Anyone who knows me, knows I don’t love big cities. Give me a quiet backcountry with a rustic cabin and endless rolling hills and I am a peaceful, content lass. When my two friends and I decided to take a trip to England together, we all agreed we didn’t want to spend much time in London. Our goals were to split our time between two national parks (which we did) and only spend 24 hours in London (which we also did.)
London is a big city, and we didn’t want to spend much time here because we thought it would be too hustle and bustle, too overwhelming, too many people, too this, too that…
Boy were we wrong.
Backing up a bit, our journey getting to London was quite an adventure. We chose a 6am flight, and because the trains in Germany had been occasionally getting delayed, we decided to sleep at the airport the night/morning before our flight. We took an 11pm train to the airport, found a corner in the airport at 1 am, and “slept” until around 4am.
I don’t think I ever actually fell asleep.
Despite the lack of sleep, I don’t regret sleeping at the airport. We arrived in London around 11am, took the underground to our hostel, and set off to explore the city for the remainder of the day. I have never seen a more simple, easy to follow public transportation than the London Underground. From the airport to the city, and from each area of the city to another, it was foolproof.
Maybe it was because I was in the land of my first language, or maybe it was the ease of tapping my Oyster card onto the entry gates of the underground making me feel like a local, but I never once felt stressed navigating London, nor did I struggle to find the right train or location. 10/10 for the London Underground.
Upon arrival in the city the three of us had one thing on our mind: find coffee. Our lack of sleep, and desire for exploration led us to Kaffeine, a coffee shop we visiting twice in the 24 hours we were in London. This was a cute little shop with delicious coffee. On our way to the coffee shop we spotted Ben’s Cookies, an English cookie chain with AMAZING COOKIES.
I don’t typically gravitate towards food that comes from a chain like restaurant, but I wasn’t aware Ben’s was a chain until after I left London. I saw another Ben’s in another city later on during my trip. I didn’t even care though, because the cookie I bought was worth every splurged penny and bite. It paired perfectly with my americano from Kaffeine.
Sugar and caffeine in our veins we walked the city, and found our way to Hyde park. This park is just a jump away from the city center shops, and has lovely trees that hug along the Serpentine lake. The weather held up most of the time we were in London, but while we wandered the park it began to rain. I find in these moments the rain almost makes the experience more memorable.
So long as I have the right jacket on.
After the park, it started to get dark. We realized we needed real food, and in typical American fashion we ended up at Chipotle. It’s been a long 10 months away from Chipotle for us all, and while I NEVER feel well after I eat there, it was worth it. Before we found Chipotle, we made a last minute decision to watch one of the MANY shows playing in the city.
London has show, after show, after show playing in multiple different locations across the city, and we chose the cheapest show playing. We walked up to the ticket counter at 6pm, discovered there was a showing of Waitress at 7pm, and the cost was around $50. We were sold, and after eating our meal we made our way to the theater.
Low key wanted to see Phantom of the Opera, but I’ll see that one next time.
I’d heard of Waitress, but I had no idea what it was about. It ended up being an AMAZING show, and it was so much fun. I decided in that moment that London was not like the other cities I tried to avoid, London was a city I could, and will come to and spend a week eating cookies, drinking coffee, and watching a new show every night.
After the show we made our way back to our hostel for the night. The next morning we got up early to explore some of the well known places in the city. Places like: Buckingham Palace, Platform 9 3/4, The London Eye, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, and Kaffeine…back to Kaffeine. Before we left the area of our hostel, we had breakfast at a cafe right around the corner. The cafe had a perfectly fitting name for its location…
I have been obsessed with English/Irish/Scottish breakfasts since my first trip to the UK a few years ago, and I needed an English breakfast at least once on this trip. All of these breakfasts have similarities and differences, but what I get from each one of them is: eggs, bacon, black pudding, and potatoes of some kind.
Hi my name is Brittany, and I’m a recovering vegan.
We visited all the above places I listed on our own time. We planned to join a free walking tour, but no one showed up so we made our own walking tour. All three of us are Harry Potter fans, and it was great seeing Platform 9 3/4. The train station (King’s Cross) is beautiful on its own, but this addition made it worth the trip.
We stayed in the city until around 3pm before making our way back to the airport to pick up our rental car. We stopped by Kaffeine for one more beverage and snack before our drive, and it was just as tasty the second time as it was the first. Sometimes I like trying multiple new places, and sometimes I stick to one place that was good the first time.
Just like that, our quick 24(ish) hours in London were up and it was time to move on to the next part of our trip. I was pleasantly surprised by London, and I can’t wait to return. I need to go back for the shows, and to see Big Ben when she’s not under construction. She was completely blocked by scaffolding while undergoing a 4yr renovation. We all need a little facelift from time to time.
Q: Do you prefer visiting a new restaurant every day, or will you return to one you fell in love with?
16 thoughts on “24 Hours in London”
Next time you are in London go to Dishoom for breakfast. Have the vegan granola (with coconut milk). And limitless chai tea. My daughter lived in London for a year and Dishoom was her go to.
I like to try new places. But I’m usually one to stick to what I like only because you never know what the experience and food will be like. We’ve all experienced that time when we go somewhere new and then it’s like, “well that wasn’t as good as I hoped, etc.” But sometimes you get blown away. Just that leap of faith you gotta take, but food is a serious business especially when super hungry.
Agreed, and for me…when I find something that works I will stick to it.
Glad to read that you are having an awesome trip. I have only been there once, but I really liked it. I would love to go back and do some cycling with a friend I met on one of my cycling trips.
Yes, you should!
Traveling around London was one of the easiest thing I’ve ever done. I was prepared to be confused and overwhelmed since public transport sucks where I live but man, it was a breeze!
YES! It was literally the easiest travel I’ve done yet.
I tend to like to try new different local but when in a hurry and super hangry with the need for a known good result I will go with a known chain….
Pret Cafe Nero Costa Coffee Waitrose Marks & Spencer’s
Just a few of my dependable UK eateries👍❤️
Pret A Manger has good ginger shots!
Sounds like a jolly good time. Merry Christmas.
It was indeed!
When it comes to restaurants, I do both! Just kinda depends on how much time I have in the city… And how hangry I’m feeling. 😉 I actually saw the Phantom of the Opera during one of my trips to London! It was so worth it — and then I dragged my parents to the opera house in Paris on our next family vacation to France so I could see the place it was based on! And of COURSE you have to do Platform 9 3/4! Definitely on my bucket list!! 🤓
OMGG I want to see Phantom SO BAD!
Yay! So glad to hear you enjoyed London! I am so with you on not being into big cities. NYC? I’ve been there once and don’t really care if I go back, lol. I love that London was such a great experience from the London Underground to the coffee, cookies, and King’s Cross. Now I want to visit!
I hope to visit again someday soon! I adore all of the UK. 😝