It was the great writer, Samuel Johnson who famously said: “when you are tired of London, you are tired of life.” The English capital remains one of the great cities in the world, a cultural melting pot, bursting with life, love, and incredible adventures waiting to be discovered. No wonder then, that an estimated 19.8 million tourists visited London in 2018, with an average spend of £683 each.
But with so much to do and so many famous landmarks to see, where do you begin if you are taking the family to London? Here are five tips that should help.
1. Don’t try to do too much
It is easy to get carried away with all the joys that London has to offer when you are planning your itinerary. Big Ben, the Tower of London, the London Eye, Buckingham Palace, St James’s Palace, The Houses of Parliament, the list goes on and on. And if you are visiting for a few days, you just won’t have time to do it all and actually enjoy your time there – which is the most important thing.
So, make a list of the top five sites you absolutely want to see and stick to it. And when you have a little more time to relax, you can really soak up the atmosphere that comes with the fantastic food and drink scene in London.
2. Westminster is a good place to start
Westminster is a good place to start your sightseeing simply because you can see so much in a relatively small area.
Coming out of the tube station you will be greeted by the sight of Big Ben and, next to it, the Houses of Parliament. Across the road, you have Westminster Abbey within a five-minute walk of Downing Street and Horse Guards Parade. From there you can walk through the beautiful St James’s Park towards Buckingham Palace. This is doable in a day or two and means you actually get to stay above ground and walk the streets, rather than spending too much time on the Underground. Enjoy.
3. Don’t forget the art galleries
London boasts some of the best museums and art galleries in the world. The Natural History Museum and the Science Museum are right next to each other in South Kensington and are fantastic fun for all ages. The Tate and the Tate Modern are two fantastic, innovative galleries that will surprise and delight. However, it is hard to beat the National Portrait Gallery for sheer quality and variety of art.
4. Remember to enjoy the River Thames
The River Thames runs right through the heart of London. A boat trip down its length can be a fantastic way of understanding the role it has played in London’s history over the years and why it remains so important. Most trips go from the pier in Westminster, not far from Big Ben, and run east towards Tower Bridge and the Docklands, which is London’s financial center. It is a brilliant way of seeing this vast city and isn’t too taxing on the legs if you’ve been doing a lot of walking up to that point.
5. Live as the locals do
Living in London is expensive, which means locals are increasingly being pushed further east and west in search of places to live. That means if you want to blend in and live as the locals do, you need to hop on the tube and not be afraid to explore.
Fulham is a fantastic place to go for good food and drinks on an evening, while in the east, Shoreditch and Dalston are great for a night out. If you want to see the real London, this is where you will find the action.
As you can see, each London neighborhood is different from the others. Whether you want to stay near the major tourist attractions or fancy blending in with the locals, check out this guideline of where to stay in London for an overview of the best neighborhoods and hotels in this vibrant city.
NOTE: This is a guest post from Pauline Davis
Travelling since she was 5, Pauline has had to succumb to working student life with a long list of travel destinations. Everything is a balancing act for her – working, studying, traveling, and taking care of her 2 Labradors. Also a keen home cook, Pauline expresses her love for both pursuits by contributing to a slew of online publications in her spare time.
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