72 Hours in London

London can be a very overwhelming city to visit. According to Forbes, London is the twelveth most expensive city in the world, and there is just SO much to do that if you want to get the most out of your visit you must do research prior to your trip. I only booked my flight to London a week before my departure date and having visited London before, I wanted to make sure that I had the opportunity to see everything I hadn’t seen last time and revisit places that I believed I would have a new-found respect for after visiting for a second time, thirteen years later. I decided that the best, and most affordable way to see the city in 72 hours would be to get the London Pass. The London Pass is a pass that includes admission to over 60 different museums, galleries, castles, and other London attractions, in addition to free access to the London public transportation systems. The London Pass also comes with a guide book and fast track admission to some of the more popular attractions that tend to have long wait times. With only three days in the city, I did not have time to loose waiting on line! I opted for the three day pass with transportation, although expensive, with careful planning and even better execution, I absolutely got my money’s worth, and then some! In just 72 hours, here is all I was able to see during my stay in London:

  1. Westminster Cathedral
    • As I was getting my bearings, only having been in the city for less than 20 minutes before I set off, I prematurely disembarked the bus two stops early at Westminster Cathedral rather than Westminster Abbey.
    • Although initially a mistake, this ended up being a great visit. The Cathedral is the “mother church of the Catholic Church in England and Whales”
    • The cathedral was built entirely in brick and stone in order to prove that a “good craftsman” did not need steel or concrete to create a masterpieceIMG_8708
  2. Westminster Abbey
    • This location is included in the London Pass
    • Arriving at the Abbey just as it opens is key to avoiding long wait lines and an overcrowded experience
    • This is a Gothic style church was built in the 10th century and is the traditional location for coronations and the burial sites for the British monarchs
    • Westminster Abbey is a UNESCO World Heritage SiteIMG_8749 IMG_8724IMG_8410IMG_8409IMG_8411
  3. The Houses of Parliament & “Big Ben”
    • The Houses of Parliament tour was one of the most memorable experiences from my last visit to London; therefore, due to time I chose to skip this tour. The tour is not included in the London Pass.
    • However, by crossing over Westminster Bridge you can get a beautiful picture of Parliament and Big Ben!IMG_8768 IMG_8771
  4. Wellington Arch
    • The arch was completed in 1830 and was positioned along the route to Buckingham Palace and was intended to be a ceremonial entrance to the palace
  5. Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace
    • The changing of the guard ceremony occurs every day at 11:30 a.m. sharp at Buckingham Palace
    • Buckingham Palace is the Queens “working residence” and where she spends most of her time during the work week
    • The Palace tour is not included in the London PassIMG_8795IMG_8432
  6. Hyde Park
    • Hyde Park is pretty much the Central Park of London
    • Throughout November and December, Winter Wonderland takes place in Hyde Park which is essentially a festive amusement park. There is ice skating, food vendors, spinning rides, Santa Land, ice bars and so much more!
  7. Grosvenor Gardens
    • A small garden area in the heart of the fashion district in London
    • Home to David Breuer-Weil’s new ‘Alien’ statueIMG_8797 IMG_8798
  8. Corrigan’s Mayfair
    • My first introduction to English food was at Corrigan’s Mayfair, a very elegant restaurant in Mayfair, although the ambience was fabulous, the food was interesting to say the least..IMG_8441 IMG_8442 IMG_8443 IMG_8445 IMG_8446
  9. Kensington Gardens
    • One of eight Royal Parks in London outside of Kensington PalaceIMG_8804
  10. Kensington Palace
    • This location is included in the London Pass and has Fast Track entry
    • This Palace is the residence of the British Royal Family since the 17th century and is currently the resident of Prince Harry and the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton
    • The Palace includes different exhibits that showcase the State Rooms, the beautiful dresses of Queen Elizabeth, her sister and Princess Diana, the King’s gallery and moreIMG_8451 IMG_8453
  11. Trafalgar Square
    • The largest square in London and is considered to be the heart of the cityFullSizeRender_1
  12. National Gallery
    • The National Gallery is an art museum in Trafalgar Square that houses over 2,300 paintings from the mid-13th century to 1900
    • Admission to the gallery is freeFullSizeRender
  13. Windsor Castle
    • This location is included in the London Pass and has Fast Track entry
    • Windsor Castle is the home to the current Queen Elizabeth and was built in the 11th century
    • The castle includes an audio guide which is very descriptive and gives a great understanding of what life was like for the monarch during the 19th century
    • My favorite part of this Castle was the exhibit on the Queens dollhouse, the dollhouse was built to be a miniature Windsor Castle with miniature books, fixtures, and artwork all to identically resemble what is displayed in the castleIMG_8820IMG_8504IMG_8865
  14. St. George’s Chapel
    • The cathedral is located on the grounds of Windsor Castle and is the burial site for the Queens mother and father, in addition to many other monarchs IMG_8839
  15. Hampton Court Palace
    • This location is included in the London Pass and has Fast Track entry
    • This palace has not been inhabited by the British Royal family since the 18th century but has beautiful gardens, State Rooms and art galleries to visit
    • The palace even provides fabulous red robes to wear as you tour the palace with your audio guide!IMG_8875 IMG_8887 IMG_8534FullSizeRender FullSizeRender
  16. Marble Arch
    • The Marble Arch is a London landmark located at one of the corners of Hyde Park
    • Historically, only members of the Royal Family were permitted to pass through the arch, this now only happens during ceremonial processions
  17. King Charles III
    • We saw King Charles III at the Wyndham Theatre, the play is a British Satire that shows the accession of Charles, Prince of Whales as he becomes king following the Queens death
  18. Oxford Street
    • Oxford Street is one of the main and best shopping street not only in London, but in all of Europe
    • There are over 300 stores on the street and stores sometimes stay open until 9/10pm
  19. Tower of London & Crown Jewels
    • This location is included in the London Pass and has Fast Track entry
    • One of the most exciting parts of the Tower of London is the Crown Jewels exhibit which shows the different crowns, scepters, orbs, swords, rings, spurs, and the serving pieces used for the sovereign of the United Kingdom during the coronation ceremony
    • Although the exhibit does not contain as many pieces as the Diamond Fund (Moscow, Russia), it is valued to be the most expensive set of crown jewels in the worldIMG_8894 IMG_8903 IMG_8909 IMG_8916 IMG_8919 IMG_8920
  20. Tower Bridge Exhibition
    • This location is included in the London Pass
    • The Tower Bridge Exhibition just opened a few weeks ago and gives visitors a chance to learn more about how and why the bridge was built, the mechanics behind the bridge and allows visitors to walk across the bridge and a get a view of the cars passing by peering through the glass floor 42 meters above the Thames River
    • I was pretty disappointed with the view from the top of the bridge because the steal beams completely blocked any view of the cityIMG_8659
  21. St. Paul’s Cathedral
    • The Cathedral is an Anglican cathedral and is where Prince Charles married Princess Diana
    • Admission to the cathedral is quite expensive and not included in the London Pass; however, does include the opportunity to walk up to the dome of the cathedral to get a view of London from aboveIMG_8653
  22. Millennium Bridge
    • This is a pedestrian bridge, completed in 2000 that stretches from St. Paul’s Cathedral to the South Bank, where Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre is locatedIMG_8674
  23. South Bank
    • The South Bank runs along the River Thames and although had been destroyed in the fire of 1613, was rebuilt in 1614 and then eventually demolished in 1644
    • During the winter months there is a beautiful Christmas market that is located along the bank of the river and is definitely a spot to visitIMG_8969 IMG_8967 IMG_8963
  24. Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre
    • This location is included on the London Pass
    • This was one of my favorite tours of the entire trip, our guide was incredible and she gave us a true feeling of what it would be like to watch one of Shakespeare’s plays in the theatre
    • During Shakespeare’s life the theatre was outside of the London walls and is along the South Bank, an area that was seen as promiscuous for the time
    • Before a play would start, a flag was raised and everyone from London would flood over by boat and would pay one penny for admission for the afternoon play
    • The floor was for the standing audience and the rule was BYO (bring your own alcohol, food, whatever you would like!) and without any bathrooms in the theatre, the floor became a lavatory for all, yikes!
    • The theatre was created without a roof so the theatre was lit by daylightIMG_8682 IMG_8962 IMG_8949 IMG_8958
  25. High Tea
    • No trip to London is complete without afternoon High Tea!IMG_8697

In addition to seeing all of this I also got to meet up with two of my Sigma Kappa sisters, Meghan and Shelley, which was so great! It was so nice that during my short and very busy trip I was still able to catch up with some old friends!

Even though I was able to see a lot during my time in London; there are a couple of sites I had planned to visit and could have fit in, but selfishly chose to indulge in high tea instead. Here are just a couple more recommendations that are included on the London Pass and that you could fit in with a three day visit:

  1. The Royal Mews
    • Closed for December and January
  2. Churchill War Rooms
  3. Thame’s River Cruise
    • This is a hop-on-hop-off boat that cruises along the Thame’s and gives beautiful views of many London attractions
  4. Jewel Tower
  5. Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park

So the question still remains, is the London Pass “worth it”? YES, YES, YES! I did get to purchase my pass at a discount for 103 pounds and just based on the locations that I was able to visit, I saved over 50 euro. In addition, to time, the hassle of buying different transportation cards, wait time for admission lines and more. This short and busy trip was the perfect way to get me back into the travel excitement before setting off for our Viking River Cruise tomorrow!

4 thoughts on “72 Hours in London

  1. Bianca- it was such fun to read about your adventures! You really know how to plan a trip and squeeze the most wonderful activities into your time. I’m so impressed!! Your pictures are amazing! ( I love, love your fur hat and you look so impressive in the red robes!!) So glad you had a great time and made the most of your time in London! Happy New Year xo Carey

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