London - General introduction with things to see and do
London is the capital city of the United Kingdom and is one of the largest cities in the European Union. It has extended in size over the years and includes 32 boroughs along with The City of London which is the core medieval centre often referred to as íThe Cityí or the íSquare Mileí.
London is a vibrant city offering something of interest to everyone - from historical places to theatrical shows, from modern architecture to royal residencies, from quick eats to fine dining, from boutique stores to hippy markets, from cosy pubs to lively nightlife.
It is a real cosmopolitan city and according to Wikipedia over 300 languages are spoken here. But donít be fooled the main language is English in all shops and restaurants. Good to know:
EmergencyTelephone number: 999
Currency: Pound (£)
Value Added Tax: 20% (as of 4th Jan 2011), applied to everything but food, books, medicine, and childrenís clothing. Usually included on price tag.
Admission to National Museums: Free!!
Entry Requirements: All visitors to the UK will need a valid passport and some visitors will need a tourist visa. Changes to the immigration rules are made constantly so if you are unsure of your status please check the UK Boarder website
Transport: The London Underground and Bus system is easy to use and gets you to all major sites of interest. Transport fees have gone up over the years and it would be worth investing in an Oyster Card to halve your travelling costs on the Underground and London Buses. You can pick up an Oyster card at any Underground Station from the ticket office. At London Heathrow there is a small box on the wall that dispenses cards for a few Pounds. For information about Oyster visit the TFL website
Good London Websites:London Town Time Out View London Airports
There are five major airports that serve the London area: London Heathrow is the busiest airport and caters for long and short haul flights, London Gatwick , London Stansted and London Luton cater mainly for low-cost short haul flights with London City being the smallest and most central airport that caters for business travellers.
Travelling to and from London airports into the city can be quite expensive so take that in consideration when booking a cheap flight into the airports further out. Also factor in the time of your flights as a real bargain flight from Stansted airport could see you travelling on a night bus at 3am to check in on time.Getting to and from London Airports
The is a wide range of transport options from all the airports so I hope that this list will give you some indication of what is available. The best thing is to know where you need to get to and plan your journey beforehand ( your hostel or hotel should be able to give this information) or you can visit the local information desk when you arrive at the airport.London Heathrow
Fastest: Catch the Heathrow Express to London Paddington. Journey time is around 15minutes from Terminals 1,2 3 and 21min from Terminal 5.
Cost Effective: Hop on the Piccadilly Line of the London Underground. Journey time is around 50 - 60 minutes.
Shared Travel: Dot2Dot
is a London Airport Shuffle bus that operates between Heathrow, Gatwick, Central London and Canary Wharf and will pick up from any hotel, office or private address in their service areas. They have a desk in the Arrival Hall at Terminals 1, 3, 4, and 5 and guarantee that within 30mins you will be leaving the airport. If you are arriving at Terminal 2 however, a representative will meet you. If you want to use this service I would book in advance online. London Gatwick
Fastest: Catch the Gatwick Express to London Victoria station. Journey time is around 30 minutes.
Most cost-effective: Take the Easy Bus
to Fulham Broadway. The Easy bus departs outside the North Terminal Arrivals and leaves every 20 minutes. You can book cheap tickets online starting from £2 or you can book at the airport at the ticket desk for around £7. Journey time to Fulham Broadway is just under 1.5 hours.London Stansted
Train: You can catch the Stansted Express to London Liverpool Station every 15 minutes from directly below the terminal building. Approximate journey time is 45 mins. For the London Underground you can change at Tottenham Hale for the Victoria Line or London Liverpool Street for Circle, Metropolitan and Hammersmith & City lines.
Coaches: There are a number of coaches that run from Stansted Airport and take between 55 minutes to 90 minutes to get into Central London. The bus you take will depend on your destination - Click here
. for a list of coaches.
Please note most buses with the letter ĎAí in front of the number have to be booked in advance.London Luton
Rail: A shuttle bus operates between the airport terminal and the Luton Airport Parkway rail station. There is a little trick to your ticket that you need to do in order to avoid having to get out extra coins to pay for the shuttle bus.
Arriving: Buy your train ticket at the ticket desk at the airport before boarding the bus.
Departing: Make sure your train ticket says London Luton Airport and not the rail station to cover your shuttle bus fare.
All train operators run to Luton Airport Parkway with the exception of Virgin Trains who run an express service from Milton Keynes straight to the terminal building.
Coaches: There are a number of buses that operate from London Luton into Central London. For a full list visit: http://www.london-luton.co.uk/en/content/2...us---coach.htmlPlaces to go and things to see
There is so much to see and do in London that I will not be able to mention them all. Hopefully this list will get you started. World Heritage Sites
If you are looking to explore World Heritage sites then London has four of them.
Visit The Tower of London
to see the Crown Jewels or stand near the spot where three of Henry VIIIís wives where executed. Explore the historic settlement of Greenwich
with its maritime museum or simply get your picture taken while standing on the Greenwich Meridian (0įLongitude) line. If you need a rest from the hustle and bustle of London then head for more peaceful surroundings at the Royal Botanical Gardens
, in Kew
. If you want to see great medieval architecture then visit the Palace of Westminster, Westminster Abbey and St Margaretís Church
. Free London AttractionsBritish Museum
- exhibits the works of man from prehistoric to modern timesTate Modern
- Housed in a Bankside Power Station on the banks of the River Thames, the gallery displays major works by Matisse and Picasso as well as contemporary work and exhibitions. For an up to date display list visit: http://www.tate.org.uk/modern/ Natural History Museum
- I often go to this museum to see the Wildlife photographer of the year exhibition but the museum actually has a collection of the biggest, tallest and rarest animals in the world. So if you want to see a 40 million old spider then this is where to come.National Gallery
- Houses a collection of European paintings including Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci and Van GoghChanging of the Guards
- The Guard Change at Buckingham Palace takes place at 11:30 daily from May until the end of July and on alternate days for the rest of the year, weather permitting. I would ask your accommodation on details to make sure you donít miss out.Other Top London AttractionsThe London Eye
- you have to plan this for a clear day in order to see over 55 of Londonís famous landmarks. Madame Tussauds
- the famous wax museum where you can sing along with Kylie, stand in front of Her Majesty the Queen and if you are a football fanatic then I am sure Rooney would spark your interest.London Markets
There are a great variety of markets in London ranging from the famous Camden Market to Portobello road. If you want fresh produce, buy local arts and crafts, just soak in the atmosphere or simply buy a second hand book then here are a few of my favourites:Camden Market
- Closest tube is Camden on the Northern Line. This market draws a mixed crowd and is known for its ethnic arts, crafts, jewellery, and second-hand clothing.Borough Market
- Closest tube London Bridge. Situated under the railway station, this is Londonís oldest market and is only open on Fridays and Saturdays. It is the one of the liveliest markets to visit for fresh and organic produce plus you can sample while you buy. Portobello Market
- Closet tube Notting Hill Gate or Ladbroke Grove. This market is widely spread so be prepared to lose yourself in the various streets as you explore stalls selling antique jewellery, cheap and second-hand clothes, handmade designer garments, vintage denim and leather.Petticoat Lane
- Closest tube Liverpool Street or Aldgate. Only open on a Sunday you can find lots of things to buy but be prepared to haggle. If you are looking for a more trendy market then a few streets over is the 'Old Spitalfields Market' which is housed in a beautiful building that incorporates the existing Victorian architecture of the original market with modern architecture.My friendís Picks
I can tell you all my favourite places to go and see and probably fill page after page. So in the end I decided to contact some friends about what they like to do in London. Here are some of the gems they came up with:Gordon's Wine Bar
- Established in 1890 it is Londonís oldest wine bar. Even if you donít like wine it is an unique place to visit with all the underground caves. Closest Tube: Charing Cross.
Cycling along the Thames on the route from South Bank at Waterloo and Rotherhithe
. More information about cycling routes can be found here: http://www.visitlondon.com/areas/river/cycle-paths
Watching the world go by at St Katherineís Dock
. In the summer you can easily find a sunny spot and have a drink while watching your surroundings. The Marble Quay has a large open quayside - you wonít miss it as you will see Dickens Inn a three story building that used to be a brewery that is a great place to just hang out. Closest Tube: Tower BridgeRiver Boat trip to Greenwich
. Hop on a boat trip from Westminster Pier and be enlightened by the onboard commentator as he takes you past the main attractions situated on the River Thames.
Relax or cycle in Richmond Park
. Home to 650 roaming deer it is the largest royal park and a lovely place to visit with your friends on a summerís day.Accommodation
In general the closest you stay to the city the more expensive the accommodation - but really it does depend on what type of facilities you require. I did have a laugh when looking for some good websites to point you in the right direction that they offer camping in London. No really it is true you just have to be prepared to travel more than 30 minutes to get into town. So for hostels, hotels, Bed and Breakfasts and serviced apartments and of course camping have a look at the sites below:TripadvisorHostel WorldLondon Accommodation Guide: