The Ultimate Guide To: 4 Days in London (Including a Day Trip to Windsor Castle & Stonehenge)
Updated: Dec 12, 2018
The second country I visited out of the seven I explored during last summer’s European Adventure was England. After a quick, one hour flight out of Dublin, Ireland, we landed in London on a Monday evening. Walking through the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport totally had me feeling like an actress in Love Actually (it’s one of my favorite movies so I had to bring it up!). We spent about three whole days in London. While there were a couple things I couldn’t check off my “to do list” during our short time there, and the weather wasn’t exactly ideal for at least one of the days, we definitely made the most of our time! Take a look at what we experienced on each day we were in London!
Day 1 (Okay, night 1):
As I said above, we landed in London on a Monday evening. From Heathrow, we rode the London Underground Train about an hour east to get into the city. We stayed at The Park International Hotel in Kensington, and I would highly recommend it! The hotel staff was very helpful and friendly (they even offered us umbrellas to take with us while exploring the city!), the rooms were clean and spacious, and the attached bar/restaurant was very pleasing. After checking into our hotel and dropping our bags off in our room, we went for an evening stroll with one mission in mind: find some authentic English “fish and chips.” After about a half mile, we stumbled into a small restaurant that did not disappoint! I even tried “mushy peas” for a first time and wasn’t disgusted! After getting our fill to eat, we headed back to the hotel to plan out our first full day in London…
Day two’s weather forecast called for rain, and we knew that would put a damper (no pun intended - haha) on our day. Our original plan was to spend the entire day exploring the city since we had a day trip booked for the next day. Although the rain was discouraging, we still went ahead with that plan. At last minute, we booked two tickets with the London Big Bus Tours company. (I totally suggest doing this, but maybe plan ahead a little better than we did and book more than 10 minutes before hopping on the bus - haha!)
Since we realized we only had one full day to explore ALL of London, the bus tour was our best, most efficient way of doing that. For about $40, we hopped on and off of a bus all day long and saw so many historic and iconic buildings and monuments:
Tower of London (where the Crown Jewels are kept)
London Eye (although we didn't go up in it)
Platform 9¾ in Kings Cross Station (this one is for you Harry Potter fans)
The third day was taken up completely by a trip out to west of London that included stops at Windsor Castle, the historic city of Bath, and the main event: Stonehenge. At 8:45am we boarded a coach bus and departed Victoria Station for the tour we booked through Viator.
While at Windsor Castle, we witnessed the exchanging of the guards at noon, viewed Queen Mary's Dollhouse, and took a stroll through the State Apartments. Unfortunately, no sightings of the Queen, Prince William, Prince Harry, or Kate Middleton occurred.
After grabbing a quick bite to eat in Windsor, we boarded the bus again and headed towards Stonehenge. Part of the way there, the bus stopped again in the historic city of Bath. Our visit to Bath included an admission into the Ancient Roman Baths Museum.
Once we left Bath, we arrived at our final destination of the day: Stonehenge in Wiltshire. Stonehenge was as mystical and perplexing as I thought it would be. You can’t get up too close to it, but even from a distance you can tell that the stones are huge. Just imagining how they were moved to this place (seemingly in the middle of nowhere) without modern machines and technology was absolutely baffling to me. Because of how much it blew my mind, walking around Stonehenge made it into my list of “Favorite Places/Moments” from this trip to Europe. The day excursion was long and exhausting, but totally worth it - especially since the bus dropped us right off in front of our hotel once we got back into London! We ended our day by walking to a nearby pub, where I tried a famous British meat pie.
Our flight out of London was scheduled for about 6pm, so we had a good portion of our last day to explore the city a little bit more. As I mentioned above, our hotel was in the Kensington neighborhood, so after ravaging through a full English breakfast (yum!), we walked over to Kensington Palace. Once again, we had no sightings of Prince William or Kate Middleton :(
From Kensington Palace, we strolled through Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park. The Gardens and Hyde Park cover a combined 625 acres of land. It had a very “Central Park” feel to it - mostly because it’s a giant rectangle of greenery in the middle of a big city. We walked around Hyde Park for a couple of hours, stopping to view The Albert Memorial and the Princess Diana Memorial (not pictured below).
After walking multiple miles, we eventually found our way out of Hyde Park and started our trek back towards our hotel. But before picking up our bags and heading to the airport, we stopped at a cute cafe for some afternoon tea (very British of us, ay?). The cafe was called Candella and it was so quaint! We shared a pot of peppermint tea and two slices of cake before hopping on the Underground Train to Heathrow.
Unfortunately (yes, unfortunately), we ended up staying an extra night in London. It’s a long story, but basically my name on my plane ticket was spelled incorrectly and could not easily be fixed. Since that did not match the spelling on my passport, the airline would not let me fly out of the UK. This little mistake made us miss our flight, and kept us from getting on any other planes heading to Amsterdam (our next stop on our route) for the rest of the evening. But after a few desperate emails to our travel agent, we had new tickets booked for the next morning. We ended up staying that night at a shady airport hotel (0 out of 10 - would NOT recommend), we barely got any sleep, and the mix-up made us miss out on one of the excursions we had booked in Amsterdam, but after a long, stressful night, we were happy to finally leave the UK the next morning.
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Have you been to London? Planning a trip there soon? Let me know! And as always, thanks for reading!