The great writer Samuel Johnson once said “…[W]hen a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford." This could not be more true as London is filled with culture, history, arts, food, and just about everything one could imagine.
It would take a lifetime to explore everything this city has to offer, but even if you only have a few days in London, it’s still possible to pack in the highlights! With direct flights traveling from Nashville to London’s Heathrow Airport, it’s the perfect destination for a dedicated vacation or a weekend layover trip on the way to another European destination.
While seeing the sights can be done on a “hop on hop off” bus-made tour, there are other modes of transportation that can let you experience the landmarks. London is filled with “free” walking tours where a local will take a small group around the city to see the landmarks, share history, and give recommendations of their favorite local restaurants, pubs, and activities. These tours can be booked online through companies like SANDEMANs NEW Europe or Free Tours by Foot and at the end of the tour, you simply tip the tour guide what you think the tour was worth. Another option is to take an Uber boat down the Thames River. Doubling as both transportation and sightseeing, depending on where you hop on the boat, you can cruise past Big Ben, Parliament, the London Eye, and even under Tower Bridge. Simply pay with your Uber app! The city buses also have routes that take riders past many must-see landmarks (check out the “bus leisure routes” on Transport for London’s website).
For those wanting to try a variety of food outside of the traditional restaurant setting or do a little shopping, London is brimming with unique markets to peruse. Borough Market is filled with stalls selling everything from freshly baked bread to mushroom risotto and everything in between. If you’re looking to bring home an antique souvenir or new outfit, head over to Portobello Market in the charming Notting Hill neighborhood for their street market. Stroll the streets of cotton candy colored pastel houses while looking through vintage clothes, cameras, and tea sets. Old Spitalfields Market and Camden Market also have their own offerings worth checking out!
For a little arts and culture, spend a morning wandering the streets of Shoreditch to see incredible street art or take in a show in London’s West End theatre district. The TKTS booth in Leicester Square even offers last-minute discounted tickets, making it easy to score a deal to some of the top shows! Another great place to take in a play is none other than Shakespeare’s Globe with standing tickets starting for as little as five pounds. Furthermore, London is filled with amazing art museums including the National Portrait Gallery and the Tate Modern, as well as interesting history museums like the Natural History Museum and the British Museum.
A visit to Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the guard and a walk around the gardens of Kensington Palace is also a must. And experience historic churches like St. Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey through their traditional Evensong services.
Understanding the importance of a good cup of tea is crucial in England. Whether you decide to go the fancy route with a proper afternoon tea experience of finger sandwiches and delectable sweets or a more casual stop for cream tea—tea with milk—and scones, getting a good “cuppa” is a must when in London. Stop by a British pub for fish or chips or “bangers and mash” (sausage and mashed potatoes) and be sure to visit a “greasy spoon”—similar to an American diner—for an English breakfast or “fry up”.
With so much to see and do, London is a city that will have you wanting to return time and time again!