London is such a vast metropolis with numerous options for every aspect of your travel that unless you have enough pertinent information regarding the best attractions, things to do, hotels, restaurants, bars, shops and how to commute in the city, you can be at sea when you reach the city. Given below are some tips.
The Changing Scenario
London has a glorious history of victories and travails and of annexations and setbacks that is evident in many of its landmarks. It also has a rich cultural and traditional background that it portrays through the plethora of theatres, museums and art galleries that are present. Its technological advancements are manifest in places such as the Tower Bridge. It is also a shoppers’ paradise with its shops, stores and markets offering a wide range of items from the latest fashion to antiques. Traditionally, the itinerary of visitors includes most of the above places but the scene is now gradually changing as large infrastructure projects such as Crossrail, King’s Cross-St Pancras, Embassy Quarter and Battersea Power Station projects are giving a new look to the city’s skyline. Even if you have been to London before, there are enough reasons to return in order to see the new developments that include the reopening of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and the expansions of the British Museum, the Royal National Theatre and both Tate Galleries. There have also been many changes in the range of restaurants, bars, theatres, sports, pop-ups, and large scale events. A magnificent addition has been in the form of the London Eye that has given a completely new perspective to the traditional landmarks and the skyline.
The Right Time to Visit London
London is an ideal place to visit when the January and July sales take place. In October, the art scene climaxes with the Frieze Art fair. However, the quietest time to visit is post-Christmas to late March while the busiest period is July and August when there are school holidays and school kids can be seen all over the place. During the summer there is no exodus as in other places of the world.
Hotels in London
Millions of people visit London every year and they come with different budgets. The city offers enough hotels for their accommodation, ranging from the most expensive 5 Star Hotels in London to the cheapest places such as bed & breakfast, hostel rooms, dormitories and Travel Inns. There is a spate of luxury hotels that offer the ultimate in luxury.
Getting to London
Although there are six airports in London, the most important ones are London Heathrow and London Gatwick handling most of the international traffic. London Stansted and London Luton handle traffic from domestic and European cities. There are many options to get to central London from Heathrow but the quickest is the Heathrow Express that takes just 20 minutes. Express train service from Gatwick takes 30 minutes whereas from Stansted it takes 47 minutes. The cheapest option is to travel by bus although it will take a longer time. It is also possible to get into central London from the airports by coach service which will take about an hour. If you are travelling to London by a ship, the nearest place where the ship will moor is Tilbury which is 25 miles from central London in the Thames Estuary. Just a mile away you will find Tilbury Town railway station which is served by a shuttle bus. The other options for getting into or going out of London include Trains such as Eurostar that runs out of St Pancras International and takes 2hrs 15 to Paris and 3hrs 4 minutes to Brussels.
Moving Around in London
The public transport system in London is very efficient and convenient particularly the London Underground that offers the Tube service which is an extensive network covering London thoroughly. It is a quick way to get to various places as the road traffic is chaotic and extremely congested at times. The London Overground is also available and it connects 20 London Boroughs. Many people prefer to commute by buses that are slower but give better views and are cheaper. You can get an Oyster Card for travel by any mode and for economy. Many people are now using the contactless payment cards which have the same fares as Oysters, and these can also be used with cards issued abroad by major companies such as Visa, Mastercard and American Express. The visitor Oyster Card is available for £3 (non-refundable) if you live outside London. It is pre-loaded with pay-as-you-go use, starting at £10. You can order them online and they will be sent to 58 countries in advance.
Moreover, the congestion charge is also a dampener if you commute by road in a car. However, if you like to drive around, you can join ZipCar and pick up a car easily and cheaply and the congestion charge is paid automatically. You can get small cars from EasyCar from as little as £10 per day at Heathrow. London also has a cycle hire scheme and Boris Bikes are available across the city. Going around the city for short distances by bike is a convenient way of moving around as you can get close to the local residents and get to know their culture better. The most convenient and comfortable way to move around, however, is by taxi but it is also the most expensive mode of travel. The famous Black Cabs are the safest and most efficient. You can download the Hailo app to find the Black Cab nearest to you for no extra charge. Giving them competition fare the Uber and Taxicode services and also the cheaper minicabs that are less regulated.