London is the largest city in Western Europe and most tourists use the London Underground (‘the Tube’) to get around. Many of the main attractions are located within Central London, and it is quite possible to walk between them or hire one of the increasingly ubiquitous ‘Boris Bikes’. However, there are also the iconic red buses and black cabs to help you get around this sprawling city, depending on your budget.
Must-see attractions during your trip to London range from major landmarks like the Royal Palaces, London Bridge and the London Eye, to world-famous museums like the British Museum, the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum.
Head to Westminster to discover the UK’s political centre, including Downing Street, the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. During your trip make sure you climb Primrose Hill for a great (and free) view of the London skyline, incorporating the Shard, the Gherkin and everything in between.
The recently re-opened Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford is not just a tourist attraction in its own right, but also a hub for leisure and sporting activities. You can swim in the Olympic Pool at the Aquatics Centre, wander through acres of parkland, and cycle in the Lee Valley Velo Park. Keep an eye out for upcoming events as the park builds up to full steam.
There are the eight Royal Parks in London, including Hyde Park, Richmond Park and Regent’s Park. Each has plenty to offer besides many hectares of park land, such as boating on the Serpentine in Hyde Park. For a great Sunday morning’s entertainment, head to Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park, where anyone is allowed to speak in public on any topic – some lively debates are guaranteed! Another essential experience during your trip is seeing a show in the West End. If you prefer something a little more rocky or poppy, there are numerous live music venues throughout the city, including the O2 Arena and Brixton Academy.
Eating in London
London can be a food lover’s paradise whatever your budget. At the top end of the scale, there are world-famous restaurants run by celebrity chefs. There’s an enormous amount of scope further down the food chain though, with all manner of international cuisine on offer in Central London and further afield.
If you want a traditional taste of cockney London, head to a pie and mash shop in the East End, or visit an independent gastro-pub outside of the tourist areas.
Shopping in London
Harrods and Selfridges are the big names for budgetless department store shopping, and are worth a visit when you travel to London. Oxford Street is one of the main shopping streets and hosts all the big brand names of the British high street. For designer clothing and accessories take a walk down Bond Street and Covent Garden. If you’re travelling with children, visit Regent Street for one of the world’s largest toy stores. London also has many markets you can lose yourself in, from the alternative stylings of Camden Market, to the fashion-conscious Old Spitalfields Market.
This city is deeply multicultural, with one in three Londoners foreign-born, representing 270 nationalities and 300 tongues. Britain may have voted for Brexit (although the majority of Londoners didn’t), but for now this city remains one of the world’s most cosmopolitan cities, and diversity infuses daily life, food, music and fashion. London is a truly international city and most visitors should have few difficulties. When travelling on escalators on the London Underground, be sure to stand on the right and walk on the left, and do mind the gap when leaving the trains. This is expensive town and not as much a convenience culture as America (most black cabs do not take cards). Plan ahead to get the best deals, and book restaurants and theater tickets well in advance.
January is the coldest month, with an average low of 45°F (7°C) and July is the hottest month, with an average high of 66 °F (19 °C). Spring starts early in the U.K., and it’s optimal in otherwise temperamental weather (still: pack an umbrella). Mild winters and traditional Christmas markets make November and December popular, too.