There’s so much to see, so where to begin? I went to London for 1 day, 2 nights. I got into town late Friday night and left early Sunday morning. That only meant I had about 36 hours to be a tourist, and boy did I tour!
Things to See While in London
For a short trip to London, I recommend one of the tourist sight-seeing buses. Actually, I recommend this in any big city, even “your” city where you grew up, even if you think you know everything, because those buses are tacky but really interesting and informative. I didn’t even feel guilty getting on that bus! The tickets are a little pricey but it’s a hop on, hop off bus so you can ride different buses and see literally everything over a 2 day span. Dress warm if you go in winter and ride on the outside top part – London is cold and the sun likes to hide!
Big Ben & Parliament
Big Ben, officially known as Elizabeth Tower, is obviously a staple to London that you can’t miss a picture with. Completed in 1858, it is the second largest four-faced chiming clock in the world.
A common mistake of American tourists is to look for London Bridge (due to the popular children’s song) for pictures. London Bridge is surprisingly unimpressive, but a little further down is Tower Bridge, a stunning symbol of London.
Buckingham Palace has a wonderful story you’ll hear if you hop on the tour bus, but buses can’t go past the front of Buckingham Palace so you’ll have to get out and walk. The royal family does live at Buckingham Palace, and it’s also the principle work place for the monarchy. There are many underground tunnels in case it’s ever attacked so the queen can exit safely without ever coming above ground. Unfortunately I missed the Changing of the Guard, but I would have loved to see that as well.
House of Commons
The House of Commons has beautiful Gothic architecture, but otherwise it’s nothing spectacular. Nearby, however, there are some beautiful sculptures, statues, and churches. In fact, Westminster Abbey, traditional site for coronations, burial site for English monarchs, and where Prince William and Kate got married, is right across the street!
The London Eye! You may have to wait an hour and a half, but then you get an hour and a half ride on the Eye. Unfortunately, this did not make it into my 36 hour adventure, but I hope on the next trip it does. If nothing else, you can get amazing pictures in front of the Eye lit up at night.
Trafalgar Square is a public square commemorating the British victory in the Battle of Trafalgar in the Napoleonic Wars with France and Spain. There are lots of statues and sculptures in the square, including a changing contemporary art feature. From 2013-2015, a giant blue chicken called the square home.
Marble Arch is an area within Hyde Park. It’s a 19th-century white marble arch which only members of the Royal family, King’s Troop, and Royal Horse Artillery can pass through in ceremonial processions. Near the Arch is the Still Water Horse Head sculpture, a 33-foot (10-m) tall permanent work of art since 2011.
Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross Station
Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross Station. Yes, Harry Potter fans, you can get your picture taken pushing a cart through the wall, or buy clothes, scarves, or other HP paraphernalia. Just remember, it’s the train station, not the underground station.
Voted one of the top 25 most hipster neighborhoods in the world, Shoreditch is a cool, off the beaten path place to visit in London. If you want to see (or wear) skinny jeans, show off a beard, drink craft beers, shop at flea markets, or check out some street art, Shoreditch is your spot. It’s a buzzing spot for students, foodies, couples, fashionistas, and people just hanging out.
Where to Stay
London is an expensive city. As far as accommodations, be ready to spend more than elsewhere in Europe whether you’re looking at hotels, motels, B&B’s, hostels, or homes for rent. We stayed at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge Hotel near Big Ben and the London Eye. Averaging $300 per night, it’s geared towards luxury and convenience and is one of the most upscale hotels and best locations you can get in London. For $35 off your first Airbnb (which means any new email address on Airbnb.com), click here.
No matter where you are, you will be able to catch the underground to see everything. Don’t buy the underground tickets per trip; pay in advance for multiple trips and you will save a lot of money. Just ask the representative where you buy the tickets (probably in the airport) and they will help! The underground is clean, comfortable, and very easy to figure out.
I didn’t make it to any of the museums, but they will be on my list for the next time I visit beautiful London. Try to put aside at least one night to go out and mingle with the locals, they will have some very interesting stories for you. And London can party until the wee hours of the morning. No matter what, you can’t go wrong and you won’t regret any of your time spent in this town. Don’t forget to enjoy the accents!
Have you been to London? What was your favorite part? Did you try the famous fish and chips?! Tell me in the comments below!
Like this post? Share it on Pinterest!