I teamed up with Ebookers Take Over Your Layover to share with you what to do in London, if you find yourself on a long Heathrow layover. Ebookers have a cool tool that can help suggest a few options to pretty much fit any layover situation. They also asked for my recommendation so I embarked on a touristy exploration of London. This post is applicable to anybody visiting London, especially for the first time. However, I have mainly tailored it for Heathrow layover visitors.
What to do in London? I can promise that you will feel overwhelmed with the choice. I have been living here for many years and that is exactly how I feel. In this post, I wanted to go back to basic and see my favourite landmarks. I will also pinpoint locations where you may able to take a great shot without loads of people ruining your picture. So sit back and let me take you on a visual tour of London.
First is tube journey to the central London. The good thing about flying into Heathrow is the Piccadilly line which takes you straight into central London for less than £5. I definitely recommend choosing this way of transport as its the most economical, plus, the time difference between the Heathrow express and the tube is not that much different. The first stop is Covent Garden which is approx 51min on the Piccadilly line from Heathrow airport.
I wanted to include Covent Garden as a first suggestion on what to do in London because it really represents the essence of London. It’s a very lively area perfect for shopping, eating and entertainment. Covent Garden is home to the Royal Opera House and many other theatres that stretch between Aldwych and Shaftsbury avenue. One of my favourite things to do in Convent Garden is to walk to Neals Yard which is a perfect little area for a quick coffee and rest. This area always has a cool installation on the show and at the moment they have gorgeous flowers everywhere which are perfect as a picture backdrop. I really love the market in the Apple Market which sells handmade goods and antiques so it’s a perfect stop if you want to get a present for your loved ones. After all this walking and travelling you will probably feel hungry so I can recommend you take a walk down Long Acre towards Drury Lane taking a left turn onto Bow Street to the Broad Court where you can see another cool installation and a bunch of red telephone boxes which make another perfect backdrop for your photo. The current installation on Broad Court is a Young Dancer by Plazzotta Sculptures. You can walk down the Broad CT towards Drury Lane for a quick healthy lunch at Farmstand which is my favourite quick lunch place in Covent Garden. All of the ingredients are locally sourced and healthy, they have many gluten free and vegan options and portions are quite big for the price. The best of all, you can have a homemade sit-down meal within 5 minutes which will save you a bunch of time especially when it’s limited. There are many other lunch options in the area but I really recommend Farmstand as it’s not overpriced and busy with tourists.
After lining your bellies with healthy food, I recommend walking down Long Acre making a swift turn onto St Martins Lane toward Trafalgar Square. This is a very touristy area and home to the National Gallery which is free to visit if you are looking for an artsy fix. Due to a lack of time, I recommend standing on top of the steps outside the National Gallery facing the Big Ben, as you will be able to take beautiful pictures of Nelson’s Column Fountains and Lions, General Sir Charles Napier statue and the Whitehall with Big Ben peeking through. This area is lovely to see but not to spend too much time at as there is way more ahead of us. If you walk down Whitehall, you will arrive at Big Ben and Westminster Bridge which is a must visit if anything else but a gorgeous photo. You can walk over the bridge and take some beautiful shots of the London Eye and Big Ben from all the different perspectives. Once you cross and turn left you will arrive onto Southbank, which is home to the London Aquarium. This is also nice to visit, however, I think there is more to see if you have less time so I leave this absolutely down to you.
Southbank is one of my favourite places in London, not only for its cultural diversity and offering but also for the views. It’s home to the London Eye to Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre and BFI. This area is packed with restaurants and buskers that just walking down the bank you will feel entertained. Here you can stop for a while to watch skateboarders, talented singers, you can take a Ferris wheel ride or browse second-hand books at the market. If you walk down the bank you will be able to get beautiful shots of London Bridge, St Pauls Cathedral and Tower Bridge. This is a cultural centre of London and nonetheless extremely picturesque that is one of my favourites “what to do in London” options. Further down Southbank is the Millennium bridge and Tate Modern which is the museum of modern art. The museum is free to visit and you can make that decision depending on your available time. I recommend crossing the bridge here and walking towards St Pauls Cathedral, you will be able to snap beautiful shots of the church. St Pauls Cathedral is where Princess Diana got married and Queen Elizabeth celebrated her Jubilee. The cathedral has the prettiest yard and it really is a must see if you are in London.
If you have gotten this far, you probably feel a little tired and ready for a drink. From here you can walk down Canon street towards the Sky Garden. Sky Garden is a great place to stop for a drink and admire London from the above. The only thing here is that you may not be able to walk in so booking your slot is recommended. You can read about planning your visit here. After a refreshing beverage, I recommend walking down to Tower Bridge for another round of gorgeous images. You can see the Tower of London here and the best views of the bridge are way better from the main entrance to the Tower. Also if you are lucky enough you may be able to see the Ceremony of the Keys. From here you should walk over to St Katherine Dock’s which is a really pretty area filled with boats. This is another picturesque location that I can recommend you take a few snaps of.
A short walk from St Katherine Dock’s is Brick Lane and Shoreditch. Brick Lane is a perfect place to visit if you are looking to get a taste of East London. It offers many unique stores, market stalls, bars and restaurants that are a must visit if you are around London. Sundays tend to be the busiest however if you find yourself there in the middle of the week, it’s pretty quiet so you will be able to take some cool snaps of the street art. Street art of Brick Lane is another thing that makes it famous, alongside the Curry houses which you can find in abundance. One of my favourite things to do on Brick Lane is vintage clothes shopping and places like Blitz London and Rokit offers amazing finds including designers. These stores are always on trend and perfect for every fashionista out there. If you are hungry I recommend popping over to one of the infamous bagel stores and treating yourself to a salt beef or smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel as these are to die for. From here you can walk to Shoreditch slowly making your way to Liverpool Street as you can use the Central line to travel to Holborn and change for Piccadilly line which will take you straight back to Heathrow.
I hope I helped you a little bit on deciding what to do in London. London is truly a beautiful city so I recommend spending a few days to fully immerse yourself in its cosmopolitan culture. The recommendations above will allow you to see all the major landmarks and I really hope you enjoyed reading this post.