London is the vibrant and diverse capital city of England and the United Kingdom. As the largest city in Europe and the European Union, it's political and cultural influences can be seen around the world. The greater metropolitan area has a population of over 8 million people.
The city is located in the southeastern part of England along the River Thames. In general, its climate is milder and drier than the rest of the UK, although you can still expect a short rainstorm every third day. The Gulf Stream keeps the winters relatively mild, with an average temperature of around 8 degrees Celsius. There are a few snowstorms a year, but usually nothing too heavy. If there is an unusually heavy snowstorm, you can expect significant delays on public transportation.
London is a world renowned, international travel destination with major sights that appeal to most travelers. From museums, to nightlife and culture, London truly has something for everybody. The large and accessible airports make it a popular first stop for anybody heading to Europe.
There really are an infinite number of sights around London. Some of the most notable include Buckingham Palace, which is the official residence of the Queen, the London Eye, which is the world's third largest observation wheel, Piccadilly Circus, St. Paul's Cathedral, Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, Trafalgar Square, Westminster Abbey, and many more.
London is a city that is best explored by district. Plan your days to efficiently move around and maximize your time. If you're short on time, then having a well thought out itinerary is your best option to make sure you see and do everything that you want.
The term "Greater London" refers to both Central London and the outlying suburbs. Central London is where you will find the majority of the tourist attractions and historical parts of the city.
The City of London (or The City), is the original city within the Roman city walls. This is now a financial center with large skyscrapers interspersed with historic churches and ancient streets.
Bloomsbury is the historic district that many turn-of-the-century writers called home. It's also where you will find the British Museum, the University of London, and plenty of parks and historic buildings.
Covent Garden is a major shopping and entertainment district, while the city's most impressive shopping street is found in Mayfair-Marylebone. Leicester Square is in the West End with Chinatown, Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus. There's a vibrant market in Notting Hill-North Kensington and Soho is the place to go for interesting restaurants, cafes, and nightlife. The London Eye is in South Bank. Westminster has a huge number of historical and cultural sights including Buckingham Palace, The Palace of Westminster and Westminster Abbey.
There are activities for everyone in London. Whether you're interested in theater, live music, outdoor activities, or social events, it is almost guaranteed that something will be going on during your time in the city. It's a good idea to pick up a copy of the magazine, "Time Out London", which will give you a listing of everything going on around town. This magazine can be found at most corner shops and news stands.
Food and Dining
There is an infinite supply of food options in London. Almost any ethnic food is available somewhere, and local cuisine can be enjoyed anywhere from local pubs to high end restaurants. Fast food is a cheap option if you're on a very tight budget, but the quality can be low. Fish and chips is a popular favorite, and can usually be found for a good price. As with other tourist towns, it is best to avoid any restaurants in or around major tourist attractions. These prices are usually inflated and the quality of the food can be low. Instead, head to some local neighborhoods and pop into a local pub or cafe.
Meals usually include a 20% VAT tax and some places also add a service fee of between 10% and 12%. If the service fee hasn't been added in, then you should leave a tip for table service. Tipping is usually between 10% and 15% depending on the quality of the service.
London has a very impressive and comprehensive public transportation system. This is easily the best way to navigate the city, although there may be some delays and hassle. If you're staying in Central London, walking may often be your best option, as this lets you explore the city and embrace the atmosphere. Buses are also a great way to get around and they offer a much better view than the underground. If you're traveling for longer distances, then the tube is probably your best option. Regardless of your mode of transportation, make sure you consult a map and schedule. Plan your journey in advance and you'll be more efficient and save some money on transit.
London School of Economics
By ParisLover on Aug 7, 2010 in Accommodation
If you are traveling to London during the summer, I would highly recommend the London School of Economics http://www.lsevacations.co.uk/ for lodging. I stayed there in September 2009 at the Northumberland location and I could not have picked a more perfect spot. The London School of Economics is a prestigious financial institution that educate students from all over the World. During the summer, the kids go home and travelers move in! The Northumberland location lists The Strand, Travalger Square, The National Gallery, the River Thames, Victoria Embankment, House of Parliament/Big Ben, Westminister Abbey, St. Paul's Cathedral, The London Eye, Soho,Leicester Square, Picadilly Circus, Victoria Station, Buckingham Palace and Charing Cross Tube ALL as their neighbor. Prices are reasonable, if you watch it just right, you can get a room for 22 GBP a night. Not bad!
By backpackguru on Nov 18, 2011 in Local Transportation
Public transportation is definitely the easiest way to go in London. There are countless options, from the tube or underground, the tram, or lightrail. Do some research into the Oyster Card, which is a smart link pass that will almost definitely save you money if you're going to be in the city for any length of time. You can get the card for a deposit of 5 pounds.
Brit advice from a (well travelled!) British Londoner
By Adrian on Nov 8, 2013 in Food
Food in London can be horrendously expensive. Luckily though to cater for those of us earning WAY less than in neighbouring countries (most of us!) there are thousands upon thousands of cheap chicken shops. You can get 2 pieces of fried chicken, chips and can of Mirinda (made by Pepsi for the 3rd world market) for as little as £1.25. ($2) in some places. Chicken Cottage is our very own KFC equivalent. It's slightly more expensive than the really cheap places but still much less and far tastier than KFC!