I was an English major in college so I was quite fascinated by everything English. From its colorful history to its buildings to its royalty, everything was exciting and exotic to me. I have been to England twice. Once in 2001 for about 5 days and then again in 2016 for about 6 days. Even though UK is so expensive, I highly suggest staying in London for about 10 days so you can totally immerse yourself in its culture. You can also make day trips to many historical places like Bath and Stonehenge.
In 2001, we stayed at our cousin’s house. It was a great way to meet up with family, but it was a great way to save money as well. We were able to see many sights in so little time because we had our uncle show us around in his car. I would highly recommend to use their superb public transportation like the tube to get around. In 2016, we purchased an “owl card” from online. An Owl Card is a loaded card that you swipe each time you use the tube. No worries about exact change or making time to purchase a ticket each way. Very convenient and highly recommended! Parking is a nightmare there and cabs are expensive. With our Moazzam uncle we were able to see Hampton Court and Gardens, Tower of London and Wimbledon. The rest we saw on our own. Some of the other sights I would recommend are Westminister Abbey, Parliament Buildings (you can’t go inside unless you are a British citizen), London Eye, Oxford Street, Buckingham Palace (the changing of guards ceremony is a must), Tower Bridge and Kensington Palace and Gardens.
If you have more time, you can visit the Globe theater and other lesser well-known places or go watch a theater play. In 2016, I reserved a table for High Tea at the Kensington’s Palace’s The Orangery. Highly, highly recommend making reservations rather than showing up. The experience is worth every penny and the little pastries and sandwiches, plus the tea is absolutely glorious like English history.
We were able to make some day trips during both our trips. In 2001, we visited the prestigious Cambridge University and in 2016, we were able to make trips to Windsor Castle Stonehenge, and Oxford University. I would recommend each place on this list. Other places I would love to see are Bath, Harry Potter Studio and Canterbury because I read about them in college and after. Maybe a third visit is a must ;)?
One thing I wasn’t impressed by was the food scene. Although there are a variety of global cuisines available, the price and taste is nothing impressive. I tried Fish n’ Chips at a restaurant near Tower of London and I am not lying, I have had better ones in San Francisco.
Another tip I would give is to wear comfortable shoes. There is a lot of standing and walking in London. I made a mistake of packing the wrong but, cute shoes (hey you are in London once or in this case twice) and I paid the price. Pack an umbrella always even in the summer. There are random pours of rain in the middle of July.