London is the capital and largest city in England and the United Kingdom. Located on the Thames in south-east England, at the head of its 80 km estuary leading to the North Sea, London has been a major colony for two millennia. Londinium was founded by the Romans. The City of London, the ancient core of London – an area of only 1.12 square miles (2.9 km2) and colloquially known as the Square Mile – retains boundaries that closely follow its medieval boundaries. The City of Westminster is also a district of central London with city status. Greater London is governed by the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.
1. Here are 10 popular tourist attractions in London.
London has a huge variety of attractions. Historical or contemporary, paid for or free, there is something to suit all tastes and budgets. Here are the top ten visitor attractions (according to visitor numbers in 2010). *Indicates free entry to permanent exhibitions.
- British Museum :A fascinating range of objects from around the world from prehistoric to modern times.
- Tate Modern: Britain’s national museum of modern art in an iconic former power station.
- National Gallery: One of the world’s greatest collections of European paintings from 1250 to 1900.
- Natural History Museum: As well as the infamous dinosaurs, the museum has a collection of the biggest, tallest and rarest animals in the world.
- EDF Energy London Eye: The world’s highest observation wheel with spectacular views.
- Science Museum: Over 40 galleries and 2,000 hands-on exhibits.
- Victoria and Albert Museum: Celebrating art and design with collections on ceramics, furniture, fashion, sculpture and much more.
- Madame Tussauds: Meet famous faces from the worlds of showbiz, sport, politics and royalty.
- National Maritime Museum/ Royal Observatory: Discover seafaring and stargazing in Greenwich
- Tower of London: More than 900 years of history and the Crown Jewels.
2.Visitor Information in London
Tourist & Travel Information Centres
We know that face-to-face contact is always valued, especially when you are in a new city, so you will find a welcoming face, inspiring ideas, and tickets to many attractions at Tourist and Travel Information Centres. Travel Centres also sell tickets for travel. The nearest Tube, DLR or National Rail station is shown.
Tourist Information Centres (TICs)
City of London TIC St Paul’s Churchyard, London EC4M 8BX St.Paul’s/Mansion House Open: Mon-Sat 09.30-17.30 Sun 10.00-16.00
Pepys House, 2 Cutty Sark Gardens, London SE10 9LW DLR Cutty Sark DLR Greenwich Open: Daily 10.00-17.00
Holborn Visitor Information Kiosk
Kingsway, London WC2B 6BG Holborn Open: Mon-Fri 09.00-17.00 Sat & Sun closed
Additional TICs in Bexley, Harrow, Lewisham, Swanley, Twickenham; see visitlondon.com/welcome
Travel Information Centres
Euston Railway Station : Opposite platform 10 Open: Mon-Thurs 08.15-19.15 Fri 08.15-20.15 Sat, Sun & Public Holidays 08.15-19.15
Heathrow Airport : Heathrow Terminals1,2,3 Tube Station Open: Daily 07.30-19.30 including Public Holidays.
King’s Cross Tube Station : Western Ticket Hall near St. Pancras Open: Mon-Sat 07.15-20.15 Sun & Public Holidays 08.15-19.15
Liverpool Street Tube Station : Open: Mon-Thurs 07.15-19.15 Fri 07.15-20.15, Sat 07.15-19.15 Sun & Public Holidays 08.15-19.15
Piccadilly Circus Tube Station : Open: Daily 09.15-19.00
Victoria Railway Station : Opposite platform 8 Open: Mon-Sat 07.15-20.15 Sun & Public Holidays 08.15-19.15
On street information
You may also meet one of the city’s 300 London Ambassadors on the streets who will be happy to provide you with on-the-spot information.
3.Getting Around in London
For all the information you need to plan your trip, go to tfl.gov.uk/journeyplanner, which provides the tools to easily plan your journey on public transport in advance, and is available in 15 languages. You can also telephone +44 (0)843 222 1234* (24 hours) Alternatively visit one of the Travel Information Centres or any Tube Station. *You pay no more than 5p per minute if calling from a BT landline. There may be a connection charge. Charges from mobiles or other landline providers may vary.
There are 11 colour-coded Underground or ‘Tube’ lines. Services run regularly from around 05.00 to 00.30 (Sun 07.30 to 23.30) on most routes. The network is divided into nine zones, with Zone1 being the most central area. See page 8 for the Tube and Rail Map. tfl.gov.uk 5
Buses generally run from 05.00 to 00.30. Night Buses operate on many major routes from around midnight to 05.00, and some routes operate a 24-hour service. Cash fares are not available for bus passengers in Zone 1, therefore passengers must obtain a valid ticket or Oyster card before boarding. Some routes are especially good for sightseeing including routes 9 and 15 which use heritage Routemaster buses during the day.
Tickets To Travel
The Oyster card is generally the easiest and cheapest way to pay to travel around London whether you are using Tube, bus, tram, DLR, London Overground or National Rail services.
Oyster can store season tickets (Travelcards) as well as credit for single journeys (pay as you go), and your card is fully re-usable. When your Travelcard expires or your pay as you go credit is getting low, you can add another Travelcard or add more credit at over 3,900 Oyster retailers, at station touchscreen ticket machines and at Travel Information Centres in London. With pay as you go, you can travel as many times as you like in a day and the daily price cap means that you will never pay more than the price of an equivalent One Day Travelcard.
Where to Buy
You can save time by purchasing an Oyster card before you arrive in London at tfl.gov.uk/visitorshop.Please allow up to 14 days for delivery.
Using your Oyster
To ensure you pay the correct fare on Tube, DLR, London Overground and National Rail services you must always touch in on the yellow card reader at the start of your journey and touch out at the end. On buses and trams you only need to touch in at the start of your journey. For further information about Oyster including fares, travelling with children and using Oyster on River Services and National Rail, go to tfl.gov.uk/oyster.
Hail one of London’s famous black cabs (some are multicoloured!) when the yellow ‘Taxi’ sign is lit. Please note fares increase after 20.00. Private hire/minicabs must be booked in advance. We advise you against getting into any vehicle that approaches you in the street purporting to be a minicab. See tfl.gov.uk/findaride for details of local licensed minicabs, or use Cabwise – text CAB to 60835to get one taxi and two local licensed minicab numbers sent to your mobile phone (cost may vary depending on your mobile provider). Overseas networks can access this service by texting the street name and partial postcode eg Victoria St SW1 to +44 (0)7797 800 000. Texts will be charged at your standard roaming rate per enquiry.
Docklands Light Railway
Docklands Light Railway (DLR) driverless trains run from 05.30-00.30 Monday to Saturday and 07.00-23.30 on Sunday. There are trains every 4-10 minutes running on routes from Bank and Tower Gateway to Docklands, East and South East London. Take the DLRto visit Canary Wharf, Cutty Sark for Maritime Greenwich, ExCel London, London City Airport or Woolwich Arsenal. The Emirates Air Line opens this summer and provides a new cable car river crossing connecting The O2 and Excel exhibition centres via terminals at Emirates Greenwich Peninsula and Emirates Royal Docks. It is accessible for all and you can also take bikes along at any time. For more information visit tfl.gov.uk/emiratesairline
Barclays Cycle Hire is a public bicycle sharing scheme in central London. There are 570 docking stations and 8,000 bicycles for hire. For further information go to tfl.gov.uk/barclayscyclehire For general information on cycling in London visit tfl.gov.uk/cycling.
Walking in London is a great way to get around. For more information on walking routes visit tfl.gov.uk/walking.
Travelling on the river can be a relaxing way to travel whilst taking in the sights, and Oyster cards can now be used on Thames Clippers services. Go to tfl.gov.uk/river or pick up the River Services leaflet from Tube stations.
There are 13 National Rail termini in London for connections to all parts of the UK, plus Eurostar services from St. Pancras International. For further information go to nationalrail.co.uk or call 08457 484 950 (UK only) or +44 (0)20 7278 5240.
London Overground has four routes which run from Richmond/Clapham Junction to Stratford, Watford Junction to Euston, Gospel Oak to Barking and Highbury & Islington to West Croydon. Trains run approximately every 7-15 minutes during peak hours on most lines. Timetables available at stations and online, visit tfl.gov.uk/overground for more information.
If you are driving in London you need to pay the central London Congestion Charge, which is in operation Monday-Friday 7.00am-6.00pm excluding bank and public holidays. For a map of the charging zone or to pay the £10 daily charge visit cclondon.com.
London’s main coach services use Victoria Coach Station, SW1 020 7222 5600 tfl.gov.uk/coaches.
National Express: 08717 81 81 81 nationalexpress.com X90 Oxford London: 01865 785 400 oxfordbus.co.uk Oxford Tube: 01865 772 250 oxfordtube.com easyBus: easybus.co.uk GreenLineCoaches: 0844 801 7261 greenline.co.uk Megabus: 09001 600 900 megabus.com
Local Tip : “Research the several different ways to get into town from London’s airports, there are lots of different options so you’re sure to find something to suit, whether you’re on a budget or just need to get there swiftly” Chris, from Wimbledon visitlondon.com/travel/airport
London buzzes night and day with an unforgettable energy, and each area of the city has its own distinct atmosphere. Here is a quick introduction to the points of our compass:
London’s heart is made up of many districts from the iconic City of Westminster to the City of London, the main financial area of the capital. This central area has a dense concentration of landmarks, theatres, museums, nightspots and famous shopping areas like Covent Garden, Carnaby Street and Oxford Street.
Over120 languages are spoken in this multicultural and vibrant region, which is steeped in history and renowned for its culture. Areas of interest include Hampstead Heath and Primrose Hill with their huge green spaces, fabulous views and village feel, characterful Camden with its eclectic market and live music scene, and Green Lanes, where you can enjoy Turkish, Greek and Kurdish food.
The South is appreciated for its array of open spaces such as Clapham Common, the World Heritage Site at Greenwich and riverside Richmond. It’s popular for sporting attractions such as the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum and cricket at The Kia Oval. It offers wonderful opportunities to escape from the hustle and bustle, from the village atmosphere of Barnes to historic stately homes and palaces such as Ham House and Hampton Court.
The East now claims its place in the limelight and is set to play a huge part in the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games. The area is home to a unique arts scene and popular markets like Spitalfields, while the nightlife here in Hoxton and Shoreditch rivals that of the West End. Further east, Lee Valley Regional Park is one of London’s biggest open space.
West London is remarkable for its leafy squares, fascinating museums and vibrant street markets. Here you will find upmarket Kensington and Chelsea, the peaceful streets and canals of Maida Vale, Hammersmith, which is home to some great riverside pubs, and the vibrant, multicultural communities of Shepherd’s Bush and Southall.
5.Tube and RailMap
To help you book London accommodation with confidence in the standard of service and comfort you can expect to receive, look out for a quality rating logo. When accommodation displays one of the logos, it means a Quality Assessor has visited and given it an independent and trustworthy assessment.
Official Star Ratings
Stars are awarded following annual assessments by trained, impartial assessors. Annual visits are made and, in the case of hotels and guest accommodation, this involves a ‘mystery shop’ overnight stay at least every other year to thoroughly check out the service, hospitality, food and cleanliness, as well as the standard and comfort of the accommodation. All participating establishments are awarded between one and five stars. The more stars, the higher the quality and range of services and facilities provided. For full details of criteria, please refer to enjoyengland.com.
Travellers with access needs
Access for disabled visitors in London has greatly improved in recent years. All of London’s 8,000 buses (except heritage Routemasters) are low-floor, wheelchair accessible vehicles. For details of hotels with accessible facilities, maps showing step free routes around the city, and information on accessible Tube stations and black cabs, go to visitlondon.com/access.
Green Tourism for London scheme
If you want to try and make your trip to London an eco-friendly one, look out for the official Green Tourism for London logo when booking your accommodation and choosing attractions to visit. See visitlondon.com/green for a full list of hotels and attractions that have achieved the award, and a host of other tips on how to make your trip to Londonenvironmentallyfriendly.
The unit of currency in Britain is the pound sterling (£), and all London areas are served by ATMs, which accept Visa, MasterCard, Cirrus or Maestro cards. If you have travellers cheques, these can be exchanged at banks, bureaux de change, hotels and post offices; there are a wide range across town.
Lost property left on public transport, including taxis, is dealt with at the Transport for London (TfL) Lost Property office at 200 Baker Street. +44 (0)845 330 9882.
Shops are generally open Mondays to Saturdays, from 10.00-18.00, although some central stores stay open until 20.00-21.00 and later still on Thursdays. On Sundays many shops open from midday to 16.00. Visitor attractions and museums typically open daily from 10.00-18.00, although most close for a couple of days during the Christmas holidays.
If you’ve received good service, whether in a restaurant, café or hotel, it is quite normal to leave a tip of 10% of the total bill.
A wide variety of maps are available from TICs and all bookstores. See visitlondon.com/maps or try out the interactive maps online at visitlondon.com/explorer.
Post and email
Stamps can be bought at Post Offices or newsagents. Postcards to Europe and the rest of the world cost from 87p. Many hotels have internet access and there are internet cafés throughout the city.
“Many of London’s big museums are free, so it won’t cost you a penny to see all that they have to offer” Katherina, from Wembley visitlondon.com/value.
Walk this way
Look out for Legible London signs throughout central London which feature maps and information for pedestrians. You’ll be amazed at how easy it is to walk between many London landmarks.
The most environmentally-friendly way of getting around the city is on foot or by bike. Walking is one of the best ways of getting a feel for the city and most major landmarks are within easy reach of each other. It’s also a great idea to offset the carbonemissions generated by any flights here. For walking and cycling tours and more tips on how to be a green traveller, check out visitlondon.com/green Also be sure to recycle this guide, either literally or by passing it on to another traveller for their trip.
“London has more parks and green space than most major capital cities – great for relaxing away from the busy streets” Hannah, from Notting Hill visitlondon.com/outdoors.
Public toilets are provided at coach and mainline rail stations. Most charge 30p, and there are facilities for people with disabilities and for those with babies. ‘Superloos’ are also available across London.
You can expect to find most businesses closed on these public holidays, but some shops, bars and restaurants will remain open as usual or operate to their Sunday hours. On 25 December, most shops will shut. 2012/13 25–26 December 1 January.
+44 is the international dialling code for the UK. Public telephones take coins, telephone cards (available in newsagents, post offices and bureaux de change) or credit cards. The minimum cost for a call is 60p. The operator is on100 (calls within UK and Eire) or155 (calls abroad or to a ship).
Drinking age restrictions
The legal age for buying alcohol in the UK is 18 years old, although some bars and restaurants will only serve customers over the age of 21. If you are lucky enough to look under 21 it is a good idea to carry some identification with you.
Smoking is banned in all enclosed public places, including public transport, restaurants, bars and clubs.
999 or 112 (24 hours) for ambulance, fire or police services
NHS Direct T: 0845 4647 (24-hour advice within UK) nhsdirect.nhs.uk Ambulance 999 or 112 (24 hours) For minor ailments, pharmacists can dispense certain drugs. The largest chain is Boots, see boots.com for locations. To find a 24-hour pharmacy see nhs.uk.
“Walk! Taking the Tube can be addictive, but by walking around you’ll gain a different appreciation for the city, and often it’s much quicker too. For starters try wandering around Kensington Mews, Soho, and the old City” Stefan, from Hoxton.
Embassies and Consulates
Italy T: +44 (0)20 7312 2200
Netherlands T: +44 (0)20 7590 3200
New Zealand T: +44 (0)20 7930 8422
Poland T: +44 (0)20 7580 4324
Spain T: +44 (0)20 7589 8989
Sweden T: +44 (0)20 7917 6400
USA T: +44 (0)20 7499 9000
Australia T: +44 (0)20 7379 4334
Canada T: +44 (0)20 7258 6600
China T: +44 (0)20 7299 4049 France T: +44 (0)20 7073 1000
Germany T: +44 (0)20 7824 1300
India T: +44 (0)20 7836 8484
Ireland T: +44 (0)20 7235 2171
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