If you are planning a visit to Britain, odds are you will be heading to the capital and London is one of those places that just deserve to be visited. I’ve been to many places all over the world and it definitely ranks up there at the top because there’s just so much to see and do. Indeed my travel companions and I have been back several times and we still only feel like we have scratched the surface.
The real touristy attractions are right in the centre and you could do worse than start by going on the London Eye. Originally called the Millennium Wheel, it is located on the South Bank of the Thames. It’s a fabulous way to get a quick look at a number of the most famous landmarks, with great views of The Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, St Paul’s Cathedral and the Shard – to name just some. What we like is it’s not too pricey either and you also get a nice London Eye 4D Experience thrown in for free. Just one word of warning though: it is Britain so keep an eye on the weather forecast, as you won’t see much if it is dull and rainy!
While you are in the vicinity of the London Eye, it is also worth popping along to the London Dungeons – it’s literally right next to it. The London Dungeon experience allows you to “journey through 1000 years of London’s history” with various actors performing as some of the capital’s most infamous characters. It also includes two rides and is generally good fun.
Afterwards, you could take a stroll across Westminster Bridge to see The Houses of Parliament and Big Ben up close. There’s a lot to see and do from here with 10 Downing Street, St James’s Park, The Mall and Buckingham Palace all within easy walking distance.
If you want to get away from the crowds for a while and do something a bit different, head to Sloane Square – just a few stops on from Westminster if you get on the Circle or District line – and take a stroll down the Kings Road. There are lots of shops you can pop into and you can also do a bit of star spotting. I’ve yet to see anyone famous – but it can be a good hunting ground for a number of rich people and celebrities living in the Chelsea and Kensington area, including pop star Kylie Minogue, Harry Potter author JK Rowling, Sir Elton John and Virgin billionaire Sir Richard Branson.
If you stroll down a bit further there’s also a very nice restaurant I can personally recommend called ‘My Old Dutch’ – ‘the original London pancake house’. There’s a great choice of pancakes and my favourite is the smoked salmon, although you don’t have to go for the savoury option as there’s plenty here to cater for a sweet tooth as well.
If you’ve had enough down time from the crowds, jump on a bus just outside – the number 19 – and head to Piccadilly Circus. This will take you back down the Kings Road before going up to Knightsbridge (where you could hop off and visit Harrods, one of the world’s most famous department stores).
The number 19 will eventually drop you off in Piccadilly Circus, but keep your eyes peeled on the way with Wellington Arch (also known as Construction Arch or Green Park Arch and built as the original entrance to Buckingham Palace), the grade II listed five star Ritz London hotel and Fortnum & Mason (another famous department store) all notable sights en-route.
Piccadilly Circus itself has a great buzz and at night really comes alive. If you are into gaming head to Leicester Square too – just a short walk away – and marvel at the Hippodrome Casino. It’s no ordinary casino and hosted the first PokerStars Festival London event back in January. Keep an eye on the players too and see who is up on the latest poker fashions as they have changed a lot over the years.
After that you could move on to Covent Garden, on the edge of the West End – don’t be tempted to get on the London Underground, however, as it is a lot quicker and nicer to just walk there. Here you’ll find an assortment of bars and restaurants, a craft market and my personal favourite, the many street performers.
You’ll probably want to head back to your hotel now and unwind. If it is too far to walk, treat yourself to a black cab and then why not order a few drinks from the bar or get room service and toast your day…