London and the Best of England -The wondrous city of London — home to Buckingham Palace and Big Ben, Sherlock Holmes and Scotland Yard, Prince William and a stiff upper lip, pubs, and pints, tea time and scones, Harrods and the British Museum. You can spend the evening at the latest West End production, dance until dawn at the hippest clubs, and have a pint in the same pubs where Shakespeare hung out. And if that’s not enough, you have the Tower of London, the River Thames, the Tate Modern, and the Crown Jewels. London also has some of the world’s foremost museums, including exhaustive collections of historical artifacts, paintings, antiquities, wax figures, and film memorabilia.
Anything less than three days in London is simply not enough time to appreciate more than a smidgen of what the city has to offer; four or five days is more reasonable.
Getting There – London and the Best of England
Air travel is the most convenient option for getting to London, although if you’re coming from the Continent you can always hop a ferry or take the train from Paris or Brussels through the Channel Tunnel (Chunnel for short).
Arriving by air
Transatlantic flights usually land west of the city at Heathrow Airport ( 0870-000-0123; www.baa.co.uk), from where you can take either a 15-minute ride on the Heathrow Express bullet train ( 0845-600-1515; www.heathrowexpress.com), with departures every 15 minutes to London’s Paddington Station, or a leisurely 50-minute Underground ride on the Piccadilly Line, which runs through the center of town and may more conveniently drop you off right at your hotel.
Some flights (especially from the Continent) and charter planes land at Gatwick Airport ( 0870-000-2468; www.baa.co.uk), 30 miles south of London and a 30-minute ride on the Gatwick Express to London’s Victoria Station ( 0845-850-1530; www.gatwickexpress.com); or at London Stansted Airport ( 0870-000-0303; www.baa.co.uk), 35 miles northeast of town and a 45-minute ride to London’s Liverpool Street Station on the Stansted Express ( 0845-850-0150; www.stanstedexpress.com).
Some flights from Britain and northern Europe land at London City Airport ( 020-7646-0000), 9 miles east of the center, where a shuttle bus whisks you to the nearby Liverpool Street Station in 25 minutes. EasyJet and other no-frills/low-cost European airlines are making little London Luton Airport ( 01582-405-100), 30 miles northwest of the city, into a busy hub for their budget flights from other parts of Britain and the Continent. From Luton Airport, the hourly Greenline Coach 757 ( 0870-608-7261) departs to a bus shelter on Buckingham Palace Road (a 70-minute trip) near the corner with Eccleston Bridge (a block from Victoria Rail and Victoria Coach stations); or you can take a bus (eight minutes) to Luton’s rail station and connect to a train (30 minutes) to London’s King’s Cross Station or next-door neighbor St. Pancras Station.
Arriving by rail
Trains coming from Dover (where ferries from the Continent land) arrive at either Victoria Station or Charing Cross Station, both in the center of town (101 ⁄2 hours total travel time from Paris via the ferry route).
The direct Eurostar trains (www.eurostar.com) that arrive from Paris and Brussels via the Channel Tunnel (a trip of three hours — two after you factor in the time change) pull into Waterloo Station in Southbank. If you’re coming from Edinburgh, you arrive at King’s Cross Station in the northern part of London.
Orienting Yourself in London
London is a large and sprawling city. Urban expansion has been going on around London for centuries, and the 618 square miles of London consist of many small towns and villages that slowly have been incorporated over time. Officially, 33 boroughs divide London, but most of its 7.2 million residents still use traditional neighborhood names, which I do as well in this guide.
Most of central London lies north of the Thames River (west of it when the river turns southward) and is more or less bounded by the two loops of the District and Circle Tube lines. Central London can be divided into The City and the West End.
Introducing the neighborhoods
Located on what now is the eastern edge of London’s center, The City is the ancient square mile where the Romans founded the original Londinium.
This area is now home to St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Tower of London, world financial institutions, and the one-time center of newspaper publishing, Fleet Street.
The West End is much larger and harder to classify. This lively center of London’s shopping, restaurant, nightlife, and museum scene includes many neighborhoods.
One old district West End neighborhood, Holborn, lies alongside The City and today is filled with the offices of lawyers and other professionals. North of this district, the British Museum and the University of London lend a literary, academic feel to Bloomsbury. West of Bloomsbury, Fitzrovia is an old writer’s hangout with shops and pubs that fade into Soho to the south. Farther to the west, the bland residential grid of Marylebone’s streets attracts visitors to Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum and the stomping grounds of the fictional Sherlock Holmes.
The area below Bloomsbury gets livelier. Covent Garden and the Strand comprise an upscale restaurant, entertainment, and funky shopping quarter. To the west, Soho, once a seedy red-light district, is cleaned up and contains numerous budget eateries and London’s Chinatown. To the south is Piccadilly Circus/Leicester Square — party central, with the bulk of London’s theaters; lots of crowded pubs, bars, and commercial clubs; the biggest movie houses; and Piccadilly Circus, which is a bustling square of traffic and tacky neon.
Southwest of Piccadilly Circus is the exclusive, old residential streets of St. James (imagine an old gentlemen’s club and expand it several blocks in each direction). Northwest of St. James (and west of Soho) is fashionable Mayfair, which is full of pricey hotels. Westminster, running along the western bank of the Thames’s north-south stretch, is the heart and soul of political Britain, home to Parliament and the royal family’s Buckingham Palace. Westminster flows into Victoria to the south. Centered on Victoria train station, this neighborhood remains genteel and residential. Northwest of Victoria and west of Westminster is Belgravia, an old aristocratic zone full of stylish townhouses that’s just beyond the West End.
West of the West End, the neighborhoods are divided north-south by enormous Hyde Park. South of Hyde Park stretches the uniformly fashionable residential zones of Knightsbridge, Kensington, and South Kensington, which are also home to London’s grandest shopping streets. (Harrods department store is in Knightsbridge.) South of Belgravia and South Kensington is the artists’ and writers’ quarter of Chelsea, which manages to keep hip with the changing times — Chelsea debuted miniskirts in the 1960s and punk in the 1970s.
North of Hyde Park is the more middle-income residential neighborhoods of Paddington, Bayswater, and Notting Hill, popular among budget travelers for their abundance of bed-and-breakfasts (B&Bs) and inexpensive hotels. Nearby Notting Hill Gate is similar and is becoming a hip fashion and dining center in its own right.
On the other side of the Thames is Southwark — where tourism has recently exploded, thanks to the opening of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, the Tate Modern (now connected to St. Paul’s Cathedral and The City by the funky pedestrian Millennium Bridge), and a motley assortment of lesser sights. It’s also an art and cultural center, home to some of London’s premier performance halls as well as the National Theatre.
On a first-time or quick visit, you probably won’t venture too far beyond this huge area of central London. If you do, the most likely candidates are the revitalized Docklands, home to many businesses and grand, upscale housing developments of the 1980s, or the East End, ever an economically depressed area — part of the real, working-class of London and home to many recent immigrants.
If you’re exploring London to any extent, one of your most useful purchases will be London A to Z, one of the world’s greatest street-by-street maps. This publication is the only one that lists every tiny alley and dead-end lane of the maze that is London’s infrastructure. You can buy one at any bookstore and most newsstands.
Finding information after you arrive
London’s tourist office (see the “Fast Facts” section at the end of this chapter) will provide useful information, as will a copy of Time Out: London, sold at any newsstand. The London Information Centre (% 20-7292-2333), smack-dab in the middle of Leicester Square right next to the TKTS booth, offers information to visitors and provides a free hotel booking service. Like the square, the info center is open late — from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week.
FAQS London and the Best of England
Why is London so great?
London is vibrant culture. London is pure magic. one of the world’s most visited cities, London has something for everyone: from history and culture to fine food and exceedingly good times. … With such diversity, London’s cultural dynamism makes it among the world’s most international cities.
Why London is that the best place to visit?
One great point about London is that there are numerous free attractions. a number of the best museums, like the National Gallery, the museum, the National History Museum and therefore the British Museum are often explored for free of charge and there’s also the Tate Modern, where many exhibits are available for free of charge.
What England is understood for?
ENGLAND is legendary for several things – David Beckham, Fish, and Chips, Big Ben, Red Buses, black cabs, Oasis, Blur, the Beatles, London, and tea. England is legendary for its long history.
Is London bigger than New York?
London’s stood at 8.3 million, while NYC stood at 8.4 million. London, however, has far more room for its inhabitants — it’s 138 square miles bigger than NYC. So it’s pretty safe to mention that NY is much more crowded than London. London wins because it’s less crowded than NY City.
What is considered the best city in the world?
London is #1 again, for the sixth year in a row. It’s not topped our World’s Best Cities rankings. But the town is in tough in 2021.
How far is Stonehenge from London?
Around 90 miles
The world-famous Stonehenge is situated around 90 miles west of central London and is well within a cushy excursion.
Which city has the best weather in the UK?
The 6 best places to measure within the UK for sunshine and heat
- Bognor Regis: England’s Louis XIV . (Image credit: Getty)
- Eastbourne, East Sussex: Brighton’s bustling cousin.
- Hastings, Kent: the sunny heart of The Garden of England.
- Central London: it’s sunnier and warmer than you think that.
- Tenby, Wales: the Welsh Riviera.
- The Isles of Scilly: slow living and warm winters.
Are UK and England the same?
England may be a country. Britain is a neighborhood that consists of England and therefore the country of Wales. … The UK (UK) may be a country that’s a union of the countries on the island of Great Britain, alongside the country of Northern Ireland (which shares the island of Eire with the Republic of Eire .)
What is England’s national dish?
Chicken Tikka Masala
England’s National Dish: Chicken Tikka Masala.
What is the foremost British thing?
Here’s a visible list of things that are British:
- Full English Breakfast.
- Sticky Toffee Pudding.
- Fish and Chips.
- Pride and Prejudice.
- Harry Potter.
Is London more important than New York?
Five years later, London’s financial sector remains larger than NY, as a share of the town economy, and New York’s GDP per capita is slightly higher. … London features a slight edge because the world’s leading center, ranking first to New York’s second.
Is London still the financial capital of the world?
It is welcome, therefore, that a replacement report shows London continues to steer the planet when it involves financial and professional services. The research by the town of London Corporation shows how London and therefore the UK compare with other financial centers taking a complete of 91 different metrics under consideration.
Which is that the cleanest city in the world?
1. Calgary, Canada – features a population of quite 1,000,000 people and is currently the world’s cleanest city.
What drink is London known for?
Everything from the Breakfast Martini to the Espresso Martini was invented in London, and no list of classic British cocktails would be complete without it. The Breakfast Martini was invented by cocktail legend Salvatore Calabrese while he was performing at the Library Bar at The Lanesborough hotel in London within the 1990s.
What is London city known for?
London is legendary for quite its magnificent ancient buildings, the Palace of Westminster, Trafalgar Square, Tower of London, London Eye, Art Galleries, and large Ben.