Welcome back! Continuing onward from my Part 1 of “London Calling” where I shared some of my favourite Things to See in London, I’d say it’s about time to step out of the observation booth and start “do-ing”. So, drop the binoculars, put on some comfortable shoes and let’s get ready to see what there is to do in London.
Oy! Don’t forget your umbrella… you’re in London, remember? While London may receive less rain than the rest of the country, you never know when you’ll find yourself caught in a torrential downpour as you exit the tube. Be prepared by investing in a cheap umbrella that you can replace or discard if needed. Got it? Great! Let’s go!
Ride the London Eye
Bite the bullet and embrace your inner tourist. End a day of strolling the city from a different perspective and take your London experience to new heights. For 15GBP (a standard ticket per person booked online), you’ll get a bird’s eye view of the Parliament Houses, St.Paul’s Cathedral and everything in between.
Like any big city, London shows it’s best side by night as the hustle bustle comes to an end and all come out to play. Whether you’re celebrating a recent engagement (in which case you may want to upgrade to a champagne flight for 31.54GBP) or enjoying a night of exploration with friends and family, taking a spin on the London eye is a memorable way to savor your experience and give your legs a well-deserved rest.
Take in a Musical
If you’re at all a fan of musical productions or theater, don’t miss out on the opportunity to see some of the world’s best talent showcased on the London stage. As an avid fan of everything composed and produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber, I must recommend seeing The Phantom of the Opera (if you haven’t already). It is, by far, my favourite musical of all time. That being said, there are a number of productions currently frequenting the London box offices that are well worth seeing including Wicked (the story behind the good witch and the wicked witch from the Wizard of Oz) and Billy Elliott (a story that merges the history of coal mining in Britain and the aspirations of one boy who loves to dance).
Note: To all men, scanning this and shaking their heads. I took my husband to The Phantom of the Opera and he loved it; crashing chandeliers, a man without a face, fire effects etc. What’s not to love?
Top Tip! Don’t buy tickets at the box office unless you’re a die-hard theater buff looking for front row seats. Tickets can often be purchased the day of at Leicester Square at seriously discounted rates. Check out this website to locate discount agents around London!
Visit the Imperial War Museum
They always say that when you’re living in a city, you rarely capitalize on the opportunity to play the tourist. Unfortunately, throughout my time spent living in London, museums took the brunt of my neglect. I may have wandered into the National Gallery once or twice whilst showing visitors around Trafalgar Square but during the entirety of my stay in London, I really only made an effort to explore two museums (and I’m ashamed to say that these particular museums, I made a point of visiting more than once).
My absolute favourite museum in London is the Imperial War Museum. From detailing the realities of the first and second world war to portraying international conflicts since 1945 including branches of the Cold War and Crimes against Humanity, both the permanent and temporary exhibitions on display warrant a visit. Entrance is free, and while special exhibitions may charge a fee, you will leave both humbled and amazed at what humanity is truly capable of. Note: If you like the imperial war museum, you may also be interested in a visit to the Churchill War Rooms!
The other museum I wandered into more than once was the National History Museum. If you visit only to see the stunning building housing the museum, you won’t regret your trip. If you have ever been awed by the thought of dinosaurs or wondered how a camel looks on the inside, this museum is for you. Unleashing the child in every visitor, galleries that look closely at everything from creepy crawlies to Darwinism 101 are guaranteed to spark your curiosity. Just a reminder: keep an eye on the clock! It’s easy to spend hours in this museum without noticing. Dedicate an entire afternoon to strolling the museum or give yourself a time limit and stick to it so you don’t miss out on another “must see” that London has to offer!
Top Tip! If you love museums, check out The London Pass and save on some of your favourite London hot spots!
Explore the Royal Parks
London is full of beautiful parks for visitors to explore including its 8 so called Royal Parks (Hyde Park, Richmond Park, Regent’s Park, Kensington Gardens, Greenwich Park, St.James’ Park, Bushy Park, Green Park and Brompton Cemetery) all of which are beautifully maintained and have unique attractions that differentiate them from competing greens. Unfortunately, if you’re only in London for a couple of days, you’re going to have to be rather choosy when it comes to parks you’re wanting to explore.
If you’re looking to stay central than stick with the obvious and go for a lovely walk through Hyde Park. Once a hunting ground for Henry VIII, the park is now a lovely place where families, couples and friends can get together and enjoy a tranquil escape in the heart of the city. The park also hosts concerts and fun fares for visitors to enjoy in addition to permanent statues, fountains and buildings that provide glimpses into the parks’ colourful history. Some of the parks actually run into each other, so if you’re strapped for time, do keep an eye on the signs. Kensington Gardens for example runs into Hyde Park which is merely a hop, skip and a jump from Green Park and St.James. If you have running shoes and you’re staying near the park (there are many affordable hotels near Bayswater Tube Station), bring your running shoes and start your day with a run through the park. Untie your laces as the rest of the city comes to life and ready yourself for another day of touring through London.
If you have time to wander outside the city, a trip to Richmond Park is well worth your while. A haven for Red and Fallow Deer, stepping into park transforms you into another era where kings ruled and game ran wild through the park. A stroll through Richmond park is a quiet one but a great outing, particular for older couples or families traveling with small children.
Don’t forget to Ride the Double-Decker Bus!
No trip to London is complete without taking a ride on the iconic Double-Decker. If you have to travel somewhere in London, be sure to step out of the tube and onto the top level of a big red bus.
Coming soon, where to find some of the best eats in London…