Visiting London is one of my favourite things to do. We’ve often talked about moving to the city but the reality is, we’re country people at heart… instead we love to visit as much as possible! With small children in tow we’ve tended to keep our trips pretty low key; staying with my brother and doing local, family things with them. On our last trip, we ventured a little further, making our way to Vauxhall (helloooo Vauxhall City Farm!) and onward to Waterloo and Southbank to see some of the sights and we loved it. So much so that we’re planning bigger and better trips as soon as we can. Here are some of the iconic places that top our list:
The London Eye
You can’t go to London and not visit the London Eye now, can you!?! One of London’s most iconic sights, the London Eye lets you get a birds-eye view over much of the capital city. Situated on London’s South Bank, you’ll go from being in a hub of activity to relative calm up near the clouds. Enter one of the flight pods: a glass encased cage that gives you unrestricted visibility before being whisked up high during your ‘flight’. The London Eye is constantly moving, something which can be disconcerting when you’re trying to get on and off, but once you’re in – you won’t even feel it. Signs around the pod point out key landmarks giving you a chance to really understand what you’re seeing, which, on a clear day, is miles of cityscape! Don’t worry if you struggle a little with heights; benches in the middle mean you can sit down and centre yourself whilst still enjoying the magic. Afterward take a stroll along South Bank, cross the river and take in the sights of Westminster, including the House of Parliament and Big Ben.
Is this the most famous palace in the world? A trip to the Queen’s royal residence is certainly one that will stick with you for life. There are plenty of ways to get a little taste of Buckingham Palace when you’re in London. Most simply, by just strolling by; this impressive building does not disappoint! If you’re able to, combine your sightseeing with the timings for the Changing of the Guard ceremony which takes place at various times in the week – this does change throughout the year so make sure you check it first. Wander along the Mall to see it in all it’s glory before taking it some of London’s best parks afterward – perfect for a typical British picnic. Want a little more? Buckingham Palace opens it doors during the summer months, allowing a limited number of ticket holders the opportunity to get a look inside at State Rooms. It’s an experience like no other!
Hamleys Toy Shop is one of the oldest and biggest toy shops in the world. Established in 1760, Hamleys is a London institution and can be found on Regent’s Street in Central London. With something for everyone, Hamleys is a real treasure trove of toys – whether you’re five or fifty five years old! Combine your trip with a wander along Regent’s Street and Oxford Street to see some of the biggest retailers and get a real feel for the shopping centre of the capital. Whilst it may be heaving in the lead up to Christmas, these two streets provide some of the best Christmas light displays and are certainly worthy of the hustle and bustle!
The O2 Arena
Formerly the Millenium Dome, the O2 Arena is an arena like no other – it’s a giant tented structure for one! Situated in Greenwich, the O2 Arena is, in my opinion, best approached by river taxi from central London (other forms of transport are readily available!). Not only will you find a barrage of restaurants and eateries, there’s a large cinema on site, bowling and many other entertainment activities including the O2 Arena itself. We thoroughly recommend trying Up at the O2; a chance for you to literally climb up the fabric sides of the dome and take in the views from the top – it’s an experience like no other.
A little chilled out haven in the city, Covent Garden has a different feel to the rest of London. Packed with street entertainers, little shops and plenty of bars and restaurants, this pedestrian area is perfect for a couple of hours of mooching the time away. For the tech lovers, there’s a big Apple store, for the movie buffs there’s Disney, but best of all are the people watching opportunities. From magicians to musicians, you’ll spend hours watching these talented individuals entertain the crowds on the pavements.
The Ultimate Beach – City Holiday
If a weekend isn’t enough, why not pair it with a longer trip to the seaside? Places such as Brighton are just on London’s doorstep and with a regular train going to London Bridge from Brighton there’s really no excuse not too. What better pairing that a bit of rest and relaxation at one of Britain’s most iconic beach resorts before hitting the bright lights of the city?!