Going to a new city can be quite daunting; new people, plenty of places to get lost and, in some cases, there are language barriers to contend with. If you live in the UK and want to visit the capital city, you may not have a language barrier but the fast-paced London life may be a little much for you to take in as well as the fact that London is a massive 1,572km². There is so much to see and do and making firm decisions on places to go and sights to see can be very stressful but don’t worry, this guide is here to help you make the most of your first trip to London.
If you are flying into London, then Heathrow airport is a great place to start your journey. With 5 terminals it is one of the busiest airports in the world and travels to over 180 destinations worldwide. Shopping around Heathrow Airport is wonderful with a range of high street and designer shops such as Ted Baker, WH Smith, Alexander McQueen and Hamley’s just to name a very small selection. There are an array of restaurants and bars to choose from, whether you want to dine or a snack, it caters for all. Heathrow airport has a whole host of hotels surrounding it, such as BEST WESTERN PLUS Park Grand London Heathrow, who not only allow you to stay for very reasonable prices, but also have large car parks to for you to leave your vehicle and explore the attractions near Heathrow Airport.
One of the very best attractions in the area is, of course, London. Packed full of shops, historical sights, bars, restaurants and art galleries, it is a fascinating place to explore. The Heathrow Express train is a quick and effective way to get into London; it arrives at 15 minutes intervals and takes a mere quarter of an hour to arrive in the city centre. There is also the option to travel by tube which takes under an hour and will take you across the Piccadilly line, a line that stops at Knightsbridge, Leicester Square and King’s Cross and St Pancras station. Alighting at Knightsbridge will take you to one of the most glorious department stores in the world – Harrods.
At a staggering one million square feet and holding over 330 departments, Harrods is the biggest department store in Europe. Opened in 1834, it has become synonymous with celebrities and wealth with iconic stars such as Laurence Olivier, Oscar Wilde, Charlie Chaplin, Vivien Leigh and many members of the Royal family amongst its best customers. It houses many of the most famous designers, such as Versace, Gucci, Dior, Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney and Dolce & Gabanna, as well as high street brands such as Miss Selfridge. A pet shop, a bank, a pharmacy, a tailor, a spa, salon and barber shop, a wine steward, a chocolatier and bathroom designer can all be found in Harrods and, with 5 floors of pure shopping heaven, make sure you take a map in your way in just to ensure that you don’t get lost!
Even though London is considered one of the most expensive cities in the world, it is possible to explore for a mere pittance. Walking in London is a great way to see the sights as well as finding little gems of your own that you wouldn’t be able to see on public transport. Hyde park and Kensington Gardens are free and are some of the most beautiful places to visit in the city with its memorial statues, exquisite gardens and the Serpentine. From there you can walk through St James’s Park to marvel at the splendour of Buckingham Palace and then make your way to South Kensington where you can visit the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum and the V&A Museum for absolutely free; this will fill an entire day of your trip.
If you don’t mind spending a bit of cash on your trip, then take a trip on the London Eye which will give you spectacular views of London. From there you can visit the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey which are of great historical significance. Westminster Abbey holds over 3,000 people including many influential people that helped shape Britain into what it is today such as Elizabeth I, Henry VII, Geoffrey Chaucer, Issac Newton and Charles Darwin and is an exciting and intriguing place to explore. Westminster Palace used to house the monarchy until it was decided that the government would be held there; take a tour with the expert guides to get a full history of these important buildings.
If shopping is more your thing then you have the world famous Oxford Street, Bond Street and Regent Street to choose from. Oxford Street is home to Selfridges, a legendary department store that is known all over the world. It is not only famous for its name and wares, it is renowned for its window displays which have been compared to works of art. Regent Street is where you will find Hamley’s, one of the best toy stores in the world and one that will instantly transport you back to your child hood. With 5 floors filled with lego, teddies, magic, barbies, cars, trains and so much more, you will lose hours of your day perusing and playing.
Once you have seen what London has to offer and its time to head back, nothing completes a trip more than visiting the cinema. If you are heading back to the airport, the cinema near Heathrow Airport is convenient and shows all of the new releases as well as selling all of the confectionary and popcorn you could ever want. Isn’t it time you visited London?