What to See in London

London is one of the most-visited cities in the world, and can be appreciated at any time of day, by a tourist on any budget.

37941028814_d3415630ac_zWhen I arrived in London, I didn’t waste any time. I began wandering the city to get a feel for its unique vibe.38658665141_e973cb6a22_zBlack Cabs in London are truly unique. These drivers undergo one of the most demanding training courses in the world called, “The Knowledge”. This entails memorizing the city’s almost 3,000 roads and passing 12 examinations, which takes around 3 years to complete! 😮
24786307288_ca2f0c21df_zSpeaking of London’s roads, I was completely entranced by the variety of architecture on each street.
26882729659_015abcd9e4_z

38658917731_f55bee5bf0_z
“Take Courage” – uplifting street art near the Borough Market
37771084925_38233dc769_o
vintage cars in central London
38626544732_3c1fca5fd5_o
British bellman
24786502728_b3fdd5960c_o
modern architecture near the Tate Modern

I felt like I never knew what to expect around each corner.

37941027524_24ea26d22b_z
outdoor dining in London, like an inside-out snow globe ❄️

That is, except for the assumption that there might be at least one Starbucks! 😛☕💗
26882767519_a4c4ef63f2_zIn addition to the unique architecture, London has OVER 20 FREE museums, including the famous National Gallery, British Museum, and the Tate Modern.

24786307558_535b68ff26_z
entrance to the National Gallery
24786307468_ccea9409c9_z
lion at the National Gallery

The National Gallery has a traditional collection, with works by Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Michaelangelo, and Monet. In contrast, the Tate Modern has works by Picasso, Kandinsky, Dali, and Matisse.38602435226_f653295f1f_z
26921929089_18b9a81109_z
38658581391_51d0b34744_z
24786502368_1411b97d11_zI loved this piece, which depicts the colonization of Africa by the British.38658917831_784958f3fb_zYes, this is modern art. I’d call this one, “Cat’s Paradise.” 🐱😛

26882849969_783bb3160b_z
balls of yarn thrown around the room
38641757236_59c38d785a_z
literally a cat’s paradise 🐱💗

Finally, the British Museum has over 8 million objects of historical significance from all over the globe! 37821374925_14579c2a7d_zHonestly though, where else in the world can you find so many most famous works of art and historically significant artifacts on display for FREE?

26882849489_1eba6f22c7_c
T: Picasso; Dali; Van Gogh B: Monet, Klimt, Leger

And of course, it’s possible to learn more about England’s history once you left the museums as well.

38626568082_5d90b0c9dd_z
the regal Buckingham Palace

London has a long-standing imperial history, and the amount of historical buildings and monuments around the city is astounding!

38626595612_fc17b6bcc9_z
monument to Queen Victoria
38658665391_728204d535_z
sculpture of Queen Elizabeth and King George

Must-see royal sights include Buckingham Palace, the Palace of Westminster, and Westminster Abbey.

38626567842_d2b41ee0a9_z
These are the Queen’s Guards. These infantry have a tough gig, with shifts that last between 24-48 hours (standing still for 4 hours in one stint!)
38626567912_bede28c816_z
royal crest outside Buckingham Palace
38602672446_f075fbb349_z
the Palace of Westminster
38602672326_d70f82a7a8_z
Westminster Abbey
38602672396_ffb2024d1e_z
carvings of 20th century martyrs at the Westminster Abbey

This is the Queen’s Gardens outside Buckingham Palace, with tons of signs saying, “Keep off the grass!”38658664531_6f844169f1_z
37771083785_6ccb28e5dd_z

I felt like Mia, from the scene in Princess Diaries. 😛980xAnyway, most of these historic sights are located along the River Thames, which divides the city in two, and can be crossed using one of the city’s over 30 bridges, including the famous London Bridge.

38602672286_bb18ce61ec_z
London Eye along the bank of the River Thames
37941027784_1d66361e01_z
Big Ben and a big bird on the River Thames 😛

Yes, the bird was real! 😛37941028324_8e2c78bcb0_zWhat I realized while visiting though, is that the famous London Bridge is different from, and really quite pitiful in comparison to its counterpart, Tower Bridge. 😍

24786310748_e36f44f744_z
Tower Bridge at sunrise ❤

Tower Bridge was constructed in the 19th century, and is one of the most recognizable bridges in the world.

26882714969_7649344d2c_z
It is both a draw bridge and suspension bridge, allowing for boats to pass underneath. 🛥️

Unlike London Bridge, this baby will NOT be falling down anytime soon. 😉38658769251_31f2f07238_zThe bridge is also located next to the Tower of London, a regal fortress home to her majesty’s crown jewels.24786346998_7fb65b90cf_zNow, if you want to go even FURTHER back in history, you can take a half-day tour from London to Stonehenge, one of the seven wonders of the medieval world.38659045201_10cde32a0d_zEvidence of Stonehenge can be traced back almost 5,000 years! There are a variety of theories surrounding its purpose, including its use as an astronomical clock, spiritual sanctuary, and even an ancient burial ground.38626777182_bde3b803e9_zThis idea of Stonehenge as an astronomical clock is further supported by this heel stone, which could have been used to mark where the sun rises and sets during the solstice.
24786443318_bf4451ac02_zStonehenge as an ancient burial ground is further supported by the number of mass grave sites found around Stonehenge, which now resemble small hills across the land.

24786443558_d9b2c9073b_z
burial mounds

The construction of Stonehenge is truly astonishing, considering there are 75 sculpted and carefully positioned stones, some weighing up to 50,000 pounds each, which might have required the strength of 2,000 men just to move it!

24786443438_7e45eb6ea8_z
test your strength at Stonehenge

Basically, Stonehenge rocks, which is surprising, considering it’s really just a bunch of rocks. 😉

38708531861_6b666afc56_z
Stonehenge souvenirs and comical shuttle description, “to the stones”

Cost: I booked my tour with Evan Evans Tours, which included round-trip transportation, entrance, and audio guide for 47 pounds.

Now aside from sightseeing, London is an epic place for shopping, and luckily I showed up just in time for Black Friday. 😀🛍️💷

26882767399_4519e37190_z
Camden Market
38658769571_f3e9cfbe8d_z
Borough Market

38658918231_60ae41d4c8_z
37940877144_958fd142b4_zI found shopping to be even more superb at night, when the city lit up in festive lights. 🎄26882654849_6950290daf_z
26882654929_ddcb78bc12_z
26882646799_0d190f91d0_z
38602582806_91dfccfb8e_z
38602582576_700efde8da_z
37771190285_946b9854e4_z
26882654989_26f5a619a6_z
26882533089_8d0ff32230_zI found excellent shopping near Picadilly Circus, but I also did some window shopping at Harrods department store.

38602552806_13baca88e0_z
Christmas display at Harrods

38658691811_83ea2af869_zMy personal favorites for Christmas light-viewing included Carnaby Street, Oxford Street, and Winter Wonderland.

37771190195_053f2d2e34_z
Carnaby Christmas Carnival
38626473732_5c2a651ffa_z
twinkling lights near Oxford Street

Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park is a free, holiday-themed carnival, with lots of fun entertainment for all.🎢☃️24786346818_0e7802bd7e_z
24786346528_06de451f9a_z

24786310988_99b6399297_z
Yikes! Not sure how Frosty would feel about shooting at snowmen though.🤔 ⛄💗

To be honest though, the best part about visiting new places, is connecting with locals, and luckily, during my visit, I was able to spend the weekend with some local Londoners.37941256724_84596f0f7e_zWe made a full vegan holiday dinner. Highlights included mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy, butternut squash pie, veggie samosas, and carrots with pistachios and a tahini drizzle.38659079561_e31bc077b3_z
24786603178_8033bd14fa_z
38708531831_33ac4d3ea5_zWell, that’s all for now. I hoped you enjoyed this snippet of what to see in London, and found some travel inspiration in this post.

Getting there: 

To get to London from Barcelona, I flew with Ryanair for 30 USD round-trip! 😮38658365161_6c455d5248_z
26882532969_e8c6ea259a_zI flew into Stanstead Airport, which is quite far from the city. Bus tickets to the city center can be purchased through National Express for 9-12 pounds each way.

Getting around:

Although I love walking, I stayed at my friend’s place, which was a bit far from the city center.

38626899192_a5d3f5053c_z
Hammersmith

As such, I made a daily trip into the city using the London Underground, a.k.a “the tube”.38659045281_7f71ab84fb_z
38659079341_427657d43c_zAs a budgeting tip, make sure to purchase a refundable Oyster card, since this cuts the ticket price from 4.90 pounds each to only 2.40 pounds per trip! That would surely add up without the card!38626622662_744780a2a9_zTaking public transport was also a great way for me to see a famous Harry Potter filming location at the King’s Cross Train StationPlatform 9¾. Visitors can don a scarf of their choosing, and pose in front of this magical gateway to Hogwarts. 🧙🌟37771499585_31060cde63_zThey also have a riddikulusly awesome on-site gift shop. 😛26933239149_911fe855dc_zNow although I didn’t transcend into this fairy-tale land, I did find this weekend to be pretty magical. 😉

26933008529_f5fc99fccf_z
magic is what you make of it 😉

On a final note, I’ve got some stupendous travel plans for the Christmas holiday, so stay tuned for a detailed itinerary in the coming post. Until then, take care and enjoy the spirited season!

 

2 thoughts on “What to See in London

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.