London is a city of truly hidden gems. As a holiday destination, London takes some beating. It’s got everything you could want – awe-inspiring tourist attractions, world-class galleries and museums and countless restaurants to satisfy your food cravings. As first time visitors, we were boggled by seeing the list of things that one could see or do here. If you are in the same position, we don’t think you can go wrong no matter what you do while visiting London! Everything here is worth it. Yet, we have compiled a list of our top picks. Lets dive in!
Before you visit:
- Understand London Underground aka ‘London Tubes’ – If you are planning on traveling around the city on your own without looking like a stupid, you must check the London tube map and understand basic navigation.
- Order London pass and Oyster card (optional) – Save time and money and make the most of your trip by choosing the most suitable of many available packages.
- Stay in central London to save time and money while sight-seeing. Since we were backpacking, we stayed in multiple locations during our trip and best of all was the Generator hostel.
- London can be expensive. Book major attractions (LONDON eye etc.) in advance to save yourself from long queues and expensive tickets.
- Don’t forget a travel adapter. UK uses Type G plugs
The trip begins:
London is HUGE. But the good news is it’s very well connected by tubes/ public transit. Depending on time and budget, you can spend a week to months exploring this extremely popular destination.
The British museum
Our day started early with a train ride from Manchester Piccadilly railway station to London Euston station – a comfortable and picturesque 2 hr 10 mins journey, followed by a short walk to our first accommodation – Generator London.
In one word – I would describe this place as ‘electric’ with high energy hip people all around. Very clean, well-maintained and furnished from a hostel standard, not a family place though as you would have already guessed. We were also super happy with the location of this hostel.
We were so impatient to see the city that within 10 mins. of our check-in, we marched out towards the streets of London.
STOP 1: The British Museum
Within 10 mins of walking, we reached the world’s greatest – British museum. I am not a museum person, but this one left me spellbound. With Over 8 million objects in storage, it preserves history and heritage from across the world for over 2000 years and on top of all, the entry here is FREE!
You might want to do your research before entering this museum to select and visit zones of your interest as there is no way you can see all of it in a day (or even two!).
After spending a few hours and a food break, when we walked outside, we also saw the famous and colorful Iscon rally.
STOP 2: The Trafalgar Square
We kept walking for another mile or so before stopping at the largest square of London – The Trafalgar Square next to Charing Cross station. Its an Iconic British architecture with buzzing and busy atmosphere. National Gallery is right behind it and a zillion shops, street performers and restaurants are all around. A great location to enjoy Nelson’s Column and get the obligatory photo with the Lions.
STOP 3: Piccadilly Circus
Piccadilly Circus, not very far from The Trafalgar Square is the miniature version of New York’s Times Square in London. It’s again a central hub in the heart of London, famous for its nineteenth century fountain, statue of Eros, video displays and glittering neon signs. From here we got on to the tube to ride on the fourth-largest Ferris wheel in the world – The Coca-Cola London Eye.
STOP 4: Coca-Cola London Eye (aka Millennium Wheel)
I am sure this name doesn’t need any introduction. With more than 3.5 million people checking out the Eye every year, it’s now the most popular paid tourist attraction in the U.K. When it was first opened in 2000, the London Eye was the world’s tallest observation wheel at 443 feet tall. London Eye has the capacity to carry 800 passengers on each rotation and provides a wonderful 360 degree views of London and River Thames.By this time, we – the weary travelers were craving for some good food and decided to leave for Covent Garden.
STOP 5: Covent Garden
Covent Garden is a district in Greater London and is renowned for London’s main theatre, shopping dining and entertainment area. Though we‘re really interested in visiting Royal Opera house (major performing arts venue), we gave it a pass this time, had one of best Italian foods of our lives and surrendered for the day.
Day 2 was reserved to explore the royal history of Windsor castle, world heritage site -Bath and the legendary Stonehenge monument. These places need no introduction and pre-booked tours are the best way to visit these sites in my opinion – very informative and highly convenient.
We went with the Premium tours and had absolutely no complains during the 12 hrs we spent with them. Would recommend to anyone without second thoughts!
St. Pauls Cathedral
Tower of London
Tower bridge & HMS Belfast
Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens & Marble arc
Shakespeare’s Globe Theater
Houses of Parliament / Palace of Westminster
Westminster Bridge & Westminster Abbey
Churchill War Rooms
Greenwich Park + Royal observatory
View from the shard
Oxford street & Royal opera house
Thames river cruise