Whether you are hoping to catch a glimpse of the royal family or just wishing to visit an ultra-hip European city, ever-popular London offers something for everyone. From an eye in the sky to world-class art, palaces to parks, here are 10 essential London experiences.
Everyone knows the Brits love tea, and having an afternoon cup with a platter of sweets, scones and bite-sized sandwiches at the Orangery at Kensington Palace is the ultimate royal experience. The restaurant, with sweeping views of Kensington Palace, does afternoon high tea from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. daily.
Before or after tea, play royal for a few hours and take a tour of Kensington Palace itself. Princess Diana’s former home recently underwent an $18-million renovation and is filled with all sorts of royal artifacts including a permanent exhibit dedicated to Queen Victoria’s life.
Harrods, London’s most famous and poshest department store, is also home to a beyond-swanky food hall. Here you can pick up all the picnic essentials from the massive deli counters, or dine in. Options include a Veuve Clicquot champagne bar, a steakhouse where you choose your cut from the butcher’s counter and a branch of the famed Parisian bakery, Ladurée, loved for its macaroons.
In summertime when the sun peeps through the famous London fog, the city’s residents flock to Hyde Park with overflowing picnic baskets. You can grab yours from Harrods. The park is home to Serpentine Lake where you can take boat ride.
I love the Tate Modern museum, one of my favorite in the world for its unique presentation of modern art. The permanent collection here houses some 60,000 pieces collected from 1900 onward and includes works by Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock and Henri Matisse. Best of all, admission is free. When you’re done with the art head upstairs to the café – it has fantastic views over the Thames.
Another free London attraction that shouldn’t be missed, the British Museum has more than 7 million historic artifacts on display including the Rosetta Stone.
Book tickets in advance to ride the London Eye, is a giant Ferris wheel on the Thames River’s South Bank. The 30-minute “flight” is worth the price, offering breathtaking views across the city.
I love shopping on Oxford Street, one of London’s busiest, where you’ll find both popular British chain stores and independent boutiques. Wander down the side streets off Oxford, such as Carnaby Street, to find the best of these.
London is famous for its theater scene and the West End is the city’s version of New York’s Broadway. Make sure to catch a show while you’re in town.
Watching the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace is about as essentially London as it gets. The time-honored British tradition takes place most days at 11:30 a.m. For more information you can visit the official website .