Brad and I just had the best time on our 3 day trip in London! We were asked to go to Ireland with our dear friends Molly & Zach and based on our work schedules, Brad and I decided to fly to London for 3 days before heading to Ireland. We used our London trip as a way to celebrate our upcoming 2 year wedding anniversary and spend some time exploring a new city together.
London was absolutely beautiful and there is something to do for everyone that wishes to visit. Great pubs, restaurants, history to be seen, tours of castles and palaces, museums, riverboat cruises, and neighborhoods to explore. If you enjoy traveling and are looking for your next destination, I would make London one of your stops. As a bonus, it’s super close to so many European countries that traveling to multiple destinations in one trip would be easy, and fairly reasonable in terms of cost.
I’m sharing with you our 3-day travel itinerary, restaurants and pubs visited, and some tips/tricks to help you along the way! Hopefully will help inspire your next trip and save you some time when planning! Brad and I visited these attractions and sites without feeling overwhelmed or rushed. We went into the trip knowing we couldn’t see the entire city in 3 days, so we picked our must-see places and added in a few along the way. Would love know your favorite spots visited in London and any questions that you didn’t get answered in this post – Comment below!
Arrival: Double Tree – Westminster
We arrived in London at 8:00am and went straight to the hotel to drop off our bags. We stayed at the Double Tree in Westminster as it was close to the majority of places we wanted to visit. (Walking distance to Westminster Abbey, The Parliament, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Leicester Square/Covent Garden) Another neighborhood I would recommend staying is Leicester Square/Covent Garden area (tons of restaurants, bars, attractions, and a smaller scaled “times square”).
Westminster Parliament and Big Ben
The Parliament’s massive size and beautiful architecture are enough to stop you in your tracks. We saw it at least once a day since it was on our way to the subway, and it never got old. Such an enormous structure in the middle of the city. Attached to The Parliament is the iconic clock “Big Ben” that can be seen from many parts of the city.
*TIP: Westminster Underground Subway station is located right beside The Parliament, so if you’re planning to visit other attractions that aren’t near Westminster, this would be a good place to catch the subway.
Tour Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey is a beautiful church and a traditional coronation and burial site for British Monarchs. We did the audio tour and it guided us through the rich history of the cathedral and Kings/Queens that are buried there.
Brad and I walked through St. James Park to Buckingham Palace to see where the Queen spends some of her time. It’s a beautiful walk and so if you aren’t crunched on time, you could picnic at the park and enjoy the lake views. While it wasn’t open for tours during our visit, I would recommend looking into available dates and times as this would be an amazing Palace to view.
White Swan Resturant and Pub
#JetLagIsReal Jet lag is no joke and got the best of Brad and I on our first day in London. We were running on adrenaline for most of the day so we stopped by a pub for a quick dinner and traditional fish and chips before heading to bed. This was on our way home from Buckingham Palace and made for a yummy stop.
*TIP: Bartenders do not expect tips in London, tips are only expected in cabs and resturants.
*TIP: Majority of the pubs in London don’t have waiters come to your table to take your order. You order at the bar then the food will be delivered to your table. Brad and I made the mistake of sitting at our table for a good while before asking the bartender where our server was. Silly us…
Caught up on sleep and ready to explore, we took the first half of the day to tour Windsor Castle. This is where the Queen resides and spends the majority of her time (Buckingham Palace is her other “home”). We took the Heathrow Express train to Windsor and had a great experience. Between the underground subway and train system, London transportation makes it super easy to navigate the city. The Windsor Castle was my favorite site to visit. It’s massive and they’ve preserved almost all of the rooms original furniture, tapestry, and design. Beautiful in every way.
I specifically enjoyed the China Room where all of the china is on display from past dinners that the King/Queen hosted or was hosted in honor of the King/Queen. I was able to snap a
picture of my favorite set before being asked to put my camera away… oops!!
Nell Gwynn’s Tearoom
After touring the castle, there are plenty of spots to grab lunch, drinks, or afternoon tea. We stopped at Nell Gwynn’s for a glass of wine and lunch since they had outside seating and it was a beautiful afternoon. Fun Fact: Nell Gwynn was a mistress of King Charles II and he built and underground tunnel from the Castle to her home (which is now the Tearoom) and visited her frequently.*TIP: We spent roughly 3.5 hours at the Castle & lunch. This took up the majority of our morning so plan accordingly.
Tower of London / Tower Bridge
The second half of the day we took the underground to the Tower of London. We toured the Crown Jewels which were all of the past crowns that Kings/Queens received when they were coronated. They were stunning, talk about huge diamonds!! After touring the tower, we walked along the river to see the massive Tower Bridge! I wasn’t able to take pictures on the tour, but you can find information about the Crown Jewels here.
*TIP: If you have extra time in this area, you can also visit St. Cathedral and the HMS Belfast Ship.
*TIP: There’s an outside beer garden to enjoy a few drinks after you visit the Tower of London and bridge. If you follow the river past the London Bridge, it’s on the same side of the river as the Tower.
Leicster Square/Covent Garden/Picadilly Circus
For dinner, we met up with a friend of ours who has been living in London for the past month for work. We had drinks in Leicester Square and dinner in Covent Garden. This entire neighborhood is walkable and full of restaurants, bars, attractions, and shows. This is one of the areas I recommend staying due the the amount of activities to enjoy. It is a smaller version of NYC’s Time Square. We had such a fun evening surrounded by good company & conversation. Glad we were able to catch up with a dear friend. We ate at a small pub in the area which had the same menu as the White Swan. *TIP: A majority of the pubs are owned by the same Company in London, so you will see the same menu
Brad and I got up bright and early and took the underground to Nottinghill to walk around the neighborhood and see all of the cute shops. We stopped at Raoul’s for brunch and experienced English Breakfast Tea for the first time… delicious!
Kensington Palace / The Orangery
Kensingon Palace is a short walk from the heart of Nottinghill so we decided to take a tour of the palace and view the beautiful gardens. This is where William & Kate reside. So much history, beautiful architecture, and upholstery to be seen. We also enjoyed walking around the gardens and relaxing on a bench in Hyde Park for some of the afternoon. The Orangery is a beautiful Tearoom on the Kensington Palace Grounds to have lunch and afternoon tea. Brad and I stopped here for a drink and enjoyed the weather for a bit.
*TIP: If you want to eat lunch at the Orangery, you have to make reservations. If not, just grab an open seat outside for some drinks and a beautiful view of the palace.
Churchill Arms/The Champion
To end our last day in London, we met up with a friend for lunch at The Champion in Nottinghill. We stopped at Churchill Arms Pub to see the beautiful greenery and blooms that were planted all over the building on our way to lunch.
*TIP: If you have additional time in this neighborhood, you can visit Harrod’s. The world’s most famous department store.
NEED TO KNOW:
London Pass – We purchased the 3-day London Pass to save us money. We ended up breaking even with the pass compared to normal entry fees, but it was worth the time it saved to purchase tickets at each location and also provided fast-track entry to a few sites. If you are considering purchasing the pass, I would recommend adding up the normal entry fee for the attractions you wish to visit and compare to the cost of the pass. I would recommend hitting 2-3 London Pass attractions per day to get your money’s worth.
These are the attractions it covered for us:
Tower of London
**Other attractions that we didn’t get to but planned on: St Cathedral, Churchill War Rooms, HMS Belfast
Brad and I thoroughly enjoyed our trip to London! If you have any questions specific to our trip that you didn’t get answered or just want to know, comment below or contact me! Would love to hear feedback on this post and if it was helpful planning your future trip.
Over the next week, be on the lookout for an update on our Ireland Vacation. Can’t wait to share all of the details and beautiful pictures Molly took while there.
Alyssa Thomas is a Wedding and Event Planner based in Pittsburgh, PA and serving clients in Pittsburgh, Columbus, and Worldwide Destinations. Her work spans from weddings and corporate events, to meetups and intimate gatherings. Contact her today for your consultation and stop by her instagram to see some beautiful events, design work, and a peek into her personal life + traveling adventures. @alyssathomasevents
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