London Tourism Information
The capital of the UK is one of the most visited cities in Europe, (With Paris being another) both for culture/entertainment and business. Its a modern metropolis in which everything goes. Society is open to pretty much everything, Expect to see all kind of people and scenes. At the same time the city co-exists with it's very classical and historical past. It's very fascinating to find hidden old fashioned buildings, shops and places of interest which can throw you back a few centuries.
The city of London can date back to as early as the year 50 AD when the first bridge, London Bridge, was constructed over the Thames river, made out of wood. Sure the city of London has the wow factor for the first time visitor, and you will want to come back time and time again!
The British capital has a very unpredictable weather forecast and as the whole country weather can change in a matter of minutes. London offers warmer temperatures by being a big city metropolis and average temperatures can range in the low 20 °C expect during the winter when it's gets colder and go down to an average of 10 °C.
The best time to visit London is recommended between March to November. However the summer months June to August can be much more expensive to visit and weather can be hot and muggy due to the higher humidity. The hottest months are May and June, with temperatures reaching into the 30's °C!
The capital has one of the biggest transportation networks in the world, which helps connect the high density population of London.
All the transport falls into the hands of the Transportation for London company (TfL). From their website you can access all the relative information on fares, timetables, quickest route planner, maps and online options for travel cards and passes. Visit Transport for London website for more info.
When arriving to London by plane take note that there are 5 major airports to arrive to:
- London Heathrow: It's the main international airport in the capital, serves all major airlines and its the hub of flag carrier, British Airways. When you arrive you can take the underground, (dark blue line), the Piccadilly Line service from Terminal 123, Terminal 4, or Terminal 5 and within 50 minutes you will reach the heart of London. Price for a single one way ticket is under £5. You can also take the Heathrow Express train, from terminals 1,2,3 and T5, direct to Paddington Station for £15 one way. Note, taxis from Heathrow Airport cost around £50-60 into the city centre, maybe more if its peak time!
- Gatwick Airport: It's the second largest airport which serves London, located in the south, but not in the London region itself. It's used mostly by low cost airlines EasyJet and Norwegian in addition to other major airlines flying all over the world, as well, as a second base for British Airways. When you arrive, you can take the train direct to London Victoria station via Southern Railway, for around £10 one way if bought in advance. Cheaper services by bus are possible with Easybus and National Express. Taking a taxi is not recommended for the high price.
- Luton Airport: Served mostly by low cost airlines Easyjet, Ryanair and Wizz Air. It's located in the north of London, one hour by bus. The best way to get there is by National Express taking it from Victoria Bus Station or Baker Street. Prices start from £5 when booked in advance. You can also go by train from Luton to Kings Cross Station. You need to take first a connecting bus from the airport to Luton Parkway and from here switch to the direct train. Buy tickets at Thameslinkrailway.com.
- Stansted Airport: Served mostly by low cost airline Ryanair, Easyjet and charter airlines. Although recently a few other major carriers have started direct services like Emirates. The airport is the furthest from London actually it takes around 90 minutes by bus or 60 minutes by train. The best way to travel is by train to Liverpool station for £10 if bought in advance at Stanstedexpress.com. Alternatively you can also go by bus with National Express or airportbusexpress.co.uk.
- London City Airport:It is the most centrally located airport, only 15 min to Canary Wharf Financial District in the East of London. It's mostly used by national airlines, including British Airways to business like destinations. Getting from the airport is hassle free, take the DLR (Docklands Light Railway) which takes you into Bank Station, where you can connect with other underground services.
Once in the city, getting around London is simple by the metro which they call "tube" by its tubular shape, or known simply by the Underground. If you are planning to stay in London for a longer time and want to use all the modes of transport then it's recommended you buy an Oyster card which can be found at the stations or travel centres. It's also possible to by one day passes (Paper Tickets) which will cost £12.50 for adults.
Transport in London is very costly, one of the most expensive in Europe. Note that the transport prices change in function of the times you travel. It is cheaper to travel after 9.30am and before 16.00pm. Also avoid the period between 16-19 pm as this is known as the peak time on weekdays. All weekend is off-peak. If you get a travelcard (Available now on Oyster card or on a contactless credit or debit card) it's cheaper to pay as you go, and automatically there will a price cap if you go over the daily price (about £12.50) or a weekly price cap.
Trains are also integrated into the Oyster card system, it's a good option if you stay away from central London as trains are convenient, quick and offer more sitting space.
Check times before you travel as they are not so frequent and services finish before midnight.
Towards the east of London, you will find the DLR, the Docklands Light Railway System. These driverless trains are very modern and comfortable. They connect central London at Bank Station to famous areas such as Stratford, Greenwich, Canary Wharf, London City Airport and the O2 Arena.
Below you will find the transport maps for London to download:
Double Deckers: London is famous for the iconic double decker bus. For a day travel pass it will cost £5 using only busses. However if you are located outside central London it can take a very long time to travel by bus as journeys are slow, and busses stop practically at every stop.
✔️Tip: If you are touring around London and don't want to spend much money on the expensive official tour busses, you can make your own itinerary by following the most popular bus routes. On this map below you will find the routes and the sites you can see along the way.
Black Cabs: London is famous for its Black Cab taxis, they have featured in many movies and are an iconic shape to distinguish them from other vehicles. IT all started with the Horse-drawn "hackney carriages" which began providing taxicab service in the early 17th century.
Today, they are modern diesel run cars, they are spacious, suitable for 4 passengers travelling behind the driver and are wheelchair accessible. You can also now pay with credit/debit cards as well as cash.
If you want to stop a cab, only stop the ones with the yellow TAXI sign on. Black cabs are metered and there is a minimum charge of £3 (as from 2020) You can travel around the London transport zone fares with these taxis only. Otherwise have to use a minicab (other licensed taxis) for longer trips.
Although they are a tourist attraction in themselves, a ride at rush hour can be pretty expensive. So it's advised to take them out of rush hours and share the price with friends not to get a hefty charge! Unfortunately fares are non negotiable like in other countries.
✔️Tip: When in central London it's always better to go by tube if you are in a hurry. London gets very congested and paying high fares for taxis are not worth it. Always try to walk around the city to enjoy and explore more than you would by public transport. However note that there is a lot to see in the city so it's always necessary to take some transportation at some point.
London Rent bikes: As with many European capitals you can rent a bike and the first half an hour is free (you need to pay an access fee of £2 for one day). It can be a fun way to explore the city and reaching further out. For more information check London Bikes. They are easily recognised by their red colour, and have plenty of docking stations all around the capital, with a phone APP making it easy to locate the routes, free docks and information about the service.
The capital of England and the United Kingdom, is a 21st-century city but with rich history stretching back to Roman times. The city of Londinium, was the original name given back in the year 43AD when the Romans invaded the island and made this settlement, close to London Bridge, the birthplace for the future city. The small city soon begun to grow, the first imposing building was the Tower of London which acted as a fortress against future invasions. During the medieval times it gave London its most darkest history, when in 1665, rats on board trading ships brought bubonic plague into the city of London. Hygiene standards were very low, as it spread very quickly, if you caught it, the chances of surviving were very slim.Over the year that the plague rampaged, 100,000 people died. Then in 1666 a small fire, accidentally started in a bakery on Pudding Lane, was the cause of an enormous fire which lasted four days and wiped out 80% of London, known as the Great Fire of London. Now a days, the history of the event is reincarnated with live actors at paid-attractions to see London how it once was back in 1666! (London Dungeons)
The 18 and 19 century proved key to develop London as a major metropolis and create important improvements in medicine, sanitation, construction, clothing, rail and the Underground. London has always been in the lead of technology, architecture and science, therefore it's to no surprise that some of the greatest museums have unique collections spreading centuries into history.
London was badly attacked sadly during the Second World War when many buildings were destroyed or severely damaged and citizens had to emigrate abroad or even hide to live in the deep London Underground! (see image).
Thankfully, after the reconstruction London came back to life with an ever increasing demand for shopping, business, technology and efficient transport links. The city began to attract an important number of visitors for it's prestige, quality and services offered.
The tourism industry has evolved tremendously from the turn into the 21st Century as London is now one of the most modern cities and people come not only for tourism, but as a city to live and work. London offered what no other city could offer at the time, good wages, good quality of life, an open society and an epicentre for business and leisure.
Today, with the increasing popularity of London it's converted the city into a world renowned centre for shopping, entertainment, good restaurants, top attractions and sights, but with a very deep cultural and historical backdrop, evident in the many buildings dotted around the capital.
Visiting London is not a quick affair, it will take many days in fact if you want to see it all! Expect to find beautiful preserved public buildings, old medieval remains, classical buildings from the Victorian Era, monuments, museums, galleries, churches, national parks and open green spaces making it a very interesting city for all ages. There is always something to do even after sun set, with plenty of entertainment options to keep you going!
One main advantage of visiting London's famous museums is that they offer free entrance! Many might offer extra galleries or expositions, but the main exhibits and permanent exhibitions are open to everybody for free.
A day out in London will consist of a lot of walking, but in doing so, will ensure you see the famous sights of the city. Most visited places of interest are the London Eye, The Houses of Parliament (Big Ben), Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Trafalgar Square, Whitehall (10 Downing st), The Monument, St Paul's Cathedral, London Bridge and The Tower of London as the must see places to visit. The main museums in London are the Science Museum, National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, British Museum, London Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, Tate Gallery, Tate Modern and the Maritime Museum in Greenwich.
Other places of general interest include Oxford Street and Regent Street (for shopping), Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square (entertainment), Covent Garden and Chinatown (entertainment and restaurants), Soho (Gay area) Bank and Canary Wharf (financial city), Camden Town (alternative area and markets) and Greenwich ( Time Zone 0 Meridian and Museums).
If you are looking for attractions London offers a wide range of days out and many venues spread across the city have special offers if you buy two or more attractions in one day. Popular attractions include The London Eye, Thames river cruise, Madame Tussaud wax Museum, London Dungeons, London Bridge Experience, London Sea Life Aquarium and and the Emirates Airline Cable Car.
In the next tabs of this guide you will find more information about each of the attractions types you are interested in seeing:
Important Sights ▼
Museums and Culture ▼
Entertainment options ▼
✔️Tip: London is famous for its theatres. Around Leicester Square you will see a ticket booth which offer good last minute deals on popular shows. After a long day of walking and visiting many sites what best but to watch a famous theatre show! Prices start from £20 per person at discounted rates. You can check deals and offers at londonboxoffice.co.uk
The London Eye: Is a ginormous big wheel located on the South Bank of the River Thames. It's the "must do" attraction whilst visiting in London for the first time, a chaos to access at the beginning due to the long queues, year round (specially at the weekends) but as you begin to circle above the city of London you will feel the joy of the ride which feels much like a flight around London with bird eye views! The wheel has a diameter of 120 m. First opened to the public in 2000. The wheel is a now a symbol of London and it features in all special celebrations, specially during the New Year when the Wheel takes on a great show of fireworks, music and colours! The Eye is coloured at present with red colours due to the current sponsor (Coca-Cola) but many days it takes on different colours in function of a specific celebration. (Pink for Cancer Day, Green for St Patrick's Day, Multi-colour on Gay-Pride etc...).
To access the London Eye is best advised to go early in the morning from 10am to get in for the 11am first rides. Also it's popular to go up during the evening when the sun is setting. Prices start at £23.50 for a single entry or £32 for a combined day and evening entrance. More info at The London Eye. (The closest Underground Station is Waterloo or Westminster Station).
Houses of Parliament (Big Ben): This unique building is a symbol of London and the United Kingdom for many centuries, it is formed essentially of the Houses of Parliament, ( also known by the The Palace of Westminster) and the Big Ben Tower. The parliament buildings are the meeting places of the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The first royal palace was built on the site in the 11th century, and Westminster was the primary residence of the Kings of England until fire destroyed much of the complex in 1512. After that, it served as the home of the Parliament of England and also as the seat of the Royal Courts of Justice, based in and around Westminster Hall.The Palace is one of the centres of political life in the United Kingdom and together with the Elizabeth Tower, in particular, which is often referred to by the name of its main bell, Big Ben, is an iconic landmark of London and the United Kingdom. The Palace of Westminster has been part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987.
It is possible to visit inside the parliament on Saturdays and weekdays after the political meetings with arranged guided tours only. Prices start at £25 per person. More info at: Houses of Parliament. (closest Underground Station is Westminster Station)
Westminster Abbey: This large Gothic style church, is located in Westminster not far from the Houses of Parliament or Buckingham Palace. The current abbey was built between 1245 and 1272, under the direction of King Henry III. Although some parts of an earlier building built in 1050 survived the fires and bombings and can still be seen today. Over 3,000 famous people have been buried in Westminster Abbey over the centuries. The tombs of Charles Dickens, David Livingstone and Charles Darwin can be seen here, as well as several British poets. You will be able to find a garden, a peaceful spot and one of the oldest gardens in England. At one time it was used by the monks to grow medicinal herbs and food. Almost every British monarch has been crowned on the abbey’s famous Coronation Chair. If you access the museum, the lifelike figures of many British kings and queens can be seen. Over a dozen royal weddings have taken place at Westminster Abbey over the centuries. In April 2011, the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton was held there. Entering the Abbey is not free, there is a £20 charge (online) but on Wednesday afternoons from 16.30 it costs only £10 for the main highlights. (closest Underground Station is Westminster Station).
Buckingham Palace: It's one of the few working Royal Palaces remaining in the world today. Buckingham Palace was built in 1702 by the Duke of Buckingham as his London home. The house was then later sold to George III in 1761 by the Duke's son. Queen Victoria, who was the first monarch to take up residence in Buckingham Palace, in 1837, made extensive changes including the East front which contains the well-known balcony on which the royal family traditionally congregates to greet crowds outside. During the summer, (July to September) you can tour the 19 spectacular State Rooms. These magnificent rooms are decorated with some of the greatest treasures from the Royal Collection, including paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens and Van Dyck. Entry tickets per adult cost £23. Other times of the year you can still see the iconic exterior of the palace and watch the famous Changing of the Guard which takes place on selected days at 11.00am sharp. View the official Calendar here. It's recommended you arrive early to the entrance of the palace around 10.30am to get a decent spot for photography. (closest Underground Station is Green Park or Victoria Station).
Whitehall (10 Downing Street): Whitehall street is one of the most important streets in London, it connects Trafalgar Square with the Houses of Parliament. As you walk down, it's full of government offices, with some buildings dating back as far as 1530! The area’s attractions include the Cenotaph war memorial, Downing Street (with the prime minister’s residence at number 10), the Horse Guards Parade, Great Scotland Yard (the former home of the Metropolitan Police, now at New Scotland Yard), and the Banqueting House (1619–22). (closest Underground Station is Charing Cross Station).
Trafalgar Square: It's the most popular and important square in London. Its name commemorates the Battle of Trafalgar, a British naval victory in the Napoleonic Wars with France and Spain that took place on 21 October 1805 off the coast of Cape Trafalgar, Spain. The most notorious icon, is the the 52 m Nelson's Column at its centre and guarded by four lion statues. A number of commemorative statues and sculptures occupy the square, but the Fourth Plinth, left empty since 1840, has been host to contemporary art since 1999. The square is often used for community gatherings and political demonstrations, as well as concerts, national country day celebrations, gay pride, cancer fight, marathons and other sport events. Also, during Christmas, a tree is donated to the square by Norway since 1947 and is erected for twelve days before and after Christmas Day. In the past, the square was well known for its feeding of pigeons with hundred of them flying around as tourists and locals came with food. But due to unhygienic conditions, this is now banned. (closest Underground Station is Charing Cross Station).
The Monument: It stands at the junction of Monument Street and Fish Street Hill in the City of London. It was built between 1671 and 1677 to commemorate the Great Fire of London and to celebrate the rebuilding of the City. As part of the rebuilding, it was decided to erect a permanent memorial of the Great Fire near the place where it began. Sir Christopher Wren, and his friend and colleague, Dr Robert Hooke, provided a design for a colossal column.
They drew up plans for a column containing a cantilevered stone staircase of 311 steps leading to a viewing platform. This was surmounted by a drum and a copper urn from which flames emerged, symbolising the Great Fire.
The Monument, as it came to be called, is 61 metres high the exact distance between it and the site in Pudding Lane where the fire began. At one point it was the highest column in the city of London and despite many other buildings being built around it now, the views from the platform are still worth the climb. The price is £5 per adult. You will also, get a free certificate that you climbed the column at the end of your visit as a souvenir. (closest Underground Station is Monument Station).
London Bridge: When walking around the Thames River embankment area, you will come across the London Bridge, the bridge is often confused with the more majestic, Tower Bridge, located nearby. However the current London Bridge, was finished in 1973, making it not as old as other structures in London. But the importance lays behind it, as it was the location which was first used to build a succession of timber bridges, the first built by the Roman founders of London. During the medieval centuries it was replaced by other re-enforced wood and stone bridges. (With houses up to 7 stories high being constructed on the bridge!) The real London Bridge, a stone-arched bridge, was in place until 1967, having had many alterations to it, it finally was sinking slowly, so it was decided to remove and replaced it.
The curiosity of it, being that the original bridge was bought by an American, and is now on display in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. The stones were then shipped overseas through the Panama Canal to California and trucked from Long Beach to Arizona. Now a days, the modern bridge now carries the busy A3 road, and is pleasant to walk across it to sample the views of London, the financial city and to access some of London' top attractions like the Shard. It is also a great scene to see at night as the bridge is lit up. (closest Underground Station is London Bridge).
St Paul's Cathedral: Built in the 17th century, is an Anglican cathedral located on Ludgate Hill at the highest point of the City of London and is a Grade 1 listed building. It's designed in the English Baroque style by Sir Christopher Wren, taking place in the reconstruction of London after the Great Fire. The cathedral is one of the most famous and most recognisable sights of London. Its dome, framed by the spires of Wren's City churches, has dominated the skyline for over 300 years. The dome is among the highest in the world. It's known for many services which were held at St Paul's, including the funerals of Lord Nelson, the Duke of Wellington, Sir Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher. Jubilee celebrations for Queen Victoria. Peace services marking the end of the First and Second World Wars. The wedding of Charles, Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer.St Paul's Cathedral is a working church with hourly prayer and daily services. The tourist entry fee is £18 for adults, though cheaper online). (closest Underground Station is St Paul Station).
Tower Bridge: Is the furthest bridge located to the east of the city, but the most important bridge, as well as an icon to the London skyline. Tower Bridge is a combined bascule and suspension bridge (It can open in the middle) built between 1886 and 1894. It is the only one of the bridges not to connect the City of London directly to the Southwark bank, as its northern landfall is in Tower Hamlets.The bridge consists of two bridge towers tied together at the upper level by two horizontal walkways, designed to withstand the horizontal tension forces. In 2010, after a restoration project, its colours were subsequently restored to blue and white.The bridge is accessible to both vehicles and pedestrians. To access the bridge's twin towers, high-level walkways and Victorian engine rooms you can visit the Tower Bridge Exhibition, for £9 per person. (the closest Underground Station is Tower Hill).
The Tower of London: An iconic building in London, which can trace its origin back to 1066 when the Norman invasion took place and started building a stronger fortification for the newly established London. The castle was used as a prison from 1100 until 1952. Although that was not its primary purpose. The Tower has served variously as an armoury, a treasury, the Royal Residence, the home of the Royal Mint, a public record office and lately the home of the Crown Jewels of England, which is now a days the reason why it's most visited for. The Tower is a complex of several buildings set within two concentric rings of defensive walls and a moat. Despite its reputation as a place of torture and death, only seven people were executed within the Tower before the World Wars of the 20th century. Executions were more commonly held on the notorious Tower Hill to the north of the castle. After the Royal Mint moved out, in the 1850's there was a restoration process to reinstate the Tower to what was felt of its medieval appearance, clearing out many of the vacant post-medieval structures. In the First and Second World Wars, the Tower was again used as a prison and witnessed the executions of 12 men for espionage. After the Second World War, the castle reopened to the public. Visiting the Tower of London, costs around £22 per adult.( Buy online here for better prices and offers). Visiting during the week is better to avoid long queues and groups. (the closest Underground Station is Tower Hill)
✔️Tip: The Tower of London is also famous for the Yeoman Warders, also known as the Royal Bodyguards, they are a detachment of the ‘Yeomen of the Guard’ and they have formed the Royal Bodyguard since at least 1509. Nicknamed as "Beefeaters" which permitted them to eat as much beef as they wanted from the king's table. You can take a tour with the Yeoman Warder who will entertain you with tales of intrigue, imprisonment, execution, torture and much more as you walk and see the Tower of London.
The Shard: One of the ultimate and most recent attractions in London is this skyscraper, a 95-storey building located next to London Bridge Station. Standing 309.7 metres high, the Shard is the tallest building in the United Kingdom. The Shard was inaugurated on 6 July 2012. The tower's privately operated observation deck, was opened to the public in February 2013, with a viewing gallery and open-air observation deck on the 72nd floor. To access the viewing platform it is best to buy tickets online, for a cost of £25 per adult. You need to select a time and date as it tends to get very busy, specially during the Summer months and the weekends. (the closest Underground Station is London Bridge)
✔️Tip: Good to know! As part of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, including all national museums in the United Kingdom, there are no admission fees to access the museums. If you wish, you can pay a donation as you leave the Museums to help the work and preservation of the exhibits for all future generations to see.
Only private or special exhibitions are subject to an admission fee. All museums listed on this page are FREE unless stated.
The British Museum: Located in central London, not far from Oxford Street, the Museum is the best one in the country and famous worldwide for it's collection dedicated to human history, art and culture. Its permanent collection, boots some 8 million works. It is among the largest and most comprehensive in existence and originates from all continents, illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its beginnings to the present. The British Museum was established in 1753 and over the centuries has grown to the point that a separate building was established and named The British Museum of Natural History located in Kensington. (see below). Also inside the British Museum was the British Library, now a separate building, located in Kings Cross, since 1973. (The closest underground station is Tottenham Court Road Station).
The Natural History Museum: Officially known as British Museum (Natural History) until 1963 when it separated from the British Museum. The Museum exhibits a vast range of specimens from various segments of natural history. It is one of three major museums on Exhibition Road in South Kensington, the others being the Science Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum. (see below). The museum is home to life and earth science specimens, within five main collections: botany, entomology, mineralogy, palaeontology and zoology. The museum is particularly famous for its specimens collected by Charles Darwin and the exhibition of dinosaur skeletons and ornate architecture, like the large Diplodocus cast that dominated the vaulted central hall before it was replaced in 2017 with the skeleton of a blue whale hanging from the ceiling. (The closest underground station is South Kensington Station).
The Science Museum: Located in Kensington area, together with the Natural History Museum is one of the most famous museums in London. It was founded in 1857 and attracts millions of visitors annually. Schools visits, tourist groups, with friends or alone, it's a good recreational day out, where you will always learn something new, thanks to many of the exhibits being practical and hands on. If you visit during December, not to miss, is the ice skating ring built specially for the festive period at the front of the building. (The closest underground station is South Kensington Station).
The Victoria and Albert Museum: Known as the V&A, is the world's largest museum of decorative arts and design, housing a permanent collection of over 4.5 million objects. It was founded in 1852 and named after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The V&A hosts 145 galleries. Its collection spans 5,000 years of art, from ancient times to the present day. You can find examples of ceramics, glass, textiles, costumes, silver, ironwork, jewellery, furniture, medieval objects, sculpture, prints and printmaking, drawings and photographs. (The closest underground station is South Kensington Station).
The National Gallery: Is an art museum located in central London, north of Trafalgar Square. Founded in 1824, it houses a collection of over 2,300 paintings dating from the mid-13th century to 1900. The present building, the third to house the National Gallery, was designed by William Wilkins from 1832 to 1838. Only the façade onto Trafalgar Square remains unchanged from this time, as the building has been expanded throughout its history. The building was criticised by being too small for the amount of art it eventually hosted, the latter problem led to the establishment of the Tate Gallery for British art in 1897. (see below) The most recent addition to the National Gallery is The Sainsbury Wing, an extension to the west. (The closest underground station is Charing Cross Station).
Tate Britain: Formally known as Tate Gallery till 2000, it's an art museum located on Millbank in Westminster area. It is the oldest gallery in the network, having opened in 1897. It houses a substantial collection of the art of the United Kingdom since Tudor times. (The closest underground station is Pimlico Station).
Tate Modern: Is a modern art gallery located in the area of Southwark, on the embankment of the river Thames. The museum holds the national collection of British art from 1900 to the present day and international modern and contemporary art. Tate Modern is one of the largest museums of modern and contemporary art in the world. The museum is free to enter, however it's very popular for it's private or temporary exhibitions by local and foreign artists which tickets need to be purchased before hand. Check what's on here. (The closest underground station is Southwark Station).
The National Portrait Gallery: Is an art gallery housing a collection of portraits of historically important and famous British people. Located on Charring Cross road and behind The National Gallery. It was the first portrait gallery in the world when it opened in 1856. Visiting Thursday's or Friday's is open till 21.00h. (The closest underground station is Charring Cross or Leicester Square Station).
The Museum of London: Not as old as other museums in the city but still of importance, for it's relation to London. First known as the London Museum, established to illustrate the history of London, inaugurated on 21 March 1912 by King George V. Two years later the collections were moved to Lancaster House. During World War II much of the collection was evacuated for storage at nearby Dover Street tube station, and later at Piccadilly Circus tube station. After the war, attempts to reclaim Lancaster House for the museum's use failed. Eventually in 1948 George VI agreed that the museum might be accommodated once more and it reopened in July 1951. In 1975 the London Museum was amalgamated with the City of London's Guildhall Museum to form the Museum of London, which opened in 1976 at the present building. (Due to be moved by 2021 to a new location). (The closest underground station is St. Paul's Station).
Imperial War Museum (IWM): Founded in 1917, the museum was intended to record the civil and military war effort and sacrifice of Britain and its Empire during the First World War. The museum has since expanded to include all conflicts in which British or Commonwealth forces have been involved since 1914. The museum is housed what was previously the Bethlem Royal Hospital in Southwark. The outbreak of the Second World War saw the museum expand both its collections and data reference. The museum's collections include archives of personal and official documents, photographs, film and video material, and oral history recordings, as well as examples of military vehicles and aircraft, equipment, and other artefacts. (The closest underground station is Lambeth North or Elephant and Castle Station).
The Royal Albert Hall: Is a concert hall which holds the Summer Proms (Promenade Classic Music Concerts) which the building is most known for, as each Summer since 1941, it has hosted these concerts. It has a capacity of up to 5,272 seats. It was opened by Queen Victoria in 1871. However not only it hosts classical music, each year there are more than 390 shows in the main auditorium, including, rock and pop concerts, ballet, opera, film screenings with live orchestra, sports, award ceremonies, and other events. (both public or private). (The closest underground station is Knightsbridge Station).
Opposite the Royal Albert Hall you will find the Albert Memorial, located in Kensington Gardens, It was commissioned by Queen Victoria in memory of her beloved husband, Prince Albert who died of typhoid in 1861. The memorial is 54 m tall, and took over ten years to complete.
Greenwich and the Maritime Museum: Greenwich is a borough in London, located to the east of city, 9 Km from central London, easily accessed by train or the DLR network. Greenwich is renowned for its maritime history and for giving its name to the Greenwich Meridian (0° longitude) The town became the site of a royal palace, the Palace of Placentia from the 15th century, although it fell into disrepair during the English Civil War and was rebuilt as the Royal Naval Hospital for Sailors . There are many notorious and majestic buildings around Greenwich, some of them remain open to the public, whilst other are used by University of Greenwich and Music Schools.
The town of Greenwich is also very popular to visit, many grand houses were built there, such as Vanbrugh Castle (1717) established on Maze Hill, next to the park. The maritime connections of Greenwich were celebrated in the 20th century, with the siting of the Cutty Sark and Gipsy Moth IV ships next to the riverfront, and the National Maritime Museum in the former buildings of the Royal Hospital School in 1934. When you visit today, don't forget to see Greenwich Market, an antique and souvenir market located just behind the main A206 road. The area is pretty to visit during sunny days, as can walk around the many parks and open spaces. Visit the Royal Observatory, (charges apply) Naval Colleges and other important buildings, some of which were used as movie backgrounds! Don't miss the 0° Meridian at the top of the hill which projects a green laser light showing the longitude line and the magnificent views from this point of the city of London and Canary Wharf!
✔️Tip: Good to know! London's attractions are very popular as well as there is a great variety of things to do and see! Although a few you can see from the outside and photograph, the real experience relies from within. The cost of each attraction can cost from £10 up to £30 for single entry tickets.
Therefore, it's recommended that if you are going to visit many of the attractions listed below, you buy the London Pass or the combined ticket for the TOP London attractions
(London Eye, Madame Tussauds, The London Dungeons and the London Aquarium). (See image below).
For more information and to see all the attractions which are included within the Pass visit London Pass.
Oxford Street and Regent Street (shopping): London is perhaps also known for it's great shopping opportunities, big competition and good prices year round. Many visitors come to London, not for culture or business, but to only shop! Oxford Street is the most famous for this activity, it runs from Marble Arch to Tottenham Court Road via Oxford Circus. There are over 300 shops in the street alone. There are big super stores like Selfridges and John Lewis, passing down to more local and smaller shops selling everything you can imagine! It's also the ideal place where to buy souvenirs, luggage, perfume, cosmetics and clothes from all the well known high street brands. As you get to Oxford Circus, you can take a turn to Regent Street for more shopping, however, the shops here are better quality and you will find top brands and exclusive boutiques selling the latest fashion, tailored service and heavy price tags! It's also the ideal area if you want to shop for good quality suits, English local shops for food delicacies and quaint and comfortable cafes where to sit and enjoy a superb coffee or typical English Tea! (closest Underground Station is Oxford Circus).
✔️Tip: As you walk in Regent Street, don't forget to visit also Carnaby Street, a pedestrianised shopping street home to fashion and lifestyle retailers, including a large number of independent fashion boutiques.
Piccadilly Circus (entertainment): This area forms part of what is known as the West End, around it's streets you will find all kind of entertainment options, as well as more shops, restaurants and cafes. Piccadilly Circus junction was built in 1819 to connect Regent Street with Piccadilly. Piccadilly now links directly to the theatres on Shaftesbury Avenue, as well as the Haymarket, Coventry Street (onwards to Leicester Square) and Glasshouse Street. The area is well known, particularly for its video display and neon signs mounted on the corner building, as well as the Shaftesbury memorial fountain and statue. (closest Underground Station is Piccadilly Circus).
Leicester Square: (theatres and cinemas): Is the centre of the West End, (also known as Theatre land) home to many of the big theatres and cinemas around the square of the same name. It was laid out in 1670 and is named after the contemporary Leicester House. Initially the area was residential, but later on, during the 19th Century, several major theatres were established which were converted to cinemas towards the middle of the next century. The square itself also remains a popular tourist attraction, including hosting events for the Chinese New Year, Christmas and others. South of the square you will find a box office to book all the major theatre plays, at cheaper prices for last minute shows on the day. (however it's still recommended to book online for better deals in advance).
Around the square, you can also expect to find excellent restaurants, from fast-food chains, medium range restaurants to Michelin Award winning restaurants and typical English pubs. (closest Underground Station is Leicester Square).
Covent Garden and Chinatown (entertainment and restaurants): In London you will never be short of finding a good option to eat or snack. There are numerous options available, but if you want something more authentic and away from the traditional chains, head to Covent Garden, is a popular shopping and tourist site, and where you can find the Royal Opera House, which is also known as "Covent Garden". The are hosts a day market for antiques and souvenirs everyday, as well as you can find nearby the London Transport Museum and the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.From it's past, Convent Garden was by 1654 a small open-air fruit-and-vegetable market which had developed on the south side of the square. Gradually, both the market and the surrounding area grew with taverns, theatres, coffee-houses and brothels opening up. By the 18th century it had become a well-known red-light district. An Act of Parliament was drawn up to control the area, and Charles Fowler's neo-classical building was erected in 1830 to cover and help organise the market. The market grew and further buildings were added: the Floral Hall, Charter Market, and in 1904 the Jubilee Market. The central building re-opened as a shopping centre in 1980 and is now a tourist location containing cafes, pubs, small shops, and a craft market called the Apple Market, along with another market held in the Jubilee Hall.The area is also well known with street artists, performing for all ages and giving plenty of entertainment during your evening meal or snacks! (closest Underground Station is Covent Garden).
Chinatown, is part of the West End, occupying the area in and around Gerrard Street. It contains a number of Chinese restaurants, bakeries, supermarkets, souvenir shops, and other Chinese-run businesses which gives you the impression of walking in China! If you are looking for an economic yet nutritious meal, look no further as there are good restaurants around Chinatown, however you will not find only Chinese, you can dine at Thai, Japanese, Korean, Indian or Vietnamese eateries and sample authentic dishes! (closest Underground Station is Leicester Square).
Soho (🌈LGBT district): London is a very open city and it's culture and society are very tolerant. You can expect to see all kind of couples around the streets of central London and not only in Soho. Luckily the city has been at front with LGBT rights for many decades now and the area which was once associated as a red-light district only for adult men and with dirty streets, is now a very clean, colourful and bright neighbourhood where all people are welcome and it has converted into a fashionable district of upmarket restaurants and media offices, as well as a social area to meet friends in a relaxed atmosphere with only a small remnant of sex industry venues. Soho is now a small, multicultural area of central London. It is best known now for its nightlife and clubs, for gay, straight or Lesbian. However the majority of the venues don't care about sexuality orientation. Weekends are bursting with young crowds wanting to go out and party, however, you can also find cafes open late, shops and convenience stores for a very active neighbourhood.
(closest Underground Station is Leicester Square or Piccadilly Circus).
Camden Town (alternative area and markets): Camden is a borough of north west London. It was laid out as a residential district from 1791 and became an important location during the early development of the railways, which reinforced its position on the London canal network. The area's industrial economic base has been replaced by service industries such as retail, tourism and entertainment. The area now hosts street markets and music venues which are strongly associated with alternative culture. Camden is one of the top places in London for vintage gear. In Stables Market you'll find stores and stalls selling new and second hand clothes, shoes, accessories, homewares, posters, furniture and music on vinyl. There's also lots of new, retro-style stuff, plus vintage-style hairdressers and beauticians. You can also find shops where to get tattoos or piercing by licensed businesses. Around the area you will find plenty of pubs and restaurants, as well as street food from all nationalities. Nightlife in Camden is also very active, specially during weekends, you will find plenty of bars, clubs and alternative places where to dance to new beats. Whether you are punk, heavy-metal, bohemian, modern or any other mix, Camden does not discriminate! (closest Underground Station is Camden Town).
Bank (City of London Financial District): This is the backbone of the city of London when it comes to it's finances.The area is full of office blocks, towers and more skyscrapers, making each time a new tower is finished in London a new skyline view of the city. There are limited activities,apart from some shopping, restaurants, pubs and some of the towers allowing you to go up to the top to sample the views. However in the Bank area, (City of London) you will be able to see the Bank of England Building, the Guildhall (the old town hall of London), Leadenhall Market, 20 Fenchurch (walkie-talkie shaped building), Lloyds Tower, the Heron Tower, Mansion House and The Gherkin Building Tower (egged shaped). (closest Underground Station is Bank).
Canary Wharf (Financial District and Shopping): Is the newest major business district in east London and contains many of Europe's tallest buildings, including the One Canada Square. Canary Wharf contains around 16,000,000 square feet (1,500,000 m2) of office and retail space, and is home to some of the world's headquarters of numerous major banks, professional services firms, and media organisations, including Barclays, Citigroup, Clifford Chance, Credit Suisse, EY, Fitch Ratings, HSBC, Infosys, J.P. Morgan, KPMG, MetLife, Moody's, Morgan Stanley, RBC, and others. The area is also popular to visit with an underground shopping centre and nearby top quality pubs, restaurants. and also a cinema complex. The area has major transport connections and soon to be opened is the new Crossrail which will link to the main areas in London.(closest Underground Station is Canary Wharf).
✔️Tip: Thousand of employees work in these areas from 8am to around 4pm when the busiest rush hour begins. If you find yourself in the transport network during the end of the office hour times be prepared to wait long times for empty spaces or travel squashed on the tube and trains. It is also interesting to see the rush hour on the street and watch how hundreds of workers rush to get home or maybe check out the crowded pubs and see how the English people drink outside with their pint of beer to end their busy day!n a text box on your website. Alternatively, when you select a text box a settings menu will appear. your website by double clicking on a text box on your website. Alternatively, when you select a text box
More London Attractions:
Thames river cruise: The size of London will impress many visitors on how large it is to visit from one side to the other. Many landmarks and sights are actually on the banks of the river Thames, so why don't see everything from the comfort of the many boat operators which offer daily services across the river either by organised tour or independently with Thames Clippers, commuter services.
When you join the tours, they have the added information and service plus you will get live commentary as you cruise along. Prices start at around £10 per adult on promotional low season tickets or £16-18 for high season. Visit Citycruises.com for more information.
If you prefer to be your own guide and travel with the locals then you can join the Thames Clippers commuter services which offer frequent, fast and affordable prices to travel on the Thames River. It has the added benefit that you can use your Oyster Card (Electronic transport card for London) to pay for the trips. This service is great if you want to travel from central London to Greenwich or the O2 Arena, with fares at £6.50 one way. For more information visit Thames Clipper and it's route network.
Madame Tussauds Wax Museum: London's wax museum was founded by wax sculptor Marie Tussaud. By 1835, Marie had settled down in Baker Street, and opened the museum. One of the main attractions of her museum was the Chamber of Horrors. It was the first wax museum to be opened anywhere in the world. Eventually many more artists and smaller museums opened in other cities and around the world. Madame Tussauds is a major tourist attraction in London, displaying the waxworks of famous and historic people and also celebrity characters now a days. Prices to access the Museum vary, the single entry ticket is £30, however you can combine with other attractions when buying combo tickets. For more information visit madametussauds (closest Underground Station is Baker Street).
The London Dungeons: Originally located at London Bridge, then in 2013 the venue moved to the South Bank, next to the London Eye. It first Opened in 1976, the attraction was initially designed as a museum of macabre history, but the Dungeon evolved to become an actor-led, interactive experience. It recreates and shows the London of 1666, with various gory and macabre historical events but in an amusing and funny style, suitable for children. It uses a mixture of live actors, special effects and rides. It's a an excellent experience as you can learn how London once was back in the 17th Century and how did major events started like the great fire of London. The visit can last up to 90 minutes and be prepared for lengthily queues if you come high season or during the weekends. Note that you can't take pictures or videos once you are inside. Prices start at £21 per adult, however you can combine with other attractions when buying combo tickets. For more information visit The London Dungeons. (closest Underground Station is Waterloo).
London Bridge Experience: Is another tourist attraction, similar to the London Dungeons, where guests are led by actors on a tour through moments in London's history, including Boudicca's battles with the Romans, and The Great Fire of London and a medieval encounter with Vikings. It also explains the history of all the bridges that have been on the site (London Bridge): the first military style pontoon bridge built by the Romans, the first stone bridge built by Peter de Colechurch, the John Rennie Victorian bridge (which has now been relocated to Lake Havasu in Arizona), and ending with the current modern bridge opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1971. Included in the ticket price is the The London Tombs, this is a scare attraction built in the remains of a former plague pit. This part of the attraction is optional and only suitable for children over 11 years old. However younger visitors can request a child-friendly "Guardian Angel tour". Tickets cost around £20 per adult. For more information visit The London Bridge Experience. (closest Underground Station is London Bridge).
London Aquarium (Sea Life): Located next to the London Eye, the Aquarium opened in March 1997 as the London Aquarium. After an extensive refurbishment, it now includes a new underwater tunnel, Shark Walk, a revamped Pacific Ocean tank, and a complete rerouting of the exhibit. In May 2011, the aquarium opened a new penguin exhibit, with 10 penguins transferred from the Edinburgh Zoo. Entry tickets cost £22 per adult, however you can combine with other attractions when buying combo tickets. For more information visit Visitsealife.com. (closest Underground Station is Waterloo).
The Emirates Airline Cable Car: It links across the River Thames from the Royal Victoria Dock (DLR Station), to the O2 Arena.The service opened on 28 June 2012, sponsored by Emirates Airlines but operated by Transport for London, which means you can use the Oyster card to pay for tickets. The ride lasts around 5 to 10 minutes and tickets cost £3.50 one way. The views are impressive on a clear day, seeing the Olympic Stadium used in the 2012 Olympics, east London, Canary Wharf and the O2 Arena. (closest DLR Station is Royal Victoria Dock and closest Underground Station is North Greenwich).
London's pace and life style is very fast so people in the city do tend to walk quick and rush to and from work. The city for its size doesn't have as many parks as others European cities, however, you can still find good locations where to relax and submerge within nature and forget about the rush hour and the city life. London offer's some very good and big parks around the city, as well as more open green spaces the furthest you go out of the centre. There are also plenty of green-squares around the city, which although small, they offer a nice respite to sit, eat some snacks, read or just admire the scenes. Below you can find a brief description of the best parks and open spaces in London:
- Hyde Park: is one of London's biggest parks, covering 142 hectares and with over 4,000 trees, a large lake, a meadow and ornamental flower gardens. It will feel you have left the city in fact as you will not hear a single car or bus as you walk into the park. Hyde Park is also ideal for sports, you can enjoy swimming, boating, cycling and skating. Ice skating and a big Christmas Market and fair is there every December, called "Winter Wonderland". For children and adults, it's also very interesting to feed the squirrels around the park, they are very friendly little animals and they can even feed from your hand! Additionally, you will find the Diana Memorial Fountain and other monuments around the park together with open air events throughout the year. (closest Underground station in Hyde Park Corner).
- Regent's Park and Primrose Hill: this Park is 166 hectares in area, designed in 1811 by renowned architect John Nash and includes stunning rose gardens. The Park is the largest outdoor sports area in London catering for football, rugby, and it also has a cricket pitch. The Park hosts the London Zoo, (admission applies) an Open Air Theatre and a boating lake. It's a great place to practise sports as well as strolling around the park with plenty of benches, cafes and public toilets around. Tip: Go north towards Primrose Hill, where you will see one of London’s best, free panoramic views across the city! (closest Underground station in Regent's Park).
- St James Park: Although it's a smaller park in London, it's association with royal, political and literary reasons are worth the visit. The park covers 23 hectares and is home to the Mall, with many ceremonial parades and events of national celebration.You will find plenty of natural fauna and flora here. Pelicans are fed every day at 14:30, and there are water birds, woodpeckers, bats, and friendly squirrels to feed. .It's also a great place to view to change of the Horse Guards which occurs daily in summer and alternate days for rest of year, at the near by Horse Guards Parade. (closest Underground station in Charring Cross).
- Richmond Park: is the largest Royal Park in London with 1,000 hectares, and home to 650 deer which is the key attraction to visit. The park looks more like pastoral landscape of hills and woodlands set amongst ancient trees, with plants, animals and butterflies, which offers a peaceful respite to visitors. Again it's a good place to come to walk, practice sports and get away from the busy city life. There are public toilets and cafes located around the park near the main gates. (closest Underground station in Richmond)
There are a number of cities and places of interest which lie very close to London and are very recommended to visit to spend a day out, or as part of a tour even.
These cities include famous names such as Oxford, Cambridge and Bath, but there are also many more towns which are located within good reach of the capital thanks to the good transportation links. (Brighton, Southampton, Bournemouth, Windsor or Stonehenge).
To find out more about these places of interest please visit our page of Other cities in the UK.
The nightlife in London is some of the best in the world, offering pulsating dance floors at famous clubs and more chilled out and intimate music lounges and bars. Hardcore party animals will love the clubbing scene, complete with well-known local and international DJs, while the countless bars and cosy independent theatres feature an impressive mix local and international live music acts. London is arguably the best possible travel destination for lovers of live music, and on any given night there will be an international or local band playing in more than one of the many venues.
🌈The West End in particular is home to many bars, clubs and restaurants, and Soho is one of the trendiest and coolest places to drink. This is also where most of London's gay bars and clubs can be found.
The perpetually cool Notting Hill and Portobello Road areas also areas where large crowds gather looking for a more relaxed atmosphere. Those in the mood for a quiet drink and some conversation should head down to one of the many traditional English pubs scattered around this cosmopolitan city, where they can enjoy some of the finest ales, stouts, ciders, and malt whiskies on offer in the world. It's also often possible to combine pubbing and clubbing as many of London's bars these days have clubs and dance floors inside them, transforming them into miniature nightclubs and ushering in a new era for those 'heading down to the pub'.
The West End is also known as 'Theatreland' and those in the mood for Broadway-style theatre shows should head down to the Lyceum Theatre or the Queen's Theatre to catch a show or musical. And while in the area, culture lovers can enjoy an evening at Covent Garden watching the Royal Opera or the Royal Ballet, while lovers of classical music can sample the delights of Albert Hall. There is also plenty of local theatre outside of the West End with young professionals and amateurs performing anything from classic plays to cabaret and also many comedy shows are in and around London.
✔️Tip: The best thing to get an idea of what is going on, head to Leicester Square, where many of the city's information centres are based and can tell you about what is on, sell discounted tickets for last-minute shows and give advice on queries and tourism related questions!
London is a global shopping destination, and in fact, many visitors, only come to London to shop! The city provides a myriad of shopping experiences, with no shortage of popular chain stores, designer boutiques, artisan shops, eclectic markets and interesting finds. Visit the renowned Oxford and Regent streets for big brands like Gap, Zara, Topshop, H&M and United Colours of Benetton. Bond Street and Mayfair are suited to a more high-end shopping trip, where designer goods and luxury boutiques abound.
London is also renowned for its markets. Camden Town in North London has become one of the most visited attractions in London and is a haven for alternative sub-cultures, with stalls and shops selling outrageous retro outfits, colourful accessories and eccentric party attire. For an enjoyable weekend outing, Portobello Market is a gem (look out for the Farmers Market in the vicinity). The Notting Hill market, made famous by the romantic Hollywood film, offers many attractive coffee shops, independent retailers and cheap stalls selling clothing, jewellery and music.
Foodies won't be disappointed with London's weekend markets, Borough Market adjacent to London Bridge is dedicated to gastronomy, visitors can sample homemade pâté, buy fresh cherries, olive oil, sweet cakes and the like. Southbank Centre Market offering fantastic street food and multiple ethically-minded eats, and Maltby Street Market, with a broad selection of delectable international food and drink, are open on weekends.
❗Attention: The markets in London, most often feature local and authentic products, produced and made in the UK. This means that markets, are not cheap places where to buy food and other goods (like it happens in many other countries like Spain, Italy, etc). Markets in London, are orientated to visitors and tourists, as well as locals, with prices quite inflated. If you want to buy local food and general groceries, this can be bought at the major English supermarket chains such as Tesco, Marks and Spencer, Waitrose and Sainsbury's. Alternatively you can also buy cheaper food and groceries at convenience stores across London, especially in ethnic communities.
For a budget traveller visiting London can be a bit of a challenge. The city is hugely in demand and there is a infinite amount of accommodation types and prices. Hostels would be the obvious choice but at shared rooms.Hotels are very expensive in the city centre and cost between £45 and £120 for normal average hotels. The trick is to stay further away from the city and prices will drop to about £30 per night but make sure you are located close to a tube station.
Alternative accommodation thanks to Airbnb would be a good solution and stay with local residents.
For many students coming to london for exchange programs there are plenty of University Rooms which offer good prices. Must need documentation and agreements before you travel as this can not be booked on a turn up basis.
London is a huge city and it takes time to visit, enjoy and explore everything that has been mentioned on this guide. A good and adequate time to spend in London is 5 nights for your visit to be worth it and see most of the sites. But even up to a couple of weeks would be enough to keep you going every day and see all the city has to offer and take a few trips out of London to the nearby cultural and historical cities.
London Photo Slide 📷