In 2014 I had a quick business trip to London and did some touristing. Here are a few highlights beyond the usual sights, from an email I sent to a friend who was visiting a few weeks after me:
- Fat Tire Bike Tour – highly recommended. You end up hitting a ton of sites in a few hours and then you can decide which of those merit a return visit.
Camden Town — it’s a busy chaotic market that goes on forever. You can get lost in there. I liked it in a small dose and then went back to quieter locations. Be sure to go to the real Camden Market and not the rip-off one closest to the subway stop.
- Note that the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace is only every-other-day in the Winter and Spring. You can look up dates on http://www.changing-the-guard.com/dates-times.html
- There’s an LDS Visitors Center near Hyde Park that was fun to visit — a bunch of BYU Study Abroad students were there while their normal building is being renovated. https://www.lds.org/locations/hyde-park-chapel — it’s in a cool location by many of the Embassies and the science museum.
- One other place that was fun for a quick evening visit was Piccadilly Circus — kind of a Times Square vibe (with many of the same stores, including the M&Ms Store). It’s packed with tourists and I only stayed for a few minutes, but it was cool to see once. That and Trafalgar Square are good for street performers.
- If you’re a Shakespeare fan, it was fun to see the Globe Theatre replica. You can also see a First Folio in the British Library.
- If you like Harry Potter, King’s Cross station has Platform 9 3/4 where you can pay big bucks to take a photo. I just took photos of people taking photos.
- You can also hit 221B Baker Street if you’re a Sherlock Holmes fan.
- I highly recommend Rick Steves London tour book — I had a couple of other books and his was by far the most useful. If you like his style (more opinionated than the usual “here’s everything you can possibly do” books) you might want to download his free podcasts with walking tours and museum tours. I listened to his British Library tour (30 minutes) while I was there and enjoyed it, although some of his jokes are painful. He has an iPhone app, but it’s poorly designed and probably works better as a podcast.