London was not on my radar, but I found a round trip ticket to London for $40. Of all the cities to see around Europe, London seemed the least exotic. But I couldn't have been more wrong! I was absolutely enchanted by this city.
Firstly, I fell in love with the subway system aka "the tubes." How often do you get to rave about public transportation? London seemed like a cleaner and more efficient New York City. I was able to travel the entirety of the city for $7 euro a day on my Oyster card, which I would recommend if you are in London for a short stint.
Google maps quickly finds your destination and maps your route along the underground trains with minute to minute updates, and the Oyster card also works on the iconic big red buses that buzz around above ground. I stayed in a hostel for my first time, which put my overall expenditure for lodging and transport at $120 USD for the long weekend.
London is filled with lovely colorful neighborhoods, life and culture that I would have never imagined. It was a magical weekend, and London should be at the top of your list for cities to visit! I loved the café scene in London and the shopping is next level. I hit most of the landmarks, and next time I visit I really want to dive into some museums as well as see a famous musical.
My Top 4 Things to See:
72 hours in London is definitely enough time to get comfortable with the public transport, explore a few neighborhoods, and see all the iconic landmarks. These few things were among the most memorable for me.
I met my girlfriend Mallory here for breakfast on Sunday morning. This neighborhood was super charming. The leaves were changing, and the perfect buildings came straight off a Pinterest board. We walked through the Portobello Market that was packed with street vendors that sold things like leather, silver, perfume, and doc martens (which seemed to be everywhere).
Also, the food smelled amazing. There were crepes, coffee, pizza, kebabs, and anything else you might be in the mood for. If you spent some time there, I'm sure you'd find some treasures!
This area is known for its upscale shopping and street performers. I had to stop myself from going into Coach and Kate Spade. The cobblestone streets were beautiful and walking through the area was overwhelming because there was so much to look at. I had some amazing raspberry macaroons from Ladurée, which I recommend doing!
We found the cutest little hidden walkway that led to a small area called “Neal’s Yard,” which was a colorful courtyard filled with plants and tiny boutiques. Ed Sheeran's lyrics were ringing through the streets from the live acoustic singers. If I could have spent more time anywhere, it would have been here.
The royal weddings take place at this grand gothic cathedral. This church was said to have been built starting in 1245 under King Henry III. The way this church was situated in the city made it one of my favorite landmarks. It is amazing that this old building has been preserved and kept up amongst all the high rises and new construction surrounding it. It seemed out of place, yet perfectly positioned.
Obviously, I couldn’t leave London without stopping by the Palace. Buckingham Palace is everything you would expect it to be, from the gaudy gates to the fancy security to the perfectly lined streets leading up to the fountains in the courtyard. You have to see it for yourself.
There were armed security guards on the front lawn that stood perfectly still and wore the funniest fluffy hats (not pictured), and you have to see them! Unfortunately, I didn’t see the Queen, next time.
Other things I made time for the London Eye, Big Ben, British Museum, Tower of London, The Churchill Arms, Speaker’s Corner, Westfield for shopping, and Soho. Three days isn’t much time, but because the tubes were so efficient I was able to squeeze a lot into it. Before visiting London, do your research and really nail down what it is you want to do. You could spend a full weekend in Covent Gardens alone.
Must Hit Brunch Spots
BRUNCH > almost anything. I am a sucker for an artsy latte and some poached eggs. And I have to say, these restaurants really knocked it out of the park.
My girlfriend Mallory, who is a local, took me here. It is a “casual concept store bringing together high fashion and a modern menu specializing in brunch.” Which is exactly the type of place I would expect Mallory to take me as she’s currently getting her master's in luxury brand management. It was like having breakfast in an upscale department store. The breakfast was super yummy; I got the 202 healthy breakfast which was probably the most popular dish. I would definitely go back, thanks Mal!
This is my favorite breakfast place EVER, right up next to Jack’s Wife Freda in New York City. I went here Monday morning solo and sat at the bar facing the street.
Right outside the window, I was facing was a table with three girls. They sat down before me and had already ordered their food. As my latte came out, so did their breakfast. And before they touched their food they spent 20 minutes rearranging it and taking photos. It was hilarious to watch and almost a little painful! I looked at the girl next to me and we just died laughing.
What these girls didn’t realize is that we had been photobombing their pictures from the inside. HA. The girl at the bar and I made friends, and now I have a friend in Paris. Woohoo! The atmosphere here is playful and homey. Apparently, on weekends the wait is an hour or more, so make sure to hit it on a weekday.
London has all the big city amenities, but somehow it is much more charming than most big cities-- or maybe it is just the accents. Either way, I am already looking forward to going back. I'm super thankful for my girlfriends here in Denmark, May, and Nadine, who talked me into buying a ticket!
Have you been to London? What are your favorite spots?