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  • Janis Nunez

London, United Kingdom

Updated: Aug 2, 2023

We spent four full days in London for my son's spring break. Here's how we spent our days. Hopefully it will give some ideas for your upcoming trip.


ADAPTER: You will need an adapter to plug in your electronics. We usually each have our own. You might need it at the airport if you need to charge while you are waiting for your flight home, so keep it in your carry-on bag.

Know the wattage of your electronics before you go, so that you know if you need a converter, adapter or both. I have a universal wattage flat iron. It saves me the hassle of worrying if I need an adapter AND converter. Most hotels and Airbnbs provide a hair dryer, so just make sure whatever you bring has Worldwide Voltage, or you will also need a converter too.

PHONE: Contact your cell phone provider to see what is included. T-Mobile gives unlimited data and texting, but charges $0.25 per minute per call. I have read other companies require you to get a SIM card, so contact your provider for details. You can also download WhatsApp to your phone and call using Wi-Fi to call others who also have the app installed.

If you have T-Mobile, they also offer In-Flight Connection that gives customers free connectivity with streaming on American Airlines, Alaska Airlines and Delta Air Lines. This includes data, streaming, and text messaging. All you do is connect to the Wi-Fi and add your phone number to the T-Mobile prompt and you are all set.

CONTACT YOUR BANK AND CREDIT CARD COMPANIES: It's important to let the bank know when you will be out of town so that you won't have any problems withdrawing your money when you get to your destination. You also may need to notify your credit card company of the travel dates. We like to withdraw local currency when we arrive at our destination from a bank ATM in one lump sum. This avoids extra fees for multiple transactions. You can get away with using a credit card most everywhere, but having some local currency is always a good idea. Some credit cards charge fees for use, so ask about fees for both your ATM and credit cards.

WHERE TO STAY: Depending on what you will be doing on your trip, it's best to stay in the area you will be doing the most activities. Try to find a central location so that you can get around on foot to most sites. Central locations are pricier, so if you are trying to stay on a budget don't be afraid to stay on the outskirts near a train station. We did this and it took 25 minutes to get from our hotel to wherever we wanted to explore in London.

This trip we used all points and stayed at a Holiday Inn Express. These are good choices if you need a family room. With 3 of us traveling, we got a room with a queen bed and sofa bed. There was plenty of space and breakfast was included. It was nice to have a hardy breakfast before heading out for a day of exploring.


CURRENCY: You can find a local ATM to get the local currency. Check fees and be sure you take out the lump sum of what you need, so that you don't get hit with multiple fees from the country, your bank, and exchange rates. The currency in London is the British Pound. Cards were accepted everywhere we went.

You can download the currency converter app on your phone to help you convert to your local currency to keep spending in check.

TRANSPORTATION: There really is no need for a car if you are staying in London since they have double-decker buses, the London Underground (also known as "the Tube"), the Docklands Light Railway (DLR), and riverboat services.

When I was researching the best way to pay for transportation, a lot of sites mentioned getting an Oyster card. The card is not necessary. You can use a tap card to pay for your trips. Here are all of the options for this: tap card options. This saves you from having to buy the oyster card and keep refilling it. It's very easy. They won't charge you more than £8.10/day, which is the daily pay as you go cap (maximum amount that can be deducted per day). Some of the all-day visitor transportation passes I saw online were £24/day. Don't do it. We paid the max amount for all 4 days, and it was only £32/person for the entire trip. When using the tube or train you must tap in and tap out of the stations (this lets them know the ticket fare for your trip). For the buses you only need to tap in.

Download the TfL Go app for the best ways to get around the city in real time. You will take a combination of the tube, trains and buses, so it really helps you understand your options when trying to reach your destinations.

From the airport to the hotel is where we splurge for Uber. Yes, you can absolutely take trains to get to the hotels, but for us the price of the Uber is worth it to get directly to our destination without having to drag luggage over train gaps, find space on the train, change trains and pull luggage over cobblestone streets. For this trip it was about £50 and totally worth it. There is a designated area to call for an Uber in the parking garage. It only took 5 minutes for our driver to arrive. He was wonderful and gave us lots of helpful tips and information on the drive to the hotel.

London Pass: As with all city passes, you really need to list the things that you want to see, the cost for them, and then compare to the city pass pricing. For us this was definitely going to make things cheaper, with the added benefit of not having to reserve time slots for many locations was a definite plus. Here is the link for the London Pass website. We purchased 4-day London Passes for 3 adults for £134.00/person. This was at a discount on the website. The pass is digital and can be accessed through the London Pass app on your phone which is very convenient when you are out and about.

One thing we didn't like about it was that there is not a separate line for people with passes like we have experienced in other countries, so you still have to wait in a ticket line and show the pass. There were only two places we didn't go into because there were no time slots available the day of our visit. Had we reserved earlier in the week it would not have been an issue. We weren't sure where we would be during the day and didn't want to have to rush to a time slot visit on our trip. We were okay with missing the Shard and the House of Parliament.


Day 1: Upon arrival our hotel room was not ready, but they did allow us to store our luggage so that we could start exploring. I always ask if they have a bathroom that I can use before giving my luggage so that I can brush my teeth and clean up a little after the overnight flight. You could also do this at the airport. Sometimes our rooms are ready upon arrival, or you can pay to have a room immediately ready (we did this in Belgium), so just be prepared if you arrive in the morning and your room is not ready.

Definitely bring an umbrella along when visiting London. It was sprinkling on and off that first day and we were happy to have our rain jackets and umbrella. We were hungry, so headed to Gail's Bakery down the street from our hotel before heading into the city center. I started my day off with porridge with honey and a scone. My husband and son started with an omelet with bacon and sourdough toast. Both were delicious.

We took a double decker bus for the first time from the stop around the corner, and headed to the Wellington Arch. We weren't able to go to the top as it was closed that day, but you could use the London Pass here if it's open when you visit.

Just through the arch and across the street is the walkway along Constitutional Hill through the gardens to Buckingham Palace. The changing of the guard occurs daily at 11am. Be sure to check out the amazing fountain in front of the Palace as well.

One of the few things open in the area on Sunday was the Royal Mews. To see all of the carriages in person and learn about when they were used was an unexpected surprise. You can use your London Pass here. They give you an audio guide at the entrance so that you know what you are looking at. You can take a photo in a carriage near the end of the tour!

Next stop Westminster Cathedral. It's free to enter. You can take the lift to go to the top of the bell tower. (It's not a must do, but why not if you are in the area.)

Westminster Abbey is not open on Sundays. We walked around the area to get an idea of how close things are and to sight see from the streets. The architecture is brilliant.

Around the corner is the Parliament building, Big Ben, and the London Eye (just over the Westminster Bridge). Great views. Hopefully it's a less gloomy day when you visit.

There is a station right across from Big Ben to get to your next destination. For us to get back to our hotel in Wandsworth. We used the tube and train.

Day 2: First stop St Paul's Cathedral. Stunning is an understatement. You can use your London Pass to get into the cathedral, which includes the audio guide. Get one. You can pick and choose what to listen to and gain more information on various parts of the cathedral. There is a "wipe off" of the 3 domes that you can see where it was bombed and how it looks now. We found this fascinating (on the audio handheld device).

There are 528 steps to the dome where you will be rewarded with stunning views of the city. At the first viewpoint stop you can take a break before continuing. There are a couple benches if you need it. If you have mobility issues or a heart condition, skip it. If you are able to make the climb, you will not be disappointed.

The crypt was our last stop in the cathedral. There is a gift shop and small cafe as well as bathrooms on this level.

Next, we walked toward and over Millennium Bridge. Definitely stop and admire the architecture along the way. The steel footbridge takes you across the River Thames. This bridge links Bankside to the City of London. Harry Potter fans may remember it from The Half-Blood Prince movie when the death eaters attack.

Just over the bridge you will find Shakespeare's Globe. Try to see a show here if you can! We walked past and headed toward the Borough Market, stopping in some shops along the way. The tea at Bird and Blend was delicious.

The Borough Market was a great spot to get whatever food you are in the mood for. It's London's oldest vegetable market and public gathering spot. Tons of options here. My son opted for the coveted fish and chips, and I had ramen. Both were delicious. There are lots of booths set up throughout the market with food and other goods. The line for paella was long, and it looked delicious.

We stopped at Southwark Cathedral. It's beautiful inside and out. In the back you can sit next to Shakespeare on the bench and take a break. This is the church that Shakespeare attended, and his brother rang the bell. This church dates back to 1207.

London Bridge is a must see. It's actually not that interesting to look at, more like a spot to check off your list. Stop along the bridge for some great views of major sites.

From the bridge we headed to The Monument to the Great Fire of 1666. You can use your London Pass to go to the top. There are 311 steps to the top for amazing views. My son went up and we stopped into The Hydrant for a couple beers. (Just a note, you can order half pints of beer instead of a full pint.) Once you make it down from the monument you are given a certificate for making it to the top. It's a nice keepsake.

Leidenhall Market is filled with shops and taverns. It was not busy at all when we stopped by. It's also what inspired JK Rowling to create Diagon Alley. In the movies, the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron was filmed here. There is a lot of great architecture just outside the market perimeter.

We passed All Hallows by The Tower on our way to see part of the London Wall. We didn't stop in due to time restraints, but it looked like a place we'd like to visit. A little further down the road you can see remains of the Roman Wall (near the Tower of London). Most of the wall is gone, but you can find parts of it throughout the city. You can walk through part of it at the Leonardo Royal Hotel.

The Tower of London is also included with the London Pass. Give yourself plenty of time to walk the grounds here. Pay attention to closing times if it's later in the day. Along the higher levels is an opportunity of some great shots of the Tower Bridge.