View from Thames to St Paul's

One of the world's most visited cities, London has everything you'll ever need, celebrating the vast mix of historical eras with forward thinkers and big ideas. Roman remains neighbour Georgian streets; modern day commuters stroll down Victorian alleyways before heading into towering glass skyscrapers. Dr. Samuel Johnson once said "when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life" and it's true. You'll keep coming back for more.

London's currency is the British Pound (£). £1 = €1.19 / $1.30 (as of 2022).

London

Top 5 things to see

Buckingham Palace

Home of the British monarchy, Buckingham Palace is arguably THE tourist attraction when it comes to London. Be sure to watch the Changing of the Guard - a formal ceremony where the famous guards in red coats and bearskin hats swap shifts every 2 hours; be sure to check the schedule online for more information, as its frequency changes depending on the time of year.  Also, make time for a walk around the beautiful Green Park close by.

Buckingham Palace is always packed with tourists outside the front gate, so make sure you're ready for that - it can get overwhelming.

Tickets to enter Buckingham Palace start at £30 for over 25s. Check the link below for more details.

Buckingham Palace Website

 

Nearest Tube Stations

Green Park: Victoria, Jubilee, Piccadilly Lines

St James's Park: Circle, District Lines

Tower of London

Dating back to the mid-1000s, the Tower of London (which is in fact a castle), is a surviving monument of a bloody history in Britain. On the bank of the Thames by Tower Bridge, its medieval grounds steeped with surviving traditions, such as the red and black clad Yeoman Warders who guard the castle and opulent Crown Jewels and have done for centuries. They also provide free guided tours too!

Check the website link below for more information on tickets.

Tower of London Website

Nearest Tube Stations

Tower Hill: Circle, District Lines

Tower Gateway: DLR

Regent's Park

From landscaped gardens lined with fountains and sculptures, to a boating lake where you can canoe with a picnic, Regent's Park has enough to spend a whole weekend in.

 

Regent's Park is home to London Zoo, and in its Inner Circle is the acclaimed Open Air Theatre where Shakespeare's plays are performed in the summer. As you walk in, London silences and you'll forget you're in a major city. We'd recommend at least half a day to explore.

St Paul's Cathedral

One of the most incredible architectural feats in London, not just because of the monumental building itself which dominates the skyline, but also what it represents to London. During the London Blitz in WW2, remnants of which can be found to this day, Hitler's main his main target was St Paul's; destroying it would destroy the soul of London.

Built between 1675 and 1710 devised by the famous architect Sir Christopher Wren, its immaculate white dome is surrounded by the modern glass towers of the City.

Tickets cost £18 for adults and £7.70 for children.

St Paul's Cathedral Website

Nearest Tube Stations

St Paul's: Central Line

The South Bank

South Bank is the perfect place to view London. From Westminster Bridge to Tower Bridge, the 30-45 minute walk provides beautiful views of the city. There is always a great buzz about the area from its coffee shops and good food stalls - we'd recommend visiting the South Bank market.

 

The variety of architectural styles along the South Bank typifies London's history: from the Edwardian Baroque-style County Hall, the Brutalist National Theatre, to the winding avenues of Borough Market. It's a personal tour of London's fascinating past. On a sunny day, you can even walk along the sandy riverbank for sweeping views of the city.

Nearest Tube Stations starting at Westminster Bridge

Waterloo: Jubilee, Bakerloo, Waterloo & City Lines

Nearest Tube Stations starting at Tower Bridge

London Bridge: Northern, Jubilee Lines

The London Pass

Access to over 80 attractions and museums plus hop-on hop-off buses. Comes with easy-to-use scan-in app to access the attractions and a guidebook too.

1 day = £69

2 days = £95

3 days = £109

4 days = £141

5 days = £146

London Pass Website

Where to eat and drink

London's gastronomy is a mix of every cuisine imaginable. If you have a taste for something in London, you'll find it. From fantastic Sunday Roasts in the myriad of classic pubs scattered across the city, to wonderful South-East Asian street food, London's got you covered. To save money, have your big meal in the afternoon - you can eat a two or three-course meal on a pre-theatre menu in a high-quality restaurant for a fraction of the price.

As we both live in London, we've provided lots more information on where to go eat and drink compared to our other Travel Guides.

Oh, and to stop it from becoming an information-overland on one page, we have tried to make the descriptions on here brief and included blog posts throughout the guide to provide more info.

For breakfast

Regency Cafe is a no frills breakfast spot serving up the city's best Full English breakfasts. It's a local's spot that hasn't changed its decor for generations keeping that old-school charm in a village-like part of London - Pimlico.

E.Pellici, over in artsy and trendy East London, has been cooking up classic Full Englishes and Italian staples for over a century. The vintage Art Deco decor is a delight and you'll be treated like a regular on your first visit.

For lunch

Hawksmoor is a small chain based throughout the city specialising in high-quality meat. Its brunches are legendary and will leave you skipping dinner - beware though, it's pricey.

The Lyric, behind Piccadilly Circus, is one of our favourite pubs in the city serving legendary Sunday Roasts. Other good pubs to mention for lunches include The Kennington and Roundhouse in south London, and the Marylebone.

Seven Dials Market offers up an excellent variety of street food in a trendy former warehouse.

For dinner

Le Gavroche in Mayfair is arguably London's most renowned fine dining restaurant. Specialising in French cuisine to the ultimate standard, it is the perfect spot for an impeccable meal; meals are pricey, reaching up to £200 for dinner with drinks for two.

Blacklock in Shoreditch is a meat lovers paradise, cooking up the best steaks possible. If you're looking for a cheaper alternative visit Flat Iron.

Casa Fofo and Mildred's offer some of the best vegan and vegetarian food going in the city.

Bar Pepito is tucked away by Kings Cross station and transports you to a rustic tapas bar in Spain.

Brick Lane, in East London, is the city's neighbourhood for excellent Indian cuisine at affordable prices. The perfect place to try Britain's national dish - Chicken Tikka Masala!

For pubs

Prospect of Whitby is quite possibly our favourite pub in London with terraces providing lovely views over Canary Wharf (London's financial district).

Island Queen in North London is a local's pub with a Caribbean twist; gin lovers will be spoilt.

Waxy o'Connor's is a more casual watering hole in Chinatown. Its countless passages and Tree of Life is eclectic, but head upstairs with a craft beer and overlook the crowd.

Ye Old Cheshire Cheese was rebuilt in 1667 after the Great Fire of London and is a timepiece of the period; its dimly-lit cellars and corridors transport you to an era of London's shady business.

A​ pint of beer or cider, or a glass of wine, in London will cost you anywhere between £4.50 to £6. A spirit and mixer will cost £5 to £8.

For cafes

Monmouth is our favourite coffee shop. Sit in the cosy wooden booths with some seriously exceptional coffee.

Flat White, in Soho, serves up Antipodean coffee and snacks by the trendy Berwick Street Market.

Said dal 1923 is our favourite destination for hot chocolate. Thick, rich and authentically Italian. Ask for melted chocolate to be poured on cup and dunk your pastries and cookies in.

Dark Sugars, in East London, is often voted London's most highly-rated cafe for hot chocolate.

For cocktails

Mr Foggs Residence is aptly styled on Phileas Fogg, the fictional character who travelled the world in 80 days in the 1800s. The lavish menu plays on his experiences and new-found spices of his journey from afar. It's special and will be a discussion point for years.

The American Bar in the luxurious Stafford Hotel is in the even more luxurious St James's. Drinks are expensive but well worth savouring as part of your London experience.

Cahoots is a special speakeasy in the heart of Soho, set in a vintage, disused underground station. Afternoon tea is also served if you wanted to visit during the day.

Purl in Marylebone is a mixologists that knows no bounds. Set in an unassuming location, expect herb-infused smoke in balloons and dry ice to accompany your drinks.

For wine

WC in Clapham Common is a secret wine bar that was once a public toilet. WC provides an intimate atmosphere of leather booths with carafes of wine. Its sister bar is in Bloomsbury.

Le Beaujolais is a haven of French wine, cheese and culture in the bouncing Theatre District, serving truly authentic classics like you're in Lyon. An must visit for wine and France lovers.

Gordons is a hidden gem by the River Thames that claims to be London's oldest wine bar, serving theatre-goers for over 130 years in its romantic, candlelit cellar and atmospheric terrace.

Lady of the Grapes serves organic wine and French tapas in this wonderful bar by Covent Garden.

Tipping

Tipping isn't required, as the bill often includes a 12.5% addition for service.

Safety Tip

No different to any major city, London has its unsafe spots, especially late at night. Leicester Square has an unsavoury atmosphere at night; it's always busy with tourists and people trying to take advantage. Look after your belongings and keep your money close, especially around crowds and tube stations as pick-pocketing does occur.

Two Passports Top Tip: London's Happy Hour!

Unlike other cities in Europe, London's Happy Hour refers to discounted cocktails only. Often between 4pm - 7pm from Sunday to Thursday, encouraging city workers in before 7pm.

When to Go

Low Season: November to February

Chilly days and long nights - remember to bring an umbrella. London will still be busy with tourists.

Shoulder Season: March to May, September to October

You'll be in for warmer, sunnier days. Busier with tourists compared to low season, but good deals on attractions and hotels can still be found.

High Season: June to August

Warm in the day and uncomfortable due to never-ending crowds and the concrete surrounding you. The Thames is beautiful and many pop-ups open by the river, making for a fun atmosphere.

How to Get There

We've briefly listed London's airports below, but we'd recommend taking a look at our blog posts on the individual airports and the transport options available. These blog posts are linked below.

Heathrow (LHR)

The second busiest airport in Europe, LHR is on the outskirts of West London. LHR flies direct to all continents on the major airlines, apart from East Australia and New Zealand. LHR is the most expensive to fly in and out of, and rarely accommodates budget airlines. However, it has the simplest means to travel into London, so you will save money and time getting into the city.

Gatwick (LGW)

The UK's second-largest airport, LGW is 48km south-west of London. Flying to a host of international destinations, LGW also accommodates budget airlines unlike LHR

Stansted (STN)

STN is 67km north of London and is a budget airline hub. It predominantly caters to European destinations with a few routes to North Africa. STN offers more options into London than Luton.

Luton (LTN)

45km north-west of London, LTN is a budget airline hub serving predominantly European destinations and North Africa.

London City Airport (LCY)

LCY is the most convenient to the city and is typically known as London's business airport due to its proximity to the business districts Canary Wharf and the City of London. It only flies a select few routes within Europe via expensive airlines.

Southend (SEN)

58km east of London, SEN flies a limited selection of routes in Europe. If you want to save money and plan on staying in East London, fly into here.

Travelling by train

London has a myriad of major train stations. Even Londoners are confused by the choice and routes; Euston, St Pancras and King's Cross are all bunched next to each other on the same road!

We've included a map of the stations below so you can see for yourself.

The key stations include:

St Pancras International

This is where the Eurostar pulls into. If travelling from France, Belgium or Netherlands we'd recommend the Eurostar. It's direct into London, and you can follow signs to London's tube (the metro, also know as London Underground) to take you where you need to be.

London Paddington

Paddington provides direct rail connections to LHR, as well as to Bath and West England. It also connects to a number of London Underground lines.

London Waterloo

Waterloo has direct connections to many day trips in the south of England, such as Winchester and Salisbury. It also connects to a number of London Underground lines.

To see our Destination Guide to Winchester, click here!

London Bridge and London Victoria

Although on opposite sides of Central London, they both have direct routes to Gatwick Airport. Victoria also has direct coach connections to LHR. They also serve day trips such as Arundel, Brighton and Canterbury.

Euston

If travelling onwards to Birmingham, Manchester or Liverpool, Euston is your station!

Travelling in the city 

Dating back to 1890, the London Underground is the world's oldest metro line, transporting people in, out and around the city. It's so easy to use - just tap in and out with an Oyster card which you can buy at the train stations or off-licenses; you will be required to top-up with credit at tube stations. A recommended alternative is to use your contact-less credit or debit card! Journeys often range between £2 to £4 depending on when and where you travel.

There are 11 tube lines, all colour coded and weaving through London. Download the Citymapper App on your phone to significantly help you with your journey.

You can also use the city's infinite bus system too - the famous red double-deckers rushing through the streets. Often, these can be quicker to use than the tube so consult Citymapper. It costs £1.50 per journey and you only need to tap-in when you board the bus - do not tap-out!