Sunday, September 13, 2015

Top 5 things to see and do on a weekend trip to London

We arrived in London on Saturday settling into our hotel just around 2 pm. With a departing flight from Heathrow on Tuesday, we only had a few short days to see as much as we could in a city with tons to do! Here is my top 5 things to see or do when you are in London for a weekend trip!

The London Eye

The views from any position on the London Eye are phenomenal but as you edge closer to the top they get more and more breathtaking! Each pod (there are 32) hold about 25 people. If you arent too keen on heights but want the experience, there is seating in the middle of the pod. With the entire thing being glass (except the floor), you can see any direction for miles. We had amazing weather while in London and the clarity we had was extraordinary.

Big Ben

Before seeing Big Ben & the Parliament Building in person, I never realized how humongous they were. Looking at Big Ben from across the River Thames, you see the beauty but not the grandness. Head across Westminster Bridge and cross the street to view from the rear side of Westminster Abbey. The gold sparkles in the sun, looking completely exquisite. Coming down Whitehall and seeing Big Ben for the for the first time is an experience I will never forget.

                                                                      Tower Bridge

This affordable tour gives you the luxury of spending as much or as little time as you want exploring the details. Take either the stairs or elevator up to an area with a 5 minute film explaining the history of the contest to design the bridge. Afterwards follow to the left to head to the glass floor viewing area. This area allows you to go to both sides of the bridge, with another short history film in between. The entire length of both sides has facts about how much the bridge cost to build, the types of marine life that live in the River Thames and compares other bridges around the world. After you finish the tower, head outside, follow the blue line and make your way to the engine rooms that lift the bridge up and down. Once you complete this part of the tour (optional) you can also head into the gift shop.

Buckingham Palace

By far the neatest tour I have ever taken, from the end of July to mid September you are able to tour the staterooms at HRH The Queens official residence. At the beginning of the tour you are given a headset with a handheld audio/ video guide. Each room or section has a corresponding number to the guide. In this tour you see some of the royal families massive art collection, the different areas that HRH meets Presidents & diplomats, where official state dinners are held. You also get an inside look into how the staff prepares for such large events from the invitations, the menu, as well as different outfits she has worn. The tour takes about an hour or so and ends in the gardens where you can get coffee, tea, ice cream, etc. The garden area and the walk along the exit path is absolutely gorgeous.

                                                           Westminster Abbey

IMO you can not come to London without experiencing all history housed inside Westminster Abbey. Like Buckingham Palace, you are given an audio set to take around at your own pace. Each are is numbered but some of this is a better harder to follow than the Buckingham Palace tour.  You could easily spend the entire day looking at the different leaders, both political and artistic, buried here. The coronations have taken place here since the 1500's as have many weddings, Prince William & Duchess Catherine, and funerals, such as Princess Diana's. There is absolutely no photography allowed inside the abbey which definitely keeps people moving. Some of the spaces are rather tight and some dark. Take your time on this tour, it is worth experiencing as much as you can.

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