London City Guide
London, the capital of England is an immensely popular vacation destination. This vibrant city, which is world renowned as the home of the British Monarchy, is also a leading financial capital, which plays host to numerous business and leisure travelers all year round.
Aside from being a landmark filled vacation hotspot, London is also universally acknowledged as a city from where global trends in fashion and music tend to emanate. As a result of which this city is immensely proud of its multicultural society and is closely watched for the emergence of the next ‘best’ thing.
Where to stay in London
The City of London
The City of London is the main financial hub of London and accordingly hosts several business-oriented hotels. The hotels located in this area are largely favored by business travelers rather than leisure travelers.
Near the city’s airports
The city’s airports are equipped the numerous budget hotels that are generally used by travelers who are in transit in London en-route to other cities in the UK and elsewhere.
Central London is the heart of London that hosts most of the city’s main attractions, restaurants and shopping locales. Central London is home to the West End of London, which hosts some of London’s most upscale and chic neighborhoods like Belgravia, Kensington, Knightsbridge, Chelsea, Paddington and Bayswater, Earl's Court, and Notting Hill. These neighborhoods host most of the city’s myriad hotels that are favored by visitors who book a vacation to London.
The Docklands and Canary Wharf
The Docklands and Canary Wharf are the newish business districts of London that are home to several office towers including the iconic ‘Gherkin’, which is a prominent landmark on London’s skyline, entertainment complexes, shops and restaurants. These up and coming areas also host a few hotels, which are largely favored by business travelers who like to be based within close proximity to work.
Places to see in London
London offers a plethora of sight-seeing attractions that cater to all ages and taste and preferences.
The Tower of London and the Crown Jewels
The Tower of London is a UNESCO designated World Heritage site and one of the most famous fortresses in the world. This tower, which has served as a royal palace, prison, and armory and a zoo down ages, was built by William the Conqueror to subdue and terrify Londoners and deter foreign invaders. Today this tower which is guarded by big, fierce ravens is an iconic symbol of London which is home to the spectacular Crown jewels which, are displayed in fortified visible vaults.
The London Eye
The London Eye, which is a 135-metre (443 ft) Ferris wheel, is an extraordinary piece of engineering design and architecture located on the South Bank of the River Thames. This giant observation wheel is one of London’s newer attractions. The London Eye offers panoramic views of London as it rotates slowly around its spindle. On a clear day visitors enclosed in its many high tech pods can spot sights like the Windsor Castle, which is located at a distance of 40 km from London.
The Changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace
‘The Changing of the Guard’ ceremony takes place in the forecourt of Buckingham Palace, the official residence of her majesty, the Queen, every morning at 11.30 am in the summer. This hugely popular ceremony attracts huge crowds and features the new guards who march to the Palace from the Wellington Barracks to replace the old guards who then return to the barracks. The new guards are accompanied by a guard’s band and the entire exercise that lasts all of 45 minutes features much pomp and ceremony.
St Paul’s Cathedral
St Paul’s Cathedral was the site of the Royal Wedding of Princess Diana and Prince Charles and has been a fixture on the London skyline since 604 AD. The current Cathedral, which was designed by famed court architect Sir Christopher Wren, is in fact the fourth cathedral to occupy this site. This magnificent domed structure was completed in 1710 and is adorned with murals that were painted by court painter Sir James Thorn hill between 1715 and 1719.
The Cathedral offers various sites like the Aspe, an American Memorial Chapel that is dedicated to the servicemen and women who perished in the Second World War, the Quire which hosts the cathedral’s grand organ and high alter and the Whispering Gallery, which runs around the interior of the Dome and is famed for its acoustics that enable a whisper created against its walls to be heard on the opposite side.
London is equipped with many world class museums like the Natural History Museum, the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, Tate Modern, Tate Britain, the Museum of London, the Imperial War Museum, the Horniman Museum and major galleries like the National Portrait Gallery and, the National Gallery. Not only do these museums offer a treasure trove of artworks most of their permanent collections also afford free public access. So if you love visiting museums, you are bound to be in heaven on your vacation in London.
London Parks and Gardens
London is equipped with nine royal parks and gardens like Hyde Park, Regent’s Park, Green Park, Richmond Park, Bushy Park, Greenwich Park and Kensington Gardens, each of which have their own unique attractions and should be experienced on any visit to London.
Best time to visit London
The weather in London can be quite grey, dreary and chilly for much of the year but during the summer months, from June to August, the British capital actually gets a few sunny days perfect for enjoying the many charms of this fascinating city including its many parks and gardens, which are covered in gorgeous blooms during this time of the year.
Getting around in London
London is a wildly popular vacation gateway served by its five main airports namely the Heathrow, Gatwick, London City, Luton and Stansted Airports.
While Heathrow, Gatwick and London City airport play host to both legacy and low cost carriers, Luton and Stansted Airport generally welcome mainly a slew low cost carriers like EasyJet and Ryan Air that offer a plethora of connections to various European destinations. Fare Buzz periodically announces tempting flight deals to London or ‘the capital of cool’ located across the pond. If you are currently in the market for cheap air tickets to London then you must make it a point to contact Fare Buzz with your needs.
Aside from these major airports, London can also be accessed from the continent via a trans-channel high speed train service which provides under the channel connections between London and the European capitals Brussels and Paris.
Getting into the city center from these airports is also relatively easy for most of these airports are served by high speed express trains like the Heathrow Express, Gatwick Express and Stansted Express which provide convenient connections to the city. Apart these express trains, London’s extensive public transport system which consists of surface trains, public buses, coaches, and the London Underground (the Tube) also serve the airports and all other parts of the city. London’s public transport network also includes its iconic London cabs; however these can be quite expensive to use on airport runs and most visitors tend to book licensed private cabs called ‘mini-cabs’ for airport as well as intra-city transfers within London.
Even though London is equipped with an extensive public transport system, many visitors to the city still like to rent a car for the duration of their stay in London. Car rental agencies can be at all the city airports as well as various points around the city. However, when you choose to rent a car for your vacation in London it is useful to remember that if you want to drive within Central London during the work week i.e. Monday- Friday from 7am to 6pm you are expected to pay a daily congestion charge of £10 to have the privilege to do so.
This daily congestion charge is supposed to act as a deterrent for driving a car in London, however in spite of this hefty charge many visitors on a vacation to London choose to rent a car for their stay in London. If you wish to rent a car for your London vacation then Fare Buzz can be of assistance as well for it offers a wide array of affordable car rentals for London which can be booked via its usual booking channels.
Where to shop in London
London offers an abundance of shopping options. ‘Shopping on the high-street’ is a quintessentially English tradition and no other shopping district of London, embodies it better than Oxford Street. This main thoroughfare in Central London is constantly overrun with hordes of shoppers who enjoy perusing the numerous offerings at popular British department stores such as Marks and Spencer’s, Selfridges, Debenhams, John Lewis, British Home Stores and House of Fraser. Also located here are outposts of various domestic and international apparel brands like Zara, H&M, TopShop, French Connection, New Look, Next and Primark. A similar shopping experience can be had at various different high streets around London, like Kensington High Street and Fulham Broadway.
In recent years mall shopping has become increasingly popular in the British capital, and the city hosts various large malls like Brent Cross shopping center, Westfield Mall (Strafford and White City) and Whitgift Center (Croydon) all offering a healthy mix of shopping, dining and entertainment options. Aside from malls London, also offers unique and one of a kind finds at the shopping available at its local markets like Spitalfields Market, Portobello Road Market and Camden Lock.
Upscale shopping in London can be had at locales like Bond Street and Knightsbridge, which are littered with designer goods stores and luxe department stores like Harrods, Harvey Nichols and Fenwicks. London is also renowned is a center for bespoke tailoring and quality men’s wear. Streets such as Savile Row and Jermyn Street, in the central London Mayfair district of London are epicenters for these high-end services.
The British capital city also offers outlet shopping at the many discounted designer goods outlets hosted within the open-air Bicester Village outlet mall, accessible from central London via a short coach or train ride.
Where to eat in London
London is renowned for its vibrant multiculturalism which is well represented in its culinary landscape. Restaurants in London offer hundreds of different cuisines at various price points. No matter what your tastes and preferences may be London’s many restaurants aim to satisfy every craving with their countless offerings.
The list of the ‘best’ restaurants in London at present includes eateries like Granger and Company (Australian), Cay Tre Soho (Vietnamese), Ceviche( Peruvian), Cinnamon Soho and Dishoom Shoreditch (Indian), Banca (Italian), Dabbouse (Fusion), Donostia (Spanish), Pizzaro (Tapas), Quo Vadis (British), Meat Liquor (burgers), Soif (French) and Lardo (Pizzas).
Nightlife in London
London offers plentiful nightlife options. The city is a well-known center for drama and theater and on your visit; you must try and take in a show at one of the many theaters that line London’s famed theater district, Shaftsbury Avenue. Aside from theater, London as one of the liveliest European capitals, offers an abundance of bars, dance clubs, cocktail lounges, jazz bars and live-music venues that provide ample opportunity for a fun-filled night on the town.