We spent a total of two weeks in London, exploring all the city has to offer…and it was AMAZING! Our first week was spent riding on a HOHO (Hop On Hop Off) Bus to quickly go London Sight Seeing!
My boyfriend, Caleb and I spent most of the time in this building. It doesn’t seem like much from the outside, but its a wonderland full of knowledge! When you walk in there’s a cool open book shaped bench, which I never got a picture with (DANG!). And the backdrop for the main hall is a glass-walled “bookshelf” that runs from floor to ceiling. It houses some of the oldest and most amazing books! It really portrays the essence of a Library!
The first weekend we decided to do a HOHO tour to be able to quickly see the sights and get out and explore ones we wanted and pass on other we didn’t. I recommend this because we were able to see all the main attractions within the weekend. And the price is not bad considering how far apart each monument is and the prices for the tube…within a weekend exploring you could’ve easily spent more than what a ticket for this bus tour costs!
St Paul’s Cathedral was the first large London Monument we came across! And let me tell you this picture does not do it justice. (side note: a lot of these buildings were hard to capture because they’re squished between a packed city…we did the best we could). We wanted to go inside, but with lines and cost of tickets decided to skip it. If anyone has visited the cathedral tell me all about it in the comments!
On our way we passed St Bride’s Church. Tucked away behind large buildings it would be easy to miss now. But once upon a time, it reigned supreme in the skyline that was London. This church is quaint, but the steeple is beautiful, supposedly inspiring the modern day tiered cake. The story is that the inventor of this cake style lived within view of the church and was inspired to create a similarly styled wedding cake for his own ceremony.
This building doesn’t look like anything special. It’s the Australia House and is not an iconic London building. However, this is an iconic Harry Potter building to see. It is the building that was used to depict Gringotts in the films! FYI for those of you who are HUGE HP fans, there is a website dedicated to Harry Potter film sites throughout London. I desperately wanted to walk in and wish to enter my vault.
From here we kept going until we reached Trafalgar Square. This city center is amazing, and no photos would do it justice (the lighting was weird). But in the center is Nelson’s Column and the backdrop to the square is the National Gallery. With the square, you can find tourist vendors for London memorabilia, grandiose fountains, and various sculptures! There are also street performers you can take pictures with and sidewalk artists.
I’ve never been to a China Town in another city, but are they all this extravagant?! It looked quite authentic and we perused a few streets before heading onward. Which is where we found more Harry Potter GOLD! We ventured down a narrow alley-like road that housed a lot of antique and art shops. It was quite fun to peer in the windows of the shops and admire their curiosities. Later we found out that this street is supposedly the inspiration for Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter series. This street is Cecil Court…and HP fan or not, you definitely need to peruse the interesting shops.
I actually loved these sights in the dark more than the daytime. The illumination made them appear so enchanting and wonderful. The sight of Big Ben couldn’t help but remind you of Peter Pan. It made me want to fly off to Never Never Land. As for the London Eye, it’s neon illumination made it appear like a fun carnival ride…not the slow-motion sightseeing booth it is. But the pink popping against the blue of the aquarium created a fun glow to this are!
We ventured Tower of London with the intention of stopping to see the London Bridge. We walked all through one corner of the inner wall and adjoining towers. In the towers, we learned about medieval torture chambers, saw royal living quarters, prison cells, and where the royal guard used to stay. The prison tower and royal guard area have chiseled inscriptions and pictures all over the walls. It was like traveling back in time or a Renaissance fair! We also stopped and gazed at all the Crown Jewels. Thought the tower we came across various “characters”. While touring the wall and tower rooms, we came across a few men dressed as knights!
Call me crazy, but I was underwhelmed by the beautiful sights. Especially compared to the view from the previous night and the current construction being done. The Palace of Westminster looks like a place where politics should be conducted. We walked over the bridge to see Westminster Abbey, which was AMAZING! Another cathedral we did not enter. Due to it being Sunday, the church was only open to those wishing to attend. But the outside was enough for me, the intricacies of the structures detailing were amazing!
Buckingham Palace…where I was again underwhelmed. Caleb says I am spoiled because my first visions of Palace’s include Versailles, Bangkok, and Mysore…which are all so grand and ornate. While this structure was large it doesn’t strike me as royal. It is a fairly plain structure, just immense…but monstrosity doesn’t equate to grandeur in my mind. Anyway, it’s one of the must do’s and see’s of London so here it was.
We headed to Oxford Street to explore the wonderful world of shopping that London has to offer! So many stores…so little time! I know that shopping while in a cultural city seems frivolous, but seriously you have to shop while in London! It’s one of the centers for fashion!
Being a Harry Potter fan, I loved wandering through King’s Cross. And we took many photos at the Platform 9 and 3/4 set up!
I did purchase tickets to the London Fashion Week Festival where we went through rooms of vendors selling designer or pre-sale products! We attended two different panel discussions. The first was a panel of influencers (bloggers) discussing the role of social media within the community, their discussion was very interesting. The second talk I attended consisted of various fashion editors. It was informative of what a fashion editor is and does and how to break into the industry!
We started our shopping excursion down Oxford Street, but quickly found ourselves on Carnaby Street! I loved the SOHO area the most. They had great dining and fun boutiques to shop through.
One of my favorite parts of traveling is the chance to try new food, traditional to the area, which included trying a meat pie as well as fish & chips from a local pub! This meal was DELICIOUS! As were all of our meals while in London. We ate burgers from Byron, that made your mouth melt. Buffalo wings from Absurd Bird, finally satisfying that craving. Our first night in London we satisfied our Mexican craving at Las Iguanas. London is a foodie’s dream city!
If you like museums, you need to visit the Victoria and Albert Museum. It took us a few days to get through everything we wanted to see, which was only a few rooms and two special exhibits! So plan wisely for your trip! We saw the “So You Say You Want A Revolution?” & ” Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear” and both were FANTASTIC!
It wouldn’t be a trip to London without an iconic Red Phone Booth photo. I found this row around the corner from Trafalgar Square and new this photo would be perfect to sum up a trip to London.
The park was AMAZING, not to mention the weather cooperated perfectly! We came across this large monument created to honor Prince Consort Albert, husband to Queen Victoria. The monument was amazing, with each corner having a statue symbolic of the main countries colonized by the British (America, Africa, Asia, Europe). And look at that amazingly blue sky!
We journeyed through the park to Kensington Garden in search of the statue of Peter Pan. After seeing the illuminated Big Ben that fairy tale was all I could dream of, quintessentially London. Admiring this statue and the swans that paddle through the adjacent lake was the perfect ending to a wonderful two weeks in London!
Meghan Leigh is a style influencer with a passion for travel.