Do You Like – Tea
A must-stop for tea and gourmet lovers – Fortnum & Mason. This 18th-century department store was established in 1707 and is known for its gourmet groceries, including tea and posh preserves.
According to some, it is the oldest department store in the world. Others also claim this title but put it this way; it is a well-established destination. (Also, next store to here is our next item about books.) It is located on Piccadilly Street in London.
Afternoon Tea Bus Tour of London – Want to combine afternoon tea and a tour of London? You may want to try a “tea” bus tour. There are seven-time slots to choose from.
Do You Like – Books
Hatchards is considered to be the oldest bookseller in London. This store was founded in the 18th century (1797) and hosts regular literary events and book signings. I loved exploring this bookstore. It covers several floors and many excellent titles. (Next to Fortnum & Mason – be sure to see both.)
Do You Like – Museums
The British Museum, founded in 1753, will amaze you when you walk in. It includes eight million works, ones about human history (think Rosetta stone), art, and culture. You could spend an entire day here. I also liked their gift shop – shopping anyone!
Do You Like – History
Big Ben – Okay, this is probably the most iconic location in London, and of course, a do not miss seeing it in person. Big Ben is the nickname for the Great Clock of Westminster. The tower was completed in May 1859 and recently completed a five-year renovation of its exterior. This is a do not miss photo op of you and anyone you are traveling with.
Tower of London – This is a World Heritage Site where you can also see the Crown Jewels. It is located along the River Thames and close to the next time on this list – Tower Bridge.
Tower Bridge – Take the time to explore the Tower Bridge. You can go inside and walk across the upper floor, which includes a glass floor – are you brave enough to walk across it? There are many places to take scenic photos from. Your tour will also include the engine room in a separate building.
Royal Observatory Greenwich – The Prime Meridian goes through the observatory’s grounds. They have an actual Prime Meridian line you can stand over. This will put you in both the Eastern and Western Hemispheres. The Prime Meridian is defined as a longitude of 0°. And the observatory is an interesting place to see.
Do You Like – Markets
Covent Market – I would go to this one if you can only go to one market. It has both indoor and outdoor areas. You can usually find everything from street performers to talented Opera Singers to entertain you. Covent Market calls itself the “original” market.
There are a lot of shops and stalls to wander. Then, when you get hungry, there is a Shack Shake restaurant if you are looking for an American-style hamburger to Punch & Judy Pub with a great local menu, with many other food places in between.
Canary Wharf/Camden Market – Canary Wharf and Camden Market are busy places with year-round events and exhibitions. Oh, and places to eat! There is a canal with locks located here. Watching the boats use the locks to go from one level up or down to the next is interesting. This area has a lot of vibes to it.
Borough Market – This market has been in business at this site since 1756. The majority of it is food, so if you are a foodie, this is a place to explore.
Do You Like – Department Stores
Harrods Department Store – They call themselves – The World’s Leading Luxury Department Store. It was founded in 1849. There are multiple levels with so many great items that you will want to buy. It is a place to wander, wander, and wander. They sell just about everything, and some say it is a great place to buy English souvenirs to take home with you.
Also, look at the first item at the beginning of this blog – do you like tea – Fortnum & Mason – the oldest Department store in the World, so some claim.
Do You Like – High Places With Views
The Shard – Are you looking for the highest point in London? Look no more. The building (you can’t miss it, it’s the tall one) has observation floors on the 68th to the 72nd floor. The building is mix use, often called a “vertical city.” You can work, relax, and live all in the same building if you can afford it. So if you want an amazing 360-degree view of London, this is the place to visit.
London Eye – The London Eye is located not far from Big Ben. It will take you on a leisurely 30-minute ride in one of the observation wheels’ glass pods. You will have unobstructed views of the area and the Thames River from each pod.
Do You Like – Pomp and Circumstance
Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace – You will see precision marching and bands playing as part of the Changing of the Guard ceremony. It is one of the most popular attractions in London. Many tours of London include this activity, and you may want to check some tours to see what works for you. Or go on your own; either way works.
Driving a car in London really does not make sense, between the ‘congestion fees’ and parking, it will be more of a hassle than a benefit. There are so many options for getting around this city, including walking. Be sure to learn how to ride the buses and their underground/metro called the Tube in London. There is also Uber and their famous Black Cabs. No car is needed.
Like many major cities, several companies provide free walking tours. They are free, but you are expected to tip the tour guide at the end. You pay what you can, or you feel the tour was worth to you. Strawberry tours is one that I used a couple of times. (Note there are no affiliate links in this article). They offer a variety of tours like Harry Potter, Landmarks, Ghost Tours, and more.
If you don’t feel comfortable with a free tour, there are plenty of Paid tours – so many it is impossible to list them all. This is one company I have used, Viator, but be sure to find ones you like. I recommend taking a tour early during your stay in London or any city you travel to. They are a great way to get to know a city. I have not had good luck with hop-on, hop-off tours, but again if you ride the loop, you will see things you would have missed otherwise.
Trafalgar Square is where you will find iconic statues, like the lions and the National Gallery. Another place to see street performers and photo ops. (The articles cover image.)
Piccadilly Circus is another iconic location. It is like a small Times Square, with large lighted signs. From here, if you are up for walking (or take a cab if you are not), you can walk along Piccadilly to places like the bookseller and tea store mentioned earlier. It is about a five-minute walk.
Kew Gardens is a world-famous garden that again could take you most of the day. You can even take the Tube to get there. The botanic garden is over 500 acres with a diverse collection. One of my favorites is the Waterlily House.
Sealife Centre London Aquarium is near Big Ben, just across the bridge. They have a massive variety of sea life and offer talks. About five years ago, they added a large selection of jellyfish, which are interesting.
Oh, there are more, too many for just one blog!
GREAT recommendations for our upcoming trim to London! Thank you Blue Bags!