If you are up for exploring the UK capital, here is a list of things we guarantee you will do in London. Take our word or come and check it for yourself!
FUME ABOUT BIG BEN BEING CLOSED FOR RENOVATION
Indeed it is covered in scaffolding so tight that you can hardly recognise the iconic landmark. It is also muted, so no chance to hear the sound of the bongs that became a symbol of Britain all around the world. End of construction works is planned for 2021, even though with current situation in the country we would not be so sure to see that the famous Victorian clock back by then.
Looking at the bright side of the story, shutting the Big Ben down caused a lot of curios aftermaths. You can find hundreds of videos in the internet that will teach you how to photoshop the ill-fated scaffolding away from your photos. Watching those is already amusing on it’s own. HP Sauce has changed its label for the first time in 123 years. The brown sauce bottle’s famous label – featuring Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Bridge – will now reflect the refurbishment works. You can even see the new Big Ben’s outfit on Google Maps 🙂
It will definitely be in the history books one day!
So maybe it is still worth coming to London now? Why not to take Big Ben’s photos in this unusual setting and then return in a few years to see it in all it’s glory. There are too many things to do in London in one visit anyways…
SEE LONDON EYE UP CLOSE
Essential part of London skyline, London Eye is visible from hundreds of viewpoints across the city. But first time tourists of course rush in Waterloo direction to see the world’s famous Ferris wheel up close. Well – they have all the reasons, the view is spectacular, especially at night time when it is illuminated.
Being sponsored by Coca Cola, London Eye is mostly light up in red. However you can witness plenty of exclusions where light colours are changed to mark various special occasions. Just a few 2019 examples from the top of our heads – on the night of London Pride the famous attraction was shining with all the colours of the rainbow; it turned white, red and blue to celebrate the arrival of a royals baby and went juicy green on Saint Patrick’s day. If you are curious to see the iconic landmark in an unusual light – just keep an eye on their Twitter account. They announce all the planned changes beforehand.
Should one take a ride on the London Eye though? Well, at least once in your lifetime – hell yes. Despite of a biting price (and do ask your Google if any discounts or offers are available) it is going to be an outstanding memorable experience. Just keep in mind that waiting lines in summer time or during Christmas holidays can be enormous (regardless of the actual entry time that you have on your ticket). One of my friends gave up after an hour of queuing and left without refunds (you won’t get any if you decide to change your mind). Which makes late autumn and early spring best time for a London eye experience. One should also keep in mind that during the rain, drops naturally settle on the surface of the capsules – like they would do on any window. This will give your photos quite a cool effect, but if you prefer to have regular photos without any effects – then choose a dry sunny day for your ride 😉
WATCH CHANGING OF THE GUARD AT THE BUCKINGHAM PALACE
Having been around for more than 3 centuries, this masterpiece of military parade art is probably known to you from the school bench. Catchy scarlet coats and funny bearskin hats actually cover carefully selected, highly skilled in defence British soldiers. And their count on each day will depend on The Queen’s presence in the palace at the moment. There is a known protocol to tell this. If the Royal Standard (the official flag of the reigning British sovereign) is flying above the Palace, The Queen is in her residence and the number of sentries during the ceremony will be increased. If the Queen is out you will see the Union flag flying from the palace and the count of the Guard will be smaller.
Procession starts outside Her Majesty’s residence at 10.45 am and lasts for about 45 minutes, with the actual handover taking place at 11 am sharp. However Official Website recommends to ‘always check the calendar as the Queen’s Guard can change at different times due to operational requirements, ceremonial events and road closures’. And you definitely want to be there far before the ceremony starts to stake the best viewing spot. At this hour half of your fellow tourists will be at the gates of Buckingham Palace as well, looking out for the world famous spectacle.
For those who are curious to enter the palace and see with their own eyes interiors the Queen spent most time of her life in- The Royal collection trust offers Buckingham Palace tours run during late summer, as well as on selected days during the year
BLEND WITH THE TOURIST CROWD IN PICCADILLY
Time Square of the Eastern hemisphere, it attracts visitors with the flashing lights of huge advertising screens, famous monuments and a whole army of street artists and performers. There are M&Ms and Lego stores beloved by children and adults, famous Cafe de Paris – one of the word’s oldest cabaret establishments nearby, plenty of popular restaurants, bars and high street shops. To check the latest trends from thousands of global fashion brands head to Regent and Oxford street. For artisan shopping and eating experience and to escape from the tourist madness take a quick turn to one of the smaller and quieter streets. Brewer street to the north of Piccadilly Circus is a true impersonation of London Soho district.
Closer to the evening chances are to spot some Hollywood celebrities presenting their new movie to London public. (Not at arm’s reach of course, such events are usually by invitation, but you can get a zoomed photo from far away…)
Having thoroughly explored the area around the famous road junction, don’t forget to pop up for the old Swiss Clock experience where doll figures dressed in national costumes move around the pole accompanied by bells and music. The Swiss Glockenspiel stands on Swiss Court, Soho, W1D
STOP BY THE TOWER OF LONDON
You can just have a walk around, or buy quite expensive entry tickets and thoroughly explore the world famous grounds. If you are ready to commit and book your visit some one year ahead – it is also possible to see the ancient Ceremony of the Keys, where the main gates are being locked for the night.
Buying tickets online you’ll get a 10% discount and will make times spent in the queues bit shorter. But even with that little save be prepared for rather long queues. Tower of London is one of the world’s top attraction after all. With an official ticket you’ll be able to explore all the internal public areas, hop on an amusing tour run by one of the Beefeaters – ceremonial guardians of the Tower of London, and of course access to the collection of Royal Jewels.
Every November Tower of London attracts even more visitors than ever because it hosts installations commemorating the end of the First World War. You might have seen pictures of the Tower drowning in red poppies or dotted with the lights of thousands candles. Every installation is an enjoyable experience, definitely worth seeing and soaking up the atmosphere.
TAKE YOUR BEST PHOTO OF THE TOWER BRIDGE
One of the most photogenic jewels of London, Tower Bridge, can easily make you lose a track of time. Those who like to get the most of every moment might want to check the bridge lift times, to enjoy it in all it’s glory. And those who want to walk on the glass floor above the drive way enjoying the panoramic views of Thames can book rather affordable by London standards ticket for a Tower Bridge exhibition
As for the photographs and simply enjoying the majestic views- check all the four angles of the this architectural marvel. Most common spots where tourists take the pictures of the Tower bridge are promenades next to the London City Hall, and the Tower. Lesser attended but even more beautiful are a lovely viewing area in front of The Tower hotel at Saint Katharine docks and Butler’s Wharf path. On your way to the latter, for proper close ups watch out for a small passage in the very first building of the cobbled Shad Thames. It will take you to another small but precious photo spot
RIDE THE FAMOUS DOUBLE DECKER
Even after 5 years in the UK I still love to climb upstairs, take the front seat and enjoy riding along the streets full of history, admiring mix of medieval, Victorian and modern architecture.
There are plenty of hop on hop off tours in London. But since the biggest advantage of such tours (open air sitting on the top deck) often vanishes in unpredictable British weather – you can easily replace those with a cheaper but fancier option of a regular bus. Some most scenic routes in the central area are:
#9 with the views of Hyde Park, Piccadilly, St. James’s Palace and Trafalgar Square
#11 passing St. Paul’s Cathedral, Trafalgar Square, the Houses of Parliament, and Westminster Abbey
#73 leaving behind Buckingham Palace gardens, Hyde Park, Marble Arch, and most part of the Oxford Street (which can be painful due to enormous traffic but incredibly beautiful in winter when the Christmas lights are on).
You would need an Oyster card or a bank card with the contactless chip to pay for the ride and it will cost you only £1.5
TAKE A SELFIE WITH THE RED BOOTH
Also called a telephone box, or a kiosk. Taking after the latter, models of different years were named K1 to K8 (Kiosk #1, Kiosk#2 etc). Hardly used for their original purpose nowadays, those booth have become one of the most recognisable symbols of Great Britain of the 20th century. And a classic tourist can still find plenty of them in different areas of London. Which model is there in your Instagram feed by the way?
The one that probably gets most attention is the booth located not far from the Houses of Parliament. The reason is obvious, one can fit quite a few world famous touristic phenomenons into a single picture. You can find the booth on your right hand side while walking away from Westminster Bridge along the Great George street.
One booth is not enough for you? Then Board Court in Covent Garden boasts 5 of them set next to each other.
Arched entrance to the Royal Academy of Arts in London’s Piccadilly shelters other two.
Another couple is ready to welcome guests of the capital in Hay’s Galleria next to the London Bridge station.
And real masterpiece of contemporary art – featuring 12 phone booths – installation called ‘Out of Order’ created by David Mach is permanently residing in the streets of Kingston Upon Thames borough.
Those are only few spots we could think of from the top of our heads. While you may want to go out for your own red phone booth hunt and find a dozen of other locations