I can’t believe it’s already been two months since we got home from our month long honeymoon in Europe! It was SO much fun and everything that I dreamt of it being. And, just like our first trip to Europe in 2010, it has me longing for another trip back already.
We flew roundtrip from Vancouver to Heathrow as this was the least expensive way for us to get to and from Europe. We arrived mid-day and spent the afternoon wandering around the Soho area of London before grabbing some fish and chips at a pub (when in England, right?) and making our way to the hotel we were staying at right beside the Gatwick airport. We flew out of Gatwick to Naples the next morning and didn’t return to London until the very end of our trip.
By the time we made our way back to London, we were honestly pretty excited to get home and settle back into a routine. Don’t get me wrong… a month of travel is definitely living the dream, however it can also be pretty exhausting (especially for an introvert like myself who needs downtime to recharge) constantly being on the go. Our first night back in the hustle and bustle of the city nearly had us wishing we could skip the next few days and get on our flight home sooner (especially after coming from quiet, relaxed and very affordable Granada), but we quickly came to enjoy our last few days in London.
Although it may seem like just another big city at first glance, London has SO much to offer. There is so much rich history which is what I think makes London so interesting. And while it’s a super expensive city to visit, we did find a few ways to enjoy ourselves and really experience London without breaking the bank!
10 Things You Must Do While In London
1. Ride the double decker bus
Okay yes, this is super cliché, but also so quintessentially London that you just have to do it. I wouldn’t rely on this method of transport if you need to get somewhere quickly (the one time we did it, traffic was so bad that we could’ve walked faster, haha), but it’s a cool way to relax, people watch and get a different view of the city. You can also go on one of the hop-on/hop-off tourist buses that take you to all the different sights as well.
2. Visit Buckingham Palace for the changing of the guards
This was such an awesome experience! I don’t know if the changing of the guard is always as grandeur as the one we saw, but it was very cool. This doesn’t cost anything either, you just walk up to the palace at the right time (find times here) and watch it all happen.
3. Eat fish and chips
You just have to, it’s England. We went to a place near our hostel in Soho called Golden Union and it was delicious. I imagine you can find far cheaper places though, we were just staying in a really expensive neighborhood. Pro tip: get your fish and chips to go instead of eating in the restaurant- it’s significantly cheaper!
4. Go on a walking tour
We did a free walking tour with Strawberry Tours and this is really what made us fall in love with London. Having a local show you around and give you the lowdown on all of the history is really the best way to see a city. The best part about these walking tours is they are free, you just tip your guide at the end. It’s a great way to spend a morning/afternoon and helps you figure out what you want to go back and explore more later on!
5. Visit Body Worlds
We were given a 3-day London Pass (in exchange for our review) and I have to say- these are worth EVERY penny. Most of the London attractions are very expensive and normally Cole and I would never pay to do a lot of these things because we travel on a budget, but the London Pass gave us access to so many cool things. Body Worlds was one of several attractions included on this pass and you guys, it was so cool. It’s an exhibit of dissected human bodies… okay, that sounds super gross but it was seriously so interesting. Definitely worth a visit if you’re interested in human anatomy and especially worth a visit if you get in free with your London Pass!
6. Do a food tour
Food tours are my most favorite thing to do in a new city and the Eating Europe Twilight Soho Food Tour was hands down the best one I’ve ever done. We were given a complimentary and discounted ticket in exchange for our review and I truly can’t recommend this experience enough. We will, without a doubt, be doing an Eating Europe food tour in another city in future! Our guide was INCREDIBLE- she was so charismatic and theatrical and made the whole tour so much fun, and the restaurants we were taken to were really neat places I never would’ve found myself. My favorite was a place in Chinatown called Opium. It was a dimly lit cocktail bar with the most delicious dim sum and cocktails served in beautiful teapots. This was easily the coolest place I have ever eaten! If you love food and getting a local’s perspective, 10/10 recommend taking this tour.
7. Visit Westminster Abbey
This was another attraction included in the London Pass that we wouldn’t have otherwise gone to (because we usually can’t justify the cost for these kinds of things with how quickly we tend to go through them). I’m so glad we got to experience this, though! Not only is it a beautiful building in general, but it’s also got a lot of old tombs and memorials to check out.
8. Visit The British Museum
The British Museum is a great way to spend an afternoon (or even a whole day, if you’re really into museums) on the cheap. Entry is by donation and this museum is absolutely HUGE. There is so much to see! My favorite was the Ancient Egypt portion with all of the mummies.
9. Wander around Soho at night
I’m not sure if this is an everyday thing or a weekend thing because I can’t remember what day of the week we were wandering Soho at night, but WOW, does it ever come to life! There were lights everywhere, tons of people, DJs in the streets… it was pretty wild and very cool to experience. Definitely worth a wander! There’s lots of great pubs around as well to stop by for a beer.
10. Check out Borough Market
Cole and I’s version of traveling mainly consists of walking, eating and drinking, so markets are a definite favorite of ours. Borough Market is a pretty big food and drink market located right by the London Bridge. It’s a great place to go for lunch as there are tons of little food stalls. Just be careful, because you’ll want to try everything!
So there you have it, our 10 must do things in London! It’s a very expensive city, but there are definitely ways around spending a ridiculous amount of money while still being able to get an amazing London experience. Be sure to check out the London Pass for huge savings on so many attractions!