At 27 years old, I finally made my first trip abroad! London was a great city to take this adventure in.
Two of my awesome college friends and I started planning this Eurotrip about four months ago, and on September 2nd, we finally took off for London! One friend lives in Cleveland and the other in Houston, so we found flights that landed across the pond around the same time and met up in this wonderful place.
We only had three days in London to explore, take some tours, drink at some pubs and experience #LondonLife. While I wish we had maybe one extra day, we were able to see almost everything on our list and had a ton of fun conquering London!
If you only have a couple days while your on vacation to see the sights, it’s important to outline somewhat of a plan. A lot of veteran travelers can certainly wing it, but since our group has not taken many trips abroad or together, it was crucial for us to map out a few things. Which leads me to my first tip:
1. Buy Tickets in Advance
Before we even left for London, we bought tickets for the London Eye and Buckingham Palace. These were two activities we knew for sure we wanted to do. The London Eye ride gave us the ability to see London from above and take in all the sights, even the neighborhoods we weren’t able to get to on foot. Unfortunately, it was a little rainy and cloudy on the day we purchased our tickets for, so it was limited visibility. But still worth it! We bought ‘Skip the Line’ tickets from Viator for the London Eye, and I’m so glad we did! It was a Saturday, and we were able to basically walk on the wheel. Absolutely no waiting or wasting time for us! If you want to see London from 443 feet high, definitely use Viator to get your London Eye tickets!
We did the Buckingham Palace tour on our last day in London. We purchased the tickets online directly from the Royal Collection Trust website and they mailed them out. There was a little issue when we forgot to bring the tickets with us to London (whoops) but the staff was quickly forgiving and printed us some new ones! We did the ‘Royal Day Out’ which involved a tour of the Queen’s Gallery, where we saw lots of pretty artwork. It also included tours of the State Rooms and the Royal Mews. This was my favorite part! I was in awe of the beautiful décor of the State Rooms and how much detail goes into every piece of furniture. We weren’t allowed to take pictures of the State Rooms, but believe me when I tell you that they were gorgeous!
2. Take the Hop On/Hop Off Bus
While London is a very walkable city, we were told to buy a ticket for the Hop On/Hop Off bus, and it was the best decision we made while we were there! The ticket lasts for 24 hours, and there are so many stops in the various neighborhoods to get you from point A to point B faster, while learning about the rich history of London!
We drove past Hyde Park and Kensington Palace, their Financial District, and over the Tower Bridge. The tour guides were very entertaining and we had minimal rain – score! We got off at a few stops, one that allowed us to explore Covent Garden and all it’s shopping and food glory. Another stop we hopped off at was the Tower of London. I didn’t know much about it, but after some initial exploring and hearing about it from our tour guide, we spontaneously decided to buy tickets for a tour inside the tower for the next day. It’s definitely worth it if you have time! It’s all because of the interesting things you can learn on this bus tour that you can make some decisions for the end of your trip. Be sure to take the hop on/hop off bus as soon as you arrive!
3. Take Advantage of the Free Activities
There are so many free things to do in London. You don’t have to break the bank to really your stay here. Like I mentioned, London is a very walkable city, so you can see Parliament, Big Ben, Westminster, etc. in a short amount of time! Get your step count up and get lost in this city. One thing we did was take a stroll through Hyde Park. There’s colorful flowers and ponds to take you out of the city feel – super relaxing! It’s a huge park that you could spend a couple hours in. We also found the Princess Diana memorial fountain and the Peter Pan statue.
There are a few museums in London that are free. We decided to go to the British Museum, which is probably the biggest museum I’ve personally ever been in. It was almost overwhelming! If you’re a huge fan of the arts and the history of every culture, you could definitely spend hours in here. We walked around for a couple hours, marveling at the ancient Romans history and checking out the history of watches. Random, I know. But there is so much here! Plus, the ceiling is really cool.
Another secret for a free activity (which may not be THAT big of secret anymore), is that the Westminster Abbey has a free church service on Sundays. We went to the 8am service, which lasted about 30 minutes. You’re not allowed to take pictures inside of Westminster Abbey, but it was beautiful, and very peaceful. I’m glad we got up early to be able to go into this historic church. We walked around the courtyard afterward and snapped some photos there.
I hope these three quick tips help for your next trip to London! Please comment below if you have any other helpful tips on how to do London in just a few days, or what your favorite part of London was!