London is the capital city of the UK, and it has been an influential city throughout the years. It is one of the world's most famous and important cities, and one of the largest financial centres.
London has four World Heritage Sites: the Tower of London, Greenwich, the Royal Botanic Gardens, in Kew and the site comprising the Palace of Westminster, Westminster Abbey and St. Margaret's Church.
There is so much to do in London! One is spoilt for choice, and most visitors to London find that one short visit is not enough, and most return to enjoy the vibrant life this city has to offer.
Before you get there
English is the official language, although due to the multicultural aspect of London, many other languages are spoken/understood.
Entry requirements for Americans: US travellers must hold a valid passport; a visa is not required. UK Immigration officials will decide on length of stay up to six months depending on reason for travel.
Entry requirements for Canadians: Canadian nationals must hold a valid passport; a visa is not required. UK Immigration officials will decide on length of stay up to six months depending on reason for travel.
Entry requirements for Australians: Australian nationals must hold a valid passport; a visa is not required. UK Immigration officials will decide on length of stay up to six months depending on reason for travel.
Entry requirements for South Africans: South Africans require a valid passport and a visa for entry or transit through the UK. The visiting visa will cost £65 while a transit visa will cost £45. South Africans may no longer travel to the UK on a temporary passport.
Entry requirements for New Zealand nationals: New Zealand nationals must hold a valid passport, but no visa is required. UK Immigration officials will decide on length of stay up to six months depending on reason for travel.
Passport/Visa Note: If a visa is not required, travellers should hold a return or onward ticket, or proof of funds for the duration of stay. Passports must be valid for the period of intended stay in the UK; nationals of the EU require a passport valid on arrival.
New Year's Day, Good Friday (Mar/Apr), Easter Monday (Mar/Apr), Early May Bank Holiday, Spring Bank Holiday (May), Summer Bank Holiday (August), Christmas Day (25 Dec), Boxing Day (26 Dec).
The weather in London is very changeable and unpredictable. Winters are cold and wet with occasional snow, and summers are generally warm with frequent showers. Rainfall is fairly regular, but most often in the form of drizzle, occurring throughout the year. July and August are the warmest months, while January and February are the coldest, however temperatures do not usually drop lower than 32°F (0°C). The most pleasant times to travel in England are spring (May and June) and autumn (September and October).
230 volts, 50Hz. Flat three-pin plugs are standard.
The international country dialling code for UK is +44. The outgoing code is 00, or 048 for Northern Ireland, followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 001 for the United States).
The currency is the pound (GBP). ATMs are available and Visa, MasterCard and American Express are widely accepted.
GMT (GMT +1 between the last Sunday in March and the last Sunday in October).
Getting Around – Transport
London Heathrow Airport (LHR) - The airport is situated 15 miles (24km) west of London.
London Gatwick Airport (LGW) - The airport is situated 28 miles (45km) south of London.
London Luton Airport (LTN) - The airport is situated 32 miles (52km) northwest of London.
London City Airport (LCY) - The airport is situated at the Royal Docks, 10 miles (16km) from the West End.
London Stansted Airport (STN) - The airport is situated 34 miles (55km) northeast of London.
Tube - The quickest and easiest way to get around London is the Tube Network. However, this can get very busy during rush hour. Zones 1 and 2 cover Central London, and the Zones stretch to Zone 6. In order to avoid crowds and to travel for cheaper, it is advisable to travel on the tube outside of rush hour.
Taxi - One can catch London’s black cabs at major stations or hail one from the street. An orange light shows that the cab is available.
Bus - London’s traditional red double-deckers and the most recent 'bendy' buses are cheaper and often less crowded than the tube. However, they are not the quickest way of travelling, but on the other hand, the top decks offer great views. Some bus services run for 24 hours. There are two Heritage routes serviced by the iconic 1960s-style Routemaster buses – the 15 runs from Trafalgar Square to Tower Hill, the 9 from the Royal Albert Hall to Aldwich.
Foot - London has a very good transport network, with plenty of options to choose from. However, it can also be very enjoyable to walk around the streets of London, and make the most of city life, taking in all the architecture and buildings, which can otherwise go unnoticeable if travelling with the tube.
Boat - Weather permitting, one can enjoy London from a different perspective. London's River Services offer a pleasant and relaxed way of seeing London from the river Thames. List of piers: Hampton Court Pier, Richmond Landing Stage, Kew Pier, Millbank Millenium Pier, Westminster Millenium Pier, Waterloo Millenium Pier, Embankment Pier, Festival Pier, Blackfriars Millenium Pier, Bankside Pier, London Bridge City Pier, Tower Millenium Pier, St. Katharine's Pier, Canary Wharf Pier, Greenwich Pier.
Car - Driving is not a good option in central London, as parking is difficult to find and very expensive. A 'congestion charge' is also payable by those driving into central London from Monday to Friday between 7am and 6.30pm.
Transport Tips - Travelcards (One-, three-, and seven-day Travelcards) give unlimited travel in Central London and you can save on single fares. Alternatively, it is recommended to invest in an Oyster Card, which is available from any tube station and valid on the bus and tube network. This is a reusable, discounted, pay-as-you-go option. For more information about transport in London visit www.tfl.gov.uk.
Houses of Parliament
St Paul's Cathedral
Natural History Museum
Tower of London
St James Park
Hampton Court Palace
If you are a shopaholic, or just enjoy window shopping, then London is your ultimate shopping destination! London has fashion stores in every corner.
The most renowned areas for shopping are the following:
Oxford Street (W1) - Nearest tube: Oxford Circus
Regent Street and Jermyn Street (W1 and SW1) - Nearest Tube: Piccadilly Circus
New Bond Street (W1) - Nearest Tube: Bond Street
Carnaby Street (W1) - Nearest Tube: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus
Covent Garden (WC2) - Nearest Tube: Covent Garden or Leicester Square
King's Road (SW3) - Nearest Tube: Sloane Square
Knightsbridge (SW7) - Nearest Tube: Knightsbridge
Notting Hill (W11) - Nearest Tube: Notting Hill Gate, Ladbroke Grove or Westbourne Park
Canary Wharf (E14) - Nearest Tube: Canary Wharf
Westfield Shopping Centre - Nearest tube: White City
A visit to Harrods, the world's most famous luxury department store, situated in Knightsbridge, is also a must. The store occupies a 4.5-acre (18,000 m2) site and has over one million square feet (90,000 m2) of selling space in over 330 departments. This makes Harrods one of the largest department stores in the world.
London is also renowned for its markets and there are around 90 major street markets in London to choose from. You can buy anything in London's markets, from cheap eats and fresh produce to art and antiques, to retro and designer fashions. Camden Market and Portobello Market have become top sights visited by tourists.
The following is a list of the most popular Markets in London:
Brick Lane Market
Ridley Road Market
Art and Antiques Markets:
Portobello Road Market
Alfie's Antiques Market
Grays Antiques Market
London Silver Vaults
Blackheath Farmers' Market
Ealing Farmers' Market
Notting Hill Farmers' Market
Marylebone Farmers' Market
Pimlico Farmers' Market
Twickenham Farmers' Market
Wimbledon Farmers' Market
Berwick Street Market
Billingsgate Fish Market
Crafts, Gifts, and Flower Markets:
Columbia Road Flower Market
Covent Garden Market
Merton Abbey Mills
You can rest assured that in London you can shop til you drop!
Food and Drink
When in London, sampling the traditional fish and chips is a must! And weather permitting, take a take away order and head to the nearest park and enjoy this traditional snack whilst relaxing at the park.
A visit to a pub is also highly recommended pub to sample heart-warming traditional English dishes. Grab a pub meal and a pint of beer at a local pub, and experience life as the English do. Most pubs serve lunches and dinners and some pubs serve excellent meals that can rival a good restaurant's. 'Pub grub' is food that is typically found in a pub. A British pub menu tends to include items such as steak and ale pie, steak and kidney pie, shepherd's pie, fish and chips, bangers and mash, hot pot, Sunday roast, ploughman's lunch, and pasties. Some dishes that are quite specific to pubs include chicken or scampi in a basket, and meals served in plate-sized Yorkshire puddings. In addition, international dishes such as burgers, curry, lasagne and chilli con carne are often served.
There are also a lot of Indian and Chinese restaurants in London. Head to Chinatown in Soho one evening to experience chinese food and culture. London is also synonymous with celebrity chefs, like Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay.
Nightlife in cosmopolitan London offers something for everyone.
London's west End is famous for nightlife, and is home to many bars, clubs and restaurants. Most of these are found in Soho.
On the other hand, those looking for a quite drink and some conversation should 'head down' to one of the many traditional pubs scattered around London.
One can also enjoy an evening at Covent Garden, watching the Royal Opera or the Royal Ballet, and also enjoy performances by the many street performers who attract small crowds throughout the day and in the evenings.
London offers some of the world's best theatre and musicals and whilst in London, a visit to the theatre is a must. London is famous for musicals and theatrical productions, and many tourists and locals alike flock to the theatres in the evenings to watch one of the many famous musicals in the heart of the West End in central London. Tickets can be bought online, from a tkts booth and theatre box offices or from an agent.
United States Embassy, London: +44 (0)20 7499 9000.
Canadian High Commission, London: +44 (0)20 7258 6600.
Australian High Commission, London: +44 (0)20 7379 4334.
South African High Commission, London: +44 (0)20 7451 7299.
Irish Embassy, London: +44 (0)20 7235 2171.
New Zealand High Commission, London: +44 (0)20 7930 8422.
London Emergency Numbers