May 29, 2019

Things to Do in London

Things to do in London

Howdy! It has been a hot minute, but I'm back to talk more about my European adventures from last semester. Today we're gonna cross the pond and explore London! London was by far one of my favorite cities I had the chance to visit.  I liked it so much in fact, that I went twice! Well, in all transparency, the second time was really the only trip I had been planning.  The first-weekend trip was the result of the Eurowings blind booking.  It was very surreal going to London.  I grew up watching Dr. Who, which if y'all have read my blog for a while then you know how much I love that show.   I have dreamed of riding the London Eye since I was 9 years old.  To finally go to London not once but twice, was actually a dream come true!

Of course, being a college student on a budget does mean that I have some pretty fun suggestions of what all to do (plus just things I experienced which make for good stories).  Lucky for you, I have composed a list of all my must-sees while in London.  So let's keep calm and carry on to the list!

1.) Riding the London Eye:  This was an absolute must for me.  As I previously mentioned, I've been dreaming about riding the London Eye for 13 years!  I'm sure I have readers younger than that! Riding the eye was around 37 pounds which is roughly 46 USD, so it is pricy.  Some of my friends I was with thought it was overrated, but my boyfriend and I loved it. You can see so many cool sites from the top of the Ferris wheel! Plus, if you are lucky like me, your pod on the Eye will include a little boy who had a few too many beans (the musical fruit)... yeah... I try to block that part from my memory.  You do have to buy your ticket beforehand and schedule the time that you'll ride.  Even with that, it was still around a 30 min wait.  We rode at night time, so I can't say for certain if it would be a faster wait if you did the day.
Price: 46 USD

London skyline

London Eye

London Eye at Night

2.) Eating Fish and Chips:  Can you really go to London and not eat fish and chips? For the Americans reading, it's pretty much just fried catfish and french fries.  Honestly, not something I would eat again, but if you're waiting for the London Eye, there are conveniently located (aka tourist traps) fish and chip shops all around.  Speaking of chips though,  on our way back to the hotel my boyfriend and I stopped at a Five Guys and he literally orders all the fries they had in the fryer. I kid you not.  The boy working the register was like "Mate, do you want the fryer too?!"  Hopefully, Noel wasn't the first American the poor guy had met, otherwise he'll think we all live up to the stereotype of eating a large number of fried foods!! (I feel the need to add that Noel, is mister bodybuilder and can eat all those fries without gaining weight. I look at a fry and I gain weight...)
Price: Varies

Fish and Chips

3.)London City Pass:  The London City Pass is around 90 USD for a 2-day pass, which is expensive I know, but it gives you free admission to a lot of big tourist stops, plus reduced rates at others, transportation on the Big Bus that also points out different sites along the way.  You can hop on and off whenever you feel like it. You'll get to see Big Ben, Parliament, Buckingham Palace, St. Pauls (100% recommend St. Paul's even if you don't do the Big Bus Tour. It is spectacular!), the National Gallery, and the British Museum just to name a few. We did this both times and it was definitely worth the money... Well not the second time, but that's because there was a protest and someone was stabbed and the whole tours shut down... but hey at least I have a good story! The following pictures are just a plethora of some of the things you can see.
Price: 90 USD

castle hotel in london

London Parliment

Tate Modern Museum

St. pauls london

Trafagal Square

St. Pauls

london protest

4.) Millenium Bridge: Harry Potter fans this one is for you! After you go visit St. Paul's (which again is a must!), you can head on over to the Tate Modern Art Museum by way of the Millenium Bridge, aka the bridge the dementors destroy in the seventh movie/book.  While my friend Lauren went back to London with her boyfriend, the bridge was lined with wands!
Price: Free

millenium bridge

millenium bridge

millenium bridge

5.)Changing of the Guard:  If you wake up early and head over to Buckingham Palace you can watch the iconic changing of the guards.  The guard mounting begins at 10:45am and lasts around 30 mins.
Price: Free
buckingham palace guards

buckingham palace

6.) The Shard:  If you want to see All of London, drink Champagne, and overall feel fancy (and maybe have your British Flag confiscated if you're me.) then a trip up The Shard is a must.  This 70 story highrise hotel was one of the activities that were included in the London City Pass for free.  When you are at the top your pretty much get a 360-degree view for 40 miles.  I'm not sure if we just got extremely lucky on timing, but we didn't have to wait at all
Price: Free with London Pass or 40 USD without the pass

the shard

london skyline

7.)  The Globe Theatre:  Romeo, Romeo, where art thou Romeo! The Globe theatre is the home of William Shakespeare.  You can take a 40 min tour for around 22 USD, but check the times in advanced.  This was one stop we had a lot of trouble getting a tour at just due to timing.  Along with a tour, you could also purchase tickets to actually see a play! Definitely, something I am putting on my bucket list.
Price: 22 USD

globe theater

globe theatre

8.) Kings Cross & Platform 9 3/4:  Harry Potter fans, can you really go to London and not attempt to ride the express? If you head down to Kings Cross (which chances are if you're taking the tube you'll stop there at some point) then you can actually take a picture at "Platform 9 3/4" from Mon-Sun 8am-10pm.  However, I didn't actually take a photo with the trolley.  Noel & I were planning on taking an overpriced picture (15 pounds which at the time was roughly 19 USD).  Instead, we went into the gift shop, bought our house pens and took a photo outside of the brick wall. We still spent less and went home with a useable souvenier! Plus it was approx. a 2-hour wait in line and we wanted to see other things that day as well.
Price: Free - 19 USD

platform 9 3/4

kings cross

9.) Oyster Card: Speaking of Public transit, if you are traveling around London, the cheapest way to get around, is to buy an oyster card and put the necessary money on it that you need. If you buy the London Pass that I previously mentioned there is actually a deal to get an oyster card for much cheaper, but the great thing about these cards is that you can refill it easily with money, and you never spend more than 7 pounds per day if you in central London (zone 1-2).
Price: 5 USD flat rate for the card + travel money

people holding oyster cards

10.) Camden Market: Shopaholics, this is the place for you!  If you want designer items at cheap prices well come get your knock-offs! I got a Fjallraven Kanken bag for 15 pounds when at Urban Outfitters they are 90 pounds.  Now granted, it's a fake but literally, everyone thinks its real.  Plus it has held up beautifully.  Camden Market also has a lot of artist booths and delicious street food.  They are open from 10-6pm and easily reached on the tube or bus.
Price: Free to look

camden market boat

camden market

camden market

11.)  Hyde Park: Y'all, if you go anywhere go to Hyde Park! I loved this place! It seems like Central Park but in London.  There are birds that will land on your shoulders, the Princess Diane Memorial is located here, there are wildflowers, and gardens, a pond, restaurants, etc.  It's also extremely easy to get to.  We just got off the tube at Knightsbridge and then walked across the street. I highly recommend taking a stroll in the morning around Hyde Park.
Price: Free

hyde park plants

Princess Diana Memorial

hyde park birds

hyde park birds landing on people

12.) Bakers Street:  Calling all Sherlock fans! You must go down Bakers Street and visit the Sherlock Holmes Museum.  It is located at 221B Bakers Street, is open from 9:30-6pm, and takes around 1 hour to walk around.
Price: 19 USD

bakers street

sherlock homes statue

13.) Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park:  Ok, y'all know how obsessed with the Olympics I am. What if I told you there is an Olympic park that is also a Landscape Architects dream?! Well, there is, and I can not stop suggesting this place to people.  It is wonderful!! There are so many beautiful plants going on plus history of the 2012 Olympics.  I absolutely adored it and can't wait to go again.  It's massive and honestly took the entire day to explore.  Plus there is a shopping mall right next to it, so if you want to shop some European only stores, this is the place to go!
Price: Free

Olympic Rings

Olympic Park

feet on rocks

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

Honestly, what all I went a saw is only a small piece of everything there is to do and explore in London, but hopefully, it gives you a taste of some really nice budget friendly places to visit during your stay.  Let me know where your London must go to place are in the comments! Also, here is a checklist of things to see in London!

London Checklist

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