Thursday, January 17, 2013

guide to london

after living in this city while i interned with the british parliament, it has 
become part of me. i would describe london as a city in between europe 
and america, a brilliant mix of all the world has to offer. you don't get the 
complete cultural experience of another european country, but you get 
more of an-in-between ground where the familiar meets the different, 
and the modern world meets the old, traditional world. you can 
never stop exploring london, but here are some favorites..

• the well-traveled wife's guide to 
L O N D O N   T O W N 
*includes: sights, museums, markets, parks, shopping, food, & side trips*


--Big Ben-- 

The iconic London sight, which I got to work right beneath...and I even got to 
climb up Big Ben one day and stand inside the giant clock when it 
struck noon! Due to security, that experience is only open to British 
citizens unless you book it far in advance and get it approved by 
Parliament. It's worth the hassle, because it was 
one of the best moments I've ever experienced!

--Houses of Parliament-- 
Parliament is so amazing and worth seeing. This is where 
I got to work, and it is so historic and you could 
meet a member of Parliament! If anyone is visiting London and wants 
a guided tour, email us and I can set it up with my old office.

--Westminster Abbey--

So many greats are buried here, from kings and queens 
to poets and writers and, it doesn't hurt that 
William and Kate had their royal wedding here!

--Trafalger Square-- 

 I consider this the heart of London, geographically at least. This is a 
bustling square where I loved to go on my lunch break, sit by the fountain 
and read. I love the view of the streets down to Big Ben from the center of the 
 Square. There are fun little shops & cafes all around it.

--Buckingham Palace--  

Changing of the Guard is every day at 11. Also...keep your eyes peeled, 
 because when I  was there they had a royal event at Buckingham 
and I got to see the entire royal family come out on the balcony!

--Picadilly Circus--

Picadilly is so fun, just like it's name! It's a little different from other historic 
areas with all of the neon signs and was the first place in London 
to get electronic billboards, and it turned into a kind of Times Square...
now the city has toned it down, and it's not so crazy. There are lots of 
people walking around Picadilly all the time, and Fortnum & Mason 
is on Piccadilly, which makes it worth going to for that alone.

--Tower of London-- 

You can see the crown jewel here..definitely worth seeing once!

--London Bridge--  

This is just a normal bridge, but fun for a picture...
and to make sure it's not falling down!

--London Eye--  

Love the Eye but warning.. it's spendy and usually foggy! There are other cool 
buildings to go up for views, but this probably isn't the best to take a ride 
on if you're on a budget. When we went up there was a wedding 
reception happening on it in all the different cars, so they just
 had one open for was pretty unique!

--Millenium Bridge--  

This is a cool, modern bridge between the Tate and St. Paul's's also in Harry Potter, so people love seeing it for that.

--St. Paul's Cathedral--  

Our Capitol was designed like this of course I am partial to it since 
the Capitol is one of my favorite buildings, but it really is so pretty & classic.

--Shakespeare's Globe--  

Fun to go to one Shakespeare play's great and so historic! 
Just make sure you pick a good play to go to.

--Leicester Square--  

Love this area! This is where you can get all the discount tickets for West End 
shows (like Broadway in NYC.) There is also good food around here...
so many favorites! {See food section below}. SEE A WEST END PLAY!!!

--Covent Garden-- 
Such a fun area...good food and shops, and crazy street performers! This is 
one of my favorite places to go for an afternoon and just stroll, because 
there's something for everyone and there's always something going on!


Right between Covent Garden and Leicester Square...
fun and hip and good shopping/restaurants.

--British Library--  

Worth stopping in- they have original sheet music from the Beatles, 
the Magna Carta, the original Alice in Wonderland and Canterbury Tales, etc.

--Temple Church-- 

Where Da Vince Code was filmed.

--Abbey Road-- 

You have to walk a little ways from the nearest tube stop, but it's 
a must to go sign the wall and take a picture crossing the street!

--Prime Meridian--  

This really was cool to go stand on the line. Greenwich Park, which 
surrounds it, is gorgeous in the summer. If you don't want to go into the 
museum then you can go stand on the line outside the gate. It's cool either way!

--Kensington Palace-- 

 Right in Hyde Park...I love Kensington! The best part is that it's a real 
palace, since Prince William & Kate currently live there! 
The Orangerie is right by it too, which is a favorite.

I've been to London twice for Wimbledon, and it's one of my favorite things ever. I'm a major tennis fan and have been to all but one of the grand slam tournaments, but Wimbledon is in a league of it's own. It is SO classy and wonderful. Even if you aren't a tennis fan! If you are in London in the summer and decide to go, make sure to go early to queue up, and REALLY make sure to get strawberries & cream..I still dream of it daily! {The Wimbledon Tournament happens in the summer, but you can visit the grounds anytime}

--BBC Headquarters--

If you are a nerd like me & grew up watching BBC, this is a fun place to go. 
You can get tickets to live tapings of shows {like X Factor} and be in the audience!

--Platform 9 3/4--
(King's Cross station) 
Fun to see this and take a picture if you're a Harry Potter fan...they even have 
a cart attached to it so you look like you're pushing through the magic wall!

--Canary Wharf--  

Financial district...a little further out and there aren't big sights to
 see, but I liked running out there by the water and big tall buildings.

--River Thames-- 
First off, make sure to pronounce this the right's not how it looks.
You say it like "tems." Secondly, this river goes all through London,
so it's a fun way to get around if you take a river cruise. Lastly,
go on some runs along the Thames. They have great paths and it's beautiful!

--The Tube-- 

The tube is a quintessential London experience that everyone needs to experience. 

From the stops being announced in a British accent, to the cleanliness, to the 
voice saying "mind the gap," it's something that I miss taking to work every day!
*Also, take one ride in a famous London "Black Cab"


British Museum

Rosetta Stone, Egyptian artifacts...amazing. There is a lot to 
take in, so go back a few times to cover it all!

--Museum of London--

This one is fun- it goes through all of London's history era by 
era and it's a little more modern with a fun set up.

--Victoria & Albert Museum-- 

Stunning. I love love love this museum. It is so unique, and the 
building itself  is so beautiful. The cafe there also has some 
of the most authentic British food you can find!

--National Gallery--

Filled with incredible, famous art. My favorite are the Monets.

--National Portrait Gallery--

Filled with portraits of famous British people...I love the portraits 
of all the royals, especially Prince Harry, Prince William and Princess Di.

--Tate Modern--
For some reason everyone LOVES this place. I liked it, but it's pretty funky. 
Worth seeing though, and of course Andy Warhol is always worth it.

--Science Museum--

 This is actually such a fun museum. They always have
crazy exhibits, and it's free so why not stop in?

--Natural History Museum-- 

Right next to Science Museum and worth going to...
most London museums are free which is so nice compared to France, 
etc! So take advantage and go to all of them at least for a little!

--Sr. John Soane's Museum--
Complete hidden gem...very favorite London museum of mine! 
I discovered this on my own, no one told me about it..
so make sure you GO. It's the coolest old home of an English
Architect who collected some of the most amazing items, kept
them in his home, and had it turned into a museum when he died. Amazing. 

--National Maritime Museum--
Right by the Royal Observatory/ Prime Meridian, this is
worth stopping into! Shows the history of the Navy.

--Photographers' Gallery--

 This was closed when I was living there,
but I heard it is amazing so check it out! 

--Wallace Collection--

 Gorgeous restored mansion filled with art.
The art is amazing, and the setting is even more amazing! 


--Portobello Market-- 

Cutest area of London, long market with antiques, food, 
shopping...and the Notting Hill door. Good finds all along here!

--Borough Market--

Food only, but lots of it and such yummy and unique things.
I tried something different every time and LOVED IT. YUM.

--Camden Market--

Trendy, fun market with shopping and every kind of food you can imagine...
the shopping is under the Camden Market sign, but the good 
food is down the road so make sure to go to both! BEST food stands!!!!

--Spitalfield's Market--

More modern and area and market.

--Jubilee Market--

Fun shops and food at Covent Garden.

--Hyde Park--

This park is bigger than you even think! Go see the Serpentine River, 
 Princess Di Memorial, Speaker’s Corner, Marble Arch etc...if it's not 
too cold, rent bikes because that was my favorite thing!)

--Kensington Gardens--

Get tea at The Orangery...that is a London must! 
You can also go to the Serpentine Gallery here.

--Regent's Park--

Queen Mary's Rose Garden in Regent's Park= heaven.
Honestly a top favorite of mine. Go read every single rose name.

--St. James’s Park--

Pretty little park with a view of Buckingham Palace- 
this is where I usually went on my lunch break every day,
so it's near and dear to my heart! Gorgeous flowers here too.

--Green Park--
Right on the other side of Buckingham, this is fun 
to cross through and look at the Palace.


--Primark --

BEST prices and such good cute clothing finds, but be ready for madness! 
It is always so crowded but so worth it! Some of my favorite items are from here.


LOVE. Go wander. Don't miss the food level, or the permanent Christmas section.

--Cath Kidston--

I'd describe Cath Kidston as the British version of Kate Spade...need I say more?
You will probably fall in love and come back from London with a bag from here.

--Fortnum & Mason--

I'd say this place is almost like the local’s version of Harrods. 
So so SO darling! It's in Picadilly area. Go for sure! The food section is unreal
I spent hours upon hours wandering this place. FAVORITE.

--Selfridges & Co.--

This is a big department store on Oxford Street, and it's such a dream.
Just like a British version of Nordstrom//Macy's, but even more elegant. 

Be sure to go down to the bottom level to see all of their house displays. Love!

Cutest stationary, books, etc. Love this place.

--Oxford Street--

Shopping shopping shopping...there is nothing better than walking down the
posh Oxford Street on a shopping outing. One of my favorite London memories 
is leaving work one day to go shop on Oxford, going into Selfridges & Co. {a London
department store} and buying my first Longchamp bag. Never been happier!  

--Regent Street--

Shopping shopping shopping!

--Carnaby Street--

Fun, picturesque & colorful street to shop on.

Also: go to Zara & Mango {not just in London, but two favorites}
***If you're planning on shopping a lot, you should know about the VAT tax.
The UK has a high tax on clothing for citizens, and if you ask for the VAT receipt + form at 
each store, you can turn it in at the airport when you leave and get all the money back!
Depending how much you shop/spend on clothes, it can be worth it! 


--The Orangery-- 
Perfect place for going to tea in's a full British experience,
and right in Kensington gardens. Definitely go here!!

This is some good froyo, and that's coming from a froyo snob!

Hummingbird Bakery

arling bakery right on portobello..worth stopping in for a little cupcake.

Popular Japanese restaurant..I love all the noodles, and the feel of this place!

Good Portugese place..get the chicken and some amazing side dishes,
then you can choose out of lots of different sauces for your chicken. {Just make
sure they aren't too spicy!} Unlimited soft serve ice cream at the end!!!!

This place is a complete favorite for a quick snack/lunch/treat. They have all
fresh salads/sandwiches/soups + the best treats, already made and ready
to take! The salads are amazing, and the lovebar dessert is the best.

 Pizza Pilgrims

The classic fish & chips can be found at Poppies - top notch!

 Pizza Pilgrims

Although you're not in Italy, Pizza Pilgrims is a must-stop for pizza lovers.


Fun little lounge with good burgers..get the waffle dessert with ice cream!

  Gelato Mio
Favorite gelato we found in London. Right on Portobello!

Brick Lane
If you are a curry fan, head to Brick Lane for all the best.


The reason I don't have TONS of restaurants listed on this guide is because

the markets were my very favorite places to eat in London. They are all listed 
above, so make sure to read them and go to some. The best food in London can
be found at Borough Market, and there is literally every type of food so you'll
never get bored. Camden Market also has the BEST food stands, so eat there a lot!!!   

***Get Hob Nobs!!! BEST COOKIE. Any grocery store. Chocolate covered is even better. They are addictive. BE WARNED.***

 Side Trips I Did







Lake District


Cheerio, London Town!
"When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; 
for there is in London all that life can afford."
— Samuel Johnson 

**see all of our travel guides HERE!!


  1. Oh my god!! This is the most wonderful blogspot I ever saw!!! Iam following you now!
    I love this post! ♥


  2. Thanks for following my blog! :) Glad you liked the jewelry holders!

    I have never been to Europe, but London sounds just about perfect. :) Thanks for all the tips!!

  3. Thanks for your comment on my blog! I will be following you from now on :)

    What a great guide to London! I love it! My favourite places have to be Covent garden and the foundling museum in Russell Square, every time I visit London I have to go to these places! x

    1. love covent garden too! i've never made it to the foundling museum yet, but passed by it. i'll have to go next time! xo

  4. Omg Platform 9 3/4! That is so so awesome!

  5. Love the blog, but this post made me REALLY REALLY wanna go back to London! We were only there a few days but we did so much on your list and it was a BLAST!!

  6. i cant find you among my followers, if you want follow and i will follow back!


  7. This is an awesome post! My dream to visit London is in the near future, can't wait! So great to see all your fun adventures and awesome places you visited. Wonderful pictures!

    1. thanks lovely! hope you get to go soon, you will love it! xo

  8. I miss Hummingbird so much that my boyfriend got me their cookbook!

    1. i LOVE that! i need to get the cookbook now!

  9. I am FOR SURE pinning this and using this as a guide to London someday! So excited, you make me want to hop on a plane right now!

  10. makes me want to go to london even more.

  11. Absolutely love this! Planning to go to Europe sometime between March and June so I'll definitely have to make sure to see all of these places :)
    xo TJ

  12. Hi! Im Fran, a spanish male fashion blogger. Maybe you like my style and want to follow me

    facebbok: showroomdegarde

  13. And just like that, London is on my bucket list! Awesome post and thanks for stopping by my blog :)

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  16. Found you on the hop :)

    Super jealous of all your London pics! I was hoping to finally go there this spring but that pesky thing called a budget got in the way.. boo!

    So neat that you got to go inside Big Ben, that's amazing! And I'm super duper jealous of the platform 9 and 3/4 pic!! I'm a huge HP dork!

    Happy Friday!

    1. haha, glad you love HP! i hope you make it to london sometime soon, even if you can't this spring! it will still be there waiting for you! XO

  17. SO jealous you've been to wimbledon TWICE!! i've always dreamed about going. my hubby has backpacked all over europe 3 different times! while i've yet to go. alas...someday...i can't wait :)

    1. ahh you must have your hubby take you! and make sure to go when wimbledon is happening..there really is nothing like it! xo

  18. Planning a trip to London in August and your post was awesome! Thanks

    1. how fun!! i am so envious, you will have a great time! glad you can use this guide! XO

  19. Late to the party here, but I just found this blog. Bookmarking this guide as we're going to London next year! Thanks :)

    1. Yay! Hope it helps :) Be sure to go to Fortnum & Mason if nothing else!


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