A Guide To The Top Spots To Visit In London, England
Cheerio from London! Now I was never a fan of Coronation Street (don’t shoot, I come in peace!) but driving through the streets of London England had me legit thinking that I was on set of an upcoming episode. I didn’t have a lot of time to explore, but I made sure to hit up some of the top spots in London England. I happened to go to London in the winter. It would have been nice if someone had warned me in advance that London had difficulty making up its mind as to what season it wanted to be by the hour! I swear I would leave my hotel in a light jacket, have to take off my coat mid day because it was so mild, then need to change into my winter coat and rain boots because it got cold and rainy.
I also had no idea that they don’t get snow snow (Yes I meant to type that twice!) I mean like Canada snow. They’ll get some snow, but they actually mostly get rain. This definitely sounds like my kind of place.
Bring Money….Lots and Lots of Money
In London, they use English Pounds. 1 Pound is the equivalent to $1.75 Canadian. At first that does not seem like a huge difference, but it adds up! My first day there, I was at my hotel and decided to order fish and chips for lunch (Did you really go to London if you didn’t eat fish and chips?) The fish and chips were 16 GBP. Sounds good.
But as I was biting into my meal, the calculations kept dancing around in my head. In actuality, my lunch was $28 Canadian dollars!!! This isn’t necessarily an outrageous price, but when your accommodations didn’t have a kitchen, and you also wanted to try out every food humanly possible because who knows when you’ll make it back to London; It can get expensive.
Take the Hop On/Off Bus
If you have limited time like I did in London, but you want to get a good feel of the sites, take the Hop On/Off Bus. They are actually quite plentiful, so you’ll have options of what sites you get to see.
I was able to see Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Tower Bridge and Piccadilly Circus. Literally all the popular sites are on the sightseeing bus. If you are lucky like me, I had the complete top floor of the double decker bus to myself. It could be because it was freezing outside and everyone else had more sense to sit on the lower covered level, but hey, I got some crisp London air.
Be sure to make a stop at Harrod’s. Harrod’s is one of the world’s most famous department stores for luxury brands. Me, with my champagne taste and beer budget decided that if I’m in London, I most certainly have to buy at least one thing from this store. HA! I couldn’t even afford the paper that the prices were printed on! I mean, it was strictly luxury. Many one of a kind pieces and absolutely nothing was cheap.
Dresses for 1500 GBP, handbags for 3000 GBP. However, it was packed in there. People were shopping. Which leads me to my next question… Where do y’all work at??? I need to know how you can afford this. All jokes aside, the architecture of the store was so grand.
Just to take a look at the magnificence of the store is worth the trip to Harrod’s. Did I mention that fish and chips there were 30 GBP? That is $52 Canadian dollars! I almost wanted to try negotiating to see if I could just buy the fish without the chips for half the price, but decided to keep the little pride that I had left!
The London Eye
I think one of the most photographed places in London is at the London Eye. This huge Ferris wheel is the most popular paid tourist attraction in the UK. If you are scared of heights, you can take great pictures on the opposite side of the river, without actually having to go on the London Eye. If you can stand heights, for 27 pounds, you can take a ride.
You will get stunning views of London from the top. I would personally suggest that you go at sunset, but I ended up getting on at night. It was pretty to look at with all the buildings lit up, but it wasn’t the best for pictures. The ride itself took about 20 minutes. If you are serious about pics for the gram, please go here.
If you want to experience spectacular views of London, without having to leave the ground in a Ferris wheel pod, be sure to check out the Sky Garden. It’s London’s highest public garden. It is free to enter, however you must reserve a ticket online in advance. Even with a ticket, there was a long lineup to get in. I would not suggest just showing up. They are really strict with entrance. You must arrive during your designated time. You must also put all your bags through a security check as well.
Once you’ve reached the observation deck however, it is gorgeous. There’s a terrace outside that you can use to take outdoor pics, but of course when I went it was closed due to rain (womp womp).
There are a few restaurants as well as coffee shops up there, so you can go to just take pics, or spend some time having a coffee while you overlook London.
I absolutely love cute markets. Borough Market is a staple in Southwark, London. Whatever kind of food you desire, you can find there. It wasn’t only cooked foods; they had desserts, teas, fresh produce, ice cream and artwork.
You could easily lose track of time there. Some vendors were cooking foods right in front of you. There were sit down restaurants as well. I would personally only go there with a lot of cash because I was tempted to try everything. The smells alone of the cooked foods, will have you wanting to sample a bit of everything.
I was so busy devouring the jerk chicken wrap that I bought that I totally left the market using a wrong exit and got my ass lost! I mean, I didn’t even realize that I was lost until I was halfway done inhaling the wrap, and I looked up and realized I had no idea where I was! Of course my phone was dead, so I couldn’t grab an uber. Man, I made so many wrong turns, that my confusion got confused! I tried asking for directions, but that proved difficult when the address of my hotel, was in my dead phone (I really question myself sometimes as a solo traveller smh!! Ha!) A 10 minute walk turned into a 90 minute walk. By the time I made it back to my hotel, I locked myself in, and ended up eating a baguette for dinner. You couldn’t pay me to leave my hotel again that night!
Changing of the Guard, Buckingham Palace
You don’t have to be a huge fan of the Royal family to take in the Changing of the Guard. The Changing of the Guard is when the new Guard exchanges duties with the Old Guard in a ceremony outside of Buckingham Palace. I happened to wake up late that morning, and didn’t get to the Palace until right before the ceremony was starting and it was packed. I couldn’t see a thing.
I had to bob and weave my head in between the people in front of me in order to catch bits and pieces. People in London take the Royal family quite seriously. Even the security on the outside was very strict, but for the most part people were respectful. Luckily for me and my short self, I was able to catch some footage of the procession as they were leaving the palace. I dare you to find one inconsistency with any of the guards and their formation. It was spotless. Definitely a must see.
Things You Should Know
They changed a few of their bills last year. I thought I was being slick by buying some English Pounds off of a friend in Canada, so I wouldn’t have to face astronomical exchange rates. However, what I found out is that they no longer accept these old bills. Like they really do not accept it. They wouldn’t even touch it. They looked at me like I showered in a bucket of dirt. The old bills are no longer legal tender. Needless to say, I was stranded a few times because all I had on me were the old bills. I found a bank quick time, to exchange it to the newer versions, and all was well.
Always check your hotel online for elevators. Europe is notorious for having older buildings with no lifts (HA! I sound English right?) Let’s just say I almost threw out my back lifting my suitcase up all these stairs!
When walking on the road, look down. There is writing on the road that tells you what direction traffic is going. If you are like me, and you are not accustomed to cars driving on the opposite side of the road, you can quickly walk into oncoming traffic. The signs will definitely keep you alive and prevent you from becoming road kill!
This post is dedicated to my amazing cousin who passed away in London, Colin Evans. He loved life, he loved his family and he loved to travel. I was honoured to be in London as they laid him to rest. I will always remember you for your zest for life. Rest well Cuz.