Our honeymoon. Where do I even begin?!?
I can honestly say this was the best trip Nate and I have ever taken. Looking back, I can’t pinpoint what day or city or moment of the trip was the most memorable because the WHOLE thing was just spectacular. And I couldn’t beat the company, that’s for sure 😉
When we planned our honeymoon, Nate and I knew we wanted to combine all of our favorite travel aspects into one trip: lots of exploring, some good relaxation, delicious food, beautiful sights, amazing culture and history, and more delicious food!
So after lots of contemplating, we landed on London, Paris, and the French Riviera as our ideal spots. I studied and taught in London way back in college, and I’ve been dying to go back ever since, so London was the perfect place to start. Not to mention how amazing the culture and food and history is there!
As for Paris and the French Riviera, Nate studied French through college and lived in a French-speaking African country for a semester, so France really appealed to us for the second part of our trip. But we’ll get to that later.
Today, we’re talking LONDON.
I decided to split our London trip into two posts. Today, I’m just going to focus on the things we did there and areas of the city we explored. There is SO MUCH to see in London. We were only there for 4 days, so we were only able to experience a snippet of this incredible city— but that being said, we did our best to pack in as much in as possible. Trust me, I had a full list prepared of all the places I needed to show Nate from my time living there!
I basically divided this post into the different areas of London we explored, but it’s mainly in chronological order from the moment we arrived in this magnificent city.
Make sure you stop back on next week, because I’ll be diving into all the amazing restaurants and delicious eats from our four days in London!
Westminster + the West End
When we arrived in London (after an exhausting red eye from New York, which is a little rough but really the best way to do it), we checked into our hotel and went straight to exploring. I was determined to get on London time ASAP, so we planned to stay up the whole day and keep busy— hoping we would just crash at the end of the night. Which worked well for Nate, not so much for me, but ohh well!
Anyways, we stayed at this lovely (very British) hotel, Rubens at the Palace, that was both a 5 minute walk from the Victoria Station and from Buckingham Palace! Seriously, such a great central location. I absolutely recommend this hotel if you’re looking for a quiet, convenient spot in central London.
So as soon as we set off, we headed straight for the palace. Man, this place is magnificent!
After gawking for a few minutes, we headed through St. James Park (which is a lovely park for a picnic or a run) to Trafalgar Square.
If you’re not familiar with Trafalgar Square, I’m sure you’ve seen a picture of these majestic lion statues somewhere. This square is a very busy spot in London, but is totally worth visiting to see the gorgeous buildings, galleries, and architecture.
It also happens to be home to the National Gallery, which is a free art museum (most of the London museums are FREE btw!) and is packed with some incredible pieces. We didn’t spend too much time in the gallery since it was our first day, but I experienced this place a lot during my time living here and have so much appreciation for it.
We continued our walk from Trafalgar Square down to the Thames, where Big Ben, Parliament, and Westminster Abbey sit right on the river.
Seeing these iconic buildings up close is just magical. We’ve all seen them so many times in movies, on TV, in pictures— but seeing them in person just takes your breath away.
We did this walk in the late afternoon, and it was pretty packed with tourists, so I definitely recommend coming back at night when everything is lit up and the crowds have died down a bit.
After resting a bit at the hotel, we got ready for dinner in one of my very favorite spots in London: Covent Garden.
This place has a very special place in my heart because I actually used to teach at a primary school here! Walking through those streets brought back so many memories— it almost felt like I never left.
Anyways, the center of Covent Garden has awesome covered market filled with restaurants and shops, and on the weekends it expands into a busy street market as well. Also, there are TONS of street performers in this area— like every kind you can think of— so plan for at least an hour of enjoying the market.
AND if you walk right down the street, you’ll find yourself in Leicester Square (kind of like the Broadway of London). We saw “An American in Paris” while we were here and it was SPECTACULAR. I was a dancer most of my life, so this show was totally up my alley with all its incredible ballet. Also, the London cast is currently the original Broadway cast from NYC and they are phenomenal, so I absolutely recommend seeing this if you’re in the area anytime soon!
The City + South Bank
After a semi-restful sleep, we started the next morning early at the Tower of London. The tower is located in the oldest part of London (referred to as “the city”) and is a must-see if you are ever in the area.
If you don’t know much about the Tower of London, to sum it up, it is a historic castle and fortress that has played a huge role in England’s history and dates all the way back to 1078. Yes, like almost 1,000 years ago! It’s seriously SO cool!
The grounds are designed mostly chronologically, so you basically walk yourself through time, starting back in the year 1078 when William the Conquer built the White Tower (don’t you feel like you’re back in high school history right now?? lol). There are walking tours available every hour (I believe), but you can easily guide yourself through with the help of all the pictures, background information, and multimedia presentations exhibited throughout the grounds (which is what we did).
This place was honestly one of the highlights of our London trip. We learned so much and were just in awe of the amount of history that lied in this fortress.
Ohh and you get the most spectacular views of Tower Bridge! You can also walk along the Thames (outside the tower) to get some closer shots of this beautiful bridge. This whole area of London is super walkable and is filled with such beautiful scenery (especially on a sunny day).
After finishing up at the Tower, we made our way down the Thames to St. Paul’s Cathedral.
St. Paul’s is one of London’s most iconic cathedrals and it has a really interesting history. It’s a little pricey to go inside, so we decided to sit this one out, but the outside is just magnificent!
Right across the Millennium Bridge from St. Paul’s Cathedral happens to be the Tate Modern, a massive modern art museum with spectacular views of the city.
The Tate Modern is another free museum (go London!) and is home to lots of really unique pieces. I swear you could spend an entire day here and still not see everything (it’s that big). Make sure you go up to the top floor for a 360 degree view of the city!
Next up was Borough Market. You guys, Borough Market is the BEST.
You will find literally ANY kind of food and drink you could ever dream of. Prepared food, cocktails, local produce, pastries, fresh bread— seriously everything! We were here in the afternoon, so we grabbed some homemade focaccia with pesto and roasted tomatoes to snack on while we explored. SO good!
This about wraps up our second day in London, since we basically headed back to the hotel to rest and get ready for dinner after this. PS I’ll be sharing all our amazing London meals next week, so make sure you stop back to catch that one!
Northwest / West London
We began our third day in London at one of my favorite spots: Regents Park & Primrose Hill. When I lived in London back in 2008, Regents Park was our SPOT, so I definitely have a special place in my heart for this lovely park. So many memories of afternoon walks and picnics here!
Anyways, this park is filled with gardens, walking paths, the London Zoo, and some pretty incredible people watching 😉
It’s also home to one of the best views of the London skyline— all you have to do is climb to the top of Primose Hill (see pic below)! We visited this area on such a beautiful, sunny day, so the view was absolutely stunning. I recommend bringing a picnic up here and just enjoying the afternoon in the sun!
Just a 20 minute walk from Primrose Hill is the infamous Abbey Road Studio, where countless artists have recorded some of the best albums, like, ever. The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Florence + the Machine, Adele, Radiohead— the list goes on and on.
We caught SO many tourists trying to recreate the famous Beatles Abbey Road crosswalk pic, butttttt we also saw like 3 people almost get tragically hit by a bus trying to do it, so not sure I’d recommend it for safety reasons lol!
Last on our list of spots in West London was the iconic Notting Hill. We took the tube there from Abbey Road (use the Maida Vale station) because it’s quite a walk, but do-able.
You guys, Notting Hill is the CUTEST. Brightly colored houses, quirky shops, Portobello Road Market, adorable floral-covered pubs— definitely a spot you could spend all afternoon exploring.
We planned our lunch here at another special spot I frequented during my time living here: the Churchill Arms. Back then, this place was our hole-in-the-wall pub with amazing Thai food that we thought (at the time) was a hidden gem. Today, it’s become a serious Instagram sensation (thanks to all those beautiful flowers) and I think it’s just hilarious how social media has impacted it!
So basically when you walk in, this place looks like your typical British pub. But then you walk to the back corner and it magically becomes this beautiful floral-covered Thai restaurant! I totally recommend the Pad See-Ew and their spring rolls (but everything I’ve tried has been amazing). Ohh and try to go for lunch— this place gets packed around dinner time.
On our last full day in London, we explored an area I was pretty unfamiliar with from my previous time here, but it mightttt just be my new favorite neighborhood of London: Shoreditch!
Shoreditch is this super hip, edgy neighborhood in East London, but it’s actually fairly close to the South Bank where the Tate Modern and Borough Market are (about a 20 minute walk).
We took the tube to the Liverpool Station that morning, grabbed lattes at Andina, and spent most of the morning and early afternoon just wandering the area. Everything about this place just pulls you in, from the street art everywhere you turn, to the cool vintage stores, to the hip boutique hotels.
Some places that really stood out to us were the Rough Trade Record Store (you could probably spend hours in here, plus they have live music on occasion), the Ace Hotel (they have an awesome coffee shop and lounge area), and The Hoxton (again, awesome coffee shop and lounge).
Shout out to my husband’s cousin Matt and his wife Jai for sharing their favorite spots in this gem!
Whew that ended up being MUCH longer than I anticipated! Thanks for sticking along 😉
If you’re interested in hearing more about our London eats, make sure you stop back next week for part 2 of our London adventures!