For years I dreamed of visiting London. It was always on my top-places-to-visit list. I don’t know why but I just developed this inexplicable infatuation with the idea of afternoon tea, English accents, the Big Ben, Harry Potter, red double-decker buses, The Beatles, and drivers on the wrong side of the road. Haha! Well, I finally got to visit this amazing city, and by the time I had arrived I had a HUGE London bucketlist — ready to cross off every single item. I had so much fun completing my bucketlist so I thought I’d share it, in hopes that it will inspire you to create your own or use mine as inspiration! 🙂
1. The Big Ben
This clock tower is a British cultural icon and a true masterpiece. The intricate details are insane! I can’t even wrap my head around the fact that the clock dials are 23 feet in diameter. It’s definitely a must-see. If I’m not mistaken, visitors do not have access to the tower’s interior, only United Kingdom residents do. But you should still admire the tower from Westminster Bridge and/or from across the river.
2. Palace of Westminster
The Palace of Westminster is where the two Houses of Parlimentment meet for political debates and deliberation. It’s an astonishing building with over 1,100 rooms — including debate chambers, lobbies, and libraries. You should visit this palace if you love intriguing and colorful history.
3. Hop on a Double-Decker Bus
What better way to get around the city than on a huge, two-story, red bus? I’m not even joking. Every time I hopped on, I went straight to the top and grabbed my front row seat — there’s a window that stretches from one side to the other, so you get to see everything! It’s such a fun ride!
4. Warner Bros. Studio – The Making of Harry Potter
This studio is one of the best places in the world (according to me). If you don’t know me yet, I LOVE Harry Potter, and this is the perfect exhibit for all my fellow HP fanatics. At Warner Bros. Studios, you get to experience life on set and you get to explore a ton of movie props. There are also games, challenges, interactive guides, movie trivia, broom riding, and even butterbeer! Go behind the scenes and live in the magic!
5. Tower Bridge
The Tower Bridge is probably one of the most famous bridges in the world. And the coolest part is that it has two upper-level, glass, walkways. You can step, sit, or lay on the glass and watch the traffic drive by right underneath you. Or, you can avoid the glass areas altogether if that makes you feel more safe.
6. Experience the Afternoon Tea Craze
The English are well known for their love for tea. If London isn’t synonymous with afternoon tea, then I don’t know what is. The experience consists of a friendly gathering and ordering tea in a pot, finger food, tasty cakes, scones with jam — the options vary. You lounge, chat, and enjoy your tea and scones. You can kind of compare it to the Starbucks experience in the US. Americans are obsessed with lounging at a cafe as they zip on their coffee and work on their laptop. Except, it’s not nearly as cool or sophisticated as afternoon tea.
7. Walk around Oxford Street
Here you’ll find a ton of high-end retail stores, cafes, pubs, and more. This street is super popular, especially during Christmas because all the high-end stores have the money to decorate the street lavishly. I didn’t go during Christmas but it was still so lively and super fun to walk.
8. Enjoy the Views from St. Paul’s Cathedral Dome
This cathedral is definitely one of my favorites. They have interactive audio guides that include games and puzzles so that your learning experience is more pleasant. There’s so much to explore, including a whispering room where you can whisper along the wall and you’ll hear it on the opposite side of the room when completely silent. Additionally, you can climb 400+ steps to reach the very top of the cathedral’s dome and enjoy the 360° views of the city.
9. Visit Notting Hill
Notting Hill is a little vibrant town outside of London known for its antique and vintage shops. It’s super trendy with upscale cafes and posh restaurants. The houses are so colorful, they make the neighborhoods feel alive. And, interestingly enough, the town has Caribbean roots. Who would’ve know? It’s a fun little town to explore and get lost in.
10. Ride the London Eye
If you haven’t noticed yet, I’m a sucker for views overlooking a city. They remind me how big this world is and how important the little things in life are. Well, from the top of the Coca-Cola London Eye, you get a one-of-a-kind view of the Big Ben, Palace of Westminster, Thames River, and more. For those of you scared of heights, don’t worry, this is not a thrill ride. The Eye moves at a very slow pace and each gondola has seating in the middle; you don’t have to get near the edges if you don’t want to.
11. Walk into a Phone Booth
Who said pubic phone booths were dead? Because they’re very much alive, in London — fully functioning and vibrantly red. They’re great for a photo op!
12. Climb to the Top of The Shard
Again, I live for city views, and The Shard has the highest observation deck in the United Kingdom. They have a full-service bar so you can enjoy a cocktail as you admire the breathtaking views. Also, they recently added two virtual reality thrill rides to the deck. One is a rollercoaster riding through the city and jumping from gilding to building. The other consists of balancing as you walk along a construction plank at the top of The Shard. This place is so cool, I even experienced a marriage proposal during my visit.