London -- So Much to Do, You May Just Decide to Stay in Your Vacation Rental
Of course you won't, but the sheer number and variety of entertainment, dining and shopping options in London is somewhat overwhelming, even to experienced visitors. It's sort of like mashing New York City and Washington DC together, while throwing in a huge portion of history from the Romans, Dark Ages, Middle Ages ... well, you get the idea.
When you first arrive, check into your London vacation rental
, stroll around your neighborhood a bit. Get to know the shops and what's right outside your door. This will come in handy for last minute souvenir shopping or grocery shopping. You'll be able to scope out places to eat as well. Be sure to check out the nearest location of the London Underground
(otherwise known as the "Tube") and other rail lines. London has a great mass transit system.
Then, take advantage of all the free attractions London has to offer
. Spend a day or two visiting them. Of course, stop by Buckingham Palace. Schedule time for the British Museum (an absolute must-see even if you're not into museums). Then, choose from a couple of the other fantastic free museums--the Natural History Museum, National Portrait Gallery, National Maritime Museum, the National Gallery, the Imperial War Museum. The list goes on. Don't try to take them all in, unless, of course, museums are your thing.
During or after your free museum hopping
, head for some of the free parks. Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park are must sees, but the same can be said for Greenwich Park, Regent's Park and St. Jame's Park. Actually, taking in all the parks should be fairly easy. You can route your trips through them, leaving a bit of time to sit on a bench, enjoy a snack or picnic, or just feed the birds. Make park time your down time.
Exploring all the free options will take you past many of the iconic London attractions
--Parliament, Trafalgar Square, the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, Millennium Bridge, Big Ben, the London Eye (a Ferris wheel that offers an incredible view), No. 10 Downey Street, St. Paul's Cathedral--this list also goes on. Not much to say about these except that if you don't see at least half of them, you'll kick yourself when you get home. But which half? That's right -- leave time to see them all.
Now, for the part where you spend all your money
. Since you've saved money on free stuff and maybe paid a small entry fee for some other attractions, spend a few pounds on West End Theatre shows. Many classics have debuted on the West End, before ever reaching Broadway--Cats and Les Miserables, to name two. You'll also be able to see current hits and long-running classics.
Finally, go shopping
. Walking on Oxford Street or through London's various markets, you'll feel as if you've entered a fashion zone unlike any other. Londoners are some of the best dressed city-dwellers anywhere. Perhaps the best dressed. Visit traditional department stores such as Harrods or Selfridges (good luck finding those at your local mall), as well as the largest shopping center in Europe -- Westfield Stratford.
There you have it -- a neat and tidy outline of a week-long adventure in London, England
. Free stuff first--museums, parks, tourist attractions. Then rest up with a play and a musical on the West End. Finish it off with shopping and come back home looking better than anyone else. Of course, you'll need to eat, but more on London restaurants, coffee shops, pubs and bistros later. (And forget what you've heard -- English food is not horrible.)