BEST OF LONDON – Top 5 Travel Guide
Best of London
Top 5 Travel Guide
There is a reason London attracts over 20 million visitors every year. London is a great starting point for exploring Europe, especially if English is your primary language. Travelers are attracted to the city’s history, culture, food and accessibility. London is an easy city to navigate. There are recognizable monuments in the skyline, which make it easy to find your way around.
In my “Top 5 Travel Guides,” I like to give my favorite travel traditions, in my favorite vacation destinations. My top 5 in not necessarily the most popular or famous sightseeing must do’s, but sometimes they are just that.
1. Oxford Street. The heart of London shopping can be found on its famous high street, Oxford Street. It is so fun to wander down lively and beautiful Oxford street. We love shopping and window shopping at hundreds of stores, ranging from fancy Selfridges to my personal favorite bargain fashion store, Primark.
The shopping area of Oxford Street is only about 1 mile long, with many places to stop and rest as you go. You can start at the Tottenham Court Tube station and jump back on the tube when the shops end at the Marble Arche Station, or vise verses. If you have any energy left after your stroll down Oxford Street, the Marble Arch station is right at the corner of Hyde Park, which also made my top 5 list.
This is my son’s favorite store on Oxford Street, Tesla…dreaming/motivation.
2. The Parks. London has the most beautiful parks and gardens, but they are not just beautiful, they are fun! The biggest and most famous parks are Hyde Park, Green Park. St. James Park and Regents Park. London has nearly 5000 acres of public green space and they all have something special about them. I have been to London several times now and still find special things in the parks of London. Last time I was there, my boys and I stumbled across the Serpentine Lake and it had more swans swimming in it than I have ever seen in my life. There were so many and they were huge. At Serpentine Lake you can swim at the Lido Pool, rent boats, eat at the Serpentine Café, or just rent a lounge chair and relax.
There are so many things to do in the parks of London. Here is a quick rundown. Swim, horseback ride, play tennis, paddle boats, row boats, bird watch, feed swans and squirrels, eat at café, explore a free gallery, rent bikes, rent loungers, play parks for kids and even a play park for senior citizens. You can catch some lively debate at Speakers Corner or catch concerts and plays. The parks offer different events and activities throughout the year.
The parks of London are a great way to spend a day, especially if you are traveling with children, kids can only do so many museums and churches before they just need to run.
3.The National Gallery & Trafalgar Square. So, this favorite is definitely a super touristy must see, but one that makes the list because we like to go here every time we go to London. On our first family trip to London, we took the tube into the city and got off at Charing Cross Station, which is right across the street from the Lions of Trafalgar Square, that was our first site of London, and it was stunning.
We took a bunch of pictures with the lions and pigeons and then made our way down the street toward Big Ben and Parliament. We were walking with hundreds of other tourist, and it was fun! What we didn’t realize was that right there at Trafalgar Square is an amazing, free museum, the National Gallery. We totally missed it on our first trip. We went to the National Gallery on our next trip to London and we all loved it. Because it is free, you don’t feel like you must see everything in one day. It feels so great to go in and out at your leisure. Activities like this make me feel like part of the city.
4.Food. Food pretty much always makes my top 5 lists. I make it my mission to find great food everywhere I go. I am always stunned when I talk to someone who has been traveling and they say they didn’t like the food, so strange. In London, we don’t eat fancy, we eat kid friendly and delicious, which is so easy in London. After a lot of searching and sampling, we have found our go to Fish and Chips Shop, and we eat there several times, on our trips to London.
We love the Tower Hill Diner. It is located right across the entrance of the Tower of London, in the same building as the KFC. It is not fancy but the fish and chips are super good and they make amazing homemade tarter sauce. They usually have a take away special that is a great deal. It costs more if you eat in the dining room. If you are getting your Fish and Chips to go, make sure you get some of their homemade tartar sauce, otherwise they will throw in some packets of something that kinda looks like tartar sauce.
Another favorite place to eat is the Cornish Bakehouse, right outside of Victoria Station. Here we load up on Cornish Pasties. We love them filled with chicken and mushrooms, or steak and potatoes, and may other varieties. They come in different sizes so we usually get several big ones, in different varieties, take them to the park and try them all.
5. Tower of London. Another touristy must see and do. We like to take a sight seeing river cruise that either starts or ends at the Tower of London. The view of the the tower, from the Thames is so beautiful.
The Tower of London is so much more than a tour of a monument. Not only is it interesting, it is hilarious. When you go, you have the option of taking the tour, or exploring on your own. We are usually the “explore on our own” kind of people, but not here. The tours are conducted by honored members of Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress, otherwise known as Beefeaters. The guards live at the Tower of London with their families. To get this job they must have served, with good conduct in the military for at least 22 years. The tours are full of humor and the kids love to get up close to a Beefeater and take pics. The tours start every 30 minutes and are only 1-hour long. After the tour, you can keep exploring and get a peek at the crown jewels.
There really is so much to do and see in London…maybe I should make a Top 10 Travel Guide. If I did, it would say…go to a live show, wander through Soho, Chinatown, Little Italy and the Theater District. Go to the free museums in Kensington (Kensington Tube Station) Get out of the city and see the countryside. One last bit of advice…did you know that Paris is just a 2-hour train ride away from London? You can get on the Eurostar at St. Pancreas Station and be in Paris the heart of Paris in 2 hours, or many other mainland European destinations. When we go to Europe, we usually fly into London, play for a few days, then take the train to Paris or Brussels, and then fly home from Paris. you can see so much is a short amount of time.