Just Touched Down In London Town: How to spend your time wisely in ‘The Big Smoke’

I had dreamt about going to the UK from the very first time I heard a British accent, the thought of being somewhere where everyone sounded like that made my head spin. Growing up, a lot of my favourite musicians, television shows and movies originated from British culture and I couldn’t wait to get caught up in it all.

There’s so much to see and do in London, but also a lot of things you can probably give a miss if you’re short on time. Here’s my verdict:

1. Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum  ✖︎
If you’ve never been to a wax museum before, then maybe you’ll enjoy Madame Tussaud’s, if, however, you have been to one of her many other museum’s around the world, you can probably give this one a miss. Nothing new other than a few more British wax figures.

2. London Eye  ✔︎
The London Eye is a great way to get a bird’s eye view of London and some great snaps of Big Ben. Pre book tickets to skip out on the lines. Definitely better than the Melbourne Star, that’s for sure.

3. London Dungeon  ✖︎
One of the most advertised tourist attractions in London, however it’s basically just some live actors and a lot of British history. Fun, but missable.

4.Westminster Abbey ✔︎
One of most beautiful churches I have ever seen. The only downside is you have to pay to get in. There’s also a smaller church next door which is free to enter, which is great for some reflection time.

5. King’s Cross Station ✔︎
If you’re a Harry Potter fan (which I am),  you have to go to King’s Cross station to get your Platform 9 and 3/4’s photo. There’s a gift shop next door as well with heaps of licensed merchandise you can take home with you.
6. Hyde Park ✔︎
Renting a bicycle and riding around Hyde Park was one of my favourite things I did in London. Perfectly scenic with lots of things to do, plus the exercise will do you some good if you’ve had a bit too much Nando’s like I had.

7. Buckingham Palace ✖︎
Sure, it’s cool to see where the Queen lives and all that, but that’s about all you see, the building itself, and if you’re lucky, the changing of the guards. Also pretty missable.

8. Tower Bridge of London ✖︎
This one was kind of my own fault, I caught a tube to the London Bridge in confusion and realised I had gone to the wrong bridge. I did get some good shots of The Tower Bridge in the distance, but never made it to the actual thing. It probably is pretty good, go see it anyway.

9. Abbey Road ✔︎
For any Beatles fan, this is a must do. Don’t make the mistake that I did and catch the Tube straight to the Abbey Road stop, the actual Abbey Road crossing is located in St. John’s Wood.  It’s actually a lot harder to replicate the ‘famous shot’ than you think, there’s a fair amount of traffic on Abbey Road, it helps to bring a patient friend with you.

10. Camden Markets ✔︎
Camden is such a funky area and the markets reminded me very much of the markets we have back home. Quirky people, distinctive clothes and art and amazing food. A great way to spend the afternoon.

11. West End ✔︎
My first broadway show was Wicked at the West End and it did not disappoint! If you’re into musicals, or even if you aren’t, there’s sure to be a show you’ll enjoy.

12. Oxford Circus ✖︎
Walking up the steps from Oxford Street Station, Oxford Street looked exactly what I imagined London to look like: busy street with bright red buses and people everywhere. Besides that though, I didn’t find much to do there, the shops were a bit too pricey for my liking, so I ended up catching the Tube to Tottenham Court instead.

13. M&M World ✔︎
If you’re a chocolate lover, then you’ll love M&M world. Easily the best part of visiting is making your own collection of M&M’s that you can then purchase and take home. Mine was 90% crispy M&M’s but it was 100% worth it.

Honourable mentions that I wished I’d seen:
– Warner Brothers Studio Tour – The Making of Harry Potter
– Stonehenge + Bath

Till next time!

-K

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