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City guide - London, United Kingdom

Visited by 31.5 million people last year alone, London is one of Europe’s most popular travel destinations... and for good reason! From Buckingham Palace to Big Ben, lovely English gardens to cozy pubs, the British capital offers something for everyone. Just don’t forget to slow down to enjoy a spot of tea.

Tipping: Tipping is not customary in the U.K., where restaurants and hotels include a 10-12% service charge on the bill. It is, however, polite to tip taxi drivers 10 to 15% or about £1 for a short ride.

  • Language:

    English

  • Currency:

    Pound Sterling

  • Airports:
    • London City Airport
    • London Heathrow Airport
    • London Luton Airport
    • London Stansted Airport
  • Time Zone:

    CEST

Popular Accommodations

Transportation from London City Airport

Train

The train is the easiest way to travel from the airport to the city center. Take the DLR line to Canning Town, and then switch to the Jubilee line, which will take you to the heart of London. Purchase an Oyster card (London’s public transit card) at the station to save money on your ticket.

Cost £4.80
Trip Duration 40 minutes
Hours departs every 10 minutes from 5am to 12:00 am
Taxi

Taxis will take a bit longer than the train due to street traffic, but they are an option for those who are worried about transferring on an unfamiliar train system. Look for the signs for the taxi stand when you arrive at the airport.

Cost £25
Trip Duration approximately 1 hour

Transportation from London Heathrow Airport

Train

Again, the train is your best option for travelling from Heathrow to the city center, with the Piccadilly line leaving directly from airport terminals 1, 2 and 3. Purchase an Oyster card at the station to save money on your ticket.

Cost £4.80
Trip Duration 50 minutes
Hours departs every 5 minutes from 5 am to 12:00 am
Taxi

Follow signs to the taxi stand outside the airport after collecting your luggage. Without traffic, the trip will be about the same length as going by train, but it’s also quite a bit more expensive.

Cost about £50
Trip Duration at least 50 minutes, depending on traffic

Transportation from London Luton Airport

Train

The train is a quick and easy option for traveling from Luton to the city, but you will have to first take bus 888, which takes you from the airport to the train platform in 6 minutes. The train will let you off at St. Pancras Station.

Cost £10
Trip Duration 1 hour
Hours departs every 15 minutes 24/7
Bus

Buses are located in front of the Luton Airport Parkway Station. To get to the city center, take bus 888 (green line) to Victoria Station.

Cost £10
Trip Duration 1 hour and 20 minutes
Hours departs every 30 minutes 24/7
Taxi

Taxis can be found as you exit the airport.

Cost About £50
Trip Duration approximately 1 hour

Transportation from London Stansted Airport

Train

As Stansted is located farther outside of the city than other airports servicing London, you will need to take the Greater Angelina line to the Tottenham Hale stop and then transfer to the Victoria line to reach the city center. It’s best to purchase an Oyster card at the station to save money on your ticket.

Cost about £20
Trip Duration 1.5 hours
Hours departs every 15 minutes from 5:30 am to 12:30 am
Bus

A bus runs directly from Stansted to Victoria and is your least expensive option for getting to the city center. You can buy tickets either at the station or in advance online.

Cost about £10
Trip Duration 1 hour
Hours departs every 7 minutes 24/7
Taxi

Taxis can be found as you exit the airport.

Cost About £60
Trip Duration approximately 1 hour 20 minutes
Greenwich Park

As the largest park in South East London, Greenwich Park is well known for its royal observatory, which provides panoramic views of the entire city from its hilltop perch. Enjoy strolling through the charming neighborhood around the park, and be sure to visit the Cutty Sark, an old clipper ship around which sailors sing and dance on the weekends. Take the DLR train to the Cutty Sark stop to enjoy the park and its surroundings. www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/greenwich-park/visitor-information

St. James Park

Located in Westminster, in the center of the city, St. James Park offers a bit of respite in the big city, with black and white swans swimming idly by. Take in the view from the bridge, and picnic alongside locals as you enjoy the royal atmosphere: You’ll be right near Buckingham Palace, so don’t forget to wave hello to the queen! www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/st-jamess-park

Tower Bridge

Nearly every London tourist visits the famed Tower Bridge, snapping away with their cameras as they enjoy the view. What most don’t know, though, is that you can walk inside the bridge. A glass floor was built into the high walkway in 1980, and savvy tourists can cross the transparent platform to peer at cars and pedestrians below for a £9 fee. You can even take a yoga class on the glass floor if you’re feeling especially brave! www.towerbridge.org.uk/tower-bridge-glass-floor www.towerbridge.org.uk/news/2015/01/26/yoga-across-glass-floor

Camden Market

Camden Market is one of the city’s best-known outdoor shopping venues, home to a variety of cultures and tasty ethnic street food. Here you’ll find sellers of leather, vintage wares and accessories, to name just a few. To get there by train, take the Northern line to Camden Town. www.camdenlockmarket.com

Sky Garden

Another spot to enjoy stunning views of the city, the bar and restaurant of Sky Garden sit 155 meters above ground amid lush greenery. Enjoy a cocktail or a romantic dinner date, or visit just to take in the spectacular views. Reservations must be made to visit Sky Garden during the day, but it’s free and open to the public after 8 pm. skygarden.london/sky-garden

Tea at The Shard

As London’s tallest building at 95 stories, The Shard is the perfect spot for enjoying high tea in the typical British style. Visit Aqua Shard restaurant on the buildings 31st floor for scones and finger sandwiches, not to mention unending views. Afternoon tea runs from 3 to 5 pm each weekday, and it’s advisable to make a reservation online. Tables by the windows can’t be booked in advance, unfortunately, so it’s a good idea to show up early to score the best views. www.the-shard.com/restaurants/aquashard/

Covent Garden

A favorite attraction among visitors and locals alike, Covent Gardens is a charming shopping center located in an old renovated building. Here you’ll find stalls filled with jewelry, handmade gifts and home wares, as well as street performers on every corner.

Shoreditch

Home to small markets, galleries and specialty shops, Shoreditch is a trendy as London gets. Join the neighborhood’s young, creative types as you shop flea markets, outlets and high fashion boutiques, stopping along the way to sustain yourself with food from the many street vendors. And be sure to make your way down Brick Lane for a view of some of London’s most colorful street art. www.visitbricklane.org/enter/4537674486 www.timeout.com/london/things-to-do/shoreditch-area-guide

Chinatown

For a different taste of London, pass through Regent and Oxford streets into Chinatown, where you’ll find delicious, low-priced food on streets lined with red lanterns. The atmosphere is especially electric during Chinese New Year at the end of January, but it’s worth a visit anytime. Once you’ve had your fill of noodles and dumplings, continue on to nearby SoHo, filled with bustling bars and live shows.

Notting Hill

Made famous by the movie of the same name, as well as the rows of colorful homes, Notting Hill is filled with markets, vintage and antique shops, cafes and live music venues. If you’re visiting in August, don’t miss the Notting Hill Carnival, a Caribbean-style celebration that includes Europe’s largest (and, arguably, liveliest) street party.

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