Preparing for your London trip?
As a tourist, it’s hard to fit everything that London has to offer in only a few short days. With the countless museums, famous streets, tourist attractions, and places to eat, it’s a wonder that people can even decide what to do. But after being in England for two weeks, here’s a list of 9 of my favorite experiences that I had in the city. I would definitely recommend these to anyone.
1. See a musical!
I saw both Wicked and Jersey Boys in London. Wicked was my personal favorite — the cast was amazing and the actors spoke in British accents, which I loved. Many musicals can be found around Leicester Square and Covent Garden. And if you go to the half-priced ticket booths, you may be able to get good half-priced seats for a musical within the next few days.
2. Go walking in a park!
Or go running outside instead of going to the gym. You’ll get a workout, you’ll escape from the hustle and bustle of the city streets, and you’ll get to check out what the locals are up to. But if you choose to go to one of the larger parks, such as Hyde Park, it may likely be crowded with tourists.
3. Take a boat tour past the London Eye and under the Tower Bridge.
Why? First of all, it’s beautiful. And when I went, our tour guide gave us awesome information about the history of London while we were riding down the river. The tour I took was only a five minute walk away from Big Ben and Westminster Abbey, so you’ll be able to see those beauties on your way there.
4. Go to Buckingham Palace and see the changing of the guards.
It’s more of a show than anything, really. Men wearing fancy suits are riding around on horses. The guards change (it happens at 11:30 a.m. every day). People watch from the palace. It’s where The Queen lives, so it’s naturally one of the most popular tourist attractions in London.
5. Take a tour of Shakespeare’s Globe.
Our tour guide gave us a lot of information about the history of theater in London, which as really interesting. And Although the building isn’t the original building Shakespeare directed plays in (the original was destroyed), the new Shakespeare’s Globe is located just next to the area where the original once was. (The original location of Shakespeare’s Globe is now a parking lot.)
6. Go to museums!
At the British Museum (my personal favorite), check out sculptures and artifacts from Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, the Middle East. Look at paintings of gods, statues of pharaohs, and drawings from painters such as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. With all this museum holds, it’s impossible to tackle it in a few hours. Decide where you want to go in the museum first, and then look around. Other popular museums in London include Tate Modern and the National Gallery — all three are in the top most visited art museums in the world. Tate Modern features much abstract and contemporary art, while the National Gallery has many Christ-inspired paintings.
7. Check out Piccadilly Circus and Oxford Street.
It’s what everyone will recommend that you do, so you might as well go there for an evening. The streets are filled with hundreds of people, street shows, and shops. With dozens of pubs nearby Oxford Street, it’s a nice area to walk around for a night out. It’s very touristy and it will likely be crowded, but it’s fun nonetheless. Do note that there is no circus at Piccadilly Circus, though.
8. Eat English food!
Go to a local cafe and order English breakfast, which consists of eggs, sausages, and bacon. It can be served with beans, black pudding (a sausage made by cooking blood), and many other side dishes. There are so many cute cafes in London, so it won’t be hard to spot a one that serves the traditional breakfast. I went to Gerry’s Cafe near St. Paul’s Cathedral, and it was delicious! Other popular English foods include fish and chips with mushy peas, bangers and mash, Yorkshire pudding, crumpets, shepherd’s pie, and more.
9. Drink English tea.
When I was ordering English tea for the first time, I asked the cashier how it tasted. He replied with, “Well, it tastes like tea. I’m not sure how to describe it. I’ve always compared other teas to how English tea tastes.” If people in England drink it so regularly, then you definitely have to try it. It’s easy to make — just put the tea bag in and add milk. The tea is more bland than the chai teas that I’m used to, but I like it.
So there you go — a list of my favorite things that I experienced and absolutely loved in London. But there are hundreds of other things you could do in the city. You could go to Brick Lane, which is famous for its graffiti. You could check out Platform 9 and 3/4 at King’s Cross Train Station (although I must admit, it’s a bit disappointing… it’s very touristy and the platform is actually on the side of a wall). You could rent a bike and ride around the city or check out St. Paul’s Cathedral. You could go clubbing (I went to the Ministry of Sound, which was awesome — 4 dance floors with a different genre of music in each). This is just a guide to help you get started. But there are countless possibilities to make your trip your own.
Article written by Nikki Somani.