A Travel Guide: LONDON, ENGLAND

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Well, it has taken me a really long time to write this London, England travel guide! It has the details on the best places to visit, and how to pack it all in during a short stay there! Spencer and I flew to Europe during the month of June and spent 2.5 weeks traveling around different countries. The city of London holds a special place in our hearts because of it's friendliness, exciting sights, rich history, and cultural diversity. I liken it to a cleaner version of New York City!


Where to Stay
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AirBnB: We highly recommend using AirBnB for your accommodations! Hostels are a cheap route if you are staying by yourself or in really large groups (bigger than 8 people). However, most AirBnB's run about the same price for a traveling couple, plus they offer added ammenities and securities! We loved staying near the Archway Underground Rail Station with Alessandro and Roberta! They made us breakfast every morning, and they lived in a cute apartment with wonderful views. Even better, we could walk to the store and the metro. If you use this link, you can get $40 off your first AirBnB trip!

How to Get Around
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Oyster Card: Just like in our Barcelona, Spain guide, we would say that the metro pass is the way to get around while in England! The metro pass is called an Oyster card. It looks like a credit card that you fill up with cash to use on rides around the city. The card itself costs money, but it was around $8 (USD) and we put 20 pounds on the card to begin with. The nice part of the Oyster card is once you hit 6.50 pounds a day on the same railline, the card will no longer be charged for the remaining expenses. Do note that if you go our of certain rail districts, the 6.50 a day pertains to that area as well. London was definitely the most expensive place we visited in terms of getting around town, but the rails and buses were clean and such an experience, and definitely cheaper than an Uber!

Walking: skipping around town is easy and safe, and while sight-seeing, you should expect to walk about 14,000 steps a day! You cannot expect to walk everywhere in London, as it is just too big! Walking is supplemental to having a metro pass or using taxi services.

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Biking: Biking is another option, and one that we took advantage of for sight-seeing! We actual went on a three-hour bike tour starting at Gabriel's Wharf. It was called the Love London Bike Tour through the London Bicycle Company! They have group tours and individual tours, but either one will be fantastic! We had an amazing guide named Olly (ask for him if you go) that kept me laughing the entire time. He even told us about some of London's dark pasts, such as how the term "hang over" came from people feeling sick from partying the night of a public hanging. We were able to hit all the big tourist spots in the city on bike much quicker than walking, plus, we had knowledge from a local! This tour doesn't include any indoor seeing, but is worth it for an adventure to get to know the town. I would recommend going on the first day you're there! They have tours in other cities as well, which can be found on cycle-cities.com. Use the code tour-de-happy for a discount!

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What to See
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There is so much to see and do in London, you could spend weeks there! Like mentioned above, going on a guided tour is a great way to see a lot of the city in a short amount of time. Instead of going through it all, I will tell you our favorite places to go, see, and do during the trip!

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Sketch London- Tea Time: Hands down our favorite meal during our stay in Europe! Spencer and I didn't know exactly what we were getting into when we booked our reservation here! In fact, I only wanted to go, and begged him to say yes, because of the cute pink walls. Sketch is a fine dining experience for those looking to have afternoon tea! Not only is Sketch London located in the heart of an art district, thus having exquisite decor, but the food was delicious. We had a 90 minute dining period filled with endless tea, caviar, eggs and soldiers, finger sandwiches, and cakes. The service was out of this world, the food was divine, and the setting could not be beat. It's a little expensive (about $80 per person, 58 pounds) and you need to book in advance (at least 3 weeks), but it is SO WORTH IT.

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The bathroom at Sketch London!
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Convent Garden: If you are looking for a fun day of shopping, museums, people watching, and music, Convent Garden is the place to go! I took this cute swing set photo in front of the Chanel store located around the area. We also ate there! Being at CG is kind of like being near a boardwalk in California where there are tons of markets and street performers. They say that before Ed Sheeran became famous, he would perform here to gather change in his instrument case!

Visit the Retail District: If you head to Oxford Street, Carnaby, or Bond Street you will find yourself in the midst of the world's top retail brands. This is by far the busiest part of London and reminded me of Times Square in New York City. We visited Zara and Primark for hours. We also fell head over heels for the Topshop flagship store that was stories high. YOU HAVE TO GO SEE IT! They even had a nail and braid bar, hair salon, and bistro. We loved seeing all the original store fronts as well (as it is illegal to change them on some streets)!


Buckingham Palace: We actually only went outside the palace, but it was a fun experience! Unlike I had thought, there are no longer guards with fuzzy hats that you can go take photos with. You can see those guards in red and fuzzy hats during the Changing of the Guard, which is a "parade" of sorts open to the public, complete with a live band! You can also buy tickets to go to the state rooms of the palace and see gifts that have been given to the Queen over the last 65 years.

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The Shard: If you are looking for the best view of the city, look no father than the View from the Shard! This allows you to go to the 72nd floor and get a 360 view of the entire city! There is no time limit for how long you can stay during the open hours. Snacks and champagne are available at an extra cost. This is a bit pricey for the overall experience that you get, but if you are dying to see the city, this is definitely the best route! I would also make sure to only spend my money if it is a clear day!

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Platform 9 and 3/4 at Kings Cross Station: This was not actually a part of our original itinerary, but Spence and I were on the rail and I saw the next stop was King's Cross Station and made us hop off. I knew that the Harry Potter attraction would be there! They have a fun and free photo booth experience (ran by huge HP fans, with disney-level friendliness) and a store to buy some of the wackiest fan memorabilia!

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Tower Bridge (often confused for London Bridge): As it turns out, the London Bridge is actually this super normal and unspectacular bridge! If you look down the river, you will see the Tower Bridge, with it's magnificent blue railings. It's actually often confused, or even purposely used, as the London Bridge in mainstream media (such as Fergie's music video). It's worth taking a walk across, and it is free to do so! It's also located close to Borough Market, which is a great place to get produce!

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Sky Garden Bar: Another venue with a spectacular view is the Sky Garden! This is best for those looking to have a drink, a business meeting with food, or a night out with friends to chat. There is an actual garden in this rooftop venue. It is naturally ventilated, and has a roof over head, so no need to worry about rain, but do dress with layers. It offers a fun atmosphere and a great view!

What to Wear

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Pack with Layers: Since we were taking various flights while in Europe, we both only packed a carry-on bag and a small backpack. This meant that I often re-wore the same outfit! I wore my Chicwish white dress a lot, my Levi's skinnies, my high waist mom jeans from ASOS. Everywhere we went, I took my denim jacket or cardigan for layering in case of a temperature drop!

July is the hottest month, reaching 66 degrees F and the coldest month is January, with temps around 41 degrees F. It rains often, but October is the wettest month. Definitely pack for temperature changes!

Other Things to Know

- Bring an outlet adapter, type "G". This should work almost everywhere, just make sure you have the correct wattage on your appliance
- A pound (currency used there) is equal to $1.32 in USD
- Expect to pay for bags at the grocery store. Bring your own instead!

Have you been to London, England yet?! I would love to hear any places I should add to this guide! Let me know in the comments below.

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15 comments:

  1. There are tons of awesome things to eat too! If you have never been to Nando's you're doing yourself a disservice by not going next time you're in London. We also had traditional meat pies from a pie stand and we also enjoyed eating at the many local and artisan eateries in North London where we stayed!

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    1. GAHHHHH I left off Nando's! I thought about putting a what to eat section, and then was like, that would take all day!

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  2. Great photos and reviews...I wanna go!!! Thanks for the ideas!!

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  3. Oh I want to go so bad!!! Why did I not travel more before having a kid? I love your dress at tea time that looks so fun.

    Nightchayde

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  4. Such a great travel guide! London is def one of my all time favs! Seriously loving all the shots! It looks like you went to all the best spots!


    xoxo
    Sarah Lindner
    www.thehouseofsequins.com

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  5. Looks like you had a blast! I love all your photos! Still hoping to go to London one day!

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  6. What a perfect capture of your trip! So fun!

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  7. Those photos were perfection! XOXO

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  8. These photos are all so stunning! I've been itching to get to London so I will definitely be writing some of this info down for later!

    Rachel / www.helloher.co

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  9. Ahhh London is on my list of places I want to go so I will have to bookmark this for future reference. All of your pictures are stunning!

    xoxo,
    Kim

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  10. definitely going to save this one for future reference!

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  11. i'm going to london this fall and love this post! will have to check out some of your recs!

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  12. I cannot wait to visit London someday!! Saving this guide for sure!

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  13. Pinning this for the future, for sure! Thanks for sharing.

    xo Laura Leigh
    www.louellareese.com

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  14. Ugh! I am dreaming if visiting!

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I love reading your comments, and I always try to respond to every single one! Thank you for stopping by! xoxo