London Travel Guide
London is a welcoming city, full of history and constantly changing, making it a place that excites young couples, families and independent travellers alike. A walk along the River Thames, admiring the book markets on the South Bank, crossing Waterloo Bridge and wandering around Trafalgar Square are some of the things that don’t cost a pound but will give you a measure of how much London has to offer.
But the best thing about the city is that it shows a different face to every traveller. Whatever you’re looking for, you’ll find it. Family holidays, museums to get lost in for hours or the liveliest nightlife. All within a few subway stations.
- Top 5 reasons to visit London
- What to do in London
- How to get to London
- Where to stay in London
- Getting around London
- Cost of living in London
- Where to eat in London
Top 5 reasons to visit London
Attractions of historical interest
The story remains alive in many of London’s most visited corners. The English royal family still uses Buckingham Palace or Hampton Court as their residence. The Tower of London, on the other hand, houses interesting museums and also the crown jewels.
While visiting London, if you are a football fan, you can take the stadium tour of teams like Chelsea, Arsenal, or West Ham. And, in the summer, remember that tennis takes over thanks to the most renowned championship: Wimbledon.
Internationally renowned museums
London is home to some simply wonderful museums. The British Museum preserves everything from Egyptian mummies to Japanese vases. Science lovers can visit the Science Museum or the Natural History Museum. The Tate Modern, the Tate Britain, the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery are the spearheads of all contemporary art.
West End: theatre in the spotlight
The West End is one of the largest theatre districts in the world, with forty theatres. Check out the programme and book your tickets for an unforgettable night at the theatre.
The City of Shopping
When you visit London and are about to shop you can choose from the luxury of Mayfair, the extravagance of Camden Town, the second hand of Portobello Road, the big franchises on Oxford Street or the casual and street wear shops on Carnaby Street.
What to do in London
To enjoy the visit without large crowds, choose late spring or early summer. London’s cultural calendar runs all year round, so there’s always something to do.
Hearing the bells of Big Ben: the pride of London
If you want to see this spectacle in all its magnificence, walk across Westminster Bridge at sunset. Its four-sided Gothic clock hides a thirteen-tonne bell that rings from the top of the British Parliament building.
Visit the British Museum
Let yourself be surprised by the treasures of the British Museum, one of the oldest in the world, such as the mummies or the remains of the Parthenon. The most popular attraction is the Rosetta Stone, the linguistic key to ancient Egypt.
Exploring the Tower of London: a bloody history
Get into a story as creepy as it is fascinating. Conceived as a royal residence, the Tower of London was later reused as a prison. See the crown jewels and, on your way out, cross Tower Bridge.
Attend the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace
Come to the door of Buckingham Palace to witness the daily changing of the guard. When the queen is at home, a flag flies high; when her royal highness leaves, the palace opens to the public.
Admire the view from the London Eye
Hop on one of the cabins on this post-contemporary Ferris wheel and see the most spectacular views of London. You will be inside one of the recent icons of the city, and also one of the most controversial.
How to get to London
Most visitors who arrive in London by plane land at Heathrow or Gatwick airports. From Heathrow, you can take the Piccadilly line of the underground, which goes to central locations such as Knightsbridge and Covent Garden. The ticket costs £7. You can also take a fast train directly to Paddington, which takes about 20 minutes and costs around £20.
The best way to get to London from Gatwick is via the Gatwick Express train connection, which costs £20 per person, or via the National Express coaches, which can be worth as little as £5. Taxis from Gatwick generally cost around £60-70. Other gateways to London by air are Luton, City, Stansted and Southend airports.
If you are travelling by Eurostar from Paris, you will arrive at St Pancras station, about 3 kilometres north of the city centre. From there, you can take the 73 bus to the West End hotels or take the underground to other areas of London. It is also possible to travel by train from Brussels. Dozens of local trains will take you to Oxford from £34 each way, or to Canterbury or Edinburgh for £44 each way.
The UK road network has excellent infrastructure and its roads are in perfect condition. If you are travelling from Liverpool to London, take the A5080, then the M6, the M40 and finally the A40 to central London. From Edinburgh you will have to take the M6 which links both cities; you will arrive in the capital city after about 7 hours of travelling.
London is connected by bus with the main cities of the country. Companies such as National Express or Megabus, the most popular, schedule itineraries from cities like Manchester, Edinburgh, Liverpool or Bristol to London. To give you an idea, a trip by bus from Manchester to London with National Express costs from £ 10.
Airports near London
Where to stay in London
Here’s our complete post about where to stay in London.
If you’re looking for mid-range accommodation, Park Grand Paddington Court offers rooms from £115 per night. For travellers on a smaller budget there is a range of hostels to choose from, such as the YHA or Clink78 Hostel in Islington for £35 a night.
Popular districts in London
Hackney is the most cultural, vibrant, youthful and affordable central district. Check out vintage stores like Beyond Retro, great pubs like The Dove at Broadway Market and restaurants like Leziz.
Camden was one of the centers of the punk movement and, more recently, the home of celebrities like Amy Winehouse. It has an excellent street food market and clothing stores such as Lost ‘n’ Found and Darkside.
Clapham. Located south of the River Thames, Clapham, along with the Brixton and Peckham neighborhoods, is full of energy. Be sure to try the local beers at the Craft Beer Co.
Getting around London
When you travel by train, be sure to ask for family tickets if you are in a group. If your visit is going to be long, a Family & Friends Railcard costing £30 will save you a third of the cost on all adult trips and 60% on children’s trips. To visit central London, it is a good idea to buy an Oyster Card for £5, valid for buses and the underground, which you will need to top up at the underground stations themselves or at kiosks.
Taking a ride in one of London’s iconic black taxis is a must for many tourists, and also a good way to get around safely and quickly. However, London Cabs are expensive: a race of about 3.2 kilometres will cost you about £15.
Most Londoners recommend that tourists forget about driving in central London. However, if you want to explore the UK on four wheels and independently, there are several rental agencies to choose from, such as Hertz, Sixt and Enterprise. Prices vary but the average is around £20 per day. Finding parking is easy, but the price is very high: up to £19 for two hours.
Cost of living in London
Major shopping districts include Oxford Street, home to brands such as Nike, H&M, Primark and Zara, while Regents Street is home to Hamleys, the world’s oldest toy store. Camden Market is the place for alternative fashion, while antique hunters will love Portobello Road. As a point of reference, the price of a sweatshirt is around £30 and branded jeans between £40-60.
Food and other
London is famous for being one of the most expensive cities in Europe. When it comes to food, you can save by shopping at supermarkets like Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Tesco. As reference prices, a kilo of tomatoes will cost you £1.79 and a loaf of bread £0.96.
Where to eat in London
In the last two decades, London has become a major gastronomic destination. Find our more about where to eat in London here.
For great Indian food, head to Trishna or Drummond Street for delicious and healthy buffet meals. ROKA in Fitzrovia is the best Japanese restaurant in town. You will find amazing fish and chips at the Fish Club in Wandsworth or Golden Hind in Marylebone.
And if you prefer to try pub food, The Bull & Last is unbeatable. Prices for a meal can vary enormously, but typically they will not go below £70 per person in a downtown restaurant, £6 for fish and chips, and £30 for a bar meal with drinks and desserts.