London, the capital of the United Kingdom and England, lies on the River Thames. The city is one of the most important cities in the world.
London is not only the centre of culture, science and business, but also one of the residences of the British royal family. The city is colourful, vibrant and lively – offering plenty of variety and an unforgettable time on a city break.
Anyone taking a city trip to London needs time. Even if you only take a quick look at the most important sights, a weekend is not enough. There is so much to discover that you should plan a little more time.
Sights in London
Here is a write up of our top 5 places in London. All of these spots can be easily reached on public transport. It took me a little while to figure out what my favourite places on our trip to London were. This journey was so diverse, so new, so fascinating, so wonderful – it…
Here we go, on our last day in the city, we took another lovely walk to the famous landmarks. We started in light rain but the sun came out later. Oh yes, this oh so very British weather!
Buckingham Palace is the residence of the British Royal Family in London. It is not only purely residential, it is also used for official state occasions. For many tourists it is a highlight of their trip to London.
The London Eye is an enormous Ferris wheel on the southern embankment of the river Thames, near Westminster Bridge. It is also known as Millennium Wheel.
All those people who like M&Ms wouldn’t want to miss it – the M&M Store London! But also those who aren’t fans of the little chocolate balls shouldn’t give it a miss but rather come to the store and have a look at what’s going on.
The Tower Bridge is one of the bridges that cross the river Thames in London. It got its name from the Tower of London, which is in close proximity to the bridge.
It was in 1988 that the Tower of London was declared World Cultural Heritage. It is an intrenched complex of buildings at the Thames in the heart of London.
Let us dive into the magical world of Harry Potter. Not far from London are the Harry Potter Studios and they are an absolute must for every Potter fan!
A stroll through London: Many of the fascinating London landmarks are within walking distance of one another. If the weather is nice it is definitely recommended to explore the city on foot.
The London district Greenwich used to be the centre of the British Navy. But the district got world famous because of the prime meridian that runs through the Greenwich Observatory and because of the Greenwich Mean Time.The Royal Naval College was built here in 1873 and is now used by the Greenwich University and the…
London visitors should not miss out on a boat tour to Greenwich. This London district is at the southern banks of the river Thames and a boat tour over to Greenwich is really pleasant.
The London tube is something special. Even for us as Berliners with our fairly big system of underground trains, the London tube is astonishing. Long underground tunnels, winding corridors and escalators that go on forever make a ride on the tube a memorable experience.
Just a few steps away from the Palace of Westminster, the British Parliament, is a very special museum, the "Churchill War Room". These rooms were only opened to the public in 1980. Churchill’s War Room was the secret command centre for the British military from 1939 to 1945 during the Second World War.
In 2012 London hosted the Summer Olympics. During the preparation time for this event, a gigantic Olympic complex was build that can still be visited today. Everything to do with the Olympics is very fascinating for me so we absolutely had to go and see it.
Travel information for London
There are six airports around London.
The largest and certainly best-known airport in London is Heathrow in the west of the city. But the other airports Gatwick, Stansted, Luton and Southend are also frequently served. City Airport is much smaller and very close to the city.
Heathrow Airport is London’s largest airport. From London’s Paddington station, it takes about 1 hour to get to Heathrow by Metro. The Heathrow Express, a fast train, is much faster (about 15 minutes), but also quite expensive.
Gatwick is located in the south of London. There are several train connections that run from London to the airport. The Gatwick Express to London Victoria takes about 30 minutes. There are also bus services from the airport to many other cities.
London Stansted Airport
This airport is mainly used by budget airlines. It is very far outside the city and you have to allow a lot of time for transport. The Stansted Express is a little more expensive and takes about 45 minutes to Liverpool Street. However, there are also other train and bus connections that are cheaper.
This airport is also mainly used by budget airlines. The airport is about 50 kilometres from the centre of London and from there you can reach Cambridge and Oxfort very quickly. There is a shuttle bus to the nearest train station, from where you can easily travel to London.
From mainland Europe, you can reach London by Eurostar through the Channel Tunnel. The train stops in the middle of the city at St Pancras station.
Those travelling by train from other parts of the UK can reach London at one of 12 major stations. These are arranged in a ring around the city and are connected to the underground network.
Most national and international bus routes serving London stop near Victoria Station.
London can be reached via a well-developed motorway network. Roads arrive in London from all parts of the country. Traffic is heavy at peak times.
The National Cycle Network has signposted numerous cycle routes to bring cyclists into London. One example is National Route (NCN) 1 (North Sea Coast Cycle Route), which runs from Dover via Canterbury into the London area and on along the English coast to Berwick upon Tweed and along the Scottish coast to Thurso.
On the way in…
Driving in London is not recommended. Traffic seems chaotic, the streets are crowded and many traffic lights stop the flow of traffic.
Those wishing to drive into the city centre must pay £11.50 Congestion Charge per day. The area is marked with a large white C in a red circle. Only hybrid or electric cars are allowed to enter the city centre area free of charge.
There are hardly any parking spaces in the city centre.
By public transport
Public transport in London is very well developed. There are buses and the Underground running through the city. In addition, there is the Docklands Light Railway, a fully automatic elevated railway in the east of the city, and the London Overground in the north of the city. In the southwest of the city there is also a small Tramlink tram network with three lines.
The London Underground Tube consists of 12 lines that run throughout the city. The rail network is 402 kilometres long and there are 270 stations. It is the main mode of transport in the city area and although it runs at very short intervals, it is always very busy. Most trains run from around 5am until 1am the following day. There are also some night lines that run continuously at weekends. Each metro line has its own colour, which is also easy to identify on the route map.
The red double-decker buses that characterise London’s cityscape are well known. Almost every street has one of the 700 bus routes served by city or double-decker buses. The buses do not have a precise timetable and run at approximate intervals from each other. However, it can take a while for a bus to arrive during rush hour. Most lines run from 06-01, and there are also night bus lines. No tickets are sold on the bus!
Little tip: Line 24 from Hampstead Heath to Pimlico, line 73 from Victoria to Stoke Newington Common and line 159 from Marble Arch to Streatham pass almost all the major sights.
The best thing to do when visiting the city is to use the Oyster Card. The card is loaded with an amount of money. When entering and leaving stations, and only when boarding a bus, you scan the card and the amount for the fare is debited. There is a daily maximum that will be debited. It should also be possible to use a contactless credit card. But beware! Although the daily conversion rate is used, charges may apply.
The Oyster Card can be bought and topped up at underground stations, some kiosks and at vending machines. The card is valid indefinitely and can be returned at any ticket counter at the end of the journey. You will then be paid the card deposit and the remaining balance. If you use a Visitor Oyster Card, you can also get discounts at some cultural institutions, shops, restaurants and boat trips. However, the deposit is not refunded when the card is returned.
London is very big. Many of the famous sights are further apart than they look on the map. Nevertheless, it is worth strolling through the streets and discovering the city on foot.
London’s roads are only partially suitable for cyclists. There are designated cycle lanes, often on the road, and even the Cycle Superhighway along the Thames. Nevertheless, road traffic is dense and accidents involving cyclists are not uncommon.
There are two types of taxis in London: the famous black cabs and the mini-cabs. You can get into the black cabs from the side of the road. You have to book the mini-cabs before using them.
There is a lot of traffic on the Thames with excursion boats. There are various shipping companies that offer different sightseeing tours. In addition, there are also connections that are used by commuters.
Emirates Air Line
The cable car runs between North Greenwich and Royal Victoria. It is not part of the public transport service and there is a charge for it.
A city break to London is not cheap. The city is one of the most expensive cities in Europe. As a small point of reference, a visit to a restaurant is about twice as expensive as in Germany.