A Traveller’s Guide to London

London Bus

A city that is home to over 8.5 million people and has welcomed over 17.4 million visitors in 2014, London is one of Europe’s perpetually popular cities.

Beyond just being the nation’s capital, the so-called Big Smoke has plenty to offer visitors hailing from the UK and overseas. From the historic city centre to world-famous landmarks, restaurants, shopping and much more; travellers passing through London have a great deal to explore.

Getting Around

There are numerous apps and maps that can help you navigate around London’s vast cityscape and various different methods of travel depending on what you want to see, your budget, and your level of fitness.

If taking in the main sights in central London (Travel Zone 1), visitors can make do with walking. However, if travelling throughout the remaining zones (Zones 2-6), availing of London’s excellent transport system is a great way to get around. While Day Passes are available, visitors planning to spend more time in London may want to consider an Oyster Card. Available to use on the tube and buses, this plastic card is reloadable with pay-as-you-go fares, and often works out to be the most cost-effective method of getting around if you will be travelling a lot throughout London.

Of course, these aren’t your only options. There is no shortage of historic black cabs in London, and the affectionately nicknamed “Boris bikes” for rent are a great way to explore the city, especially along the waterways of the canal.

(Helpful hint – the Citymapper app can help you navigate around London, calculating routes via tube, bus, car and on foot).

Things to See

When it comes to visiting iconic landmarks and historic sites, visitors to London are spoiled for choice. Some of the most popular attractions in the city include:

Big BenOfficially called the Elizabeth Tower, Big Ben as it’s more commonly known is the clock tower situated at the end of the Palace of Westminster. Arguably one of the most recognisable sites in London, the clock has stood since 1858, and visitors can hear the bells ring out each hour, on the hour.

Houses of Parliament

Tower of LondonBuilt at the dawn of the 11th century by William the Conqueror, the Tower of London has served as both royal residence and of course a prison to house some of the most high-profile criminals of the day. Today, visitors can explore more than 20 towers in this fortified stronghold, along with an impressive collection of Crown Jewels.

The ShardOnce the tallest building in Europe, The Shard is an impressive glass skyscraper situated in Southwark. From the top of the building’s 72 floors, you can enjoy incredible 360-degree panoramic views of the city.

The Shard
Image Credit: Shutterstock.com

London EyeAnother popular way to take in views of the city skyline is via a 30-minute “flight” aboard the London Eye, a large observation wheel on the South Bank of the Thames. Standing 443ft tall, the wheel enables visitors to view many of the key landmarks in the city.

London eye

St Paul’s CathedralSt Paul’s Cathedral is one of the largest cathedrals in Europe, with only the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica being larger. It was built under Sir Christopher Wren, making it a true wonder to behold especially for lovers of Baroque architecture.

Buckingham PalaceOf course, no trip to London would be complete without a visit to the official London residence of the Royal family. Tours inside are available during the summer months, while visitors throughout the rest of the year can enjoy the majestic palace along with a walk down the historic mall.

Buckingham Palace

Other points of interest include the British Museum, Tate Modern, Westminster Abbey and Shakespeare’s Globe.

Areas to Visit

There are many distinctive neighbourhoods to discover in London. Mayfair is one of the most exclusive neighbourhoods, having been home to many famous artists, writers, scientists and philosophers over the last few centuries. In Mayfair, you’ll discover some of the most beautiful parks in London and some of the finest dining in the country. Many of the parks are lined with a number of breathtaking 18th century mansions, including the former studio of legendary fashion photographer Terence Donovan, which is currently on the market for a cool £18million.

Mayfair
Image Credit: Shutterstock.com

Notting Hill is also one of London’s most desirable and recognisable areas, filled with world-famous events, restaurants, galleries and theatres. Vintage lovers should flock to Stoke Newington to take advantage of pubs, cafes, and boutiques, while those who love the nightlife will have no shortage of things to do in Soho.

Final tips:

  • Buying tickets in advance can often help you save money, and there are plenty of free attractions to enjoy too.
  • Keep an eye out for happy hour offers to save on food and drink.
  • Explore markets to find great deals and experience authentic London.

 

10 thoughts on “A Traveller’s Guide to London

  1. shopping uk says:

    You won the Internets for today! Thanks so much!

  2. I love London, but I hardly ever get to go because it just costs so much to stay. I am hoping to get there a bit more this year though! Great post xx
    Louise @ Birds and Lilies recently posted…The January Fresh Start…. Or Not??My Profile

  3. Natalie Ray says:

    That’s a really useful guide, thank you. We don’t get to London as often as I’d like but my sister lives there so we will be taking a trip down sometime this year. Tate modern is on my list of places to visit 🙂
    Natalie Ray recently posted…Our Thursday Photo #87My Profile

  4. I love London but I do love to get back to my country home again! Lovely photos and great tips for the newbie London visitor!
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  5. Ickle Pickle says:

    We love London – I already have two trips booked there this year! Great post and tips 🙂 Kaz x
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  6. Sonya Cisco says:

    I love visiting London and find the transport network really easy to navigate – esp since putting a tube map app on my phone!
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  7. Kerry norris says:

    I love visiting London but not sure I could ever live there. This is a great guide for people. Love the tips at the end of the post. Defo a food idea to look for vouchers and discounts x
    Kerry norris recently posted…A review of the Ardo Calypso Double Plus BreastpumpMy Profile

  8. I can’t wait to take my children to see all the sites in London. We used to have lots of friends living there, so pre-kids would visit a lot, but now everyone seems to be moving away… so no free accommodation for us any more! Lovely and informative guide. x

  9. We love London, there is always so much to see and do. Wish we could visit more often.
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  10. Erica Price says:

    We like to walk in London where it’s feasible, but I think the bus and the river boats are also good ways to see the city as you can see how things link up.
    Erica Price recently posted…Skin Care From Linco CareMy Profile

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