SEE & DO
28. Now that you’ve traveled the tube, stopped for a pint and had a solid meal, it’s time to check a few touristy items off your list. A good starting place to kick off your tour would be Buckingham Palace, the queen’s official residence. Tours are possible, but it’ll be easier to see other palaces, so simply stop out front for a few romantic shots and go for a hand-in-hand stroll through the adjacent parks.
29. Right down the road from the palace, you’ll see London’s most iconic landmark: Big Ben. As you approach the mega clock tower (the bell inside is in fact Big Ben), notice the red phone booths dotting the street. Sure, they still work. But their main function today is for great photo ops with Big Ben in the background.
30. Another hotspot in the neighborhood is Westminster Abbey. The historic church has seen the coronation of nearly every monarch since William the Conqueror in 1066. More recently, the iconic landmark saw the nuptials of Prince William and Kate Middleton back in 2011. This isn’t your typical European church – it’s as much a historic and tourist destination as it is a religious one.
31. You can’t go to London without riding the London Eye — it’s just unthinkable! The mega Ferris wheel was built for the turn of the millennium back in 2000, and has become one of the most recognized landmarks in London. Plus, it offers up some of the best views of the city. Buy your tickets online ahead of time for a small discount and to avoid waiting in lines … I mean queues.
32. Up for a bit of outdoor adventure? Hyde Park’s Serpentine lake offers just that! Honeymooners can take a romantic boat ride on the lake by renting either row or paddle boats on-site. Afterwards, stroll along the impressive man-made waterway, enjoy the nearby Italian Gardens (also in Hyde Park) and even take time out to feed the swans that inhabit the park.
33. Museums your thing? From the mummies at the British Museum to the impressionist art at the National Gallery, London houses some of the finest museums in the world. Now for the really spectacular news: nearly all of the museums are free!
34. It doesn’t get more head-over-heels romantic than a stroll through the blossoming Kew Royal Botanic Gardens. The flowery attraction is at its prime in April, but the lush gardens are beautiful any time of year.
35. Ushvani Spa offers a tranquil, luxurious retreat from the bustling city. Plus, the Malaysian-inspired spa boasts a Condé Nast Traveler’s Best Day Spa 2012 Award, as well as a slew of devoted clients. For couples, you’ll want to visit the rejuvenating Asmara Suite. Named for the Malay word for “love,” this couples experience provides an intimate and holistic experience that will leave you relaxed and refreshed.
36. Shopping more your cup of tea? London is always on beat with the latest styles, and is arguably one of the best cities in the world for a little retail therapy. Started by an American expat, Selfridges is one of the finest department stores in the city. Located in the hip Oxford Circus shopping district, the retail mecca houses only the best names in luxury. The epitome of luxury shopping, however, is Harrods. The mega-store occupies more than five acres, and sells every imaginable indulgence — jewels, designer gowns, fine wines, chocolates, premium groceries, luxury toys, and even a milenry (a store that makes the fascinator hats you see at the races). We could go on for days about the magic that is Harrods, but really you just need to devote a little time to experience the opulent Knightsbridge destination for yourself.
37. Are markets and thrifty finds more your scene? Then you must check out Portobello Road. It’s the most famous market in the city, and you’ll find everything from diamond-in-the rough antiques to hand made jewelry. Bonus: you’ll pass by the colorful Notting Hill homes on the way! London’s edgier alternative to Portobello Road is Camden Market, where you’ll find the best local street fare cuisine and thrift-market finds. This place has your typical, grungy-yet-charming market vibe.
38. If Camden Market is your scene, then we’re guessing you’re probably a Beatles fan too. Visit the Abbey Road crossing where the band posed for their iconic album cover. Just take the tube using the Jubilee line, exit at St. John’s Wood and you’re a five-minute walk away. Just be careful when taking your pic — the intersection is rather busy!
39. You can’t visit London and not take advantage of the historic royal palaces. There are three major ones to visit — Kensington Palace in Hyde Park (the residence of Queen Victoria and now Prince William, Kate Middleton and Prince Harry) the Tower of London (a one-time palace, prison and now home to the Crown Jewels) and Henry VIII’s Hampton Court located on the outskirts of the city. Admission prices can be pretty steep for each palace, so we recommend you budget for a membership if you’re going to visit more than one of these palaces, because the cost of an annual membership is less than the cost of two tickets.
40. Taking a city tour can be a daunting activity — unless that tour involves an ample amount of chocolate. Experience a chocolate tour through the city, combining prime sightseeing in Mayfair, Chelsea and Notting Hill with the best confections the city has to offer. Because really, what’s more romantic than a stroll around Londontown whilst sampling gourmet chocolates?
41. Bored with typical sightseeing? Perhaps it’s time to fly out of your comfort zone with a champagne balloon flight. Enjoy breathtaking aerial views of London while sipping on a glass of bubbly when you take a hot air balloon ride with Adventure Balloons. Not only can you snuggle up while enjoying the city from a unique perspective, but just think about the killer Instagram shots you’ll take!
42. A day trip you really won’t regret: Warner Brother’s Studios’ The Making of Harry Potter. Visit the studios where the entire franchise was filmed from start to finish, and see thousands of authentic sets and props. We’re talking Dumbledore’s office, the Gryffindor Common Room, Hagrid’s cottage and so much more! Book tickets well in advance (at least a month), and check here for transportation info. Insider tip: make sure to be friendly with the staff. Many of them were extras in the actual films, and have tons of stories about the filming of the movies and the cast!
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