Always changing and ever bustling – London is an impressive mix of old, rich history and new, modern culture. It’s overflowing with eclectic style, impossibly pleasant people, and some of the prettiest architecture ever built. The first time I visited London was on the wedding day of Prince Harry and Meghan. I literally landed in the afternoon while the ceremony was being held. I envisioned hoards of people waving flags of Meghan’s smiling face superimposed on them while wearing Prince Harry boxer briefs and screams of “Cheers” whilst clinking beers that were spilling all over the streets. No….
Depending on where you are staying in the city, a better part of your first day could be spent knocking out those wonderfully touristy sights that some people groan about. If you’re in London, I say “Go Touristy or Go Home”! After all – you ARE in London for a reason! Most of these sites are within walking distance of each other, as well.
Westminster Abbey – 20 Deans Yd, Westminster, London SW1P 3PA, UK
If you get all the feels from standing on the same ground that every King and Queen have been crowned at since the year 1066 then you are precisely in the right spot. The details and history of this Gothic-style church are nearly jaw dropping. Bonus: there are services held daily if you want to experience a prayer and communion service.
Palace of Westminster (Houses of Parliament) – Westminster, London SW1A 0AA, UK
Disappointingly enough, while I was in London, the Elizabeth Tower (known more commonly as “Big Ben”) was being reconstructed and looked every bit of a scaffolding mess. Head on over to the River Thames to get a more panoramic shot of the entire palace – it is breathtaking. Also, the bells still chime at different points every hour and there are gardens surrounding the majestic architecture. You can take a guided tour of the interiors (which I did not partake in) but it will cost you approximately £25. Unless you’re really THAT into the history of the palace, I say skip the tour and meander around the river to get some beautiful photos.
London Eye – Lambeth, London SE1 7PB, UK
As Europe’s tallest Ferris wheel – this is for sure one of the most touristy things you can do but the views of London (especially at night!) are oh so rewarding.
Buckingham Palace – Westminster, London SW1A 1AA, UK
Just a hop, skip, and a jump away is the ever-famous Buckingham Palace. The incredulous gold detailing on the gates and old school lights atop had exactly the kind of European charm I was hoping for. I half hoped to have seen Mary Poppins flying just around the corner with her umbrella in hand. It’s fun to watch the time-old tradition of the changing of the guards (everyday at 11am April through June) just to say you’ve seen it. If this is something you really want to see, I’d advise getting there 30-45 minutes early so you can stand up front and get a good spot!
Elan Cafe – 48 Park Ln, Mayfair, London W1K 1PR, UK
Hands down my favorite little cafe I found around London. It is absolutely brimming over the top with roses and pink flowers and the most magnificent display of sweet, delectable treats. I ordered the red velvet latte and some avocado toast for a quick bite in the late afternoon. Sitting outside on the sidewalk just people watching was nothing short of fascinating. People walking their puppies and charming bicyclists passing by – it was an absolute dreamy tucked away spot.
I absolutely adored walking the streets of Westminster, getting lost amongst the cobblestone streets. It seemed as if every house had quaint flowers boxes in their windows, a puppy laying on the front stoop, or an iconic red telephone booth on the corner. I longed to check all of these things off of my bucket list when I finally made it to Europe and it, without a doubt, did NOT disappoint. There is an open market area just in front of Westminster Cathedral just off of Victoria St. that had tons of cafes, restaurants, stunning architecture, gelato places, and shopping boutiques. Highly recommend.
Notting Hill – W11, W2
The Notting Hill area gave me all.the.feels. I was gobsmacked at the rows upon rows of candy colored flats, the charming antique stores dotted along Portobello Road, the sweet music playing in the streets, and the enormous rose bushes on nearly every corner. I was in absolute heaven. If I moved to London – this is where I would live.
Farm Girl Cafe – 59A Portobello Rd, London W11 3DB, UK
If you’re in the mood for a pink rose latte, the fattest avocado toast you’ve ever seen, or quite possibly one of the most instagrammable spots in Notting Hill – look no further.
Covent Garden – 41, The Market Building, London WC2E 8RF
I got lost for hours in Covent Garden. I ate my weight in to-die-for macarons from Lauduree, witnessed the prettiest storefronts I had ever seen, listened to sweet saxophone players in the quad, and visited the ever Insta-famous Milk Train.
The Bletchley – 459 King’s Rd, Chelsea, London SW10 0LJ, UK
For a secretive good time – make a reservation at The Bletchley for crack-the-code cocktails and a step back in time. I can guarantee you have never been to a bar quite like this.
Kensington Palace – Kensington Gardens, London W8 4PX, UK
To simply be in the presence of where Princess Diana once lived – magical. I’m one to take a tour just about anywhere I travel to because – why else would I be there? – so I definitely recommend taking a guided stroll through the grounds of a real-life palace. The garden just to the est of Kensington are breathtaking and kept perfectly manicured all year long.
Your head will absolutely spin at the sight of Carnaby Street with more dining and shopping than you could possibly imagine. The people watching is unreal and you can find some of the most interesting shops. There is a constant flow of people at any given time. It’s vibrant, outlandish and charming all at the same time. Check out their website for an entire calendar of events here.