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London Bucket List: 10 Places to Visit & Mistakes to Avoid

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London bucket list alert! If you are visiting London today and planning to spend 3 days or more in the city, there are a few unique things you should not miss. Whether you have a big budget, you’re just looking for free activities or somewhere in between, there are plenty of things to do in London.

1. Visit Big Ben

Big Ben is a must-visit landmark in London. Its iconic architecture is a symbol of the city’s history. The chimes of the clock are a unique experience. We caught the tail end of the bells going off. It happens every hour along with quarter bells in between. It’s a must-do for a memorable London trip.

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2. See Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey is located across from Big Ben. It’s a famous historical place in London with beautiful Gothic architecture. Many royal events, like weddings and coronations, have taken place there. Plus, it’s a great spot to take pictures. Plus, it’s near the Houses of Parliament and the River Thames.

3. Check out the Houses of Parliment

The Houses of Parliament in London are where the UK government meets. The iconic Big Ben clock tower is part of this landmark. It is located close by the River Thames and is a popular tourist attraction.

4. Stop by Buckingham Palace and The Changing of The Guard

Buckingham Palace, the London residence of the Queen, is an iconic symbol of the British monarchy and a must-see sight for any visitor to London. The grandeur and history of the palace itself are impressive, but the changing of the guard ceremony is a unique spectacle that truly sets it apart.

5. Explore Tower Bridge in London

Tower Bridge in London is an iconic symbol of the city. It was built during Victorian times and offers stunning views of London from its walkways. You can also learn about its history and construction at the exhibition.

Related: Things to do in London for First-time Visitors

6. See a show in the West End

The West End in London is special for its unique blend of history, culture, and entertainment. It’s home to some of the world’s most famous theatres, offering a variety of plays and musicals. Watching a show in a West End theater lets you experience one of the oldest drama traditions. This was Shakespeare’s stomping grounds for crying out loud!

7. Visit an observation deck

London’s observation decks like The View from The Shard, Sky Garden, and The Garden at 120 offer stunning views. While The View from The Shard requires a reservation, The Garden at 120 is a great option if you prefer not to make one.

8. Try restaurants serving cuisine from England (or UK in general)

While you can find some of these dishes in other parts of the UK, it’s worth trying a traditional English breakfast, Sunday Roast with Yorkshire Pudding, fish and chips, bangers and mash, and Afternoon tea. Spoiler alert! As the name suggestions, you can only have Sunday roast on Sunday.

9. Head to a market

London’s markets offer diverse experiences. Borough Market is known for its diverse food stalls, while Camden Market offers a mix of fashion, art, and food. For vintage finds and unique crafts, head to Portobello Road Market in Notting Hill. I bought a needed scarf at Apple Market in April and then stopped by Borough Market for fish and chips.

10. Ride on a red double decker bus

Riding on a red double-decker bus in London is a quintessential experience, providing a unique vantage point to see the city’s sights. These epic buses offer a great way to see the city’s sights while enjoying a unique vantage point from the top deck.

Mistakes to Avoid

  • Don’t try to take photos inside of Westminster Abbey. While it is a stunning building with stain glass windows, keep in mind that photography is not allowed inside to ensure a peaceful experience for all visitors. Think about taking pictures outside.
  • Schedule time for must-see spots. I believe walking over Tower Bridge is a must for anyone interested in architecture, history, or if you’re simply looking for a unique perspective on London. I made the mistake of not making my way over there. Sniff.
  • It would be a mistake to eat in Picadilly Circus. Walking through is fine, but eating there means finding expensive food chains and things that are not unique to London. Also, it looks a little like New York’s Times Square.
  • Forgetting to book restaurant reservations. It’s a mistake to not call or schedule a reservation online to popular restaurants that book up quickly.
  • Avoid credit cards fees. If this is an international visit for you, check to see if there are any transaction fees for credit card usage. I got hit with a 3% fee on one of mine. Luckily, I didn’t use it too much and I got the same amount of rewards back so it evened out.
  • Don’t use the wrong credit card. Though a street vendor might prefer cash, London is pretty much a cashless society. If you use your credit card for the Tube, you will have to use the same credit card getting on and off. It’s how they track how long you’ve been on. You can get overcharged if you switch cards.
  • Don’t forget to use one credit card per adult. Your credit card is acting as a ticket to track one person. Kids would need a separate Oyster card.

Conclusion

Attention London visitors! If you’re spending 3 days or more in the city, don’t miss these unique activities, whether you’re on a big budget or looking for free things to do.