This blog will outline my 2018 trip to London, England. If you would like to see a Packing List for this trip, please click here.
I travelled solo to London at the end of September 2018 and met up with my friend who was doing her own solo travel around Europe, and my other friend who was living and working in London at the time.
This was a quick get-away that I was fortunate enough to be able to take off work and enjoy free accommodation. On top of spending time with two high school friends, I also got the chance to meet up with some of the British girls from my Yoga Teacher Training that I took in Bali in 2015. It was a beautiful little adventure!
When planning this trip, I was very particular with how I wanted to spend my time and money, and I was able to hit all my places and enjoyed all the surprises along the way. I suggest every/all places listed in this blog to visit.
I managed to use exclusively public transportation for this trip – from my own doorstep and back.
[$680 · Return Flight YYZ-LGW + $40 GoBus to Pearson Airport]
I flew with Westjet from Pearson Airport to Gatwick, which felt very quick, as I had snacks and had downloaded 4 episodes of The Crown to get acquainted.
Arriving in Gatwick, there was the usual hold up going through customs, and a bit of culture shock with the amount of people near the train terminals – even coming from Toronto.
I immediately found a tourist Oyster Card – this is your key to getting around London. Buy one as soon as you arrive and load it up – we moved around a lot and this was our only mode of transportation – so I think I spent around £65 for the entire weekend.
[£65 · £5 to purchase the card and about £60 on actual tube fees]
I travelled from Gatwick to the Kensington Olympia Station on the Overground – switching to the Underground at Clapham. The journey from the plane to my accommodation took less than 2 hours.
The rest of our trip, we hopped on and off the underground (mind the gap) and saw a ton of London this way, using Google Maps to chart our trips.
For my trip home, I took the same way back to Gatwick, and enjoyed the rest of the first season of The Crown on my flight.
On this trip, personally my second trip to London, I was extremely fortunate to have a very close friend from high school now living in London who welcomed me into her flat. She had been living and working in London for the past year, and was happy to show myself and my other friend around town on her off-time.
Staying in London can be pricey, so make sure you find a spot close to where you would like to visit, or with easy access to the tube.
Our flat was right by Shepherd’s Bush – not far from Holland Park and the lovely Notting Hill area- and an easy walk from the Kensington Olympia tube station.
Dining & Drinks
I always enjoy classic British food. So, the first meal I had was a full English breakfast with a Lady Grey tea in Camden! From there, I enjoyed every meal we had! I am not a big drinker, so I rarely had any, and when we did go out for drinks, it was only one or two, then off to bed or some other activity.
We tended to have a later breakfast and dinner, skipping Lunch most days. The only lunch we had was in Shoreditch at Pizza East – a special lunch with my English Yogis!
Dinner was always a winner, with The Prince of Wales’ Sunday Roast coming out on top – this was the best meal I’ve had in a long time and it was wonderful – the food was perfect, the cozy pub and good friends made it a dream! I also tried “Mushy Peas” for the first time, on the recommendation of my dear Yogi friend, and they were delicious. Thank you, Kat.
One meal we had to have was Afternoon Tea, which we found in Bea’s of Bloomsbury. This spot was a gem, right downtown London near St. Paul’s Cathedral, the all-glass store front looks out onto a small park. Their scones, tea and sandwiches were divine.
[$300 · extra snacks were purchased at the grocery store]
English Breakfast – great service, tasty & cheap food, one step outside of the bustle of the Camden Lock Market
Mustard Restauant ✦Hammersmith
Fancy Eggs – Very quaint, bright and airy restaurant, great service, close to our flat in a great neighbourhood, amazing food.
Pizza East ✦Shoreditch
Pizza – Great food, fun atmosphere, good service, memorable spot, great neighbourhood.
Desperado’s Angel ✦The Angel
Mexican – Fun atmosphere and great neighbourhood, good food and drinks, good service, very funny paintings in the washrooms.
Prince of Wales ✦Kensington
Sunday Roast – Favourite Meal with vegetarian options, great atmosphere and neighbourhood, close to flat, great service, cozy pub.
Fable Restaurant ✦Holborn
Fish & Chips – Good food and drinks, good service, nice neighbourhood, large open fancier restaurant.
The Wellington* ✦Covent Garden
Fish & Chips – Good food and service, great neighbourhood, pub and dining room with lively atmosphere, tried mushy peas and loved them. *May actually be another restaurant in the area??
Bea’s of Bloomsbury ✦London
Afternoon Tea – Amazing food, scones and Tea! Great neighborhood, great service and presentation, open and airy modern restaurant with great street views.
Bird of Smithfield ✦Farringdon
Rooftop drinks – lots of stairs, but a cool view of the Smithfield Market
Queen’s Head Pub ✦Islington
Pre-Comedy Drinks – large pub, a block away from the Bill Murray and The Angel neighbourhood.
The Bill Murray ✦Islington
Comedy Drinks- The comedy show here is amazing!
This was my second trip to London, and I was on a tight budget this time, so I really did not spend a lot of money on anything. We focused on free museums (all of them are free in London!), self-designed Walking Tours, small local markets and hidden gems. The only big touristy spend for me was The Tower of London – I love English history and I had to see this place! It was very interesting with lots to see, so it was worth the higher price.
St. Dunstan’s-in-the-East Church Garden · *Favourite Spot* Ruins of a beautiful old church in Bilingsgate, a peaceful oasis in the middle of the city. This old church was ruined in the Blitz and is now a public garden.
Highgate Cemetary · A great spot for a walk in Highgate, close to Hampstead Heath, and some other hidden gem neighbourhoods. A 19th century cemetery with some famous burials and numerous, winding pathways make for a thoughtful stroll in the mist.
Old London Wall · There are many sections remaining of this ancient Roman wall that once surrounded the city. Find them near the Tower of London, Barbican and along the road, London Wall. Click here if this is something that interests you.
Shoreditch Street Art · If you love street art, you’ll love Shoreditch.
Monument to the Great Fire · A quick stop.
Tower Bridge · You can look, walk across and even go inside.
Double Decker Busses · Hop on one for a couple blocks, if you can!
Tower of London · Pricey, but interesting and a great walk!
St. Paul’s Cathedral · A beautiful building, I did not go inside but the ground and neighbourhood were great.
Bill Murray Comedy Club – Islington/The Angel · A must if you love to laugh in a cozy setting. This was our first night, and four great comedians just made our evening!
Local Markets & Neighbourhoods
Camden Lock Market · A favourite- very interesting market with lots of variety and great atmosphere
Brick Lane Market · Nearby the street art neighbourhood, great shopping and dining, cool stop on your walk
Spitalfields Market · More food available, lots of choices – a great stop for a quick lunch
Portobello Market · A classic Saturday morning in the Notting Hill area.
- Notting Hill
- Covent Garden
- Kensington & Chelsea
- Picadilly Circus
- Liecester Square
British Museum · A classic; a very large museum. You cannot see everything in one visit. The Rosetta Stone and the Parthenon Marbles were highlights.
Design Museum · We entered to use the washroom, and stayed for the interesting exhibits
Primrose Hill · View of London skyline, close to Camden
Holland Park · Beautiful gardens, peacocks, in Kensington with many nearby attractions
Hampstead Heath · A very large park, city views from Parliament Hill, close to Highgate Cemetary