Top 5 things to do

Everyone already knows you should try to see a show in London so it won’t be included in my list of 5. However, try to book tickets in advance if possible or buy them last minute on the same day from one of the many booths around town for a discount.  If it’s important to you to see the show, then buy in advance.

1. Picadilly Circus/Leicester Square – Obviously you have to go to Picadilly Circus just to get a picture of the famous sign.  Other than that, it’s just a bunch of good shopping around there.  There is an arcade near Picadilly Circus called Trocadero.  It’s full of arcade games and has a Baskin Robbins on the bottom floor.  Leicester Square is close to Picadilly Circus and is full of movie theaters and fun restaurants. Pictured: Picadilly Circus, Leicester Square

 

2. Covent Garden – A really cute, and in my opinion, typical London-type shopping area.  There are often people performing little free shows for money.  Lots of nice shopping and few little restaurants and pubs. Picture:  A performer in Covent Garden

3. Camden Town Market – This is a really fun area with all sorts of very interesting people and shops.  The best time to go is during the weekend where you can head further down the street to an even bigger market than on the rest of the road where you can get lost in a maze looking for interesting items to buy.  There are also many tasty food booths on the weekend near the big market area. Picture: Main Street of Camden Town

4. Changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace – A wonderful and exciting free parade that goes most days at 11:30.  However, you need to get near Buckingham Palace around 11 for a good place, maybe 11:15 would be fine.  Check which days they do the parade – http://www.changing-the-guard.com/chaging-the-guard-schedules-times.html
Picture: Changing of the guard

5. Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum –  A very fun place to look through and take pictures.  If you have small children you may want to avoid the torture room, but otherwise it’s fine. Picture: Måns and wax Patrick Stewart

Hotels

As usual in these big cities, I really suggest Priceline’s “Name Your Own Price.”  Last time we got a wonderful and modern hotel in the Camden Town area for a low price.  Start at 70 dollars for the lowest and work your way up to 100.  You only get to try with one credit card every 24 hours.  Have at least 2 handy.  Choose areas that are more in the middle of town and not the outskirts.  London is a huge city.

Suggestions for nice areas:

Camden Town (maybe not for grandparents though)
Covent Garden
Notting Hill
Hampstead Heath (a little farther north but very cute)
Kensington
Mayfair/Soho

You don’t want to stay in the Docklands.  It’s very modern and fine, but WAY out of the way.

Food

The British aren’t really famous for their food.  If you want something authentic, try some fish and chips at a pub.

Otherwise….

Head down to the Chinatown area.  It’s a lot of fun to walk around and the food is very good.

 

Also, Pizza Express is a decent pizza/pasta restaurant if you are having trouble finding a place to go.

London

London, much like Paris, is a huge city where you can always find something new to do each time you go.  The pollution is a little bad, so be prepared for that.  Also, keep an eye on the streets.  At every crossing you will see the words “Look Right” or “Look Left,” because even they know they’re driving on the wrong side and it’s very easy for people to get hit by cars.

People are generally very friendly and will help you with directions.