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Just Touched Down in London Town

TravelCason Rainwater

One year later and Kat, Jo, and I still can’t stop talking about our trip to Europe. This exact day one year ago, the 3 of us were eating pastries in front of the Eiffel Tower! Gahhh, take me back. I’ve got TONS of Europe travel tips to share with all of you so I’ll take it city by city. Our first stop after crossing the Atlantic was London….

[ TIPS ]

The London Pass | I highly recommend getting the London Pass. Not only will this be your ticket to all the main attractions, but you actually end up saving money if you had bought everything individually. The best thing about these passes is that you get to completely skip the line. This alone was worth it. You wouldn’t believe how long some of these lines are. I’m talking HOURS of waiting that you can skip. Some attractions included but not listed below (simply because we didn’t have time) include Windsor Castle, Kensington Palace, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, the Queen’s Gallery, and the Thames River Boat Cruise. A 3-day pass is 72.90 GBP (approximately $125). Child passes as well as 1-day and 2-day passes are also available.

Apps | Check out this post for full details on my favorite travel apps. I’ve included everything from currency converters and restaurant finders to audio tours and translators. The app I couldn’t live without in London?  The London Tube app. This app does NOT require wi-fi so download before you go and you’ll never get lost. You’ll be able to get directions, see maps of each different line, and see any upcoming schedule changes. My heart starts racing at the idea of going to London without this!

Kate Spade City Guide | You’re about to see the true girly-girl in me. I LOVE the city guides the Kate Spade blog puts together. Her London guide is broken down by neighborhoods and includes restaurants, bars, hotels, and shopping recommendations for each neighborhood. (Love you, Kate!)

[ TO DO ]

I realize this list is more like a “well duh” list. We had never been to London so we were super touristy. I’ll commit to finding some highly exclusive, off the grid, trailblazer type attractions the next time I go.

Buckingham Palace | Does it really even count if you go to London and don’t see the changing of the guards? When we were here last summer, they were officially on royal baby watch! We were secretly hoping Kate would go into labor while we were there so that we could buy hundreds of newspapers, bring them home and sell them and be millionaires. I’m still working for a living so that obvi didn’t happen. Scope out the times before you go and if you do anything – GET THERE EARLY for a good spot. They played ABBA music at ours – I didn’t hate it.

The London Eye | Again, super touristy but the views you get of the city are incredible! The lines are long so be prepared to wait.

Tower of London | The Crown Jewels are here so you’ll see some serious bling. The London Pass covers your entry and you can skip the lines!

Churchill War Rooms | This is where the Cabinet War Rooms are located which was a command center and bunker for Churchill during WWII. Some of the rooms have been untouched and look exactly as they did in 1945. Creepy and fascinating at the same time. Open daily from 9:30am – 6:00pm. The London Pass covers your entry.

St. Paul’s Cathedral | Churches in Europe will take your breath away. From the organs and architecture to the crypts and memorials – my jaw was on the floor. Fun fact – Prince Charles and Princess Diana were married here! Open Monday – Saturday. Don’t go to Westminster Abbey or St. Paul’s on Sunday. They are actual churches! I know this sounds silly but it didn’t even cross my mind until I started researching.

Westminster Abbey | The Gothic architecture at Westminster is amazing. Be sure to check out the Poet’s Corner for the William Shakespeare monument and to see where Charles Dickens is buried. Other notable tombs to see – Mary Queen of Scots, Sir Isaac Newton (scientist), Charles Darwin (naturalist), and Robert Browning (poet). Let’s be real, we just wanted to see where William and Kate tied the knot! (Again, don’t visit on a Sunday.) The London Pass covers your entry and allows you to skip the lines.

Double-Decker Tour | I highly recommend doing a double-decker bus tour on Sundays. Several of the London attractions are closed and it’s a great way to get your bearings of the city. You can hop on and off as many times as you like during the day. Going over the London Bridge while in a double-decker bus was a highlight for us. We went with Big Bus Tours because they offered 25% off if you purchased your tickets online in advance. Big Bus Tour London also has an awesome app! Download their tour routes and schedules right to your phone. Tickets are 24 GPB (approximately $41).

Portobello Road Market | Located in the Notting Hill district, this is a street market known for antiques, fashion, books, and music. Notting Hill is about as quaint as you can get so we enjoyed strolling the market and people watching. Saturday is the best day to go as the full street market is open!

[ TO EAT ]

The Wolsely | This was a fancy little restaurant in Piccadilly Circus that we loved. You can go there for afternoon tea and they’ll bring you plates of sandwiches and cookies. We went for dinner before catching Viva Forever at the Piccadilly Theatre! (reservations required)

The Pie Room | We went here for a traditional British meal…. mincemeat pie and mash! Sounds crazy but it was actually incredible. This is a teeny tiny local restaurant that we heard about on a blog. (reservations required)

Honest Burger | This local burger joint only had 3 burgers on the menu. It was probably the best burger I’ve ever eaten. Incredible rosemary fries. Very affordable and no reservations needed. We ate at the Soho location but there are actually 6 spread across London.

[ TO STAY ]

St. Ermin’s Hotel | We LOVED our stay at St. Ermin’s. The décor was beautiful and the concierge was super helpful if we had any questions. The St. James tube stop is literally right around the corner so you can get anywhere in London easily. We had a daily breakfast included with our rate and it was actually amazing! (Try a chocolate twist!) There was so much food to choose from and put the continental breakfasts here in the US to shame. Check out the reviews on TripAdvisor to see why we landed on this hotel. It’s within walking distance of Buckingham Palace and there is a Post Office right next door. We had fun picking out silly post cards everyday and mailing them home. Bonus perk? American plugs!

Anybody inspired to jump the pond after that? Can you take me with you!? Shoot me an email at hello@sitwithusblog.com if you have any other questions about London – I love to talk travel!