Ultimate Travel Guide to London
The 2019 Ultimate Travel Guide to London
For centuries London has been the global centre of commerce, science, art and fashion. The city of London is currently the most visited tourist destination in the world and is home to Heathrow which is the world’s busiest airport. The city has a population of over 8 million people packed into an area a lot smaller than Sydney and Melbourne.
The underground rail system is one of the world’s best (New Yorkers might argue) and is able to move millions of people daily from all over the greater London area into the city. The underground or Tube makes it extremely easy for tourists to navigate their way around the city. England’s buzzing capital is an extremely cosmopolitan city that never sleeps and offers centuries of history and culture side by side with modern high rises.
Planning your holiday to London should be a fun time, researching all the various destinations and attractions and deciding where you want to visit. The team from London guide have spent years exploring the British capital and this guide will help take the struggle out of planning your trip.
London Fact File
London Quick Facts and Information
London Population: The current population of greater London is 8.8 million
London Area: 607 square miles (1,572 square km)
Official Language: English is the official language with more than 300 languages spoken around London.
Electricity: The electrical current in London is 230V and the cycle is 50Hz. If you are bringing your appliances from home you will need a travel adapter for the square three-pin plug. You may also need a converter to ensure your device can handle the change in voltage.
Official Religion: The official religion in London is Christianity (Church Of England)
Time Zones: GMT – The prime meridian which is used to define 0° longitude passes through the centre of London at Greenwich. This line known as Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) is used to determine the rest of the world’s times zones. Daylight savings means clocks go forward one hour from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October.
Country Dialing Code: The dialing code for London is country code +44 and city code 20. To dial numbers in London you also need to add 0011 in front of the number.
Emergencies: In London you are required to dial 999 for Emergency services and ask for police, fire or ambulance.
Government: London and England are governed by a Prime Minister. As of August 2019 this is Boris Johnson
Measurements & Weights: Historically Britain used the imperial system but EU rules have made the use of the metric system compulsory. You will see a mixture of imperial and metric across the city with speed and distance always measured in miles and mile per hour.
Currency: London uses the official UK currency which is Pound Sterling (£/GBP). 1 pound equals 100 pennies or pence. Even though London is considered part of the EU (Before brexit) the Euro is not acceptable currency accept in some larger institutions.A VAT (Value added tax) of 20% is taxed on most goods and services.
Banking Hours: Banks are generally open from Monday to Friday, 9.30 am to 4.30 pm. Many are also open on Saturdays. All major credit cards are accepted.
Cost of Living: London can be quite expensive for some travellers especially after taking the currency conversion into consideration. Expect to pay £3 for a pint of lager, £8 for a pub meal of fish and chips and about £40 to visit a Premier League football fixture.
Tipping: Tipping is not widely used in London however it is always greatly appreciated. A service charge is sometimes applicable and this is added to the final bill.
Parks and Open Space: London is made of 40% green space, including 3,000 parks and totaling 35,000 acres. There are 8 royal parks.
London Weather: The weather in London is not as cold a you may believe, with snow very rarely falling in the city. The skies can be gloomy with the potential for rain at any time. In the summer months of June, July and August you will get some nice sunny and warm days with temperatures rising into the 30’s.
How to Get to London?
The city of London is easily accessible by air, road, rail and ferry connections from Europe and other parts of Britain. You can also fly directly into London from most major airports internationally. Flights from Europe arrive every hour at different London Airports, buses arrive from Europe and around the rest of the United Kingdom. Since the channel tunnel opened getting to and from London by train is possible, and the Eurostar takes just under 2 1/2 hours door to door from Paris to London and is a very comfortable and reliable service. You can also get to the rest of Europe using connecting trains from Paris, Brussels or Amsterdam.
Flights to London: The major airlines servicing London include British Airways, Qantas, Emirates, Etihad Airways, United Airlines, Air New Zealand, Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines. London has 5 major airports including London Heathrow Airport, London Gatwick Airport, London Luton Airport, London Stansted Airport and London City Airport. Heathrow is the biggest of these airports and one of the busiest in the world with excellent connections to central London by train, coach or taxi. If you are arriving in London from Europe you may have the option of flying into one of the smaller London airports like Gatwick or Stansted. These airports are quite spaced out and the one you fly into will depend on the airline you have chosen and your origin. For more info read the London Airports Visitors Guide or visit Expedia to book cheap London flights and packages
Trains to London: If you are traveling in from mainland Europe then one of the easiest way to reach London is on Eurostar which is a high speed railway connecting the major cities of Paris, Amsterdam and Brussels with London directly via the channel tunnel. The comfortable trip from Paris to London takes just under 2 and 1/2 hours door to door and stops at the St Pancras International train station in central London. If you are entering London from other parts of England you will probably use National Rail or Virgin Trains depending on what part of the mainland you are coming from.
European Ferries: Regular ferries operate from continental Europe to the English seaports of Dover, Harwich and Newhaven. From here it takes approx 2 hours to drive to London and their are frequent train services into central London
Buses to London: Most national and international buses to London arrive at Victoria Station which is in a central location making it easy to connect to other parts of the city. The main bus companies servicing London include Megabus, National Express and Eurolines.
Getting to your London Hotel: If you are landing at one of London ’s airports the recommended way to get into London is using one of the train services. The main airports are well serviced by a combination of express trains like the Heathrow Express and undergrounds stops making it easy to get into central London. For more information visit London Airport Transfers.
London Underground: The first thing we recommend you do when arriving in London is to buy an Oyster Card for the London Underground. The underground or “Tube” is a public transport system built under the streets of London that carries an incredible 5 million passengers per day. It is the most convenient way of getting to most of London’s attractions.back to menu ↑
Do I need a Visa and Passport?
Entry Visa: If you are a citizen of another country and visiting London you may be required to have a entry visa. It is recommended that you check out your own government website or visit the Gov.uk Visa Information for more advise. With the recent referendum for the UK to leave the European Union (Brexit), Visa free travel is still in place for members of the European Union.
Passport: When visiting the United Kingdom it is required that your passport is valid for at least six months from your return date
UK Customs: When arriving into London at any airport, seaport or train terminal you are required to go through customs border control where your passport and identity will be checked. When entering border control you must remove any sunglasses and have your passport removed from the holder and ready to hand to the customs officer. If you are traveling as a family you must all travel through border control at the same time.
Prior to arrival your carrier will issue you with a landing card, this must be completed prior to arriving at the border. You must have your passport ready and visa if it is required. At border control the office will ask your intended purpose for traveling and you may be required to show an itinerary of your holiday plans including hotel accommodation.
UK Customs Allowances: When you travel to the UK you can bring a certain amount of duty and tax-free goods for your own personal use. The amount you can bring into the country applies to perfume, tobacco, alcohol and souvenirs as is known as your Customs Allowance. If you exceed this amount then you are required to pay duty on the difference. When bringing in goods you must transport them yourself and they must be used by yourself or given away as a gift. You cannot sell your allowance or combine your allowance with another passenger. If you are traveling to London from Europe then these allowances may alter, customs in the UK treat EU and non-EU goods differently. Effectively due to free trade rules you can bring in an unlimited amount of goods from the EU without paying duty.
Alcohol Allowance: The current alcohol allowance for entering the UK is as follows, if you exceed this amount you must declare it on your arrival to the UK and pay excise duty accordingly.
- beer – 16 litres
- wine (not sparkling) – 4 litres
You can also bring in either of the following:
- spirits and other liquors over 22% alcohol – 1 litre
- fortified wine (eg port, sherry), sparkling wine and alcoholic drinks up to 22% alcohol – 2 litres
The UK rules also allow you to split this spirit allowance, eg you could bring 1 litre of fortified wine and half a litre of spirits (both half of your allowance).
Tobacco allowance: Similar to the alcohol allowance, you are allowed to bring in a designated quantity of cigarettes and tobacco before you are required to pay excise duty. The current allowance for tobacco is as follows.
- 200 cigarettes
- 50 cigars
- 250g tobacco
You can split this allowance – so you could bring in 100 cigarettes and 25 cigars (both half of your allowance).
Declaration of your Goods: You must tell customs on arrival in the UK if you have goods over the duty-free allowances or you have any items you are planning to sell which is known as your customs declaration. You must also declare if you have over 10,000 euros or equivalent currency in cash. On arriving at a UK port or Airport you are required to use the red channel at customs which tells the officer you have something to declare. You only need to declare items over your duty free allowance. Your bags can be checked at any time for undeclared items, on discovery yo may be required to give up these items or pay the excise duty required.
VAT refunds: If you are a citizen of a country outside of the EU like Australia or the USA you may be able to get the Value Added Tax (currently 20%) refunded on purchases you have made while in the UK. When making an individual purchase at a store over the amount of £75 you can request a special VAT 407 form, this form allows you to claim a refund on the goods on your departure from the UK. You must have receipts, VAT407 form and the goods on your departure to receive the refund.back to menu ↑
When Should I visit London?
The first thing you need to decide when planning your trip is when you would like to visit. This can be decided by your availability of holidays, if you have kids then school holidays obviously becomes the best option. If you hate the cold and rain then knowing the weather in London during different seasons can help (Hint: it can be cold and rainy !!). London is the most visited city in the world so it doesn’t matter what time of year you go it will always be crowded, that said avoid public holidays and English school holidays where possible.
Deciding when to travel to London can come down to a number of factors. The weather can play a massive part in your decision however it should not be the only factor. We look below at some of the pros and cons for traveling to London at certain times of the year.
Summer in London: Summer in London can mean beautiful weather, not stinking hot like summers in other parts of the world but blue skies are common between June and August. With the nice weather comes lots of tourists chasing the same thing as you. The attractions will get extremely busy and long queues are quite common, an old joke is that standing in queues is the national past time of the British. Prices for airfares are more expensive and hotels also are more difficult to get. Personally I try and stay away from London during the mad summer rush as I am not visiting the UK for the weather.
Winter in London: Winter in London can mean cold, dark and short days which depending on what your idea of a good holiday is can be either a good thing or a bad thing. If you plan on completing a pub crawl of London (Good Luck – there are somewhere between 3500-4000 of them!!!) then a drab rainy day might be perfect. If you are looking for outside adventure or enjoy walking then I would personally stay away from winter in the UK.
Christmas in London: Christmas is a beautiful time to be in most cities, and London is no exception. The city comes alive with Christmas markets, shopping, light displays and Ice Skating rinks. The Winter Wonderland is a free event located in Hyde Park that includes fairground rides, Christmas lights and big top shows.
School Holidays: If you are traveling with kids then school holidays in your country might be the best time for you to take them, This usually makes flights more expensive however the holidays might not line up with UK holidays so its not generally any busier than usual. The hotels are also reasonably priced. If you have younger primary school kids I would recommend taking them out of school so you can travel outside the school holidays, they will learn so much from travelling (more than they will miss in school). Teach them to convert money, use maps and keep a travel diary or blog or their trip.
Shoulder Seasons: I personally the shoulder seasons of September or March are the best time to visit the English capital. March is starting to warm up while September still has some of the summer heat and isn’t too cold.
London Public Holidays: Christmas and Easter are very important holidays in London. The city also celebrate additional bank holidays in May and August during Summer. Interestingly the Queens birthday is not a public holiday in London. If you are planning your trip to London you can use the guide below to ensure you arrive at the best time.
|New Year's Day||1st January|
|Good Friday||(the date changes from year to year)|
|Easter Monday||(the date changes from year to year)|
|Early May Bank Holiday||First Monday in May|
|Spring Bank Holiday||Last Monday in May|
|Summer Bank Holiday||Last Monday in August|
|Christmas Day||25th December|
|Boxing Day (St. Stephen’s Day)||26th December|
Weather Forecast: Below is the current temperature in London and forecast for the next 7 days.
Monthly Weather Comparison: The following weather table will help you decide on the best time to visit London. (We love September)
|Month||Season||High / Low Temp (°C)||Rain Average|
|January||Winter||9° / 4°||11 days|
|February||Winter||9° / 5°||9 days|
|March||Spring||12° / 6°||9 days|
|April||Spring||15° / 7°||9 days|
|May||Spring||18° / 10°||9 days|
|June||Summer||21° / 13°||7 days|
|July||Summer||23° / 15°||6 days|
|August||Summer||23° / 15°||6 days|
|September||Autumn||20° / 13°||7 days|
|October||Autumn||16° / 10°||10 days|
|November||Autumn||12° / 7°||10 days|
|December||Winter||9° / 5°||10 days|
How to Get Around London?
London is a very easy city to navigate with some of the best public transport in the world. Riding the tube and network of buses will get you nearly everywhere in the city in good time. The city is also great for walking when the weather is kind, and as a tourist this can be the best way to see some of the cities main attractions. For more information read our guide to the London Underground.
London Underground (Tube): The London underground is a public transport system built under the streets of London that carries an incredible 5 million passengers per day. It is the most convenient way of getting to most of London’s attractions. The Underground train network is the oldest subway system in the worlds and opened in 1863. It has long been nicknamed “The Tube” based on the way the tunnels were made. The city of London is well covered by a total of 11 different Tube Lines that cover an amazing 402 kilometres (249 mile).
For most visitors to London the undergrounds will be the quickest, cheapest and easiest way to get around town. Some stations are close to each other and can also be easily walked in some instances. The fares to use London underground are quite reasonable however there are multiple payment methods and it can get confusing for new visitors. The fare structure depends on how far you travel, the time of day and the way you pay. As a visitor you can buy an Oyster Card or a Travelcard.
- Oyster Cards – Oyster Cards are electronic smart cards similar to those used on other major underground networks and comes fully charged with credit that can be used as you travel on the Tube, it can also be used on the bus network, Docklands Light Railway, London overground and the Thames river services. Oyster cards can be reused and never expire. If you run out of pay as you go credit, simply top up your credit at a Tube station ticket machine to use your card again.
- Visitor Oyster Cards – Visitor Oyster cards are strangely enough designed particularly for visitors to London. The fare structure is the sames regardless of which type of Oyster card you buy. The main difference between Visitor Oyster Cards and oyster cards is that you cannot load a travel card onto a Visitor Oyster. The visitor oyster does sometimes have special offers including theatre tickets available to visitors. If you are travelling for 7 days or more then the normal Oyster Card is better value, The Visitor Oyster Card is better for shorter stays.
- Contactless Payment – Contactless payment is effectively using your mobile or credit card to tap and pay. The difference is the you can use it directly on the tube payment reader without needing to buy an oyster card. The fares are the same as using an oyster.
- Travel Cards – Travelcards are paper tickets that can be used for either 1 or 7 days on for Tube, Docklands Railway, Buses, London Overground or National Rail Stations. They can be cheaper than oyster cards depending on the amount of travel you plan to do. What you can do is buy a travel card and then load up the fares onto an oyster (not Visitor Oyster)
Walking: At London Guide we love to walk around any new city, it is a great way to acclimatize yourself and get your bearings. It is also a great form of exercise. Some of London’s main attractions are close together meaning you can ride the underground and then walk to multiple destinations. If you stay somewhere central like Covent Garden then you can almost walk to all the main attractions.
Bus: The bus system in London is fantastic with over 700 different routes available. We personally found that the buses are better for some of the outer regions and for central London catching the tube or walking are better options. That said you have to at least try a double decker bus once during your trip. The hop-on hop-off bus is a great way to experience this and see the great attractions.
London Overground: The London overground compliments the tube system and allows you to get to more destinations, particularly in the outer zones further from London. Your tube oyster also allows you to catch the overground lines.
Docklands Light Rail: The Docklands Light Rail of DLR is a driverless train system that serves the docklands area of East London. There are a total of 45 stations on the DLR and you can also use your oyster card.
Uber: Ubers are available everywhere in London and very easy to catch, they are a handy way of getting around town and from the airports. In central London passengers are charged a little more to help the drive pay the daily congestion tax. If you have never used Uber then London Guide will give you $10 off your first ride.
London Taxis: Another great way of getting around London is the traditional London Black Cab. These are everywhere in the city and can be very convenient. Longer trips can be more costly and passengers are also required to help pay the congestion tax.back to menu ↑
What are the Best London Attractions?
The attractions are the reason you are visiting London in the first place and the city doesn’t disappoint, around every corner you see another one of the amazing sights. You will never forget the first time you see the amazing Big Ben and House of Parliament that you have seen in so many movies and TV shows. You will love Buckingham Palace and the pomp and pageantry of the Changing of the Guard even if you are a Republican.
London Attraction Highlights
- Explore the amazing FREE museums including the British Museum
British Museum: The British Museum is located in the London area of Bloomsbury and has a permanent collection of almost 8 million different artifacts. It is one of the largest museums of it kind in the world. A lot of the artifacts on display were collected during the reign of the British Empire making some of the pieces quite controversial with their original owners. Like most of London’s museums The British Museum is free to enter and is a great place for visiting tourists of all nationalities and extremely popular with adults and children. The easiest way to get to the British Museum is using the London Underground, The nearest tube stations are Tottenham Court Road, Holborn and Russell Square which are all within an easy walk of the museum.
Buckingham Palace: Every year millions of tourist flock to Buckingham Palace as one of the first stops in London . Buckingham Palace is the primary residence of Queen Elizabeth II and the forecourt of the palace is utilized for Changing of the Guard, an important ceremony as well as tourist attraction in its own right. Buckingham Palace is located in Westminster and is a beautiful walk from most parts of London and is also well service by the London Tube.
Changing of the Guard: The Changing of the Guard is a great display of British pomp and pageantry that occurs when the The Queens Old Guard hand over responsibility for protecting Buckingham Palace and St. James Palace to the New Guard. The queens guard are fully operational infantry and cavalry soldiers and even though they are a great spectacle are not purely ceremonial. No tickets are required to watch the Changing of the Guard however joining a tour can help provide you with additional information. Make sure you get to Buckingham Palace early to get a good view of the ceremony.
London Eye: The London Eye, located on the banks of the Thames, is a massive, 136 meter (442 feet) high observation wheel holding thirty-two glass-walled capsules. London Eye has become an instant landmark in London and provides wonderful views over central London.
Big Ben and House of Parliament: The 150 yr old Big Ben Clock Tower and the nearby houses of parliament (palace of Westminster) are one of the most iconic views of London and among the first places most new London travelers visit. Note: that the Big Ben is currently under renovation and has scaffolding over it.
Tower Bridge: Tower bridge is the iconic image of London that is instantly familiar to all visitors. There is sometimes some confusion with people who believe this is London bridge which is actually further down the river. Tower Bridge is a suspension bridge that also includes 2 large towers and crosses the River Thames to the Tower of London.
Tower of London: The Tower of London is a historic castle located on the northern bank of the River Thames on an open space known as tower hill. It was built by William the Conqueror in 1078 and used as a prison until 1952 with the famous Kray Twins among the last of its inmates. The tower is officially called Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London and has a dark history over the last 1000 years.
Princess Diana Memorial Fountain: The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain is located in London’s Hyde Park and is dedicated to the memory of Diana Princess of Wales who was tragically killed in a car crash in 1997. The memorial is located in the southwest corner of Hyde Park near the Serpentine lake and provides a great place to reflect and relax particularly on a hot summers day.
National Gallery: The National Gallery London is an Art Gallery museum located in Trafalgar Square and home to more than 2,300 paintings. The biggest highlight of the collection of this gallery is that it includes works of artists from every era between the mid 13th century and the early 1900s. Here, you will get to see works of almost every top Western European painter born during the period mentioned above. The most prominent names among them include Van Gogh, Raphael, Van Eyck, Leonardo da Vinci, Renoir, Van Dyck, Degas and Turner.
Trafalgar Square: Trafalgar Square is actually a huge city square commemorating the victory of Lord Nelson against Napoleon’s navy in 1805 at the Battle of Trafalgar. The main monument inside the square is a solitary tall column on which Nelson’s figure stands looking over London. His monument is encircled by 4 huge lions and a number of large fountains.
Westminster Abbey: Westminster Abbey is actually a huge, mainly Gothic church situated just to the western side of the Palace of Westminster. It’s probably the most notable religious building within the UK and is the traditional site of coronation as well as burial for the English and, later on, the British kings. Every British monarch since William the Conqueror has been crowned in Westminster Abbey. Tickets are available to be bought online or why not combine a visit with the Changing of the Guard with this 2.5 hour tour.
Churchill War Rooms: The Churchill War rooms are an amazing look into British life during World War II with the original underground war rooms and bunker remaining intact under the London streets of Whitehall. In this underground nerve centre, Winston Churchill and his cabinet help to direct British actions during the Second World War. This museum is packed full of some amazing artifacts of war and is also packed full of information about the legacy of Churchill from his childhood through to his rousing wartime speeches that were inspirational to British morale during the war. Try one of the amazing Tours.
Royal London Parks: There are a total of 8 Royal parks in London that offer free entry, these parks cover a large part of the English capital, they are well maintained and offer a glimpse into the history of London. For something different why not try the Royal Parks and Palaces Bike Tour of London.
10 Downing Street: Number 10 Downing Street is the headquarters and London residence of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. This is usually visited by tourists when looking at similar Westminster attractions nearby. Not much to do here as you cannot get close to the door due to security gates.back to menu ↑
London Shopping Guide
London has been one of the worlds most important fashion cities for hundreds of years. The city is a home to countless designer outlets as well as places where you pick up a great bargain. London is full of department stores like Harrods, markets like Borough Market as well as world famous shopping streets like Oxford street. For more information read our aerticle on the The Best Places for Shopping in London.
London Shopping Highlights
- Book a London Shopping Tour
- Visit the world famous Harrods department store – Don’t forget your credit card.
- Wander down Oxford Street exploring over 300 shops.
- Taste the delicious foods, cheeses and patisseries in Borough Market.
- Show the kids Diagon alley from Harry Potter when visiting Leadenhall Market.
The Best London Shopping Streets: London has some of the most famous shopping streets in the world that are free to browse and explore. Oxford Street is probably the most famous shopping street’s in the heart of London and up there with some of the world’s best. Carnaby Street in Soho is one of my favorite shopping streets in London and a great place to wander for hours. Bond Street is the ultimate definition of sophistication. The shopping street is dotted with myriad fashion stores including some of the worlds biggest designer names, such as Christian Dior and Louis Vuitton. Jermyn Street, located in Mayfair, has long been one of the most fashionable menswear shopping areas in London. It is well known for selling quality menswear, ranging from shirts to trousers and even tailored suits. The Knightsbridge shopping area is immensely popular because of the variety of goods sold here, ranging from clothing to household goods to even artistic collections. One of the most popular stores for tourists in this area is the Harrods department store. We also love visiting the Seven Dials area of Covent Garden which gets its name from the seven interconnecting streets, and contains over 96 fashion, beauty and lifestyle stores and over 90 independent restaurants, cafés and bars.
The Best London Markets: Markets have been a part of London’s day to day life for centuries with a wide range of options scattered across the city. For a traditional flea-market selling clothes, furniture and music visit Brick Lane Market in London’s East End. Camden Market is located in Camden Town, not far from London Zoo and has over 1000 shops and stalls that sell everything from the latest in fashion, music to some great art and beautiful food. The Camden Market itself is made up of a series of different markets including the famous Camden Lock market. Borough Market is one of London’s most icon markets offering a range of British and International produce including cheeses and patisseries, this market is worth a visit just for the aroma and sampling of local street food. Other fantastic options include Shoreditch and Spitalfields, Covent Garden Market, Portobello Road Market, Leadenhall Market and Greenwich Market
The Best London Department Stores: London is home to some of the most famous and most iconic department stores in the world. The world’s first department store Harding, Howell & Co was opened in Pall Mall, London in 1796. Visit the world famous Harrods in Knightsbridge and shop like royalty. Selfridges takes up a whole city block in Oxford making it the 2nd largest shop in the UK. Fenwick sells a wide range of clothing, beauty products and accessories while Fortnum & Mason sells luxury items like chocolate, teas, biscuits and wine & spirits.back to menu ↑
Where to Stay in London?
London’s attractions are spread out over a wide area which sometimes makes it difficult deciding where is the best place to stay. The choice of neighborhood can depends on a number of factors including your interests and accommodation budget. For more information on where to stay in London, check out this post Best Areas to Stay in London.
Best Hotels in London
- Best Luxury Hotel in London: Shangri-La Hotel at The Shard, 5-star hotel on the South Bank
- Best Mid-level Hotel in London: Premier Inn London County Hall, London Eye and great restaurants
- Best Budget Hotel in London: Qbic Hotel London City, City of London near Aldgate East tube station.
- Best Apartments in London: Airbnb apartments, Amazing apartments in London
Best London Area for Budget Travel: If you are trying to save money on accommodation when you travel then you might be best to avoid the inner part of London with its fancy and expensive hotels. Budget offerings are available however it is a trade-off between price and quality. We like the Kings Cross area or the East End of London for some better quality budget accommodation. You can also book a single room using Airbnb, if you have never used the service before click here for a free credit. The Clink78 Hotel is perfect for younger travellers and located only 10 minutes from Kings Cross.
Best London Area for Restaurants and Dining: London is home to some of the best restaurants n the world from luxury Michelin star winners to budget family favorites. The West End has including SOHO has a fantastic range of restaurants, you can also visit the amazing smells and tastes of nearby Chinatown which makes this area a great place to stay. We love some of the amazing multicultural dishes served in Shoreditch and around Brick Lane which is home to some of the worlds best curries. View some of the great hotels around Brick Lane
Best London Area for First Visit: If you are visiting London for the first time we recommend staying around Covent Garden. Close to attractions, shopping and amazing restaurants this area is a perfect place to setup base while in London. The area is very safe, particularly during the day. It is easy to walk down to the river and the Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, or west to the parks and Palaces. We really love the Z Hotel Covent Garden. You are also close to Carnaby Street and some of London’s Best Shopping locations.
Best London Area for Families: If you are staying in London with your family you need to ensure you pick an area close to attractions, easy public transport and great kid friendly restaurants. The area around Notting Hill is home to some great family attractions including the Science Museum and Natural History Museum. It is also home to some amazing family friendly hotels and apartments like Grand Plaza Serviced Apartments making it a great place to stay with your family. The South Bank area is also a fantastic place to stay with families, full of attractions, restaurants and amazing hotels. The Park Plaza Westminster Bridge is in a perfect location and fantastic for all families.
Best London Area for Couples: If your on a honeymoon or just after a bit of romantic luxury while you stay in London then you have plenty of options including some amazing hotels around Mayfair. Our favorite luxury hotels are the 5 star Claridge’s or why not try The Sanderson located in upmarket Fitzrovia.back to menu ↑
Best Neighborhoods to Stay in London for Tourists
Covent Garden: Covent Garden is a massively popular part of London dating back to the early 17th century. The most popular attraction is the famous Covent Garden Market. This area is always busy with tourists and locals however it is definitely worth a visit. Covent Garden is centrally located within easy walk to Soho, The West End and Leicester Square. It is also well connected to the London underground with its own tube station and is part of zone 1. Covent Garden is a perfect place to spend the whole afternoon browsing the many shops, eating at one of the fantastic restaurants or just people watching while having a few beers in a local pub. Recommended Hotel: Z Covent Garden
The City of London: Not to be confused with London as a whole, The City of London goes by many names. Also known as The City and The Square Mile, The City of London houses the London Stock Exchange and serves as the world’s economic headquarters. Often vying with New York City when it comes to financial industry dominance, The City of London’s glass towers and critically acclaimed skyscrapers (The Gherkin, anyone?) are responsible for London’s iconic skyline. Check out some of the great hotels in the City of London. Best Hotel: Montcalm Royal London House
Westminster: Westminster with its incredible attractions is the first stop for a lot of tourists when they visit London. Westminster is political center of the UK (and previously the world) with landmarks including Westminster Abbey, The Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and even Buckingham Palace. The photo opportunities looking from Westminster bridge towards them are amazing which also makes it extremely busy with tourists who flock across the River Thames trying to get the perfect shot. Recommended Hotel: The Grosvenor Victoria
South Bank: The South Bank area of London is located south of the River Thames and opposite Westminster and. South Bank is a great place to see a lot of London’s most famous attractions.The most popular attraction is London Eye, this offers an amazing view of London and has become extremely popular. The Queens walk is a pedestrian walking track along the river and is a great way to see the sights. South Bank hosts a series of outdoor events and festivals during summer. Recommended Hotel: Premier Inn London County Hall
Mayfair: If you have ever played Monopoly then you know that Mayfair is an upmarket area of London. It is home to some of the city’s best parks, luxurious hotels and galleries as well as amazing award winning restaurants. While it is expensive to stay in some of the fancy hotels in Mayfair it is a great place to people watch and see how the upper class British people live. Mayfair is located east of Hyde Park and surrounded by Covent Garden, Marylebone and Westminster. It is easy to walk to some very popular London attractions including Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace and Hyde Park. Mayfair is surrounded by underground stations including Oxford Street, Green Park, Bond Street and Hyde Park Corner making it very convenient getting to other areas of the city. Recommended Hotel: The Beaumont Hotel
Knightsbridge: Knightsbridge is an upmarket area of London and home to many expensive shops, including the department stores Harrods and Harvey Nichols. Located south of Hyde park and north of Brompton Road Knightbridge sits between Kensington and Belgravia. The area is also home to some extremely fancy restaurants and boasts some of the most expensive real estate in the world. Recommended Hotel: The Capital
Whitechapel: Whitechapel is located in the East End of London about 5km east of the centre of London. Due to its proximity to the docks of London it has traditionally been a working class suburb and very popular with immigrants. It was the location of the infamous Whitechapel Murders carried out by Jack the Ripper in the 1880s. It is now used for all of the Ripper Tours operating throughout London. Brick Lane in Whitechapel has become home to a large Bangladeshi population and the nearby market is a great place to visit for some authentic curries.
Belgravia: Belgravia is a cosmopolitan area of London and is one of the most wealthy and exclusive regions of the city. This is a great area if you would like a bit of luxury during your London holiday. It is also home to a lot of London’s diplomatic homes and embassies. The area is full of world class and fashionable boutiques and fantastic fine dining restaurants and trendy bars. Luxury hotels are common in this part of London and it is a perfect area to explore by foot. Nearby attractions include Buckingham Palace which is a short stroll to the east, Hyde Park to the north and the River Thames to the south. Belgravia is serviced by Sloan Square, Victoria, Knightsbridge tube stations which make it easy to connect to the rest of the city. Recommended Hotel: The Lanesborough
Camden Town: Camden Town is one of the most iconic areas of London and home to many artists, musicians and writers and is well known for the foundation of British punk and Britpop. In the late 70’s American band The Ramones played a famous gig in the area that influenced The Clash, Sex Pistols and other bands who became the face of the British punk movement. To this day the area still has an awesome live music scene. It is still common to see plenty of leather and Goth clothing around area and sitting by the Camden Market is a perfect place to people watch. Camden is also great for shopping with plenty of hip shops, bars, pubs and fantastic restaurants. The best way to get to Camden is the London Underground with a tube station located at Camden Town. Recommended Hotel: The Standard Londonback to menu ↑
What is London’s Currency?
The currency used in London and the United Kingdom is Pound Sterling, as of 2019 there are 4 banknotes in circulation which include £5, £10, £20 and £50 denominations. All of these note feature an image of Queen Elizabeth II on one side with a historical figure on the other. The UK also used coins which are called pence and 100 pence is equal to 1 pound (think cents and dollars)
- The official UK currency is the pound sterling
- There are 100 pennies, or pence, to the pound
British Coins: The current coins used in London are the 1 pence (penny), 2 pence, 5 pence, 10 pence, 20 pence, 50 pence, £1 and £2. The £1 and £2 pound coins replaced the equivalent pound banknotes. Each of the coins has a design on 1 side and the portrait of the Queen on the other.
Bank of England £5 Note: The British £5 Note (Fiver) was updated in 2016 and is made of a new polymer material instead of traditional paper. The design features Winston Churchill standing in front of a view of the Palace of Westminster with the Queens image on the reverse side and the note is blue and green.
Bank of England £10 Note: The British £10, known as a Tenner was also replaced in 2017 with a new polymer version, the design of this new note is brown and orange and features Jane Austen (from a portrait by James Andrews) and the Queen on the reverse.
Bank of England £20 Note: The British £20 is still made using the old paper material and will be replaced in 2020 by a polymer version. The current design of this note features economist Adam Smith and the Queen on the reverse and is purple in color.
Bank of England £50 Note: The British £50 is the highest denomination currently issued by the Bank of England (They do not have a £100 note) and is still made using the old paper material. The design of this note is predominately Red and Matthew Boulton and James Watt from the industrial revolution and the Queen on the reverse. At this stage this note is not planned to be replaced making it only remaining paper note after 2020.
For more information on the Bank notes visit the Bank of England website.
Currency Converter: If you are looking to convert some of your own into British Pounds (GBP) you can use the calculator below to get an estimate of the amount you will receive. This is only an estimate as all banks will charge a conversion fee which is taken from the amount of Pounds you receive.back to menu ↑
Buy a London Pass
There are several ways of touring a new city like London. You can take a train, bus or taxi to your favourite destination and buy a ticket, or you can board one of the many hop-on-hop-off buses or you can buy a travel pass like The London Pass that allows you to visit many attractions in London at discounted prices.
What is the London Pass: The London Pass is a sightseeing card that allows you free entry to more than 80 of London’s best tourist attractions. You can buy a London pass for 1, 2, 3, 6, or 10 days. On top of the access to the best of London’s attractions you also get a one-day hop-on-hop-off sightseeing bus tour, which is the best way to discover and learn more about all of London’s landmarks. A river cruise on the River Thames, which is arguably the best way to experience London. Fast track entry to attractions – in some attractions, the card allows you to skip the line. A free 160+ page guidebook with useful information about attractions, helpful tips on moving around, and maps of London. Click here to buy the London Pass
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Best London Travel Blogs
There are thousands of travel blogs online offering amazing travel information about London and the UK. We have listed some of our personal favorite blogs and posts below. Please take the time to read these blogs for great tips and information about London.
A Lady in London: This blog is about the adventures of an expat Californian living in London and traveling the world. The blog is packed full of information about London (and the rest of the world). We love the section on London travel itineraries.
Poppy Loves: Poppy Loves is a London lifestyle, food and travel blog featuring a wide selection of articles about London.
Y Travel Blog: This site is one of the best travel blogs full stop. Featuring great London travel section written by Aussies Caz and Craig as they travel the world.back to menu ↑
The Best London Booking Resources
The following are our favorite booking companies when we plan our trips to London. We have included a mixture of websites that offer great deals on flights, hotels and car hire when visiting the English capital. Whenever we start planning travel we use these companies as the starting point. Affiliate Disclosure: Links used below are affiliate links that may result in London Guide earning a small fee when you book. There is on extra cost incurred by you in using these links.
🏆Booking.com: We love this website and recommend it to all our visitors when looking for hotels and accommodation around London. The site features the widest selection of hotels and some amazing rates. The website is easy to navigate and they offer great customer service.
Expedia.com: One of the worlds biggest travel companies offering cheap airfare to London, car hire and cheap London accommodation.
World Nomads: This one is a no-brainer, extensive travel insurance should be the second thing you buy when booking any trip to London (After flights). The team at World Nomads offer great rates on insurance as well as fantastic coverage options.
Airbnb: If you prefer to stay in an apartment or home when visiting London then you must consider Airbnb. If you have never used it before the website allows you to stay in rooms or full houses rented out by homeowners. The locations are sometimes better than hotels as most are in community areas. You can get 15% off your first stay by clicking here. (Thanks London Guide)
TripAdvisor: TripAdvisor has an amazing collection of London hotels reviews, restaurants, attractions and tours. You can now also book flights to London and car hire.
Get Your Guide: Get Your guide offers guided tours of London in a wide range of categories.
Hotels.com: Hotels.com has a wide selection of hotels in London. The prices on here are very competitive however we prefer booking.com