Must Do: London

11:27 AM

London Must See/Do from the perspective of an American student studying/working abroad. Please feel free to add to as you wish.

 

 

It's cheapest to get a pass on the Oyster Card at the Underground (Tube) station or a bus pass.  Most of the places you'll want to see are in Zones 1&2.  The Oyster works for both the Tube (closes at midnight) and the buses (all night - easy to use).  Never take an illegal mini cab (fake taxi - there are tons all around at bar close)

 

London Eye:  See if you can get the student discount. I went at sunset with my family & midday with friends. I recommend being prepared to stand in line for 1-2hrs depending on when you go. (Near Parliment & Big Ben) Totally worth the wait.

http://www.londoneye.com/
 
Take a tour of Parliment or the Kensington Palace if you have time.  Otherwise just walk around the grounds a bit - really awesome areas.

 

See Harrods at night all lit up.


 

Eat at Wagamamas.  Fantastic food there and not expensive.  Good for large & small groups.


Markets:  Camden was my favorite and you should at least go once (any time of day). Be prepared to be safe. It's always packed but I never ran into problems, and I went almost every saturday. Portobello is also wonderful on Saturdays (aim for 6-9am). I always wanted to check out others but didnt. Brick Lane is supposed to be pretty cool.  http://www.streetsensation.co.uk/markets.htm

Go for a run in Hyde Park. It's wonderful. (Finding Neverland park scenes filmed there)
 
See Big Ben at night from Trafalgar Square (I didnt know that was possible until my VERY LAST nite)

See a play/musical on the West End if you can. There's a TKTS booth in the middle of Leicester Square where they sell cheap tickets the day of the show. I've checked around - they almost always have the best price.

Get Gelato. It's spectacular. You can find it lots of places overseas - primarily in little London shops or Definitely in Italy
Wander & take pictures. Use maps to wander from your housing to different spots in london. You'd be surprised at how close together everything is. The Tube tends to make locations seem farther apart than they are. (Rome is the same way)
 
Bars are everywhere. Hit up some pubs - those are amazing. The pub near my place was always busy with awesome old guys just after work.  They are always so welcoming & friendly.  (note: not all fish & chips are created equal.) As for the bars, most places are pretty normal.  If you're heading to a classier place, check online first to see if they have a dress code. Also, check to see if there is a list.  Some places - like Zoo Bar & Gardening Club - don't require you to be on the list, but you'll have to wait in line for AGES.  Always get on the list if you can - usually can sign up on their website.  Or try http://www.londonclubsguestlist.com/ Lots of places dont have lists. Websites are also good for finding specials - like pound pints. 

 

Note: Drinks can be expensive.  Pre-gaming highly recommended.  Sainsburg's (store brand) vodka highly discouraged.  Drinking anywhere outside in London (including on the tube enroute to bars) is allowed except in the Parliment area & in trafalgar square.

 

Bar Scene-

Walkabout is in several locations in the city. This austrailian bar is known as a hookup spot - but excellent dancing. Try a Snakebite pint there. Wednesdays were student night.  We bought a student card which allowed us in for only a pound then every wednesday instead of paying full each time.


O'Neills is one of those places you have to go to. I frequented the one near chinatown.  Several floors, sometimes live music, packed with people. (I remember Alex mentioning this one to you)


Strawberry Moons is pretty fun (try a Purple Turtle) though a bit hidden. I've never gone on a busy night but we had an amazing time there for a Rod Stewart impersonator night.


Waxy O'Connors & Waxy's Little Sister are expensive but awesome. Must go at least once. Waxy's little sister has sofas upstairs from what I've heard (never made it there).  Waxy's is HUGE and not a dance bar.


Tiger Tiger, as well as a few other bars, is pretty classy and requires guys to wear a collared shirt and no trainers allowed.


Zoo Bar - one of my absolute favorites. This place is perfect for crazy nights out. Dance on the bar. Note - don't fall off the bar.


Sports Cafe - tvs all over play american sport games. When I was there, thursday was student night with cheap drink specials.  Try to get there early enough so you dont have to wait in line.  This line can be as long as 2.5 hours. (believe me. I waited. lol)


 

And of course, if you have time for insane drunkeness on a Sunday: The Church http://www.thechurch.co.uk/
 
Bus tip - if you are out past midnite far from your place, picadilly (where most of the touristing goes) is a great place to get to in order to catch the right bus home.  Check the nearest bus stop near your place so you know what #s go by it (pay attention to what buses dont run at night).  If all else fails Taxis (legal ones) know every single street in the city by law, so they will get you home no matter how wasted if you remember your address. Plus, they usually only cost about 12.
 
Dont give money to the homeless - they'll follow you around.
 
And of course:  If you end up in Hyde Park near the Prince Albert Statue, walk to the nearest street. (Called Hyde Park Gate or Kensington Rd) and walk down Queens Gate.  When you get to Queen's Gate Terrace turn right... and thats where I lived. 3-7 Queens Gate Terrace. :)

 

Well, those are the basics for most people studying/working abroad.  There are a million more awesome places to check out - might have to befriend a few English & Australians to hear about them.

Love, Grace

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