17 Most Instagrammable Cafes in London: Get the Camera Ready
Looking for the perfect spot to chill and take photos? Check out one of these Instagrammable cafes in London for the ultimate content creation session.
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I’ve done London solo five times now, and can honestly say besides NYC, it’s one of my favorite cities to visit alone.
In fact, it was the destination of my very first true solo trip. I’ll admit I was anxious as I sat at the airport waiting to board the plane, especially because I was going to be celebrating my birthday alone.
I saw a bunch of fantastic West End shows, made some wonderful new friends, and really fell in love with solo travel during that trip.
Now whenever someone asks me for a first time solo travel location, I pretty much immediately say London.
It’s the perfect spot if you’re anxious about being solo because they speak English, so there’s no language barrier, and there’s a million museums, tours, and shows to choose from so you’re never bored.
Read on to find out all my tips for traveling to London alone.
Like any city, obviously use some common sense and avoid getting too drunk or staying out too late. Walk with authority and a purpose, and always dress as similar to locals as possible to avoid standing out in a crowd too much.
It’s also great to sign up for a tour or activity to meet other travelers while you’re in town, so that you get to chat with other people during part of your trip. It makes striking up a conversation especially easy if you’re a shy person, since you can just talk about whatever tour or activity you’re both experiencing.
You should also make sure to give your location to friends or family, and never admit to others that you’re solo, especially if they give you bad vibes. I normally just say my boyfriend is back in the room the napping and planning to meet me later.
There’s a lot to know when traveling to London, but one thing that most tourists don’t seem to get is that instead of waiting in line for an oyster card, you can just tap in and out of the tube by using your credit card.
The system will either charge you for each individual trip, or for a day pass, then they charge you for whichever option is cheaper.
I highly suggest using the tube as much as possible, because not only will it save you money, it also saves time during rush hour.
You’ll also want to book your accommodations as early as possible to get the best rate. I’m a pretty last minute person and have learned the hard way that if you wait, you’ll end up paying way more than you’d like for a prime location.
These days I stay outside of Central London to avoid some of the hefty accommodation prices, but if you’re solo and visiting for the first time, you’ll absolutely want to book a spot in central London.
It’ll make getting around easier, and less stressful, especially if you’re coming home from seeing a show late at night.
London is a massive city. I’ve been there half a dozen times and still have a million spots on my London bucket list.
It’s really easy to wear yourself out trying to squeeze in too much. I know because I’m guilty of doing just that.
Take your time, let yourself just wander around, and pick one or two places or neighborhoods to explore each day.
One of my favorite things to do when I’m in London is to hit up at least one West End show.
London has some of the best theater in the world, so you’ve got tons of wonderful plays and musicals to choose from.
If you’re looking to save money, and are fairly flexible, you can play the lotteries or rushes that shows offer on TodayTix.
Local Tip: If you’re looking for a great musical, check out Cabaret. It’s one of the best shows I’ve seen lately.
Every time I’m in London, I always make a point of setting aside time to stroll along the South Bank Walk.
It’s got really lovely views of the city and tons of cute little food and drink stalls.
Head over the bridge next to Westminster Abbey, then walk toward the London Eye, and continue until you see Tower Bridge.
Fair warning, it’s a fairly lengthy walk, but so lovely!
If you want to see some stunning Crown Jewels and hear some dark stories about when the tower was a prison.
Be ready for lots of steps and to wander around this iconic spot for at least a couple hours. There’s a lot to see.
My favorite part is getting to see the 23,578 gemstones that live in The Tower of London.
Book your entry early to guarantee entry!
Okay, I know not everyone will love this suggestion because a fair amount of what’s playing will probably be films you can catch at home, which is why I’d urge you to veer toward an art-house film that will probably only be playing in larger cities.
Plus, it’s a great solo activity for people who aren’t super comfortable doing things solo yet, since all you have to do is sit alone in the dark and not speak.
London has some really nice movie theaters, these are some of my favorites:
As someone who typically would eat breakfast on the go most days, one of my favorite routines I’ve found is to indulge in a solo breakfast at least one day a week.
I take my journal with me, enjoy some much needed coffee, and have either a healthy or indulgent breakfast, depending on my mood.
London has tons of delicious spots to beat the jetlag at. These are some of my favorites:
Another epic free activity is heading to the Sky Garden.
It’s basically a giant indoor garden and outdoor observation deck high above the London skyline, meaning it has some of the best views in the city.
Even though it’s free, you need to book your arrival time slot well ahead of time on their website.
Fair warning, if the weather is even slightly chilly, bring a jacket, as the outdoor observation deck gets quite windy.
You’ll also be able to grab some drinks and sit at tables while you’re up there.
There’s also a restaurant that I’ve heard good things about, but haven’t tried yet.
If you want to dine there, you’ll want to book your reservation ahead of time.
If you’ve had a busy morning of sightseeing, you’ll definitely be ready to sit down and relax with a long lunch.
These are some of the places I love hitting up while I’m solo in London:
The museums are world class and are all a must-see. I’d recommend choosing one or two per trip to really dive into exploring since they’re all pretty massive.
You should check and schedule timed entry anywhere that allows it to save yourself waiting in line later.
These are some ones you should check out:
Join one of Walks many tours around the world for an exceptional and memorable holiday experience!
One of the best things about London is that all the museums are free, which really helps if you’re on a budget.
Spitalfields Market has tons of cute shops and food stands. I could easily spend an hour or two browsing through all the aisles.
You’ll likely find some funky clothing, delicious eats, and probably a few trinkets to take home as a souvenir.
When you’re done shopping the market, head over to nearby Brick Lane to check out some of the funkiest vintage shops around.
I always make an effort to swing by Brick Lane Vintage Market while I’m in town to stock up on cool pieces.
The last time I was there I got a really chic Moncler coat, for just $100 (normally valued at over $1,000).
London is one of my favorite spots to take photos since it has a million cool buildings and historical sites to shoot at.
Since you’re solo, I’d say either splurge for a bit of time with a photographer, or ask people nearby to help you take a couple cool shots.
If you’re really committed, you can get a tripod for your phone and set up your own photoshoot (I do this often).
You’ll want to shoot super early in the morning when there’s nobody around.
You’ll also want to stay aware of your surroundings, so nobody snags your phone off the tripod while you aren’t looking.
Truthfully, I’ve never taken a ride on the London Eye, mainly because I always think I’ll do it and it ends up being booked when I try to go.
So learn from my mistake and book your tickets to ride early.
My mom and sister went and said the views were amazing, especially around sunset as the city lights up as darkness falls.
Guarantee your ride on the London Eye by booking your ticket ahead of time!
London is one of the best cities for foodies because it’s got tons of weekly food markets.
Just be sure to double check which days and times, as they don’t run every day.
I still have lots to try, but these have been some of my favorite ones so far:
If you’re feeling a bit intimidated about getting around London for the first time solo, a great option is to hop on one of the bus tours.
If I have a short amount of time in a larger new city, I’ll try to do one of these on my first day in order to get a better sense of where things are.
It can also be a great way to meet other travelers, and an easy way to get some cool photos if you sit on the top of the bus.
Reserve your seat today on one of these popular bus tours!
London has some of the most beautiful public parks that I’ve ever spent time in.
I always aim to spend at least one afternoon per visit strolling around one of these parks with a coffee in hand:
If you’ve seen the film Notting Hill, then hitting up this famous neighborhood is probably already on your to-do list.
You’ll find tons of vintage items, fresh flowers, fruits and vegetables, and some food stands.
Plan your itinerary accordingly and aim to visit during the famous Portobello Road Market.
The major market day happens on Saturday, from 9am until 6pm.
Don’t stress if you’re not there over the weekend. They also have a smaller market Monday to Wednesday from 9am until 6pm.
If you’re in town long enough, and the jetlag isn’t killing you, consider booking a day trip to one of these nearby spots.
Truthfully, I haven’t done most of these yet. I always mean to, then end up getting sidetracked seeing all my London friends while I’m in town.
You’ll also want to double check all the train schedules, since the trains always seem to have construction or strikes happening in the UK these days.
A couple weeks ago I did a day trip to visit a friend in Norfolk, and ended up having to spend the night. The next day it took me over 9 hours for what should have been a simple hour and a half train ride.
Make it easy on yourself by booking one of these popular organized day trips!
Since London has a ton of amazing department stores and shops, it would be a shame to leave without doing at least a little shopping.
I always end up buying something every time I visit one of these department stores:
You’ll also want to stroll down these popular shopping streets in London:
Having afternoon tea in London is pretty much a mandatory British experience.
Since the Brits take their tea extremely seriously, you’ve got tons of options, but these are some of the spots that my local friends rave about:
I’m a massive Harry Potter fan, so naturally I treated myself to The Harry Potter Tour of Warner Brothers last year for my birthday.
Except for the hangover from celebrating the night before, the day was just as magical as I imagined it would be.
It’s a pricier tour, and a bit of a pain to get to since Leavesden Studios is just outside of London, but totally worth it if you’re really into Harry Potter and seeing the behind-the-scenes magic.
Book your ticket early. This tour is massively popular impossible to schedule at the last-minute!
Ed Sheeran, The Beatles, Elton John, Maisie Peters, The Spice Girls—so many epic singers and bands have come from England over the years.
While you’re in London, check out some live music at one of these hotspots:
Who knows, you may catch a well known performer or even see the next big act to come out of the UK!
This has been on my London bucket list for ages, mainly because it’s always freezing when I’m in London.
If you’re feeling adventurous, climb the O2 arena around sunset for amazing views of the city.
It’s easily one of the most unique things you can do while you’re in London, and I can guarantee all your friends at home will think it’s super cool you did it.
Obviously, this is more of a summer activity unless you don’t mind the chilly weather and wind that you’ll certainly feel at the top.
Book your spot to climb the O2 early to guarantee a sunset time slot!
London has tons of cute neighborhoods, so it’s daunting to decide which ones to prioritize if you’re only in town a few days.
These are the ones I always tell first-time visitors to put at the top of their to-do list:
Don’t feel like walking? Hop on one of these bus tours!
As an American, one of the first things I think of when I think of England is the Royal Family.
I know most Brits probably are rolling their eyes, but it’s true, especially after The Crown.
Everyone I know wants to see Buckingham Palace on their first visit to London, because it truly is an iconic part of British history that everyone’s familiar with.
You can really just see the building from the gates, and truthfully, it’s a quick thing to cross off your to-do list, making it a simple decision to see.
If you time your visit just right, you may book the summer tour of select State Rooms that’s offered while the King is out of residence.
Everyone’s at least heard the name Shakespeare, and probably read at least one of his plays while in school, so it should be a no-brainer to at least walk by the replica of the famous Globe Theatre.
If you’re a big theater nerd like me, you’ll absolutely want to sign up for the tour. I found it fascinating!
You can also buy tickets to see a show performed there during the warmer months. This is a major bucket list item that I’ve yet to cross off.
They’ve also got an amazing gift shop that’s got tons of books, plays, and Shakespearean themed merchandise. I could spend hours browsing just the books alone. I always end up walking out with at least a couple of souvenirs.
Fun Fact: The original Globe Theatre, which was a few blocks away, is where Shakespeare premiered a lot of his most famous plays. Unfortunately, caught fire in 1619 when a cannonball misfired during a performance of Henry VIII.
Reserve a spot on one of these popular tours!
If you were watching coverage of Queen Elizabeth’s funeral, you saw Westminster Abbey featured.
This gothic abbey sits along the Thames, and is one of the most iconic churches in England.
If you’re into architecture, it’s worth getting a ticket to check out the interior.
At the very least, attempt to at least walk by it and admire the beautiful exterior architecture.
Book your visit early to guarantee entry!
I love eating out in London, and try to keep a balance between expensive and cheaper restaurants.
Depending on what you’re in the mood for, these are a mixture of some of my favorite splurge and budget spots for dinner:
If you’re really into history, you’ll want to check out the Houses of Parliament.
I haven’t had time to go inside, but the exterior is beautiful.
Friends tell me it’s really lovely inside, and that taking the audio tour is a must!
I’m also told that the Throne Room is quite impressive. It’d be especially cool to see The Sovereign’s Throne, which is where the King will sit during the State Opening of Parliament each year.
Book your time slot early to guarantee entry!
One of my favorite ways to meet people while traveling is to join a tour group.
Last time I was solo in London I did a hot tub boat tour through Canary Wharf that was so unique and a ton of fun!
Book a spot on one of these popular tours!
Another London bucket list item that I’ve yet to cross off is checking out the Changing of The King’s Guard.
The soldiers and band will gather at St. James’s Palace and Wellington Barracks and begin their march to the palace at 10:00 sharp.
So if you want to check it out, be outside of Buckingham Palace no later than 10:45am.
Check out on of these popular Changing of the Guard tours!
Is there anything more British than hanging out at the local pub?
Obviously, be careful how much you drink, but hitting up your local joint can be a great way to meet people.
These are some of my favorite places to grab a drink and chat with locals:
I hope I’ve given you plenty of ideas for things to do solo in London.
It really is one of the best cities in the world for solo travel, especially if it’s your first time traveling alone.
Let me know in the comments below what you’re most looking forward to checking out!
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