LONDON CITY GUIDE: Must do in London
If you’re planning a trip to England, this London City Guide and travel tips will come in handy. The capital of the United Kingdom is a fascinating, multicultural city packed with everything you could want. Find out how to get around London, the best time to visit London, the best museums in London, the best London markets and the other best things to do.
Why visit London
Why should you visit London? The sheer diversity of London makes it an incredible place. Each borough has a different personality and experience to offer. It’s the most visited city in Europe and a dreamy destination for most travelers, as it simply offers every activity and cuisine you could imagine, therefore, you’ll never be short of ideas for what to do in London. Planning your trip can be overwhelming, luckily this London city guide will help you organize the perfect holiday.
Essential London travel tips
LANGUAGE: as the capital of England, the most spoken language is English.
MONEY/ATM: ATM’s are aplenty, on most streets. It’s usually more convenient and safer to use a card for purchases. For exchanging money, post offices and bureau de changes are around central. The currency is British Pounds.
ELECTRONIC APPLIANCES: all plugs are type G, with a standard voltage of 230V and frequency 50Hz. Take your universal travel adaptor as usual!
VISA: travelers coming from the EU will have no problem visiting. However, if you’re visiting from elsewhere, familiarise yourself with the policy here
Best time to visit London
The temperature doesn’t often reach extreme levels, whether it’s high or low. The worst aspect of the climate is the rain which is common, therefore be sure to pack a raincoat or umbrella.
Spring is pretty with crisp air, showers, and Easter celebrations. Summer is warm and the most popular time to visit London, where festivals, outdoor cinemas, and activities are held. However, this is naturally the most expensive time, too. Autumn is mild with beautiful autumnal palettes covering the streets.
If you don’t mind bracing low temperatures, a good time to visit London is during the Christmas festivities with beautiful decorations and high spirits.
How much is a trip to London?
London is much more expensive than the rest of England. If you want to do London on a budget, you’ll have to plan your trip in the low season, between January and February. This London City Guide will help you organize your finances in the best way. These costs are rough and may change.
With vigilant searching, the cheapest dorm rooms in a hostel start at $20 a night. For a private room, you’re looking at around $70, which is the same as a hotel. Airbnb’s are available, with shared rooms for $33 a night, or $103 for an entire apartment.
London has almost every cuisine imaginable. Your cheapest option out is probably fast food, for $8 with a drink. Traditional pub food, such as fish and chips, will come to $13 with a drink. Easy going restaurants are around $25 for a meal with a drink.
fortunately, almost every museum in London has at least one free exhibition you can visit! However, some famous activities can be expensive, such as The London Eye, walking up The Shard, and sailing down the Thames (tickets can be from $25 to $65). Luckily you can buy the London Pass to get discount tickets and benefits. London Pass
How to get around London
Getting around London can be tricky to navigate at first but there are plenty of transport links to help you reach every corner of the city. This is made easy by the Oyster card, a pre-paid travel card.
The underground fare depends on the time of travel and how far you are going, while the bus has a fixed fare of around $2 per journey.
For longer journeys, the Tube is recommended as it’s the most efficient and faster way of transport. I strongly advise avoiding rush hour. That is unless you enjoy being squeezed into a carriage and getting up close and personal with strangers…
Best historical things to do and see in London
These are simply must-do activities in London as the history behind each is fantastic and usually very beautiful.
Big Ben and Houses of Parliament
Yes, you’ll feel like the ultimate tourist here, but suck it up and visit because it’s truly a beautiful sight. Big Ben is the massive 13,760kg clock tower that booms every hour as one of the most iconic images in London. Here are the oldest royal palaces in the city with a truly striking view of the river Thames beside them.
Right next to the Big Ben is one of the greatest churches in the world. It’s open most days, guided tours are advised to see the 700-year-old beauty to its fullest. Since 1066, this stunning building has been the coronation church and venue of royal weddings. Arrive as early as you can, as long queues and crowds are common in peak season.
Take a short walk to the Royal Family’s home – an absolute must-do in London. The sophisticated gardens are colorful, especially in the summer, and even the gates surrounding the palace are immense and ornate.
There are over 775 rooms in the palace, 52 of which are bedrooms. You can visit the inside of the palace with a pretty expensive ticket between July and October. Alternatively, admire the grand exterior and changing of the guard ceremony at 10.45 am every day.
Tower of London and Tower Bridge
Buy your ticket online for a discounted rate and explore the historical grounds and crown jewels inside the Tower of London.
In the past, it was used as a Royal Mint, a place of execution, and an arsenal. The iconic castle is right next to Tower Bridge, which offers high glass walkways for breath-taking panoramic views of the city and the river.
St. Paul’s Cathedral
The original cathedral was destroyed by the Great Fire of London in 1666. It was then rebuilt from 1675 and made sacred in 1697. It was used to held Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher funerals.
The Anglican cathedral has fantastic architectural design and sits at the highest point of the city. Nowadays, this famous landmark is open for public visits to see the stunning interiors and to capture the panoramic views across London.
Best museums in London
Some of the best things to do in London include taking advantage of free and fascinating museums. A perfect way to spend the afternoon and dodge rain showers. Use this London city guide to plan your trip around events and workshops.
The British Museum
Located in the Bloomsbury area, this museum boasts an impressive collection. It showcases eight million pieces, from prehistoric to modern artifacts. Wear comfortable shoes because the extensive collection will get you walking around for hours. Entrance to this old national museum is free, but a donation is appreciated.
Natural History museum
Before you step inside, admire the immaculate architecture of this building. It was built in 1880 to house a full collection of natural history – over 70 million pieces today. It’s the perfect place to spend a rainy day – for free – with interactive exhibitions, life-sized animals (including dinosaurs), and a beautiful Central Hall with a café.
Victoria Albert museum
Over 2.3 million objects spanning 5000 years of history are homed here. Some of these items are jewelry, furniture, ceramics, architectural samples, clothes, and many more. Founded in 1852, it’s the largest museum dedicated to arts and design in the world. Entrance is free, as are occasional talks, but you might have to pay for specific exhibitions and workshops, ranging from modern calligraphy to illustration.
The National Gallery
Founded in 1824, this is the most popular art gallery in London, located in Trafalgar Square, it showcases 2,300 paintings. Here you can see stunning classics from artists like Van Gogh, Rembrandt, and Leonardo da Vinci. Free guided tours are available as well as audio guides in several languages. There are plenty of events, workshops, talks, and lectures to attend, too.
Best Markets in London
Every London city guide must feature what markets to visit. Even in chilly temperatures or showers, London proudly maintains its variety of markets ranging from flowers, food, antiques to art.
Located in the West End, this area has pubs, restaurants, shops, street performers, and a world-famous market. The Market sells handmade jewelry, prints, and arts and crafts between Tuesday and Sunday and antiques on Mondays. There is something new and exciting to see and purchase every day.
Located in North London, this area is truly a special and unique place. Its eclectic mixture of markets, dim-lit restaurants, and live music venues make it a great area to spend a day. The market is open every day, but it’s often very crowded during weekends and evenings.
Camden market has unusual merchandise, vintage clothing, and vinyl with character-filled and interesting personalities wandering around the stalls. Once you’ve finished hustling and browsing, relax with a walk along Regent’s Canal.
Notting Hill and Portobello Road
This is probably one of the most picturesque markets since its streets are lined with pastel colors houses. Famous events are held here, next to independent boutiques and high-quality restaurants.
The market stretches for a kilometer along Portobello Road and has stalled for everything you could want – from fresh fruit and veg to collectibles, clothing, and furniture. The busiest days are Friday and Saturday.
Columbia Road flower market
Located in East London, near Shoreditch, this beautiful flower market is open on Sundays between 8 am and 3 pm no matter the weather. The street itself consists of independent shops, art galleries, vintage stores, and cafes. When the market is on, the entire street is covered in flowers and bright colors are filling the space. Visit between 2 and 3 pm for a chance of catching a bargain, as some traders reduce their prices just before closing.
Old Spitalfield’s market
This market has been around since 1638, located in Shoreditch, East London. It’s open every day of the week, hosting talented independent designers, delicious street food vendors, and cultural delights. Here events are held occasionally, as well as some creative outdoor art installations.
This thriving market is busy and popular every day of the week, but especially on weekends. It’s mainly a food market where you can find flavors from all over the world. There’s not much seating so people often stand while eating and drinking. It’s the oldest market in London and still the best-known, run by high-quality producers and visited by every traveler passing through.
Has my London city guide made you eager to visit this thriving capital? That’s understandable – it’s a must-see place. If you’re planning a trip to London and my London travel tips have come in handy, leave a comment below.