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What's the best way to get to London?
First thing's first: how do you get to London from other parts of the UK? There are a few major train stations in the city, and arriving by rail is easiest. Whether you take the train to Euston, King's Cross or Paddington, these stations are all in Zone 1. That means they're very central and easy to find, with many onward transport options. When you arrive, hop on the tube and get to your hotel in no time. Or take a taxi or bus outside the train station to see more of the city above ground. You could also take the coach to the capital for a budget-friendly alternative to train travel. Most services will drop you off at Victoria Coach Station. From there, jump on the tube and reach any part of the city in minutes.
There are plenty of landmarks scattered around. You might start with the Tower of London, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. Be sure to add St Paul's Cathedral, Buckingham Palace and Tower Bridge to your schedule. A ride on the London Eye? There's no better way to see the city's iconic skyline than from inside one of its best-loved landmarks! You could plan an extended visit to one attraction or shoot around on the tube, packing as many as possible into a day or weekend. Whatever way you explore, visiting London's landmarks is one of the best things to do in the city.
The Tower of London
The Tower of London is a World Heritage Site and one of the most iconic attractions in the English capital. Discover the magnificent fortress during your visit and explore the city's most infamous prison. The Tower of London is home to the Crown Jewels, the world-famous collection of over 23,000 gemstones, which you'll be able to see up close when you stop by. Meet the Tower of London ravens and learn about why they're considered the guardians of this national treasure, or book a Yeoman Warder Tour to hear captivating stories from throughout history.
Big Ben, the enormous clock at the north end of the Palace of Westminster, is another of London's world-recognised landmarks. The city skyline wouldn't be complete without the silhouette of this intricate clock tower, called the Elizabeth Tower, which has stood in place since 1843. Free tower and clock tours run throughout the day when no preservation works are scheduled. If you're lucky enough to join, you'll climb 334 steps to the top of the Elizabeth Tower, learning about its past along the way.
Westminster Abbey is a must-visit if you're interested in learning more about the city's rich history. This World Heritage Site has over 1,000 years of stories to tell, from coronations and royal weddings to funerals and the tombs of kings, queens, heroes and villains. Marvel at the Abbey from the outside; it's one of the most important Gothic buildings in the world. Inside, it's a place of worship as well as being home to many remarkable artefacts, stained glass, oil paintings, wax effigies and Britain's oldest door!
Who hasn't heard of Buckingham Palace? It's been home to English royalty for centuries, and it's the current home of Queen Elizabeth II. The working palace is one of the most beautiful buildings in London, surrounded by parks and adorned with priceless furnishings. It's a must for any visitor to London. A guided tour takes you through various drawing rooms, the Ballroom and the charming Music Room. Not to mention the stunning Throne Room. You'll see palace treasures and priceless art, explore the gardens and watch the unmistakable Changing the Guard ceremony.
The London Eye
Next, visit the South Bank to enjoy a ride on Europe's tallest observation wheel, the London Eye. Also called The Millennium Wheel, this attraction attracts over three million visitors a year thanks to its spectacular views across the English capital. Step inside a pod and ascend to 135 metres above ground level, looking for landmarks below.
St Paul's Cathedral
St Paul's Cathedralmakes up part of the city's iconic skyline, sitting proudly on Ludgate Hill, the highest point in the City of London. The church is over 1,000 years old, an architectural masterpiece steeped in history. The building we see today was designed by Christopher Wren and completed in 1708.
Visiting museums and galleries is undoubtedly one of the top things to do in London. Whether you prefer classical or contemporary art, history, nature or innovation, there's a museum here with a collection for you.
The British Museum
One of the best museums in London and the world, The British Museum is in Bloomsbury, close to Covent Garden, Soho and other bustling areas. Its permanent collection boasts around eight-million objects of interest, many collected throughout the era of the British Empire. Discover two million years of history and culture from around the world when you visit the British Museum; highlights include the Rosetta Stone, Parthenon Sculptures and a Bust of Ramesses the Great.
Victoria and Albert Museum
The Victoria and Albert Museum, or the V&A, is the world's leading art, design and performance museum. The permanent collection includes over two million diverse objects, including ancient Chinese ceramics, furniture and woodworks, post-war couture and over 800,000 photographs dating from 1839. General admission is free, but some temporary exhibits require tickets.
Natural History Museum
Famous for its dinosaurs and prehistoric skeletons, the Natural History Museum is one of London's best family-friendly attractions. Discover billion-year-old objects in South Kensington. You'll be greeted by the famous blue whale skeleton, affectionately called Hope, hanging above you the moment you walk in the door. Explore this vast museum and its collection of more than 80 million specimens, including meteorites, dinosaurs, Charles Darwin's notes and rare preserved creatures from all corners of the world.
London's Science Museum is another award-winning choice where you can discover inspiring objects and stories of scientific achievement. The museum was founded in 1857 and remains one of London's major tourist attractions today. Highlights include Alan Turing's Pilot ACE computer and the Apollo 10 capsule, which went into orbit in 1969.
Museum of London
Want to learn more about the English capital? The Museum of London tells the city's story from prehistoric times. It's near the Barbican Centre, a part of the iconic brutalist Barbican complex, which is worth visiting in itself.
World-leading art galleries
If you're more into galleries, good news! London is home to some of the best in the world. Explore a couple of the city's artistic hubs to see classical masterpieces and unique contemporary exhibits.
Tate is the UK's most beloved art institution, including a network of four galleries home to the national collection of British art and a wide variety of international works. The Tate Modern is London's free museum of modern and contemporary artwork, including inspiring collections by Picasso, Rothko, Dalí and Matisse. Enjoy being surrounded by creativity from the moment you step inside; the Turbine Hall is the gallery's iconic space, showcasing large-scale sculptures and installations.
The Tate Britain is the oldest gallery in the network, first opened in 1897. It's home to an impressive collection of British art dating back to Tudor times and the world's largest free display of paintings by J. M. W Turner. Take a walk through the nation's art history, enjoy two rooms dedicated to the sculptures of Henry Moore and regularly changing in-depth displays based on specific artists or themes.
The National Gallery is a jewel of Trafalgar Square, home to over 2,300 paintings from the mid-thirteenth century to 1900. The collection is free to enjoy, split into areas by century. Highlights include Ginevra de' Benci by Leonardo da Vinci, The Sculpture Garden and the modern and contemporary East Wing.
Barbican Art Gallery
The Barbican Centre is an iconic performing arts centre in the Barbican Estate, London's iconic Brutalist housing estate. Inside, the Barbican Gallery hosts an international mix of art, architecture, design and photography. See work from award-winning creatives in ever-changing free and ticketed exhibitions.
The Wallace Collection
The Wallace Collection lives inside a beautiful former townhouse. It's named after Sir Richard Wallace, who built the collection throughout his lifetime. Highlights include works by Fragonard, Rembrandt and Canaletto, spanning from landscape paintings and portraits to narrative pieces. Not to mention the famous armoury collection, which boasts medieval knights and rare treasures.
Sprawling Royal parks
London has more parks than any other city in England; around 3,000 are dotted around. So you're never far from a leafy walk or picnic in the sun. For spectacular views, head to Hampstead Heath, one of the largest parks in the city, or walk to the top of Primrose Hill. Both these elevated greenspaces sit some distance from the landmarks of Central London. So you can enjoy looking back at the London Eye, Big Ben, The Shard and other famous buildings when you reach the highest point. London's magnificent Royal Parks include Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, Richmond Park and Regent's Park. Grab a takeout tea or coffee and head out for a walk, or stop in one of the parks' tearooms for a perfect way to recharge your batteries.
London's iconic districts
Greater London comprises many smaller parts, including boroughs, neighbourhoods and even villages all connected by underground. Explore some of the city's diverse districts when you visit to find your niche in the English capital.
Camden Town is famous for its market, street art and creative culture. It's set just off the Regent's Canal, boasting a thriving nightlife including live music venues and old-school pubs. Not to mention access to Regent's Park for peaceful walks and downtime.
Greenwich is a London borough known for its maritime history and as the home of the Cutty Sark, a beautifully restored nineteenth-century ship. Not to mention the National Maritime Museum and the Old Naval College. Greenwich is also where you'll find the Royal Observatory, the historical source of the world's Prime Meridian. Head up to the Observatory for some of the best views back over London!
Another of London's trendiest neighbourhoods, Notting Hill boasts many casual bohemian cafes, independent shops and the famous Portobello Road Market. If you want to shop for vintage clothing and antiques in London, this is the place to do it. Many high-end restaurants also stud the streets around Westbourne Grove.
Soho is one of the most bustling parts of London. Boasting many of the best shops and restaurants globally and intertwined with Covent Garden and the West End, it should come as no surprise that this area is a favourite among tourists and locals alike. Enjoy plenty of shopping, dining and entertainment options as you wander around the maze-like streets of Soho.
A foodie capital of the world
Whether you're visiting for a day, weekend or longer, exploring London's dining scene is a must. Thanks to the city's size and diversity, it's easily among the world's food capitals. From gastropubs using simple ingredients to groundbreaking cuisine and playful pop-ups, there's always something tasty nearby. With so much great food to eat in London, where's the best place to start?
The best casual dining in London
Want to enjoy some fantastic food without breaking the bank? Good news! London boasts many excellent street markets, cosy cafés and casual neighbourhood restaurants. These cheap and cheerful eateries are ideal for budget weekends or just grabbing a bite without the fuss. If you like the sound of street food markets and halls, head to Borough Market for starters. Since the thirteenth century, this historic spot has been hosting traders, so it's no surprise it's the best-loved street food market in London. Grab exciting exports and homegrown treats to take home, or explore stalls selling everything from sandwiches to stews, pizza, pasta and puddings. Still hungry? Try Boxpark Shoreditch, Brixton Market Row, Broadway Market in Hackney, Camden Market or Seven Dials Market in Covent Garden.
Middle-of-the-road restaurants offer some of the best food in London without the white tablecloths and fancy dress code. These easygoing spots are perfect for a night of wining and dining that doesn't cost a fortune. You can easily spend £30 to £50 per person and enjoy a meal to remember. Try Kiln, a stripped-back Thai restaurant in Soho, or Hoppers, an affordable Indian spot in the same neighbourhood. Smoke & Salt serves modern small plates in Brixton. Or skip over to East London and visit Bright, in trendy London Fields, where you'll find a daily-changing menu that always satisfies.
The best fine dining for a special occasion blow-out
If you're ready and willing to spend three figures at dinner, London's the place to do it. You'll be rewarded with some of the best food and hospitality in the world. Book a Michelin starred restaurant (there are 66 in the city) or another award-winning spot for unparalleled tasting and à la carte menus that change with the seasons. Spoilt for choice? Start at The Savoy. As one of London's most iconic hotels, The Savoy is home to numerous award-winning restaurants and bars, including the Savoy Grill by Gordon Ramsay. With hundreds of years' history behind it, our beautiful art deco restaurant has served the likes of Winston Churchill, James Dean and Marilyn Monroe. Book a table at the River Restaurant by Gordon Ramsay for award-winning menus in a lighter setting. It's The Savoy's newest addition with the multi-Michelin starred chef at the helm. Excellent Michellin restaurants also include Behind in London Fields, Cornerstone in Hackney Wick, Davies and Brook in Mayfair and Muse in Belgravia. Or try Shoreditch's Brat, The Clove Club, or Celeste in Hyde Park Corner. Many of these world-class restaurants are steeped in history, while others are new to the game. Pick one that suits your taste, whether you prefer traditional British or spice and flavours from further afield, and get ready for a meal you'll never forget.
Speciality coffee, wine bars and traditional pubs
When it comes to drinking, London has it all. Speciality coffee shops sling the best brews from around the world. Understated winebars serve bottles for every taste, often with small plates and snacks on the side. Swanky cocktail bars in London? Of course! There are plenty of sleek rooftop spots around the city centre and beyond, perfect for sunset or drinks after dark. Why not take it back to basics, visiting your local pub?
If you love a speciality coffee or just a perfect, frothy cappuccino, you'll love London. The city is dripping with excellent cafés and coffee houses, with plenty packed into every neighbourhood. Some gems to look out for include Redemption Roasters in various locations, LoFi in Crouch End and Bean About Town in Clapham. Not to mention Intermission in West Hampstead, Origin in Shoreditch and Prufrock Coffee in Farringdon.
Whether you need a break from a long day's sightseeing or you want to start a laid-back evening, you'll be spoilt for choice when it comes to wine bars in London. Sager + Wilde is a Hackney favourite, while FARE Bar & Canteen is another East London gem. The Laughing Heart is a similarly cosy spot in Bethnal Green. Or jump over to Soho and visit The Black Book and The 10 Cases in Covent Garden, Gordon's in Charing Cross or Port Noire in King's Cross.
From dry, bitter classics to juicy new inventions, London is home to some of the best cocktails in the world. Professional mixologists work all over the city in sleek rooftop cocktail bars and lesser-known dens, so there's somewhere for everyone to enjoy their favourite. American Bar is the world-famous cocktail bar at The Savoy. First opened in 1893, it's the oldest surviving cocktail bar in Britain and as exciting to visit today as it was back then. Enjoy an award-winning cocktail in this one-of-a-kind, intimate setting for an experience like no other. At The Savoy, you could also visit Beaufort Bar. This striking black and gold space captures the dramatic glamour of the hotel, ideal for drinks and cocktails any time. Swift boasts an airy space for aperitifs in Soho and a dimly-lit basement bar for more intimate cocktails. Satan's Whiskers is a laid-back spot in Bethnal Green, a perfect choice for easy drinks. Three Sheets, Time Out's Best Cocktail Bar of 2021, serves impressive cocktails from a trendy Dalston location. Lyaness on the South Bank use seven unique ingredients in their mixes, while The Connaught Bar in Mayfair is a go-to for silver service cocktails and an exuberant setting.
When in Rome, do as the Romans do. When in London, go to the pub. The city is brimming with some of the world's best pubs, including centuries-old boozers and modern establishments serving craft ales from around the UK. There's more or less a pub on every corner, which means no shortage of places to stop for a quick pint and to rest your legs. Many of the best pubs in London also serve food, so you can swing by for lunch or dinner and enjoy the laid-back local vibe. Not to mention a smaller bill than in many of the city's restaurants. Try The De Beauvoir Arms in Dalston, The Marksman in Hackney or The Drapers Arms in Islington. The Sun is a favourite in Covent Garden, while The French House in Soho is the favourite haunt of many old-school regulars. In Notting Hill, iconic pubs include The Sun In Splendour and The Churchill Arms.