72 Hours in London

As one of the biggest metropolis in the world, London is not a city you want to miss. With its busy streets, hidden neighbourhoods, red double-deckers and free museums – you’ll find that there is something for everyone. 

I first visited London when I was 11 years old and have since then been back quite a few times, in addition to having lived there for a year during my placement year at university. I love both the typical tourist attractions as well as exploring all the less known things and places the city has to offer. In this guide I have tried to include a mix of both, and I hope you will get some inspiration for your London trip!

A few tips before we get to the good stuff:

  • Airport 
    • I recommend arriving at Heathrow or Gatwick. Both of these airport are quite close to the city centre. From Heathrow you easily reach the city either by tube or the Heathrow Express to Paddington Station, and from Gatwick there is the Gatwick Express to Victoria Station as well as regional trains.
  • Transport
    • Personally I like to walk as much as possible when I travel to a new city, as this is a great way to discover places that might not be mentioned in guides. London is no exception, but it is a big city and sometimes the distances to walk  are just too long. Luckily the public transport is great, covers the entire city and it’s not too difficult to manage (and riding on a double-decker is a must do thing when you’re visiting London for the first time…). I would recommend getting a Oyster Card and top it up as you go. You can also use your debit/credit card if it’s contactless. Bonus tip: Download the app Citymapper – it’s a lifesaver!
  • Where to stay
    • Where to even start? There are thousands of places to stay in London, and there are many factors that plays a part when deciding where to stay: budget, location, availability, the list goes on… Here are my suggestions:
      • Clapham – I had barely been south of the river before I moved to London last year and discovered a whole new part of London. I lived and worked around Clapham Common and I would definitely recommend staying here. You’ll find tons of cute cafes and restaurants, a beautiful park and great tube connections to the heart of London. You’ll feel like a true Londoner! My recommendations are The Windmill (a little more pricey, but worth it!) and Clapham South Belvedere (very “you-get-what-you-pay-for”).
      • Bayswater/Paddington– the area around Bayswater, Paddington and Hyde Park is filled with hotels, and you will find lots of places for every wallet. Here you will find yourself right in the middle of (almost) everything and you have access to restaurant, shops and cafes. It’s a bit busy and tourist-y, but definitely a good location! I recommend The Alexandra (budget friendly) and London House Hotel (lovely rooms and great location).

Day 1 – Kensington, Chelsea, and Covent Garden

day1Kensington and Chelsea are some of my favorite areas in the city, especially in the spring time. You find beautiful houses, cute cafes, independent shops and museums – it’s the perfect start for your London adventure!

Take the tube to Queensway Station (Central line), and start your day walking towards Kensington Palace through Kensington Gardens. The Gardens are lovely to explore on their own and you can also venture on to Hyde Park. At this point you have a couple of choices. You can continue to explore the park and see places such as the Round Pond, the Peter Pan statue and the Albert Memorial. Or you can visit Kensington Palace. I am not the biggest fan of museums, however I really enjoyed visiting the palace. Kensington Palace is the home to the young royals and parts of it is open to the public. What drew me to it was the exhibition “Diana: Designing for a Princess“, and you can also learn more about Queen Victoria, walk through the King’s State Apartment and explore the Queen’s Apartment.

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After finishing up at the palace and park, start the walk towards South Kensington Chelsea. On the way, you’ll pass Royal Albert Hall and walk down Exhibition Road. Here you find some of London’s most popular museums, such as the Science Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Natural History Museum. Take your pick and explore the museums halls, or continue on your walk. There are many places to stop and eat lunch around South Kensington. Some of my favorites are Gail’s Bakery, Le Pain Quotidien and Pret A Manger. Once done with lunch, head towards King’s Road, which is the main street in Chelsea. Notting Hill has become famous for its beautiful, pastel houses, but Chelsea has also several streets with picturesque, colourful homes. The ones I think are worth taking photos of are found in Godfrey Street and Smith Terrace.

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If you’re in the mood for some shopping, King’s Road is a good place to be. You’ll find a good variation between independent, high-end and high street stores. Once some damage to your wallet has been done and the perfect Instagram shot has been secured, walk to Sloane Square. At this point I think it’s time for an afternoon break, and one of the cutest cafes in the city – Peggy Porschen. If you like cupcakes, cakes and everything pink, this is the spot for you. Their chocolate salted caramel cupcake is to die for and if you pair it with a latte, it’s heaven. cof

After maybe a little break at the hotel I suggest heading to Piccadilly Circus and Covent Garden for the evening, to get the full (tourist) feeling of London. Take a bus or the tube to Piccadilly and walk towards Covent Garden via Leicester Square. Here you can find tons of restaurants, but be aware of the tourist traps. I recommend walking a bit out of the crowd or stopping in Chinatown. My suggestions for dinner are Punjab – delicious Indian food, Franco Manca – the best sour dough pizza or Wagamama’s – which offers good asian cuisine.

Day 2 – Tower Bridge, Southbank, Buckingham Palace and Soho 

day2

Start your day by taking the tube to Tower Hill station (Circle and District lines), and walk south towards the river Thames and Tower Bridge. Tower Bridge is an iconic landmark of London and a must see! The bridge was built over 125 years ago and when walking across it, it feels like you’re taking part of its history. It is possible to go inside the bridge to learn more about the history and architecture. Once you have crossed Tower Bridge you will find yourselves on the south side of London, and the walking for the day starts for real.

shard

I really enjoy walking from Tower Bridge to Westminster, as you pass many cool places and get beautiful views of the city. Simply following the river you will pass landmarks such as City Hall, The Shard, Borough Market, Shakespeare Globe, Tate Modern and the London Eye. If you want extraordinary views of London, you have multiple choices. You can either go to the top of the Shard, Sky Garden or take the London Eye. If this is your first time in London, I recommend taking the Eye as it is an experience you don’t really find in other cities. For lunch today you can either pick something up from one of the food stalls at Borough Market – the oldest food market in the city or browse around the Southbank Food Market – you’ll get a taste of delicious food from all over the world (note that it is only open Fri-Sun).

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Along the way you can also stop at Tate Modern, which offers a great variety of exhibitions of international modern and contemporary art, many of these have free entry. I would recommend mapping out what you would like to see beforehand as it is quite big. Another suggestion is to go to the museum’s viewing level to see the city from above. Once finished up at the museum, continue on towards Westminster. Unfortunately, the iconic Big Ben is under construction and covered in scaffolding and will remain so until 2020. However, you can still see the Palace of Westminster and Westminster Abbey. Westminster Abbey is where coronations, weddings, funerals and all things history take place. If you’d like to go inside the Abbey I suggest booking the tickets in advance. It’s now time to visit the Queen! You can either walk or take the bus to Buckingham Palace, but I suggest walking as it is not very far. Buckingham Palace is only open to the public for a short period during the summer, but it is still worth the while to go and catch a glimpse of the home to the world’s most famous royal.

For the evening head into Soho and you’ll have lots of restaurants to choose from for dinner. My favorites are: the delicious Italian restaurant Prince and The Breakfast Club – don’t be fooled by the name, they serve great dinner as well!

Day 3 – Fitzrovia, Marylebone, Regent’s Park and Camden 

day3

As I mentioned earlier, museums aren’t really my thing. However, not everyone are like me and if there is one museum you should visit on your first trip to London, it’s the British Museum. The British Museum is located in Fitzrovia, another one of my favorite areas of the city, and you can take the tube to Russell Square (Piccadilly line) or Tottenham Court Road (Central and Northern lines). In addition to visiting the museum I recommend exploring the area and taking in the grand 18th – 19th century houses.

Once finished up at the museum, it’s time to go towards Marylebone. Take the Central Line to Bond Street, cross one of the busiest streets in the world (Oxford Street) and sneak in to maybe London’s smallest street – Gee’s Court. Marylebone is a residential area with lots of cute cafes and boutiques. If you’re in the mood for some good coffee, sandwiches and pastries I recommend stopping my Ole & Steen, before heading up Thayer Street. Marylebone High Street has many lovely stores to visit, some favorites are Daunt Books and Anthropologie.

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After having browsed through some shops it’s time to head north to Regent’s Park. Regent’s Park is my favorite park in London, and there are plenty of things to explore here, in addition to just having a nice stroll around. You can see the Queen Mary’s Garden and its beautiful roses, hire a rowing boat on the boating lake or visit the Open Air Theatre. One of the best things about the park is Primrose Hill. Primrose Hill offers amazing views of the city, in addition to being surrounded by beautiful houses – it’s the perfect Instagram spot!

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After having explored the park, and if time allows it, you can continue on to Camden. Camden Market is world famous for its international cuisine, art and music scene and shops.

Final thoughts:

That concludes my 72 hours Guide to London! There are so many more things I could (and want) to include, but I’ll save those for another day. I hope you found some inspiration and have a great trip!

All the best,

Marta

#travel #guide #london #72hours

One thought on “72 Hours in London

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