I was fortunate enough once to be able to travel to London, Bath, Manchester, York, Cardiff and Edinburgh and all were wonderful places to visit. London however, was something special. I think a lot of it was because even though I was in a huge city that has over 9 million people living there, it didn’t seem like it. So many parts of London made you feel like you were not only stepping back in time but like you were stepping into a fairy tale. This city has a knack for blending both the modern world with the old world charm and I found it very interesting.
When I first arrived there I was just awestruck, one reason for that was that this was the biggest city I’d ever traveled to and I was overwhelmed at first. Heck, Heathrow Airport itself was like a city on it’s own. You would not believe how huge that airport is! My goodness, I think you could get lost just there if they didn’t have as good of directions on how to get out of it and hop on a train to drive you into the city!
The moment I arrived in London and opened my mouth the locals knew I was a “Yank” and they immediately tried to make me feel welcome and at home. Londoners love “Yanks”. Several I met said they felt we were their kid siblings across the pond. In a city the size of London you would think people would be unwilling to be helpful or friendly but in London that simply was not the case. Everyone I met went out of their way to be accommodating, which was really refreshing.
All of England is an incredible and interesting place and is alive with history and would take weeks and weeks to see and experience all this little island has to offer. London alone can keep you busy for days even weeks. I only had 5 days there and it wasn’t nearly enough time to see it all. However, I did see and do a lot of things that made the stay there more than worth it.
Here are some of the top attractions that I highly recommend you see if you are planning a trip to London in the near future:
• British Museum – This is an incredible museum and one of the biggest I’ve ever seen in my life! This world famous museum exhibits the works of mankind from prehistoric times to modern times and from all over the world. It’s biggest highlight is the Rosetta Stone along with some wonderful Parthenon sculptures. They also have quite a few mummies in their Ancient Egypt collection. The wonderful news about this place, it’s free, that’s right FREE! Who doesn’t like free?
• National Gallery – This is the crowning glory of Trafalgar Square, which in itself is worth seeing. This gallery is a huge place that houses Western European artwork from the 13th century through the 19th century. You will be able to see some of the greats such as Van Gogh, da Vinci, Botticelli, Renoir and many more. This gallery is also free!
• Natural History Museum – Yet another free and wonderful place to see. This museum brags of having a collection of the biggest, tallest and rarest animals in the world. The architecture of this building alone is worth seeing. And again, yet another place that won’t cost you a single schilling!
• Victoria and Albert Museum – This is a great little museum that celebrates both art and design and has 3,000 years worth of some pretty incredible artifacts that come from all over the world. There is old furniture, paintings, sculptures, textiles, metalwork and the list could go on and on. If you like artifacts of all sorts you will love this place. It also has a really beautiful courtyard and garden with tables and chairs where you can sit out and enjoy some food and beverages when the weather is nice. And guess what? It’s free too!
• Tower of London – Okay, EVERYONE goes there, but you have to go there. If you don’t go anywhere else, the Tower of London is a must see on any trip to London. This is one of the most famous buildings in the world and has over 900 years of history in just one place. There is the royal palace which is still used today by the Queen, a prison, place for their infamous executions, royal arsenal and even discover how the Tower became the first London zoo. What is really cool is walking through a king’s medieval king’s bedchamber, meet the Beefeaters and listen to their bloody tales, stand where heads rolled and last but not least, visit the Crown Jewels! Okay this one is not free but it’s well worth the 22£ they charge to get in for the tour.
• Tower Bridge – I love bridges and once I first set eyes on this bridge I was in love. It’s one of the most beautiful bridges I’ve ever seen with it’s Gothic style architecture and it’s powder blue cabling and accents. It’s just beautiful.
• Outdoor Spaces – London boasts of being one of the “greenest” capitals in the world and they wouldn’t be lying. They have more than, get this, 3,000 parks and wide open spaces right in the city! Some of the key ones to visit would be Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Kensington Gardens, Hampton Court Palace, Eltham Palace, Syon House and Gardens, Chelsea Physic Garden, Epping Forest, Richmond Park, Crystal Palace Park, and Highgate Cemetery. These are just a tiny list to enjoy.
Whatever you do, don’t forget to go to local pubs and really get the true feel of the city. If you want to find good food and good ale, lager and beer it’s best to ask locals where they go, that’s where you will find the best.
There is so much to see and do in this great historical city I would advise doing your research first before going and to make sure that you give yourself plenty of time there to truly experience both the rich history and modern side of London.