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The Girl's Guide to London

by Aliya Bora
1 month ago

I love London! This city has a lot to offer in terms of culture, food, nightlife, shopping and more. It’s also a great home base for doing day trips to parts of the English countryside if your travel schedule allows. You would really need multiple trips here to see and do all London has to offer, but I have shared my list of favorite things I’ve found so far below.

I’ve also found Candace Abroad to be a great resource. She’s an expat living in London, and she mentions a lot of wonderful hidden city gems in her blog. Click here to watch my youtube video: London, Bath & Stonehenge: Exploring the U.K.

ACTIVITIES

Handsome Hats Airbnb Experience

Photo by Aliya Bora

Before heading to London, I looked on Airbnb to see if there were any unique experiences I could find. This one caught my eye – it’s called Create a Custom Fascinator Hat over High Tea.

Like the name says, it’s a fun activity where you can create a fancy fascinator hat while sipping some delish tea and snacks.

Note: You should know how to sew before booking this experience as you’ll be sewing all items onto your hat. I loved this experience, it was well worth the investment, and I love my fascinator!

London Street Art

Photo by Aliya Bora

I loved walking through the different neighborhoods in the city and taking in the beautiful murals and street art. If you venture out to East London, you can find some amazing street art in Shoreditch and Hackney, as well as scattered throughout the city. If this is your thing, I found this blog to be a good resource.

One of my favorite pieces of street art was the Shakespeare mural located near 227 Clink Street near Borough Market.

I also stumbled upon this really neat musical sidewalk light installation in front of Mug House in the Montague Close tunnel. There are a bunch of blinking lights that synchronize to the tune of “London Bridge is Falling Down” that play as you walk by. I couldn’t find any blogs or places online that mention it, so this is a little gem discovered by me. Check out the video above to see them.

Night Photography

Photo by Aliya Bora

London is absolutely beautiful at night! If you get a chance, walk around the city and take in the different lights installations.

Some of my favorite night spots are Piccadilly Circus, Carnaby Street (near the sign), and the areas near the Knightsbridge metro station.

TOURIST LANDMARKS

Piccadilly Circus

Photo by Aliya Bora

As I mentioned above, Piccadilly Circus is a great spot to photograph at night. It’s like the Times Square of London, with lots of street performers, entertainment, and theaters nearby.

It’s also nearby a Whole Foods, so if you’re traveling with food allergies like me, you’ll likely be able to find better options for meals and snacks. Most of the brands here are UK brands, but I was able to find the substitutes for things I needed (almond milk, etc.).

Tower Bridge

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Tower Bridge

Typical price per person

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Getting Outdoors Historic Neighborhood

This iconic landmark on the Thames river is worth a stop on your trip. It’s fairly close to other tourist attractions like the Tate Modern museum and the Tower of London, so you can stop by on your way. 

The closer you get to the bridge the harder it is to get all of it in your photo – so I’d recommend starting from further back near London Bridge and working your way towards Tower Bridge.

There is a beautiful walkway alongside the Thames River, and it’s nice to just walk along and enjoy this part of the city.

Carnaby Street

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Carnaby Street

Typical price per person

$0-25
$$$$
Central Location Local Favorite

This vibrant, pedestrian-only shopping area in the Soho section of London is just a 5-minute walk from Oxford Circus and the Piccadilly Circus tube stations. Whether you choose to go at night or in the daytime, it's a great experience.

The 14 streets of Carnaby Street host everything from signature British brands, boutiques, and global chain stores to over 60 independent cafes, restaurants, and pubs with cuisine from all over the world.

There are also lots of artists and street performers here, bringing a playful vibe to the area. 

Neal's Yard

This colorful corner of London is a haven for organic and sustainable shops, hidden in Covent Garden.

Hues of Delahaye has a great write-up on the history of the area and how it was transformed into a holistic village community.

Stop by Neal’s Yard Remedies for natural skincare, try the cheese at Neal’s Yard Dairy, or grab a bite from one of the clean food restaurants in the courtyard like 26 Grains.

Red Phone Booths

Photo by Aliya Bora

London is known for its signature red phone booths, but since everyone uses cell phones now they don’t get much use.

We were actually warned by locals not to go in the phone booths, because people pee in them, so they smell strongly of pee. (I’m looking out for you in this girl’s guide to London, kay?!).

Day Trip to Stonehenge

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Day Trip to Stonehenge

Typical price per person

$0-25
$$$$
Learn Something New Day Trip

I did a lot of research, and this tour was the best for seeing Stonehenge because it offers a private inner circle tour of Stonehenge after it closes to the general public (meaning you get to hop the rails and walk amongst the stones).

You can choose a sunset or sunrise tour (I opted for sunset), which is prime golden hour for taking photos.

This tour also includes stops in the English village of Lacock and a visit to the town of Bath where we got to tour the Romans Baths. 

FOOD

Good Life Eatery

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The Good Life Eatery

Typical price per person

$25-50
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Breakfast Local Favorite

Traveling with food allergies can make it very stressful and difficult to find places that have food options I can consume, and most hotel menus have little if anything I can.

I was lucky to find this cafe chain, Good Life Eatery, which has 4 locations in London. Good Life Eatery has a healthy, sustainable menu that gluten, dairy-free, and vegan folks can enjoy.

They have a line of cold-pressed juices, smoothies, bowls, salads, and snacks to cater to healthy eaters. I’m partial to their gluten-free avocado toast.

I stayed in Knightsbridge during my trip, so it was an easy walk to one of their many locations in Notting Hill, St. John’s Wood, Chelsea & Marylebone.

Sketch London

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sketch London

Typical price per person

$50-100
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Special Occasion Craft Cocktails

The trendy spot is actually four separate restaurants in one, each with its own design and ambiance. It’s a favorite on my guide to London!

There is a tea room called the Gallery where you can reserve high tea from 11:30 – 4:30 PM, the Lecture Room & Library where you can have a Michelin Star meal, the Parlour, which is a patisserie by day and a bar by night, and the Glade, which is more like a cocktail and appetizer lounge in the evening. If you are just looking for a cocktail, check out the East Bar.

It’s best to book in advance as the reservations fill up fast. When we came, the Gallery was full, but they were able to seat us as walk-ins in the Glade and we enjoyed some drinks & appetizers there. It’s decorated like an enchanted forest, and I enjoyed the ambiance and food. 

Borough Market

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Borough Market

Typical price per person

$0-25
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Lunch Grab & Go

Borough Market is London’s oldest food market (dating back to 1276!) with many options to satisfy your food cravings. 

London has a great international food scene, and you can sample dishes from all over the world at Borough Market – from chorizo rolls, cheese toasties, and moong daal dosas (India!), to Ethiopian beef stew and more.

Originally posted on Aliya's blog!

Happy Traveling!

Aliya Bora

I'm a California based creative content producer + designer with 10 years of journalism experience under my belt. I love traveling the world to get inspiration for my designs & creative work. Some of my favorite things to look for when I travel are good chocolate, fancy tea, and unique independent shops (book shops, crystal shops, etc.) I love supporting local artists & craftsmen + discovering unique finds around the world. I’m also a former resident of New York City, Austin, TX and currently reside San Diego.

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