This is London to me, and I hope it will be to you too. It was the first city I travelled to by myself, and in many ways, the first time I really experienced the exhilaration and love of travelling. If you’re just starting out, as a wide-eyed decidedly not solo traveller (in that way that you haven’t been before) it’s one of the best places to start. Especially to Australians. There are so many of us over there that it’s reassuring, and the people and life is close enough to Australia while still being 16,000 km away.
In 2014, London, capital of the United Kingdom, hosted a record breaking 16.8 million visitors, and it’s not hard to see why.
There is something about this city that hosts every type of person that you can possibly imagine. My experience of London was first as a tourist and then as a resident (I am lucky enough to own a British Passport.) I lived in the city, and while at first the noise outside my window bothered me, I got accustomed to it. I got accustomed to the pace and the chaos, the pubs on every corner, the buskers in the tube – sometimes, if you’re lucky, people will take a moment out of their busy days to pause and listen. Then, they rush off again. The Starbucks, the lights, crows and music, the fact that you can go out and do anything at any time. Borough Market on a Sunday, the view of London from the Shard, getting a curry on Brick Lane. Going to Shepherd’s Bush and hearing five Australian accents in a row. There’s a reason why so many people travel into the UK, being a gateway to Europe as it is. Once you’ve tackled London, there’s no reason why you can’t take the Eurostar to Paris.
Here are some quick tips for London.
Where to stay
So you’re in London. The great thing about this bustling metropolis is that essentially everywhere is good and it doesn’t have to be city centre because train travel is so good. I’d recommend staying within Zones 1 & 2, in areas such as Shoreditch, Islington, Victoria, Pimlico or Soho (party central here).
On a budget: How about The Dictionary, Shoreditch
Trendy, cheap, and in a super cool area of London. Plus, Shoreditch is only 15 or so minutes on the tube into the city centre. You’ll love this hostel, with rooms from $50 a night.
Got some cash? $$: Try St Mark’s Aparthotel
Sometimes we like living a little bit fancy, and St. Mark’s was a great stay in a safe neighbour. Just a short walk down City Road brings you to Angel station and lots of fun bars and shops around Islington.
Our top tips for London!
- Visit at Christmas, and wander down Southbank through all the Christmas markets. It may not be Prague or Berlin, but it’s magic.
- Visit the Harry Potter Studio tour. It’s just outside of London (and a little bit of a trek to get there), but there’s not a word in the English language to describe how AWESOME it is.
- Take one of the free walking tours of London – they’re a great way to see the city on foot with some other likeminded travellers. I recommend the street art tour of Shoreditch.
The Harry Potter Studio Tour (one word. Amazing.)