London travel guide for first timers

by Rasi

My latest travels were to the part of the world that I have never even been close to. London has that old charm beauty and it straight-up gives me the feeling of living those nursery rhymes that I loved during childhood. This trip was super impromptu with my girlfriends (because of fashion weeks in London and Paris); so there was hardly any planning involved. What did pay-off though, was basic planning and research as discussed before in my blog posts here and here. And I hope this serves as a good London travel-guide for first timers.

Girl wearing nude dress and black lace-up boots standing on streets of London for London fashion Week 2019

This was next to the London Opera House for one of the London Fashion Week shows. I barely had energy after over 24 hours of travel but the show and the vibe bounced me right back up!

Packing:

September is a great month to visit London. This is when Autumn begins.  We are aware that London tends to get alot of rain but I was quite lucky not to get it while i was there. It is a good idea to keep a lightweight plastic poncho on you for the unexpected weather drama (small umbrellas are useless because if it gets windy, they turn upside down fast!).

Travel blogger wearing gray skirt with red Versace top standing on streets of London

These structures are pretty much the signature styles of buildings all over London. The pretty windows and the fence just add that perfect touch.

Depending on your tolerance for cold, light layers and full-length pants are a good idea. I found the weather to be perfectly balanced for spring and summer clothing. Exploring the city includes a lot of walking and public transport so definitely pack flats and sneakers as always.

Girl wearing long pleated skirt and black see through top coming up from a subway station in London

This is the central part of London close to the famous Oxford Street. Just the most buzzing and gorgeous. And the Subway stations are weirdly crowded and fun at the same time..

I carried light jackets to layer up, just in case. You know how people think it makes no sense to wear short skirt with long boots (i mean apart from the fashion aspect)? Well, somehow it makes for a perfect outfit in London’s weather!

Girl travel blogger and fashion blogger wearing black slip dress standing on Tower Bridge in London

This is the Iconic Tower bridge with the pretty blue and there is just something about bridges that absolutely mesmerises me every time..
And just in line with what I was saying above, a jumper with a short dress made tohhhtal sense in London weather!

Accomodation:

Booking.com and Airbnb are great options. I would recommend staying in the centre close to the Oxford street or Covent Garden, mainly Zone 1,  because that saves heaps of time and money in your commute to the star attractions. First timers would obviously want to tick off all the famous attractions that are mostly found in Zone 1 and 2. This site here explains how London is divided into Zones.

Girl travel blogger and fashion blogger wearing mustard yellow blazer standing on Westminster Bridge in London

This is the Westminster Bridge and it is just super cute to walk by purely because you can see the London Eye from here and it has these beautiful Victorian Lamp Posts throughout! Clearly I was more interested in the lamp posts than the poor London Eye behind me!

Internet:

Make sure to get a phone plan that provides you unlimited mobile data. I got the one from 3 mobile for £45 and it even gave me free roaming with about 15 GB data for Europe! It was more than enough for my further trip to Paris. The network was perfect and fast and I could get the card right at Heathrow Airport’s WHSmith convenience store. This is a pre-paid card so local calls and messages are free and you do not have to worry about balance or allowance for up to 30 days.

Girl travel blogger and fashion blogger lying down on a bench at National art gallery in London

I mean we were speaking of phone plans after all..This is the National Art Gallery at the Trafalgar square that is one of the most awesome areas to explore in London.

Commuting:

London streets are tiny and traffic ends up being an issue more often than not. It is therefore faster to use public transport or to walk rather than taking a cab/Uber. Uber is the cheapest kind of cab though. Black Cabs cost about three times more. Catch the Black Cabs in an emergency but otherwise, save them pounds! The subway (tube as they call it in UK) is super-convenient but it can get crowded at peak times and also quite stuffy and suffocating.

Girl travel blogger and fashion blogger standing at Neil's Yard in London with colourful buildings and wearing faux leather pants and black sweater with white sneakers

Neil’s Yard here, is one of the cutest and dopest places I loved in London. This really tiny space full of colourful buildings is just totally my kind of place!

Girl travel blogger and fashion blogger standing at Neil's Yard in London with colourful buildings and wearing faux leather pants and black sweater with white sneakers

I mean this place needed more pictures to show how super cute this tiny Neil’s Yard is!

For public transport you need an Oyster Card that is available at any of these places here. This card can be recharged at Tube, DLR, London Overground, TfL Rail and most National Rail stations, and any location that is an Oyster ticket shop (find your nearest one here).

Girl travel blogger and fashion blogger wearing blue preppy jacket and blue pants standing with a London guard on a horse on the street in London

A photo with a guard in this traditional uniform is the cliche image that you MUST get when in London

Pro-tip: For times when you are caught with no Oyster card or no balance on your card, just use your regular debit card with a tap function (your account might incur small currency exchange fee for the day, based on who your bank is).

girl travel blogger and fashion blogger wearing blue preppy jacket and blue pants with chunky sneakers standing at the red telephone booth in London for London travel guide

If you didn’t also get a photo with a red telephone booth, then did you even go to London? Bummer that the Big Ben behind me has some restoration work going on though and was covered the whole time.

If you have both UK and European visas sorted and ready, take a short 2-hour train ride to Paris on the EuroStar! It is extremely convenient to travel across countries and is exactly what I did on my trip.

Girl travel blogger and fashion blogger

Since photography isn’t allowed inside the palace, this is just a sneak peek of the fancy royal style of designs to expect inside. Except the inside is even dreamier.

Food:

Food is not a problem at all in London. As expected in a place like London, there is a good variety of vegetarian food everywhere. There is a Pret bakery practically at every corner and it always has salads that you can grab any time.

And Tea! Oh the variety of tea everywhere is just the best.

travel blogger and fashion blogger sitting in a high-tea bus in London with food spread in front of her

This is the Bridget Bakery’s high tea bus where you ride around the city in the iconic red bus for 90 mins and eat all the yummy food! I must say the vegetarian food was really good.

Tourist sights and attractions:

For details on the places and small tips, read the captions on all the photos in this blog post.
As always google places to visit in London and also the most instagrammable places in London and plot them on your map. You could check out the online passes that include a bundle of these activities, if they fit your plans. Some places like the Harry Potter studio tour get booked out weeks in advance.

Girl travel blogger and fashion blogger standing on the paved road in London near St. Paul's Cathedral wearing printed palazzo pants and bottle green crop top for London Travel Guide

Go to certain places on foot, such as the St. Paul’s Cathedral and the whole road leading up to the front entrance is just the most pretty, with shops and aesthetics like these here. Simply unreal,

You could also purchase tickets online to skip the line by paying a small premium fee. The usual trick is to plan the itinerary as I discussed previously in this post here. A few additional things I would add here though:

girl travel blogger and fashion blogger wearing blue preppy jacket with blue pants and red tee shirt with chunky sneakers at the crosswalk in front of Westminster Abbey in London in London for London travel guide

The Westminster Abbey is an insanely HUGE and gorgeous church. It has churches within church and just a whole lot of history and art. The inside does not allow pictures though, as you would expect.

  • Opt for the experiences where the classic double-decker red Bus takes you for an afternoon tea like this one here. Book in advance, because it gets booked out pretty quick. The best time slot to book for is lunchtime, because there is heaps of food served for each person. You get to take away the leftover food so there is no wastage.
Girl travel blogger and fashion blogger standing on the paved road in London wearing printed palazzo pants and bottle green crop top for London Travel Guide

I am sorry but I had to add another image of how the buildings here just make a whole mood come to life!

  • If you want to shop for the discount outlet designer things, go to Bicester Village by taking a direct train from the city. Also the famous Oxford Street is full of so many cool shops, including Selfridges.
girl travel blogger and fashion blogger wearing blue preppy jacket with blue pants and red tee shirt with chunky sneakers standing inside the Victoria and Albert museum in London for London travel guide

The Victoria and Albert museum is just one of the many gorgeous ones in London. The exhibits held at this place are a great experience.

  • Carry your passport or photo copies of passport on you at all times because in most stores, you will be able to claim traveller’s tax refund. This refund can be collected as cash at the airport or in your bank account.
girl travel blogger and fashion blogger wearing fuzzy sweater with black cami dress on the streets of Notting Hill in Londonfor london travel guide

The streets of Notting Hill are also iconic and but you may want to skip it if you aren’t that much into building vibes like me. You can find similar vibe in other places in the city too.

  • The line at the airport to collect the tax refund is INSANE. The standard rule is to get the tax refund claim BEFORE checking in your luggage. However, if you have small items that you do not mind putting in your carry on, then you can claim it after checking in the luggage and security.
Girl travel blogger and fashion blogger wearing black sheer crop top and colourful long skirt on the streets of Chelsea in London for London Travel Guide

The neighbourhoods such as these and the Notting Hill area, are dreamy for a quick stroll. The absolute delight that these places are, is seriously soothing and worth experiencing. Best part is, they are mostly empty on the streets to even dance around if you want to! This by the way is Chelsea and it has the most chic boutiques and many great vintage stores!

 

Girl travel blogger and fashion blogger wearing red versace tee with gray mini skirt at China town in london for London travel guide

A lot of magic lies in exploring the city on foot rather than ticking off the popular landmarks. I sure missed a few landmarks but experienced the city quite well.

Where’s the hygge?

The actual journey from Australia to the other side of the world is super long but oh so worth it. London is only a small part of the UK but a vibrant and colourful one. The art lover in me rejoiced over all the victorian architecture heaven that London is. It felt like a fun fusion between Melbourne and New York and I was all about that vibe! The hygge was in the architecture and the friendly vibe of the city. Oh and hearing all that English accent. Pure aural delight!

Laters, people!
XoXo

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8 comments

blackpistachio 10/29/2019 - 11:42 pm

This was wicked post. I didn’t know you could have afternoon tea on a tour bus! That would make for fun day out. Two birds, one stone. I also appreciated the advice about traveller’s tax and carry photocopies of your passport. Neal’s Yard is such a pretty alley, didn’t know it had a name 😉
Black Pistachio

Reply
Rasi 10/30/2019 - 9:02 pm

Thank you so much! The bus thing is a really cute way to have a fun lunch right?! and the whole time they played really cool 90s pop songs and it just set the mood oh so well! Neal’s yard is just the cutest little place. I absolutely loved it. Traveller’s tax is just the best thing to keep in mind, in any country, when travelling. Thank you for the love you showed and for taking the time to go through my post! 🙂

Reply
Sarah 11/05/2019 - 7:16 pm

Thank you for sharing your tips! I will definitely get back to this post once I finally make it to London!

Reply
Rasi 11/07/2019 - 7:03 am

Thank you for taking the time to read the post, Sarah! I hope you find it useful to plan your trip to London in future! You will love the city for its charm and vibe.
🙂

Reply
Kaci 11/13/2019 - 2:22 am

Wow, wow, wow! This is so informative!
It looks like you had so much fun. When I finally get down to London I’ll actually have an idea of what to do now! Thank you so much for sharing

Reply
Rasi 11/14/2019 - 8:53 am

Thank you so much for checking out the post Kaci! I am glad you find it useful. 😊
I’m sure you will save time and efforts once you get to London and enjoy it to the max!❤

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http://baraita.net/ 01/06/2020 - 4:56 pm

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Rasi 01/06/2020 - 8:15 pm

Thank you very much for taking the time and showing it some love!
🙂

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