This post was most recently updated on December 14th, 2021
“London isn’t just a city, it’s a world!”
This summer, my husband and I traveled to London to explore all this big city has to offer. We spent four wonderful days trying new foods, delving into the history, experiencing the culture, and marveling at the beautiful architecture! We caught only a small glimpse of this big city, but it was enough to introduce us to the vast world that is London!
The city of London has a history that spans over two thousand years! This city was built up and deserted by the Romans, taken over by Anglo-Saxons, and then invaded by the Normans. It grew in strength under the direction of the Tudor monarchy, saw civil war and devastation in the
17th century, and became a great financial and industrial center by the 1800’s. World war may have damaged the city’s walls, but the people remained determined and strong. And nowadays, London is just as bustling as ever!
As we walked the streets of London, it was easy to find bits of history to fascinate and enlighten us! At the Tower of London, we were taken on a guided tour by one of the Yeomen warders; we learned that these guards are nicknamed “Beefeaters” perhaps due to the fact that they used to be given large rations of beef daily at the court. It was on this same tour that we were introduced to the six resident ravens of the Tower who are under protection by order of Charles II. Legend says that the kingdom and the Tower will fall if the ravens ever leave the fortress.
At the Churchill War Rooms exhibit, we descended into the secret center of Britain’s war effort during the Second World War. The complex, known as the Cabinet War Rooms, was occupied by leading government ministers, military strategists and Prime Minister Winston Churchill. We were amazed to walk through the hallways and rooms, imagining what life would have been like for those working there. Many didn’t go above ground for days at a time; in fact, a sign was displayed in the hallway to advise the staff of the weather outside. The sign might read “Fine & Warm” or “Shower” to express typical weather conditions, but was changed to “Windy” when bombings occurred.
The architecture of London is grand, ornate, and iconic! Our favorite sights were that of Big Ben with it’s beautifully ornate details, St. Paul’s Cathedral (both inside and out), and the iconic London Eye towering over the river Thames! The contrast between brick and tin, stone and copper as building materials throughout the city gives it such a diverse atmosphere!
I had heard that food in London is to die for and I was not disappointed! In fact, one of the best dishes I ate was on Brick Lane on the East side of London; we were welcomed into one of the many curry houses along the street and given the most authentic Indian food I had ever eaten…and for a 30% discount (The neighboring curry houses are known to offer discounts or free drinks and appetizers in order to woo customers into their restaurant)!
We also had our fair share of traditional English cuisine, from fish and chips to a full English breakfast. The entire trip to London was spent enjoying every last bite of a wide variety of foods!
London is a HUGE city, but I was happy to find that the public transportation system was efficient and fun to use! We purchased the Oyster cards and just topped them off when we needed to; the cards gave us access to both the underground Tubes and the city buses.
We also rented bikes one morning to travel in and around Hyde Park. The way the Santander bike system works is you pay a flat fee of £2 to rent a bike all day for use with short commutes; within a 24-hour period you can continue to rent a new bike with no additional cost as long as you return the bike within 30 minutes. So…if you’re looking to bike a short distance from here to there, you can return your bike to one of their many bike stations and incur no additional fees!
A Surprise Around Every Corner
The greatest part of London was meandering the streets and taking in the culture! We stopped often to watch street entertainers, including a machete juggling unicyclist at Covent Garden. Near Paddington Station we played a round of life-size chess. A double decker tour bus drove us through the streets of London right around sunset when the sun shone perfectly off the Big Ben, illuminating the gold embellishments beautifully. Finally, a visit to St. Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey for their daily Evensong was a breathtaking experience!
This trip to London truly was an adventure as we explored the historic streets, ate delicious food, and created once in a lifetime memories. We learned so much during our travels there, and experiencing this huge city has opened my mind up to a world of possibilities!
Have you ever been to London or is it on your bucket list?
Written by guest blogger Heather Young (my lovely daughter!), whose photography is featured on her blog,Heather Hiding Photography.
Definitely on my bucket list!
I’ve only been to London a few times and I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface. I need a longer visit to really explore and check out all your suggestions. Great post!
I love London’s history, especially anything having to do with Henry VIII. (my favorite icon) On my travels to both London and all over Scotland, I ate curries almost every day. On occasion, I had to ask for yogurt to cut the heat. Amazing Indian food, I agree! 😉
I’ve been to London twice, but it has been 11 years since my last visit. It’s a city so easy to love. The architecture, history, culture, and availability of free or affordable activities were some of the reasons why I enjoyed both of my visits so much. When I return I’d love to partake in this diverse food scene that Heather wrote about. I think both I and London have changed quite a bit over the past decade when it comes to food. All of the photos of food are making my mouth water in anticipation of returning to London someday.
London is rich in history, wow! Very very interesting.
London is a truly breathtaking city, Tami! What shouldn’t we miss when there? What are your highlights?
London has so much to offer, but one of my favorite things was learning so much about the people and history! Definitely don’t miss out on the Tower of London and Churchill War Rooms…they had the best exhibits; I easily spent half a day at each! There are also lots of free museums all over London to check out. Cheers!
I have not been to London, but you have intrigued me. Great tip on the bicycle usage. I see these popping up everywhere and it appears that they would be easy to use in London.
I visited London for the first time last year and I really loved it! I loved doing the Tower of London and the Harry Potter Studio Tour. Can’t wait to go back for another visit 🙂
The Harry Potter studio tour sounds so interesting!
You wouldn’t believe that i was just discussing with an international London based journalist who is from Calcutta that this city is my dream city. And here i read your blog. Wish i will get to visit this city someday.
London is indeed a microcosm of the World. Have never been to London, but I feel very close to it, thanks to my passion for reading. English literature has ensured that London is embedded in my psyche. however I would love to get to London and experience it for real some day.
I totally agree your title because London has so much more, I was there as a student and now I miss there already. It has so much to offer and never gets old 🙂 https://knycxjourneying.com/2016/10/15/london-in-a-nutshell/
An informative post. That you had blue sky in any of your pictures is the remarkable thing to me. You barely scratched the surface in regard to several great museums – must see – and particularly if raining and dreary, the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum. Leave plenty of time. Not to mention other great London sights, Greenwich, Harrods, Fleet Street, Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace etc. Go to London!
That’s a great list of must-sees, Ron. When it’s my turn to go to London (so jealous my daughter got to go before me!), I’ll put those on my list for sure.
Some how after traveling full time for 4.5 years and 74 countries I am yet to visit London. I am def the only travel blogger that hasnt’ been there…It is on our bucket list though!
London is definitely on my bucketlist.. Such an interesting read, too. Not only did you mention London’s amazing sites but you’ve also described some amazing parts of their history. Imagine not going up days at a time at the Cabinet War Rooms! And I will definitely agree on the city’s architecture.. It’s so beautiful and pretty iconic!
This makes me feel so happy as a local! I love hearing new people exploring my home town, and I feel like you really had some of the best of what is on offer. The curries on Brick Lane truly are to die for, so I’m glad you enjoyed them.
Although I’ve been to London quite often, it was a very interesting read. Your lovely guest blogger’s (who I recognize on the bike, too) breakdown of the long and eventful history is really important – one sees especially London a little differently knowing about its great past.
There is so much to see – every time I go I discover something new.
I also enjoyed the food part since that’s really special there – like all the nations brought their specialties there and you get all these different foods truly original and ‘unspoiled’.
Yes, I have been to London – I love the city. And I agree, it is huge. I use an Oyster Card to get around as well – I have travelled throughout a lot of the city on ‘the tube’. We took our children to the Tower of London last year and learnt a lot about the city’s history. We didn’t hear about the Beefeaters, but we did learn that a legend says that the Kingdom and the Tower will fall if the ravens leave the Tower.
London is most definitely my favourite city in the world. My favourite part is East London, so many great markets and cafes there! You could spend your entire life exploring London and you would still never see everything. Great post!
This was such a great and informative post! Especially regarding the London food scene. I had no idea it was so diverse in food! It all looks so good 🙂
London has always fascinated us and is high on our travel bucket list. You said it right – it’s not just a city but the whole world. There is so much to see, learn and explore here. The architecture is simply amazing and food too. Your article is interesting and informative. Thanks for sharing.
I have never been to London but it is definitely on my list . There is so much I have read about London that one would have to spend a long time there .I have bookmarked your page for reference.
London’s definitely on my bucket list. I’m always a little put off by huge cities, but London would be one place to get over that. All those surprises round every corner would definitely make it worthwhile.
I agree. I’m not usually attracted to large cities, but I’ve had some experiences that are helping me change my mind about that!