London is one of the most amazing cities in the world. It’s so big and there are an abundance of fun things to do, from going to royal palaces, exploring Shoreditch, and even seeing a play at Shakespeare’s Globe. It can be daunting planning a trip to London, so I’ve put together this London travel guide just for YOU!
Oh, and did I mention that it’s even super easy to see London with children? It’s an extremely safe city that is great for all ages!
How to Get to London
There are quite a few ways to get to London since it’s such a big city!
You’ll most likely choose to get to London by plane, but keep in mind that many airports are considered “London airports.”
London Heathrow Airport (LHR) is the most popular airport by far. It’s more centrally-located than the other options.
London Gatwick Airport (LGW) is the more affordable option in the city, so look into it. It shouldn’t take too long to get to the city center from London Gatwick.
Options that are a bit farther out from the city include London Luton Airport and London Southend Airport. These are the airports that you can fly in and out of for super cheap, but it can take over 1.5 hours to get to the city from there.
London City Airport is another option.
If you’re coming from Scotland, Wales, or Western Europe, you could easily take the train. You’ll most likely come to one of the following London train stations: King’s Cross, St. Pancras International, or Euston. These are all within a few blocks of each other, and there’s public transport nearby so you can get anywhere you want in the city.
Car is another option, though it is more of an option if you’re in Scotland, Wales, or elsewhere in England. The beautiful thing about taking a car is that you could more easily stop anywhere else you wanted on the way to London and the surrounding area! A car will give you a lot more freedom.
London’s transportation system is made up of the London Underground, the bus, and the Docklands Railway.
You’ll most likely heavily rely on the London Underground/Tube during your stay in London, as it’s fast and cheap. One ride on the Tube starts at £2.40.
The bus is a lot more affordable, with prices starting at £1.50. The downside to the bus is that you could quickly get stuck in traffic, but at least you could look at London out of your window. You also have to ride a double-decker bus in London at least once!
If you have to get a bit further outside of the city, you might find that you’ll need to take the regional Docklands Railway. This costs a bit more but is an actual train that can get you pretty far out of the city. For example, I stayed at my friend’s dorm room at the University of Roeehampton and used the railway to get to and from her dorm in addition to the bus. Though it costs more, you do get a lot of room and there are some great views on the train rides.
Oyster Card vs. Contactless Pay
On public transportation, I recommend you either pay with a Visitor Oyster Card or contactless pay. A Visitor Oyster Card costs £5 just for the initial card, and then you add more money to it.
You should add money based on how long you’ll be staying in the city. I was in London for 5 days and ended up using almost £60 traveling all over the place! Plan wisely.
Also, remember to tap on and off on the Tube or you will get paid the maximum price possible for your ride, since you pay by zones.
Having a Visitor Oyster Card does save you a decent amount of money. You’d pay £2.40 for a single zone on the Tube with a Visitor Oyster Card, or else it’d be £4.90 if you didn’t have one! This can save you a lot of money in the long run.
The other good option is contactless pay. This is like using Apple Pay on your phone. You essentially just tap your phone where you’d tap your card and you automatically pay for your ride. Like the Visitor Oyster Card, contactless pay costs significantly less than paying out of pocket.
What to See
There are so many great things to see in London, and this is in no way a comprehensive list! Be sure to at least hit all of the iconic London landmarks if you have the time. If you’re looking to see a lot of the city or look at it in a different way, try booking a tour like one of the Disused Tube Station Tours by Hidden London!
Since it’s the royal residence for the Queen, you absolutely can’t miss visiting Buckingham Palace. It’s definitely the most busy spot out of everything on this London travel guide, but it’s still worth seeing! Try visiting earlier in the morning to avoid the rush.
Though its interior is closed to visitors for most of the year, tourists can go inside between July to September from £26.50. Definitely book your tickets ahead of time if you want to see inside!
Camden Market is one of the liveliest areas in London. It’s filled with a bunch of shops, market stalls, and delicious places to eat. There’s so much to do in this area! You can even go on a boat ride in the canal.
If you’re looking for a place to eat with a large group, this is definitely the place to go. There’s really something for everyone here!
I highly recommend checking out The Mac Factory if you love mac and cheese. It’s made right in front of you and it’s incredibly delicious! Chin Chin Labs is also in this area.
Kensington Palace & Gardens
Kensington Palace is definitely one of the overlooked places to visit in London. Everyone always wants to go to Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle, but William & Kate actually live at Kensington, along with many other royals!
Plus, you can visit Kensington throughout the whole year and actually see the museum on its inside. When I visited, I was lucky enough to see an exhibit on Princess Diana’s clothing, and it was marvelous. It only costs £17.50 to go inside!
The gardens outside of Kensington Palace are also beautiful.
King’s Cross Station
Any Harry Potter fan would think that this London travel guide wasn’t complete if it didn’t include King’s Cross Station. This is the station that’s home to the real-life Platform 9 3/4!
Unfortunately, there’s a really touristic spot to take a photo, but it can be costly, and you’ll have to wait in line. I suggest just looking at it from the side and going to Leavesden’s WB Harry Potter Studio Tour instead to get your photo, because there’s a photo opportunity included with your ticket there.
The London Eye is one of the most touristy sights in London, but it’s for good reason. This 450-foot tall Ferris wheel was built in 1999 and gives riders amazing views of the city. Plus, it’s one of the most romantic spots in the UK to get engaged!
Though it’s best to book your tickets in advance, you should probably wait until at least a day or two before so you can check the weather. You wouldn’t want to get London rain on the day that you planned on riding!
Tickets cost £20 if booked in advance and start at £27.50 if they’re booked the day of.
Notting Hill is hands-down the most Instagrammable site in the city, so it just had to be included in the London travel guide. This neighborhood is filled with houses in beautiful pastel colors.
Please keep in mind that people do actually live in these houses. Don’t stand on their property just for your Instagram picture!
Unfortunately, I’ve seen many people do this.
While you’re in the area, be sure to stop by some of the lovely cafes and shops as well as Portobello Road which is one of London’s most famous streets!
Palace of Westminster & Big Ben
The British parliament is housed in the Palace of Westminster! It sits right next to the River Thames, so you absolutely can’t miss it. It’s also near the London Eye.
As a tourist, you can pay for a guided tour! These are usually on Saturdays, but can also happen on any day when Parliament isn’t being held. Tickets for this tour start at £22.
Big Ben is also part of the Palace of Westminster. It was under construction when I went, but it should be open again during 2020.
Sheakespeare’s Globe Theater
William Shakespeare’s theater is an absolute must-visit in London! You can book a tour of Shakespeare’s Globe for just £16, and they last about 30 minutes.
If you want an even better experience, purchase tickets to see a play! Standing room tickets are available from just £5, but if you’d rather sit, you can pay £20!
I will say, if you choose to buy standing room tickets, come prepared! I hadn’t realized that it was an open-roof theater, so I was absolutely freezing the night that I saw the play. It also rained, and I was not prepared for it.
The Tower Bridge is what many people think is actually the London Bridge, but it’s not! It serves as an excellent Instagram location, so it just had to make this London travel guide!
If you’re looking for a good view of the bridge, then visit the Tower of London.
Tower of London
The Tower of London is where England’s Crown Jewels are head, which automatically makes it a place that you should want to see during your time in London. The tower served as a fortress for years, and eventually was also a prison, armory, and more. Now, it’s a museum for you to visit!
My suggestion is that you immediately make a run for the Martin Tower if you wish to see the Crown Jewels. It’s so easy to get stuck in a really long line to see them. I waited around 35 minutes just to get inside! Be warned that you also can’t take photos inside, or have your phone out.
It costs £28.90 to go inside the Tower of London.
Oh, and did I mention that the Tower of London is one of London’s best castles?
WB Harry Potter STudio Tour
If you’re a Harry Potter fan, then you should 100% visit the WB Harry Potter Studio Tour. Tickets are hard to come by, however. In fact, you should try to book tickets very far in advance. I booked my tickets during early April to be able to go in May!
Tickets start at £47, but you can pay more for an audio guide (which is super helpful) and a memory book.
The tour brings you through a huge warehouse filled with Harry Potter props and more. You can even see some actual set rooms, including Diagon Alley and Gringott’s Bank. It’s literally so cool!
There’s also an extensive gift shop. Trust me, you can’t help but purchase something while you’re there. They even have chocolate frogs!
This London travel guide wouldn’t have been complete without this studio tour.
Westminster Abbey is yet another place you have to at least visit while in London. All of the UK’s monarchs since 1066 have actually been coronated here, and it also serves as a burial site for many famous people.
From Monday through Saturday, you can see the inside. Tickets start at £19 and it’s best to book your tickets in advance.
Where to Stay
This is by no means a comprehensive list of where to stay in London. Check out this post if you’re looking for a great place to stay!
Hostel One Notting Hill – $
If you’re looking for a hostel to stay in, check out Hostel One Notting Hill. Prices start from £31 a night and it’s located right in the beautiful Notting Hill area! Hostels are a great place to stay if you’re on a budget and want to meet other travelers like yourself.
Hotel Ibis Budget London Whitechapel: Brick Lane – $$
I swear by the ibis Budget hotel chain across Europe. Whenever I traveled anywhere, I’d always book a stay at one of them!
This location is in the same area as Old Spitalfields Market and Brick Lane. You can also easily catch the Tune from nearby!
Prices start at £47 a night.
Grande Royale London Hyde Park – $$$
Want to book a more luxurious place to stay while you’re in London? Try checking out the Grande Royale London Hyde Park. It’s located in Hyde Park, just like the name says, and it’s also near 3 different stations. Therefore you can easily get almost anywhere in the city! Prices start at £106 a night.
If you’re looking for an even more luxurious stay, consider staying at the London Hilton on Park Lane.
Where to Eat
Cereal Killer Cafe
If you’re a sucker for cereal and 90’s vibes, then you’ve got to check out Cereal Killer Cafe. This amazing restaurant serves delicious cereals, with flavor names like Buster Nut and Salty Bish. I suggest you order Salty Balls, which was a caramel cereal! If you go around lunch, they have cereal-flavored menu items like cereal-crusted mozzarella sticks.
Chin Chin Labs
Chin Chin Labs is known for their delicious and over-the-top hot chocolates. They put a huge marshmallow on top which makes it even better! They also serve other delicious chocolatey treats on their menu. If you’re a fan of chocolate, then you absolutely have to stop by this little place!
Be warned, they do only take cash, and not card. Try to stop by an ATM first if you don’t have any cash on you.
Peggy Porschen Cakes
I can almost 100% guarantee that you have seen someone’s photo of Peggy Porschen Cakes on Instagram, even if you don’t know it. This beautiful brunch spot has a bright pink exterior and an even prettier interior. There’s so many great things to order here, from their iced lattes to their delicious cakes!
I’m a sucker personally for their avocado toast. It was amazing! I just had to include it in this London travel guide.
The Mac Factory
The Mac Factory is truly one of the tastiest places to eat in London, which is why it makes this London travel guide. They serve up delicious homemade mac and cheese right in front of you! They have decadent flavors, but I suggest trying the La Med Babe.
If you’re looking to eat at a more budget-friendly place in London, then try checking out one of the Wetherspoon’s locations. It’s essentially a really cheap pub. They sell meals and beverages. Their pizza is actually pretty good!