FIRST TIME IN LONDON?
The Ultimate London Guide for the First-Time Visitor
London, our home and a fantastic cosmopolitan city by the Thames. Diverse, culturally rich, it oozes with history from ancient to modern times. Innovative, creative, energetic, buzzing, modern, calm the list is endless. And trust us, you’ll find everything and anything you want! But visiting for the first time London can be overwhelming.
Therefore, we’ve compelled this simple list ticking off all major sites on your first, but definitely not last trip to the capital.
First, London is very walkable! You’ll be surprise how close together many of the major attractions are. So, get your walking boots on and start at Victoria Station.
From there it’s only a short walk to Buckingham Palace. See the iconic palace and watch the famous Changing of the Guard. Take a quick detour to Harrods for some exquisite shopping or head straight down the Mall to Trafalgar Square.
See Nelson’s column and visit the National Gallery. Like many other museums the entry is free!
Take a break at the fantastic and well-hidden café in the crypt of the St Martins on the Fields church next to Trafalgar Square. Even a first time visitor can still find some less known spots.
Then head down Whitehall passing Old Scotland Yard and Downing Street No 10. Don’t forget to booh the prime minister!
Shortly afterwards you spot Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and right next door, Westminster Abbey . The iconic church where most Royals got married.
Cross the Thames for the first time and there’s the London Eye! We recommend a ride at dusk when London’s skyline is lit up. The views are amazing.
Take a breath
If you are into street art, take another short detour to the Leake Street Tunnel. It’s a graffiti tunnel leading towards Waterloo station. The artworks are mind blowing and constantly changing. And you can also watch the artist creating another masterpiece on the job. It’s fascinating. At the end of tunnel you find Lower Marsh Market, a great street food market open Monday to Friday.
Then it’s time to head back to the Thames onto the South Bank. Musicians and street artists line up at the river walk and give it a very lively and artistic atmosphere. Enjoy and keep walking until you reach the Tate Modern Gallery. The Tate is also free and showcases an impressive modern art collection. It also boasts one the greatest viewing spots over London.
Right next to it is the Millennium Bridge. This slightly wobbly looking bridge leads you straight to St Paul’s Cathedral. Otherwise continue your journey along the Thames until you reach the Borough Market. A food market like no other with delicatessens from around the world. No first time visitor to London will go hungry, but watch out, it ain’t cheap!
Have a break in one of the many historic pubs around there. We can give you some pub recommendations. Then it’s time for your last stop, Tower Bridge and the Tower of London. Two iconic landmarks no visitor can afford to miss! That should do for your first day, take a river boat back to central London or just jump on the tube. Then put your feet up and rest…
On the next day we put some shopping on the agenda. Oxford Street, Regent Street, Carnaby Street give you the full shopping hit and are again, all very walkable. Head to Sloane Street for high end designer shops from all over the world. On a rainy day you can cross town over to Stratford or Shepherd’s Bush to hit the stores of Westfield, Europe’s largest shopping malls.
Afterwards just stroll around Soho and Chinatown. Pick a place for dinner and choose one of the musicals for the evening. Day Two is all about soaking up the atmosphere on your first trip to London.
On Day Three you can go into more detail.
See the unique Camden Town with its market for some post punk subculture. Plenty of quirky gifts for your friends back home can be found here. Also, the food market is nothing short of amazing.
Or pay the trendiest part of London, Shoreditch, a visit. Alternative but fine fashion, art galleries, the trendiest bars, the famous curry mile Brick Lane, vintage stores and street art are what Shoreditch nowadays is known for.
Alternatively, it’s time for more museums! All for free and well worth a visit. First and foremost, the British Museum. You can easily spend a full day in there wandering around the halls seeing artefacts from around the world!
Discover a new part of town, Kensington. Home to the rich and famous it boasts of many fine restaurants, shops and museums. The Victoria and Albert museum in Kensington is the world’s largest museum of applied and decorative arts and design, as well as sculpture, housing a permanent collection of over 2.27 million objects! The Natural History Museum is fantastic too and not just for the little ones.
Weather permitting take a boat ride from the London Eye to Greenwich. Home of the observatory and the restored Cutty Sark. Relax with a pick nick in Greenwich park. The views over London are amazing.
Needless to say, that there are many other things to do and to see in London.
Here’s a small list of alternatives you could see and do:
- Harry Potter Walking Tour & Studios
- Richmond Park and Kew Gardens
- London Dungeon & Madame Tussauds
- London Orbital & Olympic Park
- O2 Arena Climb
- Thames Speed Boat Cruise
- London Post Museum & Underground Train
- Sky Garden
- The Shard Viewing Platform
And many more…
And if you’re into sport especially football, you should experience the unique atmosphere of an English football match. With more than 10 clubs based in London it won’t be hard to find a match to watch. Whatever you choose to do and at whatever speed you chose to do it, London will amaze you.
And you will want to come back again and again!
If you got some spare time on your hands why not spend a day by the seaside?! Brighton is only an hour’s train ride away. And if you take the family talk to us for an individually tailored Family Family Package Holiday
For your first time visit we recommend spending 3 full days in London. But honestly you can spend a week and still haven’t see it all.
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See you in London!