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Top 10 things to do in London on your first visit
A city I really miss is London. After several trips to the English capital – and after living a summer in Richmond it really is one of my favourite cities. Unfortunately I’ve lost all my photos from my time in London because my old computer broke. But I promise I’ll try to go back soon to get some new ones!
In the meantime I thought I’d put together a little guide with some of my first visit London musts for you here!
Stroll around in Covent Garden
Covent Garden is probably my favourite area in central London. It’s full of cute streets, little shops, the opera house and of course the market. Why not grab some breakfast or brunch at Le Pain Quotidien? Then you can stroll through the stalls and shops inside the Jubilee Hall market (built in 1904!). And to finish end with grabbing a coffee and a macaron whilst watching the street performers outside?
If you fancy a ballet performance you’ll also find the opera house here. And lots of theatres if you prefer a musical or two?
See a fun musical in the West End
For a really long time London was first and foremost associated with seeing musicals for me. Some of the best productions in the world and there’s plenty to choose from. One show I recommend everyone to see is Wicked. It’s the story of the wicked witch of the west BEFORE Dorothy landed in Oz. Another good one is or The Phantom of The Opera which is just a stunning story of the phantom, a musical genius, who becomes obsessed with a young singer at the opera house in Paris.
Natural History Museum
There’s so many wonderful museums in London but the Natural History Museum is worth the visit just because of the stunning building. The main hall looks like something straight out of Hogwarts and walking through it just makes me feel amazed.
See the view from Sky Garden
First of all – prebook your visit! Tickets are free – but to make sure your visit will happen you need to book ahead. If you want a great view of London then check out the Sky Garden! There’s also a bar if you fancy sitting down for a drink. Just bare in mind that during the evening bookings there’s a smart, casual dress code. And yes – it is a garden! It’s Londons highest public garden and quite a stunning place to visit.
Afternoon Tea in London
So many wonderful options for Afternoon tea in London. Such a British ritual that was introduced in the 1840’s! And it’s a lovely way to let your feet rest whilst sampling some treats. Also might be good to know that the classic order of eating is starting with the sandwiches, next up is scones and then you finish with the sweet treats. But you can of course be as much of a rule breaker as you want and go for whatever seems most intriguing first!
Check out these places for your Afternoon Tea experience
Mr Foggs: You’ll quickly realise that Mr Foggs is my ideal place to go in London for all things food and drink related. I just absolutely LOVE the design of their venues, hence why they’re also featured further down in this guide… For a Tipsy tea in a vintage environment that definitely is instagrammable check out Mr Foggs. From £44pp.
The Savoy: For a classy and classic experience, check out The Savoy. This prestigious hotel has been serving Afternoon Tea since it opened in 1889! So they definitely know how to do it. From £65pp.
B Bakery: Brigit’s Bakery can be found either in Covent Garden or if you want a bit of a different experience then check out their bus tours where you enjoy your Afternoon Tea onboard a classic red double decker which takes your around London! From £35pp in bakery and £45pp for the bus tour.
And yes, I can’t wait to create a guide for the best places to enjoy afternoon tea in London. But first – extensive research!
Shopping in London
I often can’t resist doing some shopping when I’m in London and I have many shops that I almost feel like I have to visit when I’m in the capital.
Central London is of course a classic for shopping opportunities. But if you want a longer experience in a mall then check out Westfield Shopping Centre!
But in central London I could recommend the following:
I’m gonna mention it as it’s probably known as THE shopping street in London. However I personally find it too busy and quite stressful. So if you prefer smaller shops with more character then check out the other areas I’ve mentioned. But if you are looking for the big brands then Oxford Street might be the street for you!
Another cute little area with some cute shops!
And don’t miss Daunt’s Books! It is a book shop you shouldn’t miss if you like travel as it specialises on travel books in a beautiful location.
Even though I’ve already mentioned Covent Garden in it’s own section it’s worth mentioning again. There’s the market of course but also a lot of shops in the surrounding area that are definitely worth checking out!
Around Covent Garden you’ll also find lots of vintage and second hand shops if that’s your thing!
See the deer in Richmond park
Ah lovely Richmond. It’s such a cosy and slightly posh area outside of London and easily accessible by tube or train from Waterloo. You can grab something to eat by the Themes, take a lovely stroll in Richmond park and see the deer that live there. On your way back you could also grab a boat on the Themes to take you back to central London! In Richmond park you also get a nice view of central London from afar and if the weather is nice why not bring some berries, croissants and something to drink for a wee picnic!
Cocktails in London
Oh Mr Foggs… If you like me adore vintage style, Jules Verne, quirkiness and stories then you have to visit one of the Mr Foggs venues. Some exquisite cocktails served up here and the different venues have their own theme. I really like when bars, restaurants and hotels have a thought through theme that makes each visit an experience!
Hop on/Hop off bus or boat
If you need to rest your feet but still want to see your surroundings the Hop on/Hop off buses are great – and in London there’s also Hop on/Hop off boats going along the Thames! It also allows you to get another perspective of the city – some wonderful views of the sights from the water or an elevated sight on the top floor of the buses.
Gin or Whisky Tour in London
Gin is of course a drink that is often associated with England, but nowadays London also has its very own whisky distillery Bimber as well!
For Gin tours there’s everything from Afternoon Tea with Gin, distillery tours and also bars that specialise in the juniper infused spirit. Gin has a very interesting history and I always feel like learning about spirits and drinks enhances the experience of them. For me flavours are also a good way to explore a culture and in the UK Gin is definitely a national drink (alongside tea!).
Check out these Gin & Whisky Tours
I did this tour a few years back and it was a very fun experience, especially if you’ve grown up reading the books and seeing the films. I finally got to try Butterbeer (always been curious about that, but I can’t say it’s great…) and some of the sets are so impressive! We took public transport all the way there but it was quite tedious so it’s a lot easier if you book the transfer service.
Even just writing this guide makes me long for London so incredibly much! There’s still so many things I want to explore and London is a perfect city for sightseeing, history, flavours and shopping. It’s a city with a lot of character and one I highly recommend everyone to visit!
Have you ever been to London? What’s your favourite thing to do?
Feel free to follow along on IG with @scandinvanianabroad so you don’t miss the travels first hand!
Looking for more inspiration? Check out my other Travel Guides from England here!
Or if you are looking for hotels – check out what 7 lovely hotels in London I really want to stay at!
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tip: photo opportunity of the London skyline from Waterloo Bridge!