Up until last year, I’d only traveled solo within the U.S. Traveling a few states away? Easy. Traveling internationally? Terrifying. The reasons I chose to visit London for my first solo international trip—besides it being iconic—are the same reasons I recommend it to others: it’s an English speaking country, it’s easy to get around and it’s a good starting point to ease into international travel and of course, the sights are stunning.
Here are some of the most Instagram-worthy places to visit on a solo London trip.
Buckingham Palace + Kensington Palace
Did you really go to London if you don’t have selfies in front of Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace? Even though visiting both of these palaces is very touristy and every local you meet will remind you of that, if you are visiting London solo you MUST take the time to explore these palaces. Pictures do not do them justice. Not only are the palaces gorgeous, but the architecture and structures of every other building, park and focal point within their vicinity is also flawless.
Pro Tip: Even though the palaces aren’t next to each other, they are close enough where you can visit both of them in the same outing. There are a lot of Instagram-worthy shots along the way.
Image by: Max de Rohan-Willner
The House of Parliament is a sight to see in itself, but there is just something about Big Ben—its iconic clock tower. The tower is actually called Elizabeth Tower and Big Ben is the bell of the clock. It is one of the coolest sites to see- and hear- in person. Sad news though: the gong will be silenced until 2021, for repairs so you’ll only be able to hear it for special occasions.
Image By: Sam Rudkin
The London Eye is another gorgeous feature in the city and no groups of pictures of London are complete without it. Even though the view of the London Eye is magnificent, nothing beats the view from The London Eye. The 30-minute ride on the world’s tallest observation wheel gives riders an array of indescribable scenic pictures so they can make all their friends back at home–working instead of traveling–jealous.
I feel like Westminster Abbey wasn’t even on my radar when I visited London, but it ended up being the prettiest landmark I saw during my visit. At one point I found myself just standing out in front of the building staring and taking it all in because the beauty of the gothic church was almost haunting.
Like all the touristy locations in London, tourists are cluttered everywhere around the structure, but it is still easy to get some great pics of it. The tour inside also provides some great opportunities to learn the history of the church and get some great shots of it.
Tower of London
The Tower of London is not only a gorgeous castle, but it has had many purposes: it’s been a location for housing crown jewels, a barrack for troops, a prison, and even a royal residence.
The outside of the Tower of London and the surrounding areas provide great Instagram opportunities, but you can also take a tour of the inside and get some great content too.
Who doesn’t love shopping when they travel? Oxford Street not only has great shopping, but the whole area provides some great opportunities to take some killer grams. The building architecture is phenomenal, the rows of flags all down the streets looked stunning, and people watching is spectacular.
The Soho area of London is easy to walk to from Oxford Street and it is a must-see part of town. The area has a ton of shops, theatres, vintage stores, gay bars, and cool spots to eat, but one huge plus about this area is that it was a cheaper than Oxford Street and there were more locals there. If you’re looking to get some great pics, just wander through the streets of Soho and you will not be disappointed!
Since I’m from Las Vegas where there are very few street markets and none I can just walk to from home, I was VERY excited about all the street markets in London. They were everywhere too! Although I can list a bunch of them, if you are a fan of street markets, it’s easier for you to just walk until you stumble upon one. Once you find one, the vendors lined up, items for sale, and people visiting the markets give a backdrop for some great photos.
Piccadilly Circus is to London what Time Square is to New York; which can be a good or bad thing depending on your opinion of crowds. If you’re up for it though, it has some great spots for selfies and some “look, I’m in London” type pictures.
Image by: Arvydas Venckus
About a day and a half into being in London, you’ll most likely be over the crowds. That’s why I recommend taking some time to just wander around some of the local neighborhoods. There’s just something so relaxing about walking around and taking in a new city. It’s peaceful and it gives you time to think; it also allows you to burn off the calories from all the food you’ve eaten on your trip. No matter which neighborhood in London you decide to wander around, you’ll definitely find some beautiful and picturesque views perfect for your Instagram feed.
Pro Tip: Even though bus and walking tours are very touristy and sometimes very frowned upon by avid travelers, if you are visiting London solo it can be a good option. With tours, you can see a lot of the sites in one day and you have a guide to give you the history and details of each location. It also allows you to see a lot of cool site in a small amount of time.
Drea Swindall is a freelance writer, bartender, and a professional “how tall are you” question answerer ( if I only had a dollar… ). Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @ImDrea. Warning: a lot of the content is about animals, taking naps, and traveling.