You would think with two full weeks to explore London we’d have at least scratched the surface, but even having checked off what I consider an impressive list of Things To Do* we still left with a long list of Hopefully Next Time….
Previous trips across the pond have found us traveling from place to place never even unpacking before moving to the next destination. I’m not complaining, as I’ve never been one to sit still for too long, but the goal of this trip was to dig deeper into a place we felt we already knew and loved. We included a few old favorites, but did our best to see and experience many new things too!
I’ll be posting in a lot more detail about many of these places, but first I’ll need to sort through all the photos!
Things to do in London:
The Little Venice Canals
Arriving in London in the early afternoon we were delighted to see the sun was shining brightly! Wanting to take advantage of what could, and did, turn out to be the only sunny day of the entire trip, we enjoyed a stroll along the canals in Little Venice. We were excited to find out that during the warmer months you can take a waterbus ride to Regents Park and through the London Zoo.
The British Library London
Our trip to the British Library was prompted by our desire to see the temporary exhibit: Harry Potter A History of Magic, which is on display through February 2018, but with 150 million items in their collection the Library has a lot to offer!
The Leadenhall Market, located in the heart of the City of London, is a popular destination and has been since it was established in 1321. You might recognize it as the entrance to Diagon Alley in the movie Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. It’s glowing halls are a photographer’s dream, but you’ll have to go after hours or on a holiday to get a people free photo.
The Tower of London – Ice Skating
For me no visit to London would be complete without a trip to the Tower of London. We didn’t make it inside the Tower this time, but we did go ice skating in the moat, which we all agreed was a magical experience. The Tower offers special events throughout the year, so check the website to see what’s on.
No matter the time of year a walk along South Bank includes something for everyone. Festive holiday markets, delicious treats, lovely views of the London Eye, art installations, and even a skate park.
Shoreditch Street Art Tour
Touring Shoreditch and the amazing art which can be found there was a highlight of our trip. We wanted an interactive experience, so only spent 90 minutes exploring the local art scene, and then it was time for us to try our hand at creating our own masterpiece!
Victoria & Albert Museum
We’ve visited the V&A before, but as it’s the world’s largest museum of decorative arts and design it makes sense that repeat visits would be in order! This visit found us at the special exhibition: Winnie the Pooh: Exploring A Classic, which is on through April 8, 2018. Not only is Pooh Bear a favorite in our home, but this exhibit tied in perfectly with our plans to visit Ashdown Forest aka The 100 Akre Wood later in the trip.
WB Studios The Making of Harry Potter
Harry Potter fans will want to find their way to The Warner Brothers Studios outside London. Once the filming location for all 8 Harry Potter films, they are now home to a permanent tour and exhibition: The Making of Harry Potter. We spent an entire magical day here and loved every minute of it.
The London Zoo
The London Zoo, located in Regent’s Park is not only the worlds oldest scientific zoo, but it was also the home of Winnie the bear. A.A. Milne changed the name of his famous storybook character Pooh Bear to Winnie-The-Pooh after he and his son Christopher Robin visted the London Zoo.
We always enjoy wandering around Brick Lane, which has changed greatly over the years. Along with its many curry restaurants you’ll also find a large amount of fabulous street art.
If, like us, you’re coming from a place where afternoon tea isn’t the norm, then you’ll want to partake in this lovely tradition at least once. We enjoyed a festive afternoon tea on Christmas Day at the Corinthia, one of our favorite hotels, where we indulged in tea, delicious sandwiches, and desserts almost too pretty to eat.
London is incredibly beautiful during the festive season with almost no street left undressed. There are displays of holiday lights and Christmas trees everywhere and we made it our mission to see as many as we could.
Eat At A Pub
I’ve always been a fan of pub food, which is a good thing as there are many to choose from in London. We found ourselves enjoying fish & Chips and mushy peas at The Sherlock Holmes Pub, which is a traditional English style pub featuring Sherlock Holmes memorabilia.
Leicester Square is the heart of British Cinema, much like Hollywood in California, and many European movie premiers take place here. We didn’t take in a movie this visit, but I did enjoy a visit to the Lego Store, which has amazing interactive displays representing many of London’s iconic landmarks.
The shopping opportunities in London are too numerous to list in this post, but I managed to find treasures along Regent Street, at the iconic Liberty of London, and Selfridges, which also has an amazing Food Hall where you can pick up delicious treats and artisan foods to take home, or if you prefer there are various dine in options as well.
Trafalgar Square is home to The National Gallery, Nelson’s Column, and other iconic London landmarks. Every year the people of Norway donate a giant Christmas Tree which stands in the center of the Square. The tree is gifted in recognition of Britain’s support during WWII. I was delighted to discover that the pedestrian traffic signals around Trafalgar Square were changed during Pride 2016 and rotate between a series of symbols.
The National Gallery
After numerous visits to London I’ve finally checked The National Gallery off my list! With a few hours to myself I blissfully wandered the halls of this lovely museum. Entrance is free of charge and personal highlights were Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, works by Hans Holbein and the architecture.
Photo Tour The City of London
Aspiring photographers will love this four hour lesson and photo tour around London. I chose The City of London, but choose the area that appeals most to you. You’ll get private instruction along with a walking tour which includes a nice amount of history.
Having walked by The Monument a number of times, we finally made our way 311 steps to the top. The Monument was built in 1677 to commemorate the Great Fire of London and although many modern buildings have sprouted up around it there are still lovely views to be had from the top. You’ll receive a certificate upon completing the climb. The entrance fee is cash only.
The River Thames Path
As I mentioned above it’s become our tradition to walk the along the River Thames and this visit found us meandering along both sides on multiple occasions. Crossing the river at London Bridge we wandered through the extremely popular and (crowded) Borough Market before discovering a wonderful little restaurant in Flat Iron Square. I always stop to admire the Globe Theater, even if I’m the only one in my group who’s interested, and as has become our custom we took a “break” inside the Tate Modern, before proceeding along until we came to the Houses of Parliament.
The Tate Modern
We love the Tate Modern! This is not only a fabulous museum with ever changing exhibits, but it’s also free! Making it easy to pop in for a quick look around! The Turbine Hall’s One Two Three Swing installation was a big hit with our group, and is on until April 2018. Finally able to visit the new wing I was delighted to discover the 10th floor viewing platform, which provides sweeping views of the river and city!
For iconic city views you’ll want to cross the Millennium Bridge! We love to purchase a cup of warm roasted nuts before strolling across in both directions taking in the views of St. Paul’s and The Tate Modern as well as the Thames. Harry Potter fans will recognize The Millennium Bridge from Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince.
Peggy Porschen Cakes
Touted by multiple sources as having the “best cupcakes in the world” we decided a visit to Peggy Porschen Cakes, would make our list. We sampled cupcakes and cocoa, and both were delicious. The pretty pink building with its candy colored decor and beautifully decorated deserts has made it a very popular Instagram photo location.
The Design Museum
The Design Museum features both revolving and permanent exhibitions related to contemporary, graphic, architecture, industrial and product design. We really enjoyed the museum’s permanent exhibit: Designer, Maker, User, which has a lot of interactive components. The two temporary exhibitions we saw were, Ferrari: Under the Skin, and Beazley Designs of the Year where we got to vote on our favorite design. If you’re wondering our family’s favorite design was a wheelchair that navigates stairs.
New Years Eve Fireworks
Our last hurrah on this trip, and one I highly recommend, was the spectacular London New Year’s Eve Fireworks show! The fireworks are set off from the London eye, so our assigned viewing area, the Waterloo Bridge, wasn’t too shabby. Advice: advance purchase tickets, at £10 per person, are required. The event sells out, so plan ahead. Dress extra warm and bring cash for the food vendors on the bridge.
Hopefully Next Time:
- The Shard
- The sky Garden
- Boat Ride on the River Thames
- Portabello Road
- Charles Dickens House
- The Churchill War Rooms
- Richmond Park
- Whitehall Banquetting Rooms
- The Horse Guards Museum
- House of Vans
- Gods Own Junkyard
- Ride the iconic red bus
*Having visited London many times previously this list only includes activities we participated in during our most recent trip.
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