The big smoke is a popular city to visit thanks to its impressive architecture, monuments, and fashion. With so much to do it can be overwhelming and difficult to decide exactly what you should do in the hustle and bustle.
So many things come to mind when you think of London if you do not live near the city. It’s a huge tourist attraction, with Big Ben, Westminster Abbey Towers and the London Eye.
I have recently just got back from a weekend away in London and I’ve never been so busy and relaxed in all my life. A contradiction, I know. That is what it was like, although there was so much to squeeze in over 3 days, with miserable weather in such a vast place, it was so enjoyable and it was just so easy to take everything around about me in.
First thing I would recommend you do if you are giving thought to a short trip to London and want to jam pack as much as you can do in, PLAN.
I get that it’s very obvious, and something you would do anyway no matter where you were going. However, if you are not familiar with London, like myself, it’s a great head start to have and the key to getting the most out your trip.
Bus tours are everywhere in London, I found this a great way to get around whilst learning about some London history and most tour companies offer 24hr and 48hr tickets. So if you are thinking of going on a bus tour, it could also make sense to extend your ticket for the duration you are there and also use it to get around. Not only do the busses take you to all the main attractions, monuments and must see streets, get on a tour bus with live commentary and you are onto a winner. The guys from Big Bus Tours are so friendly and are great for a bit of local knowledge about everything from hours to avoid queuing for more free time on your hands to fab places to eat, and they are very funny!
As well as bus tours, there is also the usual big red busses that circuit round a particular area. Get to know what bus is closest to where you are staying and it can be another method of transport for you after tour busses stop running for the day. The London busses have a night service which means you would never be stuck at all hours having to hail a taxi costing you £££’s!!
If you don’t mind missing the marvellous views of the landscape and skyline of London’s city whilst riding the open top busses, of course there’s also the tube. This will get you from A to B in a matter of minutes which is perfect if you have a tight timed itinerary.
Oyster cards are a great thing, you top up and tap, and there you go! You can use your oyster card on London Busses and the tube, which is just so versatile.
When booking a place to stay, it would be worth your money to live as close to the city as possible, that way you spend less of your precious tourist time travelling in to the city and you are also walking distance from tour bus stops, tube stations, and perhaps some attractions can be reached by foot.
I stayed in Westminster at The DoubleTree by Hilton, and it was perfect! Very central and less than 10 minutes to Big Ben. There was also a bus stop right outside the hotel with a bus that stopped at Regent Street. This was ideal.
The must see streets in London for anyone who identifies themselves as a fashion-lover are Regent Street, Oxford Street, Carnaby Street and the entire SOHO area is unreal.
These streets give you every choice of shop you would ever need, from Victoria’s Secret to M&M’s World, from Hamleys to Selfridges, it has everything! On top of that, these streets are round about the SOHO area, with Carnaby Street right bang in the middle of it all.
SOHO is a such a cool corner of London, with very exciting nightlife as well as very hip bars and restaurants dotted all over the place. Just what anyone would need after a crazy busy day of walking lots and shopping loads. SOHO is also home to many theatres in London, Queens Theatre, Palace Theatre, Prince Edwards Theatre, Cambridge Theatre and Arts Theatre, there is also the Apollo Theatre in Victoria. A musical is a must see during a stay in London as the theatres are just so beautiful, even if musicals aren’t your thing, it’s got to be appreciated. It’s inevitable that you’ll enjoy the classics!
In SOHO, there is a little bar I went to called Gem, and it was just that! It’s a cushty place for during the day food or drinks, has a very fun vibe for cocktails before or after dinner and at night it’s open as a club. So trendy.
The Rum Kitchen is the coolest corner in Carnaby, FACT. This place was incredible, a Caribbean restaurant and bar in Kingly Court in SOHO. They offer amazing food (vegetarian), rum cocktails and the diverse music is so upbeat you would not want to leave.
It’s completely understandable why you hear people talking about visiting London, just to shop, there is just so much choice. Although there is also other parts of London that have a little bit more personal features, only found in London. Places like The Shard, The Sky Gardens building, the Tower of London and the Tower Bridge and St. Paul’s Cathedral. And all can be seen from taking the River Cruise across the Thames, which is another must do. The views of the buildings along each side of the river are so impressive you could ride twice just to believe it all.
I really enjoyed my time in London, and just done so much, feeling exhausted every night! There is so much to do in London and I think it definitely takes a few visits to do everything you want to. Plus, in searching for a place to stay, I found that the amount of lovely hotels across the city was overwhelming. It just shows that the big smoke will never get boring, no matter how many times you go, and all you need to do is plan it well and your trip will be a success!