Tyler and I were so excited for our trip and we wanted to cram as many activities possible into the time we had in London and Paris! We also wanted to be smart about how we planned out our days, leaving some free time to just explore (and if you know my husband, you know he hates having everything planned out so we had to compromise with some spontaneity). Here is the itinerary we followed on our trip!
I’m not going to lie, jet lag hit me pretty hard on our first day! We arrived in London around 8 a.m. and it was about an hour commute on the tube from the airport to our hotel. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to check-in to our room until 2 p.m., so we freshened up as best we could in the hotel lobby, and the front desk stored our luggage while we went out to explore.
Since we were so exhausted from our overnight flight, we opted for something close to our hotel this first day so we could come back at check-in time. We took an Uber from our hotel (it was so weird riding on the opposite side of the road!) to the the Natural History Museum. The museum opened at 10 a.m., so we got there just in time to beat the crowds! This museum is sometimes referred to as a Cathedral of Nature because of the ornate architecture and vast collections. Admission is free and there are a couple eating options in the museum, including the T. Rex Cafe, where we stopped to grab lunch.
We headed back to the hotel to check-in to our room and rest a little before going out to explore what shops were walking distance from our hotel. We ended up grabbing dinner “take away” (this is what English people call “to-go” orders) at a little restaurant around the corner from our hotel.
Our second day in London was cold and misty! We woke up early and headed to the Old Spitalfields Market.
This was a huge, open market with local vendors, as well as lots of restaurant options and food trucks. We enjoyed looking around at all the vendors set up and the shops in the area. We had a quick lunch here before moving on to the Tower Bridge.
We took the tube to the Tower Bridge, where we walked around and looked in the gift shop. It’s totally free to walk around and over the bridge; however, there is a fee if you’d like to visit the exhibit. We opted for the free option and enjoyed some time walking around and across the bridge! We continued walking along the River Thames on what’s called “The Queen’s Walk,” headed towards our next destination–Tate Modern, a free modern art museum. We stopped in to warm up and look around, and then continued walking along the river towards the London Eye.
We seriously walked TEN miles this day, but it was so fun seeing everything by foot! By the time we got to the London Eye the sun was already setting (it was only 4:30 in the afternoon!).
We stopped by Big Ben for a minute (the famous clock tower is currently under construction so there wasn’t much to see) and then we headed to Piccadilly Circus, a famous square in London. We were completely exhausted by this point (jet lag + 10 miles of walking = complete exhaustion) so we stopped in a restaurant in China town and took some Chinese takeout back to our hotel.
We left our hotel and headed to Buckingham Palace to watch the changing of the guards. The ceremony begins at 11 a.m., and I definitely recommend getting there early to have a good view!
We arrived about an hour and a half early, so we stopped at a nearby cafe for breakfast. We walked back over to the palace and the place was already filling up! We found a spot near the gate and waited. Within minutes there were thousands of people standing around to watch the ceremony! By the time it was finally starting we had been standing there for an hour, so we watched about 20 minutes of the changing of the guards ceremony, and then we moved on.
We walked from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey–which took us through all the parliament buildings so there was high security everywhere! It was about £20 per person to go in the cathedral and the line was very long, so we just walked around and enjoyed the view outside.
We walked from here to Trafalgar Square, an area of London with some statues and sculptures, right at the steps of the National Gallery.
The National Gallery is a free art museum so we walked around for a little while to warm up and browse the artwork. From here we took the tube to the Baker Street stop and walked to the London Beatles Store to look around and then we took a bus to the famous Abbey Road crosswalk. My husband loved this since he is a huge Beatles fan!
We ended our day in Camden Town, which was recommended to us by several locals. Camden Town has lots of pop up shops and stores to browse, as well as unique buildings to look at.
We went back to the hotel to rest for a little bit and then took a bus to Harrods to look around! (Side note: we loved taking the double decker busses!!) Harrods is a HUGE, high end department store! We grabbed some dinner and then stopped by Cafe De Nata to try a premium Portuguese custard tart! It was delicious!
This was one of my favorite days in London! We left early and headed to King’s Cross Station to get a picture at Platform 9 3/4 (where are my fellow Harry Potter fans?!).
We got there early enough to beat the long line and had time to enjoy breakfast at the station and watch all the people rushing to catch their trains! We took the tube to the Royal Opera House where we had tickets to see The Nutcracker performed by the Royal Ballet (growing up training in classical ballet, this has always been a dream of mine!).
After watching the ballet we walked around Covent Garden and had lunch at EAT, a small cafe literally everywhere in London!
After walking around some more at Covent Garden, we headed back to our hotel to begin packing up. We walked a couple blocks and had pizza for dinner at a restaurant called Ask Italian.
We had a couple hours to kill before we headed to the airport for our flight to Paris so we headed to Oxford Street (another recommendation from locals) to look around at some stores. This area had a variety of stores like H&M and Zara! We headed back to our hotel to pick up our luggage and continue our trip to Paris! We arrived to our hotel in Paris around 11 p.m. and went to bed to rest up for the last few days of our trip!
The first thing we did in Paris was head straight to the Eiffel Tower of course! We waited in line for our tickets and went to the top to enjoy the view.
We then headed to the Triumphal Arch and walked up and down the Avenue des Champs-Élysées.
We had a late lunch at a little restaurant right off the Champ-Élysées and then headed to Montmartre to see the Sacré-Cœur Basilica (The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris).
We looked around at some souvenir shops and headed back to our hotel for the night.
On the first Sunday of every month several museums in Paris have free admission, so we planned to go to the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay on this day! We went to the Louvre first, getting there early to avoid a long line. The freezing weather outside was perfect for spending the day exploring the art museums!
We spent a couple hours wandering around (you could honestly spend DAYS at the Louvre) and we saw most of the famous artworks highlighted on the map. We then walked to the Musée d’Orsay. I was most excited for the Musée d’Orsay because of their Edgar Degas paintings. Just my luck they were having a special exhibit this month with a large portion of his works!
It was so exciting seeing all of his work! We left the Musée d’Orsay and took the tube to the Notre-Dame Cathedral, one of my favorite places!
By this time it was starting to mist and it was still FREEZING, so we walked around in the cathedral for a while and then headed back to our hotel.
This was our last full day and honestly we were getting pretty homesick! We slept in and then went to Le Bon Marché, a large, high end department store. We walked around for a while and then just explored all the streets nearby. We decided to walk along the Seine River to the Eiffel Tower and find dinner nearby. We shared the most amazing five cheese pizza at Capriccio, right by the Eiffel Tower.
After dinner we walked around a Christmas market that was still set up by the Eiffel Tower and then waited for the light show.
It was a perfect ending to our time in Paris! We headed back to our hotel to pack everything and prepare to head home!
We left early in the morning to head home. It was a LONG and exhausting trip home, but we were so thankful for the safe flights (and for making our connecting flight in Atlanta *insert praise hands emoji*). This is how we managed to squeeze everything into our 9 day trip to London and Paris! There was still SO much to do, but we were happy with everything we got to see and it was definitely an experience of a lifetime!
Click here to read about Traveling to Europe on a Budget! Happy traveling, love!