What a trip. I had wanted to go to the US since I can remember, and Los Angeles was everything I had dreamed of. The California vibe, the sunshine, the palm trees everywhere, the beach, the lovely people... There are so many things to see and do that I didn't even know where to start when planning this trip. So I've gathered all the must do's in LA in one place here, so you don't have to struggle like I did.

I stayed in LA for 8 days in total because I really wanted this trip to feel like a vacation, to unwind and take my time; but I believe you could easily do everything I did in less than a week.

Here's the ultimate travel guide to Los Angeles:

Where to stay

Los Angeles is such a big city. On some days around 3pm, it would take me an hour in an Uber to get from Downtown LA to Venice Beach, so it's really important that you plan your days ahead and plan where you're going to stay.

I first stayed at The Standard Hotel in West Hollywood as it was close to what I had planned to do on my first day, which was exploring Hollywood and Beverly Hills. Beautifully designed, great location, massive rooms, lovely staff. I wish I stayed longer!

Then I chose to stay at the Freehand Hotel in Downtown LA for the remaining of my stay, which has now become one of my favourite hotels ever. The staff is amazing and so friendly, the hotel is SUPER COOL. Like, the coolest hotel I've ever stayed in. Stylish, trendy, modern, chic with a hip vibe to it. And let's not talk about the rooftop (scroll down for a picture!) Would 100% recommend staying there.

And if you wish, you can of course find gems on Airbnb for the true local experience.

I really loved the beaches (Long Beach, Manhattan Beach, Venice Beach and Santa Monica) especially the Venice area as it was so nice to walk around and not as busy as I expected it to be, and looking back I wish I would have spent more time there. So if you'd like to be close to the ocean, don't make the same mistake I did and make sure to base yourself in Venice even for a couple of days so that you can visit all the different beaches.

What to do

I love Los Angeles for the fact that there are so many outdoorsy things to do - in the city, in the mountains or at the beach - and thanks to the epic weather, it makes everything even more amazing and fun.

Hike up to the Hollywood Sign

Did you even go to Los Angeles if you didn't hike up to the Hollywood Sign? A must do when in LA and definitely one of the highlights of my trip. And a great way to get some exercise in while travelling too!

If like me you are travelling solo, or even if you're with a friend, and are afraid that you might get lost... Book this Airbnb experience. The lovely guide showed us (a group of around 15/20 people) the way to the top while telling interesting stories about the city and we all hiked together. Such a fun experience.

OUE Skyspace LA

For the best panoramic 360-degree views of Downtown Los Angeles, head over to OUE Skyspace LA. You'll first get through an interactive exhibit area inside the building before making it to the rooftop. Once at the top, on a clear day you can see miles away and it feels like you can see the whole city, it's pretty incredible. And you can even go down the glass Skyslide for a few extra dollars. I went a bit too early and didn't catch the sunset, so my advice would be to research the sunset time in advance and book your ticket for around that time so you'll get the most epic view and the best lighting! Get tickets to visit OUE Skyspace here.

Take a tour of Hollywood & Beverly Hills

I only dedicated a day to visit Hollywood & Beverly Hills as I wanted to spend more time visiting other places in LA, but it is still a must so I decided to go on another Airbnb experience! It was a 4-hour tour where the amazing guides, an awesome couple, take you to some of the best, most beautiful places in Hollywood & Beverly Hills. If you're in LA for just a week, I'd recommend this as it is such a time saver, you'll see lots of places in half a day and you will leave the tour with amazing memories (and great pictures!)

Beverly Hills
LACMA (Urban Light)

Santa Monica Pier & Third Street Promenade

I originally wanted to explore Santa Monica & Venice Beach in one day... but I underestimated the size of Los Angeles! So take at least two days to visit those places. Starting with Santa Monica - you can take the metro to get there, it's the cheapest option but it will take you an hour from Downtown LA. You can also drive or call an Uber but depending on where you are and what time it is, it might take you an hour too! So keep that in mind.

What should you do? Explore the pier, walk along the beach, go shopping and people-watch on the Third Street Promenade and wander around Palisades Park.

Venice Beach, the canals & Abbot Kinney Boulevard

Ahhh I loved Venice and wished I spent more time there. This is where you'll find Muscle Beach, where locals and travellers workout out, play sports and skateboard. If you like cool, independent shops, head over to Abbot Kinney Boulevard, I could have spent the whole afternoon there and if you're lucky enough you might spot a few celebrities along the way - I saw two in less than 30 minutes haha. Oh and don't forget the Venice canals, pictured below! You are free to walk through the canals but be mindful that this is a residential area so don't be too loud.

The Broad

If you love contemporary/modern art, you will love The Broad. And the best thing is, it's completely free! The collection of art work is so interesting and really worth seeing. You'll find so many random but wonderful and intriguing pieces like the one below. And if you're a blogger, writer or journalist, make sure to ask for a press pass online in advance so that you can skip the very long waiting line! Spend an hour or two there.

Others museums: I visited the Getty Museum which I enjoyed less compared to The Broad but it might be your thing, so check it out! I also went to the Griffith Observatory which I would recommend for the beautiful views and impressive building.

Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Mirror Room

The Last Bookstore, Bradbury Building & Grand Central Market

If you're wandering around Downtown LA, have lunch in Grand Central Market - I had falafels and they were delicious! Visit The Last Bookstore, an independant bookstore that kind of looks like an enchanted (or haunted, you choose) place you could find in a Harry Potter movie. And stop at the Bradbury Building to admire such an amazing piece of architecture.

Spend a night (or morning) on a rooftop

Where should you spend a night out in Los Angeles? Definitely at a rooftop bar in Downtown LA, and let be Broken Shaker the one you choose. Located on the rooftop of the Freehand Hotel, it's the perfect place to sip on a cocktail by the pool.

A day trip to Universal Studios or Disneyland 

If you have a free day and are feeling adventurous, spend it with friends or family at Universal Studios or Disneyland. Fun is guaranteed. We arrived at Universal Studios around 10am and had done most of the rides by 4pm. The park is not that big and wasn't crazy busy when I was there so if you arrive quite early in the morning I'm sure you will have done pretty much all the rides before the end of the day!

Where to eat 

Sweetfin Poké - yummiest poke bowls in Santa Monica and Downtown LA.

Lemonade - for a refreshing lemonade on a hot day.

Cafe Gratitude - organic plant-based restaurant. Love the menu! Each thing has a different name, for example Serene, Connected, Free etc and you basically order by saying I am... Serene / Connected / Free. There are a few different locations in LA.

Suburbia - nice restaurant in Manhattan Beach outside of LA so if you're around, make sure to go there. Lots of really good options on the menu.

Sprinkles - for the best cupcakes in town (you'll find the famous pink cupcakes ATM on Santa Monica Boulevard in Beverly Hills)

Sweetfin Poké in Santa Monica
Lemonade in Venice Beach

So these were the highlights of my trip, and I'm now dying to see more of the US. I hope you guys liked reading this and I also hope this guide will help you plan your next trip to the beautiful city of Los Angeles! 

Have you ever been to Los Angeles?