Last Updated 5 months ago
London. One of the greatest cities to visit on this planet, but some people have never truly explored it’s hidden sides. They’ve stayed focused on Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and Piccadilly Circus. While these attractions are world famous icons for a reason, there is SO much more of London to uncover.
What if experiencing a city means seeing it from a towering birdseye? Or in the depths underneath its busy streets?
This Autumn we got to know London from many different perspectives, including up above, down below, from the water and even stretching outwards to its neighboring boroughs.
We know you want to explore London in every dimension, so here is our:
London Travel Guide - Top 12 Ways to SEE LONDON like Never Before
See London From HIGH UP ABOVE
First stop on our London Travel Guide is the towering SHARD. It’s a good thing I didn't tell Trevor what the Shard was before we arrived, because he has a major fear of elevators and this building has not one, but TWO up to the top.
I was still able to coax him up to floor 72, where we experienced the BEST view of London possible. From 800 feet above the city, you can literally see for 40 miles outwards, 360 degrees around the rooftop.
From the Skydeck, I was treated to a glass of champagne as I watched the sun go down over the city. It was simply magical!
The Shard’s other levels contain a Shangri-la hotel, restaurants, offices, and some of London’s most elegant apartments. This striking (and western Europe’s tallest) building should not be missed. You might even catch a screening of Casablanca in the UK’s tallest pop-up cinema, or indulge in a sky-high yoga class.
- Open at 10:00am to 10:00pm, but may close earlier during the week or during winter hours.
- Adult Advanced £18.75
- Book tickets to The Shard
- The TUBE: London Bridge Underground Station (Northern and Jubilee lines)
- Buses that stop: 43, 48, 141, 149, 521
- Big Bus ‘Hop on Hop Off' stop #39
Watch Our 'Instagram Stories' from The Shard:
The London Eye
The next high in the sky stop on our London Travel Guide is the London Eye. Europes tallest ferris wheel deserves some love for giving millions of people a view of London they've never seen before. It touristy sure, but for a good reason!
Your ride will take about half an hour and give you a full rotation of the wheel in a glass capsule. If you want to splurge for a special occasion, you can even reserve your one private capsule with champagne and chocolate. Yes, please!
Otherwise, I advise you get the fast track pass (lets you cut the line) and go between Monday to Thursday for lower prices.
By taking a daytime ride, you’ll be sure to see more of Londons attractions, but there is something romantic and fun about riding it at night while it’s all lit up!
- Hours Open: 7 Days a week, 10:00am to (winter) 6:00pm (summer) 10:30pm
- Adult £19.50, Child £15.75 (when booked online in advance)
- Book Tickets for the London Eye
- On the TUBE: Waterloo Station (Bakerloo, Jubilee, Northern and Waterloo lines)
- Can also walk from these other Tube stations: Embankment, Charing Cross and Westminster.
- Buses that stop here: 211, 77 and 381
- Hop on Hop Off big bus tour stop #14
Big Bus Tour
Every London Travel Guide itinerary should include a Big Bus tour!
Even if you have never been on one, you know precisely how to spot a double-decker bus. Red, two levels, skillfully winding down narrow London streets with ease, and your new bestie while learning to navigate the city.
Hop on this baby within a day of your arrival, and you won’t regret it.
From the second level, you can see London in a way you never could from the backseat of an Uber.
Kill three birds with one stone:
– No need to hail a taxi. You can use this as a form of transportation to quickly get from one attraction to the next. Since a new bus comes every 15-20 minutes, it’s crazy convenient to hop on and hop off as you please.
– No need to hire a guide. Each bus has live hosts or pre-recorded commentary happening as you drive by the all the ‘must see’ areas of the city. We hired a private tour in New Orleans once for $500….and trust me; you learn the same or more with a big bus tour!
– No need to miss any attraction. Walking to 60 different tourist hot spots would take you weeks. Skip the FOMO by taking the bus and not only seeing, but learning something about all the best London attractions.
We loved hopping on the bus early in the trip to get our bearings in London. Any new city can be super confusing from street level, but the bus helped us learn direction and distance between neighborhoods.
If you buy your Big Bus Pass online, it saves you 10% as opposed to getting in on the go. Bonus points if you get THIS pass, which combines your bus tickets along with entry to the London Eye!
- Starting at £31.50
- First bus starts at 8:00am, last bus at 4:30pm
- Buses run every 5-15 minutes for popular routes and every 20 minutes for secondary routes
- Book tickets for Big Bus London
Go Ape Battersea Park
When I think of ziplining, my mind wanders to places like Costa Rica or Mexico, but little did I know it’s something you can do right in the heart of London!
Here you can embrace your inner primate as you dangle in the treetops of Battersea Park, 40ft in the air. There are different obstacles and adventures you can pick from including a Tibetian bridge, zig-zag bridge, and zip wire, all while being strapped to a safety harness in case heights make your heart palpitate! It’s the kind of adventure you would expect to travel far out of the city for, but it’s only 20 minutes from Buckingham Palace.
While the great outdoors are NOT my thing, we lived vicariously through friends who spent hours gliding above the treetops. They reported nothing but positive reviews, along with calling me a wimp for not trying it myself.
- Overground: Battersea Park Station
- Buses 44, 137, 156, 344, 452 all pass near the entrance
See London From DEEP DOWN BELOW:
Churchill War Rooms
Hands down one of the most fascinating tours I have ever taken. At the parliament buildings, right across from St Jame’s Park, we were escorted below the building into Winston Churchill's secret war rooms. These very rooms were the exact place where he made decisions and orders that would change the course of history forever. This was also the place where he (and his employees) would hide when bombs were crashing on the city. Left intact, we passed through secret corridors and rooms that contained giant maps where they would place pins to represent locations of convoys, troops, and enemy advancements. The pin holes were still on the actual maps, making it an eerie and eye-opening experience.
We saw the wooden cellar doors in the concrete floor that would open to allow employees to hide in the dark wet dungeon-like room below when bombing wouldn’t allow them to go home for the night.
Even Churchill’s meeting room was reinforced with red steel beams to keep the ceiling from collapsing on the important figures discussing war tactics.
Seeing these rooms, frozen in time, was almost like being transported back in time.
At the conclusion of the tour, we ventured through the Winston Churchill museum, which contains incredible treasures like an original enigma machine and even his noble peace prize!
Who knew we could learn so much about wartime London from simply going underground!
The War Rooms should be a ‘must do' on your own London Travel Guide itinerary!
- Open 7 days a week, 9:30 am – 6:00 pm (except Dec 24-26)
- Adult £19 Child £9.50
- Book Tickets for Churchill's War Rooms
- On the TUBE: Westminster. (Jubilee, District and Circle Line. 8-10 min walk.) -OR- St James's Park. (District and Circle Lines. 7-10 min walk.)
- Bus routes: 3, 11, 12, 24, 53, 87, 88, 109, 148, 159, 184, 211, 453
Watch our 'Instagram Stories' from The War Rooms:
Billingsgate Roman Bath Ruins
Many Londoner’s I later talked to about these secret underground Roman baths had NO idea they were even there!
Below the street of the Square Mile (then called Londinium by the Romans) bathhouse remains from 150 AD have been discovered.
What is so fascinating about these remains is the advanced technology they used, including underground heated flooring systems, which were undoubtedly before their time!
These ruins have survived 2000 years of bombings, fires and buildings going up around them.
Visiting the Billingsgate Roman Baths gave us a window into the rich history of what life was like for a wealthy pioneering Roman in ancient London!
If nothing else, you should go for the bragging rights of knowing something about the city that most Londoner’s have never heard of!
Underground Postal Museum
They call it the first ever and oldest social network. I call it snail mail gets an upgrade! Hidden from view below bustling city streets, small train cars delivered mail to London’s most essential arteries from 1927, shockingly all the way up until 2003! As London grew, getting mail delivered the old fashioned way was proving to be too complicated. Traffic, fog, rain, busy streets, all of these made engineers look below the surface. The idea for the underground railway system had been in the works since the mid-1800’s, but things like war and funding held it up until 1927.
We learned a ton about the history of rail mail, costs and obstacles of the postal service throughout the centuries, women in the workforce, even CATS that held jobs as rodent control.
You can explore this subterranean world by taking a ride on the mail trains themselves and getting a history lesson at the museum!
- Open every day (except Dec 24-26) from 10:00am to 5:00pm
- Tours last 2-3 hours
- Adult £16, Child £8
- Book your tickets for The Postal Museum
- On the TUBE: Farringdon, Russell Square, King’s Cross and Chancery Lane.
- By BUS: Routes 17, 19, 38, 45, 46, 63, 341
- 15-20 Phoenix Place, London WC1X 0DA
Hear me out on this one. I know the fantastically luxurious hotel isn’t underground, but much of its history is!
In the 1800’s, railway hotels were the stomping grounds for the wanderlust elite to enhance their train travel before and after a long journey. Many of them ended up falling into disrepair, but the Grosvenor has been wonderfully restored to its former grandeur. It was built in 1862, just one year after Victoria Station opened. Directly from the hotel, without even leaving the building, you will find a corridor that takes you straight down to the bustling train station. (Not to mention the Tube as well!)
Another historical claim to fame of the Grosvenor Hotel- It had the very first elevator (or ‘lift’ for the Brits) in London!
We stayed in the lavish Executive King Suite for the weekend and were taken aback by how inexplicably GORGEOUS the room was. High ceilings, damask linens, posh decor, and a bathroom fit for a princess!
Want to see the absolute definition of luxury? Google ‘The Cora Pearl Suite’ at the Grosvenor and prepare for your jaw to drop!
- BOOK a room at The Grosvenor
- Standard Twin/Double from £113
- Deluxe Twin/Double from £137
- Family Room from £173
- Executive King Room from £185
- Cora Pearl Suite from £305
- On the TUBE: Victoria Station
- Gatwick Express from airport to Victoria Station
- 101 Buckingham Palace Rd, London SW1W 0SJ
Watch our ROOM TOUR in our Suite at the Grosvenor
See London From THE WATER
Thames City Cruises Sundowner River Tour
The River Thames has been a lifeline to London for over 2000 years, so it makes perfect sense to set sail and experience the city from its vantage point. You can hop on and off these boats just like a double-decker bus, using them for an attraction and a source of transportation.
The boats have open upper decks, as well as panoramic window, enclosed lower decks, so you can float up and down the river in any weather.
We opted in for the Sundowner River Lights Tour so we could watch the sunset and the twinkling of London’s bight city lights. After boarding, they served champagne and canapés while we floated by iconic riverside landmarks on the upper deck. You haven’t seen London until you see it from underneath its bridges!
The photo ops were terrific, and this attraction gets bonus points for having washrooms on board!
- City Cruises have boats leaving every 40 minutes
- Prices start at £10
- Book your tickets for a Thames City Cruise
Boats depart from these piers: Westminster, London Eye, Tower and Greenwich
Check the timetable HERE
Watch our 'Instagram Stories' from our Thames City Cruise:
The HMS Belfast
Hop on the 1938 Royal Navy warship and explore it top to bottom, all the way down to its engine rooms that are 15ft below sea level. This WWII ship is docked on the River Thames and now serves as a floating museum for what life would have been like for the 950 crew members on board.
You can tour through rooms like the bakery, sickbay, laundry, dentist’s office, shell rooms and more throughout nine different decks.
Your inner child will thank you.
See London from it's NEIGHBOURHOODS
Steps from Hyde Park and the Marble Arch, there is a triangle of streets blossoming as an exclusive shopping and lifestyle district of central London.
Here we saw a mix of delightful Victorian and Georgian style flats and independent businesses with quaint boutique storefronts. Celebs and aristocrats have their slice of real estate in the area, not to mention regularly patron the bespoke shops.
In fact, I was trying to get a cute shot for the gram down a back alleyway, but was approached by security telling us to clear out! Apparently, we got a little too close to the back door of former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s house!
We then hightailed it over to Roni’s Bakery to get our fill of Mediterranean brunch to fuel us for the rest of our sightseeing day.
It was great to explore Connaught Village because it was such a contrast to the nearby madness of Bond street, almost like it was our own little paradise.
We also loved seeing small business excel in this environment, with almost every shop and restaurant an independent.
Want to know a part of its dark history? It was once called Tybrunia and was the gallows just outside the cities core where they hanged criminals! Today it’s a far cry from that at the opposite end of the spectrum.
- By the TUBE: Marble Arch (Central Line), Lancaster Gate (Central Line)
- Roni's Bakery is located at 12 Connaught Street
- Check out the latest happenings on the neighborhoods official page Connaught Village
Watch our 'Instagram Stories' around Connaught Village
Things sure do change! An area that was once known as the darkest slums of London has been transformed into a hipster haven! How dark? Well, Jack the Ripper was said to have lurked in the shadows of its streets, so I guess you can’t get any more gruesome than that!
Do yourself a favor and take a walking tour through London’s vibrant and eclectic east end neighborhood, Shoreditch.
No really, learning about the contrast from its derelict past to its trendy present is riveting! Take Arnold Circus for example; one of the prettiest spots we stopped at, elevated lush gardens, with beautiful brick flats surrounding its center. After admiring the location (and googling if there was any available real estate for sale), we soon learned about it’s rough and tumble history. Near the end of the 19th century, the poverty and filth of this area were so severe, they demolished everything, put it into what is now the raised bandstand, and started again from scratch.
It’s been an immigrant and multicultural melting pot for centuries, each demographic leaving its mark. The Jews, Christians, and Muslims all moved in for a piece of their East End pie. Other Londoner’s who were fed up with tight rules and regulations of the central city left for Shoreditch, which was very liberal for its day. Even miscreants like actors found refuge in the working class borough, with Shakespeare himself opening a theatre there.
Now, it’s filled with pop up restaurants, abstract art galleries, trendy shopping and even membership only boutique hotels. Celebs like Emma Watson, Liv Tyler, and Victoria Beckham have all been seen dining at Shoreditch House restaurant, and Kiera Knightly owns a home in the area.
Sue Hadley, a blue badge tour guide, gave us a detailed and elaborate walking tour through her childhood neighborhood. Her knowledge was second to none, and it was one of the most memorable tours for our entire time in London.
Markets you MUST check out:
- The Columbia Road Flower Market Sunday 8am to 2pm
- Brick Lane Sunday 9am-5pm
It doesn’t matter if this will be your first trip to London, or you are a well-seasoned pro, this London Travel Guide and its tips should help you get a different perspective to help you see London like never before! We had an absolute blast during our time in the city and we can't wait to go back!
Make sure to follow London’s official tourism board for more trip ideas @visitlondon
Travelling by TRAIN in the UK? Check out: ‘GWR Night Riviera Sleeper Train – London to Penzance'
We were hosted by the London Tourism Board, but our opinions and advice are always our own!
↓ Have you experienced any of these London attractions before?? Any we missed you think should be on this list??