There are certain images that come to mind when you think of London… red telephone booths, the double-decker busses… and certainly some of these key landmarks that have been iconic for London.
I typically try to “live local” when I’m in a new area – but when it’s your first time in a new city, some days you’ve got to indulge in the touristy bits. Nothing says “welcome to London” like being right in front of some of these highlights:
Transportation around London
You can always opt for cabs and Ubers, but the public transportation system of London (busses and the Underground/the Tube) is one of the most well-connected and efficient ways to get around for a fraction of the price. Use your Google Maps to plan your public transit routes and use the CityMaps2Go app to help you when walking around.
Starting station for today’s journey: Tower Hill through the District and Circle lines.
Tower of London and Tower Bridge
Often mistaken for the “London Bridge” (popularized by the children’s song), this bridge is undoubtedly a key postcard photo that gets sent with a “Wish You Were Here” sentiment. Tower Bridge also has an exhibition that you can access to tour the “behind the scenes” and engine rooms. The bridge is a working bridge and lifts to allow access to the Pools of London for different boats and vessels. The Tower of London is the medieval stone tower at the base of the Tower Bridge. It protects the Crown Jewels, was once a prison, and acted as a fortress for the beginnings of London. Come here for tours (including some spooky ones)!
TIP: Come early. Avoid the crowds. Your camera (and friend taking photos) will be glad you did.
My mom and I got to Tower Bridge at 8:00am. That was the time we left our underground station and walked over. This was also the key moment that we realized we were really in London!
Cross the Tower Bridge to the area directly across, on the south side of the River Thames. Here you can visit the pebbled streets of the SHAD and see the mix of industry with residential, or you can also explore the More London development, sometimes called London Bridge City. Here, you’ll find the gigantic, towering Shard Tower, from where you can access breathtaking 360° views of London from their observation deck.
You’ll also see their beautiful, modern City Hall, and the sunken amphitheater called The Scoop. Here, they have live performances held outdoors – especially during the summer! The skyscrapers (both business and residential) made for a striking contrast to the stone tower on the other side of the Thames.
A highlight of this morning visit while exploring the More London area was finding those iconic red telephone booths during a chance stop in at Hay’s Galleria. The beauty was that we were there during a weekday -not a lot of people around! Made for a pleasant photography experience. 🙂
We did all of this on foot, by the way. Shoutout to my mom who suffers from plantar fasciitis and vertigo. Traveling is a passion of hers, but walking around and taking public transportation are challenging! We certainly took a lot of breaks so my mom could put her feet up. She also encouraged me to take lots of photos (so she could get some rest). Usually, she knows she can stay in one spot and leave me to my own explorations for about 20-30 minutes before I come back and check up on her.
But nonetheless, we kept on going. All of this, walked on foot, on a random London weekday morning.
Borough Market Hall
I explored the London Bridge area which led me immediately to Borough Market Hall. This beautiful market was a pleasant surprise that we came upon. Although very crowded on the way home, we were fortunate to be there early in the morning where the shops were just setting up, before the lunch rush. Each market stall had their own unique food product and global influences. It was a visual and aromatic experience!
History and literary buffs can make a stop at the infamous Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. Do note that this is a replica of the original theatre, but you can tour it. On your way to the theatre, catch the larger than life mural of Shakespeare before the tunnels. Go ahead and grab some fish and chips and other pub fare at The Anchor, a classic English pub.
Unfortunately, we didn’t have a ton of time to explore London. I considered this my “sample platter” preview of a future trip to London. 😉 Hang tight as I get a few more updates up on here about my visits to the Westminster Abbey area, as well as the West End and Notting Hill!
On a future trip, where are some local spots that you’d recommend I explore in London? Get in touch with me and let me know!