It has become an annual tradition of mine to get away from the norm over the Christmas and New Year holidays. Last year, I traveled to Prague, London, and Ireland over the span of two weeks.
This year, I decided to travel back to London for a couple of reasons: One, The trip last year ended up being a college reunion. Literally, we partied, drank, relaxed, and only ended up going to a museum over 4 days of being in London. Two, I can't scratch off a place on my list unless I've fully emerged myself in everything the city has to offer. So, I made it my goal to do over London. The right way.
Getting To and From Gatwick Airport
I flew from Atlanta to Orlando to Gatwick Airport in London. That airport is nearly 40 miles from the city center. There are a few ways you can get to the city and vice versa. The more pricey options are by black cab and Uber, which is about an hour and 40 minute drive. I took the Gatwick Express train to London Victoria Station for £30 and that took 30 minutes. A cheaper option is by charter transportation, where you could get a ride for as low as £4 and would take the same time as catching a cab or an Uber.
I ended up taking the charter option going back to Gatwick. I booked with Easy Bus. But just beware of the bus times you book. Give yourself ample time, way before your flight check-in time because the drive is long and also the time that I booked was canceled on the spot, but thankfully the wait was only 30 minutes for the next departure.
Getting Around London
London is quite spaced out with different zones and like most cities, you can't always walk everywhere. To get around you have the black cabs, Uber, bikes you can rent and public transportation. Public transportation is always my go to when I'm away.
The public transportation uses contactless forms of payment or you can use the ticket machine. Buses do not accept cash at all. I would highly recommend obtaining an Oyster card, especially if you'll be staying for at least a couple of days. With the Oyster card, you can add money to it as you go. There's also daily/weekly caps and also can get a 7 day travel card, which I did and was able to ride unlimited for around £40. The price is based on the zones you need or will be traveling to and from. These can be used on the bus, tube, tram, DLR, London Overground, TFL Rail and National Rail Services in London.
Places to Visit / Things to Do
Bridge tours are offered but you can always walk across the bridge or walk along the water by the bridge where there‘s shop, restaurants and Cafes.
𝐋𝐨𝐧𝐝𝐨𝐧 𝐄𝐲𝐞 Take a ride on the huge wheel and experience amazing views of the city. Across the river is a better photo opportunity with the London Eye.
𝐁𝐢𝐠 𝐁𝐞𝐧 The houses of Parliament is not too far of a walk from the London Eye.
𝐏𝐚𝐥𝐚𝐜𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐖𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐦𝐢𝐧𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐫
Beautiful architecture and right next to the Victoria Tower Gardens.
This is definitely a must see when you visit London. I mean who doesn’t want a chance to see royalty. And I would also recommend attending the changing of the guards. It was definitely a sight to witness. At first I didn’t know what was going on and why there was such a huge crowd surrounding the palace and then it made sense. Check ahead for dates and times here.
𝐂𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐚𝐓𝐨𝐰𝐧 I feel as though every major city has a ChinaTown. Enjoy great food, gambling, and shopping here.
This market is filled with fresh food and ingredients, food trucks, mulled wine, and for the rom-com/chick flick lovers: the apartment where Bridget Jones lived during the movies is located right there.
Here you will surrounded by greenery. This is a huge park filled with ponds, statues, and the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain. It also runs into Hyde Park.
𝐓𝐚𝐭𝐞 𝐌𝐨𝐝𝐞𝐫𝐧 𝐌𝐮𝐬𝐞𝐮𝐦
One of the many museums London has to offer with so many floors. Most of the exhibits here are always free and open to the public. It also has an outside balcony on one of the top floors that offers a view of the city.
𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐑𝐨𝐲𝐚𝐥 𝐀𝐜𝐚𝐝𝐞𝐦𝐲 𝐨𝐟 𝐀𝐫𝐭
This museum was full of statues, but the exhibits will not be free. I received complimentary tickets for the exhibits. I had the pleasure of viewing the work of Lucian Freud.
For all the hipsters out there, this is your heaven! Streets filled with graffiti covered walls, bars, and soooo many consignmen/thrift stores (even underground secretive ones).
𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐂𝐡𝐮𝐫𝐜𝐡𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐀𝐫𝐦𝐬 𝐏𝐮𝐛 Enjoy a pint, some food, or just admire this pub’s outdoor decor in all seasons.
𝐏𝐢𝐜𝐜𝐚𝐝𝐢𝐥𝐥𝐲 𝐂𝐢𝐫𝐜𝐮𝐬 I‘ve ended up here a few times and it’s such a busy and lit up area. It definitely gives off a Times Square vibe with broadway shows, shopping, and food.
Or just walking around the city and exploring is always a great idea. The only thing that I didn’t like about winter in London is that the sun sets at 3pm, so the days seemed shorter.