I have been patiently waiting until I could write this post. This post is not going to be some special secret that you have never heard before. This is going to be your run of the mill London itinerary. It is titled “for the solo female traveler”, but this could be for anyone really. The thing that makes it so exciting for me, is that I get to relive each moment of this trip as I type it out, and I love that. So stick around, this may not seem life changing… but it will still be fun! And it COULD change your life, it changed mine after all.
I left Atlanta at 10 PM for my 8.5-hour flight into London’s Heathrow. I flew Delta, and I might be biased because I’m from Atlanta, but Delta rarely disappoints me. Their international flights from Atlanta have really high quality and pretty good food. I actually worked a full 8-hour day before my flight, got off at 5 PM, and got to the airport at 7 PM. You do what you have to when you don’t want to use up unnecessary vacation days, am I right?
I landed in London at 11 AM. I got a car service to pick me up at Heathrow and drop me at my hotel (no, I’m not a five-star traveler). The car service was reasonably priced, the quickest and most private way into the city, and I was not certain how jet lag was going to affect me… and I was not about to fall asleep on the tube (however… the Heathrow Express is the quickest, easiest and most cost-effective way into the city in my opinion). Check in was at 2 PM, but lucky for me, my hotel let me get settled around 1:15. So I checked in, got cleaned up, and before I knew it, it was 5 PM. So I headed out to Hyde Park. I went in December so the days are short and chilly… but the Hyde Park Christmas Market is incredible and a must if you are lucky enough to go during Christmas. I walked to Hyde Park from my hotel (near Paddington). It was a short enough walk (I am a walker, I love being able to take everything in at my own pace), taking the tube would have been quicker, but I love some good architecture. So I took my stroll and took it all in. I really enjoyed the Christmas market. It is so unique and fun. I am actually considering writing a whole post about it, so let me know if you’d like to know more! I then walked back to my hotel around 9 PM to get to bed early. It was only 4 PM back home, but I was jet lagged and needed to get on London’s time.
I should go ahead and warn you… I am not a morning person. So don’t expect to see an “I woke up at 6 AM to see the sunrise” post from me unless I am forced or it is REALLY worth it. I wake up at 5:30 AM every day, and I just kind of refuse to do so on vacation. I’m also not a night person. There will not be any late nights out from me. Okay, let’s continue. I woke up around 9 AM, got ready, and went down for breakfast. I stayed in a little B&B type hotel, that offered a full free English breakfast every morning. After breakfast, I left my hotel and headed for the bus stop in route to St. Paul’s Cathedral. There was a protest of sorts downtown that day, so the detour took us around towards the British Museum and back down. I thoroughly enjoyed the detour views. I got off at St. Paul’s and took in the beauty of the cathedral. I then walked along down to cross over London Bridge to head towards the Borough Market. I spent a little time here and then headed towards Tower Bridge (did I mention I am a walker? And London is SO walk-able!) I, of course, took in all the glory of the Shard and headed towards City Hall. At City Hall you have a view of the bridge and the Tower of London, so I grabbed a quick lunch at a nearby Tesco and ate it while people watching at Potters Field Park (City Hall, Tower Bridge area). I then crossed over Tower Bridge and headed towards the Tower of London. After spending some time at the Tower of London I left and grabbed the tube towards Piccadilly Circus. I should note—it was Christmas when I went. People everywhere. But totally worth the crowds to see the beautiful Christmas lights and decorations. This is where I grabbed dinner and then headed back to the hotel for the night.
Today I woke up early, got ready, ate breakfast and headed out. This was the only day while I was in London that the Changing of the Guards was happening, and I felt like I had to see it. So I headed to Buckingham Palace and made my way through the crowds to find a prime location for viewing. And as much as it pains me to say this, I wasn’t all that impressed. Is it something you should do? Yes. Will you feel the need to brag about it when you get home? Ehh. After the Changing of the Guards, I started my journey towards Westminster Abbey. I did pass the Churchill War Rooms on my way but did not make a visit inside. I stopped in at a little café and grabbed some lunch and then carried on my way. And here is the time that I need to admit something. I was not quite the master of travel that I tell myself I am today (ha), so I stupidly planned to see Westminster Abbey without checking the hours or times open. DO NOT do this. It was a rookie mistake. They have actual services on Sunday (duh) and I did not make it in time to go to one of the services. So I was not able to see the inside on my trip. The only upside to this, it made for the perfect excuse for another week in London again. After I took in the beauty of the church, I also did the same for the Palace of Westminster(Parliament) and the Elizabeth Tower(Big Ben). You can spend a whole day in this area of the city and never get tired. This is also the same area as the London Eye if you are so inclined. England does architecture right. From here I walked along the Thames for a bit, which is worth a day all in itself, and then headed towards Trafalgar Square. This was one of my favorite places in London, and I’m not quite sure why. Just the hustle and bustle, the street performers, the fountain, the lions, the National Gallery. It was all quite entertaining. From there I headed towards Covent Garden’s where I was pleasantly surprised with the decorations and shopping. From there I grabbed the tube to the famous Oxford Street for some window shopping and dinner. I loved everything about Covent Gardens and Oxford Street. The Christmas decorations were incredible. From there I headed back and called it a night.
Today I woke up a little late (too late for breakfast and housekeeping, as will be the case for the rest of the trip), got ready and headed out. I jumped on the bus towards Notting Hill for brunch. I was not going to be in London and not go to Portobello Road Market. I spent the longest time just taking in all the shops and street vendors. This is the only place I bought myself something while in London as well. It was definitely worth the trip. Along the same theme, I had searched high and low on Google for the best views of London and found Primrose Hill to be the gem I was looking for. So I jumped on a bus and made a stop at Abbey Road first, because duh. If you are any sort of music fan, then you will know why this was a must. I visited the famous cross walk and went inside the studios. I think I have to add this disclaimer for those who don’t know—but this is still a fully operable road with a lot of traffic. So please be courteous and wise when visiting. I don’t know how many people I saw holding up traffic to recreate the infamous pic. Don’t be that person. From there I took a 25-minute walk to my favorite place in London, Primrose Hill. The walk took me through the cutest little residential area. Like I mentioned, I just love architecture. When I arrived at Primrose Hill, I was not disappointed. The view is incredible. The park is incredible. I could have spent all afternoon there. If you are interested, Primrose Hill sits north of Regents Park, where the London Zoo is located as well. From there I grabbed a bus and headed back towards Paddington/my hotel. I ate dinner close by and turned in for a somewhat early night. My hotel had a “US Crime Show” station, so I spent my evening watching SVU and relaxing. Total normal.
When I woke up this morning, it was storming out. So I laid around and by the time I got ready, it was just sprinkling. So I headed towards Hyde Park and took a morning walk through to Kensington Palace. From there I headed towards Royal Albert Hall. Although I didn’t go inside, it was incredible to see it from the outside. And the view from the south side of Hyde Park was fantastic. Today was the day I dedicated to the museums in London. If you didn’t know, they are all free! They have a place for donations (so you should totally donate), but there is no minimum fee. First I took in the Science Museum and then the Natural History Museum. Both totally cool. There are several more museums in this area, but I knew I wouldn’t have time for them all. Outside of the Natural History Museum was ice skating and it was adorable. From there I took the tube from South Kensington to Baker Street station, all the way across the city. From here I headed to the Sherlock Holmes Museum and then walked past Madame Tussaud’s. I did not go inside the famed wax museum, but it is apparently worth the visit. However, the British Museum is where I wanted to spend most of my time. It was incredible. I mean, you get to see the actual Rosetta Stone. How cool! I then headed to the British Library which was equally cool. I got to see a Gutenberg Bible and about a million other really historic books. My book nerd and history nerd heart were happy this day! I then grabbed dinner close by and headed back to the hotel for an early night. My feet were killing me from all the walking (note: I didn’t wear reasonable shoes, my bad, don’t do that. You can find cute walking shoes that don’t kill an outfit, promise!) and I just wanted to rest.
This was my lazy day. I slept in (still no English Breakfast, but an extra two hours of sleep will always win), and took my time getting ready. I went and grabbed a quick lunch around the corner from my hotel and spent the afternoon in the greenspace (Norfolk Square Gardens) outside of my hotel reading and people watching. I went back to the hotel and got ready to go see Wicked. I LOVE MUSICALS. And Wicked is one of my favorites, so of course, I had to see it (yes, even all by myself). I grabbed an early dinner at Victoria Station at a little pub and headed to the Apollo Theatre. My seats were average, but the show was amazing. I then caught a bus back towards Hyde Park and spent the late hours of the night (what I consider late, it was maybe 9 PM), walking down Oxford Street and taking in the beautiful Christmas lights one last time. After fighting the crowds, I then headed back to the hotel and called in a night.
My least favorite day, the day I went home. My flight was at 1:30 PM, so I woke up and got ready, and headed down for one last English Breakfast. I used the same car service that picked me up when I landed, to bring me back. The rest of the day is your normal 9-hour flight travel day. Nothing special, except for the fact that I miss my dog terribly when I travel, so I was so glad to see her!
So, as you can see, London is completely doable as a solo traveler (or a family of 6) for a week trip. You can fit in so many sights and parts of the city in less than 7 days. You can also stay here for years and never run out of things to see. Albeit, I am a fast traveler, but if you want to see everything, you have to make the most of your time. Yes, I walked a lot, but you don’t have to. The transport system in London is incredible. A lot of times during this itinerary, I grabbed a bus or the tube and didn’t mention it. Though I did walk quite a bit.
London is one of my top recommendations for a first-time solo trip. What is your favorite thing to do or see in London? Make sure to leave a comment below and keep the conversation going! Also, follow me on Instagram and Facebook for information on when the next post goes live! XOXO