London is an endlessly fascinating city full of history and honestly, more pubs than I could count! You feel as if you are simultaneously walking through a city of the future combined with a city of the past as all around you are an array of ridiculously old buildings as well as random gherkin shaped skyscrapers of the future. I spent five days wandering this city, managing to navigate many different areas and try a wide range of London cuisine. The most perplexing part of my trip however…I didn’t get any London rain?! Somehow we lucked out with our London winter weather and even had a few rare moments of actual sunshine! Here are my highlights:
Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens are a must when exploring London. It is a huge grassed area filled with trees, ponds, and yes…many statues. I also managed to find Snowdrop flowers in the park which are incredibly cute flowers and a must see if you have ever seen the movie Stardust (2007)!!
Kensington Gardens was also of a particular interest as it is the home of the Peter Pan statue. The statue captures Peter and Wendy as well as an array of animals and is a must see if you are a Peter Pan fan. It also wasn’t crowded around the statue so it’s a good spot for budding photographers.
I next ventured to Kensington Palace, yes the home of many royals. Once the home of Queen Victoria, Kensington Palace is now the current residence of Kate and Wills.
On the edge of the park as I was wandering to Harrods I came across the Prince Albert Memorial Statue. Even though the sky was grey this magnificent memorial still shone gold.
Ah, Harrods. I couldn’t even afford the chocolate….
Harrods is a beautifully excessive store that houses everything designer, from the clothes to the toys and the food hall. Once I finally found an elevator in the maze that is Harrods I made it to the gift shop, the only place I found things under $60 dollars. Even though it was beyond my pay grade I do recommend exploring Harrods, even if just to check out the toy store area! I can’t help it I’m five…
My next big London adventure was around Trafalgar Square. It is an easy walk from Piccadilly to Trafalgar Square and there are many things to see along the way. Piccadilly is essentially an over-hyped corner dubbed the ‘Times Square’ of London though its about 1/20th the size. That being said there was an amazing lolly shop on the corner offering an abundance of international candies and other snacks.
I then ventured to Leicester Square, a busy area filled with cinemas and street artists. It was also very close to Chinatown and therefore a really good spot for cheap eats. From here I continued on to Covent Garden. Covent Garden is an area filled with shops and pubs, centrally located and quite close to many of the West End theatres. I made sure to go to a pub more than once to try out different foods. When in London having a Sunday Roast in a pub is an absolute must!!
Trafalgar Square is quite close to Covent Garden and somewhat of a hub. It is a square filled with tourists, museums, statues and pigeons….and, thanks to Brexit, many a protester. It is a fun area to people watch as busy Londoners go by.
Buckingham Palace is a quintessentially British monument. It is an international icon that needs to be seen when visiting London. That being said, the actual Palace is only open for visiting about eight weeks a year during the summer so don’t fret if you just take a few quick photos and wander away.
Another London highlight is the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace. We walked through St James Park and got there early. There are many websites offering suggestions of where to stand for the best view. I won’t offer a distinct place but I will suggest you consider three things when you go:
1. whether you have little children who won’t be able to see
2. the changing of the guard goes on for about an hour so pick a spot close to an exit if you want to leave early.
3. there are no bathrooms so go beforehand
I was situated on a roundabout in the centre and got to the palace about an hour before it started to claim a spot.
The bagpipes were my favourite element in the Changing of the Guard and they came out close to the beginning. I didn’t stay for the full guard change as honestly, it goes on for about an hour and once they are inside the palace gates you can’t see much.
By luck however as I was walking away from the palace I came across another round of guards. Always keep your camera in hand when in the area as you don’t know who or what you may come across.
My last big London adventure took me to the City of London. I wandered Blackfriars first before making my way to St Pauls. I just thought the Black Friar Pub was interesting as it is a building with a high amount of character and historic charm, though rather lonely on the corner of the road.
There was no lady feeding the birds on the steps but St Pauls was still miraculous. It is an elegant structure that sits atop a hill and has stunning view points of the city.
From St Pauls I walked along the Millenium Bridge. This bridge featured in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and is a great stopping point for photos of St Pauls, Tower Bridge and the Globe Theatre.
The Globe Theatre pictured below is a replica of the Globe Shakespeare’s plays were performed in. The Globe has many shows on offer and offers cheap standing seats as well as tours of the establishment. It is a great place to explore to gain more knowledge about London’s theatre history.
The Tower Bridge was my last London highlight. It is a highly recognisable London trademark that needs to be seen. There are many stopping points along the river in which to capture this beauty.
London is a vibrant and spread-out city offering a wide range of activities and historic sites to see. No matter what area of London you are exploring you will be sure to find something that peaks your interest!