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La Jolla Mom

20 Things I’d Do on a Dream Trip to London

My dream trip to London is based on reliving favorite moments from two years spent living there, visiting popular attractions and a handful of new experiences as the fabulous city evolves. In no particular order, these are some of the many things I would love to do on a holiday there.

See also: 10 Best Day Trips from London

Go Shopping in Knightsbridge

I first hit a few shops on Brompton Road like REISS, Karen Millen and the like. Then, I’d stop into Harrods and Harvey Nichols which flank the top of Sloane Avenue, a shopping street that I used to walk multiple times per week. Truth be told, Harrods is much-changed since I lived in London with many of my favorite aspects and little eateries long gone. But they have a new Laduree cafe inside for macaron fans and the food halls are still good places to stop for edible souvenirs.

Exit either department store to head down Sloane Avenue past its high-end shops like Prada, one of the only Shanghai Tang’s outside of Asia and Jo Malone. You’ll hit Sloane Square and the famous King’s Road at the bottom.

Walk the King’s Road

The Chelsea Potter pub on the King's Road in London makes a great stop to fuel up for more shopping.

From Sloane Avenue, turn right onto the King’s Road, a roughly 2-mile eclectic mix of high street shops, eateries, the Saatchi Gallery and fantastic interior design stores. I personally think that the further you walk away from Sloane Square the cooler it gets. There’s Vivienne Westwood’s World’s End store, a cozy Manolo Blahnik store on Old Church Road (believe it or not, I used to buy shoes in the sale bin for £70) and more.

And just before Heal’s is the Chelsea Potter pub—our old local—which is steeped in rock and roll history as a former favorite of Jimi Hendrix and the Rolling Stones. We lived just off the King’s Road (in a flat below Boris Becker, of all people).

During my visit in June, I tackled the Brompton Road-Sloane Avenue-King’s Road walk in just over a half-day soaking in the sights and considered it my workout. I was rushed but suggest that you take your time.

Spend a Day Shopping on Oxford, Bond, Regent and Carnaby Streets

I realize that these are four of the most major shopping streets in the entire city but their close proximity to each other means you can cruise all of them in the same day, if walking doesn’t bother you.

Oxford Street is busy with high street fashion like Topshop and Gap in addition to Selfridges (highly recommend) while Bond and Regent Street tend to have more designer shops. Liberty of London and Hamley’s Toy Shop are both on Regent Street. Carnaby Street is home to more independent brands.

The good news is that a myriad of restaurants and bars in the area provide nice rest stops in between retail therapy (see afternoon tea).

Fortnum and Mason

I always felt that Fortnum and Mason was such a quintessential British department store. It’s beautiful, from the china displays to women’s accessories to the food hampers. I stock up on banana jam every time I go and probably spend the most time browsing here than in any other department store in the city.

Pre-order a decadent F&M hamper from and take it round the corner to Hyde Park for a picnic if weather permits. Or, stop in here for lunch or a proper cup of tea (they have “tearistas” to help you select a favorite from the lengthy menu) after ending some shopping on Regent Street, which is what I did in June.

Afternoon Tea

Ideally, I’d enjoy afternoon tea daily. I adore it. My hit list includes:

  • Brown’s Hotel
  • Claridge’s
  • Fortnum and Mason
  • The Ritz
  • The Dorchester
  • The Savoy
  • Four Seasons Park Lane

The top four serve as perfect breaks for the aforementioned power-shopping itinerary. All are fabulous.

Have (Lots of) Curry

Brick Lane in London is one of the best places to enjoy an authentic curry.

Brick Lane in the East End is famous for authentic curries through there are casual and colorful shops, stalls and galleries worth popping in to. We happened up on the Sunday UpMarket during our last visit which I’d recommend.

Our visiting friends used to like to take the Jack the Ripper walking tour (which passes by his crime scenes and ends in the famous Ten Bells pub where two of his victims allegedly drank before their murders). Then, we’d head over to Brick Lane for dinner.

Back in the day, we’d go to The Shampan restaurant with local friends and coworkers most frequently. Our last visit blew away any curry we could get in San Diego but I know people prefer Aladin (which has been there for ages) or Cinnamon these days.

Victoria and Albert Museum

With its focus on art and design, Victoria and Albert is my favorite London museum. I particularly love their gallery of Japanese art and have seen special exhibits that involved famous designers from around the world. I know Alexander McQueen recently wrapped up a fantastic exhibit among others.

Grab Posh Cocktails

I’m partial to the Art Deco style Beaufort Bar at The Savoy with its beautiful vintage barware and classic cocktails. The Rivoli Bar at The Ritz is another fabulous alternative. Note that you need to dress smartly for both (check websites for details).

Eat Fish and Chips

No trip to London is complete without a trip to a proper chippy for fried fish the size of your forearm accompanied by chips (fries). After a quick stop into the British Museum, we wanted to go to nearby Fryer’s Delight but wound up at Alen’s Fish and Chips… it was fantastic.

Market Shopping

I tried to pick one market for the purposes of this post but it was too hard. I feel that Covent Garden Market is for foodies and I love browsing all of the specialty items from pastries to chocolates to pickles. I used to kill time at Spitalfields market in the East End while waiting for my husband to get off of work (his office was nearby at Liverpool Street) for the more down-to-earth vibe, food and unique handicrafts. I loved browsing Portabello Road on Saturdays when antique dealers set out stalls retailing old silver, china and other curios in all price ranges. The list goes on. Visit London has a nice run-down of London’s best markets to consider.

British Museum

The British Museum is a must-visit attraction when on vacation in London

The British Museum never gets old for us. I’ve been there more times than I can count and it can be done in less than an hour which is handy with kids (stay tuned, I’ll tell you how to do it). However, I regret never taking advantage of their adult learning programs that dive deeper into a variety of subject matters related to exhibits and history in general. I would consider taking a look at the British Museum’s calendar of events prior to your visit to see what extra programming is on offer during your stay.

Berry Brothers Rudd Wine School

If I was on an extended trip, I would love to attend a themed tasting or wine school class at Berry Brothers Rudd, Britain’s oldest spirit and wine merchant (established in 1698). They are the Royal Family’s supplier of wine and located in a really amazing wine shop on St. James Street.

Private Tasting Capsule on the London Eye

A capsule and view from the London Eye.

While a spin in the London Eye sightseeing wheel is a great way to see the city, you could step it up a notch by booking a wine or champagne tasting experience with an expert for you and up to 20 guests in a private capsule. The one-hour event will take two full and festive rotations.

Private Helicopter Tour

Now this is one thing I haven’t done but if you’re short on time in London, why not see all of the important sights from above? Plus, it will help give you the lay of the land. A variety of companies offer this service but I saw a 20-minute tour for $250 USD per person.

Drink a Proper Pimms Cup

A Pimm's cup at the Chelsea Potter in London on the King's Road. This local pub was a favorite of Jimi Hendrix and the Rolling Stones.

I miss Pimms. Sure, we have it here in the U.S. but either I forget to order it or it doesn’t quite taste the same. I stopped for this one at the Chelsea Potter pub on the King’s Road. Delicious.

Chelsea Flower Show

The Chelsea Flower Show is a seasonal event that happens in May. If I was ever to plan a late spring trip, I would center it around this annual event that has been happening since 1913. It is the most prestigious flower show in Britain with cutting edge design and mind-blowing plants in a space that is large enough to park 500 London buses.

Stay in a Luxury Hotel

Where to stay in London is a very difficult question to answer as there are so many fantastic options. I would say to narrow it down by part of town you’d like to stay in (i.e. are there things you must do within walking distance) and try to be near a Tube station (most are). Also pay attention to the size of the rooms as they can be quite small which may require a family of four to book two rooms instead of one ,for example. Also consider whether or not you’d prefer a larger hotel or a boutique property.

The view from a room at family-friendly Four Seasons Hotel Canary Wharf in London

We stayed at Four Seasons Hotel Canary Wharf during our last trip because my husband prefers Canary Wharf to Central London. It was so peaceful (relatively speaking) with an incredibly view of the Thames from our room and awesome service. The convenient location allowed us to easily take the Jubilee Tube line or Thames Clipper water taxi quite easily to most attractions.

Go to the Theater

There’s nothing quite like London theater as many Broadway productions such Matilda actually originate there. You can grab same-day tickets at the half-price TKTS booth in Leicester Square.

Dinner in the Shard

The Shard skyscraper wasn’t built when we lived there but I would love to dine with a view from near the top. I’m not exactly sure which of the many restaurants I’d pick (taking suggestions). There is also a viewing deck on the 87th floor but I have a feeling I’d want to linger a while over a cocktail.

Eat Pub Lunch or Dinner

A delicious lamb pie, beef stew and more at the MAyflower Pub in Rotherhithe, London.

While there are Michelin stars and celebrity chefs galore in London—and I highly suggest you book a fair share of nice dinners—I look forward to proper pub food. British food gets a bad rap but if you go to the right places, it’s seriously amazing. One such place is the Mayflower Pub in Rotherhithe (East End), named because it’s thought that the actual ship departed from here. Our table also had a lovely view of the Thames but you could dine on the outdoor patio. Our most recent meal of lamb pie, baked Camembert, and then some was amazing. It’s busy so make a reservation.

Christmas Markets

If you have the privilege of visiting London during the holiday season, not only are the above shopping streets decked out with displays and lights, but London has a variety of Christmas markets to browse. I’m considering going next year (with an empty suitcase for wares). See also this helpful guide regarding Christmas in London.

Pin Your London Dream Trip

There is still so much to do in London that I haven’t mentioned! But, you can pin to win your own 5-day dream London trip courtesy of Visit London. All you need to do is.

  1. Create a London Pinterest board titled “London Moments”
  2. In the board description, tell us why London’s calling!
  3. Pin your must-dos, must-sees, must-eats, and tell us in the Pin description why it’s on your list
  4. Submit your board URL and details below by 1 January 2016.

See Visit London for more details, terms and condition as well as to submit your entry. For pin ideas, follow Visit London on Pinterest and see my new Christmas in London board.

London Pass (Promo Code)

One of the best ways to sightsee in London is with the London Pass discounted attractions pass. Not only can it save money and provide fast track entry (skipping the queues) to major London attractions, they also have a very handy and helpful app.

4 days Sale! 20% off 10-day passes, 12% off 6-day passes, 8% off 3-day passes at London Pass. This sale ends 02/06/19.

It is one of the best attractions passes you can buy and this is a great deal!

See also: London Pass vs. London Explorer Pass: Which Is Best?

Pin this post for later:
Add these 20 things to do in London to your next vacation itinerary ranging from shopping to best afternoon teas.

What are your favorite things to do in London?
*I am pinning in partnership with Visit London. All tips mentioned here are my very own that I was going to publish anyway.

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8 thoughts on “20 Things I’d Do on a Dream Trip to London

  1. Great post! You’ve covered a lot of the best bits of London. I would also add that it’s worth exploring some of the neighborhoods outside of the city center. They all have unique personalities and are a great way to get to know London better.

  2. London is more than just luxury and there is more to see outside the centre which is losing its character anyway -becoming one bland identikit city centre – same as other world cities, filling up with gated luxury developments and shop brands you can find anywhere in the world.

    One of the most splendid places to visit is Kew Gardens in West London. A unique experience and not something the big brands or developers have touched!

  3. Katie, Sure one can make their way out of central London, but if you don’t have a lot of time to see sights, I think your list would be great. I have done several of the things you wrote about and would be happy to do them again! Along with venturing out to other neighborhoods.

    I love the Christmas Markets. A favorite local one is the Belgravia Christmas Market, they only have it one weekend in the month of Dec. The larger markets seem to have a lot of the same items. Not the one in Belgravia, I realize it is a very expensive neighborhood to live in, but for one day out of the year, its still fun to walk through and enjoy the season.

    I do hope you can get back over to have your London Dream Trip. We are heading back this coming December — Love London at Christmas time.

  4. People seem to forget the London museum, truly worth the time. It includes a fantastic display concerning London during WW 2, next door is small restaurant with amazing pizza!
    The most fun is going to the flower market, open Sunday’s only, then all the various food markets.
    We have stayed in various hotels, last visit we rented an apartment, which was great for relaxing after a day of shopping and theater!
    Hoping to see London once more if possible!

  5. Victoria And Albert Museum is my favorite place in London. The garden is breathtaking and a great place to sit and enjoy coffee or tea or sit on the grass

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