As there are many flights to London daily from most airports in Europe, we decided to make a day trip to London, which means flying there in the morning, doing some sightseeing and shopping and flying back in the evening to be back home at night. For sure that is only possible if there are minimum two daily flights from a nearby airport, but here in the western part of Germany that is not a problem.
So we booked flights on Ryanair from Cologne to London Stansted as those were the cheapest flights and they had the most suitable flight times for us. We took the morning flight at 06:45 am which arrives in London at 07:10 am due to the time shift. There are many different options for transfers from the airport to the city: you can take a taxi which is by far the most expensive option and it is not much faster than the bus transfers which you can book online (it costs below 10 GBP). Both takes about 60-90 minutes depending on traffic. We decided for the Stansted Express Train. As we have limited time, this is the fastest option (45 minutes to Liverpool Street Station in the city center) and we paid 16 GBP for the return ticket per Person only as we booked out tickets quite early in advance on https://www.stanstedexpress.com/
From Liverpool Station it is easy to explore London as you can take the Underground or busses here, or you start your excursion by foot, as we did.
Passing the Monument of the Great Fire of London we walked down to the Thames and crossed it over the London Bridge from where you have a great view onto the Tower Bridge, The Shard and both sides of downtown London along the river.
Unfortunately we didn’t have the best weather as it was a little cool and cloudy, but we were lucky that there was no rain. The bad thing about that was, that the weather was not quite good for taking pictures.
Anyways we decided to walk along the shore of the River Thames. We walked down from the bridge and found the Borough Market just below it. Even if it was early, most stalls were already open. It was smelling great as a lot of food specialties and much more were offered here. As we were looking for something to have breakfast at, our first thought was heaving it here, but unfortunately the stalls offering prepared food were not open yet.
We continued our walk along the river after walking through the market for some time.
Passing the Clink Prison Museum we soon reached The Anchor, a traditional pub which is the oldest one in London as there has been pubs under several names in this building for more than 800 years already (Tripadvisor).
After another few minutes walking along the Bankside we reached the Shakespeare’s Globe theatre. It is a replica of the original theatre which was near that place from 1599-1642 (it was rebuilt in 1614 after it was destroyed during the Great Fire of London in 1613). The replica opened in 1997 and is used to tell the story of Shakespeare and for theater plays for sure.
We went on, passing the big building of the Tate Modern, a modern art gallery and enjoyed the panorama of the opposite part of the city. After a short time walking we reached London Eye, the world famous Ferris wheel where you can have a great view onto the city. As it was still early it wasn’t open yet but already some tourists were waiting to have a ride.
As it we still didn’t have any breakfast yet, we crossed the river over the Westminster Bridge, passed the Palace of Westminster, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey were already a lot of people were standing in a long line to visit it, so we decided not to do so but to enjoy the impressive buildings from the outside.
Finally we also found a place to have some English Breakfast aka baked beans, sausage, has brown and egg and some porridge at: the Ravello at Victoria Street (Tripadvisor).
After we had a break there and enjoyed something to eat finally we continued our walk as we wanted to do some shopping. We walked through the beautiful St. James’s Park where you can also find Buckingham Palace at.
Our destination was Piccadilly Circus now as there are many shopping opportunities near there. At first we walked along Carnaby Street where you can find some really cool stores as there are also some shops selling more fancy stuff beside all the standard brand stores. We walked through some shops and went over to the big Topshop at Oxford Circus were we also spend some time to roam through all the floors and sale areas. We ended shopping with actually less than we expected but happy anyways.
We had a small break at Joe and The Juice at Regent Street (Tripadvisor), another street were you have a lot of shops at, mostly expensive brands, but there is a Zara and a Lush store also for example.
As it had already become afternoon we were starving for some lunch. We walked Coventry Street after watching the impressive LED walls at Piccadilly Circus another time and visited the M&M World at Leicester Square before we found the nearby Pub and Restaurant Brewmaster (Tripadvisor). As we wanted to have an original British Ale when in London, we sat down here, orders some and had some sides together with it, which actually was out lunch, but we liked it and were satisfied afterwards. Local and home brewed beer and some good dishes are available here. Not too cheap, but you won’t find many cheap restaurants in London anyways.
During our break we decided to go back to the Southbank at the River Thames, as we saw that a small street food festival was about to open there in the morning and we wanted to check that out. We passed Trafalgar Square and walked over Waterloo Bridge to walk through the different stalls at the festival and check out what they offered. Actually there was a really good and international mixture of different food and drinks offered at fair prices, so it was a mistake to have lunch before.
As it already became late afternoon it was time for us to return to the airport. We went over the river again and walked to Liverpool Station were we took the next Stansted Express Train to London Stansted Airport. The airport is not the most comfortable one as it is really crowded all the time, but our flight was on time so we returned back home in the late evening.
Our conclusion for such a day trip: it definitely is worth doing it from time to time to see a city you haven’t visited yet, or to do some shopping and sightseeing for a day, but it is also not a wellness trip. We woke up early in the morning to catch our flights and returned back around 11 pm so we were quite tired afterwards. If you want to see more of the city, more than one day is better in any way but to have a small insight into the city, a day trip is quite good actually.
We went everywhere, didn’t take any Underground Train or bus within the city which is perfect if you have no problem with extensive strolls, but if not, it is definitely recommendable to have a full day ticket for the Underground with which you can go to any sight of the city.
I think we will do some other day trips in future if we find cheap flights with suitable flight times, but it’s not top on our list.
Cheapest possibilities for a day trip to London offer Ryanair (www.ryanair.com), Easyjet (www.easyjet.com), Eurowings (www.eurowings.com) and Wizzair (www.wizzair.com), depending on where you start from in Europe and if the have more than one flight a day.
If there is no Low Cost Carrier flying from an airport nearby you, a lot of other airlines such as British Airways offer flights to the city but in most cases they aren’t that cheap.
Thank you for reading, we hope we were able to give you some interesting insight into our trip 🙂 As always, you can contact us by commenting below or just dropping an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org in case you have any questions or suggestions. Also don’t forget to follow our Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/thealterlookout ) and Instagram (http://www.instagram.com/thealterlookout ) to be always up to date about our blog posts and to see some pictures even while we are travelling.