Nearly six months ago we packed up a backpack a piece and caught a flight over the Atlantic to spend a week in of the oldest modern cities in the world. Visiting London as a couple was something we’d been looking forward to since our wedding. As we planned our trip we listened to tips from family and friends, read travel blogs about the best sights, and created wish lists of things we wanted to do while abroad.
As a couple prone to over scheduling ourselves we left most of the trip agenda free so we could enjoy the city and enjoy our adventure. I’ve outlined some of my highlights from the trip throughout this post, but our FAVORITE part of the week we spent in the city was wandering town with the lovely Sarah of Sarah Wayte Photography taking photos at some of the most popular tourist sites.
By scheduling a local photographer we benefited from her better understanding of the city and landmarks and allowed us to enjoy the rest of the trip without feeling the need to haul a camera with us wherever we went.
Tips for Visiting London as a Couple
1. Select a hotel near a tube station
Everyone says [and is correct] that London is very expensive. When we were looking for hotels we originally selected an option close to Buckingham Palace but upon starting to book the trip found that it had doubled in price. Unbeknown to us, our backup choice [The Premier Inn Waterloo] was a block away from a the Waterloo Tube station and within walking distance to dozens of iconic London spots.
A value hotel chain the Premier Inn provided everything we needed – a king size bed and great location. Beyond that, the Premier doesn’t have many other features you might get in a more expensive hotel option. Our hotel happened to be just across the street from the London Eye and a few blocks from the South Bank, Big Ben, Westminster Abby and more. The location won us over and I couldn’t be happier with how things turned out.
2. Buy an Oyster Card
As anyone who lives in a big city knows, public transportation is everything. We purchased a week long Oyster Card for the central area of London and spent a TON of time traveling the city via Tube. We never felt the need to take a black cab since everything we wanted to see was convenient to most Tube Stations.
3. Talk to the Locals
To really experience a city you have to check out the places that are off the beaten path. While browsing the shops on Regent Street I ended up in the Kate Spade store chatting with an American student studying at the London College of Fashion. We asked where the best place to grab dinner was and she recommended a steakhouse nearby called Flat Iron who’s specialty is a simplified menu at a fantastic price.
No reservations allowed the Flat Iron serves a single entree of a beautifully cooked Flat Iron steak along side 4 side options. This low-key meal was the best value we came across throughout our trip and we enjoyed it so much we stopped by two different locations for dinner on separate evenings of our 6 nights in town.
4. Select a good guide book
I loved having my Rick Steve’s London book to rely on and share tips and history of the city. I purchased two books for this trip (both this one and Ireland) and I definitely got the most use out of the London edition.
Before our trip I flipped through picking places I wanted to visit and once we were on the ground in London I used it to learn more about places as we visited them. The book itself was a bit bulky to carry around in a handbag but when I used my daypack it was perfect to include for the day.
5. Find a Local Photographer for Photos
I don’t think I can say enough how much I loved having Sarah take our photos on this trip. Instead of asking strangers to take photos and being sad with how they came out, we were able to give Sarah a list of places we wanted to capture and she did all the rest.
There are tons of services that specialize in tourist photography but after researching the options I didn’t like how short the shoot options were. Instead, I asked a photography group that I’m a part of on Facebook if they had any recommendations for someone based in London. I spoke with a lady who happened to be in London, but was unavailable during the time we were traveling – ultimately she recommended we reach out to Sarah. Photographers are a wonderful community to be a part of and its amazing how easy it was to find someone who was available and excited to help us capture special memories of our trip.
London was so much fun and there was no way to pack in all of the places we wanted to see in just one trip. I can’t wait for our next trip! What tips do you have for visiting The Big Smoke?
Photo Credits: Sarah Wayte Photography