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London Calling! Making the Best of Your Time across the Pond

London EyeWith the birth of the royal baby, I’m sure you’re just clambering to make a trip to London to pay your regards to Will and Kate. Unfortunately, it may be too early to visit the young royals; however, London is just brimming with fun activities and attractions for you to enjoy during your time across the pond!

London: Offering Something for Everyone

There is one thing I can assure you of about your time in London: you will not be bored. As one would expect, London is truly a world capital, with a plethora of museums, tourist attractions, and world-class entertainment and cuisine. But with so much to see, where should you go first? Choose the travel guide below that best suits your preference.

Museum Buff:

My first museum recommendation for the history lover and the cool-things-admirer is, of course, the British Museum. One could literally spend a week at the British Museum and still not see all it has to offer. Luckily, the museum curators are fully aware of visitors’ need to target specific exhibits and place the Rosetta Stone near the entrance for quick access. British MuseumWhile the British Museum should not be missed, neither should the Victoria and Albert Museum (V & A Museum). Located near the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum (which should also be on your list to visit), the V & A is easy to get to from the Tube. The V & A is one of the world’s largest museums of decorative arts and design and I can really only summarize its collection of 4.5 million objects as "brilliant!" But don’t forget about the London art scene! London is home to dozens of superior art museums, notably the National Gallery, Tate Modern, Tate Britain, National Portrait Gallery, and more. As someone who is close to ignorant when it comes to art history, I highly recommend splurging for the audio guides at the art museums, especially when there is no tour group to eavesdrop on.

Theater Nerd:

Plays and musicals in London compete with the best of NYC’s Broadway. You’ll find many of the big name musicals in the West End, near the Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus Tube stops. However, there are a few more must-sees that play in the Victoria Station area. Tickets at big name plays and musicals can be expensive, but there are a few tricks to help keep the cost low. My best suggestion is to purchase day tickets: Each theater will keep a handful of extra tickets to sell the day of a performance for a cheaper price. If you know exactly which show you wish to see and you have the ability to visit the theater box office during the day (or even shortly before show time), you might be able to score orchestra level seats for as cheap as £30. And if you want a little time travel with your theater, head over to Shakespeare Globe Theater on the Southbank. Standing tickets in the yard are only £5.

Cheesy American Tourist:

Admit it: we all want those classic vacation photos in front of the big sites. Just like you wouldn’t go to NYC without checking out the Statue of Liberty, there are plenty of London musts for newbies. Trying to glimpse the royal baby? Well, the Buckingham Palace probably isn’t the best guess for the Duchess’ maternity leave, but it is one of the top tourist attractions in the city. When planning your visit to the gated palace, look up the schedule for the changing of the guards. There’s just nothing like watching men in uniform march in complete unison. Big BenTake the Tube to the Westminster stop to hit up 3 big tourists stops at once: Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament (Big Ben, included), and the London Eye. If you make the trip on Sunday to this area of town and wear your Sunday best, you may just make it into Sunday service for free at the Abbey. Wear comfortable shoes, because even though Parliament and the Abbey are side-by-side, you’ll need to walk across Westminster Bridge to reach the London Eye. But if your shoes are comfy and you’re prepared for the line, then the hour long trip around in the London Eye is worth it—you’ll be able to see some of the best views in the city. But no trip to London is complete without a stop at the Tower of London. Bring sunglasses: the bling of the Royal Jewels might be enough to blind you.

The Foodie:

Although London is not known for its cuisine like, say, Paris is, there are hundreds of fine dining options that blow plain old fish and chips out of the water. Depending on where in town you are, you might just be able to stumble in to any cute looking restaurant and find a gem hidden in the ruff, as is the case with Brick Lane. If you’re craving the best Indian food in London, head over to Brick Lane and simply take your pick of any of the side-by-side restaurants. If you’re looking for a truly unique culinary experience, splurge and make a reservation at Dans le noir London. At Dans le noir, patrons consume their food in absolute darkness, without even a speck of light to help them. Without their sight to assist them, diners at Dans le noir have only their taste buds to guide them on what they’re consuming. The menu options run as such: white menu (chef’s surprise), blue menu (seafood), green menu (vegetarian), red menu (meat). After that, head to the Ice Bar London on Regent Street for a nice nightcap.

Save on Where You Stay

London is an expensive town, no doubt about it. But you can save on your hotel with the help of a little research. For example, Radisson Hotels offers up to a 25% discount if you make your reservation through SmartBizSavings!   Anna Albi is a graduate from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA, where she received a B.A. in Creative Writing with an additional major on Professional Writing. She is currently pursuing her Masters of Arts in Professional Writing, also at CMU. Feel free to reach out to her through Google+.

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