WHAT TO DO //
Wear your walking shoes — London is best seen by foot! Depending on how long you’ll be in the city, purchasing an Oyster pass for the Tube will get you just about anywhere when your feet fail you. You can buy a single day pass or a multi day pass at most stations. Download the Tube Map app for easy navigation. Google maps is pretty reliable too. But plan your trips before you head underground to avoid loss of service in the stations.
HYDE PARK: Walk the whole thing, find a spot on the lawn, enjoy a picnic, and DEFINITELY FIND THE PARAKEETS! Be sure to visit Kensington Gardens as well.
COLUMBIA ROAD FLOWER MARKET: Don’t miss this incredible Sunday market! It’s a remarkable experience. After you walk through, pop into the the great shops along the outside. You’ll undoubtedly find some treasures.
CHANGING OF THE GUARD @ BUCKINGHAM PALACE: If you want to find everyone that’s visiting London on a particular day, come here during the changing of the guard. It’s worth the crowds to witness, but bring your patient pants! Come extra early for a good view through the fence. It begins at 10:45 AM and lasts about 45 minutes.
CHURCHILL WAR ROOMS: This should be near the top of your list. Such a tremendous piece of history, literally frozen in time. You’ll experience the bunker utilized by Winston Churchill during WWII and get an eerily realistic glimpse into this incredible piece of history. Grab tickets online ahead of time to save a few pounds and get a spot in the priority queue. Give yourself a couple hours inside.
NATIONAL GALLERY: If the weather is nice, it’s hard to dedicate too much time to indoor activities. We were incredibly lucky weather-wise, so we spent little time indoors. A trip with less desirable weather would have been filled with more indoor stops, but, thanks to the sun, we opted out of many museums this trip. We did hit the National Gallery (free with recommended donation). A beautiful collection of 13th – 19th century art.
TOWER OF LONDON: Pre-purchase tickets ahead of time and go to the “Group Ticketing” to collect. Go early to see the Crown Jewels then tour the remainder of the grounds. Great views of the Tower Bridge and the Thames River.
WESTMINSTER ABBEY: We didn’t go inside due to crowds, but worth walking the perimeter and taking in the beauty of the gothic architecture.
ST JAMES’S PARK: Swans, pelicans, and great views of the London Eye. You’ll stroll through this park if you visit Buckingham, Churchill War Rooms, and the like.
SPITAFIELDS MARKET: Make Sundays your market day. This fun outdoor market is home to many locally made goods. Jewelry, clothing, bags, art; you name it, you can find it here. There are a lot of great food options as well, so go ahead and come hungry.
MAYFAIR/MARYLEBONE: A chic, affluent area of London that’s great for shopping. Amongst some high end shops, you’ll find a collection of independent boutiques.
NOTTING HILL: Great home-stalking area! Wander the streets and enjoy the dreaminess of these remarkable homes. Many great shops and restaurants near Westbourne Grove.
SHOREDITCH: A trendy, hipster-esque area of East London with great shopping and art.
WINDSOR CASTLE: If you’re flying out of LHR, this is a quick Uber ride away. Regardless, it would be worth the effort to get out here. If the flag is flying, the Queen is there! You’ll need to buy a ticket to wander the grounds but we found it to be a wonderful tour. Don’t forget to grab a cone of ice cream made from Royal cows! After you visit the castle, stroll through the town of Windsor and cross the river to Eton. Charming little streets await you. Before leaving the area, definitely get dinner at Sebastian’s for mouth-watering pasta. Maybe some of the best we’ve ever had! The adorable waiters make the meal even more memorable.
WHERE TO EAT //
DISHOOM: My biggest regret on this trip was that we didn’t try this earlier. There are a few of them to visit. The food was dream-about-you-later good. Don’t wait! You’ll want it more than once! We tried a few vegetarian dishes and ALL the naan. Each bite was phenomenal.
GRANGER & CO: Great food all around. The perfect eclectic dinner following a day of endless trekking. Brunch is supposed to be phenomenal also! A couple of locations to choose from. (Notting Hill)
TAQUERIA: Street food style taqueria with a fun vibe. The jalapeño tacos were phenomenal. (Notting Hill)
NORDIC BAKERY: Grab a delicious carb for your wandering (Marylebone)
CRUMB + DOILIE: Get the rice crispy treat that’s got chocolate cake on top of it. And the pistachio blondie. Thank me later.
VIOLET BAKERY: This is a jaunt. We walked from Shoreditch just for kicks. Aside from a few cute streets, the tube might have been a better choice. The treats were delicious, though. Try the cake if they have any! This bakery made the Royal Wedding cake for Harry and Meghan — it’s easy to see why! (Hackney)
DAYLESFORD: A small handful of these scattered about. Great organic food from a beautiful farm in the Cotswolds. They have market offerings as well as prepared foods and sit down service, so a perfect stop to eat and stock your fridge.
SELFRIDGES FOOD HALL: Not so much a restaurant, but a fun place to taste a variety of offerings. We also picked up some nibbles for the road. Lots of treats to choose from in a casual, food hall setting.
SEBASTIAN’S (Windsor): Pasta so good it’ll make you cry.
WHERE TO SHOP //
The shopping in London is pretty fantastic — and that’s coming from someone who often tires quickly of shopping of any sort. While you’ll find the usual suspects, you’ll also find an abundance of independent boutiques and smaller artsy shops.
SELFRIDGES: An enormous, high end department store with a great food hall. Wander it all for fashion inspiration.
LIBERTY: More like an art installation than a department store. I could barely afford to look at the stuff in this store, but damn was it beautiful!
CONRAN SHOP: One of my favorite shop finds this trip. A well-curated collection of unique finds and a super cool plant shop.
TOAST: clothing boutique.
GOODHOOD: Trendy Danish shop with home goods in the lower level and clothes at top.
PRESENT: Men’s shop with some unique finds.
WHISTLES: Many of these throughout London. Great style.
SPITAFIELDS MARKET: Local finds throughout the Sunday market.
ALLY CAPELLINO: Remarkable handmade leather goods.
BIMBA Y LOLA: Not local to London, but great finds.
DAUNT: Adorable bookstore.
LABOUR + WAIT: Very much a taste of the PNW. If Portland were a store…
The bustle of London is wildly pleasant. Coupled with the architectural beauty of the city itself, the humans that populate it assume a vibrancy that home lacks.