So, planning your first trip to London, eh? London, one of the biggest tourism cities in the world, so much to see, only a few days of time, PANIC MODE. What to do, where to go, how to act, who to meet?!? If yoy’re travelling to London for the first time you’re bound to feel a little clueless and confused by the amount of sights. What I did on my first trip to London, was to forget about them all!
Eat. Loads. The food is amazing. Here’s my favorite places from my first trip.
Portobello Road: The Duke of Wellington’s Ladies that lunch. This lunch comes with sparkling wine for £12. Need I say more? GAIL’s Bakery almost across the street from The Duke: the desserts!! Have the carrot cake 😉
Near Brick Lane Market: The Culpeper’s Sunday Roast. From here you can continue to Brick Lane’s Vintage Market. Trust me, it’s worth it.
For more fancy food London has so much to offer. I fell in love with Dinner by Heston Blumenthal – and for a good reason! This Michelin 2-star restaurant has mandarins that are not mandarins and eggs on a bird’s nest that are blue and eatable. I mean, what??? Three course meal with a shared bottle of sparkling wine was £130 for one. Not too bad in my opinion! This is affordable Michelin qualified luxury every now and then. I mostly eat within budget when travelling but being a massive Masterchef Australia fan and loving their Heston week, I had to go to his affordable restaurant. His most famous restaurant The Fat Duck near London is about £260 for just food (six to ten courses though..).
Ok, so I have two budget options where I tend to stay on my travels.
Hostel Clink 78 was the second hostel I stayed on my first trip to London. (The first one I will not mention because I cannot recommend it.) It’s a reeaally good hostel! Not the cheapest but hey, cheap enough! I espesially like the Bird’s Nest Dorms: a floor just for women. I always pay some extra to stay in a femaly-only dorm. Firstly, it makes me feel more comfortable. Secondly, I can’t handle snoring and in a female-only dorm it is less likely to be disturbed by it. Not impossible though…
Hotel Vincent House was the first hotel I found to be cheap enough in a good location. Located right next to Notting Hill Gate station, this hotel has breakfast that’s more than just bread and really comfortable rooms. Our room was a twin room and we were extremely pleasantly surprised when we noticed that we have our own rooms! Just amazing. We had a tiny hallway, a renovated bathroom and our own rooms for a really fair price. What more could you want in London?
SIGHTS = MUST SEE?
Do everyone really need to go to those same places as everyone else? In London, espesially on your first trip to London, you probably feel pressured to go to Westminster, Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, Madame Tussaud’s… Am I right? My tip is to avoid these places but if you must go (to see them once in your life), see what’s interesting and close to these places! For example, London Dungeon is right next to Westminster, Big Ben and London Eye. You will see those just fine when you pass them on your way to actually exciting activities! Btw, London Dungeon = must see. I had so much fun!
Having said all that, there are some places that actually and warm-heartedly are a must see! Camden Market is something everyone has heard of. Camden = must see! I usually plan my trip to Camden for lunch time and visit the food market. However, next time I really should go for a night out in Camden! I’ve only heard of the buzz but never experienced it. My tips for Camden Market? Bring cash just in case, enjoy and buy spontaneously.
Do you have kids of your own or kids you like to dress (like I do)? Go visit Josiah Amari in Camden Lock! I stumbled upon Maria’s shop on my first trip to London and ever since I’ve gone every time I’m in the city. Mostly I travel to London because I love the atmosphere but I also feel the pressure from my friend whose kids I keep bying Maria’s clothes…
Notting Hill = must see. Just remember, when taking pictures, these houses are people’s homes. People may be angry at you for photographing their houses. You’ve been warned.
Tower Bridge is nice to walk through once in your life. After all, it is a monumental London sight. For a photo of the bridge head to London Bridge which is the closest. You’ll still need a lot of zoom though and good weather.. From Tower Bridge if you head West-South on the Southern bank of river Thames (away from Tower of London, opposite side of Thames) you come to a boulevard with many restaurants. I have had the best pudding of my life here! I don’t remember the name of the restaurant but here’s a tip for you to find it:
If you have time enough time to leave London for a day and visit the Warner Bro Studios The Making of Harry Potter, do so. You get to walk Diagon Alley, hang out at the Great Hall, see every room and every prep. This must be booked well in advance! We’re talking months in advance.
More markets to discover in London: Portobello Road, Brick Lane (Thu-Sun Vintage Market, amazing!), Spitalfields. Many of these places have the same stuff though, but still they are nice to just walk around.
So these are my tips for your first trip to London. Forget you need to see anything, follow your heart. London will embrace you if you allow it. Take London in your heart, explore the alleys, taste different foods. Keep your eyes wide open and there will always be something delightfully interesting to look at.
The fox is right here: It ain’t where you from, it’s where you at! And to answer your question that comes from all the pictures with sparkling wine and prosecco: why would I drink anything else when travelling?