The capital of the United Kingdom, London is the ultimate metropolis and one of the most renowned cities in the world.
With the rise of low-fare airlines, Lonon quickly became one of the hubs for airline travel in Europe. Interestingly the city has 6 airports – Gatwick, Heathrow, Luton, Southend, Stansted and City. They are all were well connected with the city center via railway and it takes only a few minutes to get to Victoria Station or the King’s Cross.
Like any major city, the easiest way to get to know London is by sitting in one of the iconic red buses also known as the double-decker. Some of the lines are specially designed to take you on a tourist tour passing by major attractions. The other great way to move through the city is via metro, also known as the “tube” by the locals.
Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square are the two most popular squares. Trafalgar is also London’s largest square, and you will also find there a National Gallery which alongside the British Museum, Tate, and Madam Tussauds Museum makes the circle of London’s most important museums/galleries.
Piccadilly is a great starting point if you want to do some shopping in the nearby Regent, Oxford or Bond streets. Leicester Square is a great place for some nightlife. There are some great clubs and pubs here.
The most prominent feature of London is probably its Big Ben and the Parliament building. If you walk a bit further you will stumble upon the Westminster Abbey, a famous coronation church for English Royalty. Also, closeby is the Westminster Cathedral, the seat of the Roman Catholic Church for England and Wales (Protestantism is the dominant breach of Christianity here) and the largest catholic church in the UK. The city of Westminster which is part of London (and surrounded by it) actually has formal city status, so called a city within the city.
If you want to have the best view of London from the above head to the London Eye. This observation wheel located on the southern bank of the River Thames was built to commemorate the new millennium and it quickly became one of the top attractions of the city.
If you continue your walk along the Thames, you will reach another one of the most recognizable attractions of London, the Tower Bridge. According to some studies, bridges have been built in place of the Tower Bridge since Roman times. Also close by you will find the Tower of London, once a notorious prison, today a place where royal jewels are kept. The other two castles actively used by the queen are the Windsor castle and the Buckingham Palace.
If you turn your gaze to the right from Tower Bridge you will notice a forest of skyscrapers, this is London’s “City”. It is the financial district, the seat of the stock exchange, and this is where major corporations of the world have their offices.
London has many football stadiums, some of the most famous are Wembley, Emirates, Stamford Bridge. Parks are no exception either, do not miss a visit to Hyde Park or the Regent Park, but besides these London has many small communal parks.
If you want to check other UK cities here is a nice suggestion for the best UK city breaks. This can be a beautiful weekend getaway with a family or a romantic weekend with a loved one.
Climate and weather
London has a mild climate with lots of precipitation. Winters are mild (and can be long), as well as summers. It rarely snows and the temperature is mostly above 0 Celsius.
It rains a lot in London but this is mostly light, boring rain, very typical for England.
If you plan on doing a lot of sightseeing in London and visiting attractions, then London Pass is a very useful tool to have. This multipurpose ticket will give you discounts or a free pass to over 80 attractions in the city. You can also combine it with public transport (Oyster Card) to get a free pass in the first 6 zones within the city. It will also allow you to skip the queue in many places. Here is a full list of benefits:
- free entry to over 80 attractions
- free access to “hop on hop off bus”
- free public transport for the first 6 zones of the city (if you combine it with Oyster card)
- guides with attraction descriptions and advices
- skipping the queues for ticket purchasing (for various attractions)
- skipping the entry queues for many attractions
- discounts in several shops and bars
The easiest way to buy a London Pass is online. Make sure to check other London travel tips, to enjoy the smoothest visit possible.
One of the best attractions is the Christmas markets. If you want to explore outside of London make sure to check the best Christmas markets in UK.
What to see
Buckingham Palace – an official residence of the Queen of England, it has almost 80 000 sq meters. Behind the palace, there are the gardens where the queen has her receptions. The main attraction is the ceremony of the royal guard change, which takes place every day at a specific hour. But make sure to come there early to see it, as gets really crowded.
Horse Guards Parade – one of the largest open space places in London and a place to be if you want to see the change of the guard. It’s located on a square some 500 meters east of Buckingham Palace.
Greenwich Royal Observatory – probably the most famous observatory on Earth, Greenwich is the center of the world, literally if we consider the world’s time zones. Since the 0 meridian passes through a very popular thing is to take a picture with your legs on opposite sides of the world. Peter Harrison planetarium is a great place to learn more about the planets and space.
London eye – one of the most popular attractions of the city, this huge panoramic wheel marked London’s entry into new millennia. It’s 135 meters high, and it offers an amazing view of the city (London is completely flat). This is an extremely crowded attraction so buy your tickets in advance and if possible ones that skip the queue.
National Gallery – located on Trafalgar square, the entry to National Gallery is completely free. It safely keeps the works of the most famous European artists from the 13th to 19th century. As already mentioned entrance is free unless there is some kind of special exhibition in which case they would charge the entry.
Tower of London – a notorious prison in the past today is one the most beautiful attractions of London. Officially its name is Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress, and this is where the queen’s royal jewels are kept including the crown and the scepter. It is possible to see them but you can not stay for too long. Security measures are high.
A great way to experience the best of the city is by taking a walking tour of London. You can also get a group discount if there are more people, and it’s a great way to explore the city with a local expert.
London Stands for one of the best nightlife capitals of the world. There is something for everyone here, from musicals and classical music to drinking beer in fancy pubs to partying in clubs. Beer lovers will probably love the information that London has over 5 thousand pubs. They have a special atmosphere for sure and if you want to experience genuine London hospitality you should definitely visit them. Most will have TV transmitting football games of Premiere Ligue and sometimes rugby or cricket if England is playing. Every block has its pub and some of the most famous are Fleet Street, close to St. Pauls Cathedral, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, which was allegedly the favorite pub of Mark Twain and Charles Dickinson and it dates back to 1667. Here are a few more suggestions for the best bars in London.
The area between Piccadilly and Leicester square is also very lively with lots of open terrace pubs. There are many “promoters” on the streets giving away discount coupons for entry or during, which is very useful since London is an expensive city. Entry fees can range from 5 to 15 and even 25 pounds for the more fancy clubs or if there is a live performance.
The other famous party area is around Farringdon and Liverpool streets. If you find yourself there don’t miss the famous Fabric one of the most iconic clubbing places.
On the other side of Thames Rives, there is the Ministry of Sound, a very famous club, and a bit further west – Notting Hill Arts Club, close to Hyde Park. Make sure to check other things to do in Notting Hill as well if you find yourself there, it is one of London’s most colorful neighborhoods.
Lovers of classical music will love the fact that London is home to 5 major orchestras – The London Symphony Orchestra, The Royal Philharmonics, The Lonon Philharmonics, The BBC Symphony, and the BBC Philharmonics.
Shopping in London
London will offer you a supreme shopping experience. You can find something for anyone here, if you are aiming for high fashion and expensive branded stuff, you’ll find it. On the other hand, if you are a mere mortal looking for a nice affordable piece of clothes you’ll find it as well.
The big shopping triangle is between Oxford, Bond, and Regent Street. These are also some of the most famous streets in London to visit generally, even if you’re not a shopingholic. Oxford Street probably has the most shops out of the three. You will find over 300 stores in a stretch of about 3 kilometers. That makes it one of the largest European fashion streets. You will also find some famous British shopping centers here like Selfridges, Debenhams, John Lewis, Marks&Spencer, etc, and shops like Zara, Gap, Benetton, etc.
Regent Street which is next to Oxford is actually its smaller version. It has more or less the same shops but in somewhat smaller numbers.
Bond is the “poshest” of the three and the most luxurious. Bond Street has been a synonym for luxury since the 18th century since there were famous people like Admiral Nelson who lived there. Wery soon many jewelry shops and galleries opened here, some of which are still there. You will find here famous brands like the Armani, Bvlgari, Burberry, Channel, Cartier, D&G, Prada, etc.
The absolute superstar is of curse the Harrods.
If you want to explore beyond the city of London, then check these 10 holiday destinations in the UK that you need to visit.
London has a variety of accommodation options. Since it is one of the most visited cities in the world, it does not lack it. Prices can vary greatly, mostly depending on where you choose to stay.
Be sure to keep an eye on special deals. Some (more expensive) hotels can offer great deals with big discounts which sometimes reach the prices of average hostels.
If possible, choose your accommodation close to the metro system. It’s a great way to move around, and the city is really well connected with it. Also, more affordable accommodation is often away from the city center, so having a metro close is a smart choice. Generally, London is an expensive city so finding a room with a shared kitchen and/or a bathroom is a great option to save some money while still having good accommodation.
London is visited almost a whole year round, however April to October tends to be a more crowded period.
- London has the oldest subway in the world, from 1863
- there are over 11 000 cafe’s and restaurants in London
- the city has 6 airports
- Big Ben is only the name of the ben on top of the tower while the full name of the clock is the Great Clock of Westminster
- smoking is prohibited in public places like cafes, bars, pubs, or restaurants.