BY TARA BURKE
I cannot put into words how much I love London. Cailin and I were blessed enough to have the opportunity to study abroad there my Junior spring semester of college for 4 months, but with everyone’s busy schedule it is lucky if you can manage a two week vacation to the amazing city. In addition, since travelling throughout Europe is fairly easy and inexpensive, compared to the U.S., many people choose to spend a few days in several different countries when they get the chance to travel.
So, if you need a quick guide to tackling London, while still getting an authentic experience, I’ve got you covered with this 3 day guide!
– Find a great little cafe near your hotel/hostel for a quick breakfast and a coffee/tea before you start your first big day! Local cafes are everywhere in London. Just ask your accommodation staff where their favorite around-the-corner spot is. Otherwise, there are plenty of Starbucks and Pret-a-Mangers around to get your morning caffeine fix.
-Take the Tower of London tour! You can find more info. about the tour here: http://www.hrp.org.uk/TowerOfLondon/. Tickets are a little pricey at about £21 for Adults. Students, children and Seniors get discounted prices. However, it is totally worth it! You get a tour of the tower from hilarious Beefeaters, you can gawk at the British Crown Jewels, see cool exhibitions and re-enactments and tromp along the tower walls as if it were all yours! All the while you can see a great view of Tower Bridge.
-Get some chow! I must admit I am not a huge foodie expert when it comes to London. Being a student there meant I was more broke than usual. The pound is almost double the dollar! My advice: you can’t go wrong with fish and chips at a pub.
-Take the tube to the Westminster stop. Take a moment to gaze at Big Ben and walk over to The Eye. If you go around dusk you can see them in the daylight and at night. They’re both beautifully different perspectives. Stroll. Take some time before dinner to just walk in whatever direction the wind takes you. Central London is bustling with energy and it feels great to soak it all in.
-After dinner you can venture to Piccadilly Circus, the Times Square of London.
-Eat an English Breakfast. All those hearty beans, fried eggs, and bacon will keep you full till at least tea time!
-Try and get to the ticket booth to see a West End show later tonight for a discount. This link will tell you all about it: http://www.londontheatre.co.uk/londontheatre/info/tickets.htm
-Fit in Buckingham Palace if you have a chance on this day. The Guards start arriving at 11:15am. If you don’t have time try again the third day.
-Go to Trafalgar Square and go to the National Gallery if you are an art buff. If you are not an art fanatic, try the National Portrait Gallery instead. It is much smaller and there is a chance that even if you don’t know the artists, you will known the influential people portrayed in their paintings. Museums are also FREE and make a great rainy day activity!
-Visit the Southbank. Visit The Globe, a replica of Shakespeare’s original theater. See if any free events are going on in the area. I’d suggest you look up any special events that are going on during your stay. Chances are there is a super cool festival going on.
-Feast your eyes on all the food at Borough Market for lunch (pun completely intended). Literally, the whole market is just a feast of delectable treats, scrumptious sandwiches and juicy fruit. While you’re there get a good look at The Shard, which is currently the tallest building throughout Europe.
-See a West End Show!
-Rise and Shine, it’s already day 3! See those infamous guards protect Buckingham Palace if you missed it on Day 2. Get there earlier than 11am so you can get a good spot to watch. Otherwise, start your day by heading to one of the many markets in London (Camden, Portobello and Greenwich are just a few). Some of these markets can take hours to go through, but are a source of endless entertainment with knick-knacks and secret treasures just waiting to be discovered. They also have great food stands. Breakfast and a light lunch can be eaten here.
-Head over to Covent Garden for tea time. Many people wish to experience English high tea with the cute tier of tea sandwiches and other pastries, but we found that cream tea was just as effective. Patisserie Valerie in Covent Garden has a great cream tea special for two at a much more affordable price than high tea. Remember, pinkies up! http://www.patisserie-valerie.co.uk/covent-garden.aspx
-Explore Covent Garden. There are plenty of shops, restaurants, pubs and entertainment to discover in this area. If you have some time to kill, head over to Chinatown and go to O’ Neills, an Irish Pub that often has live music. Additionally, if something on my guide isn’t your thing, I left some extras for yah! If you love to shop try Oxford Street, the 5th Ave. of London, and definitely go to Harrods! The Westminster Abbey tour is also a good option. It is full of history and you can take your time going through all the tour stops since most people choose to use the hand held tour guides.
Of course, there are many other things to do in London, but hopefully this guide can help you cover the basics if you’re working with a time crunch and are on a budget! Xx