You're Going to Love London
London is welcoming, full of history, and constantly changing, making it an exciting place for young couples, families, and solo travelers alike.
Stroll along the Thames, take in the book markets on the South Bank, cross over Waterloo Bridge and head across Trafalgar Square. Book tickets to West End plays, climb Big Ben, and enjoy gourmet meals in Soho restaurants like Chotto Matte (Frith Street) or Ember Yard (60 Berwick St).
Join the crowds of Londoners as they cheer on soccer teams like Arsenal (in Islington) or Tottenham Hotspur (Edmonton), or buy some English cheese, bread, pickles, and beer and head to beautiful parks, like Hampstead Heath or Hyde Park, for a picnic.
In the evening, you can relax in your hotel or hit some of Europe’s most lively nightclubs, including XOYO (32-37 Cowper St) or Studio 338 (338 Boord Street, Greenwich). Whether you want a week of partying or some relaxing sight-seeing, London delivers.
Top 5 Reasons to Visit London
1. Historical Attractions
History is everywhere in London. You can head to sites associated with the Royal Family like Buckingham Palace, Hampton Court, and the Tower of London or political centers like the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. There are beautiful religious sights like Westminster Abbey and St Pauls Cathedral, as well as darker, creepier historical attractions such as touring the streets of Whitechapel in the footsteps of Jack the Ripper.
2. Sporting Spectacles
Few soccer leagues in the world create as much excitement and atmosphere as the English Premier League (EPL). During your stay in London, you can head to Premier League games played by teams like Chelsea, Arsenal, West Ham, Crystal Palace, or Tottenham Hotspur. If you visit during the summer, why not take in a cricket match at Lords or grand slam tennis at Wimbledon?
3. World-class Museums
London has some wonderful museums. The British Museum is the largest and most diverse, featuring everything from Egyptian mummies to Japanese vases. Science fans can visit the Science Museum or the Natural History Museum, while historical fashion is on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Art is well served by the Tate Modern, the Tate Britain, the National Gallery, and the National Portrait Gallery, only being the tip of the art iceberg.
4. Cant-Miss Theatrical Performances
The West End is one of the world’s greatest theater districts, with 40 venues including the Dominion, Adelphi, Lyceum, and Garrick. At any one time, expect to be able to watch famous shows like Cats, the Lion King, Wicked or touring shows like Hamilton. There are also ballet performances at Sadler’s Wells and affordable opera tickets at Covent Garden, so no matter what you most adore, London has something to offer.
5. Fantastic Shopping Opportunities
Londoners love to shop. When you visit the city, you can window shop for luxury suits and dresses in Mayfair, check out big name brands like Zara on Oxford Street, dive into lively markets in Camden, Dalston, Notting Hill, and Covent Garden or hop on a train to the malls in Stratford and Shepherd’s Bush. For a luxury shopping experience like no other, Harrods (Knightsbridge) and Liberty (Regent Street) are not to be missed.
What to do in London
1. Big Ben: The Pride of London
Towering over the Thames River in the West End is famous Big Ben. This iconic clocktower is a symbol not only of London but all of England. The gothic, four-faced clock chimes a 13-ton bell from atop the British Parliament building. Big Ben can be appreciated from many vantage points, but the most impressive view afforded is while crossing the Westminster Bridge.
2. British Museum: World's Finest
One of the grandest museums in the world, The British Museum houses unparalleled collections of ancient art. With artifacts hailing from all the corners of the earth, the galleries piece together the history of human culture for upwards of 5-million visitors per year. The most popular attraction is the Rosetta Stone, the linguistic key to ancient Egypt.
3. Tower of London: A Bloody History
The Tower of London has served many purposes throughout the years, and it tells a grisly but fascinating history. Once a Royal residence, it was later repurposed as a treasury, an armory, and most famously, as a prison. Millions of visitors each year and enjoy the Crown Jewels, restored halls, and stories of ghosts haunting the grounds. And like Big Ben, this medieval complex is best viewed from across famous Tower Bridge.
4. Buckingham Palace: Residence of the Queen
The official monarch's residence in London since 1837, Buckingham Palace is a focal point for locals and tourists alike. Visitors flock to witness the changing of the guards every day, a national tradition. When the queen is home, a flag flies high, but when Her Royal Highness is away, the lavish State Rooms are opened for tours of epic masterpieces and grandiose decor.
5. London Eye: Panoramic Views
Also known as the Millennium Wheel, the London Eye was the tallest Ferris Wheel ever built upon its completion in 1999. A feat of construction, this minimal giant is an icon of the city. Each year millions make the rounds in massive glass cabins, soaring over the city of London with views of every notable attraction - an unforgettable experience.
When to Visit London
The best time to visit London depends on what you intend to do. If you want to catch a soccer match, visit in autumn or winter to have the best choice of games. To enjoy sight-seeing without it being too crowded, late spring and early summer are great times to visit (Late May to early July). London’s cultural calendar stretches all-year-round, however, so there’s never a bad time to book a flight.
Where to Stay in London
Popular Districts in London
Hackney – Hackney used to be a neglected part of the city, but now it's the most cultural, vibrant, youthful (and affordable) central district. Check out vintage shops like Beyond Retro (92-100 Stoke Newington Rd), great pubs like the Dove (Broadway Market) and restaurants like Le Ziz (Dunbar Tower, Dalston Square) or Abi Ruchi (Stoke Newington Church Street).
Camden – Camden is a musical hotspot, having been one of the centers of the punk movement and more recently, home to modern stars like Amy Winehouse. These days, it has an excellent street food market, clothing stores, like Lost 'n' Found (Primrose Hill) or Darkside (245 Camden High St), and music venues like the Lock Tavern and Underworld (both on Camden High Street).
Clapham – Located just south of the river, Clapham (along with nearby Brixton and Peckham) is full of energy. Sample local brews at the Craft Beer Co (11-13 Brixton Station Road), enjoy superb meat dishes at Haché Burgers (153 Clapham High Street), and take it easy in the afternoon with a stroll on Clapham Common.
From all of these districts you can be in central London within 20 minutes, making them ideal places to visit or base yourself during your stay.
How to Get Around London
London has a superb public transportation system, but it can be expensive so make sure you use any available discounts. When traveling on overground trains, be sure to ask for family tickets if you are traveling as a group (not singles for everyone). If you are staying for longer periods, a Family & Friends Railcard (£30) saves a third on all adult journeys and 60% on kids travel. When traveling in central London, it’s a good idea to buy a contactless Oyster Card (£5), which you need to charge at stations or magazine stores. Try to avoid traveling during rush hour (7-9:30 a.m. and 5-7:30 p.m.) as the crowds are dense and ticket prices are much higher. If you only need to travel around central London, avoiding the subway entirely can save money. The buses are much cheaper and almost as fast for most journeys. There’s also a bicycle hire scheme which costs £2 to join, then £2 for every 30 minutes (the first 30 minutes of each journey are free).
Taking a ride in one of London’s iconic black taxi cabs is a must for many tourists, and it’s a good way to get around safely and quickly. However, black cabs come with a hefty price tag. Expect to pay £15 for a 2 mile journey. Uber offers much cheaper fares and is popular with Londoners. They charge £3 to start with, then £1.20 per mile after that, so usually work out much cheaper.
Most Londoners recommend that tourists forget about driving in central London. However, if you do want to explore the UK by car, there are plenty of rental agencies to choose from, including Hertz, Sixt and Enterprise. Finding a car park should be easy, but expect to pay at least £19 for two hours. Drivers will also have to pay the Congestion Charge, designed to reduce emissions in central London, which costs around £11 per day (make sure it's covered by your rental company).
The Cost of Living in London
Major shopping districts include Oxford Street, home to brands like Nike, H&M, Primark and Zara, while nearby Regents Street is home to Hamleys (188-196 Regent St), the world’s oldest toy store. The Westfield Centers in Stratford and Shepherd’s Bush are huge malls with well known brands, while Camden Market is the place to go for alternative fashions. Antique hunters will adore Portobello Market, vintage fashion stores are plentiful in Dalston, while Mayfair is home to luxury boutiques like b store (24A Savile Row) and Browns (23-27 South Molton Street). As a reference point, expect to pay around £30 for a sweatshirt and £40-60 for high-quality jeans.
Groceries and Other
London is famously one of Europe's most expensive cities. When it comes to groceries, you can save money by shopping at supermarkets like Sainsburys, Morrisons and Tesco. Waitrose and Marks and Spencer are a little more up-market, but sandwiches will still only cost around £2. If you need any electrical items, head to Tottenham Court Road, which has a cluster of electronics retailers.