The best things to do in London Bridge

London Bridge is an area bursting with history and landmarks. It’s the perfect destination to see London’s famed skyline with friends in tow.

On the southern bank of the River Thames, London Bridge offers an eclectic mix of cultural hotspots, celebrated attractions, global cuisine to suit every budget, markets and independent treasures aplenty.

Here’s the best things to see and do in London Bridge:

The best food and drink at Borough Market 

Feeling peckish? For cheap independent eats head to Borough Market, London’s oldest and most famous market.

Weave in and out the numerous stalls and sample whatever takes your fancy. Discover international street food alongside fresh produce galore. Pick up fruit and vegetables, sweet treats and pastries, homemade bread and artisanal cheese.

Once you are done meandering this foodie heaven, enjoy a drink or two in the area and soak up the atmosphere.

Cocktails with a panoramic view at Aqua Shard, London

Take to the sky in The Shard, the UK’s tallest building at 310 metres. If you are looking for breathtaking views with a more affordable price tag, head up to Aqua Shard on the 32nd floor in 15 seconds.

Try to get a seat before sunset for incredible cityscape views with a cocktail in hand. The restaurant and bar is more than a third of the way up the skyscraper and doesn’t require a reservation.

If you’d like to pay a visit to the 72nd floor, you can see up to 40 miles from The View from The Shard.

Step back in time with The London Bridge Experience and Tombs

Looking for a unique history lesson and some scares? Head to The London Bridge Experience and Tombs. This interactive and immersive guided tour is for the brave among us. You will discover over 2,000 years of (often gruesome) London and London Bridge history on route.

Once you head into the London Tombs, expect to confuse the senses with a live-action maze. These historic tombs and vaults have been voted the scariest attraction in London.

Play explorer on The Golden Hinde

Step on board The Golden Hinde, a full scale replica of Sir Francis Drake’s 16th century global exploration vessel. This celebrated ship is brought to life alongside costumed actors detailing its history.

The Golden Hinde entry – £5

Feel on trend at the Fashion and Textile Museum

The Fashion and Textile Museum is one for creative types. Just up from London Bridge station on Bermondsey Street, step inside to discover their latest fashion and textile exhibition.

The Zandra Rhodes exhibition is currently on till January 2020, detailing the fashion designers extensive portfolio. Expect high fashion, textiles, theatrical costumes and original artwork. Explore 50 years of work at the museum she founded.

The colourful museum only hosts one exhibition space at a time. Once done, be sure to swing by the shop when exiting for beautiful and unique gifts.

Fashion and Textile Museum entry – £9.90

Enjoy the beauty of Southwark Cathedral

A stone’s throw away from London Bridge station you will find Southwark Cathedral. The oldest cathedral in London, this stunning place of worship is a must visit.

Enjoy a guided tour or service inside the Gothic cathedral and take a moment to soak up it’s beautiful architecture from its gardens outside.

See where the elite used to party at the Winchester Palace Ruins

Admire the 12th century ruins of Winchester Palace. These tucked away Medieval ruins once housed one of the most grand and opulent buildings in Britain.

It was a place of comfort and celebration for the religious officials, royalty and the elite of London for over 500 years.

Unwind at Potters Field Park

Take a moment to pause with a coffee or lunch at Potters Field Park. This open green space allows for an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city with some wonderful views of Tower Bridge.

See how London moves at the Tower Bridge and Engine Room Tour

Often mistaken for London Bridge, Tower Bridge is one of London’s most iconic and photographed landmarks. However, most people do not know that you can in fact go up the bridge, built between 1886 and 1894.

You will start with a short history lesson before making your way along the first of two partially covered glass walkways. The second walkway has a partially mirrored ceiling offering the perfect snap of the River Thames and oncoming traffic below. It also allows you incredible views of the Shard and Gherkin.

Once down, it’s a short walk to the engine rooms which continue to lift the bridge to this day. Learn about how these engines work and their maintenance.

Tower Bridge and Engine Room Tour entry – £9.80

Enjoy British naval history on board HMS Belfast

To experience a monumental part of Britain’s naval past, step aboard HMS Belfast. The World War 1 ship is one of London’s most unique historical attractions. Moored near London Bridge Pier, this monumental wartime ship is sensational.

Once aboard, make your way up and down ladders as you explore the interior and exterior of each deck, discovering the museum ships vast history. Expect waxwork figures ‘in action’, access to the gun turrets and hear many stories of life on board at each level.

On deck, you can take a moment to appreciate the London skyline from the River Thames.

HMS Belfast entry – £16.20 online and £18 on the day

See how medicine has progressed at The Old Operating Theatre

Make your way up a spiral 52-step staircase and enjoy a glimpse of how far modern medicine has come. The Old Operating Theatre brings you back to the 19th century where medicinal technique was still in its infancy.

The procedures were often gruesome and herbal remedies took precedence. The highlight of the museum? The opportunity to stand inside Europe’s oldest operating theatre.

The Old Operating Theatre entry – £6.50

Hunt for quirky fashion and other finds at Vinegar Yard

For vintage and retro finds, head to Vinegar Yard. This bustling flea market is brimming with antique treasures, arts and crafts and global cuisine to suit all tastes and preferences.

Be entertained at The Scoop 

Next to City Hall, the Scoop offers free theatrical performances, sporting and movie screenings at select times in the year.

800 people can enjoy events including Christmas by the River and Summer by the River within this impressive outdoor amphitheatre.

London Bridge will keep you busy for the entire weekend. To make the most of your time in the area, enjoy a London Bridge hotel stay.

Have you explored the London Bridge area? What would be your go to attraction? 

Stephanie xox

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The spending money was gifted by Hotels.com, but all views are my own

Tracing Shakespeare’s life in Stratford-upon-Avon - Shakespare's Birthplace interior

A day in Stratford-upon-Avon with the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

Shakespeare bestowed upon the world a love for literature, producing nearly 200 known works in his lifetime.

In sleepy Stratford-upon-Avon, you can discover snippets of his world. The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust presents a variety of attractions in the area. Here, visitors can discover the literary great and are taken on a journey through Shakespeare’s life. 

The adult annual pass includes all five properties and is only £22.50, allowing for unlimited visits within 12 months!

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust attractions include:

  • Shakespeare’s Birthplace 
  • Shakespeare’s New Place
  • Mary Arden’s Farm
  • Hall’s Croft
  • Anne Hathaway’s Cottage 

Tracing Shakespeare’s life in Stratford-upon-Avon - Shakespare's Birthplace

Shakespeare’s Birthplace

Discover Shakespeare’s Birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon’s town centre. This grand Tudor home presents a living museum of Shakespeare’s childhood and a timeline of his life and work. 

As you enter, explore the Famous Beyond Words exhibition where you will be presented with informative videos, artwork and memorabilia dedicated to the playwrights greatest works and a variety of fascinating artifacts. 

Finally, you will move on to the properties beautifully landscaped gardens. Here, you can learn more about Shakespeare’s plays on a 9 metre interactive wallbook, immerse yourself in live performances by actors on request and become mesmerised by talks and workshops within the home on Shakespeare’s family life and his father’s glove making business. 

Afterwards, be sure to check out the giftshop for beautiful stationery and books. 

Tracing Shakespeare’s life in Stratford-upon-Avon - Shakespare's New Place

Shakespeare’s New Place

Shakespeare’s New Place allows visitors to wander around the site of the playwrights final property, where he died in 1616. 

Although the original home no longer stands, the re-established neighbouring property presents a fascinating exhibition with artwork and artefacts. Surprisingly, this includes a signet ring believed to have been owned by William Shakespeare himself!

Finally, take time to appreciate the restored sunken Knot Garden and the large landscaped Elizabethan Great Garden. Here you will discover plenty of places to take a moment and reflect on his life.

The Great Garden is also home to grand and enchanting series of commissioned bronze statues by Greg Wyatt dedicated to Shakespeare’s famous works. 

Tracing Shakespeare’s life in Stratford-upon-Avon - Mary Arden's Farm

Mary Arden’s Farm

Mary Arden’s Farm was the childhood home of Shakespeare’s mother. Today, it is still a charming working Tudor farm and only a short drive outside the town centre. 

Onsite, admire the varied livestock and enjoy live action performances by actors in period costumes. See falconry and goose herding demonstrations, as well as being able to take part in a wealth of interactive activities and educational talks.

This expansive 23-acre farm is delightful to stroll around. Expect historic buildings, lush greenery and plenty of hidden treasures to be found. 

Enjoy watching butterflies in wild flower and fauna embellished meadows, reignite your childish side and climb the viewing tower, spot carved wooden animals hidden within the trees and crawl through lengthy willow domed structures.

On departing, the gift shop offers wholesome local produce and pretty trinkets. 

Tracing Shakespeare’s life in Stratford-upon-Avon - Hall's Croft

Hall’s Croft

Hall’s Croft is the Jacobean home of Shakespeare’s daughter, Susanna, and her husband, physician, John Hall. 

Once inside, step along creaking wooden floorboards to discover their family home and life and follow walls and rooms lined with medicinal herbs and vials. Once upstairs, you will also find the beautifully crafted The Bard’s Rest sofa centrepiece upstairs.

You can also enjoy the Method in Madness and Living with History exhibitions. 

Method in Madness delves into medicinal practice and use in late 16th and early 17th century. It details how John Hall would have worked and how doctors understood the body and mind to function during this time.

Here, you will learn about medical advancements, see the garish tools used to operate and authentic apothecary and uroscopy stations. 

Living with History is found within the onsite Hall’s Croft Cafe. It presents life in Stratford-upon-Avon, past and present, through the eyes of local documentary photographer, William Mulryne. 

Once you have finished admiring the photography take a moment in the Hall’s Croft walled garden brimming with medicinal herbs or even enjoy some tea and cake at the cafe. 

Anne Hathaway’s Cottage

Anne Hathaway’s Cottage is the childhood home of Shakespeare’s wife and is a short drive outside the town centre. Here, Shakespeare courted a young Anne Hathaway and the pair soon fell in love. 

The property was originally a farmhouse and the family reared sheep on its 90-acre land. Unfortunately, as we set off a little later in the day, we had to miss Anne Hathaway’s Cottage. 

However, if you set off early, all of these attractions are more than doable in a day! Although, if you miss one like me, the annual pass also allows you to return on a later date!

Thus, I shall certainly be returning to visit Anne Hathaway’s Cottage soon. 

Have you discovered Shakespeare’s life in Stratford-upon-Avon? What is your favourite piece of work by Shakespeare?

Stephanie xox

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The best things to do in Kensington, London - Kensington Palace Queen Victoria Statue | The LDN Gal

A guide to The best things to do in Kensington, London

Kensington is a bustling district in west London. Renowned as an upmarket area, it hosts London’s most famed museums, two magnificent Royal Parks and diverse shopping. Read on to discover the best things to do in Kensington, London. 

Of course, there are lots of fantastic sights and an abundance of hotels near Kensington, allowing visitors to easily access this cultural and glamorous area. 

The first stop for many in Kensington is three of London’s largest museums. These include the Natural History Museum, Victoria & Albert Museum and Science Museum. All of which offer free entry alongside a wealth of exciting exhibitions.

The best things to do in Kensington, London - Natural History Museum Hope the Whale | The LDN GalThe best things to do in Kensington, London - Natural History Museum Exterior | The LDN GalThe best things to do in Kensington, London - Natural History Museum T Rex | The LDN Gal

The best museums in Kensington, London

Renowned as one of the most precious collections of natural history specimens, the Natural History Museum is not to be missed. On entrance, be sure to say hello to Hope the blue whale skeleton who looms over the foyer.

The museum is famed for its dinosaur collections, as well as other natural environment exhibitions. These include botany, entomology, mineralogy, palaeontology and zoology. In winter, the Natural History Museum also hosts an ice-rink and fairground rides.

Next door, discover the Victoria & Albert Museum, celebrated as one of the world’s greatest art and design museums. Inside, discover 5,000 years of creative genius with an abundance of ancient and contemporary collections.

These include eclectic collections of architecture, art, ceramics, design, fashion, furniture, paintings, performance, photographs, sculpture, textiles and jewellery. It’s certainly easy to spend a day getting lost within its astounding and varied exhibitions.

The best things to do in Kensington, London - Science Museum Interior The LDN GalThe best things to do in Kensington, London - Science Museum Exterior | The LDN GalThe best things to do in Kensington, London -The Last Tsar Blood and Revolution | The LDN Gal

Adjacent, you will find the Science Museum. Here, you are welcome to learn more about the world around you with countless exhibitions and hands-on displays.

Quite often, the Science Museum will also host a collection of special temporary exhibitions. Currently on, The Last Tsar: Blood and Revolution provides an interesting insight into the Russian royal family and their secretive medical history.

The interactive Fly 360° flight simulator ride also proves a popular paid attraction for adults and children alike.

What to do in Hyde Park Gardens, London

Have no fear though, museums aside, there is more fun to be had. Kensington is lucky to feature not one, but two Royal Parks. Discover the connected Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens.

These parks offer plenty of open green space to explore, be it for a summertime picnic or brisk winter walk. 

Firstly, take a stroll in Hyde Park, one of the world’s greatest city parks. Here you will stumble upon 350 acres of nature at its finest. Appreciate its beauty among trees, flowers and meadows, as well as an array of monuments.

The best things to do in Kensington, London - Hyde Park Italian Gardens | The LDN GalThe best things to do in Kensington, London - Hyde Park Bear Fountain | The LDN GalThe best things to do in Kensington, London - Hyde Park Italian Gardens Fountain | The LDN Gal

Stop for a moment by one of its lakeside refreshment points and enjoy views of The Serpentine. In summer, you may even opt to take a boat or pedalo out.

From November onward, you can also visit Winter Wonderland. Here you can enjoy traditional German wooden huts, fairground rides and an outdoor ice rink to boot.

You will also stumble upon a variety of monuments and memorials, such as the Achilles statue and the Joy of Life Fountain, to name a fewYou may admire flora in the Rose Garden, take a moment at the Diana Memorial Fountain or listen to the voiced opinions of many each Sunday at Speakers Corner.

Hyde Park has something for everyone, and offers year-round attractions and sporting fun. Connected, you will discover Kensington Gardens via the glorious Serpentine Bridge.

The best things to do in Kensington, London - Kensington Palace Sunken Garden | The LDN Gal

What to do in Kensington Gardens, London

The gorgeous and graceful Kensington Gardens offers 265 acres of green space to wander. It is home to the celebrated Kensington Palace, the Albert Memorial, Serpentine Galleries, The Italian Gardens, The Allotment Garden, Peter Pan Statue, Elfin Oak and the treasured Diana Memorial Playground.

Kensington Palace is a particularly popular pastime for tourists and local residents alike. This lovely stately home is embellished with period furnishings, landscaped by gorgeous surrounding gardens.

The best things to do in Kensington, London - Kensington Palace Queen Victoria Statue | The LDN GalThe best things to do in Kensington, London - Kensington Palace The Queen's State Apartments Bedroom | The LDN GalThe best things to do in Kensington, London - Kensington Palace Diana Her Fashion Story Coats | The LDN Gal

Inside, discover the State Apartments, Queen Victoria’s former living quarters and a special Diana exhibition, dedicated to the fashion and charitable work of the late Princess of Wales.

It is currently the official London residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (Prince William and Kate Middleton). Afterwards, enjoy traditional afternoon tea in the Orangery before taking a stroll through the Sunken Garden, much loved by Diana.

The best things to do in Kensington, London - Whole Foods Market entrance | The LDN GalThe best things to do in Kensington, London - Whole Foods Market lunch | The LDN GalThe best things to do in Kensington, London - Whole Foods Market bakery | The LDN Gal

What to do in High Street Kensington

Culture and outdoor ventures aside, Kensington offers a spectacular selection of outlets for leisure and shopping.

South Kensington is home to High Street Kensington, renowned for its impressive variety of independent shops, cafes, restaurants and galleries, as well as many a high street favourite. For antique finds, you will want to visit Kensington Church Street.

You could certainly spend hours hunting around Kensington’s variety of fabulous shops. My personal favourites include Whole Foods Market, Urban Outfitters and Japan House London.

Be sure to stop for a quick lunch at Whole Foods Market, this gigantic organic food market is famed in the area.

The best things to do in Kensington, London - Japan House London Biology of Metal Exhibition | The LDN GalThe best things to do in Kensington, London - Japan House London Metalwork Exhibition | The LDN GalThe best things to do in Kensington, London - Japan House London Metalwork Exhibition tools | The LDN Gal

Next stop, the recently opened Japan House London. Surprisingly, contained within a three-floor art deco building, it features Japanese artwork, retail shopping and fine dining at the authentic Akira restaurant.

A fantastic experience for all, head downstairs to enjoy a fascinating biology of metal exhibition and become immersed in this cultural hot spot.

Finally, the Royal Albert Hall offers a night to remember. This concert hall is home to many a classical offering. Surprisingly, this grand venue also hosts a diverse selection of gigs, dance, opera and sporting events on occasion.

The Kensington area is especially accessible, served by the Central line at Queensway station and the Piccadilly, Circle and District line at South Kensington, as well as numerous buses.  

If you are looking to spend a weekend in London, Kensington is an area not to be missed!

Have you ever explored Kensington in London? Where would you go first?

Stephanie xox

The spending money was gifted by Hotels.com, but all views are my own

Manchester - What to do for a weekend in Manchester - The LDN Gal

What to do for a weekend in Manchester 

Manchester is a thriving city, brimming with things to do and places to see. However, getting around the UK can be a bit of a nightmare at the best of times, trains may be slightly quicker but prices are extortionate. So, I opted for a cheaper – and in my opinion – far more comfortable alternative. If you are wondering what to do for a weekend in Manchester, read on…

Departing Oxford just after 8am, I boarded my National Express coach to Manchester. I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised, all National Express coaches come with leather seats, air conditioning, power sockets and toilets as standard. They ever offer a downloadable entertainment system VUER for free, which offers films, TV programmes and magazines.

VUER, National Express to Manchester - What to do for a weekend in Manchester - The LDN Gal

If you have ever been on a long coach journey before without a charger and toilet – and I have – it is not a fun time. The coaches are modern and comfortable, with adjustable leg rests, spacious seats and supported head rests – just perfect for a little mid-journey snooze. With a brief stopover to switch coaches in Birmingham, we were off again and before you know it, we were in Manchester, ready to explore the sights.

We arrived in Manchester city centre at around 1pm and were ready to kick start our weekend of cafes, culture and cocktails galore. Here are my top 10 things to do for a weekend in Manchester:

Top 10 things to do for a weekend in Manchester

Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester - What to do for a weekend in Manchester | The LDN Gal

Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester

We needed an infusion of culture so headed to the Manchester Art Gallery. The gallery is spectacular, housing an assortment of classic and contemporary pieces. A particularly interesting exhibition space was dedicated to the relationship between art and mindfulness. And Breathe… allowed guests to stop and pause for a moment, appreciating the connection between the two.

Afflecks, Manchester - What to do for a weekend in Manchester - The LDN Gal

Afflecks, Manchester

You could spend an entire day in and around the Northern Quarter, soaking up the area before strolling through Afflecks indoor market and many a quirky shop. There is lots of retro, nostalgic and vintage treasures to be found and bought in Afflecks. It’s a lot of fun to rummage around the many shops and I have to admit, it reminded me of Camden Market on a much smaller scale.

John Rylands Library, Manchester - What to do for a weekend in Manchester - The LDN Gal

John Rylands Library, Manchester

The John Rylands Library was founded by Enriqueta Rylands in memory of her husband, and is housed in an impressive Neo-Gothic building. Step inside, and you will discover its grand history and architecture, alongside its vast collection of treasured books and manuscripts. We were lucky to stop by as the Women Who Shaped Manchester exhibition was on. It detailed the journeys of incredible women, past and present. Women who used their wits and determination to overcome many a societal challenge.

National Football Museum, Manchester - What to do for a weekend in Manchester - The LDN Gal

National Football Museum, Manchester

I am not a fan of the great game but the National Football Museum is impressive. My other half was delighted, heading around the various exhibitions and it was a highlight of his trip. Inside, discover a diverse range of worldwide memorabilia and interactive skills-based challenges. The penalty shoot game ever featured the old Wembley goal!

Starters, eXchange Food and Drink Lounge, Manchester - What to do for a weekend in Manchester | The LDN Gal

eXchange Food and Drink Lounge, Manchester

The eXchange Food and Drink Lounge is a rustic restaurant that does not fail to impress. Within, discover a restaurant area, bar, sports screens and even a kids area. Perfect for all the family, the eXchange Food and Drink Lounge offers incredible dining, spectacular cocktails and an evening of chatter and memories. Read my review of my experience here.

The Liars Club, Manchester - What to do for a weekend in Manchester - The LDN Gal

The Liars Club, Manchester

While in Manchester, we proved to be frequent patrons of The Liars Club. It is a tropical tiki bar with an enviable selection of global rum and a vibrant and funky interior. The cocktails were incredible and good-value for money. You could lose hours sipping away listening to Reggae tunes aplenty. They even offer a two drinks for £10 happy hour on weekdays!

Sunset by Australasia, Manchester - What to do for a weekend in Manchester - The LDN Gal

Sunset by Australasia, Manchester

Sunset by Australasia is an Instagram dream. It offers a  stunning pastel pink and gold interior, alongside an outside terrace embellished with vibrant flower wall and plush seating and cushions. Sunset by Australasia is gorgeous – but the cocktails are even better. So, grab a frozen Prosecco sorbet blend and let the world go by for a few hours.

Sugar Junction interior, Manchester - What to do for a weekend in Manchester - The LDN Gal

Sugar Junction, Manchester

Sugar Junction is a coffee, cake and cocktail lovers dream. This vintage venue in the Northern Quarter offers lots wholesome and homemade produce. I had a cake (gluten free, which was a nice touch) alongside pink lemonade – which was beautifully decorated. My other half opted for a rather filling and well presented sandwich, which was accompanied by chips. You can enjoy breakfast, brunch throughout the day and afternoon tea – or a cocktail or two, if you feel inclined. 

Home Sweet Home. Manchester - What to do for a weekend in Manchester - The LDN Gal

Home Sweet Home, Manchester

Looking for the best pancakes in town? Home Sweet Home offers an American breakfast and brunch in a cosy and quirky location. The pancake stacks are huge, doused with fresh fruit, cream and sauces – there are some savoury options too, don’t fret. Do be wary though, if you get there at the weekend and are looking to quash your  comfort food cravings, there may be a bit of a wait.

Bees in the City at Manchester Cathedral, Manchester - What to do for a weekend in Manchester - The LDN Gal

Manchester Cathedral, Manchester

We spent some time in Manchester Cathedral, appreciating the many Bee in the City bee’s dotted around its interior. Although Manchester Cathedral is rather small, it was as expected, beautiful. It is the perfect place to take a few moments away from the hustle and bustle of the busy city centre.

So, if you are looking for a fabulous UK city break, look no further! There is plenty of things to do for a weekend in Manchester.

You can book your next journey to Manchester (or the rest of the UK) with National Express here or give them a call on 0871 7818181.

National Express travels to over 900 destinations nationwide and offer thousands of tickets for £5 or less (plus a booking fee). The best bit? Travelling by coach proves to be the most environmentally friendly form of public transport!

Where would be your first stop in Manchester? Have you traveled via National Express before?

Stephanie xox

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This post is in collaboration with National Express

York Minister, York - The LDN Gal

York Pass: best things to do in York, England

A city famed for its culinary delights such as chocolate, Yorkshire puddings and even their tea, some may say that York has it all.

Step into the beautiful city of York and be prepared to stand in awe. This Medieval walled city is brimming with attractions and bursting with a quaint charm that is hard to find elsewhere in the UK.

Surprisingly, York is rather small city considering its fascinating and lengthy history. Bordered by just two miles of Roman walls, the city centre is easy to navigate on foot and it lends itself to being a perfect destination for a long city break.

So, when exploring York, what must you do and see? Here are my recommendations on the top 10 things to do in York on a budget, including the best sights to see and the best local hotel to unwind in. The best thing? Pretty much all of these attractions are free to visit with the York Passthere’s over 30 included!

Here’s how to visit York, England on a budget 

York Minister Stained Glass Window Interior, York - The LDN Gal

York Minister:

The York Minister is a grand Gothic cathedral, highlighting pretty much all of the Gothic architectural styles over its development. It is famed for its ornate Medieval stained glass and is one of the largest churches of its kind in Northern Europe. Within, discover its artefacts, wander through the undercroft museum and take a trip up the tower. Did you know, no building in York can be higher that the York Minister?

York Minister is free with a York Pass – the tower is charged additionally

York Dungeon, York - The LDN Gal

York Dungeon:

You really cannot prepare yourself for what you will discover in York Dungeon. Pre-warned by the staff of its gruesome interior on entrance, its safe to say you are put on high alert. A few posed pictures are thrown into the mix before you and the group await your guided tour to start. As you wait in this darkened room – be sure to not mistake people for statues – a door creeks and you are beckoned in. The 75 minute tour takes you through York’s dark and dreary 2,000 year history via 10 live shows from Vikings to the plague and Guy Fawkes to Dick Turpin. Consequently, you will learn about bandits, witches and heretics and leave with an elevated heart rate.

York Dungeon is free with a York Pass

River Ouse cruise, York City Cruises, York - The LDN Gal

City Cruises York:

On a summers day, what better way to explore a city than on its waterways? An hour long cruise on the River Ouse is a charming affair with City Cruises York. Your captain will navigate you, enhancing your local knowledge with a myriad of interesting facts. Basically, expect folk, wartime and downright peculiar tales, as you watch life in York slowly go on by.

A daytime City Cruises York cruise is free with a York Pass

JORVIK Viking Centre, York - The LDN Gal

JORVIK Viking Centre:

Entering the JORVIK Viking Centre, I was not quite sure what to expect. As you make your way downstairs, you discover an excavation site beneath a glass floor, making for interesting viewing as you are informed of its origin and purpose. Follow the room round, and you are greeted with a hanging ride cart, select your language, secure your seat and you’re off! You gently weave through Viking Jorvik (York) and are greeted with a host of realistic animatronics, their at times woeful tales narrated within your cart. On exiting, discover Viking artefacts found within this archaeological site –  and a few skeletons to boot!

JORVIK Viking Centre is free with a York Pass

York's Chocolate Story, York - The LDN Gal

York’s Chocolate Story:

Ever wondered how chocolate was made? Now is your time to find out in the UK’s most famed chocolate city. York founded many an esteemed chocolate making company including the famed Terry’s and Rowntree, responsible for the chocolate orange and Kit Kat respectively. Who’d have thought that all these family favourites could be found in the same place! On this guided tour, you will delve into chocolate’s dark history, the making process via interactive workshops and will even devour a few sweet treats along the way – as well as get to have a go at creating your own!

York’s Chocolate Story is free with a York Pass

York City Walls, York - The LDN Gal

York City Walls:

Across York you will quickly discover the city walls, it is a sight to marvel in a UK city. These Medieval walls encircle the city in parts with around two miles to peacefully stroll along. They offer some incredible views from their ramparts and make for some cute photo opportunities!

The York city walls are free for all

York Castle Museum, York - The LDN Gal

York Castle Museum:

York Castle Museum offers a multitude of fascinating and varied exhibitions detailing over 400 years of York history. These include a walk through Victorian York down a recreated street, a history of toys, the best of the 60s, a focus on the body and health, powerful women, fashion history and even a throwback to WW1. Lastly, you will get to explore York Castle Prison beneath which allows for reflection on York’s sinister justice system over 1,000 years – the infamous highwayman, Dick Turpin, even had a spell in these harrowing cells. You will leave with many an interesting fact and lets face it, a superb local knowledge of York’s history.

York Castle Museum is free with a York Pass

Clifford's Tower, York - The LDN Gal

Clifford’s Tower:

Clifford’s Tower is the only real structure that remains of the former York Castle, originally built by William the Conqueror. In its long history, the castle has served as a tax office, treasury, an administrative headquarters, a court, military base, royal mint and the city’s former prison! Once you ascend its gruelling steps, the rather dilapidated Clifford’s Tower offers a wonderful panoramic cityscape view.

Clifford’s Tower is free with a York Pass

The Shambles, York - The LDN Gal

The Shambles:

The Shambles is a quaint cobbled street in York, close to The Shambles market and many of York’s attractions. Here you will find cafe’s, restaurants, bakery’s and a host of themed shops. It is said that The Shambles inspired J.K. Rowling’s Diagon Alley in Harry Potter. Therefore, any self-confessed ‘Potterheads’ will find three stores dedicated to the franchise within The Shambles. So, it is certainly a must see for fans.

The Shambles is a public street and free for all

Yorkshire Museum, York - The LDN Gal

Yorkshire Museum:

The Yorkshire Museum offers history buffs a treasure trove of delights. Inside, take a stroll on a genuine Roman mosaic floor, see the Middleham Jewel and gaze at a four and a half billion year old meteorite. The best part? The new Yorkshire’s Jurassic World exhibition where you will have the chance to learn more about and actually feed an actual dinosaur – it’s a lot of fun! Most noteworthy, The Yorkshire Museum is simply brimming with archaeological, historical and geological finds.

Yorkshire Museum is free with a York Pass

Where to stay in York

Middletons Hotel York Double Bedroom, York - The LDN Gal

We stayed at the Middletons Hotel in York, around a five minute walk into the town centre. The hotel is situated amongst beautiful landscaped lawns and gardens. There is plenty of places to sit out in the sunshine, with picnic tables and decked area, there is even a pond. Almost every corner of the Middletons Hotel is embellished with flowers and the buildings are a mixture of complimentary architectural styles. Furthermore, the rooms are clean, spacious and bright and there is a bar, restaurant and gym available to use on site. What more could you want?

So, how much can you save with a York Pass?

So, how much did we save with the York Pass? With all these attractions in mind, they totalled £83.10. We took our time and did these over two days but all of these attractions could be easily be in a full day. A one day York pass is £42 and a two-day is only £60! If you get it done in a day, that is a saving of £41.40 each!

Lastly, for more inspiration on where to go in York with your York Pass, take a look at the Visit York website.

Have you ever been to York? Which of these attractions would you like to visit? 

Stephanie xox

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This post is in collaboration with York Pass and the Middletons Hotel

5 great European road trips | The LDN Gal

5 great European road trips

Europe’s mix of open fields and rolling mountains make a perfect scenic backdrop for any road trip or holiday. From the stunning scenery, unforgettable nature or even vibrant nightlife, Europe will not disappoint.

I’ve teamed up with Compare and Choose to round up my top five European road trips.

Verdon Gorge circuit, Provence, France

Province boasts one of France’s deepest central gorges, the Gorges du Verdon, and a lot of care has gone into keeping it as beautiful as possible. The circuit takes just under two hours at full speed, but you can easily enjoy it at a more leisurely pace – from the quaint little town of Moustiers Sante Marie to the spectacular views of Balcons de la Mescala, this road is a constant stream of new sights and sounds that you’ll never get tired of!

There’s plenty of places to stop and take in the fantastic view from a distance, and if you’re hungry, there’s classic French food available from the many towns and businesses that you’ll find on your journey.

The Autobahns, Germany

Adrenaline seekers will flock to Germany’s famous Autobahns, the giant highways that let you cut loose and enjoy miles upon miles of raw speed! If you prefer to pace yourself, you can always slow down on the side lane and enjoy a long, smooth, hassle-free afternoon drive.

Most Autobahn roads are lined with trees, fields and small forests – nothing over-the-top or exotic, but enough to keep you relaxed and interested throughout the whole journey.

Plus, with so many places you can break away from the road, who knows where you’ll end up?

La Route des Grandes Alpes, France

Designed, constructed and maintained specifically for tourists, this road takes drivers through over fifteen mountain passes and four national parks, as well as some of the most scenic points in the French Alps. The gorgeous Geneva Lake provides a lovely backdrop to the fresh air and wide-open spaces of the mountain region.

There’s no need to rush – the easy turns and straight roads make the Alps easier to explore than ever, offering a new way to see some of the world’s most famous mountains from the comfort and warmth of your car.

Furka Pass, Switzerland

A Swiss Alps road that challenges even the most confident of drivers – more variety and fewer stretches of plain straight road mean that you’re always seeing something new with each new corner you turn or hill you pass. The beautiful grasslands and majestic mountains give you a view that’s definitely worth the effort.

Patience is a key part of any good road trip, and there’s almost nowhere it’ll pay off more than Furka Pass.

Transfăgărășan, Romania

The “Road to the Sky” takes drivers from the base of the mountain range to the highest peaks in all of Romania, always sticking to an easy-to-climb angle that even the most overloaded car could easily tackle! From a beautiful grassy valley to a spectacular mountain peak, the Transfăgărășan is the definition of variety and can last anywhere from a few hours to a whole day depending on how you want to pace your trip.

The intriguing wildlife and scenic pathways offered by the mountains’ off-road areas mean that you can easily stretch your legs, so there’s no need to confine yourself to your car all day – every good road trip needs a stop now and then, after all, and the Transfăgărășan is more than happy to oblige.

Which of these road trips would you take? Where is your favourite place in Europe?

Stephanie xox

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This post is in collaboration with Compare and Choose