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.
You might also be interested in:
London: Our Favorite Hotel
London: Historic Palaces & Royal Residences
London: St. Paul’s Cathedral & Westminster Abbey
24 Hours In London
London: The Royal Mews
London: Camden Town
Three Days in London Family Style
London: Houses of Parliament Tour
London: An Afternoon in Kensington
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That’s an awesome list!! We couldn’t do much while we were in London and probably resorted to all the touristy things but I have a few of these like the ‘Peggy Porschen Cakes’ on my list for the next time.
Thank you! We’ve been many times, so have already done many of the big ticket items! There is NOTHING wrong with that, they’re all worth it! That’s why repeat visits are a good idea!
Alex - My LIfe Long Holiday
That’s an impressive amount! Isn’t London just a fabulous city! We are priviledged to have it only 2 hours away and probably manage a few visits a year but we feel we have only scratched the surface too, there’s just so much to see. Your list is great though and at least somewhere to start! #citytripping
It’s a wonderful place!! I really enjoyed getting to spend two full weeks!
Great list Hilary! You always cram so much in😊 I love the British Library. I often had to go there for university. I’m glad you got to wander South Bank and see the Christmas lights in Central London. And of course watch the NYE fireworks☺ x
Yes, we certainly did cram in a lot, and this doesn’t even include the day trips we took to Kent, Windsor, Bath & Stonehenge… stay tuned!
I know you did brilliant☺ Ooh can’t wait to see your posts x
I already have tickets to go to London in May. I will only have like 4 days but your list will help to brainstorm an itinerary. I am really interested in seeing some street art so I have to make sure I have time for a tour (even if it it self-guided one). I am excited about visiting the markets! #citytripping
I’ll be writing quite a few more posts, as two weeks was a long visit, and incase you didn’t see them I included links to previous posts at the bottom of this most recent one. A self guided tour in Shoreditch would be really easy as there is SO much art and it’s everywhere. If it was my first visit and I only had four days I’d hit South Bank for sure also the Tower of London is my all time favorite place! May should be a beautiful time to visit London!
Thanks for a great post. I’m planning a visit to London with my 6 year old and there are lots of good ideas here! #CityTripping
You’re welcome! Thank you! I’m so glad you found some fun ideas!
I have visited London 12 times and I still have a very long to-do list (I guess London just never gets boring!). I love your tips, a bit of the usual and the unusual, great combo! Isn’t Liberty just a divine (but expensive!) place for shopping!
Thank you! I do try to mix things up a bit, and you’re so right, London never gets old! Thankfully there was an after Christmas sale at Liberty, as it is quite posh isn’t it. There is plenty to see and I loved poking around the crafty floor.
Ok, now I know why it felt like you were in London for forever! Two weeks is a great amount of time to explore London! I’d love to do that! I’ve been over 10 times and see a little bit each more, but most of it started when I was a teen, so I’d definitely like to go back and really actually STAY in London to better explore! Pinned for later bc there’s definitely stuff on here I haven’t gotten to! Happy New Year!! #FarawayFiles
Having visited in little increments over the years we had the same thought about staying longer… I won’t lie it didn’t alleviate my fomo at all! Happy New Year!!
Ladies What Travel (@LadiesWTravel)
Thanks for reminding me how much London has to offer. As someone who has it on their doorstep I often forget how awesome this city can be! Shame you missed Portabello Road, I love visiting there when I pop into the capital. Def an excuse to come back… 😉 #FarawayFiles
Sometimes it’s the places closest to us that need the most exploring… I’ll definitively be back!
What incredible photography! Making me miss my hometown of London
Thank you so much!! Xx
Been to London multiple times and absolutely love the city. Thanks for so many great recommendations on what and where to explore on my next visit! #FarawayFiles
I know it’s a popular place, so I’m glad you found a few fun ideas here for your next visit!
You did so much and a great combination of the modern and traditional. One of the things I most love about London is that there’s always more to see. We loved the exhibition at the British Library too and we’re looking forward to finding out more about Pooh at the V&A. #FarawayFiles
Yes! So much to see no matter the time of year! I definitely have eclectic taste and London is both traditional and modern don’t you think… Maybe that’s why I love it so much? We loved the Pooh exhibit because although it was small it tied in beautifully with our trip to Ashdown.
Every time we head to London we always get the train to Waterloo and walk down Southbank. Its great for instawalks and there is always so much to see (great street art) with lovely places to eat. Great suggestions! #FarawayFlies x
It’s definitely one of my favorite London neighborhoods!
It seems like there’s no end to things to do in London! We’ve visited a few times, but I still haven’t been to Little Venice, and I’m saving that cupcake shop for our next visit! #FarawayFiles
There is definitely no end!! I’m hoping to go back to Little Venice when it’s a little warmer! We loved seeing all the boats and hope to actually take a ride next time!
Great post. Will be pinned and referred to!
fifi + hop
What a list! Sounds like you guys really covered a lot – very impressive! #farawayfiles
We sure did! It was a fun filled two weeks!!
I love reading visitors’ posts to London, always fascinates me what people find that I’ve missed in my home city and what attracts people who don’t live here – you have so many of my favourites on the list, but if I never found myself in Leicester Square again, I wouldn’t be too sad! I love boat trips on the Thames too, although it’s not the best time of year for that right now admittedly! I am so impressed by how much you packed in, and what a great mix of the attractions and the quirky things that make London London. Thanks for linking up with #citytripping
I feel the same way when I read about LA! Leicester Square isn’t my top destination, but I do enjoy a wander through when on my way to other places. I’m putting a boat trip at the top of my list for next time. We did pack a lot in didn’t we?! I guess it’s because I’m not sure when I’ll be back, so was making the most of it!
Kathleen (Kat) (@katpegimana)
I can never get enough of London!! My first trip to London was more than ten years ago and I revisited the city again in September 2017 but it was a long transit on the way to Lisbon. I had purposely booked a 9-hour transit so that I could exit the airport for a few hours to explore the city hahah! It was worth it and I will not hesitate to explore London again. Hopefully it will be more than a 3-hour stay 🙂 #FarawayFiles
Wow! Three hours, now that is short! What did you do in three hours?
London really is one of those places where you do just scratch the surface. I’ve been here for nearly wenty years, and I’ve never been to Peggy Porschen or the Sherlock Holmes pub! Glad you had such a good time. #FarawayFiles
I feel the same way about Los Angeles! There is just so much good and never enough time!
Daisy - Dais Like These
Wow, you packed SO much in!! London is my home city and I totally agree with your recommendations 😊
Your ‘next time’ list is fab too. I got married at Richmond Park, it’s so beautiful! You can also do a boat trip on the canals of super cool East London – my mum runs a trip boat there.
Thank you that means a lot coming from a local! I’m adding your mom’s boat trip to my next time list!!
Agness of Fit Travelling
London is probably one of the most amazing cities in Europe, Hilary! These suggestions and recommendations seem like an ultimate guide when being there. How many days would you recommend staying there?
It is so amazing! It’s hard to say how many days would be just right, but if one is new to London then I’d say no less then 5 days…. unless you’re wanting day trips… then 7 days minimum.
Sky garden is definitely worth a visit. I think it is better than the Shard, especially as it is free and the Shard is far from free. You can see the Shard from the sky garden which is better view then being on/ in Shard. Sky gardens has great views from it and lots of lovely plants within.
I’m sure you’re right!! If only we could have secured one of those free reservations! Hopefully, next time…
Yep think it does get booked up. I looked last week for Sat and they only had after 7 left.
This is a fantastically comprehensive list of awesome things to do in London! I love it! I’ve never heard of Peggy Porschen Cupcakes, so I’ll have to make sure I plan a visit in there soon, it looks amazing! I’m planning a mini-series of my favourite areas of London, and although you have actually covered a LOT of them in this post, please feel free to follow along, and hopefully I’ll be able to surprise you with a bit of London inspiration for your next trip! 🙂
Thank you! I’ve been a number of times, but there is ALWAYS more to see and discover or a new way to seen an old favorite! I’ll def check out your list as well! 😊
Thank you!! You’re so right, and the city changes pretty much every day, I never know what I’m going to find when I start exploring!