Pack your walking shoes, togs and sleekest sunnies, because this isn’t your grandma’s London. Well, actually, it is…this old gal has been around awhile. The capital of England is a city on a spectrum. From White Tower, completed in 1101, to theatre world premieres in the West End, London seamlessly combines old and new. And that’s not all. Step back in time in vintage London hotels and see the world in several museums and art galleries that don’t charge admission—we like free. When you want to swap your culture fix for an adrenaline rush, you can test your whitewater rafting skills on the site of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games or take a chilly autumnal pool dip in Hampstead Heath. See? We told you London holidays were eclectic!
In this sprawling and diverse city, hotels in London are plentiful, from quiet Canonbury to bustling Brixton. For a home base in the hub of must-see sights, book accommodation near the Tower of London. Public transportation can take you practically anywhere, so no matter where you tuck in at night, you can stay, play, repeat.
Things to Do in London
Don’t pay any mind to the old nickname “The Big Smoke.” Make your first stop the London Eye, an observation wheel from which the city on the Thames will dazzle you with a clear view of London’s top historical sites, like Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and Buckingham Palace. A few metro stops to the east, you can take in a performance at Shakespeare’s Globe before walking across London Bridge to climb to the top of the Tower of London. While you’re on the north side of the river, keep on trekking up to Camden Lock Market where you can scoop up some quirky souvenirs and sample exotic flavours or get a new tattoo—you know, to remember the holiday. Otherwise, photos ops in the colourful streets of Covent Garden will do just fine. When evening falls, make sure you’re in Marylebone, home to Madame Tussauds London, great dining options and Sherlock Holmes—no big deal. Marylebone also happens to border the West End, so dinner and a show are already taken care of. When you’re ready for some peace and quiet, check in to accommodation in London’s riverside Greenwich, or even Wimbledon, where you can wake up to a morning tennis match.
Getting To & Around London
Most intercontinental flights touch down at London Heathrow Airport (LHR), about 31 km west of the city centre and top London accommodation. With interwoven networks of buses, rail lines and an extensive subway system, London is one of the most pedestrian-friendly cities in the world. If public transit just isn’t your cuppa tea, don’t worry, taxis and car hire options are also plentiful.
Best Time to Visit London
Yes, London can get a little damp during fall and winter, but that’s never stopped Londoners, and it won’t stop you! Prefer to stay dry? Summers are mild and winters are jolly with festive spirits, so don’t hesitate to book hotels and flights to London the minute your holiday self starts craving a getaway.
London eludes definition. A place of extremes and contradictions, it has transformed from robustly English capital to truly multicultural city. Having experienced Renaissance, revolution, and revival, and survived fire, plague, and war, the city has a pretty interesting history, the best of which it holds on to. Visit its monuments and museums and you'll come across ancient and modern London, and learn about its wealth, poverty, ambitions, reality, and make-believe. From the Tower of London to Buckingham Palace, the major monuments pull in the crowds, but make sure you take some time to explore its back alleys, quiet squares, and colorful markets.
Art in the city
As red buses, black cabs, and pigeons encircle Trafalgar Square, there is no mistaking where you are. Stop by the National Gallery to look at some of the world's finest artworks, ranging from Leonardo's meticulous sketches to Turner's chromatic landscapes, or for a fix of modern art, visit the converted Bankside power station, the Tate Modern. The gallery covers art from 1900 to the present day, and its enormous Turbine Hall displays specially commissioned works.
Razzmatazz and all that jazz
Finding entertainment in London is as easy as finding books in a library. In the West End theater district, you can choose from musicals, theater, and comedy shows. Based on the songs of the band Queen, We Will Rock You is currently showing at the Dominion theater. From April to October, you can see some of Shakespeare's greatest plays in the faithfully reconstructed Globe theater. It's no surprise that London attracts influential artists from all musical genres; and you can listen in pubs, theaters, basements, arenas, churches, and parks.
Serious shopping and hearty meals
There's great shopping throughout the city. From high-end Harrods to cheap and cheerful Camden market, the city caters to every budget and taste. When it comes to food, the same rule applies, so whether you're after a comforting English breakfast, a reviving curry, or tea at the Ritz, you'll never run out of options.
The London Eye will give you a bird's-eye view of the river Thames looping through the capital, as well as the city's many parks. In a city of skyscrapers, buildings on top of buildings, and crowded public transport, London is thankfully protective of its beautiful green spaces. Find everything from rose garden to meadow and woodland in its eight Royal Parks, which offer free guided walks to explore the flora and fauna, and trace the city's royal, political, and literary associations. Hide