picadilly Circus, where you can take some photos in front of the iconic advertising hoarding and contemplate the statue of Eros
- The emblematic Trafalgar Square
- The Horses of Helios (A.K.A The Four Bronze Horses of Helios). A fountain at the corner of Haymarket
- National Gallery . I didn´t get inside this time, but it´s highly recommended, it´s beautiful
- London Eye. Although it was not a priority to me, I got into it during my 3rd trip to London and I think I would have regretted not having done it, the views of the city are beautiful. In this trip we only passed by to take some pictures
- Big Ben. Same for the Big Ben, we only passed by.
- Westminster Abbey. Open from Monday to Saturday, from 9:30 to 18:00
- Brunch at Dishoom. This was the best discovery of this visit to London, especially after coming back from India a couple of months ago. Cozy place, great service and best food ever. Although you can also have dinner, I recommend to go for brunch or lunch because it´s less crowded and they let you book. We tried to go on a Saturday night and the waiting time was around 1.5hours since they don´t let you book
- Natural History Museum. Well, being a Geoscientist this is one of the best museum I have ever visited and I visit it every time I go back to London. Also, very interesting for kids
- Science Museum. Also pretty impressive museum
- Victoria and Albert Museum. All these 3 museums are next to each other and, like the rest of the museums in the UK, are for free (best thing ever!)
- Borough Market. We passed through this market to buy some spices
- Tate Modern. Beautiful modern art museum, of course free
- The Shard. The tallest building in the UK
- Lunch at Zizzi restaurant on the river bank. This italian restaurant was not in our plans, but it was getting a little late and the place looks nice
- Tower of London
- London Bridge
- Millennium Bridge
What else to see/do?
- British Museum. This time we didn´t go to this museum, but it´s definetly a must if you go to London
- There is always a musical, a concert or a nice play to see while in London. I have seen Wicked and Les Misérables
- Kensington Palace
- Buckingham Palace
- Regent Park. I went there in July and it had the most amazing roses ever, everywhere
- Hyde Park, which has inside, in the southwest corner, the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain
- St Paul Cathedral
- Leicester Square
- Portobello Road Market
- Chinatown, close to Leicester Square
- Wimbledon, the Championship
Here is also my map with all the places marked, you can open it and save it with google maps. Also, remember you can download the maps with google maps so you don´t need to be online to look for addresses.
Let me know if you need any help planning a trip to London or anywhere, I´ll be more than happy to help you.