As I explained in this post, one month ago I spent the weekend in London with my cousin in a kind of girls birthday trip. I had already visited London some years ago but for her this was the first visit to the city so my mission was to plan a route that allowed us to see as much as we could in such a short time. For the second day we had booked our tickets to go up the Sky Garden for the best views and later we would visit the City of London, but as per the first day, we devoted it to a one-day walking tour that took us from our hostel in Russell Square to some of the main hotspots in London. Do you want to come with us? Just keep reading.
1. Covent Garden
We got up early and had some breakfast (and coffee, of course!) in the nearest Pret A Manger. We started our walk through the streets of London by heading to the South, to Covent Garden. We deviated a bit from our route to see the British Museum and take some photos of the building. Unfortunately, in this trip there was no time for museums. I had already visited the British Museum in my previous travel to London and of course I would like to visit it again, but this will need to wait for another trip.
We finally arrived at the famous Covent Garden Market, that former fruit-and-vegetable market that has turned into a popular shopping and tourist site. We got lost inside the market, looking at the Christmas decorations that were sold in the shops. In that moment we felt that the Christmas season had arrived to our lives and we both love Christmas so we couldn’t be happier.
2. Leicester Square
The second stop of the walking route that I had planned was at Leicester Square. Before our trip my cousin gave me a list of places she wanted to visit in London and a very special shop was included therein: the M&M’S World store. Full of the colourful fun of M&M’S, the store measures 35,000 square feet and is spread over 4 floors. It sells lots of chocolates and merchandise and it even has a giant wall of chocolate where you can create a totally customized selection. I am not a big fan of M&M’S but I couldn’t avoid being hungry when I left the store…
3. Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square
After Leicester Square we moved to Piccadilly Circus to take some pictures of its iconic light panels, although they shine better at night. We then walked towards Trafalgar Square, which could possibly be the most characteristic one in London. Trafalgar Square received such name to commemorate the British victory in the Battle of Trafalgar (Cádiz, Spain). The impressive Nelson’s Column represents the centre of the square and is flanked by fountains and guarded by four bronze lions. Horatio Nelson was the one who commanded the British Navy at the Battle of Trafalgar.
4. Houses of Parliament
When we arrived at Trafalgar Square it started to rain (quite strange being in London, right?) and I though that the rain wouldn’t last much but the truth was the rain was our fellow travel during part of the day. But we wouldn’t allow rain to spoil our tour so we continued our walk towards the Houses of Parliament at the Palace of Westminster, in the north bank of the River Thames. In fact, the world-known Big Ben is now under reparation works, so we couldn’t see much of it, as proved in the photo below. We have read that those works are going to last until 2021 so it seems that Big Ben won’t show all of its magnificence for the time being.
After taking some photos in both banks of the River Thames and having a walk around the area, we returned to Trafalgar Square and stopped in a traditional pub located at Whitehall Road, where we ate tasty fish and chips.
5. St. James’ Park and Buckingham Palace
Back in Trafalgar square, we walked towards St. James’ Park with the aim of crossing it until the Buckingham Palace. In the park we found friendly squirrels and trees dressed on the Autumn colours. This is my favourite year season, so I enjoyed a lot that walk around the park.
And we kept walking until the Buckingham Palace appeared before our eyes under the London rain. I love the golden decorations at the doors that give access to the yard in front of the Palace. Years ago I could see the changing of the Guard there but this was not the case in that second visit.
And from the Buckingham Palace we moved to Harrods, a must stop in the London Christmas shopping scene. From the Palace we followed the Constitution Hill up to Wellington Arch (this was easy!). Afterwards, we got a bit lost but we managed to arrive at Harrods. We particularly wanted to visit the part of the shopping centre devoted to Christmas decorations. Christmas at Harrods, what else could we ask for? We spent some time there, just browsing, and when we left the outdoor lights were already on.
7. Hyde Park – Winter Wonderland
After Harrods, we moved to another Christmas hotspot: Winter Wonderland, in Hyde Park. We didn’t know it when we bought our tickets but it seems that Winter Wonderland opened its doors precisely that weekend and would be there until January 1, 2018. Winter Wonderland was initially an open-air Christmas market that has turned into a great festival featuring ice skating, shows, a giant wheel and street food, among others. Due to security reasons, visitors need to show their bags when entering the complex so you might find some queues.
We crossed the festival until Marble Arch, getting lost among the wooden chalets full of gift ideas and Christmas decorations. It was a great experience!
8. Oxford Street
We ended our walking route in Oxford Street, where we made the last shopping and strolled around. Afterwards we took the Underground back to our hostel to leave the shopping bags and relax a little bit and later searched for a place to have dinner near the hostel. It had been a very intense day but we had exploited every minute of it!