Girls weekend in London

Written by Maria Aardal

July 25, 2019

London is known as the perfect city for a weekend getaway. London has earned that reputation for good reason. If you are looking for the perfect place to go with your friends London has probably crossed your mind. One of the reasons why London is so great for short trips is because everything or most of it is centered and you can see a lot in a short period. London is also easily accessible from most of Europe. Budget airlines like Norwegian, British Airways and Eurowings flying in from most of Europe. I have visited London twice. The first time with my girlfriend and the second time it was for a girls weekend in London.

How to survive a girls weekend in London

Everyone can find out what to do, where to go shopping or where to eat or stay. I will let you in on a little secret, for your girls weekend in London that should not be your main concern. Traveling with friends can be easy breezy and the best trip you all will ever experience, or it could quickly turn into a nightmare, friendships will end, houses will burn or maybe not that bad, but you get my point.

I have personally traveled with friends and had the time of my life, and I have traveled with friends where it just did not work. Problems can occur when people who might have different expectations and travel styles go on a trip together. Tension can also always occur when different people spend extended periods of time together with little personal time. This does not mean that you should not go on that trip. It just means that you should take some precautions and preparations.

My tips for traveling with friends:

Communication

When traveling with friends communication is key, both before and during the trip. Before the trip, you should discuss expectations and «rules». It all comes down to compromises and honesty. Unless you are traveling solo you cannot do exactly what you want to at all times. This is something that you should prepare for and talk about. If your friend thinks is it really important to go to the London Eye, but you do not think that is so important, maybe you should just do it for them, and then they will let you pick the dinner spot for that night. This does of course not mean that you should do anything because your friend wants to. It is a give and take situation.

Expectations for alone-time

You should also talk about expectations in regards to alone-time as this varies a lot from person to person. Some people do not need any alone-time at all and they will not think much about it, while others need some time alone every day and might get irritable, exhausted and tired if they do not get it. Some alone-time doesn’t necessary mean that you need to have dinner alone or be separated for a whole day, it might just mean quiet time on the bus or shopping in separate stores for a bit. 

Prepare for the unexpected

One other thing you should be prepared for is that things do not always go by the plan when traveling, especially when multiple people are traveling together. If you are someone who likes everything to go by your plan you should prepare yourself that this might not happen, and that’s okay. On my last trip to London, my friend and I was planning on taking the hop on hop off bus, yet we somehow lost our bus tickets on our way to get breakfast, McDonald’s as always. We couldn’t get new ones so we just had to be okay with it. Luckily we both found the situation funny, annoying yes definitely, but we brushed it off and kept joking about it. We could have been moody, annoyed and let that ruined our day, but we didn’t. 

What to do during your girls weekend in London

Now that hopefully have gotten some tips about how to make your girls weekend in London the very best, without killing each other, you can start to plan your time there. In London, there are endless opportunities. There is just so much to do and see. Below is a list of my personal recommendations for what to do in London. If you just want that list, just skip right ahead.

So what I like to do when traveling to big cities like London. I take the first day to just explore, see the main “touristy” things and kind off get a feel of the city. In London, the hop on hop off buses are great for this. That way you do not only get to see lots of famous attractions, but you also get to know the public transport, the prices, currency, food, locals and so on, which will help for the rest of the trip. A tip for the larger attractions and sights: do your research beforehand about when to go if they tend to get very crowded.

I love to travel spontaneously, but for short trips like my girls weekend in London, I find it better to have some sort of a plan. It does not have to be a full itinerary, just a list of things you wanna see and do, and some research about those. That can include when they open, prices, where they are and so on. Remember to not plan too much for each day. You still need time to get from A to B, time to eat and time to just relax. You do not want to feel like sightseeing and activities are a chore.

List of things to do on your girls weekend in London

  • Sightseeing, hop on hop off buses, walking tours and boat tours – these might seem a bit cliche, but that does not mean that they are not worth it. I did not get to on the bus as I mentioned earlier, because we lost our tickets. So I can not speak from personal experience, but to me, the hop on hop off buses seem like the perfect way to spend a day exploring London. This is also a great way to see all the classic London sights in one day. There are also hop on hop off buses that offer day tours from London to for example Stonehenge. There are plenty of different companies that offer these, and you should compare prices, and what they offer. One important thing to look for is how often they depart. You can also buy combination tickets for the hop on hop off buses and the London attractions.
  • The main attractions – by the main attractions I mean London Eye, Madame Tussauds, London Dungeon, Sealife and Shrek Adventure. There are plenty of discounts if you buy tickets for several attractions. I can personally vouch for the London Eye and Madame Tussaud, and I also really wanna visit The London Dungeon though I have not been yet. These main attractions can get quite crowded, but they are so popular for a reason. Before visiting you should do some research about when the crowds are smaller. I have personally been to the London Eye twice and both times I did not have to wait long at all. If you want to visit any of these, you should look at combination tickets. When you buy entrance to multiple attractions at the same time you usually get a discount.
  • See a show or a play – there is not much that is as classic for London as seeing a musical. There are plenty to choose from, and no matter what you like there is something for you. Many overlook this activity because they have certain preconceptions about plays and musicals. Many people automatically think of Shakespeare and operas, and those do not fit everyone’s taste, but there is so much more. There are musicals that bring us right back to our childhood like Matilda and the Lion King, and there are those with familiar songs like Mamma Mia and there are comedies like the Book of Mormon and Hairspray.
  • Go shopping
  • Have high tea – there is not much that is as English as high tea. High tea is a tradition that comes from the upper class in England in the 19th century. It was a meal to be enjoyed after a long day at work. High tea is not just cakes and sweets, it is more proper food like bagels and sandwiches. Throughout London, you can find different places where you can enjoy classy high tea. Places like the Ritz and the Shard offer luxurious high tea that you can enjoy in gorgeous settings. Some places that offer unusual high tea experiences. For example, there is the Cat Cafe where you enjoy the meal in the company of lots of cute, cuddly cats. You can also try Japanese high tea, high tea on a bus, Mad Hatter themed high tea and high tea on a boat. The options are endless.
  • Go out – for a girls weekend in London you probably want to hit the town a night or two. The nightlife in England is different, and so much fun. As you might know, British people are known for their parties, which does make England a great place to go out. Another reason to party in London is the number of theme clubs. If you are bored of always hitting the same clubs, listening to the same music and how all the bars look the same. My personal recommendation is Ballie Ballerson. This is a club featuring ball pits. Yes, like those in the playrooms of kids, but now with fabulous drinks. Spending an evening there is one of my best memories from London. There are also plenty of other options like a prison bar, a “mix your own drinks” bar (in a hazmat suit), hidden bars, and so much more.
  • Picnic in a park – pack with you some food, snacks, drinks, and a blanket and find a spot. You can people watch and just have fun with your friends. You can also bring some music and a bottle of wine and use the opportunity for a preparty before going out.
  • Visit museums – no matter if you love art, history, nature, weird things or psychology there is a museum for you in London. A lot of people, including me, often brush off museums because they are automatically connected to boredom. Yet if you find one that fits for you, you can have the time of your life at a museum. A few examples of museums you can visit in London are the national gallery, the natural history museum, the fan museum, the cartoon museum, and the imperial war museum.
  • Burlesque show – on my first trip to London we went to the London Cabaret Club. It was a truly amazing experience. Their shows are British themed and they change them often. It is also possible to combine the show with dinner. The performers were so incredible talented and the costumes were the icing on the cake. The show is perfectly made with different acts, but with a red thread through the whole show. The combination of the music, lights, costumes, and acts were so breathtaking.

Where to eat

When it comes to food, London equals heaven. No matter what kind of food you love, you can definitely find it in London. You can find high-class restaurants with only the best food, food from all over the world, tons of theme restaurants, lots of vegan, healthy restaurants, seafood, and of course lots of fast food. There is just something for everyone, no matter what.

These are my favorite places that I have tried in London and loved:

  • Hard Rock Cafe – A bit of a cliche there, I know, but yes. Hard Rock Cafe is overpriced, but it is really fun to be there and the food is great. In London, I tried their vegetarian burger and it was one of the best I have ever had. Not to mention their cocktails.
  • Dans le Noir – So this is perhaps the best restaurant I have ever eaten at, both in terms of the theme and the food. So this is a unique concept where you eat in complete darkness. All the waiters are blind or visually impaired, and by eating there you kind of get to experience what that is like. It was so weird to eat in complete darkness, and I can not explain how completely dark it is there (this part kind of shocked me, even though I knew it was going to be completely dark). I kept closing and opening my eyes, and putting my hands in front of my eyes because it made no difference at all. It was also weird how fast you kind of got used to it, like how quickly you learned to locate your plate, cutlery and glasses. I also made a point of stealing and hiding my girlfriends’ fork, knife, and glass which I found hilarious. Not only is the experience unique and exciting, but the food is so amazing. You chose what “menu” you want, and you can choose between meat, seafood, vegetarian or exotic and you do not get to know anything further, they only tell you your menu after eating. You can also choose how many courses you want. I had the three-course seafood menu, and it was amazing. Each course has a few different things, it is pretty fun to try to guess what you are eating. In mine, I got for example squid, salmon salad and some more fish that I cannot remember. All of it was perfectly prepared and just so tasty. I cannot recommend this place enough, I would come just for the food, and the unique experience is just a plus. Also, I hope they did not watch us infrared cameras because at one point I was eating whipped cream off my dessert with my hands, and I am sure it was not the prettiest sight.
  • Avobar – The Avobar is a restaurant where the whole restaurant is based on one single vegetable; the avocado. Avocados have become really popular in the last few years, and with good reasons, they are healthy and delicious. The Avobar prides itself on being a healthy restaurant with superfoods that you never get bored of. When I visited I tried their Avo bun burger, where the buns of the burger are literally half an avocado each with a sweet potato and lentil patty. The burger was amazing, and it really kept me full for way longer then I would have thought. There were also so many other exciting dishes on their menu that I wanted to try. The restaurant itself is also really pretty and very Instagram friendly if you care about that.
  • The Mac Factory  – okay, so this one I have not visited, but I wanted to add it because I really want to visit it. Who does not love mac and cheese, and who would not want to eat a restaurant that only serves different kinds of mac and cheese? I am so sad that I did not have the time to eat there, but I definitely will sometime. The Mac Factory serves about six different types of mac and cheese dishes, all with their own unique spin and taste.

How to get around

One of the best things about London is how easy it is to get around. London has a great system of underground subways, as well as trains, overground subways, buses, and taxies. The system can feel a bit overwhelming at first. You will probably have a mini freak-out the first time you look at the map. When you try it out a few times you will become more comfortable and start loving it. If you stay in the city most subways depart very frequently, the longest we ever had to wait was a few minutes.

My tips for the London underground system:

  • Use a map app – So to get around in London I mainly used the map app on my phone, just the normal google maps. If you put in a destination and ask it to give you directions you can choose «public transport» and it will show you what busses/undergrounds you can take. It will also show you the way to the station, and what direction to take it (remember to check if you’re taking northern or southern, or eastbound or westbound!!). Just be aware that there is usually no service in the underground so you need to remember or take a screenshot (I vote for this) of the directions. I swear every-time just as I went past where I have service I instantly forgot what direction we were supposed to take the subway.
  • Ask if you’re unsure – If you are ever in doubt, you can always just ask someone. Most people will be just happy to help you.
  • Get an oyster card – Oyster cards are smartcards that you put money on and use as tickets for public transport in London. They are a lot more practical than paper tickets and you do not have to constantly buy new tickets. You can get it at the airport and use it to get to London. When you buy it they can advise you on how much you should put on it based on how long you are staying. You can also use your bank card for public transport if you have the touch function. I, however, prefer to use the oyster card as you get a better overview of how much you are spending.
  • Wear layers – this might sound like a weird tip for transportation, but trust me you will thank me. The subways get so freaking hot in summer, and you will be so glad you wore a t-shirt and a jacket (that you can take off) instead of just a sweater (because you will sweat). And vice-versa in winter, it can get so cold.
  • Let one person be in charge of your route – If you are traveling as a group you should try to let one person be in charge of a trip. You can figure out how it works for your group, maybe the same person wants to do it all the time, or maybe you will switch for every outing. If everyone starts to look up the route on their phone there will be clashes. The routes can be slightly different because they might show alternative routes and so on. Just let one person find it, and don’t argue with them. Sometimes you might take the wrong subway, but that’s okay.

Where to stay in London and what accommodation to chose

For my two trips to London, I have chosen two different kinds of accommodation. For my first trip, we stayed in an Airbnb in Stockwell and for my second trip, we stayed at a hotel in Paddington. Both options were great and what you should choose depends on your personal preferences.

Type of accommodation 

Pros for Airbnb:

  • Often cheaper
  • More facilities
  • Feels more homey and cozy
  • Get to know locals
  • You can often cook and therefor save money

Cons for Airbnb:

  • Can be shared which might feel awkward at first

Pros with a hotel:

  • You can be more sure of proper standards
  • Cleaning staff
  • More private
  • Probably quieter
  • Safer

Cons with a hotel:

  • Often no fridge and kitchen supplies
  • More expensive 

Location

So when it comes to where to stay during your girls weekend in London this also depends on your personal preferences and your budget of course. The good thing about London is that you can stay a bit out of the city center and still be able to get around quickly and easily. I highly recommend finding something close to an underground stop, and it can also be a good idea to check whether it is a stop that is open 24/7. Some of the underground stops close during the night, and if you plan to stay out late staying close to one that stays open will help. 

Shopping in London

So not to be too much of a cliche, but for your girls weekend in London, you might have a plan to do some shopping. I know I did. So for shopping, there are two main places you should go to. Those are Oxford Street and Westfield mall. I have been to both and both definitely have their pros and cons. I think I personally prefer the Westfield mall. There is also not really a point in going to both, as they have mostly the same stores. 

Westfield Mall

Before visiting the Westfield Mall you should be prepared for how gigantic it is, like seriously! This is not just me being from tiny Norway with tiny malls, this is really huge. When I was there I honestly walked so much I was sore the next day. You should prepare in advance by looking at which stores they have and figure out which ones you wanna stop by. This is not the place to just walk and hope you find the stores you are looking for. This is one pro with shopping in Oxford Street, as you walk through it you can see all the stores. 

Other types of shopping

If you are looking for more high-class shopping, you can stop by Bond Street where you can find shops like Tiffany & Co. If you are looking for vintage shopping, Shoreditch is a perfect area for you. No matter what style you are looking for, or what budget you are on, you can be sure that London has some shopping that fits your needs. 

Budget

Creating a budget for London can be hard, and staying on it can be even harder. A budget is very individual and depends on everything from your travel style, standard preferences, and plans. You can also keep it as a general rule that London, being the tourist spot that it is, will be pricier than the rest of England. The average budget for a day in London is about 161 Euro and 1,126 Euros per week. This includes everything you might need from the accommodation, transport, food, and attractions. This does of course not include shopping. Remember that if you are more people traveling together the costs per person will go down a bit, because accommodation, for example, is cheaper per person for multiple people than for single rooms.

If you want to create your own budget for a girls weekend in London the things you should include are:

  • Accommodation
  • Transport
  • Airport transport
  • Food
  • Drinks
  • Activities and attractions
  • Nightlife
  • Shopping

What to pack for London

Packing for London can be difficult because as with most of Europe the weather can be a bit unpredictable. Both times I have been to London I have traveled only with carry on luggage, which does make for some extra planning. No matter what time of the year you are going, you should bring something warm. Do not let summer fool you, there will most likely still be some cold winds and some rain. Also if you are going during the winter, you do not need summer clothes. I know it looks so pretty, but that dress will be too cold. Also, layers are key, that way you can take things off when it’s hot, and put them on when its cold.

Planning is also essential, especially if you are a chronic over-packer like me. Think about how many days you will be there and what you will be doing during that time. Chose comfortable clothes that you feel great in. You can, for example, bring one pair of pants, but two different tops and different accessorizes and there you can have two completely different outfits or one top with both a skirt and a pair of pants and there are two more outfits. 

My go-to packing list would be:

Clothes:

  • Sandals, heels, boots, or rain-boots (only one, depending on your style and the weather)
  • 1 jacket
  • 1 pair of pants
  • 2 tops
  • 1 pair of shorts or 1 skirt (only during summer)
  • 1 belt
  • Enough underwear and socks
  • 2 bras
  • 1 dress (only during summer)
  • 1 purse/bag
  • Sneakers, comfy pants or leggings, a tank top, and a hoodie to travel in

Other:

  • Adapter!
  • Phone charger
  • Passport
  • Drivers licenses (or other ID)
  • Student ID
  • Camera
  • Toiletries
  • Credit card
  • Bag for day-trips
  • Water-bottle
  • Travel documents 

How would you spend a girls weekend in London?

If you are planning a trip to Europe you should take the time to stop by Amsterdam and Bergen

Welcome!

I am Maria, a 20 year old student. I am here to show you that traveling is possible for everyone, including you. I belive that traveling can be done in a lot of different ways and that you never have to limit.

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