After my family adventures in Croatia I jumped up to London where I spent 3 days with our awesome family friends H & A. They were both fantastic hosts and did a wonderful job making me feel at home. This was my first time in London and although I’m not the biggest fan of “touristy” activities and I was financially limited, I knew I had to see the big London sights. Thankfully H came to the rescue and helped me plot a tourist day in London that I broke tourist like myself was able to do. The plan: hit as many of the big tourist spots as possible while spending the least amount of money as possible. (*Note: this day includes a LOT of walking)
Starting point: Kings Cross.
Kings cross is the center of public transportation in London and is a must see. Architecture is stunning and of course it is the home of platform 9 3/4.
From Kings cross head to Leicester Square.
45 mins by foot
15 mins by underground
If you were to choose to walk this bit it would by far be the biggest section of walking on the route. It is 2.2 miles and takes about 45 minutes. I love walking around new cities, I feel it gives me the best feel of the city pulse, but I decided to pace myself. I knew this tour was going to be a lot of walking, and so instead, I choose to take the underground.
Upon arriving I grabbed an overpriced, mediocre meal more for the experience than anything and then walked around Leicester Square and London’s Chinatown.
National Gallery/ Trafalgar Square
2 mins by foot
On my way to Buckingham palace I stopped by the National Gallery and took a quick look around. Admission is free and the museum offered a look into the past and a break from the heat all at the same time. The National Gallery also boarders Trafalgar square, and I enjoyed watching the students climb the statues while making my way to Pall Mall.
17 minute walk
I really enjoyed the walk along Pall Mall leading up to Buckingham Place. Accidentally, I also got to see the changing of the guard that happens at 11 every day. There were a lot of people in the area so I didn’t end up spending much time looking around Buckingham Palace it’s self. For me, it ended up as more of a “oh hey that’s pretty” and then move on type of situation.
Horse Guards Parade
18 minute walk
From Buckingham Palace I walked along the other side of the park, crossed the street, and went into the Horse Guards Parade. Again the architecture was beautiful, but there were quite I few people and I didn’t linger long.
The walk from the Horse Guards Parade to the Oxo towers is really the main point here. Oxo towers are nice, but the walk along the Thames is even better. You get to walk past Big Ben and the London Eye, and see a sample of the wonderfully diverse people of London. There’s also something to be said about walking down the river that is mentioned throughout many parts of history.
8 mins by foot
Before going to London I reached out to people who had lived or visited London before looking for suggestions and advice. Every single person I talked to told me the Tate Modern was a must see and it did not disappoint. I could have spent all day in the Tate Modern. There were photographs, paintings, sculptures, and many, many stories. If you have an extended stay in London I would suggest removing the Tate Modern and Borough Market from this day and give them a day of their own.
Saint Paul’s Cathedral
14 mins by foot
Walk across the Millennium Bridge upon exploring the Tate Modern to then visit St. Paul’s Cathedral. I have to be honest with you, although this was on the map I didn’t actually make it here. I ended up thinking I was going to Borough Market after Oxo towers. This meant that by the time I realized my error I would have had to retrace my steps by a good 30 minutes and I wasn’t feeling up for it at the time.
17 mins by foot
Again, I didn’t have a chance to visit London’s highest public garden, but I’ve heard great things about it and wish I would have made it here.
Borough Market/ Shard
I loved Borough Market. Borough Market is full of color, people, and culture. Just like the Tate modern, I could have spent an entire day here. There were so many cool stalls and wonderful looking food. Borough Market is located right next to the Shard and takes a quick walk to take a look at this iconic building.
That’s it then! In all, without breaks, this walking tour is 7.5 miles and 2.6 hours if you walk from Kings Cross to Leicester Square, and 1.9 hours if you take the underground. I hope your enjoyed this weeks post and as always please let me know if you have any questions, comments, or concerns. Next week, I plan on writing on how to do London like a local.
Here is the Google Maps I made for this walking Tour: