Ello! This is part one of my 10-day Europe trip and in this blog post I am taking you to London, England. I spent three full days in this city, being very active all three days. Dustin and I really enjoyed London, both agreeing that we would go back.
So, let’s get this show on the road…
We booked our trip back in early September and the roundtrip cost me $279.83 USD in total. This was including a personal item and carry-on bag. Dustin’s ticket was a little more expensive because he purchased it with a checked bag.
Our flight flew out of Orlando, into Detroit, then to London. We left on Thursday, December 12th at 2PM and landed in London on Friday, December 13th at 5 AM. This rewarded us a whole first day in London. After collecting our suitcase, we headed towards the train station. The train station is very easy to get to from the airport, there are a number of signs directing you where to go. There’s no need to Uber to the station, it’s right underneath the airport.
Train tickets are honestly confusing in London. If you are there for three days and find a 3-day travel ticket, purchase it. They do NOT sell them at some train stations, so whenever you see them, buy them. Unfortunately we had to purchase a day-ticket everyday we were there.
The ride was about an hour to the our hotel in Tower Hill, which was the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel London – Tower of London. The hotel was incredible. It was beautiful and had amazing service. I would definitely stay here again.
Our first day in London was quite a lot of exploring. We visited the famous Platform 9 3/4, Picadilly Square, SoHo, and attended a fun Christmas event in Hyde Park.
Even if you’re not a Harry Potter fan, it’s still pretty cool to visit Kings Cross for that Platform. There’s a neat photo-op, along with a cool Harry Potter gift shop.
Picadilly Square is like London’s Time’s Square. This is where the city is bustling and full of life. There are tall buildings, big screens, a beautiful fountain, and much more. For the holidays, the streets where decorated with these incredible lights and decor on the buildings. I loved walking through the streets seeing all the creative ways the city decorated for Christmas.
SoHo is an area of London that is fun to walk through. There are a number of unique cafes, shops, and restaurants. It’s very easy to get persuaded to walk into every shop you see along the roads.
Hyde Park was so festive for the holidays. Luckily for us, there was a large Christmas event happening in the park, Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland. It was a winter carnival full of rides, food trucks, holiday decor, shows, and a small Christmas market. It was so elaborate and made the park so much more beautiful. The festive lights were glowing throughout the entire area making it seem magical. We were so happy we got to experience this event. If I was a local, I’d totally make this an annual family event. The event was free to enter which was great.
On day 2, we had a great start to our day with the delicious breakfast at the hotel. The breakfast was complimentary and was one of the best hotel breakfasts I have EVER had. This is not exaggerating because Dustin agreed. On day 2 we covered the Tower of London, Tate Modern Museum, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, and had classic fish and chips for dinner!
The Tower of London was AMAZING. This entire experience was way more than what I was expecting. Coming here, you get to learn about the history of England, the royals, what has occurred in the Tower of London, explore the Crown Jewels, and grow a new understanding for the British culture. We purchased a concession (student) ticket for 19.30 pounds online. We did this just in case there was a long line at the gate, we’d only have to make the line to pick up our tickets. Concession pricing are all over Europe so be sure to bring your student ID if you’re in school to get that discount.
There is a free tour called the Yeoman Warder Tours that begin every 30 minutes. Upon entering, ask an employee when the next one is and hang around the front. The tour begins to the left of the entrance. Do not miss this tour, it is lead by one of the Queen’s Beefeaters that are incredibly knowledgable about the history of London. All of them have served in the Queen’s army and are now serving her by informing the public on the incredible history of the Tower of London. 10/10 a must-do.
The Tate Modern Museum wasn’t my absolute favorite thing. Modern Art is for a certain audience and I have never been fully drawn to it. Now, if you’re a fan of this type of art, I definitely recommend this museum. They have a number of free, interesting exhibits that you may not see anywhere else. If modern art isn’t your fancy, maybe try another museum.
Buckingham Palace, WOW. Dustin and I both verbally said “wow,” while walking up to this historical jewel of the British empire. Buckingham Palace, a place only seen in history books and television. No tours were being offered since the Queen is home (tours are only offered during the Summer), but seeing the palace was enough. There is a gorgeous fountain looking straight at Buckingham Palace. You can just take in the beauty of the palace from the fountain, it’s where you’ll get the best views and it’s the best picture spot.
Just a short 15 minute walk from Buckingham Palace is Westminster Abbey. Westminster Abbey is a famous, historical church in London. The church is famous for having many prominent rulers buried there and being the home of where the coronations take place. We did not go in because we, unfortunately, went at night. However, when we go back, we definitely do want to go inside. If you have more time, go during the day time and take the tour. It is said to be about two hours and a half so be sure to make note of this before taking it.
To end our second day in London, we went to “the best fish and chips in London,” Poppies Fish and Chips. This little restaurant is like a hole-in-the-wall in SoHo. It has this vintage vibe to it that I loved and produced such a happy atmosphere. We went around 6:30 PM for dinner and it was pretty crowded inside. Luckily, there was no wait so they had a table open for us. Even though it was a pretty busy night for them, we had incredible service. They always made sure we were okay and delivered our food out pretty quickly. Dustin and I both ordered fish and chips, Dustin added an order of mushed peas to his meal. Important note, Dustin had never had fish and chips before this moment. To be honest, he ordered himself a Coke, just in case he needed to wash down the fishy taste. However, that was not needed. Dustin loved the dish. He said that the batter was incredibly tasty and there was no strong taste of fish. He also really enjoyed the chips, stating they weren’t too salty. The mushed peas were also a favorite of his. Overall, he really enjoyed his meal. For me, I enjoyed it as well. I am a huge fan of fish and chips, these were delicious. The batter was different than what I had tried before, but was pretty tasty. I definitely recommend to lovers of fish or to those who have never tried.
Our last day London consisted of another delicious breakfast at the hotel, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the British Museum, Borough Market, the London Eye, Leak Street Graffiti Tunnel, and delicious dim sum in SoHo.
St, Paul’s Cathedral was a jaw dropper. Whether you are religious or not, you must visit this historical landmark in London. This cathedral can bring tears to your eyes from it’s beauty on the outside to the intricate detail inside. You can spend a good amount of time walking around the Cathedral, taking in everything. Going inside will also take time, looking around all the gorgeous architecture. We went in on a Sunday which was great because we had the chance to attend the mass. Anyone is able to go in for silent prayer, there is a small chapel dedicated to that. On other days, I believe there is a fee to pay to enter and tour the Cathedral.
The British Museum was one of my favorite parts of the trip. Much like other things I experience, this was more than I expected. Visitors learn about the history of the Western World. Explore Egypt’s past, the intricate work of the Greeks, the work of the Assyrians, and so much more.
Dustin and I did research before coming and discovered a man by the name of Rick Steves. Rick Steves is a travel podcaster and audio tour guide. He has traveled throughout Europe a large number of times. In result of this, he had recorded a large number of audio tours for certain locations and exhibits around Europe. He had one for the British museum and it was incredible. He mainly focuses on the more interesting artifacts, making sure we’re viewing the more important things. I definitely recommend downloading his app before going to Europe. You will save so much money listening to his audio tour, than purchasing one or going with a large tour group. It’s Rick Steves Audio Europe.
After venturing through the British Museum, we were starving. We made our way to Borough Market. Borough Market is famous in London. It’s open daily and resembles a type of farmer’s market. There a number of pop-up shops, fresh produce, delicious eats, and restaurants surrounding the area. Just our luck, all three of the booths we wanted to visit were all closed on Sunday. You have no idea how disappointed we were. Inside Borough Market is Kappacasein Dairy, home of the best grilled cheese in the world. This was according to countless reviews online. We couldn’t experience this, but if you can, please do. Let us know how it tastes 🥺. Just remember, do not go on a Sunday.
Anyway, definitely go to Borough Market. It’s a lot of fun and there’s so much to see. We had some delicious donuts from Bread Ahead and ate some tapas at Tapas Brindisa. The donuts were some of the best I’ve had. The cream that they fill them with is to die for. I recommend eating them right there, not asking for a bag. Tapas Brindisa was great for shareable meals or for something small. Dustin and I just ordered two plates, croquetas de jamón and patatas bravas. The croquetas were incredible, there was ham and cheese filled in each one. They weren’t like Cuban croquetas, but we’re certainly delicious. The patatas bravas were pretty good. It was interesting take on basic potatoes having them fried, topped with a spicy tomato sauce. Both dishes were great and I definitely recommend if you’re hungry for something small!
While walking to the London Eye, we found ourselves walking through the Leak Street Graffiti Tunnel. This is a tunnel where street artists gather and have fun with their art. It was interesting to see so many people in their element, focusing on what they were producing on the wall. We passed through at night and I felt like it looked cool since they were lights lit up throughout the tunnel. I would say be cautious here at night, but we felt pretty safe walking through. Definitely make your way here though, it’s pretty cool to see.
The last big thing we did in London was the London Eye. We did not ride the Eye being that it was too expensive. However, it was nice to go see it lit up at night. There’s also a small park next door that had a Christmas market going on so we walked through that for a bit.
Lastly, we had a dim sum dinner! For those of you that don’t know, Dim sum is a Chinese cuisine that is prepared in smaller portions, similar to tapas. Usually you go with a large group to try a number of different plates. Dustin discovered a really nice restaurant called, Yauatcha. I wrote a full review on my Instagram story, which can still be found under my “foodie” highlights. The restaurant was exquisite. The atmosphere is very modern and chic. If you are planning on eating here, come well-dressed, it’s a higher-end type restaurant. This was probably the best meal we had in London so be sure to stop in. Also, we were lucky enough to eat without having a reservation, so call ahead just to be safe.
That was my 3 days in London! We’ll be flying to our next city tomorrow…