Last month, I had the good fortune of visiting this lovely city with my cousins and my sister, for ten jam-packed days. This may seem like too much time in the same city, but rest assured, there is no end to the sources of entertainment, and we in no way exhausted the city. I will be focusing on the more touristy locations and activities in this post.
- Shopping: Perhaps one of the first things one associates with London. The most obvious thing to do on this front is to trawl Oxford Street in search of the latest styles and bargains. However, I would also recommend a visit to the lovely markets around the city. Not only can you find amazing bargains, but if you’re lucky you can find some truly original things, plus, the atmosphere is quite fun… A word of caution though: watch out for pickpockets and overpriced items even here. Some great markets to visit would be Camden Town, Portobello Road, Covent Garden, and Spitalfields – which is found in the trendy and upcoming Shoreditch area.
- Sightseeing: The city is laced with iconic monuments, notable streets, and picturesque views, just waiting to be photographed by anyone who so desires. Even a simple walk along the streets of London never fails to satisfy, but in order to capture panoramic views of perhaps the most popular sights in the city, visits to the London Eye and the recently constructed View from The Shard (which is incidentally, the tallest building in the city) are essential. Both places give you a bird’s eye perspective of the city, but their respective locations offer views of altogether different parts of London. You could also catch the view from St. Paul’s Cathedral, that is, if you don’t mind the stairs to the top. If you prefer a more down to earth view of the city, you could consider a Boat Cruise along the River Thames. Not only does this ensure a glimpse of some of the most popular sites, but the guides on your tour will guarantee the most honest and amusing commentary you could ask for. Another option for you to exercise your photographic skills is crossing one of the many bridges crossing the Thames. The Millennium Bridge is perhaps one of the best bridges for this purpose; you can even get a fantastic view of the picturesque Tower Bridge from it.
- The aforementioned St. Paul’s Cathedral deserves a visit in its own right, even if you decide not to brave the stairs. The Cathedral’s history is astounding and its interior is quite simply breath-taking. Even if you’re not that into churches and houses of worship, one can’t help but admire the architectural prowess of this site, not to mention the priceless works of art all over. Another place worth visiting for similar reasons is Westminster Abbey; aside from its bewitching architecture, the site is also the resting place of several notable names such as Geoffrey Chaucer, Queen Elizabeth I and several others.
- In-keeping with this regal theme, why not pop in a visit to Buckingham Palace? The palace is definitely worth a visit, but it is also advisable to keep an eye out for any particular exhibitions running at the time of your visit. We caught a wonderful exhibition in honour of the Queen’s Coronation for instance. A mere forty minute train ride can also take you to the arguably finer site of Windsor Castle. Not only is it host to some astounding works of art, but it also offers a very interesting background to the royal family and some of its practices. There is for instance, a lot of historical information about the famed Order of the Garter, and its official residence (St. George’s Chapel) is right on the Castle Grounds. Interestingly, the chapel also hosts the tomb of Henry VIII and his third wife, Jane Seymour, among several others of course. While you’re here, take your time to enjoy the fresh air and roam around the village surrounding the castle, and if you can, extend your visit across the bridge to Eton. Aside from being a truly charming village, it is also host to one of Britain’s finest schools (Eton College), which was frequented by both Princes William and Harry, and several other big names (including Percy Bysshe Shelley, for all the literary enthusiasts).
- You don’t have to leave Central London for a breath of fresh air. There is a large range of parks and gardens that merit a visit, and weather-permitting you could always plan a little picnic in these little havens in the city. Don’t be alarmed if you’re suddenly joined by an inquisitive squirrel though. Years of exposure to people have made them astonishingly sociable.