Overview

London is the capital city of England and the United Kingdom and is the largest city in the European Union. It is a diverse and exciting city with several truly marvelous sights and attractions, which make it the world’s most visited city based on international arrivals.


Population: 8.2 million (In 2011)
Size: 1,572 Sq Km
Language(s): English

Things to do in London!

Check out exciting tours, activities & things to do in London!

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Guide to London
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Neighborhoods

Greater London consists of 32 boroughs. Some major neighborhoods include:

 

Central London

  • City of London
    • Also known as the City and The Square Mile, houses the London Stock Exchange.
    • Its glass towers and critically acclaimed skyscrapers are responsible for London’s iconic skyline.
  • Covent Garden
    • The central square remains this neighborhood’s primary attraction.
    • Street performers and food stalls share Covent Gardens’ iconic plaza and winding side streets with cheese shops, casual taverns, art museums, and opera houses that cater to those looking for less trafficked locales.
  • Notting Hill
    • Known for cobblestoned streets, scrunched alleyways and richly furnished Victorian townhomes.
    • Notting Hill’s famed Portobello Road Market is a rummager’s delight.
  • Soho
    • Home to some of London’s best restaurants and most exclusive, Soho also has some of the city’s seedy establishments (a tribute to its red-light roots and beatnik affiliations).
  • The West End
    • From its commercial plazas (think Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square, and Piccadilly Circus) to its side streets and back alleys, the West End whirs with unyielding energy.
    • Constantly evolving, crowds gather in London’s West End by morning, afternoon, and night to absorb a bit of the vibrant lifestyle.
  • Westminster
    • Westminster is a distinct political and cultural epicenter. Landmarks include Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, United Kingdom’s House of Parliament and The Big Ben, all share the cobblestoned lanes under Big Ben’s timely shadow along the north bank of the River Thames.

 

Inner boroughs

  • Includes areas like Camden, East End (working class heartland), Greenwich, Hampstead (Bohemian and literary London) among others.

 

Outer boroughs

  • Various suburbs, Heathrow Airport, Wimbledon etc.

Getting Around

General info

London has a very comprehensive public transport system. Central London remains highly 'walkable'; otherwise, the Tube network and the buses are the most frequently used.

Tube

Greater London is served by 12 Tube lines, along with the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) and an interconnected local train network.

  • Underground trains generally run between 5am and midnight, Monday to Saturday, and operating hours are reduced on Sunday. Exact details depend on the station and the line, so it's worth checking the Transport for London website.
  • For the purposes of working out different fares, London's transport map is divided into six concentric zones. Zone 1 and 2 are in Central London and Zones 6 to 9 cover the outer edge of the capital.
  • Consider purchasing an Oyster card and/or a Travelcard to get the best fares and beat the queues. Oyster card prices are always cheaper than paper tickets for the Tube. For example, the cash fare for a single journey in Zone 1 is £4.50, which is £2.40 more than the Oyster fare.
  • Various discounts and free travel are available for children, students, the elderly and disabled travellers.

Taxi

  • London's official taxis, black cabs can be hailed in the street or at designated ranks situated in prominent places, including many mainline rail, Tube and bus stations. They can also be booked by telephone.
  • If the yellow TAXI sign at the front is illuminated, the cab is available for hire. Black cabs are legally obliged to take on any job for journeys up to 12 miles (20 miles for cabs at the Heathrow Airport taxi ranks), or up to one hour duration.
  • Fares are metered, and there is a minimum charge of £2.40. Additional charges apply when you take a black cab from Heathrow, book by telephone and on Christmas Day and New Year's Eve. Many black cabs accept payment by credit or debit card but check with the driver before the trip starts. Card payments attract additional charges.
  • You can tip taxi drivers as much as you like, but most people round up to the nearest pound.

Bus

  • London's famous red buses are a quick, convenient and cheap way to travel around the city.
  • However, heavy congestion through the city centre may mean that the Tube may often be the quicker option.
  • London's buses run throughout the night. Night bus services cover the period between the close of the Tube and the start of daytime bus services. In addition, many London bus routes run for 24 hours.
  • There is a flat fare throughout the bus network, £1.40 with a pre-pay Oyster card and £2.40 if you are paying by cash. Travelcards are valid on buses.
  • Refer here for more details.

Eat and drink

Local

  • English pub or cafeteria breakfasts can include a rack of bacon, beans in tomato sauce, egg, sausage, orange juice and coffee or tea. Other local dishes include pie and mash, fish and chips etc
  • Apart from these, there are a vast variety of food options to fit all preferences and budgets including local chains (e.g. sandwiches, salads and soups at Eat and Pret a Manger, Japanese at Itsu among others), fast food options (McDonald’s, Nando’s etc to burger joints like Shake Shack and Byron), coffee chains (Café Nero, Starbucks), Asian/ Mediterranean/ Italian/ French restaurants (e.g. Le Pain Quotidien to more gourment/ luxury options) 

Gourmet

  • London has a large number of Michelin starred restaurants. For a wider list of options, refer to the Visit London website . Some of the highest rated options are:
  • Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, Chelsea
    • Cuisine: Modern French;
    • Awarded 3 Michelin Stars
  • Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester, Mayfair
    • Cuisine: Contemporary French cuisine using seasonal French and British ingredients
    • Seven course dinner can cost £180-200 per person
    • Awarded 3 Michelin Stars
  • Dinner by Heston Blumenthal
    • Cuisine: Contemporary cooking to reimagine historical British recipes
    • Awarded 2 Michelin Stars

Vegetarian

  • London has plenty of vegetarian-only restaurants many of them championing organic foodstuffs
  • If you are dining with carnivorous friends most restaurants will cater for vegetarians and will have at least a couple of dishes on the menu.
  • Indian/Bangladeshi restaurants are generally fruitful, as they have plenty of traditional dishes (good Indian/Bangladeshi options can be found in the Brick Lane area of Spitalfields or further afeild in East Ham, Tooting Broadway and Southall. These also tend to be very cheap eats with authentically prepared dishes with a true local ambience). There are also many vegetarian Thai buffet places on Greek and Old Compton Sts in Soho and Islington High Street.
  • Apart from these, there are several vegetarian only restaurants like Food for Thought, Bonnington Café, Sagar among others. For details, see lists such as www.huffingtonpost.co.uk

Drink

  • Common Beer options include European lagers such as Stella Artois, Kronenbourg etc; bitters such as Fuller’s London Pride, Young’s best bitter; Guiness; a cider such as Strongbow etc.
  • Pimms cocktails are a part of the British tradition as well.

Tipping

  • Customary to leave 10-15% of the bill as a tip when eating out. However, a service charge may already be included.
  • No tips for fast food, self-service or takeaway meals.
  • People generally do not tip in pubs in London.
  • It is polite to tip 10-15% of the taxi fare for black cabs and licensed minicabs in London. However, most people simply round up the fare to the nearest £1 and tell the driver to "keep the change". If you've had a longer journey and the driver has assisted you with luggage, you may wish to tip a little more, up to £5.

Staying Connected

  • The main mobile networks are EE, Vodafone, Three and O2.
  • However there are a host of MVNOs that use the infrastructure of these networks, these often offer plans tailored towards expat communities and tourist who wish to call abroad, the main players are LycaMobile and Lebara.
  • Free Wi-Fi is available at a few outlets (McDonald’s, Starbucks), at select O2 Free Hostspots, British Library etc.

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