London, what a place! I think growing up I’d always kind of had this dream of going to London. It seemed so distant and foreign, but somehow within reach because of the sophisticated sounding English that is spoken there.
I went to London with the intentions of meeting up with a friend studying abroad there for the semester. I ended up only being able to meet up with her my last night there, so I had two days to myself. Traveling alone, especially at first can be terrifying! But it can also be absolutely liberating!! You don’t have to worry about other people’s wants or agendas for the trip, you get to do everything 100% for yourself! You also have to put yourself out there a bit more, and make some friends along the way!
Accommodation: St. Christopher’s Oasis
I stayed at St. Christopher’s Village, right off the London Bridge underground stop. I stayed in the Oasis (female only) section because I’d read online that it is on the second floor of the building and towards the back, which meant far away from the bar and live-music they have every night. The atmosphere is great and they make it really easy to mingle and meet other travelers. I would highly recommend staying here!
Camden Pub Crawl: This pub crawl was super fun and totally worth the money, it was £12 if you bought them in advance (at hostel front desk) and included predrinks and a drink at every bar and cover at a club. I met a bunch of people at the hostel’s pregame and we all really hit it off. I almost didn’t go on the pub crawl because it’s a little intimidating to do things like that on your own, but totally worth it! Not only do tourists do this pub crawl, but it is also very popular with local students as well!
Free Walking Tour: I love free walking tours. They’re great for anyone on a budget and are better than just walking around on your own because you have a guide to share knowledge or ask questions. They are technically free, but tipping at the end is encouraged and honestly, most of these tour guides are fantastic and relatable so I always make sure to give them $5-10 (or the local equivalence). This tour company was one that was run by the same company as the pub crawl I’d gone on the night before and worked with my hostel. Often ask your hostel (wherever you’re staying) and they either have self-run tours or can recommend some for you!
On the tour, we saw Green Park, Buckingham Palace, Changing of the Guards, Clarence House, Trafalgar, Parliment, Downing Street, Big Ben, and Westminster Abbey. While walking from the bigger attractions, we’d often stop at places you wouldn’t even know have any historical significance, which is another great reason to go on one of these tours!
After finishing the tour, me and some new-found friends headed to Camden Market. This is the fourth-most popular tourist attraction in London, with over a quarter of a million people visiting each week! And there is a ton to do and buy at this market. There are many different vendors ranging from clothes to art to knick-knacks (British: Bric-à-Brac) and lots and lots of food! We spent hours here checking out everything the market had to offer!
Oxford Circus is another very popular destination for tourists. This big square has tons of shops, restaurants and outdoor seating. When I was there they were just starting to decorate London for Christmas, so I got a little taste of the holiday season. Chinatown is close by, so we also ate some fantastic food for dinner in Chinatown. London’s Chinatown is especially quaint, so I would definitely recommend at least walking through! Kingly Court is another cute place in Oxford Circus, I got dinner at an especially cozy sushi restaurant overlooking the court.
Regent’s Park: I could easily spend hours exploring this park. The park includes extensive flower gardens, different lakes and ponds, and The London Zoo. Going during the day on a weekday meant the park was especially empty and enjoyable.
Borough Market: Unplanned, my hostel ended up being a five-minute walk from Borough Market. This market is known especially well because of its variety of food vendors and fresh food. I had some of the best mussels in my life, along with some Spanish paella and Balkan boureka. This was probably my favorite thing I did in London (I’m a total foodie).
Covent Garden/Soho: This is another extremely quaint area of London. There are lots of little shops and picturesque roads and alleyways. We had an hour to kill (before we got lunch at Chipotle, if you’re American, you understand) so this area was the perfect place to just wander around and get some really great (IG-worthy) pics!
Flight: I flew into Heathrow because of how easy it is to get to central London from this airport (you can just take the tube). Other airports may be cheaper to fly into but will require you to take a train to get to central London. These train tickets can cost around £20-30. So keep that in mind when booking your flight!
Oyster Card: There are a couple different options when it comes to getting an Oyster Card. I chose the pay as you go because I was only there for a few days. This allows you to continue to add more funds as needed. You can also get a refund of the leftover funds when you leave which is especially nice.
Overall, London was fantastic. I would highly recommend adding it to your travel list!