London is a delightful city to explore. With its rich heritage beautifully colliding with 21st century contemporary additions, there’s no other city in the world quite like it. You’ll never fall short of things to do when you’re in this unique, dynamic place. Whether you’re here for a few days or a few months, here’s everything you need to know to prepare for your first time in London.
What Time of the Year to Visit
Let’s face it, nobody should ever plan a trip to London for their summer holiday if they’re hoping for guaranteed glorious sunshine. We’ll leave that to the Bahamas. What London can bring you, however, is very unpredictable weather! Londoners are known to carry an umbrella and a pair of sunglasses in the same bag.
Of course, you have a better chance at catching some sun in July and August, but that’s also when the city is jam-packed with other tourists. You should try to visit in-between the main school holiday’s which are February, April, August and October.
Where to Stay
One of the greatest thing about London is that the city has excellent transport links. Therefore, wherever you stay in the city, as long as it’s central, you’ll have absolutely no trouble getting around. Even areas in zone 6 which may be considered the outskirts offer regular trains into the centre.
If you’re only staying for a few days, it may be worth staying somewhere super central so everything is within walking distance, this would be zones 1 or 2.
However, if you’re staying for longer then you’re in less of a rush to do everything in a short space of time. You might be better off in the outer part of zone 2 or zone 3, where hotels and hostels may also be considerably cheaper.
Things to Do
Warner Bros. Studio Tour
Discover a world of wonder at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour, where you’ll be treated to a magical behind-the-scenes tour of the Harry Potter set. The ideal day trip for lovers of the franchise! Visitors will not only get a tour of the set including the Great Hall and Dumbledore’s office, but also an insight into the costumes and props used in all the Harry Potter films.
Visit the Queen during your stay in her city with a trip to Buckingham Palace. Explore the grand State Rooms and get a taste for what the royal family call home. If you plan on visiting this year, the palace is open from the 20th July to the 29th September.
Only in the city for a few days and can’t get around to see everything? Get a snapshot of the entire city when you’re soaring above it in the London Eye. You’ll have a birds eye view of some of the city’s most famous landmarks. It’s best to book in advance though, as the queue can be hours long.
The View from The Shard
Enjoy some fine dining in one of London’s most exclusive venues. The Shard is known for its glitz and glamour, housing many elite restaurants between its floors. Sip your champagne while you look out onto the city’s iconic skyline from an amazing perspective. The views stretch up to 40 miles.
If you’re in London for a while, you may want to venture out of the city to see a little more of what the rest of England has to offer. There are ample places to visit, all within easy reach either by car or train. Hampton Court Palace is a popular choice for history fans. The old home and gardens of Henry VIII, his wives and children is open for tours nearly all year-round.
Alternatively, if you’re looking for a bit of peace and quiet away from the city, consider Deal, just an hour and 20 minutes away from the city centre. With its quaint streets, old castle (another home of Henry VIII), and independent coffee shops, you’ll have an opportunity to relax and recoup.
Food and Drink
Indulge in some delicious cuisine from a wide range of restaurants in the city. Because London is a multi-cultural city, it also means that visitors have a huge variety of food to choose from. If you’re there during the week, you’ll usually find some great restaurant deals in the evening, particularly around Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus.
There are also plenty of markets dotted around the city if you’re a lover of street food. From Southbank Centre Food Market to the famous Borough Market, tantalise your taste buds with the very best of what London’s markets have to offer.
The chances are, you’ll be visiting a bar or club at some point during your stay in the big city. They’re hard to ignore, with a place to have a glass of wine or pint on practically every street. If it’s a chilled-back evening you’re looking for, discover the countless bars on Southbank by the London Eye.
However, if you’re after a night out that lasts far into the night, Shoreditch in South East London is a great place to start. On the other hand, for those wanting a more classy, elegant experience, South Kensington and Chelsea boast a number of chic bars where you can book a table for upwards of £1,000.