Known for it’s red buses and phone boxes, London is a popular destination for tourists and travelers every year.
There are so many incredible things to do in London and so many distinct boroughs with their own characteristics that it can be tricky to decide where to stay, what to do and how to start your travel plans.
This guide will help with you plan every part of your trip - from accommodation to afternoon tea, cabs to cash.
What You Need To Know
British Pound – The only currency used in London and the rest of the UK is the British Pound. All airports offer a currency exchange and money can be withdrawn from ATMs around the city.
Visas – As it stands (pre-Brexit), most visitors do not need a visa if they are staying for under six months. There are 56 countries and territories that do not require a visa for the UK whilst citizens of Oman, Qatar and the UAE can obtain an Electronic Visa Waiver online. Generally speaking, if your home country is an English speaking country, you won’t need a visa for your UK visit. To check if you need a visa, you can use the government website: https://www.gov.uk/check-uk-visa
Rush hour – London is a crowded city and traffic can be hideous during rush hour. Avoid travelling or opt for the underground during 7-9am and 5-7pm.
Credit and Debit Cards – To use your cards in the UK, contact your bank before and let them know you are travelling to England. If you forget, they may end up blocking your card for fraudulent action.
Theatre – London is home to the fabulous West End. Tickets can be purchased on the day of a show, directly from the Theatre. Book in advance on ticketmaster.co.uk, if you want tickets for a Friday or Saturday performance.
Tipping – Tipping is not uncommon in London but isn’t expected.
Beware: most restaurants and bars add a 12.5% service charge.
Stand on the right – When taking escalators in the Underground or shopping malls, always stand on the right and let fast-paced locals dash pass on your left.
Food – It is not as exotic as other food around the world but British food should be tried whilst staying in London. Sundays are for Roast Dinners, Fridays are for Fish ‘n’ Chips and Full English Breakfasts can be eaten all day, any day.
The UK – There is more to the United Kingdom than London. Jump on the train and head to Brighton, Bath, Stonehenge, Oxford or Cambridge. If you have some time, you can even catch a flight up to Liverpool (the birth place of The Beatles) or further afield to Edinburgh (the capital of Scotland).
When To Visit London
The British weather is a funny ole’ thing. Summers are short, winters feel long and it can rain any moment, of any day, of any month. November through to March can be cold, with temperatures average 5°C but Christmas time can be a lovely time to visit with young children or the young at heart.
March through to June and September to October are arguably the best times to visit.
The weather is getting warmer yet the crowds are still fairly minimal. July and August is the hottest time of the year but this also coincides with the school holidays, meaning crowds in London are at their peak.
How to get there
All major airlines fly into London Heathrow (LHR) and quite a few fly into London Gatwick (LGW). Both airports sit on the outskirt of London and offer various transport options. From London you can fly directly to all the cities we have covered in our city guides, for example: Chicago, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Prague and Vienna.
From London Heathrow, you can catch the Heathrow Express that takes you directly into London Paddington station within 15 minutes. Chauffuerit also offer executive car services with trips into the centre of London starting at £50. The drive from the centre of London takes between 45 minutes to an hour. A taxi fare from Piccadilly Circus to Heathrow Airport will cost around £70.
From London Gatwick, you can catch a Gatwick Express to London Victoria for the quickest route into the city.
If you are travelling Europe, you can also get the Eurostar into Kings Cross Station direct from Paris.
Black cabs run this city and can be found everywhere. You can hail a black cab by sticking your arm out when a taxi is approaching but double check the light on top of the car first. If it is switched on, then it is available to hail, switched off then it is already on a job.
Uber's taxi service also works perfectly in London and offers a convenient way of transportation for those who appreciate easy-to-use mobile app and cashless payment system. As mentioned before Always Fly Business is a huge fan of Uber and uses it whenever possible.
For a healthy option, you may want to check out London’s public bike sharing scheme or you can opt for the underground and light rail services during rush hour to avoid the traffic.
Where To Stay
There are many different boroughs in London to choose from but these are some of the best.
If you are short on time, choose a hotel in the central boroughs; Westminster, City, Tower Hamlets, Southwark or Lamberth:
- The Ritz London
- InterContinental London - The O2
- Shangri-La hotel at The Shard London
- London Marriott Hotel Park Lane
South Kensington and Chelsea
If you are looking to slow down and see London at your own leisure, these are some of the best hotels to stay in:
Food and Drink
London is home to some of the best restaurants in the world. You can find every type of cuisine imaginable and more. What are you looking for?
Legs Restaurant – British ingredients are fused into unique dishes that are just down right perfect.
Native – As the name suggests, this is a truly British pub tucked away in Covent Garden. Simple but tasty.
Hutong – Located in The Shard, this high-end Chinese restaurant offers classy dishes with Hong Kong imported ingredients.
Chick ‘n’ Sours – Imagine juicy, Korean-style fried chicken tucked into a bun with coleslaw, mayo and a touch of chili - heaven in the Kingsland district.
Gunpowder – Looking for some spice? Head to this Spitalfields favourite and taste some incredible blends and unique dishes.
Gymkhana – An expensive but retro-styled restaurant offers modern Indian meals in Mayfair.
The Good Egg – Offering all-day breakfasts, burgers and bakes, this Stoke Newington restaurant has received rave reviews.
Bocca di Lupo – This Soho restaurant is a unique take on an Italian, with small and large dishes to share.
Artusi – Offering simple yet impressive dishes, this Italian restaurant offers a sophisticated choice in the heart of Peckham.
Som Saa – Inspired by Thai Street food, this Spitalfields restaurant is a must for anyone who loves Asian food.
Roka – A popular spot that is not suitable for those on a budget. This is a perfect restaurant for special occasions. Roka is located in the Fitzrovia district between Euston Square and Oxford Circus.
Uchi – Another Japanese favourite with a minimal menu - demonstration of why restaurants should aim for quality over quantity.
Bao – This former street food business has been a massive success in Soho, so much so that a second restaurant has opened in Fitzrovia. If you fancy amazing Bao (chinese steamed bread roll) or some tasty fried chicken, this is the restaurant for you.
Rök Smokehouse and Bar – specialising in smoked dishes with a Nordic flare, Rok is a narrow, low-lit dining room with a open kitchen and three, truly magical cocktails. Rok is located in the Shoreditch district.
Hoppers – there are very few exclusively Sri Lankan restaurants in London and this is arguably the best. Head to Soho for a delicious place of bone-marrow curry.
Barrafina– In the heart of Covent Garden, this gem offers Barcelona-style tapas; incredible prawns included. It’s popularity has led to additional sites on Frith Street and Drury Lane.
Things To Do
There are so many amazing things to see and do in London, it is hard to know where to start!
The Must Do
- Big Ben
- The London Eye
- Tower of London
- Buckingham Palace
- Tower Bridge
- Oxford Street
- Westminster Abbey
- Hyde Park
- Trafalgar Square
Explore The Museums
- Victoria and Albert Museum
- Tate Modern
- British Museum
- Natural History Museum
- Museum of London
- London Dungeons
- Madame Tussands
- Sea Life London Aquarium
- London Zoo
- Catch a West End Show – Les Miserables and Wicked are our favourite choices.
- Take in Afternoon Tea – The Kensington Hotel is known for its Afternoon Tea or head to Chesterfield Hotel for a Willy Wonka themed tea.
- Watch a football game – Chelsea, West Ham, Arsenal and Tottenham all have grounds in the city.
- Warner Bros Studio Tour – Explore the sets of the magical world of Harry Potter in Watford, just a short train ride from London Euston.
- The Shard – Head up The Shard for the best views of the city.
- Churchill War Rooms
- ArcelorMittal Orbit
- The Sherlock Holmes Experience
- The Abandond London Post Office Railway
- Hunterian Museum
- Leadenhall Market
- The Cartoon Museum
- The Circus Restaurant and cocktail bar
Have a fantastic time exploring London! We hope this guide to London has helped with your planning.