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I’ve had the good fortune to travel to London many times in my years on the road. It’s a great jumping-off point for exploring Europe, and for American travelers, it’s offers easy access to new cultural experience, without the hurdle of a language barrier. It’s a city with so much to offer; from history and culture to unique pubs and bars to shopping, strolling, and some of the best people-watching in the world. All these reasons combined, and many more, make London one of my favorite cities in the world, and that means a lot coming from a jaded traveler who usually ranks destinations by good weather and cheap beer, rather than cultural significance!
With so many unique districts in London, it’s sometimes hard to know where to go or what to see during a short stay in the city. In cases like this, sometimes, it’s okay to be a tourist and jump on a double-decker tour bus to take a guided cruise through the city.
An all-day London Bus tour will run you about $40 USD for 24 hours — this city isn’t cheap, but if you’re new in town and only passing through, that’s $40 well spent, even for a budget backpacker. The tours are usually hop-on-hop-off, which means you have the freedom to get off and spend an hour picking out that perfect pair of Union Jack socks for your friend back home, or go for a walk to get a better shot of the Tower Bridge. And when you’re ready to jump back on the bus, all you have to do is wait a few minutes at one of the many designated stops around the city and another bus will come along to whisk you away.
The bus tours have stops all over the city, but some of the main stops include:
Trafalgar Square - near Piccadilly Circus, with it’s famous statue of Eros — one of the most photographed sites in London and one of my favorite people-watching locales.
Whitcomb Street – between Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square, the center of London’s Theater District.
Grosvenor Gardens – near Victoria Train Station, no, not the now-famous Harry Potter London train station (that one is King’s Cross), but a central travel hub and an epic building.
Haymarket – Just in front of the Tiger Tiger Bar, named for the deranged poet William Blake’s famous poem – a good place to stop for a mind-bending beverage or 12.
Marble Arch – Where you can snap a pic of the marble monument while dodging the traffic of one of the busiest intersections in central London. Then head to the north-east corner of Hyde Park to Speakers Corner, where you can listen to the concerned citizens and local crazies discuss, debate, and babble.
Embankment Pier - Here you’ll find great access to the River Thames, with the London Eye just across the bridge.
Of course, this is just a tourist’s taste of all that London has to offer. If you got more time to spend, in the city, be sure to dig into some of the dodgier nooks and crannies of this fantastically diverse metropolis!