As some of you may know, I am currently in the middle of a three-week study abroad program in Europe. Our group consists mainly of event management and hospitality majors, and one of our objectives on this trip is to visit various cultural events and venues in each country and reflect on those experiences. We left our first destination, London, a few days ago, but in spite of the less than desirable weather conditions during our stay, many of us fell in love with the city.
Throughout my time in Europe, I will be documenting some of my favorite attractions from each country on my blog. This will not be a full recap of everything I’ve done or enjoyed in these countries, but rather a list of some of the highlights. A few other awesome things I did in London include snapping a picture at Platform 9 & 3/4, riding around in a double decker bus around the city (which I highly suggest doing no matter where you travel), standing in Piccadilly Circus, walking around on a Jack the Ripper tour, and visiting the Tower of London.
So, for those of you heading to London in the near future, here are five places and attractions I highly suggest!
The Weekend Five: Things I Loved in London
1. Buckingham Palace.
First of all, how many times do you get the chance to visit a real working palace? Buckingham Palace — home to the Queen of England — is beautifully decorated and rich with historical value. Several of my classmates and I reserved our tickets ahead of time to tour the state rooms and ballroom, where ambassadors and other distinguished guests have come to visit, and to walk through the gardens. This year was also the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, during which she celebrated 60 years at the throne, and so the palace displayed the tiaras and jewels of several English monarchs throughout history (including the tiny crown of Queen Victoria!). if you visit before October, you can see the Diamonds Jubilee exhibit in Buckingham Palace for yourself!
2. Zoo Lates at the London Zoo.
On our second night in London, several of us attended an event called Zoo Lates, in which the London Zoo stays open from 7-10 p.m. and provides food, drinks, animal masks, live entertainment and access to visit many of the animals. Right away, we realized we were some of the only tourists at this event, as we noticed attendees in full animal costumes who seemed to have been to Zoo Lates a few times before. I love going to the zoo, so being able to go to a party at the zoo was awesome. (Yes, I’m a nerd.) Attend this event if a) you love animals; b) you need a break from some of the touristy stuff; or c) to see how some locals might actually spend a Friday night (aside from at a bar).
3. Brighton Pier.
Brighton is about a 50-minute train ride from London, but well worth the trip. A small group of us traveled out to Brighton for a watersports festival, and wound up enjoying the rocky beaches, carnival events, restaurants and thrift shops that the city had to offer. We also discovered the palace of King George IV and had a wonderful time walking around there. For a scene a little different from the typical London streets, go to Brighton Pier. If you’re visiting the U.K. with a significant other, this is also (in my opinion) the perfect date location!
4. British Museum.
A fan of museums, I had to go to the British Museum – I had heard all about it in my art history class as a freshman, so it was exciting to see the ancient Greek and Roman works I’d studied so hard. I also had the chance to see the Rosetta Stone! This museum is free to the public and runs on donations. If you are a museum person, then you won’t want to miss out on this.
5. Olympic Infrastructure Tour.
With the Diamond Jubilee just behind us, and the Olympics coming up in less than two weeks, It’s a very patriotic time to be in London. Because my group is focused on the events and meetings industry, the Olympic Infrastructure Tour was a great way for us to learn about the way that huge sporting events are run and how cities can bid to be home to the Olympics. Because of certain restrictions that apply closer to the date of the event, we were unable to visit the actual grounds where the events and ceremonies will take place, but we did receive a tour from a very knowledgeable guide and we were able to view much of the infrastructure from a lookout point. It was an interesting way to learn about the Olympics and their overall effect on the surrounding community!
If you have any questions about any of these attractions or want to learn more about my adventures in London, feel free to drop a comment or share your own suggestions for future visits!