The Essential Tourist’s Guide to London
If you find London to be a bit overwhelming, don’t worry – you’re not alone! The best way to get to grips with London is to break it down into smaller areas and explore the city one section at a time.
Trafalgar Square (Charing Cross Station) is the beating heart of Central London. Standing here will put you within a 20-minute walk of most of the biggest London attractions.
A short stroll south of Nelson’s Column takes you to Westminster, where you can find Big Ben, visit Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament, and Buckingham Palace. London’s famous West End lies directly north of Trafalgar Square, along with shopping hotspots Covent Garden and Oxford Street, as well as the British Museum (Holborn Station).
For direct access to the Natural History, V&A, and Science Museums, take the tube to South Kensington Station. The luxury department store Harrods stands a few blocks east of the museums. You can also follow High Street Kensington north to reach Kensington Palace, Kensington Gardens, and adjoining Hyde Park. To visit colourful Notting Hill and its sprawling market, hop back on the Tube to Notting Hill Gate.
The City and East London
Exit St. Paul’s or Bank Station for St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Museum of London, Bank of England Museum, and original Twinings Tea shop. A short walk towards the Thames will take you to Tower Bridge and the Tower of London. Weekend visitors can take the tube to Liverpool Street for excellent shopping opportunities at Spitalfields Market and nearby Brick Lane Market.
Regent’s Park is the dominant feature of North London. If you’ve got kids then you’ll want to take them to London Zoo (Camden Town Station). Directly north of Regent’s Park is Primrose Hill, which rewards you with amazing panoramic views of London.
On the weekends the markets at Camden Town (Camden Town Station) come alive. This quirky spot has an alternative, yet friendly vibe with lots of independent shops, vendors, and delicious street food.
There are two major places of interest in SE London: Southwark and Greenwich. At Southwark (London Bridge Station) you’ll find foodie heaven in Borough Market (open Wed-Sat). Walk a few blocks west to visit Tate Modern, Shakespeare’s Globe, and the Golden Hinde. The HMS Belfast lies just to the east of Borough Market.
Instead of the Tube, take the speedy Thames Clipper to Greenwich. There’s plenty to see here, including the Cutty Sark, National Maritime Museum, Royal Observatory and Prime Meridian, and Greenwich Market.
You’ll find mainly leafy suburbs at this end of the city, but if you’ve got time it’s worth taking a ride to this side of the District Line. A visit to the All England Lawn and Tennis Club (Wimbledon Park Station), better known as Wimbledon, is a must for any tennis fan. If the weather’s nice, you can’t beat an afternoon at Kew Gardens (Kew Gardens Station).
About the author
Cheylene Thongkham is a freelance writer and American expat living in London. She has a passion for all things travel and has spent the past four years exploring Europe and Asia. When she's not travelling Cheylene makes the most out of her London home base, discovering new neighbourhoods and hidden gems throughout the city. She blogs about her life in London at Girl in London and her travels at Wanderbliss