At the age of 92, Queen Elizabeth II is the longest-serving monarch in British History, reigning for 64 years. So when her majesty invited me for tea and biscuits (unfortunately not my grandma’s homemade ones) I couldn’t resist the trip to Buckingham Palace. We talked about life, family, her favorite TV show “Game of Thrones” (not “The Crown”) and Being Present. It was a magnificent experience. I even slipped Meghan Markle my number and said: “If things don’t work out with you an Harry give me a call!” Haha just kidding I didn’t see Meghan. On a serious note, I think when most people think of London they think of the royal family and all of the pomp and circumstance, which is undeniable but there are a lot of other things to do in the capital of England. In fact, there is so much to that we are going to break this down into two blog posts with this one being the first.
Here are some of my favorite things not to miss in London 1-11:
First thing I recommend you do is purchase a London Pass. The pass will grant you entry into over 80 attractions including museums. The pass can be purchased in daily increments 1,2,3,6, or 10 days. For an additional fee, you can add the Oyster Card that is a travel card which you can use for public transportation. You can purchase both online before your trip or find a store front location in London.
1. Changing of the Guard
See the New Guard exchange Duty with the Old Guard outside of Buckingham Palace. The Queen’s guard is made up of active duty soldiers from the Household Division’s Foot Guards who guard the palace. The Palace Old Guard are in formation in the front courtyard at 10:30 am. The New Guard then arrives from Wellington Barracks to take over for the Old Guard. If you are facing Buckingham Palace I recommend standing on the left side to get get a great view of the guards marching in their traditional red tunics and bearskin hats. Check schedule and times: HERE
2. The London Eye
I’m sure whenever you see pictures on London you are sure to see a giant Ferris wheel. Located on the South Bank of the River Thames Europes tallest Ferris wheel offers great views of London. I suggest going at sunset and booking your tickets online ahead of time.
Lambeth, London SE1 7PB, UK
3. Big Ben
Nicknamed for the Great Bell of the clock at the Palace of Westminster is a piece of architecture that you shouldn’t miss. Designed by Augustus Pugin and built in 1859 is a British cultural icon. Access is not permitted for non-British citizens but you can admire it from the outside. You can also get a great view from the London Eye with it being 5-10 minute walk.
Westminster, London SW1A 0AA, UK
4. Regent Street
Want to do some shopping then head over to this beautiful street in the West End. You will find 5-star hotels, stores that include Apple, Zara, Anthropolgie and amazing restaurants. You also will want to admire the architecture of this street. Interesting Fact: The Queen owns this world-famous street.
5. The Shard
One of the newer buildings in London built in 2012, this 95 story skyscraper is the tallest building in the UK. The Shard has some of the best offices, restaurants and hotel rooms but one of the major draws is the observation deck. Level 69 offers amazing views of Londodn that should not be missed. And admission is included with your London Pass.
32 London Bridge St, London SE1 9SG, UK
6. Tower of London
Want to check out some bling? This is the place to go to view The Crown Jewels. The dazzling collection of precious jewels and diamonds of the Monarchy are not to be missed. You can also check out the royal armor of Henry VIII and Charles I or head over to the Royal Mint Museum and learn about the history of Britains currency. Included in London Pass
St Katharine’s & Wapping, London EC3N 4AB, UK
7. Natural History Museum
There are plenty of amazing museums in London and it’s really hard to pick a favorite. But I am going to choose this museum to check out if you have limited time in London. Opened in 1881 this Victorian architecture building is beautifully constructed to house 80 million items of collections of botany, entomology, mineralog,y, paleontology, and zoology. Also it is free to visit!
Cromwell Rd, Kensington, London SW7 5BD, UK
8. Portobello Road Market
Located in the swank Notting Hill neighborhood this market is filled with merchants selling art, antiques, jewelry, clothing, and food. If you want to rub elbows with the locals and need a break from the big tourist attractions this may be the place for you.
Portobello Rd, London W11 1AN, UK
9. Red Telephone Box
There are no shortages of the famous Red Telephone booths around London. So make sure you get a picture in front of these vintage British icons.
10. Tower Bridge
Another iconic landmark in London is probably the most famous bridge in the world. This historic bridge is an architectural marvel that has moveable roadways that lift up when large ships need to pass through. Another cool thing is you can go inside and walk across the glass floor and see the engine rooms and great views of the bridge down below. Included with London Pass
Tower Bridge Rd, London SE1 2UP, UK
11. St. Pauls Cathedral/Millenium Bridge
I put these two landmarks together for the simple fact that I consider it one of the most architecturally beautiful walks I’ve been on. If you are crossing the bridge from the South End (near Tate Modern) across the River Thames to the North End you get an amazing view of the London Sky Line but also a great framed view of St. Paul’s Cathedral. Once you have crossed head inside the cathedreal which ranks as one of the top churches in London. The famous imposing dome is to be admired. You can also climb the 528 steps to the top of the dome to the Golden Gallery or head below ground to the crypt which houses a restaurant and cafe. Included in London Pass
Bankside; London, SE1; United Kingdom
Getting Around: I recommend taking the “Tube” (subway) to get around. There are trains to and from the airport and to every point of interest. There is no need to rent a car. You can purchase daily or multi-day passes in any tube station.
Where to stay: I reccommend a stay at the Trebivor Hotel, a boutique hotel in the Kensington neighborhood. Located on a nice quiet street and half a block from a main tube station and restaurants.
18-20 Trebovir Rd, Kensington, London SW5 9NH, UK