I visited London, UK back in December to visit my boyfriend who’s currently studying overseas. It was my first time in the bustling city and I had such an amazing time taking in the sights (and eating delicious food!). The holidays are such a beautiful time to visit London – the streets are decked out with glittering lights and you can totally feel the festive spirit in the air.
This trip differed from other European vacations I’ve taken, since I actually knew someone who lives there. I spent less time hitting the tourist sights and more time exploring the city from a local’s perspective, which was a nice change.
That being said, you’ll probably find some of the typical London landmarks missing from this list – that’s because I didn’t have a chance to make my way to see them! Things that are still on my London bucket list (meaning I’ll definitely have to visit again) include: going for a stroll along the Thames, taking in views from the London Eye, and riding a double decker bus!
Here were some of my favourite parts from my trip in December and my recommendations for when you visit:
What to Do
Visit local markets
London is known for its awesome markets, lined with stalls featuring local vendors, authentic food and fresh flowers. I visited Columbia Road Flower Market which was packed with beautiful blooms, as well as Brick Lane Market, which offered cool vintage finds and tons of affordable and delicious food options nearby. Spitalfields Market was a short walk away, where my boyfriend picked up a new coat!
Explore Covent Garden
Covent Garden is full of places to shop, eat and to spend the day exploring. For the holidays, the indoor hall was decked out with a huge mistletoe installation which was so pretty to look at. I recommend stopping for tea and macarons at Ladurée – the balcony upstairs also gives a great view of the street performers down below!
Hit the shops!
There’s tons of amazing shopping in London, from the busy tourist areas to vintage stores and the independent vendors at the market. Spend a day on Oxford Street (the busiest shopping street in Europe!) and hit up all the major stores. I love & Other Stories for simple pieces and jewellery, and Primark for a bargain that can’t be beat!
Spend a day in Chelsea
This was one of my favourite days I spent in London. Maybe because I’m a diehard fan of Made in Chelsea (anybody else?), but also because it was such a pretty area to explore, without the overwhelming crowds found in the more touristy parts of the city. Harrods is nearby, and here you’ll find the pretty pastel houses that are oh-so-instagrammable!
What to Eat
Friends of Ours
Friends of Ours is a trendy little spot in Shoreditch serving delicious brunch items with a twist. We tried the Pork Belly Benedict (with candied & coffee cured pork belly!) as well as the Sweetcorn & Beetroot Fritters and they were both amazing.
A cool Mexican spot offering delicious tacos, tostadas, burritos and more, Wahaca is a fun place with cute decor to grab a quick bite. The prices are pretty affordable in comparison to the other restaurants in London, and you’ll definitely leave with a happy belly.
Peggy Porschen Cakes
This is a haven for anyone who loves anything cute, pretty and pink. Peggy Porschen Cakes serves up adorable cookies, cupcakes and desserts on pastel plates that’ll make you swoon. Snap a pic in front of their pastel pink doorway and spend an afternoon chatting over tea.
Visit Sketch for an unforgettable experience! This was one of our special occasion meals and it did not disappoint. Sketch is an uber stylish restaurant (a celebrity favourite) featuring four different dining rooms, each with their own theme. We ate in The Gallery – full of everything rose gold and blush velvet and absolutely stunning!
Other Things to Consider
- Watch. Your. Valuables. I got pick-pocketed while shopping on Oxford Street and lost my phone on my second day in London. Make sure your valuables are safely tucked away (an inside pocket of a jacket is ideal) or carry a purse that’s hard to get into.
- Find time amidst your food adventures to try some local specialties: fish & chips and a full English breakfast are a must!
- Pick up an Oyster Card (you can load it up with whatever amount you see fit) and take the London Underground to get around the city. The tube is easy to navigate and the quickest and most affordable way to travel. Walking is also a great option if you’re exploring Central London.