If you're a regular here on the Sweet Frivolity blog, you know that I love London. There's just something about it. The history is fascinating. The food is world-class. The residents are from all corners of the globe. There's a modern energy and a classical grace that commingle in just the right way. It's amazing.
I think everyone should visit London if they have the opportunity. I've been very lucky and have been able to visit twice. I can't wait to go back. In my time there, I learned a few things about what the key things to see and do really are. It's a large city filled with a lifetime of activities. Unless you're moving to London, you really need to pick and choose how you fill your trip.
Here are the top ten things you should experience while in London:
1) Climb to the top of St. Paul's.
If you can climb the 528 steps to the top of the Golden Gallery at St. Paul's, you will be rewarded with stunning aerial views of London. If you can't make it all the way, at least head up to the Whispering Gallery for a birds-eye view of the cathedral. It's one of Christopher Wren's great masterpieces, and your visit to London shouldn't be complete without an audio tour.
2) Take a boat ride on the Thames.
On both of my trips to London, I took a boat ride on the Thames. One was a narrated sightseeing tour, which was informative. The other, which I preferred, was a lunchtime cruise. Narration was provided sporadically, but guests were allowed to enjoy their food and chat for the majority of the trip. The food was delicious and the views were wonderful. It was a special experience. Next time, I hope to take a nighttime Thames boat ride. Imagine the city of London in lights!
3) Have tea at Fortnum and Mason.
A full-service tea at Fortnum and Mason is one of the most delicious experiences I have ever had. From the moment of our arrival to the dulcet tones of a talented pianist to the time of our departure when I was more full than I've perhaps ever been, our afternoon tea experience at Fortnum and Mason was worth every penny. We were served our choice of tea as well as finger sandwiches, scones, pastries, and cake. (We actually passed up the cake because we were so full.) Every single aspect of the meal was superb. I would recommend booking in advance to reserve your choice of time slots.
4) Take a ride on the London Eye.
Perhaps a bit overrated, the London Eye, like St. Paul's, provides great views of London. It's expensive and the lines are long, but if you're a first-time visitor to London, I'd still suggest you give the Eye a go.
5) Eat at Bizzarro.
While in London, I dined at the best Italian restaurant I've ever encountered. Located in Paddington, Bizzarro is small and authentic. Service was fast and extremely friendly. Food was very reasonably priced. And boy, was it amazing. I had a four cheese gnocchi, and I've never had another like it since. The restaurant is a bit crowded, but if you want a truly authentic Italian experience, you need to give this place a try.
6) Eat at the Admiralty.
Just off Trafalgar Square, the Admiralty is a really fun ship-themed pub. The beer was great and the food was even better. I recommend their squash and feta pies. Yum! The decor in this place is just so unique that I suggest stopping in at least for a pint.
7) Visit Westminster Abbey.
After all of that eating, you might feel a little on the larger side. If you want to guarantee you feel really small, really fast, go to Westminster Abbey. The church itself is massive, but it's Poet's Corner, burial ground to many of the most famous creatives the world has ever known, which will make you feel minuscule. Also the site of countless historical events and the final resting place of royalty (and Charles Darwin and Sir Isaac Newton), Westminster Abbey is a can't-miss place.
8) Go to the Tower of London.
If you love history or watched a lot of bad shows about Henry VIII (read: The Tudors), you'll want to give the Tower of London a visit. It's also home to the Crown Jewels, which are so sparkly you'll probably immediately start daydreaming about ways to meet a member of the royal family and convince them to marry you.
9) Visit Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens.
To see a prime example of urban landscape architecture, hit up Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. They're well-manicured and filled with plenty of places to sit and enjoy some fish and chips.
10) Take a tour of Windsor Castle.
Technically, this will take out outside of London, but no trip is complete without an excursion to Windsor Castle. Our tour was very informative, and it was quite the experience to stand in the places where so many pieces of history were formed.
Have you been to London? What did you enjoy most? I hope this list helps you as you plan your trip!