Visiting London: Everything You Need To Know Before Your Trip

visiting London

Thinking about visiting London?

We can’t really say we’re surprised to hear that.

London is one of the most visited cities in the world!

It’s a huge city filled with historic landmarks and a rich history.

And don’t forget about the night life too!

If you’re reading to learn how to prepare for a trip to London…

Then you’re in the right place!

In this article, we’re going to go over:

  • Getting Around London
  • Top Things To Do In London
  • Where To Stay When Visiting London
  • Best Time To Visit London

If everything listed above sounds good to you…

Then great!

Let’s get started!

Getting Around London

Flying into the airport?

Heathrow Airport is the major international airport of London. It’s the second busiest airport in the world.

The fasted way into the city is by taking the Heathrow Express. The trip only lasts about 15 minutes.

The Picadilly Line of the Tube is your next best option.

You can also take buses to and from the airport. But if you’re in a time crunch, buses are not recommended. The trip on bus usually lasts 45 minutes to 90 minutes. But London traffic can get very bad. I’ve been stuck in bus traffic for 2 to 3 hours before.

The Tube

The Tube is an underground rail system that transports people to different areas of London. It’s probably the most effective way to get around town. It’s usually always busy, but it beats getting stuck in London traffic in a car or bus. Check out the map of the tube system here.

Bus System

London has a fantastic bus system that covers the entire city. Many people rely on the bus system every day. In fact, around 6.5 million people use the bus system every day!

It’s the cheapest way to get around (You can get a week pass for just over 20 British Pounds!).

And it’s also a great way to take in the sights!

The only reason we would discourage you from taking the bus system is because of traffic. You can end up wasting a lot of your time in traffic. Depending on the time of day, and the distance you’re traveling, it could cost you a couple of hours in travel time.

Get the London Pass

The London Pass might save you some money if you plan on visiting a lot of the attractions in London.

If you plan on visiting London for 2 – 5 days…

You might want to consider buying it!

Here are some of the benefits of the pass:

  • Free admission to over 70 attractions
  • Skip the lines at selected attractions
  • Free 1-Day bus tour
  • Free guidebook of London

We recommend getting the London Pass. Especially if it’s your first time in London!

Top Things to Do In London

Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge in London is one of London’s most recognizable landmarks.

Walking across the bridge  is free and it crosses the scenic Thames River.

You should visit the Tower Bridge Exhibition while you’re there. The exhibit includes a glass floor walkway and a panoramic view of the Thames River.

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace is probaby the most historical buildings in London.

It’s only open while the queen is away on vacation from July until October 1. It’s located in the center of London and surrounded by two parks.

The palace contains ornate rooms used to entertain royal guests, royal gifts given to the royal family, and a garden with over 350 wild flowers.

The palace offers tours to the public from July 22 through October 1. 

Make sure you set aside plenty of time for the tour. They often last up to 2 hours long!

The House of Parliament

The House of Parliament consists of the House of  Lords and Commons.

If you’re interested in going inside…

Make sure to get in line for a guided or self-guided tour!

Afternoon tea is available on Saturday and during the week with tours.

The tours will allow you to see Westminster Hall, The House of Commons Chamber, and the Royal Gallery.

Some travelers prefer to just view the impressive architecture of the building from the outside.

The London Eye

The London Eye is a giant Ferris wheel in London that provides a breathtaking view of London for those that ride it.

The Eye will slowly take you to the very top of the wheel at 400 feet high.

Bring your cameras!

This attractions gives its guests the best panoramic view of the city.

You’ll be able to see Buckingham Palace, Parliament, and London’s South Bank.

The lines seem long, but they move pretty quickly.

We don’t recommend paying for the “Jump the Queue” tickets unless you’re very impatient.

Hyde Park

Hyde Park probably London’s equivalent to New York’s Central Park.

This park is huge!

It’s filled with walking trails and bike trails for those that want to explore.

Or you can relax next to Serpentine Lake and watch the boats and the swans float by.

Don’t forget to check out the beautiful gardens like Kensington Gardens and the Italian Gardens.

Hyde Park also hosts the Diana Memorial Fountain and Playground.

Make some time to visit the park during your trip. It’s another great option in London that’s free of charge.

Portobello Road Market

Portobello Road Market takes place each Saturday along Portobello Road in Nottingham. It’s known as the world’s largest antiques market.

Don’t worry.

You’ll find more than just antiques to buy at this market.

It has over 1,000 vendors selling anywhere from:

  • art
  • antiques
  • jewerlry
  • fashion
  • food

There are also other shops and restaurants to explore nearby.

So check this area out!

Camden Market

Camden Market is open daily and has about 200 vendors.

The vendors sell:

  • tee shirts
  • fashion
  • ethnic cuisine
  • home decor
  • leather goods
  • specialty food products

These markets provide a great chance to meet the local vendors and enjoy the outdoors.

Piccadilly Circus

Piccadilly Circus is the Times Square of London. It’s the point of the city where 5 busy roads meet together.

This road junction is always busy because it’s loaded with entertainment venues, bars, restaurants , lively clubs, and shopping.

You’ve probably seen this place in movies if you haven’t seen it in real life.

It’s a place you want to see and a place you want to party at!

The National Gallery

The National Gallery is an enormous museum that has one of the largest collections of artwork in the world.

There is an amazing sculpture garden to walk through outside (and during the winter there is an ice rink!).

In case you get hungry, there are 5 cafes to dine at in the museum.

And three gift shops to buy souvenirs from.

You can probably spend an entire day here and not see everything!

Where to Stay in London?

West End

West End is the most expensive part of town. However, it’s in the center of several popular places.

This area includes:

  • Trafalgar Square
  • Leicester Square
  • Picadilly Circus

It’s always seems busy, and there are tons of options for food, shopping, and entertainment nearby.

Stay in the West End if your budget allows it…

And if you feel like partying!

Bloomsbury

Bloomsbury is within walking distance to the West End. It has more of a “village feel” to it for an area that is in Central London.

This area is home to the British Museum and many markets, book shops, and antiques shops.

Also within walking distance tourists will find the Covenant Garden, the University of London, and Coram Fields.

This is a great option for those that want to stay near plenty of attractions and want to stay on budget.

County Hall

County Hall is another area located near many of the popular tourist spots in London.

People staying in County Hall can access the following attractions by walking:

  • The London Eye
  • Westminster Bridge
  • House of Parliament
  • Big Ben
  • Westminster Abbey
  • Tate Modern Art Museum
  • Shakespeare Global Theater

County Hall offers a variety of hotels and has something for all budget sizes.

Victoria

Victoria is the neighborhood you want to stay at if you want to stay near Big Ben and Buckingham Palace.

There is also plenty of shopping, sightseeing, and dining to keep tourists entertained.

Victoria is the neighborhood where you’ll find the Victoria Railway Station (one of the major stations in London).

You can use the Victoria Railway Station to reach other stations like the St. Pancras International and King’s Cross.

Kensington

Kensington is in a great location near many popular attractions. It offers many hotel options geared to the budget traveler

This area has:

  • Earl Court (filled with restaurants, pubs, and fast food)
  • Waitrose (large supermarket)
  • unique retail shops

Kings Cross, St Pancras, and Euston Stations

Kings Cross, St Pancras, and Euston Stations have the busiest underground stations with six lines running daily.

It has inexpensive hotels, a variety of fast food restaurants, pizza restaurants, and coffee shops.

Some attractions found in this neighborhood are:

  • The British Library
  • The British Museum
  • The Sir John Riblet Gallery

Best Time of Year to Visit London

One of the best times of year to visit London is during the Spring (March to May). During this time of year, the parks, gardens, and outdoor attractions looking their best. The daily temperatures are mild and the plants are beginning to bloom.

Since the Spring is a major tourist season, you won’t find many discounts on hotels and airfare.

The best season to find deals on airfare is January and February. This is the slow season because London get pretty cold.

Honestly, it’s usually always a bit chilly in London. I went during June one year and the temperatures were in the 50’s.

Just make sure to bring a jacket!

The summer is the most popular time for tourists to visit London. This time of year you’ll experience the best temperatures and the highest rates on hotels.

Now, just because it’s the most popular time to visit…

Doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best time for YOU to visit.

If you hate crowds like me…

You DO NOT want to go during the summer.

We enjoy the fall the best.

The temperature are cold but not too cold…

And this is the time of year they celebrate Guy Fawkes Day!

Conclusion

Well, that’s it!

Follow this guide to start planning your trip to London.

Trust me…

I wish I knew some of this information before my first trip to London.

It did not go too well!

 

Have you been to London?

What was your favorite parts?

Do you have a crazy story to share?

Tell us about it in the Comment Section!

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