Isabella’s London

This London guide contains some tips and hints both for London novices and experts. Find out how to get around town, where to eat, and what to see! Make sure to check out the London Bingo at the end — can you get BINGO!?

Public Transport in London

  • Tube = London Underground, but there is a variety of public transport that is all great to use
  • Busses, tube, etc are from Transport for London and can all be used with the same 
  • You can load money onto an “Oyster Card” which you can get at the bigger stations, such as Heathrow Airport
  • There is a daily and weekly cap of how much you pay
  • To get onto an underground, tap your card at the barriers when entering and exiting
  • On busses you only need to tap in, not out
  • I really like taking the bus when I am not in a rush as the tube can get very warm (always take water with you!)
  • Not everything runs 24h, so if you are out past midnight check what still runs
  • There is no internet and phone signal in the tube so make sure everything you need is downloaded 

Art & Museums

  • Tate Modern
    absolutely amazing modern art, most of it is free
    make sure to check out their outdoor terrace at the cafe overlooking the Thames
    Their cafe also has surprisingly delightful lunch options
  • Tate Britain
    usually quite good as well, more traditional
    pro tip: take the water taxi along the Thames river to get from “Tate 2 Tate”, you can use your Oyster card for this! Totally worth it!!
  • British Museum
    An absolute stapel, really big
  • National Portrait gallery
    Another classic well worth a visit
  • Science Museum
    Slightly more on the nerdy side, but a lot of fun to visit!
  • Saatchi Gallery
    More modern again, nice one
  • Musicals and Theatres
    There are so many great musicals on show and you can often get tickets at a very short notice, even for things like Hamilton (totally worth it btw!) and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (soooo good!)

Tourist Classics

  • Tower Bridge
  • Hyde Park
  • Trafalgar Square
  • Covent Garden
  • Buckingham Palace
  • Walk across the Millenium Bridge
  • Big Ben and House of Parliaments

Nice Views

  • Sky Garden
    Book a free ticket to the Sky Garden for an amazing indoor garden experience high in the sky
  • One New Change Rooftop
    For some of the best views over St Pauls go to the One New Change shopping centre and take the elevator to the top floor/viewing terrace
    there is a bar at the top, but you can just go to the viewing platform next to it for the best views over St Pauls

Areas to Explore

  • Chelsea High Street
  • Oxford street and around there for shopping
  • Carnaby for lots of cool shops
  • Shoreditch
  • Camden (in particular the Camden Market!)

Cheap and Cheerful Food Options

  • Leon
    Especially for breakfast, try the halloumi avocado muffin
    But also nice mains (vegan burger, vegan “meat”balls)
  • Wasabi
    Quick and decent sushi, in particular the veggie options
  • Pret a Manger
    A British office lunch classic, try their Bircher Muesli
  • Greggs
    A northern bakery chain with amazing baked goods
    Their vegan sausage roll is absolutely amazing
  • Shoryu Ramen
    Very nice ramen, easier with booking, but also possible without
  • Chipotle
    do not miss that US classic!

Medium to Fancy Food Options

  • La Mia Mamma
    Very authentic italian food, make sure to go for the “family dinner” option – it’s a lot of food but absolutely amazing
    Needs to be booked
  • Mowgli
    Indian street food in a lovely environment
    Make sure to try their chat bombs
    Also easier with booking
  • Ottolenghi
    Famous chef with fancy restaurants (Nopi is an absolute treat but expensive) and more reasonably priced bistros
    Booking needed as well

Everyday

  • Tap Water is drinkable in London, but I don’t think it tastes amazing
  • People are generally very friendly if you ask them for help
  • Download the London area in google maps so you can access it offline (remember, no reception in the Tube)
  • It rains often, not heavily but constantly. Waterproof shoes are a lifesaver
  • Often houses are draughty, so make sure you bring a warm jumper for inside

Trains (to take to other towns)

  • Most train tickets are very expensive when bought at the train station one the day of travel
  • Therefore I highly recommend booking tickets in advance online
  • Often those cheaper tickets are for one specific time, but sometimes you can also get an “open return”, i.e. where you first train is fixed but you can take any train outside of rush hour to return
  • I recommend using trainline to buy train tickets, or directly with the respective train company, for example LNER to get to Edinburgh

Day Trips

  • Oxford
    About 1h by train (or a little more by a cheap bus) gets you to Oxford
    I am of course heavily biassed here but I think it is absolutely worth a visit
    For a separate guide to Oxford see my blog post
  • Cambridge
    Also very nice but I do prefer Oxford
  • Edinburgh
    In 4.5h (during the week, sometimes 6h on the weekend) you can come to Edinburgh (see the guide here)! Ok, it is maybe a little far for a day trip but definitely worth for a weekend
  • Harry Potter Studios
    100% worth it if you like Harry Potter! Make sure to book tickets in advance and check how you can get there, e.g. train and then bus to the studio

London Bingo

Have a full english breakfastA beverage is overpricedEat a sausage roll from GreggsVisit a museumSeeing tourist souvenirs with pictures of the Royal family
Visit Piccadilly CircusTake a Harry Potter picture at King’s CrossWalk to Buckingham PalaceHave a coffee at Pret a MangerHave Fish and Chips
Walk across the Millenium BridgeHear “Mind the Gap” in the tubeFree Space!Go to a pubA walk through Hyde Park
Get the front row seat on the top of a busSomeone talks about the weatherSee Tower BridgeStuck on an overfull tube car in rush hourEat a classic British biscuit
Have a cup of teaAlmost getting hit by a cyclistSomeone suggests “a cheeky Nandos”Take a selfie with Big BenIt rains

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