Beginner’s Guide to London
Arts & Culture
Food & Wine
London is a graceful, bustling city. Red double-decker buses and iconic black taxis fill the streets to get you from point A to point B. The streets are lined with coffee shops and tea rooms to enjoy a cuppa while watching the world around you. Spend some time shopping on Oxford street, or enjoy one of the free entry museums like the Victoria and Albert. You will never be bored in London, in fact, you will leave wanting more.
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Where to stay in London
Park International Hotel
This South Kensington hotel is a family favorite for its free breakfast and four-person rooms.
The Kensington Hotel
A short drive from Kensington Palace, live like a (posh) Londoner at this Regency-era townhouse hotel.
citizenM Tower of London
Budget-friendly pick near Tower Bridge with small rooms, big style, and a fun rooftop bar.
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Things to do in London
Take a foodie walking tour
I highly recommend a food tour when you’re in London – ask me about my favorite local recommendations. Many tours start at the London Borough Market, and from there you will embark on a walking tour full of delicious food and history of London. Bring your appetite, as you’ll try anything and everything from scotch eggs to donuts and sticky toffee pudding. You will walk through Southwark and its beautiful cathedral, and end up on South Bank by Tower Bridge. Going on a tour is an amazing way to taste British food while exploring the city.
Afternoon tea on a double-decker
You can’t visit London without enjoying an afternoon tea, and you can do it with a twist with Brigit’s Bakery, a company that offers several tours per day (meeting at Victoria Station). Lasting more than an hour, you will enjoy savory sandwiches, sweet treats and of course, scones with cream and jam. The bus will take you across London icons such as Big Ben, St. Paul’s Cathedral and Buckingham Palace, and includes a pre-recorded tour over a speaker system.
Discover London street art
London offers a variety of free walking tours throughout the city. Join a local London artist to discover the many street artists who make London both interesting and beautiful. The guide will teach you about the different artists and show you many different pieces throughout East London. This tour will make you more observant as you stroll through the London streets on your own. If you prefer a more formal, guided art tour, check out The National Gallery in Trafalgar Square, or Tate Modern by the London Bridge.
Ride the London Eye
Also known as the Millennium Wheel, the London Eye is the United Kingdom’s most popular paid tourist attraction. It is the world’s largest cantilevered observation wheel, or in layman's terms, a Ferris wheel. There are 32 mounted passenger-carrying pods, known as capsules, representing the 32 boroughs that make up the Greater London area. On a clear day, you will be able to see most of London’s main attractions and landmarks: the River Thames, Buckingham Palace, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Shard, the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Hyde Park, Covent Garden, and more!
A note from Erin
I love small walking tours to get an intimate understanding of a destination. Ask me about my favorite recommendations for London!
Places to eat & drink in London
London has every cuisine you can imagine – but some of my personal favorite spots include:
Peggy Porchens in Belgravia is a perfectly pink cafe that changes their outdoor decor by season. Have a piece of Victoria sponge cake and cup of tea, and enjoy the posh Belgravia atmosphere.
We all know fish and chips is an English staple. Poppie’s Fish and Chips has multiple locations, and serves up a large portion of cod and chips. The cafe has been around for many years and it gives off a quintessentially English feel.
Tower Bridge is one of the most beautiful views in London, and the Coppa Club provides a cozy spot for dinner. The restaurant has igloos set up outside of the restaurant that will hold up to eight people. The igloos are heated inside so that even if the weather is blustery you will stay warm as you enjoy a range of food from small bites to entrees or pizza.
If you want to be among the clouds and enjoy London views, visit Darwin Brasserie in the Sky Garden. The restaurant is located on the 36th floor, and if you are visiting the restaurant you will not need a separate ticket to visit the sky garden. The Darwin Brasserie is open late each day and you can enjoy a range of entrees including cottage pie and roast chicken supreme. The sky garden is lovely as you can see many London landmarks from its floor to ceiling windows, but also enjoy the indoor garden and green space.
If you want to step back in time, visit Cahoots in SoHo. The cocktail bar is set up in an abandoned train station and is 1940s themed. There are several rooms to enjoy cocktails and light bites. Staff are in 1940s costumes providing a nostalgic, but very London-esque feel.
Need to Know
London is always busy, so it can help to avoid public transportation at peak commute hours.
If you’re visiting during the winter holidays, the season provides extra beauty as the store fronts are decorated and lights across the town add a festive touch. You will also find Christmas markets with fun stalls of food and trinkets.
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