Click for the home page of ThereArePlacesClick for our Travel Planning Articles to learn what you need to know before you goThe Millennium Bridge connects near the Tate Modern and St. Paul's       United Kingdom - London
   

 

   


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Best Places to Visit In London

            

Click here for a detailed map of London

 

 
Skip the Line: Tower of London Tickets

From Viator Tours

 

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Museum Alert - Most public museums (British Museum, the Tate, etc.,) in London provide free admission. Fees are charged for special exhibitions. Please note, these institutions appreciate donations to help them carry out their work.

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Over 900 Hotels in London at very smart prices

 

 

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                  Closest London Tube Station

Click here for our page on the London Underground (the Tube) that includes a map of the London Underground stations, Tube line service availability updated by the minute and a Journey Planner for getting between where you are in London and where you want to go using the Tube.

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Food Alert - Sandwiches in the UK and London are normally served with cucumbers. If you are a purist, you can usually find butter and cucumber sandwiches.

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  The Tower of London from the Thames

Return to Our London's Best Page

Or, explore our London Travel Guide

Best Places to Visit in the United Kingdom

 

 


London Full-Day Sightseeing Tour

From Viator Tours

 

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  This is something you do not want to see, it means repairs are underway and you need to find a new route

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St. Pancras Station in Bloomsbury is the new terminus for Eurostar service, replacing Waterloo Station.
Due to new high-speed rail lines in the southeast of England, the Eurostar now reaches Paris in 2 hours and 15 minutes and Brussels in 1 hour and 50 minutes.

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London is a complex city to navigate and even more difficult when you use the London Underground, which gives you the "gophers" view of London's geography. Be warned, the Tube Map is a stylized map showing the relative locations to the stations, but it distorts the geography of London.

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Things Travelers Need to Know About London

Although the days of the "British Empire" are a historic era, the United Kingdom continues as a unique force in the world of politics and culture. The common thoughts about London include the use of the words, trendy, royal, old school, cultured, vibrant and others that give you the idea that London is something special.
During a long-lasting, extremely deep, impenetrable fog covering the Channel between Europe and the United Kingdom, newspapers in London ran with the headline "Europe Isolated". Tourists should keep in mind that the UK significantly differs from Europe and London is unlike any other major city in Europe or the rest of the world.

More recently London has experienced an influx of people who were once part of the British Empire. While London is changing its stripes, the name "Londonstan", sometimes seen in the press, is a gross exagggeration, but not an entirely inappropriate characterization for some sections of the city.  

 

Maps  

Our detailed London map shows you the locations of the attractions we describe, which can be viewed overlain on a satellite image, street map or terrain map. In addition, our maps showing the locations of London's Train Stations and the location of our recommended Day Trips may be of interest if you are considering  visiting an attraction located outside of London.

Warning for Pedestrians

London is a great city for walking, as there is something interesting to see in every neighborhood. For most visitors, walking in London is fraught with danger, as we are used to looking to the left before stepping into a street or a cross walk.

Heed this advice - Be sure to look to the right before crossing streets in London.  Remember, traffic drives on the left in the UK.Remember, vehicles drive on the left rather than the right in the UK and London and the cars and buses will be on the "wrong side" of the road. Before you start to cross the street, look  to the right for traffic.

In the major tourist areas of London you will often find the warning "Look Right" painted on the street.  Of course, you should always look both ways before crossing, but look right before you enter the crosswalk

 

 

Money Matters

The United Kingdom has not adopted the Euro and continues to use the Pound Sterling (also known as  the British pound) shown by the symbol.

The Pound is divided into 100 pence shown by "p", as in 40p. The relationship between the US dollar and the British pound varies and you will need to check on the exchange rates (available online or in the financial section of many newspapers) to determine the value of the dollar during your visit. (See our Information Guide on Money if you need to find out about currency conversion.)

  • The UK imposes a hefty VAT (Value Added Tax).  Read our Information Guide on shopping to make sure you know how to evaluate the true cost of goods before you buy.

 

 

Transportation

In order to help you get around London, we provide a link to Transport for London's Online Journey Planner on every page of our London City Guide.  Just click on the "Journey Planner" log  to reach the site (an example of the link is provided below).  Once there, enter the time you want to travel, where you will start your journey, then where you want to go and you will be provided with the  bus or tube route that best meets your requirements.

Transport for London's Journey Planner

Click the button above to link to Transport for London's Journey Planner.  Fill in the form for the best transportation schedule to your destinations in London.  When finished, close the window to return to ThereArePlaces

From the tourist's perspective, moving around London is a challenge since the city is large and its numerous attractions are spread throughout the area.  Although the London Underground is not as efficient as in the past and traffic has worsened on the surface, London's public transport does an admirable job of connecting travelers and destinations.  If you will be using public transportation, check out the Oyster Card for visitors.

All public transportation is "crushed" during the morning and evening commutes and we urge the traveler to avoid the "rush hours" by rising late and eating a peaceful breakfast during London's journeys to work and have a snack or a snooze when Londoners head for home.

  • Not all stations will look as clean as this one and not all trains will look as new, but the Tube is a good way to get around LondonThe London Underground,  London's subway system (commonly called the Tube and signed with this symbol Closest London Tube Station, is generally the quickest mode of transport for journeys to another neighborhood or across town. Tickets can be purchased through vending machines (have change) or attendants. 
    • The Underground's routes are known as "lines" and the trains travel in both directions along a line, so be sure to board the one that is heading towards your destination. 
      • The platforms are well marked and signs indicate the way to the platforms and the destinations served by the various platforms.
      • Not all trains on a "line" travel to all stops. Be sure that the train you take travels to your destination by reading the overhead signs or the illuminated sign on the front of the train.
    • Once on the train, pay attention to the stops, which will be announced (in every car).  All destinations are shown on maps positioned on the top of the side panels  in each car.  Be sure to match the locations on the map with the announcement to gauge the nearness of your stop. 
    • The tube is very crowded and you need to be prepared to exit the train in a timely manner or miss your stop.
    • One final note, the station escalators down to the trains often seem to be "under repair" and taking the stairs to the surface is a hike.  Some stations are equipped with elevators.
    • When you see this symbol Closest London Tube Station in our London City Guide,  it is used to indicate the Tube Stations closest to the attraction.  Please note the Tube is not always the most direct way to travel to a destination.
    • For current information on the availability of the Tube, including a map of the tube and a journey planner, see this page of our Guide to the Best Places in London.
  • Taxis are very convenient for short hops but relatively expensive. 
  • Buses are good, low cost alternative to taxis. If you are going to ride them, be sure to read the notes below.

Bus stops are marked with two types of signs:

This is the sign for a compulsory bus stop - except for night buses. Compulsory - Buses will automatically stop at locations marked with this sign, except for "night" buses that must be hailed before they will stop.  If a bus is full, it may not stop.

If you see this "request" sign, you must hail the bus before the driver will stop Request - At stops designated by these signs, you must hail the bus using a hand signal to request it to stop.  If the bus is full, it may not stop.

  • When you near your destination, ring the bell once to let your driver know you want to disembark.
  • Finally, be careful when you depart the bus  and make sure that you have an open crossing lane to the sidewalk. Some buses travel in special lanes in directions against the flow of traffic.

Getting to the City From Heathrow Airport

The easiest access to London from Heathrow is the Heathrow Express. This speedy train  connects Heathrow with Paddington Station   in 15 minutes.  From there, you can take a taxi to your final destination.

From all Heathrow terminals follow the signs for the Heathrow Express. There is a station Terminal 4 and another that serves Terminals 1,2 and 3.  Trains depart 4 times and hour from 5AM to 11:30 PM (times vary by a few minutes on weekends). Click here for the Heathrow Express website.

If you choose, you can take the Tube, which has stations serving Terminals 1,2 and 3 and a second station that serves Terminal 4.  The line that serves Heathrow is the Piccadilly line, one of the central lines in London.

Taxis are expensive and prone to traffic jams.  However, you may prefer the convenience of door-to-door service that they provide.

Getting to London from Gatwick Airport

The easiest access is the Gatwick Express which makes the trip in 30 minutes, connecting the airport to London Victoria station . Trains run every fifteen minutes from  4:30AM to around midnight.  Click here for the Gatwick Express site.

Gatwick is not served by the Tube. You can take a bus, or a Taxi to London, but the Taxi takes over an hour and can be quite expensive.

 

Electricity Note

The United Kingdom does not operate on the same power system as the United States.  You will need to carry a power adaptor and special plugs to use your electrical devices in the UK.  See our article on voltage converters for more information.

In addition, if you buy an electronic appliance in the UK, it will not be compatible with the power system in the United States. In addition, during your travels you will find that most electronic devices can be purchased for a  lower price in the US than elsewhere.

Finally, videos and movies sold in the UK rely on different video standard (PAL) than used in the United States (NTSC) and will not play on devices from the United States that are not equipped to display this standard.

 

Shopping Notes

London is a great town for shopping and you will find many opportunities to part with your fortune while exploring this city. It is unlikely that you will find any real bargains but you will find numerous treasures that would be fun to take home.

As a tourist, you have some flexibility in deciding when to shop and we have one major caution: Londoners shop on Saturday! If you are on Oxford Street on Saturday, you will likely find herds of shoppers busily navigating the street from one bargain to the next.

Use your time wisely and avoid shopping on the weekend, except at Camden Markets or Portobello Road, where part of the fun is the mix of people.

Language Notes  

Yes, they speak English in London but the problem is that we don't, at least not what is often called British-English. Some London accents will have your translating English to English and you will probably find that there is a little lag until you get the hang of the accent. So far so good - but try to stop yourself from responding with the same accent or using slang that you really don't understand (it drives most Londoners nuts).

Political Geography Note

You might get confused by names like the "British pound", the British Museum, and the British Library and wonder about the terms Britain, England, the United Kingdom, etc

When traveling in London, you are visiting a country called the United Kingdom that is comprised of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland is located on the northeast of the island of Ireland.  The country named Ireland occupies the rest of the island. The country named Ireland is not part of the United Kingdom

Great Britain is a shortened, historic name that was used to refer to the union of England, Scotland and Wales under the title "United Kingdom of Great Britain".

Since 1922, the country has been called the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and many Londoners will let you know the correct name. 

To make matters somewhat confusing, the International Standards Organization's (ISO) official two-digit code for the UK is ... GB.

 

Next: Other sections of our London Guide

Or, Return to our list of London's best

Best Places to Visit in the United Kingdom

 

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