Explore one of the world's major global cities
London is the capital and largest city of England and the United Kingdom. It stands on the River Thames in south-east England at the head of a 50-mile (80 km) estuary leading to the North Sea. London has been a major settlement for two millennia. The City of London, its ancient core and financial centre, was founded by the Romans as Londinium. Known colloquially as the Square Mile, it retains boundaries that closely follow its medieval limits. The adjacent City of Westminster has for centuries housed the national government. London has 31 additional boroughs north and south of the river.
Here are 21 terrific experiences in this amazing city:
1. BAKER STREET
Baker Street is a street in the Marylebone district of the City of Westminster in London. It is named after builder William Baker, who laid out the street in the 18th century. The street is most famous for its connection to the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes, who lived at a fictional 221B Baker Street address on the north of the street. The area was originally high class residential, but now is mainly occupied by commercial premises.
2. BOND STREET
Dating back to the 17th century, Mayfair has been synonymous with art, fashion, shopping, glamour, and style. Its heritage is closely connected to the Royal household and nobility, and a large proportion of British Royal Warrant holders can be found here. Few other enclaves of London boast the extraordinary architecture on show across Mayfair, from Piccadilly through Burlington Arcade and on to Old and New Bond Street, through picturesque Berkeley Square and up through Carlos Place into elegant Mount Street. Visitors can find well-known thoroughfares, as well as little known lanes, gems waiting to be discovered. Effortlessly mixing its heritage with ultra-current trends, Mayfair is an exciting clash of London’s unique energy and culture.
Buckingham Palace has served as the official London residence of the UK’s sovereigns since 1837 and today is the administrative headquarters of the Monarch. Although in use for the many official events and receptions held by The Queen, the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace are open to visitors every summer. Buckingham Palace has 775 rooms. These include 19 State rooms, 52 Royal and guest bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices and 78 bathrooms. In measurements, the building is 108 metres long across the front, 120 metres deep (including the central quadrangle) and 24 metres high.
4. BRICK LANE
A microcosm of London's shifting ethnic patterns, the area around Brick Lane in East London was once associated with poor slums and the scene of the crime for the Jack the Ripper murders. Whilst the notorious pub Ten Bells still stands, the area itself is now extremely popular with London’s edgy and artistic crowd, featuring galleries, restaurants, markets and festivals throughout the year.
Camden Town is famed for its market, a warren of fashion and curiosities by the Regent’s Canal. A haven of counter culture, the area is popular with tourists, teenagers and punks. The thriving nightlife scene includes live music in alternative clubs and old-school pubs, and major stars playing at the Jazz Cafe and the Roundhouse. Cafes bustle during the day.
Today’s Chinatown’s story begins with the Great Fire of London. In the panic to rebuild, attention turned to a military training ground on farmland. The area’s owner, Lord Gerrard gave permission for houses to be built. Gerrard Street was completed in 1685, then later a market hall and slaughterhouse. Voila, Soho was born. From bakeries to bars and restaurants to reflexology, today Chinatown is a thriving hub of Oriental wonder. Souvenir shops, health clinics, barbers, travel agents – it really does have everything.
Hampstead Heath is a wild park of woodland and meadows, tucked inside north London’s Zone Two - less than four miles from the centre, though you’d never know it. It sprawls over 800 acres and boasts some of the most spectacular views in the city. This is the park that inspired C.S. Lewis to write The Chronicles of Narnia, that Constable spent his final years painting, and Londoners of all stripes have been coming here to escape the city for over 200 years. Today, there are few better ways to spend a Sunday in London than with a lazy ramble on the Heath, followed by a pint, or a roast, at one of our wonderful local pubs. The swimming ponds - particularly the ladies’ and men’s - hold almost mystical status among those brave enough to take a dip. Come to fly your kite on Parliament Hill, bring a picnic, and while away your afternoon.
Harrods Limited is a department store located on Brompton Road in Knightsbridge. The store occupies a 5-acre (2 ha) site and has 330 departments covering 1.1 million sq ft (100,000 m2) of retail space. It is one of the largest and most famous department stores in Europe.The Harrods motto is Omnia Omnibus Ubique, which is Latin for "all things for all people, everywhere”.
9. HYDE PARK
Henry VIII acquired Hyde Park from the monks of Westminster Abbey in 1536; he and his court were often to be seen on thundering steeds in the hunt for deer. It remained a private hunting ground until James I came to the throne and permitted limited access. The King appointed a ranger, or keeper, to take charge of the park. It was Charles I who changed the nature of the park completely. He had the Ring (north of the present Serpentine boathouses) created and in 1637 opened the park to the general public. In 1866 Edmund Beales' Reform League marched on Hyde Park where great scuffles broke out between the League and the police. Eventually the Prime Minister allowed the meetings to continue unchallenged and since 1872, people have been allowed to speak at Speaker's Corner on any subject they want to.
10. LONDON EYE
The London Eye, or the Millennium Wheel, is a cantilevered observation wheel on the South Bank of the River Thames. It is Europe's tallest cantilevered observation wheel, and is the most popular paid tourist attraction in the United Kingdom with over 3 million visitors annually. The London Eye used to offer the highest public viewing point in London until it was superseded by the 245-metre-high (804 ft) observation deck on the 72nd floor of The Shard.
The British Museum is a public institution dedicated to human history, art and culture located in the Bloomsbury area. Its permanent collection of some eight million works is among the largest and most comprehensive in existence, having been widely collected during the era of the British Empire.
The Natural History Museum in London is a natural history museum that 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.
The National Gallery is an art museum in Trafalgar Square in the City of Westminster, in Central London. Founded in 1824, it houses a collection of over 2,300 paintings dating from the mid-13th century to 1900.
Tate Modern houses the United Kingdom's national collection of international modern and contemporary art. It is located in the former Bankside Power Station, in the Bankside area of the London Borough of Southwark. Tate Modern is one of the largest museums of modern and contemporary art in the world. As with the UK's other national galleries and museums, there is no admission charge for access to the collection displays, which take up the majority of the gallery space, whereas tickets must be purchased for the major temporary exhibitions.
13. O2 ARENA
The O2 Arena is a multi-purpose indoor arena in the centre of The O2 entertainment complex on the Greenwich Peninsula in southeast London. It opened in its present form in 2007. It has the second-highest seating capacity of any indoor venue in the United Kingdom, behind the Manchester Arena, and in 2008 was the world's busiest music arena. The arena was built under the former Millennium Dome, a large dome-shaped building built to house an exhibition celebrating the turn of the third millennium; as the structure still stands over the arena, The Dome remains a name in common usage for the venue.
14. OXFORD STREET
Oxford Street is a major road in the City of Westminster in the West End of London, running from Tottenham Court Road to Marble Arch via Oxford Circus. It is Europe's busiest shopping street, with around half a million daily visitors, and as of 2012 had approximately 300 shops. Despite competition from other shopping centres, Oxford Street remains in high demand as a retail location, with several chains having their flagship stores on the street, and has a number of listed buildings. The annual switching on of Christmas lights by a celebrity has been a popular event since 1959.
15. PICCADILLY CIRCUS
Piccadilly Circus is a road junction and public space of London's West End in the City of Westminster. It was built in 1819 to connect Regent Street with Piccadilly. In this context, a circus, from the Latin word meaning "circle", is a round open space at a street junction. The Circus now connects Piccadilly, Regent Street, Shaftesbury Avenue, the Haymarket, Coventry Street (onwards to Leicester Square) and Glasshouse Street. It is close to major shopping and entertainment areas in the West End. Its status as a major traffic junction has made Piccadilly Circus a busy meeting place and a tourist attraction in its own right. The Circus is particularly known for its video display and neon signs mounted on the corner building on the northern side, as well as the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain and statue of Anteros (which is popularly, though mistakenly, believed to be of Eros). It is surrounded by several notable buildings, including the London Pavilion and Criterion Theatre. Underneath the plaza is Piccadilly Circus Underground station, part of the London Underground system.
For more than 1,400 years, a Cathedral dedicated to St Paul has stood at the highest point in the City. Frequently at the centre of national events, traditions have been observed here and radical new ideas have found expression under the iconic dome. In many cases these events have left some physical record as well as echoes in the intangible memory of the building. The present Cathedral, the masterpiece of Britain's most famous architect Sir Christopher Wren, is at least the fourth to have stood on the site. It was built between 1675 and 1710, after its predecessor was destroyed in the Great Fire of London, and services began in 1697.
17. THAMES CRUISE
The River Thames, known alternatively in parts as the River Isis, is a river that flows through southern England including London. At 215 miles (346 km), it is the longest river entirely in England and the second-longest in the United Kingdom, after the River Severn.
18. TOWER BRIDGE
Tower Bridge is a Grade I listed combined bascule and suspension bridge in London, built between 1886 and 1894, designed by Horace Jones and engineered by John Wolfe Barry. The bridge crosses the River Thames close to the Tower of London. The bridge was constructed to give better access to the East End of London, which had expanded its commercial potential in the 19th century. The bridge was opened by Edward, Prince of Wales and Alexandra, Princess of Wales in 1894. The bridge is 800 feet (240 m) in length and consists of two 213-foot (65 m) bridge towers connected at the upper level by two horizontal walkways, and a central pair of bascules that can open to allow shipping.
19. TOWER OF LONDON
When William the Conqueror built a mighty stone tower at the centre of his London fortress in the 1070s, defeated Londoners must have looked on in awe. Now nearly 1000 years later, the Tower still has the capacity to fascinate and horrify. As protector of the Crown Jewels, home of the Yeomen Warders and its legendary guardians, the pampered ravens, the Tower now attracts over three million visitors a year. Here, the Ceremony of the Keys and other traditions live on, as do the ghost stories and terrible tales of torture and execution.
20. TRAFALGAR SQUARE
Trafalgar Square is a public square in the City of Westminster, Central London, established in the early 19th century around the area formerly known as Charing Cross. The Square's name commemorates the Battle of Trafalgar, the British naval victory in the Napoleonic Wars over France and Spain that took place on 21 October 1805 off the coast of Cape Trafalgar. The site around Trafalgar Square had been a significant landmark since the 1200s. Prominent buildings facing the square include the National Gallery, St Martin-in-the-Fields, Canada House, and South Africa House. A Christmas tree has been donated to the square by Norway since 1947 and is erected for twelve days before and after Christmas Day. The square is a centre of annual celebrations on New Year's Eve.
An architectural masterpiece of the 13th to 16th centuries, Westminster Abbey also presents a unique pageant of British history – the shrine of St Edward the Confessor, the tombs of kings and queens, and countless memorials to the famous and the great. It has been the setting for every Coronation since 1066 and for numerous other royal occasions, including sixteen royal weddings.
The Palace of Westminster serves as the meeting place for both the House of Commons and the House of Lords, the two houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Informally known as the Houses of Parliament after its occupants, the Palace lies on the north bank of the River Thames in the City of Westminster, in central London. The Elizabeth Tower, in particular, often referred to by the name of its main bell, Big Ben, has become an iconic landmark of London and of the United Kingdom in general, one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city, and an emblem of parliamentary democracy.
WHEN TO GO: The best time to visit London is March through May when the temperatures are mild and the city's parks are green and blooming. However, late spring – along with summer – is also prime tourist season. December in London is also an incredibly popular place to be during the holidays, so expect the streets to be crowded with both English and international tourists.
HOW TO GET AROUND: By Tube, Bus or on foot
WHAT TO EAT:
BANGERS & MASH
FISH & CHIPS
WHAT TO DRINK: EXPERIENCE 12 OF THE OLDEST PUBS IN LONDON
EAT AT ATTIMI
Attimi is offering guests a laid-back dinner location coupled with a smooth and sophisticated wine bar for those who just want to enjoy a drink. ATTIMI which means “Moments” in Italian, celebrate both regional Italian cuisine and wine.
PLAY AT BLACK CAB HERITAGE TOURS
Black Cab Heritage Tours was founded in 2008, and are now the largest provider of private bespoke Tours that are undertaken in an iconic London taxi. BCHT offer exclusive private (perfect for small groups) tours and day excursions in a traditional London taxi (up to 6 guests) – with a knowledgeable London cabbie who is also a Tour Guide (accredited by the City University).
PLAY AT BRIT ICON TOURS
Follow the trail of iconic British figures and discover fascinating sites linked to their lives. Walking and taxi tours in London and across the UK range from Agatha Christie to Ian Fleming to Shakespeare, Princess Diana and much more.
PLAY AT BRIT MOVIE TOURS
Brit Movie Tours is the premier provider of Film and TV location sightseeing tours in London and the UK. They operate bus, walking and small vehicle tours in various locations throughout the UK including London, Cardiff, Leeds, Liverpool, Bristol, Edinburgh and Belfast.
PLAY AT BRIT MUSIC TOURS
Bringing you the very best pop music tours in the UK, they offer walking tours, small group tours, coach tours and private tours of music locations in London, Liverpool, Manchester (coming soon), Glasgow (coming soon) & Bristol (coming soon)! Discover the best locations associated with The Beatles, David Bowie, Queen, Elton John and so many more.
PLAY AT CHOCOLATE ECSTASY TOURS
The first Chocolate Ecstasy Tour was back in 2005. Lifelong chocolate obsessive Jennifer Earle had discovered beautiful chocolate boutiques hidden away from London's busier streets and she wanted to spread the word. What more joyous way to spend time than to walk between these places, tasting at each one and taking in the sights in between? All the while chatting with fellow chocolate lovers.
PLAY AT CITY UNSCRIPTED LONDON
Discover the heart of London just like you would if you were visiting a friend who lives there on a tour 100% tailored to you. There is no shortage of things to do in London. From visiting the beautiful royal parks and iconic landmarks like Tower of London and Westminster Abbey to experiencing the thriving culinary scene that rivals any city in the world.
PLAY AT EATWITH LONDON
Londoners welcome you to the city with Eatwith. Discover Eatwith best recommendations and you can book a seat to a weekend afternoon tea bus tour with a view, relish in authentic Chinese dumpling cooking sessions, or feast on vegan fine dining supper club!
PLAY AT FUN LONDON TOURS
Fun London Tours are a small friendly group of London tour guides offering unique walks lovingly crafted with the intention of showing off London in all its glory. Take a walking tour of London with them and you can look forward to an experience which will be one of the highlights of your stay. Their walks are created and led by accredited and knowledgeable guides who pepper their tours with humour, innovation and fun.
PLAY AT LONDON PARTY PUB CRAWL
Join their top-rated Party Pub Crawls across the best nightlife areas of London. Their party-pro Hosts will show you to some of the best bars and clubs around on this London Pub Crawl to give you an insanely cheap and unforgettable night out – though probably somewhat hazy! No matter if you are visiting or living in London, you will save some serious money and meet some seriously awesome people.