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Our family was looking to take a vacation to Paris, but we weren’t finding any great deal on airline tickets. We did however find a screaming deal on tickets to London, so we booked those tickets and figured we’d just take a train over to Paris. This gave us the opportunity to visit London for three days before we headed over to Paris and I am so glad we did! London was a delightful place to visit and I am so glad we visited.
I would highly recommend a trip to London, we were able to find airfare cheaper than it would have cost us to fly to Florida. If you keep you an eye out, you can probably find a deal too. I recommend checking out Google Flights or signing up for a service like Dollar Flight Club. Many of the activities we experienced in London were free. It’s a foreign country, but they speak English! Plus, Gelato!! Have I convinced you yet?
I’m sharing some highlights from our trip to London and some tips we learned along the way. I’ve also included some great restaurants if you plan to visit London too. We traveled in August and we had a mix of sunny weather and rainy days. I planned ahead and brought some umbrellas so we were well prepared for the expected rain.
The evening of our arrival we took a stroll down the streets of London on our way to check out the Tower bridge. I just loved seeing the old style buildings, especially the ones with tons of colorful flowers covering them.
Kicking off out trip with a view of the Tower Bridge was the perfect start to our vacation. The view did not disappoint.
The sun was setting on our walk back to our Airbnb and it was so pretty. I’m a huge fan of cobblestone streets, I just love them.
On our second day, we visited the Natural History Museum, it is an amazing museum and it is absolutely FREE! The building itself is a just like a museum, it was stunning.
The museum was huge, there was so much to see and do. You could easily spend the better part of a day enjoying the museum.
The exhibits were awesome, but I think I may have spent most of my time admiring the actual building. I’d highly recommend visiting this museum.
We only spent about 2 hours at the museum because we had limited time and we wanted to fit in some of the classic London tourist spots. It didn’t disappoint. Also, you can’t beat FREE! There are actually three museums in this area, you can also check out the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Science Museum, both museums are also free.
Next up, we took a walking tour of London, hitting up many of the tourist type spots. Again, my favorite thing to do was admire the scenery and the amazing buildings. Here are the places we visited during the day. We were able to walk to all of these places on foot.
- Buckingham Palace
- St James Park
- Trafalgar Square
- Big Ben
- Westminster Abbey
We really lucked out, as soon as we got to the gates of Buckingham Palace they were changing the guards. It was neat to see, but I don’t think I would plan my day around the event. Next up, we took a stroll through St James Park on our way to Trafalgar Square.
We ended our walking tour with Big Ben and the Westminster Abbey. We did not do a tour of the inside, we just enjoyed the beauty from the outside. London is a beautiful city that has a mixture of old world charm and some modern new buildings. It really is a fun city to explore.
We opted for the classic London tourist photo. Can you really say you’ve been to London if you didn’t take a cheesy photo in a phone booth? For dinner, we ate at Nando’s, they serve delicious chicken and fries with yummy dipping sauces. I highly recommend eating lunch or dinner at Nando’s.
On day three we started the day with a tour of Shakespeare’s Globe theater. You can make a reservation online, but it’s not a necessity.
We have a large family and we can’t always make sure that everyone will be happy with everything we do. To make sure that everyone gets to do at least one thing they on their list, I have everyone write down the top 3 things they want to do on our vacation. Then, when I plan, I make sure that everyone gets to do at least one of the items on their list. This tour was on my daughter’s bucket list. When I said not every activity makes everyone happy, we all were pretty sure this was only going to make Allie happy.
It turns out this tour was one of the highlights of the vacation for pretty much all of us. Our tour guide was amazing and he made Shakespeare fun for those of us that aren’t really Shakespeare fans. I would highly recommend the tour (unless you have small children, it would probably be boring for them). If you want to see an actual play at this theater you will need to book your tickets well in advance. We didn’t get the chance to see a play, but we’d love to come back and see one someday. It really is an amazing piece of history. We learned so many amazing facts. One of the facts is that this wasn’t the first Globe Theater, the original one burned down when a cannon was shot during a performance of Henry VIII. The cannon ignited the thatched roof and it went up in flames.
While walking through London we found the place the original Globe Theater. If we didn’t participate in the tour we probably would have just walked right by this piece of history.
After our tour we stopped at the Borrough Market for lunch. This was a great place to go for lunch, everyone was able to choose something they wanted thanks to all the different food vendors. Make sure you check the hours of the market because the hours differ from day to day. I highly recommend 3BIS for yummy gelato. I had my fair share of gelato on this trip. Here are some restaurants we recommend you check out in and around the Borrough Market:
After lunch we headed outside of London to visit to the Harry Potter Studio Tour. This is must see tour if you have a Harry Potter fan in your family. I have several tips and thoughts on the tour in this blog post. You must book your tickets in advance for this tour, you cannot purchase tickets the same day.
It really was neat to see the scenes from the books and the movies come to life. Everyone in our family enjoyed this tour (even our daughter who is more of a Shakespeare fan than a Harry Potter fan). We finished off the day with some Butterbeer and a train ride back to our Airbnb.
When it comes to getting around London they have a terrific public transportation system. We purchased an Oyster card for each member of our family and topped it off with more money when necessary. It was a very convenient way to use the tube, trains and busses. If you are looking for more information on getting around London, I recommend this post over at Finding the Universe.
Our last day in London was spent checking out the colorful street of Notting Hill and the Portobello Road Market. We visited on a Saturday, so we had the full market to enjoy. There were tons of booths selling wares and a bunch of food vendors too.
I highly recommend checking out Airbnb when it comes to traveling. I love having access to a kitchen and a much larger place than a hotel would provide, especially with our large family.
We rented an Airbnb in South Kensington, the location was perfect!
We were walking distance to the museums and just a few minutes walk from the Kensington and Gloucester stations.
Cute spiral staircase. I love that so many Airbnb’s have their own classic charm.
Here is a peek at the room at the top of the staircase. There were two other rooms in our place, so there was plenty of room for all six of us.
We were only in London for a short time, but I total fell in love with the city and I hope we can visit again soon. I’d love to rent a car and travel to other cities in England too. Have you been to London? I’d love to hear about your favorite destinations in the city.
Love to travel? Check out our other travel posts:
- I’m sharing some of the best places to eat in Maui
- See our review of Disney’s Aulani resort in Oahu.
- Check out some family friendly things to do in San Francisco
- Learn about the Walt Disney Family Museum
- Find out more about the Harry Potter Studio Tour in London
- If you prefer a road trip, we have five things that we always bring on our road trips
- If you have a Disney trip in the works we have a bunch of Disney themed posts to help you make the most of your vacation (It’s one of our favorite vacation destinations).