1. British Museum*: This has to be one of the top museums in the world, and is chocker with archeological finds. It is also modern and up to speed, so the exhibits are well-narrated and interesting. You could easily spend a week here, but an afternoon will also do. My favourite exhibits: Egyptian mummies. Persian statues. The treasure of Sutton Hoo.
3. Borough Market: I missed out on this market for entirely too long. It's open on the weekends and perfect for a gourmet lunch, a jaw-dropping-mouth-watering walk, or to pick up some fresh veggies and fruits for the week. It's located right by London Bridge, so it's a perfect place to stop while touristing around the city centre- plus lunch can be bought for under £5 which is pretty cheap for London!
4. Walk on the Thames: this is a scenic route that takes you to Tower Bridge, past Big Ben, past St Paul's cathedral, Southbank, the London Eye, to Millenium Bridge and the Tate Modern. Very scenic and probably a bit blustery, but the river walk lets you see all the big London sites in one pleasant, uncrowded walk.
5. Tower of London: This is probably the only London attraction that I think is worth paying for (or that I have paid for). It has a hefty £17 ticket cost which is a bit agony inducing. However, this is one of London's premiere locations for a reason. The walls offer a great view of Tower Bridge, the most famous and beautiful bridge in London. The price of the ticket includes a guided tour with a "beefeater" that's about 40 minutes long. After that you are free to wander at will through the entire castle complex, and it's museum inside the keep. Oh yes, and all the crown jewels are here so if you love diamonds as big as your head, it's the place to be.
6. Camden: Camden is hipper than hip, and the mainstreet is painful to behold. Instead avoid the high street and head into the Stables Market. This is a re-purposed actual horse stable, and now each stall has become a tiny shop. It's full of kitsch, antiques, and delicious food. I'd recommend the pizza or palestinian wraps - mexican and chinese foods should all be avoided! Plus, My Village, London's best coffee shop, is well hidden in this area and well worth a visit. It has the best hot chocolate in the world (Actually) along with the most delicious food. All wrapped into a Middle Eastern cosy coffee room.
7. Pubs: You can't be in London and miss out experiencing a British pub (unless you've been to one somewhere else of course). I don't have a particular recommendation here, I would just say the stranger the decorations, the better off you are. And of course you have to order english cider poured over ice, or real ale which is served at room temperature (Speckled Hen is a good choice here).
8. Portobello Road Market: This market is best on Friday afternoons, but is open all week. It sells a huge variety of used clothing, crafts, food, vegetables, antiques, maps. . .you name it. It's huge and you can spend a whole morning just walking up the road looking at everything. It's located in the beautiful neighbourhood of Notting Hill which also houses London's rich and famous. A good place to hit up if the line isn't too long is the Hummingbird Bakery - cupcakes to die for!
9. Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, and Westminster Abbey: These big three are all right next to each other, and are easy to find (Get out at Westminster Station). They are easy to see on the outside, but the Abbey costs about £15 to get in - unless you go for a service which means it's free. You can get a tour of the Houses of Parliament by getting in touch with your local MP, since they are required to give you a tour if you ask. As for Big Ben, I think there are tours but they are hard to get ahold of and booked out months in advance. I have walked by these three which is fun, but haven't properly visited any of them.
10. Covent Garden: This area is home to some unique indoor markets, but it's most famous for it's buskers. The buskers have to go through a heavy audition process and are quite good - and probably make a fortune off of tourists every day. It's nice to go see the buskers, hop around the central indoor market, but the area is best for shopping. The main street is crowded and horrible, but there are 100 tiny winding streets filled with cool clothes, shoes, and quirky shops. Covent Garden is also home to the first vegetarian restaurant in London which is delicious, but hard to find.
|Neal's Yard, Covent Garden|
*Of course, if you are more interested in art, you should head to the Victoria and Albert Museum of Design, Tate Modern, and National Portrait Gallery (much cooler than it sounds). And if your more interested in science, you should head to the Science Museum and Natural History Museum. All of the museums are free and housed in amazing historical buildings which are worth an experience in themselves. London is usually cold and grey, making museums the perfect escape!
|Victoria & Albert Museum of Design|
You may have noticed I haven't included Buckingham Palace here. Sadly most of the year you can't go in, and you also can't get up close to the outside. Tourists are kept away behind a huge cast iron fence; across the grey pavement you can see the house and little guards marching up and down. Much less exciting than a lot of other palaces. Another one that missed the list was St Paul's Cathedral. This costs a whopping £17 or so to get into - so I would think you're better off going to a smaller, free church.
What places do you think are worth visiting in London?