London is unmistakably the capital city of England and one of the most visited cities in the entire world. This buzzing metropolis is beyond exhilarating to explore; thoughts immediately stray to visions of Big Ben, the Royal Family or the infamous and gruesome Tower of London. However, there are so many levels of intrigue to this amazing and iconic city. Bare in mind London has a greater population than many European countries as a whole – it could easily take a whole life time to fully explore! Here is everything you need to know to start your adventure in London from its contrasting boroughs to the best places to eat anywhere in the world.
Boroughs of London
Covent Garden: One of the most popular corners of the West End, Covert garden is known for its world renowned theatres, street performers and Roman age buildings now playing host to shopping stores that line the streets and ancient courtyards.
Kensington: The royal borough is known as a highly affluent area and boasts famous residents such as Chelsea FC and Harrods. It is also home to some more quirky neighbourhoods such as Notting hill which is known for it’s eclectic street markets and coffee culture.
Westminster: The bustling tourist and government hub lies on the north bank of the Thames. Westminster is where you will find all those famous landmarks such Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and houses of parliament. Get your snaps here (but watch out for pickpockets!)
Soho: Soho is famous for its night time scene and Chinatown. Here you can find a wide variety of classic pubs, jazz bars, LGBT+ safe areas and restaurants which are buzzing all night.
Camden: This area is the haven of counter culture, best known for its curious fashions and punk scene. Here you can find lively music bars, alternative clubs and amazing street art.
London city: The city of London is relatively small compared to other suburbs and it plays host to the famous financial district.
Shoreditch: The creative hub of London which attracts many alternative artists and designers from around the world. Here you can find graffiti art, vintage shopping and a vibrant nightlife.
Getting to and around London
There are numerous international airports surrounding London, the most popular of them being London Heathrow and Gatwick international airport. Heathrow is located South West of London, being a 34 minute drive to the city centre. Gatwick is located South of the city, being an hours drive away. Both are accessible via the extensive London rail services (TFL, Heathrow Express, Gatwick Express & Southern). London is also accessible by train from Europe via the Eurostar.
The Tube: The tube is Greater Londons subterranean train system and the quickest way to dart around London! There are 11 lines that are easy to navigate within the stations that make it so easy to take in all of the sites on your list! You can use an oyster card, ticket or card to use the tube.
Bus: If you’re wanting to travel around the city while taking in the scenic city, then the London bus service is an efficient and way to do it! Bus stops are scattered basically everywhere throughout the city. Payment is accepted in the same way as the tube.
Black Cab: This mode of transport is the most stylish ways of travelling around the city and the most expensive. You will notice black cab drivers do not drive with a GPS or for of map, rather they know every nook and cranny in London! The drivers are required to study the city and sit exams to qualify for this job, which also makes them excellent guides!
You can purchase an oyster card at kiosks located within train stations and most local convenience stores around the city. You can top it up using the touch screen ticket machines located at all tube stations or shops such as a newsagency.
Citymapper is a great app for both the tube and bus. Here you can find schedules, routes and stations which makes your life a whole lot easier navigation wise! TAXIAPP is a great app for black cabs which enables you to order a driver with an estimated price.
When to visit London
There isn’t a bad time to visit London although prices are highest during Spring and Summer. This time of year attracts tourists from all over the world due to its mild temperature where the cities’ parks are blooming and beer gardens are bustling! Winter and autumn is cold however provides a spectacular Christmas, where Oxford street is decorated with stunning Christmas lights and cosy pubs are booming whilst there is still entertainment aplenty!
What to eat and drink in London
Pubs and bars
Everyone knows the English are always up for a pint at the pub! London has a selection of over 3500 pubs to choose from. At the average London pub you can expect choice aplenty, with cask ale being a must try.
A great place to start is the Harp in Covent Garden which offers a plethora of hand poured ales, beers, ciders and stout alongside truly english atmosphere! Another good one to try is the Mayflower which has been thriving since the 18th century making it one of the oldest pubs on the River Thames.
When one thinks of english cuisine, high tea in London has to be close to the top. All I think about is looking straight into tiers of eloquently presented fresh pastries consisting of Bakewell tarts, pastel macaroons, scones with jam and cream that are washed down with freshly brewed loose leaf tea. If you really want to splurge then Fortnum and Masons or The RItz Hotel are a must visit!
The Sunday roast dinner is a cherished tradition among all Brits; I’m no stranger to a Sunday roast but there’s something to the way the English do it that makes you feel right at home even when exploring the other side of the world! Each and every Sunday pubs, bars and restaurants will have a roast dinner on the menu, accompanied by mouthwatering Yorkshire puddings and thick gravy.
If you’re looking for a wholesome, hearty and homely roast then look no further than the pig the butcher. If you’re feeling for more of a sophisticated dining experience than the Game bird prides itself on its aesthetically presented roast.
Vegan and vegetarian
London is a vegans’ paradise and possibly one of the best cities in the world for offering not only meatless alternatives but delicious ones too. Almost every place you visit in London will always have a meat free option and there are also a great deal of independent meatless cafes and restaurants carnivores have been known to choose over a traditional steak.
Tibitis located in Soho offers an array of options from savoury pies to vegan cheesecake. The gate also offers a selection of internationally inspired mouthwatering foods that are aesthetically recreated to your animal friendly needs!
London is such a tourism hotspot that attracts the rich and famous year round and with that an enormous appetite for luxury. Of course this means that the fine dining scene in London is world class and comes in almost unrivalled abundance.
In London you can visit the Gordon Ramsay restaurant owned by the one and only which is the longest standing three star Michelin starred restaurant in London. City star dining also offers Michelin star gastronomy in addition to its aesthetically pleasing atmosphere and amazing views.
Where to stay in London
Astor Museum Hostel
This hostel is perfect if you’re travelling on a budget and wish to stay in the beating heart of the city. This modern, fresh and clean hostel is located in the heart of the city and conveniently located a short stroll (or wobble) away from Kensington station.
This sophisticated art deco hotel is the embodiment of fun. Trendy refurbishments and sophisticated touches are offered only metres away from Bank tube station. You can expect glamorous accommodation, jazz music, spa, luxurious skyline views, a stunning bar and restaurant along with a balcony pool. The place is certainly the perfect combination of fun and fancy.
The Artist Residence
At this unique and quirky 10 bed residence will win you over with its charming decor, gorgeous art and comforting, friendly atmosphere that has been individualised for each room. The Artist residence is also well known for its delicious restaurant and cocktail bar!
Thistle Trafalgar Square
This affordable accommodation is located in one of the most iconic areas of the West End. One block from Leicester square and a few strides to the national art gallery, it makes an ideal location to explore the city from your front door! It also offers comfy rooms and affable social areas, perfect for meeting new people and discovering new areas of the city!
This prestigious hotel is one of the best in all of England and located only a short walk to Buckingham Palace . The hotel oozes luxury with its affluent decor and exquisite services including champagne on check in and your very own private butler service! You cannot get any more luxurious than this!
I’m an Australian blogger based in Central West NSW who has spent the last few years exploring the four corners of the globe, living as an expat and falling in love with the world just a little bit more everyday. Here you can find my tips, guides and experiences to help inspire you for your next trip!
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