London is an amazing city. It is extremely diverse and so steeped in history that you’d be hard pushed if you couldn’t even discover one thing that didn’t interest you. There are simple loads of things to keep you busy during your stay in London.
When most people think about London images of fog, the Queen, warm beer and fish ‘n chips spring to mind but London is home to some world class museums, many of which are free to enter, amazing attractions such as the London Eye, Tower of London, Madame Tussauds, Royal Observatory, Kew Gardens and Big Ben. But, of course, you can also spend your day Royal watching if you like.
For many London is just a stop gap from which they go on to explore other parts of the United Kingdom. Whether you’re in London for an extended stay of just a quick glance read on and we’ll show you the main attractions that you’re not going to want to miss.
London is a great place to visit no matter what time of the year it is, you’ll still find plenty to do. European winters can be a little miserable at times as they are mainly cold and wet (rather than snowy) and the evenings close-in early.
Summer is better as the weather is warmer and the hours of daylight longer, which can make a big difference if you plan on spending a lot of time outside enjoying the sights. July and August are very busy as it is the school holidays for most of Europe so expect higher prices and to also wait in line longer if this is when you plan to come.
Springtime is pleasant with its warm air and blooming flowers but don’t expect it to rain any less, this is England after all. It can rain at any time, there isn’t a dry season as such, but November to January are normally the rainiest months. April is a nice time to visit London, just before the summer crowds erupt yet while the prices are lower and the weather warm enough to enjoy.
Avoid visiting major attractions on public holidays, normally called bank holidays in the UK, as these are the busiest days of the year when every man and his dog seem to go out for the day.
One exception to all of this would be if you wish to visit inside of Buckingham Palace. The State Rooms are only open for eight weeks each year, normally for August and September, so if this is high on your ‘must-see’ list then you’ll have no other choice than to visit London at the busiest time of the year.
If, on the other hand, you want to make your trip to London as cheap as possible then here are a few tips. Obviously off season is going to be a lot cheaper than arriving in the middle of the summer holidays. In fact you can save up to 20% on the cost of a hotel room by coming in the winter months (with the exception of the Christmas period when prices spike again).
So November, early December or January through March is the time to book for the least expensive fares. The UK is known for its post Christmas sales so if you’re on the lookout for a little shopping then come early January (sales normally start on Boxing Day, the day after Christmas Day).
Mid-week flights can be cheaper than flying at the start of the week so be sure to compare deals from several airlines to get the best deals.
There are plenty of amazing attractions to see in London and the good news is that many of the top museums are free to visit. Check out our list of the Top London favourite attractions to get you started.
Are you ready to start planning your trip to London yet? Here are some of our top tips for things to do in London this year.
Top of most peoples attractions list for London are the museums. Not only are they interesting places to explore, amazing collection of ancient artefacts, but the kids might learn a thing or two. Topping the list is the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum (often called the V&A museum which is a little less of a mouthful) and the Natural History Museum.
Entrance to the National Gallery is free and includes exhibits of paintings from 16th till the 19th century. The Tate Modern is Britain’s national gallery of international modern art.
The Tower of London is steeped in history. This medieval castle, located on the north bank of the River Thames in central London, is home to the Queens crown jewels. Previously serving as the national treasury, a menagerie and the home of the Royal Mint it is now one of London’s most famous landmarks and tourist attractions.
The Tower gets very busy so arrive early and expect long lines.
Both the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben reside next to the river Thames at Westminster. It’s almost obligatory to have your photo taken with Big Ben in the background. This beautifully ornate clock tower, actually called Elizabeth Tower (‘Big Ben’ is the name of the bell inside the tower) isn’t open for tours but the Houses of Parliament next door are.
If you’ve made it to ‘Big Ben’ then you can just head down to the river behind it and jump on a cruise down the river. Tourist boats are available to take you down the river, under the iconic Tower Bridge, and as far as Greenwich where you can visit the Royal Observatory, the location of the prime meridian (GMT – Greenwich Mean Time), overlooking Greenwich Park and National Maritime Museum.
If you’d rather have a guided tour of London then why not join a walking tour and find some hidden gems. Sandemans New London Tours offers free guided tours around the city but there are plenty of others offering similar walk abouts.
Take a walk down Oxford street if you enjoy shopping. There are plenty of shops to keep you entertained from street traders to high end luxury department stores such as Harvey Nichols and Harrods down at the Knightsbridge end of the street.
Covent Garden, Campden Market and Borough Market are worth a visit to see some traditional London markets. Borough Market is an amazing food market dating back to the 13th century.
Many people might not believe that England is a foodies dream but you many be pleasantly surprised. If you’re passionate about your food then you’ll love to know that London is home to some of the worlds best restaurants and bars, not to mention some great food markets. Foodie tours are even available for those looking to make the most of their time.
London is not just some concrete jungle it also has some beautiful parks. Take some time out on your travels to visit St. James’s Park, Hyde Park, Regent’s Park and Greenwich Park. You’ll find plenty of wildlife especially squirrels ready to grab your sandwiches. Hire a boat in Hyde Park and paddle around the lake.
Finish off the evening by taking in a show in London’s West End such as Les Miserables, The Lion King or Phantom of The Opera.
For one of the best views across London consider taking a ride on the London Eye, Europe’s largest Ferris wheel. Located across the river from Westminster you’ll get breathtaking views of London from inside one of the enclosed capsules.
Wherever you decide to stay in London you’ll find yourself having to travel quite a lot if you want to reach many attractions because they are spread out across the city. The one thing that cannot be disputed is that there is a lot off places to stay in London. From luxury hotels to guest houses, serviced apartments to hostels there is something for everyone.
Public transport is very good in London with the Underground (subway) and regular bus routes to get you around quickly.
London is divided up into districts, each with its own attractions and personality. Here are a few of our favourites.
Theatreland is the place to stay if you’re in the mood for enjoying shows. Home to Royal Opera House, London Palladium and Theatre Royal Drury Lane to the London Coliseum and Her Majesty’s Theatre and packed with bars and restaurants.
In South Kensington you’ll find plenty of interesting museums to keep you busy and the good news is that many of them are free. The Natural History Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Science Museum are all close by.
Both Paddington and Pimlico have affordable hotels and are close to the action. Stay in Pimlico and you’re within walking distance of Westminster and Buckingham Palace and Paddington is close to Hyde Park.
If you’re looking for luxury then head to Belgravia, Knightsbridge or Chelsea, a few of the more exclusive areas of London.
Bayswater has plenty of hotels on offer and is regarded as one of the more beautiful parts of the city, sitting on the edge of Hyde Park as it does.
If you want to stay somewhere a little greener then Greenwich may be the perfect choice. With its large park and attractions such as the Royal Observatory and the Old Royal Naval College you’re close to the Thames and still have plenty of transport options at hand.
The City of London district is home to the financial area where you’ll find modern architecture such as The Gherkin skyscraper (officially called 30 St Mary Axe) alongside the likes of St Paul’s Cathedral and the Tower of London.
Victoria is actually a sub district located around Victoria train station. Full of affordable hotels and B&Bs it is within walking distance of some famous attractions such as Buckingham Palace and due to its proximity to the train station has easy access to the Underground and trains outside of London.
West Kensington, on the other hand may not have many of its own attractions but it is a good place to go for cheap accommodation. Within reach of three underground stations it is a good place to stay if you’re driving your own car into the city as it is just outside of the congestion zone. Covent gardens is close by which is a great place for shopping, bars and restaurants and London’s West End is just around the corner if you’re going to take in a show.
I’m sure that you’ve already seen a picture of one of London’s iconic red buses. They’re hard to miss as they’re everywhere, which is great news when you want to get around. These are one of the cheapest ways to get around London and unlike the Underground you’ll actually get a chance to see some of London on your travels.
London’s iconic black cabs are everywhere. Officially they are the only cabs that are allowed to stop and pick you up in the street and they can get very expensive fast. It’s best to stick with the Tube and walking when you can.
Walking is one of the best ways to enjoy London as many of the attractions are grouped together. When you’ve seen all the attractions in one district then you can always jump on the Underground and a few stops later you’ll be ready to go again.
You can even hire a bicycle if fancy a little exercise. The bikes can be hired using a credit card from docking stations around the city. When you’re finished you just return it to the closest station to where you are.
London’s subway is called the Underground, because most of the tracks are actually underground, but you’ll also see it referred to as the Tube. You can by tickets from the electronic machines in the stations. You can purchase single tickets for each journey but if you plan on using the Tube a lot then a day pass or even a week pass may be cheaper in the long run. The Underground is divided up into zones. The less zones that you travel in the cheaper the journey will be.
To save money you might consider getting an Oyster Card. These are travel smart cards rather than paper tickets. You just need to add credit to the card and then you only have to swipe it at the terminals for each journey. You can save up to 50% on the price of the ticket with an Oyster card and it’s not only limited to the Tube, it can also be used on the red buses and river buses.
Saving money in London is possible if you plan ahead, look for hotel and flights deals and choose to visit attractions in close proximity to each other so as to save on travel costs.
Many of London’s museums are free and they are well worth a visit especially if you have children. Head to the British Museum for some free art and culture, the Natural History Museum for amazing artefacts, discover art and design at the Victoria and Albert Museum and learn something new at the Science Museum.
With a London Pass you can get free entry to over 60 attractions as well as fast track entrance to some of the main attractions such as the Tower of London. The London Pass is also available in combination with the travel Oyster card making getting from one attraction to another a piece of cake.One, two, three and six day passes are available starting from 53 GBP for the one day adult card.
Absolutely the best way to enjoy London is by foot. Just walking the streets can be an experience in itself and you may discover something that wasn’t even on your tour list.
Take a trip to Central Park and watch the street artists performing their routines free of charge.
Have a search on the free coupon site Groupon to find deals on all sorts of things in London. From restuarant discounts to hotel deals and much more. You can also register to receive alerts to specials deals each day.
The internet is your friend when it comes to getting cheap tickets to the theatre. Check out sites such as comparetheatretickets to find out what tickets are selling for and then try to get them cheaper through websites such as theatremonkey , lastminute and getintolondontheatre.
If you don’t have access to the internet then you can always try the TKTS ticket booths in Leicester Square for discounts. Failing that why not go direct to the theatres just before the show and see if anything is available.