This post is part of our Eurotrip Series. You can find the rest of the series here.
Eurotrip Day 11 was another 10+ mile day of walking and sight-seeing around London. We opted not to do full tours at most of the sites, because let’s face it… that can get super pricey and time consuming. We did tour Westminster Abbey, which was excellent and our favorite part of the day. Neither of us knew that there are people buried within the abbey… some very famous people! The ones we found most interesting were Charles Darwin, Isaac Newton, and Charles Dickens. We also attended a choral service at St. Paul’s Cathedral. To end the day, we drank real ales and ate meat pies at a local pub on Trafalgar Square.
- Air Travel/Transportation – How we got there and how we got around.
- Adventures – Write-ups of the activities we enjoyed during our visit.
- Hotel Spotlight – Where we stayed and our review of the accommodations.
Megabus – £25 per person
We reserved a “Double Bunk Shared” on the overnight sleeper bus from Glasgow to London. We left the Buchanan Bus Station in Glasgow around 11:30PM. After a couple detours throughout the night (due to road construction), we arrived at Victoria Coach Station in London around 8:30AM. We were originally scheduled to get in at 7:20AM, but we appreciated the detours that allowed us an extra hour of sleep! We each carried on our backpacks, which we just placed in our bed, at our feet. The luggage policy states:
Passengers can only bring one reasonable sized suitcase (or other sealed equivalent) per booked seat. Any further luggage will be carried at the Operators discretion depending on space availability. Strollers and Medical items are excluded from this policy and can be carried in addition to the suitcase.
This overnight ride was quite the experience! Luckily the bus was not full, so we did not have someone sleeping in the bunk above us. The top bunk was literally 6 inches from our heads, and we definitely wouldn’t have been able to move if someone had been sleeping up there. The “beds” were just folded down seats, so not very comfortable; however, we did manage to get about 5 hours of half-decent sleep. The bus operators provided us each with a pillow, blanket, breakfast muffin, water, and juice. We also had a power outlet to charge our devices and free Wifi. Not too shabby for £25 per person! This mode of transportation was all about the convenience and experience for us… not sure that we would do it again, but we’ll try most anything once!
Our hotel was directly across the street from Green Park. Each day began and ended with a peaceful walk through this park, with the daffodils in full bloom. In the afternoons/evenings, we would linger in the park, enjoying the nice weather and watch locals playing soccer. Definitely a nice contrast to the busy, city streets!
We arrived at the gates of Buckingham Palace just in time for the changing of the guard. The crowd was very intense along the fence, multiple rows deep in most places. A marching band was playing inside the gates. We hung around long enough to watch the band split out and march out of the gates. If you want a good view, be sure to arrive early, or you will be fighting a crowd. Check this website for the changing of the guard calendar.
Westminster Abbey was our favorite site of the day. The architecture of the building was magnificent. There was no photography allowed inside the abbey, so unfortunately, you will just have to take our word for it! This is such a place of historical significance. Many famous people were married, crowned, or buried within the abbey.
Big Ben & Palace of Westminster (Parliament)
We found that to get the best pictures of Big Ben and Parliament, we had to walk about halfway over Westminster Bridge. This bridge crosses the River Thames, which is the famous river that runs through London. We also learned that Big Ben is just the name of the bell, not the clock tower itself. The tower is officially known as Elizabeth Tower.
After grabbing lunch at a local pizzeria, we meandered through the winding streets of London in the general direction of the Tower Bridge. Along the way, we stumbled into the Borough Market, a very neat marketplace where you can buy anything under the sun. We sampled cheeses, meats, olive oils, tea, wine, and fruits. I would have been happy to spend a few hours in the market, but we had more sites to see!
We, like many tourists, mistakenly thought this was the “London Bridge.” It is officially named the “Tower Bridge,” and for a fee, you can go up the towers to a walkway. We opted to simply walk across the bridge and enjoy the view down the River Thames.
Tower of London
The Castle along the river was originally founded in 1066 and has been used as a defense stronghold, a royal residence, and a prison, as recently as 1952. It is now open to tourists. By this point in our trip, we had already seen our fill of castles, so we just walked around the perimeter and looked in.
St. Paul’s Cathedral
The beautiful St. Paul’s Cathedral is a popular tourist attraction in London. It is also a functional cathedral, which holds a nightly worship service called Evensong. If you want to visit St. Paul’s, the entry fee is £18. However, if you come during Evensong, entry is free! Additionally, you will have the chance to participate in an authentic song service with beautiful music under the ornate dome in the cathedral. Services are nightly at 5pm, except for Sunday (3:15pm).
Trafalgar Square is a well known public space in London with fountains and monuments, most notably Nelson’s Column. We enjoyed standing by a fountain and doing some people-watching. Locals, tourists, and lots of street performers gather in Trafalgar Square.
Dinner – The Admiralty
The Admiralty is a traditional English pub. It was SO busy, but luckily we were immediately able to get a seat on the second level. The food choice was an easy one – we went for the Ale & Pie Tasting Board, which consisted of three mini-pies with matched Real Ale samples.
One of the funniest moments of our trip happened at this place right when our food arrived. First take a look above at the tasting board, specifically the off-white blob in the front. What does this look like to you? I said “oh wow, that looks like a delicious roll”…and proceeded to grab it. To my disappointment, it was actually a pile of mashed potatoes! Jesse knew from the start and let me grab the “roll” anyway!
The Park Lane Hotel – 12,000 SPG Points/night x 2 nights
We were very impressed with the value we got from this property. Our bus got in at 8:30AM and we were at the hotel by 9:00AM. We fully expected to check our bags in at the hotel and hit the pavement to see London. Much to our surprise, our room was almost ready for check-in! While we waited, the staff made sure we had a lovely tea and biscuit breakfast.
Shortly thereafter, we checked into our room. It was SO nice to be able to shower and freshen up after a long night on the sleeper bus. Our room was fantastic! It was small, as we expected in London, but it was newly renovated and modern. This was one of the most luxurious rooms of the trip, so luckily we had booked 2 nights there.
The hotel location was also quite convenient. Situated between Hyde and Green Parks, the location offers a quick walk to the heart of London. If you don’t feel like walking very far, the Green Park tube station is only a couple blocks away.
This full day of sightseeing in London was fun and exhausting. We really loved our visit to Westminster Abbey, and we definitely recommend it. We also recommend just getting into the city streets and wandering. Try out a random pub, or sample wares in the Borough Market. London is an expensive city, but you can still have a great time without spending a ton of money on entry fees to tourist attractions. What are your favorite spots in this great city?