A dozen things to do in London, UK

With our trip to London, UK fast approaching in just over a month, I have been in active trip planning mode. As we get ready to cross the pond for our first international trip since the pandemic started, I’ve spent lots of time browsing Reddit /travel, Tripadvisor forums, and travel blogs, and have come up with a more detailed bucket list of things we will do in and around the city.

1. See the city view from Sky Garden.

Nicknamed the “Walkie Talkie” due to its distinctive shape, Sky Garden within the Fenchurch skyscraper is one of London’s most well known modern landmarks. It is the city’s highest public garden, spanning the top three floors of the building, where you can admire views overlooking London. We have reservations here for breakfast at Darwin Brasserie which will act as our admission ticket; the alternative would have been booking a timed entry ticket — these are released about three weeks in advance but are free of charge.

2. Watch a football game at Emirates Stadium.

Mr. Chuckles is a devoted Arsenal fan so it is near the top of our wish list to find our way to a home game at Emirates Stadium. Purchasing Arsenal match tickets is actually quite challenging, so I’ll have to update this post once I (un)successfully book ours. Essentially, we’ve had to purchase a Red membership in order to gain access to tickets that are released about a month prior to the match date, and then we will have to go on a clicking frenzy at 5 am local time to try and procure our seats. Worst case scenario, we will watch the game from a pub somewhere and will still have a nice time!

3. Eat a Sunday Roast.

London is not really known as a culinary city, at least to me, but there are a couple quintessential English meals that I would like to check off my foodie to-do list. One of these is a proper Sunday roast, which traditionally consists of roasted meat, roasted potatoes, and accompaniments such as Yorkshire pudding, stuffing, and gravy. Following a search through Reddit, I’ve identified Blacklock as a good place for our British Sunday roast.

4. Tour Buckingham Palace and watch the Changing of the Guard.

The last time I visited London, I was there in the winter months when the Queen was in residence, so didn’t have a chance to go inside Buckingham Palace. Between July and October, the palace is open to visitors for tours of the State Rooms as well as the gardens. We have booked our tickets to coincide with the Changing of the Guard which takes place at 11 am daily in the summer.

5. Enjoy afternoon tea at The Savoy.

We will follow our Royal day out at Buckingham Palace with another classic English experience — afternoon tea. I’ve previously tried this at The Ritz so this time we are opting to go to The Savoy Thames Foyer.

6. Attend evensong at Westminster Abbey.

This Gothic abbey church is perhaps the United Kingdom’s most notable religious building, the site of coronation and a burial site for British monarchs. I think we will skip the detailed tour which requires admission tickets and instead attend the free evensong service which takes place at 3 pm on Sundays and 5 pm on most weekdays.

7. Stroll around Borough Market.

We saw Borough Market featured on an episode of Somebody Feed Phil and I immediately added it to my London bucket list. This large market hall is one of the oldest food markets in London, dating back to the 12th century. The bubble and squeak sandwich that Phil ate here looked incredible.

8. Visit the Tower of London.

The Tower of London was my favourite of the historic sites we visited during my first trip to London, but we went quite late in the day and didn’t have a chance to tour the entire site. I’m adding it to the itinerary for this trip on a late morning or early afternoon, and maybe we can also see the Superbloom which was planted in commemoration of the Queen’s Jubilee.

9. Eat Indian food on Brick Lane.

I love Indian food but don’t know if I will ever have the opportunity to visit India, so the next best thing is to have top quality Indian food in London — where there is aplenty given the large South Asian population here. I have Dishoom on the menu but I’d also like to try a place on Brick Lane in east London, also known as “Curry Mile” for its numerous Indian restaurants that line the street. Apparently Aladin is a top choice, but on further research it seems that Tayyabs, located a short distance off Brick Lane, is actually the place to go.

10. See Witness for the Prosecution.

Thanks to Travelling Han, I discovered this cool production to watch in lieu of a show in the West End. Witness for the Prosecution is a play that is staged inside County Hall in an actual courtroom, based on a short story by Agatha Christie about the trial for the murder of a wealthy older woman. The play originally opened in London in 1958 at the Winter Garden Theatre, and moved to County Hall for a new production in 2017. The run is expected to end in September 2022 so we are getting in to see it just under the wire. Thanks Hannah for this great suggestion!

11. Explore around Notting Hill.

If it’s made it onto the cover of a Lonely Planet guide, you know it’s a popular tourist attraction. Notting Hill has actually been on my radar since I watched the movie Notting Hill starring Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts — remember that one? This trendy area is best known for the Portobello Road Market which takes place daily with a multitude of vendors selling all kinds of knick knacks, and picturesque streets lined by painted Victorian townhouses. We are planning to check out the market and then pick up lunch at Ottolenghi, another eatery we saw featured on Somebody Feed Phil.

12. Take a day trip to Oxford and the Cotswolds.

We wanted to take at least one day trip out of the city so I found a tour to Oxford and the Cotswolds to mix things up during our week. This Rabbie’s tour will take us northwest out of London, through the Chiltern Hills Area of Natural Beauty, with our first stop in Oxford. Then we will visit the Costwolds, including the villages of Burford and Bibury, for a break from the metropolitan hustle and bustle to see some of the English countryside.

What do you think about my plan? Leave your suggestions in the comments!