Is London on your Bucket List? I just got back from my FOURTH trip to London, and the longest one yet! I was grateful to have more time to be able to explore such a fun city! I also love visiting places again because I get to go back to favorite spots AND try new things!
If you want to know about my TOP recommendations for MUST-SEE and MUST-DO’s in London, read on for my Ultimate London Bucket List!
How to Save Money Sightseeing in London:
I highly recommended researching the London Pass if you are going to be in the city for even a few days. This trip was the second time I purchased and used a London pass and it was a GREAT value.
I purchased mine from the Costco website (in the US) for $145 per person, and it included four days of access (consecutive) and two days of the HOHO (hop-on-hop-off) bus. We used the pass for the following and determined that even with ONLY these it was still an exceptional value:
- Hop On, Hop Off Bus ( £34 for a one day, we actually got a bonus day through Costco which I’m not even including in these calculations)
- View from the Shard (£32)
- Tower Bridge Museum (£9.80)
- London Bridge Experience (£29)
- Tower of London (£27.50)
- St. Paul’s Cathedral (£20)
- Body’s World (£25)
- Total = £177+ ($228+ at time of writing)
On my last visit I also used the pass for Kensington Palace and Westminster Abbey, two more amazing places to visit.
Even More Deals:
We also saw a show while in London and I do recommend using GROUPON to see if you can find tickets for a steal. It was a fabulous performance and worth even the full price (but luckily we only paid 50%).
We also went on a ‘free’ walking tour (you decide what you pay via gratuity at the end) with Strawberry Tours. The Jack the Ripper tour was recommended to us by my friend Jenn and WOW. It was two hours of AMAZING and really interesting information. They offer an array of tours (some less macabre) and I would certainly use them again! Our guide, Christian, was wonderful!
Tower of London
If you’re a history buff, or for that matter a jewel lover, you’re gonna LOVE the Tower of London. Nearly a millennium old, and having served as everything from a palace to a mint, it has a rich history and LOTS to see! It’s also home to the Crown Jewels.
Tips: check the opening and closing times before you go, and plan ahead. To really explore fully, you’ll need 2-3 hours, and it closes quite early in the winter. You can also join a walking tour led by very animated employees if you want to get the inside scoop.
My Favorite Part: I would say the jewels the first two times I visited, but most recently: chatting with one of the raven keepers about the ravens kept at the tower. Very cool information about the requirement to always have a certain number of ravens on hand (hint: they keep extras just in case). I won’t spoil the tale for you, but find somebody and ask!
The view from the Shard is wonderful…if its a clear day. I would ONLY recommend going if you get in with the London pass. Personally, I think the $30+ ticket is overpriced without it. Having said that, I am glad that we went, even though visibility was low on the day we were there.
Tip: go thirsty! You can have champagne at the top from the bar.
My Favorite Part: the very top level with partially exposed ceilings REALLY lets you feel how high you are. Debatable whether thats good or bad, but its thrilling for sure!
There are tons of amazing places to have a wonderful afternoon tea in London (you can find some of them HERE in my London food blog), but this time around we went to Saint Aymes and I highly recommend it. The Connaught Street location in Hyde Park is small and quaint but stunning. Flowers frame the outside window, and the interior is just as feminine and adorable.
The entire establishment is like an instagram photo shoot waiting to happen.
Tip: there are VERY few spaces, and the other location doesn’t do tea, so make sure to get a reservation.
My Favorite Part: Rose Teapuccino complete with gold leaf
London’s Best Restaurants
A girl can’t live on afternoon tea alone (ok, well I would gladly try, but I digress). I wrote a post on some of my favorite London restaurants from my last trip in this blog post, but this time around we added some VERY important new ones to the list (as well as re-visiting a favorite).
One of London’s most celebrated, and certainly most beautiful, restaurants, Sketch has multiple dining rooms available at different times of the day. We went to the Glade for breakfast, and as you may suspect it was UNREAL. Or should I say surreal? A magical, lush, sparkly forest, with rose blossoms in your tea pots and shag carpeting that looks like forest floor.
TRY: eggs Benedict, rose tea, pastries.
80s babies rejoice! This casual and fun spot (well actually there are two just down the street from one another) had a colorful and relaxed vibe.
TRY: any of the pancakes and waffles, and the iced coffees. SKIP: the very off-base interpretation of a breakfast burrito.
Coppa Club (Igloos Tower Bridge)
What can one say about a location as magical as this? Transparent igloos with the cutest, most Anthropologie-esque decor where you can dine on modern dishes while taking in a view of Tower Bridge. Just go.
TIP: its booked out MONTHS in advance. Your best (and frankly only realistic) bet is to go on a weekday and be the first in line when they open so you can get into the ONE igloo they keep free for walk-ins.
TRY: avocado toast, eggs Florentine SKIP: macchiatos
London Bridge Experience
Ok, ok, before anybody who lives in London comes for me, let me just preface this with: THIS IS FOR ENTERTAINMENT ONLY. Its over-the-top cheesy and reminds me of Halloween at an amusement park. But I’ve been twice now thanks to my London pass and what can I say: ITS FREAKING FUN.
A combination of character-actor led history lessons about the London bridge(s) and a scary walk-through maze, its a lighthearted stop if your week is looking a bit museum-dense.
Jack the Ripper Tour
I said it before and I’ll say it again: the Strawberry Tours Jack the Ripper walking tour was amazing. I am so glad my friend recommended it. HOWEVER, if macabre stories aren’t really your jam, they do offer other walking tours which I’m sure are equally awesome.
TIP: bring cash to tip your guide.
Its regal. Its grand. It’s crowded. But hey, you’re in London! If you want to see the changing of the guard, make sure to check the schedule and get there early to get a spot along the ropes where you can see something.
TIP: be aware of pickpockets in this area, especially when its crowded for the changing of the guard.
While the London Eye was closed for repairs while I was there last, I have been on it during two other trips and its REALLY COOL. I personally recommend the front of the line option for your tickets, especially if you are trying to squeeze as much in as you can.
The views are amazing and especially during sunset it offers a perspective you really can’t get anywhere else.
TIP: I don’t like heights and I am fine on it! Why? It moves so slowly you barely notice you’re moving at all!
I’m going to keep it real with you here: I wasn’t all that interested in the mechanical history of the bridge that is shared inside the museum. However, on the top floor there is a see-through glass floor that you can walk on and see down to the bridge and even the water below. It’s VERY cool and again, offers great views of the city.
St. Paul’s Cathedral + Westminster Abbey
Since I had visited Westminster Abbey during my last trip, we opted for St. Paul’s Cathedral this time. Absolutely stunning architecture and religious art inside.
Make sure to note service times and bring the appropriate camera options (flash and video is prohibited during certain times).
If you decide to go to Westminster Abbey, I highly recommend the audio tour, AND the small cafe that is attached.
TIP: London pass gets you access.