I can’t believe it took me sooo long to write this post… When I went for my life long dream of a London Trip in June, I pretty much accomplished many life long things. London is a great city and many people asked me what did I do in London and other tips. Whether you want to go sightseeing, or you’re a huge Harry Potter fan, there’s something in London for everyone. Without further ado, here is my personal advice and experience and a bazillion photos.
When I told people I was going to be in London for 2 weeks, they were like “why do you need to go there for so long? There’s nothing to see!” Two weeks wasn’t even enough for me! I can’t wait until the day I go back again.
If you like shopping and being in an area where there is more people, (so you don’t have to be afraid of walking home in a quiet neighbourhood,) then you should live around Oxford Circus or Picadilly Circus. It’s a hubbub of people and shopping!
I stayed near Shepherd’s Bush/ Kensington (Olympia). My friends and I found a flat on AirBnB, where you can rent a flat to stay for an affordable rate. However, the area I stayed in was a bit far from Central London and the walk to the tube (The Underground) was around 10 minutes to the Shepherd’s Bush station. I also had to pay extra travel fare to travel to the Central area. We were near a huge mall, Westfield London, and I could spend days there shopping. There’s also lots of restaurants at Westfield.
This is how my flat looked like; I stayed with 2 other girls. There was one air mattress and one king sized bed. Also included was a kitchenette and wifi! There was also a washing machine, but it looked kind of broken and dirty so we didn’t use it.
2. Getting Around with the London Underground
If you’re going to travel around London, you need an Oyster Card to use their underground station, also known as the “Tube.” The Oyster Card is like Hong Kong’s “Octopus Card” or Vancouver’s “Compass.” You load an amount on the card and just tap in and out between stations on the machines.
There is a 5 pound deposit fee for the card. You can get one at the customer service at any Underground station. There’s also TravelCards if you’re visiting for 7 days or 1 day, however, since I was there for almost 2 weeks; I decided to be full on British and used an Oyster Card. I used around £60 for 2 weeks of transit. Travelling is definitely not cheap in London!
Look for that symbol that indicates the Underground!
3. Getting to Know the City
I knew important places to see in London, but I didn’t know “know” London when I got to the city. The city is rich in history and culture, and I got a real understanding of it for the first time when I joined the SANDEMANs NEW Europe; which is a company that has guides that gives free walking tours. You sign up for the walking tour online and meet at a destination. You end up in a group of around 20-30 people and walk around London for around 3 hours (if I recall.)
The company’s philosophy is that- at the end of the tour, you tip the tour guide based on how much you think the tour is worth. That way, each guide is committed to doing their best and providing the best tour possible. The tour guide we had was Mark and he did an excellent job of guiding us around London and teaching us the history of the city because he was so passionate about it. I was entertained through the whole tour.
We passed by Big Ben (by the way, only the bell is called Big Ben, the tower is not,) Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace (where we got to see the Changing of the Guards,) and so much more. I went on the tour the second day I arrived and it really helped me map out London in my head.
By the way, technically I was in the City of Westminster in London, and there’s an ancient city, called City of London. So there are two cities in London. Confusing?
Gothic churches are so gorgeous. This is Westminster Abbey, where Kate and Prince William got married.
Settling in my flat, getting my transportation sorted out, and exploring the city was just 2 days out of my whole trip! I have a lot more information coming up and pictures to show! I’ve been working on my Wizarding World of Harry Potter review blog post for a while now, but there’s just so much to sort out!