London Travel Guide
With its roots in the Roman times, London has been every traveller’s delight for ages. A beautiful blend of history and modernism, London has glass skyscrapers surrounded by old cathedrals and tiny Victorian houses. Home to the royal residence of the monarch, London has always enjoyed the status of a princely state, capturing the fascination of millions.This diverse and spirited city is dotted with famous landmarks, architectural grandeur, and historical museums to douse you with artistic treasures and cultural heritage. Vibrant streets, green sapces, theatre, festivals, and cultural events are all an integral part of London.
Why Visit London
When it comes to choosing a travel destination, London is clearly the leading choice. With a generous bit of everything a traveller looks for, London has plenty of options to explore. Be it the Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, the Shard or countless others, London is home to many world-famous attractions. London has a plethora of museums holding rare artistic and ancient treasures, churches and cathedrals with rich architectural heritage, and historical bridges across the river Thames. The animated streets and boulevards give you a taste of the happening life of London. Walking the carefully manicured parks are for those looking for an easy pace in the ambit of nature. From designer showrooms to street shops, classy pubs to chic night clubs, casual cafes to fine dining, the city has a something in store for everyone.
Top 10 Attractions in London
Below are a compact list of 10 things to do in London, regardless of whether you're in the city for a day or a week. Tick these 10 things to do in London off your list and consider it all done.
London Trip Planner
Here is everything you should know before you plan to visit London
Weather in London
Because of its mild climate throughout the year, London can be visited at any time. Though the official high season of London is from May to September, this city has something unique to offer in every season. You can check the weather here.
London in Spring
You will find a pleasant weather with occasional mild showers. Longer daylight hours will give you lots of time to explore London. However, keep in mind that Easter weekend has several closures as well as celebrations.
London in Summer
London is famous for fabulous summers. Fantastic weather and outdoor events & festivities make summer the best time to visit London. However, fair warning, expect a lot of co-tourists in this busy season!
London in Autumn
It is lovely to visit London in the mild weather of autumn, months after the busy summers. This time of the year also brings in many annual festivals and events which you can enjoy.
London in Winter
Despite being colder in winters, London still enjoys a comfortable temperature ranging between 2°C-6°C (36°F-43°F). You can easily enjoy this beautiful city, which is a winter wonderland. Additionally, the Christmas festivities are in full bloom, followed by some amazing sales on Boxing Day (26 December).
When are you Planning to Visit London?
While London is a delight all year round, here's the complete guide on best time to visit London.
London Daily Budget Planner
You can choose to explore London on a budget, or take the luxurious route; both offer a great travel experience. Depending on how you'd like to go about your London visit, you can budget your trip. Here's a summary of an approximate per day expense in London.
London on a Budget - £56 per day
Midrange spending in London - £149 per day
Luxury vacation in London - £423 per day
Use this tool to further budget your London trip.
London Travel Tips 101 - A First Timer's Holy Grail
There are more London travel tips to make your visit a memorable one. Click here to know more.
Currency & ATMs in London
British Currency is pound sterling (£/GBP). There are 100 pennies or pence to the pound. Notes come in denominations of £5, £10, £20, and £50, while coins come in 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p, £1, and £2. It is difficult to find change at many places, so smaller denominations are preferred for use.
Most credit and debit cards like Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted in London's restaurants, bars, cafes, and shops. However they incur an overseas transaction fee, which varies from card to card. It is a good idea to check with your card issuer beforehand. It is also advisable to keep some other payment options like cash at your disposal for any emergencies.
ATMs are popularly called cash points in the UK, and are quite easy to locate and convenient to use. It is always better to withdraw cash from bank-run ATMs located outside the bank as they are more secure and do not charge usage fees.GBP exchange rate
Here’s a trusted exchange calculator you can use to check the current exchange rate of GBP to your home currency.
London Visa Guide
If you are planning to visit UK for a short trip you, can apply for a Standard Visitor visa. The application includes the following:
- Fulfilling the eligibility criteria, like your ability to pay for your cost of journey and stay, intent of leaving the country at the end of your visit, validity of the passport for the whole of your stay in the UK, etc.
- Providing documents like a current passport or other valid travel identification, a page in your passport that’s blank on both sides for your visa, and other supporting documents mentioned here.
- Applying online for the UK Visa and booking an appointment at a visa application centre. You’ll have your biometric information taken at your appointment, followed by their regular procedure of issuing the visa if all conditions are met.
Tipping in London
- It is considered polite to tip for the services that you use in London and is like an unsaid norm.
- Leaving a tip of about 10%-15% of the bill value is generally the norm in restaurants. However, if there is a service charge or self service, you are not supposed to leave any tip.
- It is common to round off your taxi bill with a small tip for the driver.
- The tour guides expect a tip for their service. Depending on how happy you are with their service, you can leave a tip in the range of about £5 for a half-day/day tour.
- Tipping the porter in the hotel with a few coins is generally considered polite.
- If you are using a pay to access public toilet, you are not expected to pay any tip. You may leave a coin elsewhere if there are attendants.
London Tourist Map
Below is a London Tourist Map with all the prime attractions around the city that will help you chart an itinerary for yourself. Download this on your phone and keep it handy while visiting London.
West End London Theatre
Out of the numerous things to do and see in London, there is one thing which absolutely can’t be missed — West End theatre. Whether you are a first time visitor to these world class shows or a regular, the London theatre scene is refreshing and unique. Enjoying a dinner and a West End show is one of the best experiences in London. Right from information on how to get best deals on tickets or which seats to choose, to tips on what to wear and where to grab a drink or eat before or after the show, this London Theatre Guide helps you plan everything!
London on a Budget
London - the world’s top dream destination is also one of the most expensive cities. However, this aspect should not get in the way of your travel plans. Apart from looking online for discounts on best things to do in London, here are a number of hacks to support a budget traveller.
Do the Free things in London
Do not get disheartened by the steep ticket prices of a lot of attractions of London.
Apart from the paid attractions, there are scores of lush green parks, national museums, ceremonies, and other incredible sites that are entirely free to view and enter. British Museum, Tate Modern, the National Gallery, Hyde Park, changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, etc. are a few to name.
Explore on foot
One of the best ways to explore most of this beautiful city is on foot.
Besides saving big bucks, moving at your own pace, stopping by to admire what you enjoy, sipping a hot cup of coffee at a nearby cafe, and rubbing shoulders with the locals, you get a first hand experience of this vibrant city.
Take a Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour
If you want to squeeze in visiting many places in a short period of time, hop on hop off buses are an effective and cheap option.
They give you a great introduction to the city, and make it easy to reach most of the stunning landmarks. They also give you the flexibility of maintaining your own pace. A 48 hour HOHO ticket should cost you anywhere from £30-£40. Read more about it here.
Use public transportation
Exploit the extensive public transportation network of London.
With great connectivity and reach of metro, it is one of the cheapest way to commute in London. To save further, get yourself an Oyster card or a London Travel card.
Eat at cheap restaurants
While London has cuisine from all over the world, you may end up spending more than you want to if you're not careful about where you're eating!
Food can make a huge hole in your pocket if you don't watch out. Besides the expensive cafes and fine dining places, London has many great budget-friendly options to eat like Pret a Manger, yo! Sushi, LEON, etc.
Look for cheap accomodation
While hotels can be expensive, there are other stay options for you to check out.
Hotels can be obnoxiously expensive in high season. Choose the off peak travel time to save on cost. There are also many hostel accommodations, as well as bed and breakfast options for those who are budget conscious..
Best Tours in London
While London is a city best explored by foot, there are lots of guided and bus tours to help you make the most of your visit. Here's a quick list of the Top tours in London that you must definitely sign up for.
Best Day Trips from London
While there is much to see in London, the city is also close to some stunning towns and villages in the countryside. If you're in London for over three days, you must definitely check out these day trips from London and embark on the one that suits your liking.
While visiting a country it is good to have an understanding of their culture or else unintentionally you may end up rubbing someone the wrong way.
- The English, proud of their rich history and global status, are a courteous and reserved lot. They appreciate politeness and restraint. It is advisable to not be overly familiar with people you do not know. Though, despite their steely appearance, the British are friendly and helpful towards visitors.
- They are not too demonstrative of their affection towards formal people in public so backslapping or touching is not appreciated. They like their personal space and expect you to maintain some physical distance at all public places.
- At a restaurant, you summon a waiter by raising your hand not by waving or shouting. You are also supposed to watch your volume at public places as the British consciously speak softly.
- They follow the Continental table manners holding the fork in the left hand and the knife in the right while eating.
- Use of last name with appropriate title is the way to address people in the UK.
- A handshake is the common way to greet everyone including children. Women are expected to extend their hand first.
- Always hold the door for the person behind you.
London is famous for its festivals that create quite a sensation and excitement in the town. There is nothing like it if you can plan a trip around some of these!
- Mighty Hoopla is a celebration of London’s club culture. It is packed with spectacular live acts, rocking DJ’s, outstanding dancers and many other talented performers. This popular day festival is a portrayal of London’s pop music and dazzling night culture.
- Stone Free Festival is a British free music festival held at prehistoric monument Stonehenge. It was extremely popular in the 70’s and 80’s after which it was suppressed. Held in the month of June, it has once again become a fixture on the live calendar for an exciting event.
- Field Day is a yearly outdoor music festival set up in Victoria Park in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. It is London’s most discerning festival which has garnered a reputation for building line-ups packed with a lot of talent.
- Taste of London showcases best restaurants serving taster size signature dishes, top chefs churning out live delicacies and leading food and drink brands of the city selling their latest collections. It occurs twice each year in the months of June and November.
There are plenty more festivals in London and a quick cursory glance across the internet will expose you to many more.
Where to stay in London
Things to do or points of attraction in London are not concentrated around one area and are widely spread out. This is the reason there is no particular neighbourhood which can be called as the best. Depending upon your areas of interest and budget, you can choose from a variety of nice neighbourhoods to stay in.
- The West End, comprising of areas like Leicester Square, Covent Garden, Mayfair, Piccadilly, Soho, Oxford Street, etc., is a very central district. It is known for its nightlife and has most of the theatres, top art galleries, and high-end shopping places. It has many expensive 4 star and 5 star hotels.
- Bloomsbury is just a walking distance from West End, and has relatively cheaper hotels.
- Victoria, the transport hub of London, forms a good base for sightseeing and has a range of hotels that are not very cheap, but not too expensive either.
- Kensington is well-connected, and has quite a few attractions, along with places to stay for all budgets.
- King's Cross, St Pancras, and Euston are the areas ideal for a budget accommodation or a B&B.
- Paddington and Bayswater are also pleasant areas with quite a few budget properties.
What to Eat in London
London is full of delicious delights which you simply cannot miss enjoying! Here are some dishes you must try when in the city.
Fish and chips
The tasty combination of fried battered fish and hot potato chips/fries is the most common and staple takeaway food of London. There is a chippie in every other street of London. Some of the best places for this must have snack are The Chipping Forecast, Fish Lounge, Gilly's Fry Bar, and Golden Hind.
Full English breakfast
A full English breakfast typically includes bacon, sausages, fried eggs, baked beans, and a beverage such as coffee or tea. It has everything to make the most important meal of your day delicious. Pellicci’s Full English, Hawksmoor Guildhall, Koya Bar, Parlour Kensal are some of the top places of London to enjoy a Full English Breakfast.
It is a traditional English dessert consisting of a mixture of strawberries, broken meringue, and whipped double cream. This delicious mess of a dessert is quite simple yet one of the most loved and satisfying desserts of London. Vivat Bacchus, Bob Bob Ricard, Tuttons Brasserie etc, are a few places best known for this popular dessert.
Sticky toffee pudding
A classic British dessert consisting of a moist dense sponge cake, the sticky toffee pudding is made with finely chopped dates, topped up with toffee sauce, and often served with a vanilla custard or vanilla ice-cream. Originated from the Lake District, this dessert is very popular all over UK. Hawksmoor, Bumpkin, and The Abingdon are some places that serve the best sticky toffee pudding in London.
Bangers and mash
It is a traditional dish of UK made of sausages and mashed potatoes. A variety of flavoured sausages made of pork, lamb, or beef are used in this dish. It is sometimes served with onion gravy, fried onions, or peas. Some of the best Bangers and Mash can be had at The Queens Arms, The Victoria, and Speedy's Sandwich Bar & Cafe.
Where to Eat in London
There are plenty of great restaurants in London, offering delicious food of all sorts of cuisine. Here are some of our top picks of places to eat at when in London.
Located in Camden Town, this is London’s greatest food lineup with 34 traders open throughout the week. From burgers to burritos, fried squid to fried chicken, and huge hot dogs to big cheese wheels, you can try out the best known delicacies from across the world here.
This is just the right place to get an authentic taste of the traditional British cuisine. Made with fresh, seasonal, rustic ingredients, complemented with their famous cocktails the spunky dishes are quite a riot on your taste buds. The all day dining experience is a must for all visitors to London. Read more here.
Located in Clerkenwell, this traditional Japanese Sushi Bar is sure to give you the best Sushi experience in town. Sushi Tetsu is a tiny place with a single chef that seats only 7 guests at once, at two seatings every night making it necessary to get your booking much in advance. Read more here.
This is a classy Latin American joint with a typical London vibe to it. Besides a cool ambience, the food is authentic, fresh, delicious, and well priced. Many of the the signature dishes like grilled octopus with pickled shallots and the fine collection of wines are hugely popular. Read more here.
Getting Around London
London is notorious for being a city that is difficult to drive around, with exorbitant parking charges. Renting a car is therefore not the best option. Cabs are also very expensive in London and you still have a probability of getting stuck in traffic.
The best way to get around London is using the excellent public transport or still better on foot. Public transit with multiple options such as the London Underground (tube) and modern double-decker buses are the most extensive, convenient as well as budget friendly. Buses give you a nice view of the vibrant city, although the tube is a faster means. You can simply download the maps to understand tube network on the city map.
If you are planning to cover a lot of attractions over a limited period of time, travel cards are a good option. You can also hire a bike to get around the city; this is especially fun in summer.