One of the most famous cities in the world is London, England. There is so much to do that it can be a bit overwhelming when you first try to tackle it as a destination. This fantastic city can be visited any time of year, and if you don’t like big crowds at tourist sights, you can enjoy many London tours in the off season. London is always busy, but it hits its peak in summer months.
Here is an insider’s guide of a few famous things you must see and do in London, plus a few off the beaten track. With the size of the city and the time change for most North Americans, we recommend a week in London. The first thought may be that a week is too long, but here is a glimpse of one of the many possible ways to have a vacation in London based from one centrally-located hotel.
Using our 6-Day London and Surrounds independent tour as the starting point, we modified it to show what really can be done when you take the time. We have included more highlights to see on London tours, as well as suggestions for time at leisure.
Day 1 (Arrival Date)
Before you start on any London tours, get the lay of the land around your hotel. Find a nice place to grab a coffee, hop on the tube, and make your way to the closest pick up spot for your Hop On/Hop Off bus pass. This pass will give you an excellent overview of the distances between sights plus a few perfect snaps of the highlights, as you are whisked around this city learning about the history and stories from the commentary.
This evening, consider eating local. Ask the hotel for a recommendation on dining. Take it easy and rest up, this city has a lot to offer over the coming days!
Rise and shine! That jet lag is probably a factor today, but get back out to the bus stop for your second day on the Hop On/Hop Off bus. Get off at some of the famous sights that you want to see. We recommend that any sight you know you want to spend a lot of time at, can be visited again on Day 4, when you can see it without feeling rushed – whether that is the National Gallery, Tate Modern, or the Tower of London. Use the Hop On/ Hop Off and see the cathedrals, and take a selfie a Buckingham Palace.
London is a Museum Buff’s Paradise
Grab lunch on the go, either at a cheeky pub or head to a place like Marks and Spencer’s food hall. This iconic department store is well known for its variety of pre-made, delicious meals on the go. Some may end up here for another lunch later in the week.
This afternoon, finish up on the south side of the Thames River. Wander the Maltby Market by Tower Bridge, it has some great coffee stands. Stroll along the Thames to the London Eye. The London Eye gives a great view of the city as your head up on this famous glass capsule ferris wheel.
Tonight possibly dine at The Punch Bowl in Mayfair. It is not on the tourist map, but this pub serves delicious food and has famous clientele, all tucked away in an exclusive neighbourhood with high-end retailers and customers alike. As a reminder, pubs tend to be busy in the evening, and the local (pub) tends to close before midnight at the latest.
Consider taking a day tour that whisks you outside London. We recommend a full day tour visiting Oxford and Cambridge Universities. It is an excellent way to take in some of the English countryside and give your feet an easy day of touring, before seeing the sights in London the next day.
Tonight, head out for dinner. We recommend heading to Notting Hill Gate, where you’ll discover Portobello Road. When you’ve finished taking pictures of the area, head to The Churchill Arms. This building has two functions. Not only is it a fantastic English pub with a great atmosphere, it also houses an amazing Thai restaurant under the same roof. The bar is typical in England – you have to go to the counter to be served, but put your name down for a table in the Thai restaurant section before you order. It tends to get busy, which is always a good sign of a great establishment.
Today is a day for comfortable walking shoes. Enjoy wandering the streets of London for the morning. Consider making your way to Bond Street Station or Oxford Circus (for people who want to walk further), walk along the famous Oxford Street down to Marble Arch. From Marble Arch you can enter famous Hyde Park and wander through the greenery. Consider exiting the park at Knightsbridge so you can see the displays in Harrods windows (especially at Christmas time), and then pop into this famous shop to pick up some souvenirs.
The Joy of Shopping on Your London Vacation
This afternoon, make your way back to those famous sights you wanted to spend more time visiting. Enjoy moving at your pace. If you feel like you have seen it all, consider heading over to Shoreditch/Hoxton and Columbia Road, which has their famous flower market open on Sundays. These neighbourhoods are a bit grittier and funky. The neighbourhoods have had a history that went from artsy to crime-ridden and working class, and have evolved back into funky; it is continually evolving. There are lots of funky cafes, shops, restaurants, and pubs popping up and offer a different side of London.
This evening, consider taking in a show in London’s famous theatre district. Like New York’s, you never know what star may be the lead in a famous show.
After a busy walking day yesterday, today will start bright and early. Head off to Leeds Castle, Canterbury, and Dover. You will pass through famous Greenwich to the famous castle in Leeds. Finish the day seeing the famous White Cliffs of Dover.
Today, you will head back to touring on a bus. Make a visit to Stonehenge and Bath. These iconic sights are definitely worth the travel. Enjoy the day as you whisk down the roads and take plenty of pictures.
Tonight, as on any last night of London tours, head out for a nice dinner, toast yourself for a fantastic holiday, and make your way back to your hotel to pack.
Today we say goodbye to London. Make your way to the airport to pick up your last minute souvenirs and catch your flight home.
When you get home, tell your friends and family about your fantastic London tours, as well as your plans to go back!
6-Day London and Surrounds