When summertime rolls around, I always get eager for travel. Maybe it’s the beautiful weather or the photos shared by friends, but I’ve got a serious case of wanderlust. With so many countries to explore, the question becomes where to next? Italy (mmm gelato), Japan, Greece? I started my adventure wish-list recently (all three of these countries are on it of course), and it was a few pages long 🙂
My husband, Aaron, and I love to travel and explore new cities and countries. Last summer, we traversed the New England countryside hopping from one bed and breakfast to the next, but this year we wanted to go abroad. So, when we were deciding how to celebrate our anniversary and 30th birthdays, I consulted our list. The winner? London and Paris (how can I resist those French macarons?). Once the flights and hotels were booked, I immediately went into “planning mode.” Food, fun, and 100+ miles of walking—here we come!
London is a huge city and it’s easy to get overwhelmed with what to see and do. Through some Instagram research, I came across a few fantastic London blogs with fun tips and restaurant suggestions (take a peek below).
- Pretty Little London
- A Lady in London
- World of Wanderlust
- Eater-London Edition (food)
- The Infatuation London (food)
One of our favorite parts about traveling is walking EVERYWHERE. Living in San Diego it’s not easy to get around on foot, so we choose adventures granting us lots of opportunity to cruise around in comfy shoes.
We spent six days in London and had a ton of fun exploring the different areas and tourist attractions. London has so many iconic buildings, sights, and landmarks (new and old), so it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Below are some of the highlights from our trip to London Town. Happy exploring!
Afternoon Tea in London is a must, especially if you’ve never done it before. We enjoyed a leisurely chocolate tea at the Hyatt Churchill. Yes, you read that right—chocolate! Savory, sweet, even the tea was infused with cocoa nibs and I drank every last drop. The afternoon at the Churchill was a foodie splurge I will never forget.
Buckingham Palace is the London residence of the Royal family, and an absolute must. The architecture is beautiful, and the changing of the guard is a unique experience. We ran up just as the music started and caught a good view of the guards marching towards the palace. Although the changing of the guard takes place at 11:00 a.m. I recommend getting there much earlier to claim your spot for a good view.
Trafalgar Square is a large public area perfect for an afternoon rest break and people watching. The square is used for big public events, and is often the spot for public protests. We were “lucky” enough to catch a naked bike ride with thousands of people just as we were walking by.
Pretty Doors Tour of Notting Hill & Chelsea
Spend an afternoon roaming the streets of Notting Hill and Chelsea. The beautiful architecture and pretty doors made for some great photos. My husband and I had fun searching for the iconic “love door” and plan on framing one of our pictures as a memory from our trip.
I could spend hours at Harrod’s, the only department store I’ve ever been to that takes up an entire city block. With restaurants, souvenirs, luxury shopping, and a food hall with everything your heart desires, there’s really no reason to leave. We popped in for lunch one day, eating our meal outside on a bench (there is no inside seating).
We were so grateful the market reopened on our last day in London. It was by far the most amazing food market I have ever seen. We walked up to the smell of street food, spices, fresh cheeses, chocolate, fruits and veggies, cured meat, and more. I went from one stall to the next taste testing and asking questions about the food. If I was a Londoner I would come every week (if not everyday).
Other great spots to see in London (there are just so many!)
- The Tate Modern
- Tower Bridge
- The Tower of London: Wait in line to see the Crown Jewels! They are stunning.
- St. Paul’s Cathedral
- Hyde Park
- Kensington Palace
- St. James Park: Just a short walk from Buckingham Palace.
- The Houses of Parliament
- 10 Downing Street: The official residence of the Prime Minister.
- The Shard: Sadly I wasn’t dressed for the occasion after a day exploring the city on foot. All of restaurants in the Shard have a dress code, so come prepared.
- The British Museum
- The Globe Theatre: The showings were sold out when checked the ticket office. Call ahead to book a seat at this historic theatre.
Foodie Faves in London
We were super impressed with the delicious eats in the UK. Below are some of our favorite spots.
Borough Market: So good I needed to list it twice. The foodie paradise is the perfect stop for lunch. From paella to vegan burgers to fresh cheeses and pastries, deciding what to order is going to be the hardest decision you make all day. Hot tip: If you see a stand with macarons there, get one. We did and it was just as good as the best ones we had in Pairs.
The Palomar: I read about the intimidate 40-person space on a food blog, and made a reservation right away. We ordered a bunch of small plates to share. I highly recommend the Beetroot Carpaccio as a starter (pictured here) with burnt goat cheese, hazelnut brittle, and pomegranate molasses vinaigrette. We also polished off the Octo-hummous, Ironed Chicken Thighs, and Salmon Tabulenia.
Dishoom: So good, we went twice. When Aaron asked friends for food recommendations, he was told,”Dishoom, that’s all you need to know.” So, when we stumbled into Dishoom on our first day in London, we had to eat. The traditional Chicken Tikka was my favorite dish (pictured below). But we loved everything, and ate every bite. Tip: Come early or be prepared to wait—the queue was almost an hour long by 530pm on a weeknight.
Nopi: An outpost from Israeli-British chef Yotam Ottolenghi, we chose this spot for our Anniversary dinner. Known for his veggie dishes, we ordered a variety to share and loved every one. Can’t decide? Luckily all of the small plate options are on display at the restaurant.
26 Grains: The best porridge in town. Located in colorful Neal’s Yard, the order-at-the-counter spot has the most Instagrammable bowls I’ve ever seen, complete with fresh flowers. For a bit of savory and sweet we ordered the Banana Cacao (almond milk oats, cacao nibs, banana, date syrup) and Egg and Kale (savory oats, kale, egg, avocado, chives). The best breakfast we had all trip 🙂
With all of the walking I was ravenous in between meals. Ask my husband—hangry is a thing in our house 🙂 Lucky for me there were hundreds of Pret A Manger locations in the city. It was the perfect pit stop for an afternoon snack.
After an action-packed trip to London, we were ready for part II of our European adventure. Head to the blog to read Part II of our trip in Paris!