7 things you have to do when visiting London – 48 hour guide

I have been lucky enough to have a few of my friends come visit all the way from the USA in the past few months. Seriously, how amazing are they?!

Some of them were in London for the first time, while others know their way around town. Regardless, everyone needs to make the most of their time in this fabulous city! I want my friends to leave LOVING London… so they come back of course 😀

Whether you’re hosting or visiting for a few days, hopefully this top line list will make your London itinerary (depending on how go-with-the-flow you are) a little bit easier.

*Note: There’s WAY TOO MUCH to see in London in 48 hours, so these are just a few mandatory pitstops. I’ve lived here for three years and I still haven’t even seen a fraction of it! 

Indulge in afternoon tea 

I mean, obviously! What’s more English than afternoon tea, am I right? Whether you’re looking for a traditional setting or trendy hot spot, tea gives you a little dose of elegant English culture.

Growing up with an English father, my sisters and I never left the house without a cup of tea in the morning. While in London, I want everyone to get the experience.

For a traditional tea, I turn to The Orangery, which has an elegant and simplistic ambiance setting amid the stunning Kensington Palace Gardens. You’ll find an array of teas, scones, sandwiches and cakes. Top it off with some bubbles if you’re feeling crazy!

The Orangery | Photo by McKenna
The Orangery | Photo by McKenna

If I’m feeling more of a quirky and upbeat tea setting, I opt for Sketch – think Alice in Wonderland meets Zenon Girl of the 21st Century meets a man in a pink tux serving caviar. The man really is there in pink serving caviar though. Yes, really.

Sketch | Photo by McKenna

This tea is a bit pricier, but hey, it sure is an experience! Plus, it’s absolutely dreamy.

Sketch | Photo by McKenna

Stroll through wonderful parks  

Fresh air, foliage, pretty blooms and sunshine (if you’re lucky!) – what more could you want?

Every park has its own vibe so check out as many as you can!

My personal favourites are Green Park, St James’s Park, Kensington Palace Gardens, Hyde Park and Primrose Hill. From Primrose, you’ll be able to see the entire London skyline…

It’s dreamy.

The view from Primrose Hill | Photo by McKenna
St James’s Park | Photo by McKenna
St James’s Park | Photo by McKenna
Kensington Palace Gardens | Photo by McKenna
Hyde Park | Photo by McKenna

Peruse the markets  

Foodies, this is for you. London’s markets are the go-to place for anything and everything delicious.

Camden Market has a special place in my heart. You’ll find amazing street food – everything from steamed buns to quesadillas to smoothies. The market is in a fab setting as well – just along the canal.

Camden Market | Photo by McKenna
Steamed buns at Camden Market | Photo by McKenna
Camden Town | Photo by McKenna

Beyond the nomz, the market has quirky clothing, collectibles and antiques. Honestly, you can find anything there! It’s a must on the to do list!

Camden Market | Photo by McKenna

Columbia Road Flower Market is also a must. Only open on Sunday mornings, the market features florists and farmers from the area to showcase their gorgeous blossoms.

Also, mix and match? Yes, please! You’ll get more bang for your buck.

Flower Power | Photo by McKenna
Columbia Road Flower Market | Photo by McKenna

Borough Market is another one of my favorites. Located near London Bridge, the food market will blow your mind.

I mean, just look at all that cheese?!

Life is gouda at Borough Market | Photo by McKenna

Portobello Road Market is great for antiques – and also looks super pretty in pastels!

Portobello Road Market | Photo by McKenna

Take in the sights + how to do it 

London’s beautiful attractions make it one of a kind.

This may seem obvious, but it’s important! Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, the London Eye, Tower Bridge, St Paul’s Cathedral…they’re all gorgeous. So, here’s how to do it.

Buckingham Palace | Photo by McKenna

When I go sightseeing with my friends, I usually start at Buckingham Palace, walk through St James’s Park (where you can see the London Eye in the distance), where we then end up at Parliament Square.

Oh, hello Big Ben | Photo by McKenna

From the base of Big Ben, you can cross Westminster Bridge to go south of the river.

If you walk along the water, you’ll pass the London Eye, St Paul’s Cathedral, the Tate Modern and Tower Bridge (among others). It takes about 45-60 minutes to walk from one end to the other – depending on if you’re a power walker.

St Paul’s Cathedral | Photo by McKenna

Not only will you be able to take in the sights, you’ll enjoy street performers and riverside restaurants.

Tower Bridge | Photo by McKenna

Embrace the street art 

It’s… everywhere. And fantastic. From Camden to Shoreditch, this is one way to view London’s creativity.

Shoreditch | Photo by McKenna
Camden Road | Photo by McKenna
Amy Winehouse tribute in Camden | Photo by McKenna
Kentish Town | Photo by McKenna

Also, makes for a colourful Insta (come on, you know you’re looking out for a great snapshot!)

Embark on a day trip if you can swing it 

You can get to the lovely Brighton on the coast of England in less than two hours by train – from St Pancras or Victoria stations.

It’s a completely different feel from the hustle and bustle of London – and so reachable!

Brighton Pier | Photo by McKenna

Not only do you get the beach, pier and seaside, you can weave in and out of vintage shops and delicious restaurants in the North Laine area. Honestly, it is so quaint and picturesque.

Brighton | Photo by McKenna

If you’re visiting the UK anyway, why not venture out and see what outside the capital has to offer as well.

Brighton | Photo by McKenna

Go for a wander (yes!!!)

So this is the part where I encourage you to drop the guide book for a second – and just wander!

There are hidden gems around every corner. Central London is a relatively safe place – so there’s no need to worry about running into rough areas.

I seem to find my favorite places when I don’t have a plan – here are a few of the many!

Neal’s Yard in Covent Garden | Photo by McKenna
Hampstead in North London | Photo by McKenna
Comedy at the Rose and Crown pub in Kentish Town | Photo by McKenna
Sunny skies at the market | Photo by McKenna

There really is something for everyone 🙂  And this is just the icing on the cake – there is so much more! But you might just need more than 48 hours 😀

Need more ideas? I post some on my favorite spots on Instagram

Happy travelling!

McK x

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Festive sparkle in Germany: Koblenz and Hachenburg Christmas markets

Hello and Happy New Year!

Now that the craziness of the festive season has come to a halt, it’s time to gush about how magical my second German Christmas market experience was. We went to Koblenz and a little town called Hachenburg – both very special in their own way.

I mean, look at those sparkly fairy lights – what a Christmas dream!

I know the festivities are over, but it’s never too early to plan trips for 2018 (I’m sure many of you have ‘travel more’ as a New Year’s resolution – I know I do!).

Koblenz | Photo by McKenna

We spent a day in Koblenz, a city along the Rhine River in central Germany, where we perused upwards of ten little Christmas markets scattered throughout the town.

From glitter and gold to pine needles and red hues, each little market had its own unique decor and cheery vibe. Oh, and complete with WAY TOO MUCH FOOD. I think I could live off bratwurst and gluhwein all day, every day.

What better way to celebrate the holidays?!

Koblenz | Photo by McKenna
Koblenz | Photo by McKenna

We also visited markets in Hachenburg, a much smaller town situated about a 40-minute drive outside Koblenz.

Although it wasn’t of the same scale of Koblenz, it did not disappoint. For one, just look at that architecture! There was one main market in the centre of town surrounded by historic buildings decked out in lights and decorated trees.

Here’s a look at the small town Christmas vibe with a big, big celebration!

Hachenburg | Photo by McKenna
Hachenburg | Photo by McKenna
Food vibes in Hachenburg | Photo by McKenna
Koblenz | Photo by McKenna

I know it’s 11 months away, but be sure to add Koblenz and Hachenburg to your Christmas wish list in 2018.

Where is your favourite Christmas market?

McK xx

Croatian charm in Old Town Dubrovnik: your next European city break

Hello lovely people,

As summer comes to an end, and as autumn’s go-go-go mentality creeps in, I find my mind slipping away to the sunshine and excitement from my summer trips.

The other week I went to Dubrovnik for my cousin’s wedding – and wow, I was absolutely blown away. I had been to Zadar, Croatia before, so I assumed Old Town Dubrovnik would be a bigger version of the quiet seaside town.

Boy, was I wrong.

Dubrovnik is like no other. From its bustling cobblestone streets to picturesque beaches, this city is one of a kind.

Old Town Dubrovnik | Photo by McKenna

After walking through impressive city walls, you’re greeted with a stunning view of a marina as you stroll through stone-studded streets. Palm trees and sunshine… yes, please!

Old Town Dubrovnik | Photo by McKenna

Some may recognize Dubrovnik as a Game of Thrones filming location, which is cool of course, but the city is so much more than that! Dubrovnik is first and foremost a dazzling, historical European city, being a filming location comes after (wayyyy after) all of its cultural and beautiful offerings.

Old Town Dubrovnik | Photo by McKenna

From quaint cafes to little independent shops, Old Town offers a variety of businesses and restaurants. One of my personal favourites was Pupo, where I found my desperately needed oyster fix.

Oyster goodness | Photo by McKenna

If you’re a pizza, pasta or seafood fiend, you’re in luck. Dubrovnik boasts an abundance of mouthwatering goodness on every corner. Don’t forget an ice cream cone (pistachio for me!) to top it off!

Photo by McKenna

After you’ve scoped out the city’s cobblestone alleyways and city walls, venture to Banje Beach for an afternoon of sun and sea. The beach is just a five-minute walk from the eastern wall of Old Town, equipped with a beach bar and sun loungers to rent for 100 kuna (£12).

The pebbled beach leads you to the refreshing Adriatic Sea. When we were there in late August, temperatures were HOT, making the cool sea water more than welcome.

Banje Beach | Photo by McKenna
Banje Beach | Photo by McKenna

Beach by day, cocktails and music by night. On my first evening in Dubrovnik there was a mini music festival in the main square of Old Town. It was absolutely surreal to dance to house music under flashing lights in such a historic, seaside setting!

In addition to the impromptu rave, we perused everything from little hole-in-the-wall bars to the city’s massive Club Revelin  – there really is something for everyone!

the logistics… 

To and fro 

Dubrovnik Airport is only 20 minutes away by car. An Uber is about 250 kuna (£30), but you can also take a shuttle to Old Town at the bargain price of 40 kuna (£5).

Sleeping beauties

My family rented an Airbnb just outside the city walls because we had quite a large group. However, you can find deals within the city walls, right in the middle of all the action, for £60 a night (for a couple). If you book far in advance, I’m sure you’d be able to find deals at hotels as well.

Money, money, money! 

Many places took both euros and kuna, Croatia’s official currency, but you should 100% use kuna within the Old Town. Not all places take euros, so better safe than sorry!

A view of Old Town | Photo by McKenna

I’ve posted more photos from my Dubrovnik adventure on my Instagram, so feel free to check them out if this amazing city has made it onto your travel bucket list!

What a sunset | Photo by McKenna

After all, Dubrovnik is calling your name! And you need this beautiful sunset in your life!

McK x

Croatian charm in Zadar – a dreamy city break

Looking for an amazing weekend city break in a not-so-well-known European destination? Well, I have your spot.

Zadar, Croatia.

Photo by McKenna
Photo by McKenna

I cannot recommend this tiny seaside city enough. Not only is it drenched in culture, history, delicious cuisine and dreamy weather, it’s one way to explore Croatia off the beaten track. Zadar, which is Croatia’s oldest continuously inhabited city, is not too big, not too small – the perfect size for thorough exploration within three or four days.

You’ll find quaint cafes, bustling restaurants, vibrant markets, a darling marina and quite a few historical attractions. The city is home to the beautiful Zadar Cathedral and an impressive Sea Organ, where crashing waves spark musical notes.

Photo by McKenna
Photo by McKenna
Photo by McKenna
Photo by McKenna
Photo by McKenna

Now, on to the yummy stuff. Zadar boasts a selection of Italian-influenced dishes – from seafood linguini to pizzas and caprese. Cue the food coma. The coffee is also to die for – heaven in a cup.

Photo by McKenna
Photo by McKenna

As far as accommodations go, you’ll find fab apartments and hotels right in the city centre – perfect for wandering its cobblestone streets. We stayed in an Airbnb – for… drum roll please… £26/night! What a steal.

Photo by McKenna

Will Zadar make your travel bucket list?

McK x

Cascais, Portugal: The land of palm trees and custard tarts

Happy Friday!

Hope you are as excited for the weekend as I am! I’m heading to the cinema this evening and then to a brewery tomorrow afternoon. Bring on delicious craft beers 🙂

Even though I’m seriously looking forward to the weekend, I’ve still been reminiscing about my recent trip to Portugal — aka my favourite citybreak so far! I’ve covered the fabulous cities Lisbon and Sintra so far on the blog, but now it’s time to focus on this little gem — the sea-side Portuguese town of Cascais. Only 30 minutes away from car or metro, this is the perfect day trip from Lisbon.

What is there to say about this darling little palm-tree lined town? For starters you have quaint streets filled with shops, cafes and bars. Every shop window seems to have something that literally triggers stars and hearts in your eyes — whether that’s a cute little leather crossbody bag or a healthy scoop of gelato.

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Clearly, I could not resist from indulging in the traditional Portuguese custard tarts. These are absolutely to die for! If you go to Portugal and do not try one (or two or three!) of these perfects little treats you might as well not have even gone! I’m serious, they’re just that delicious! Why not pair it with a little cappuccino for a caffeine boost 🙂

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Although the streets that weave in and out of Cascais are absolutely adorable, the real gem is where the sand meets the sea. We enjoyed fab views of a turquoise marina and a quiet little beach… the perfect place to perch up and get lost in your favourite book or have a picnic (if it’s not too windy!).

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Although Lisbon seems to be the star attraction in this part of Portugal, Cascais is the perfect little day trip to break up your sightseeing in the capital. I mean, just look at that view 🙂

xxx

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Sintra, Portugal: Colourful castles and sun-kissed sea

Good morning loves! Hope your morning is off to a fab start!

It’s sad the Easter weekend has come and gone, but at least spring days are on their way! Definitely something to look forward for 🙂

As you may have read in my last post, I recently went to Portugal and literally FELL. IN. LOVE. I spent most of the trip in Lisbon, but also ventured out to Sintra to see the stunning Pena Palace. Just look at those colours! It’s a short drive from Lisbon – about 30 minutes or so. A day trip well worth it!

sintra

The palace is just outside the city centre of Sintra, where you’ll find an abundance of quaint shops, cute cafes and cobblestoned streets. It’s the absolute dream 🙂

sintra cobblestones

And strolling through the town isn’t even the cherry on top. On the way back from Sintra, you will enjoy GORGEOUS views of the water — I mean it looks like an air-brushed painting! I thought I had died and gone to heaven.

sintra water

Sintra is an added bonus to travelling to Lisbon. It’s like winning the golden ticket, meeting your celebrity crush AND finding the most perfect pair of pumps all in one day!

I think it’s time for you to pack your suitcase and head to Portugal! You won’t be sorry 🙂

xxx

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