Europe Travel Tips

TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN LONDON

1. EXPLORE WESTMINSTER

Westminster is perhaps the most famous area of London. Located on the north bank of the River Thames, Westminster includes the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, and St James’s Park.
There are tremendous views of the London Eye, and Buckingham Palace is just a short walk up the street.  If you are looking to knock all the major sights out in one go, this stop will do it.


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2. CLIMB TO THE TOP OF ST. PAUL’S

When looking for a view of the London skyline, most people think to head to the London Eye. While the eye is fun to look at, riding it is a little overrated. The glass windows create a glare on photos, and you are only at the top for a very short amount of time. The best place to get a great view of London is the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral. The domed cathedral is famous itself and it is worth visiting just to look around inside. But, if you are brave enough to climb the 528 steps to the top, you will be met with outstanding views of the city. The climb itself is something of an experience as the steps are somewhat ancient.


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3.  GO TO A PLAY

London is world famous for its theater, and once you see a play, you will understand why. The West End performances, the most famous by far, can get a little expensive. However, if you are willing to sit in the nose bleeds, you can see almost anything for an affordable price. The theaters are often very old and beautiful as well. If you are visiting London during the warmer months, attending a play at Shakespeare’s Globe is my favorite option. The theater is a replica of Shakespeare’s own London theater, the plays are fantastic (even if you don’t consider yourself a Shakespeare fan), and you can watch the play in the pit (like the groundlings of the 17th century) for as little as 5 pounds

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4.  TAKE A WALK ON THE RIVER THAMES

My favorite thing to do in London it to take a walk along the River Thames. Not only will you have great views of the major sights, you will also get to soak up some London atmosphere. I suggest starting near the London Eye and walking to Tower Bridge. Doing this, you will see: London Eye, Tate Modern, London Bridge, Millennium Bridge, National Theater, Globe Theater, Southbank Book Market, London Aquarium, and Tower Bridge.  If you run out of time or get tired, there are tube stations, cafes, and restaurants along the way.


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5.  VISIT A MUSEUM

London has no shortage of famous museums, and the best part about it is that most of them are free.  While any and all of these museums are worth visiting, my two favorites are the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert. The British Museum has 8 million works from human history and culture including mummies and the Rosetta Stone. The Victoria and Albert museum contains 4.5 million objects from decorative arts, design, and history.


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6.  SEE THE TWO TOWERS

Tower Bridge is one of the most famous London landmarks, and the Tower of London, resting at one end of the bridge, is the most historical. The Tower of London, or Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress, is the historic castle and prison that is mentioned so often in film, TV, and literature. The tower was used by such famous names as William the Conqueror, Richard the Lionheart, and the Tudors, and was site of Anne Boleyn’s execution. It is now one of England’s most popular attractions, home to the Crown Jewels (including the world’s largest diamond), and is one of the most haunted buildings in Britain.


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7.  HAVE AFTERNOON TEA

Having afternoon tea in London is a must. While there are countless places to do it, my favorite is the Orangery at Kensington Palace. Kensington Palace is another of London’s famous historic palaces situated at the edge of Hyde Park in Kensington Gardens. The tea is fantastic (and affordable) and the building, staff, and atmosphere will make you feel like you are royalty.


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8.  WALK OR BIKE AROUND HYDE PARK

When you need a break from the noisy streets of London, it is time to talk a stroll in Hyde Park. As one of London’s largest parks, you can easily find yourself forgetting you are in the middle of a major city when you are here. It is home to famous statues, fountains, and Speakers Corner. You can explore on foot, or grab a bike using the Barclays Cycle Hires that are all over London.


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9. DRINK A PINT IN A PUB

English pubs are famous, and they have been copied around the world. What better place to act like a local?  You can’t go very far in London before you run into a pub, so go ahead and pick whatever one is close.  When the pubs fill up, Londoners will take it outside, so look for people drinking in the street if you want a local place.


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10.   RIDE ON THE TOP OF A DOUBLE DECKER BUS

London is famous for its double-decker buses. You are bound to see loads of them during your trip, but why not take it a step further and ride one? Instead of taking the tube, hop on a bus (an oyster card works on both) and head upstairs. If you can, sit in the very front. After you get over the feeling that you are going to run into every car, cyclist, and building, you will enjoy great views of the city.

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