London, United Kingdom

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Welcome to London

London

London is the capital of England and of the United Kingdom. It was founded in the Roman period but has reinvented itself as a 21st-century city. The Houses of Parliament with the iconic Big Ben bell and its clock tower are the centre of government. Nearby Westminster Abbey is the site where British kings and queens have historically been crowned. Across the Thames River, which carves its way through the city, stands the London Eye wheel that provides panoramic views of the entire city from the South Bank.

Information & Facts

Activities

There is so much to do in London that visitors would exhaust themselves trying to do them all. Indeed, it's impossible. Hence the expression: "If you are tired of London, you are tired of life."

Start by ticking off all of your chosen top 10 London attractions. Visit the Coca-Cola London Eye to see London’s greatest landmarks in 30 minutes. Soar over London again on the Emirates Air Line cable car. Travel down river to visit Hampton Court Palace, one of Henry VIII’s former residences. Have a look at the Crown Jewels in the Tower of London. Tour Buckingham Palace when it opens in the summer. Discover the Egyptian mummies at the British Museum. That should be enough for one week. 

Eating Out

There are 17, 000 restaurants in London and almost countless cafes and sandwich emporiums. There are  66 restaurants whose chefs have Michelin stars. On top of this there are 4, 500 pubs and bars, many of which serve food. The average cost of a meal for two with wine is £60. 

Getting Around

London is vast so most people travel by bus and tube though walking is the best way to discover the city. When visiting buy a London Pass, which can be from one to six days. Plus get an Oyster Travelcard. It's the cheapest way to travel around London. An Oyster card covers journeys on all of London’s public transport network , including underground and overground trains, buses, and the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) any time of the day, and on any day of the week.

Taxis are expensive but the drivers are very knowledgeable about the city in which they work. An increasing number of people are using the Uber travel service instead. 

Language

English is the official language and is spoken by the majority of people but among the most common languages you'll hear in London are Polish,  Gujarati,  Bengali, Punjabi,  Mandarin and Cantonese. 

Money

London's currency is the pound sterling, which is the same as the UK's as a whole. There are 100 pence (p) to the pound (£) and notes are in the denominations £5, £10, £20 and £50.

Negatives

London is incredibly crowded and there are huge number of foreigners. The traffic is dreadful and it costs to enter the central area by car. It's called the Congestion Charge Zone. Aircraft constantly fly overhead creating an incredible noise, especially near the airports - of which there are currently five. The weather is not great. It really does rain a lot! London is also very expensive. 

Night Life

London caters for all moods and tastes when it comes to nightlife. From wild clubs to places that are sedate and laidback are available if you know where to find them.

The West End tends to be expensive though Chinatown is not that expensive for dining, Shaftesbury Avenue is the place for theatres and Covent Garden can be charming. But this is not where the authentic London nightlife is these days - apart from Soho!

Soho has been a playground almost since it got its name. Here as well as the strip clubs and sex shops there are achingly trendy cocktail bars, very smart members’ clubs, cellar bars and some very established London institutions.

Much of the cutting edge action has shifted east and can now be found to the east in Hoxton, Shoreditch, Brick Lane and Whitechapel.

More middle of the road action can be found nearby around Islington’s Essex Road and Stoke Newington’s Church Street. Camden Town is where to go for live gigs. To the north, Hampstead and its neighbour Highgate are good for a quiet drink. 

Restaurants

London has at least one restaurant to suit almost all the cuisines the world has to offer. The food scene here is evolving so quickly, it's almost impossible to keep up. One minute Covent Garden has the best restaurants, then everything cool and cutting edge is happening in the restaurants of East London. There are new trends that keep food in the capital constantly fresh.

Even fine-dining isn't standing still. Star chefs are constantly opening innovative restaurants and new talent is pushing through all the time. All this culinary activity has earned London its reputation of nurturing some of the world's top restaurants. For best-value book for lunchtime. This is when you may be lucky to find a Michelin-star menu where you can have a meal below £30.

London's hotels still offer the best afternoon teas, and in summer there are rooftop bars that buzz with the season's vibes. 

Shopping

Since the UK bizarrely decided to leave the European Union , the British pound has plunged against most major currencies, making it cheaper here than most places.

While the bargains last, it's time to seek out the brands you want. The places to head include Bond Street, London’s luxury mainstay, South Molton Street, Marylebone - Marylebone Village, as it’s now styled— where edgier luxury labels can be found,   and Mount Street, which has remained largely untouched since Victorian times. 

Sightseeing

There is so much to see that it's important to work out mini itineraries so you don't miss out. For example the borough of Westminster encompasses what most people think of as London including Hyde Park, Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace, Soho and the Houses of Parliament.

East London's art galleries, cocktail bars, and shops in shipping containers are joined by rickety pubs and farmers markets as well as a thriving Asian community.

Notting Hill, made famous by the Hugh Grant film has a lot to offer the sightseer including  candy-coloured townhouses and secluded secret gardens as well as Portobello Road with its bustling outdoor market. 

Time

London uses British Summer Time (BST) during the period of summer daylight and Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) during the rest of the year.

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