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London, England

Noisy, vibrant and truly multicultural, London is a megalopolis of people, ideas and frenetic energy. The capital and largest city of the United Kingdom, it is also the largest city in Western Europe and the European Union. Situated on the River Thames in South-East England, Greater London has an official population of a little over 8 million, but the estimate of between 12 and 14 million people in the greater metropolitan area better reflects its size and importance. Considered one of the world's leading "global cities", London remains an international capital of culture, music, education, fashion, politics, finance and trade. Among international tourists, London is the most-visited city in the world.

Districts

The name London originally referred only to the once-walled "Square Mile" of the original Roman city (confusingly called the "City of London" or just "The City"). Today, London has taken on a much larger meaning to include all of the vast central parts of the modern metropolis, with the city having absorbed numerous surrounding towns and villages over the centuries, including large portions of the surrounding "home counties", one of which - Middlesex - being completely consumed by the growing metropolis. The term Greater London embraces Central London together with all the outlying suburbs that lie in one continuous urban sprawl within the lower Thames valley. Though densely populated, London retains large swathes of green parkland and open space, even within the city centre. Greater London is all of the area surrounded by the M25 orbital motorway, and consists of 32 London Boroughs and the City of London that, together with the office of the Mayor of London, form the basis for London's local government. The Mayor of London is elected by London residents and should not be confused with the Lord Mayor of the City of London. The names of several boroughs, such as Westminster or Camden, are well-known, others less so, such as Wandsworth or Lewisham. This traveller's guide to London recognises cultural, functional and social districts of varying type and size:

Understand

"When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford" Samuel Johnson

History

Settlement has existed on the site of London since well before Roman times, with evidence of Bronze Age and Celtic settlement. The Roman city of Londinium, established just after the Roman conquest of Britannia in the year 43, formed the basis for the modern city . After the end of Roman rule in 410 and a short-lived decline, London experienced a gradual revival under the Anglo-Saxons, as well as the Norsemen, and emerged as a great medieval trading city, and eventually replaced Winchester as the royal capital of England. This paramount status for London was confirmed when William the Conqueror, a Norman, built the Tower of London after the conquest in 1066 and was crowned King of England in Westminster. London went from strength to strength with the rise of England to first European then global prominence, and the city became a great centre of culture, government and industry. London's long association with the theatre, for example, can be traced back to the English renaissance (witness the Rose Theatre and great playwrights like Shakespeare who made London their home). With the rise of Britain to supreme maritime power in the 18th and 19th centuries (see Industrial Britain) and the possessor of the largest global empire, London became an imperial capital and drew people and influences from around the world to become, for many years, the largest city in the world. England's royal family has, over the centuries, added much to the London scene for today's traveller: the Albert Memorial, Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace, Royal Albert Hall, Tower of London, Kew Palace and Westminster Abbey being prominent examples. Despite the inevitable decline of the British Empire, and considerable suffering during World War II (when London was heavily bombed by the German Luftwaffe in the Blitz), the city is still a top-ranked world city: a global centre of culture, finance, and learning. Today London is easily the largest city in the United Kingdom, eight times larger than the second largest, Birmingham, and ten times larger than the third, Glasgow, and dominates the economic, political and social life of the nation. It is full of excellent bars, galleries, museums, parks and theatres. It is also the most culturally and ethnically diverse part of the country, making it a great multicultural city to visit. Samuel Johnson famously said, "when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life". Whether you are interested in ancient history, modern art, opera or underground raves, London has it all.

The City and Westminster

If you ask a Londoner where the centre of London is, you are likely to get a wry smile. This is because historically London was two cities: a commercial city and a separate government capital. The commercial capital was the City of London. This had a dense population and all the other pre-requisites of a medieval city: walls, a castle a cathedral (St Paul's), a semi-independent City government, a port and a bridge across which all trade was routed so Londoners could make money (London Bridge). About an hour upstream (on foot or by boat) around a bend in the river was the government capital (Westminster). This had a church for crowning the monarch (Westminster Abbey) and palaces. As each palace was replaced by a larger one, the previous one was used for government, first the Palace of Westminster (better known as the Houses of Parliament), then Whitehall, then Buckingham Palace. The two were linked by a road called The "Strand", old English for riverbank. London grew both west and east. The land to the west of the City (part of the parish of Westminster) was prime farming land (Covent Garden and Soho for example) and made good building land. The land to the east was flat, marshy and cheap, good for cheap housing and industry, and later for docks. Also the wind blows 3 days out of 4 from west to east, and the Thames (into which the sewage went) flows from west to east. So the West End was up-wind and up-market, the East End was where people worked for a living. Modern-day London in these terms is a two-centre city, with the area in between known confusingly as the West End.

Climate

Despite a perhaps unfair reputation for being unsettled, London enjoys a dry and mild climate on average. Only one in three days on average will bring rain and often only for a short period. In some years, 2012 being an example, there was no rain for several weeks.

Winter

Winter in London is mild compared to nearby continental European cities due to both the presence of the Gulf Stream and the urban heat effect. Average daily maximum is 8°C in December and January. Daylight hours are short with darkness falling by 16:00 in December. Snow does occur, usually a few times a year but rarely heavy (a few years being exceptions such as the winters of 2009 and 2010, with temperatures dipping down to sub-zeros regularly). Snow in London can be crippling, as seen at the end of 2010. Just 7 cm (3 in) of snow will cause trains to stop running, airports to see significant delays, and the postal service to come to a halt. London is a city which does not cope well with snow; walkways, stairs, and streets will not be cleared by shovels or ploughs. The streets will be salted/gritted, but will remain slick and snow/slush covered until the sun melts it away. This is due to a lack of widespread snow-clearing infrastructure as the city does not often see snow.

Summer

Summer is perhaps the best season for tourists as it has long daylight hours as well as mild temperatures. The average daily high temperatures in July and August are around 24°C . The highest temperature since 2000 was recorded once in August at 38°C (100°F). This means London can feel hot and humid for several days in the summer months. Also, because of the urban heat effect, at night it can feel humid and muggy. The overall weather in summer can be variable, with occasional prolonged instances of rain and unexpected dips in temperature. If you're coming during the summer it is still advised to dress in layers and bring some waterproofs!

Tourist information centres

Since the closure of the Britain and London Visitor Centre in December 2011 due to cost-cutting by the government, London has no centrally located tourist information centre. The City of London Information Centre, as the last remaining information centre in any of the Central London boroughs, is now the only impartial, face-to-face source of tourist information in Central London. It is located in St. Paul's Churchyard, next to St. Paul's Cathedral, and is open every day other than Christmas Day and Boxing Day, from 09.30-17.30 Monday to Saturday, and 10.00-16.00 on Sunday. There is no office for tourist information for the whole of the UK nor for the whole of England.

See

London is a huge city, so all individual listings are in the appropriate district articles and only an overview is presented here.

Landmarks

  • Buckingham Palace. The London residence of the Queen, in Westminster. Open for tours during the summer months only, but a must-see sight even if you don't go in.
  • London Eye. The world's fourth-largest observation wheel, situated on the South Bank of the Thames with magnificent views over London. (Tube: Waterloo)
  • Marble Arch is a white Carrara marble monument designed by John Nash. It is located in the middle of a huge traffic island at one of the busiest intersections in central London where Oxford St meets Park Lane in Mayfair. (Tube: Marble Arch)
  • Piccadilly Circus is one of the most photographed sights in London. The Shaftesbury Memorial, topped by the statue of Anteros (now popularly identified as Eros), stands proudly in the middle of Piccadilly Circus while the north eastern side is dominated by a huge, iconic neon hoarding. Occasionally there will be scaffolding or hoarding around the Eros statue in order to protect it during times when large crowds are anticipated. (Tube: Piccadilly Circus))
  • St Paul's Cathedral, also in the City, is Sir Christopher Wren's great accomplishment, built after the 1666 Great Fire of London - the great dome is still seated in majesty over The City. A section of the dome has such good acoustics that it forms a "Whispering Gallery". There is also a viewing area that offers views of the surrounding area including the Millennium Bridge that lies nearby. (Tube: St Paul's)
  • Tower Bridge. The iconic 19th century bridge located by the Tower of London near the City. It is decorated with high towers featuring a drawbridge. The public are allowed access to the interior of the bridge via the Tower Bridge Exhibition, tickets for which can be purchased on the website or at the bridge. (Tube: Tower Hill)
  • Tower of London. Situated just south east of the City, is London's original royal fortress by the Thames. It is over 900 years old, contains the Crown Jewels, guarded by Beefeaters, and is a World Heritage site. It is also considered by many to be the most haunted building in the world. If you are interested in that sort of thing its definitely somewhere worth visiting. Sometimes there are guided ghost walks of the building. You can even have a good meal in one of the buildings on the property. (Tube: Tower Hill)
  • Trafalgar Square. Home of Nelson's Column and the lions, and once a safe haven for London's pigeons until the recent introduction of hired birds of prey. The "Fourth plinth" has featured a succession of artworks since 1999. Overlooked by the National Gallery, it's the nearest London has to a "centre", and has recently been pedestrianised. (Tube: Charing Cross)
  • Westminster Abbey and the Palace of Westminster, including the Queen Elizabeth II Tower (the clock tower commonly known as the name of its bell, Big Ben) and the Houses of Parliament, in Westminster. The seat of the United Kingdom parliament and World Heritage site, as well as setting for royal coronations since 1066, most recently that of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. The Palace of Westminster is open to the public only for viewing parliamentary debates, tours of the building are available in July – August when Parliament is away on summer recess. Westminster Abbey also has a restaurant and a café that both serve good food. (Tube: Westminster)
  • 30 St Mary Axe or The Gherkin, a peculiarly-shaped 180 m (590 ft) building in the City. There is no public access to the building itself but it can be viewed from the roads and small paved areas directly in front of and behind the building. Please note that security guards can be overzealous in this area and you may be asked to move on or stop taking photographs if you are doing so (although this may seem overbearing, it is private land and they can ask you to leave if they wish). Commanding views of this building can also be obtained from public roads near the site such as Leadenhall Street. Of minor interest to history fans is an inscription on Bury Street dedicated to a young Roman girl who was found buried here by archaeologists in 1995. Her remains were moved to the Museum of London while the Gherkin was being constructed, and were reburied in 2007 at the original site.
  • The Shard. 1 April - 31 October 10:00 - 22:00, 1 November - 31 March 10:00 - 19:00. A futuristic triangular skyscraper that dominates the London skyline and is currently the tallest building in the EU. There is a viewing deck on the 72nd floor that is open to the public, tickets for which must be booked via the website. There are also restaurants and the expensive luxury hotel Shangri-La on the lower floors.

Museums and galleries

Central London hosts an outstanding collection of world-class museums and galleries, several of truly iconic status. Even better, London is unique among global capitals in that the majority of the museums have no entrance charges, allowing visitors to make multiple visits with ease. Special or temporary exhibitions, of course, may attract an admission charge. London museums and galleries with no general admission charge include:

  • British Museum (Tube: Holborn)—a treasure trove of world cultures from across the ages, on a par with the Paris Louvre and New York's Metropolitan Museum
  • National Gallery (Tube: Charing Cross)—houses the national collection of paintings in the Western European tradition from the 13th to the 19th centuries
  • National Portrait Gallery (Tube: Charing Cross)
  • Victoria and Albert Museum (Tube: South Kensington)
  • Natural History Museum (Tube: South Kensington)
  • Science Museum (Tube: South Kensington)
  • Tate Modern (Tube: Southwark, Blackfriars)
  • Tate Britain (Tube: Pimlico)
  • Wallace Collection (Tube: Marble Arch) and most museums in Greenwich.
Aside from these world famous establishments, there is an almost unbelievable number of minor museums in London covering a very diverse range of subjects. The British Government lists over 240 genuine museums in the city.

Notable smaller museums

  • London's Transport Museum
  • Museum of London Docklands (DLR: West India Quay)

Parks

The 'green lungs' of London are the many parks, great and small, scattered throughout the city including Hyde Park, St James Park and Regent's Park. Most of the larger parks have their origins in royal estates and hunting grounds and are still owned by the Crown, despite their public access.

  • Hyde Park and adjoining Kensington Gardens make up a huge open space in central London and are very popular for picnics.
  • Regent's Park is wonderful open park in the northern part of central London.(Tube:Camden Town, Regent's Park)
  • St James's Park has charming and romantic gardens ideal for picnics and for strolling around. St. James's Park is situated between Buckingham Palace on the west and Horse Guards Parade on the east.
  • Hampstead Heath is a huge open green space in north central London. Not a tended park a such and is remarkably wild for a metropolitan city location. The views from the Parliament Hill area of the heath south over the city are quite stunning. (Tube: Hampstead, Overground: Hampstead Heath, Gospel Oak)
  • Richmond Park also is a huge green space, but has a thriving deer population that is culled in the spring. Excellent place for cycling. (Tube:Richmond then Bus:371)
  • Bushy Park, near to Hampton Court Palace, is the second-largest park in London. More low-key than its larger cousin, Richmond Park, it too has a large deer population. Bushy Park contains numerous ponds, bridleways, two allotments, and at its northern edge, the National Physical Laboratory.

Blue Plaques

English Heritage runs the Blue Plaques programme in London. Blue Plaques celebrate great figures of the past and the buildings that they inhabited. These are among the most familiar features of the capital’s streetscape and adorn the façades of buildings across the city. Since the first plaque was erected in 1867, the number has grown steadily and there are now more than 800. Recipients are as diverse as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Sigmund Freud, Charles de Gaulle, Jimi Hendrix and Karl Marx. Look out for these around the city.

London Pass

Whereas some London museums offer free entry, some other top London attractions are ridiculously expensive. For example, entry to Westminster Abbey costs £20 per person and entry to the Tower is £23.10 per person if bought online (2015). These prices can be sometimes mitigated by a purchase of London Pass, which needs to be done at the London Pass website. The pass comes in several varieties and gives access to over 60 attractions, including both Westminster Abbey and the Tower. For example, a day pass costs £52 for an adult (2015). The best strategy, if one wants to visit several expensive high-profile attractions, is to buy a day pass and to try visiting all of them in the same day. This obviously requires some advanced planning.

Do

London is a huge city, so all individual listings are in the appropriate district articles. To make the most of the city's tremendous cultural offerings visitors will do well to pick up a copy of a cultural magazine like Time Out London (available at most corner shops and newsagents) which gives detailed information and critiques on what's around town including show times and current attractions. The Time Out London website also has major shows listed. There is also a Time Out iPhone/iPod app available although the print version tends to be more detailed.

Live music

London is one of the best cities in the world for concerts, spanning from new musical trends to well known bands. Between huge concert facilities and small pubs, there are hundreds of venues that organise and promote live music every week. Many concerts, especially in smaller or less known places are free, so there is plenty of choice even for tourists on a budget. London has long been a launchpad for alternative movements, from the mods of the 60s, punks of the 70s, new romantics of the 80s, the Britpop scene of the 90s and in recent years the indie rock movement spearheaded by The Libertines and their ilk. It has one of the world's most lively live music scenes: any band heading a British, European or World tour will play London, not to mention the local talent. London's music scene is incredibly diverse, covering all genres of music from electro-jazz to death-metal, and all sizes of bands, from the U2s and Rolling Stones of the world to one man bands who disband after their first gig. This diversity is reflected in prices. As a rough guide: £20+ for 'top 40' bands in arena sized venues, £10+ for established bands in mid sized venues, £6+ for up and coming bands and clubnights in smaller venues, £5- for upstarting bands in bars and pubs. London has hundreds of venues spread out over the city and the best way to know what's going on where is to browse online ticket agencies, Music Magazine's gig directories and individual bands' MySpace pages. A few areas which have higher concentrations of pubs and venues than others. Kilburn in North West London has long been known as an Irish area; though their numbers have somewhat declined, a visit to a local pub will show their influence remains today. Kilburn's The Good Ship is a favourite place for young aspiring bands to try to get a foot off the ground, due to its inclusive policies and fair payment system. Good for those who would like to see bands "before they were big", who appreciate £5 entrance fees, good beer and friendly staff. One of the easiest to use and most comprehensive listings websites is LondonEars.

Theatre

The West End, especially the areas concentrated around Leicester Square, Covent Garden, Shaftesbury Avenue and Haymarket, is one of the world's premier destinations for theatre, including musical theatre. Covent Garden has the only Actor sponsored school in the city called the Actors Centre which also gave way to the London Acting Network, a London acting community support group. In the centre of Leicester Square there is an official half-price TKTS booth. For up-to-date listings see the weekly magazine Time Out or check the official London theatreland site. The South Bank is another area well known for world class theatre, and is home to both the National Theatre and the Globe Theatre, the latter of which is London's only thatched building and an attraction in itself. Each Globe performance has over 700 £5 tickets. London's theatre scene outside of these two main districts is known as "the Fringe". Several of the larger and more established fringe theatres are an excellent way to see top quality productions of plays that may well transfer to the West End, but at lower than West End prices. The most significant of these are:

  • The Royal Court. This theatre specialises in new writing, and recent productions that have transferred to great acclaim include 'Enron' by Lucy Prebble and 'Jerusalem' by Jez Butterworth, which had long runs in both the West End and on Broadway.
  • The Menier Chocolate Factory. This small theatre adjacent to Borough Market has done spectacularly well with revivals of musicals, including 'Sunday in the park with George' and 'A Little Night Music' both by Stephen Sondheim and which had runs in both the West End and Broadway.
  • The Lyric Theatre. Not to be confused with its West End namesake this fascinating theatre comprises a Victorian interior transplanted into a modern office building. It offers a mix of modern interpretations of Shakespeare, musicals and plays that reflect the multicultural nature of its location, in particular serving the Asian and Afro-Caribbean populations of West London.

Other things to do

  • Changing the Guard, Buckingham Palace SW1A 1AA. Buckingham Palace: alternate days 11:30 . Horse Guards Arch: M-Sa 11:00, Su 10:00. The 45 min ceremony which occurs every morning outside Buckingham palace often features Guards regiments with bearskins and red tunics together with military bands. All these soldiers are fighting troops and there will be times when other regiments mount the guard at Buckingham Palace while units are deployed on active service overseas. In Whitehall, cavalry of the Household division on horseback and foot make the formal changeover between the previous guards on duty and the new guards at Horse Guards Parade. The Household division has guarded the royal family since 1660 and continue to do so today.
  • Take a walk through London's Royal Parks. A good walk would start at Paddington station, and head through Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park, Green Park (passing Buckingham Palace) and St James Park before crossing Trafalgar Square and the River Thames to the South Bank and Waterloo Station. At a strolling pace this walk would take half a day, with plenty of places to stop, sit, drink, eat en route.
  • Watch a film. As well as the world-famous blockbuster cinemas in the West End, London has a large number of superb art house cinemas. In the summer months, there are often outdoor screenings at various venues, such as Somerset House and in some of the large parks.
  • Watch football. Take in a home match of one of the city's 15+ professional football clubs for a true experience of a lifetime as you see the passion of the "World's Game" in its mother country. London will have five clubs in the top Premier League in the upcoming 2015–16 season—Arsenal, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Tottenham Hotspur, and West Ham United. A level down, in the Football League Championship, finds Brentford, Charlton Athletic, Fulham, and Queens Park Rangers (QPR). Five other clubs are in lower levels of the professional league system—Millwall in Football League One; and AFC Wimbledon, Barnet, Dagenham & Redbridge and Leyton Orient in Football League Two. Many of the bigger clubs will require booking in advance, sometimes many months ahead, but smaller clubs allow you to simply turn up on match day and pay at the gate. You will be able to find a ticket to a quality football match on any Saturday during the season.
  • Wimbledon. Wimbledon is the oldest tennis tournament in the world and is widely considered the most prestigious. Naturally it is a regular feature on the Tennis calendar. London goes "tennis crazy" for two weeks when the competition commences in late June and early July. One of the greatest traditions is to eat Strawberries and Cream with sugar.(Tube:Southfields)
  • Open House London Weekend. Explore many of the city's most interesting buildings during the London Open House Weekend - usually held on the third weekend of September. During this single weekend, several hundred buildings which are not normally open to the public are opened up. See website for details of buildings opening in any given year - some buildings have to be pre-booked in advance - book early for the popular ones!
  • Winter skating. London has a number of outdoor ice rinks that open in the winter months. Considered by some to be somewhat overpriced and overcrowded, they nonetheless have multiplied in recent years, easing congestion and increasing competition. Most charge from £10-12 (adults) for an hour on the ice, including skate hire. See the district articles for the City of London, East End and Leicester Square.
  • Summer skating. In summer (and also in winter, for the more dedicated) there is also a thriving roller skating (on inline and traditional "quad" skates) scene in London, catering to many disciplines including street hockey, freestyle slalom, dance, general recreational skating (including three weekly marshalled group street skates) and speed skating. This mostly centres around Hyde Park (on the Serpentine Road) and Kensington Gardens (by the Albert Memorial). See the district articles for Mayfair-Marylebone and South West London.
  • Tours. If you don't feel like splashing out on one of the commercial bus tours, you can make your own bus tour by buying an Oyster card and spending some time riding around London on the top deck of standard London buses. Of course you don't get the open air or the commentary, but the views are very similar. You will likely get lost but that is half the fun; if it worries you go for a commercial tour. One tour, for instance, can be obtained from The London Pass. There is a website for this company. Essentially what it does is sell a 24-hour ticket to use the company's buses to see the essential sites of London and a boat tour on the Thames (with the same ticket) provides a river tour of some of metropolitan London. Taking a tour like this is a good way to spend much of a first day in London, so you can decide what you want to see up close later. Other commercial tours offer similar services.
  • Spitalfields Markets, 65 Brushfield St London E1 6AA (Straight down Bell Lane past 66-68 and keep walking. Visit the thriving old Spitalfields markets which were the original London fruit markets. They have a daily market selling amazing vintage odds and ends and new fresh clothes! Visit 66/68 Bell Lane nearby to see a wealthy merchants house, rumor has it John Lennon once played on the roof of this building with Yoko Ono.
  • For a guided tour of London check out The Literary London Walking Tour - an interesting, informative and funny walk through London and its literary hotspots of the past and present. Meet local writers and poets and listen to them perform their works (£15 per person - FREE for all June and July 2012).
  • Insider London deliver a range of unique alternative London walking tours. Tours include London Street Art, London Underground, Sustainable Architecture, Death and Debauchery and bespoke tours.
  • NFL international series. NFL (American Football) games held in Wembley stadium. three per year since 2014. Usually held on Sunday evenings or afternoons between October and December of each year.

Buy

London is one of the world's most fashion conscious cities, which explains the abundance of clothing shops from the flagship stores of Oxford Street to the tiny boutiques of Brick Lane. Though not particularly known for bargain shopping, nearly anything you could possibly want to buy is available in London. In Central London, the main shopping district is the West End . On Thursdays many West End stores close later than normal (19:00-20:00).

  • Oxford Street. Main shopping street, home to flagship branches of all the major British high street retailers in one go including Selfridges, John Lewis (includes a food hall), Marks & Spencer and other department stores. It is best to shop here in the morning as the street becomes increasingly busy during the day. (Tube: Oxford Circus)
  • Regent Street (between Oxford Circus and Piccadilly Circus). Includes such gems as Hamleys, considered to be London's flagship toy store spread out on seven levels, and the London Apple Store. (Tube: Oxford Circus, Piccadilly Circus)
  • Bond Street. Some of the world's most luxurious designer stores such as Cartier, D&G, Jimmy Choo, Louis Vuitton and Versace. (Tube: Bond Street)
  • Tottenham Court Road. Contains some of the world's most luxurious designer interior stores such as Heals, whilst the southern end is famous for its large concentration of hi-fi, computer and electronics stores. (Tube: Tottenham Court Road, Goodge Street)
  • Covent Garden. Fashionable area home to quaint outlets and relatively expensive designer stores. Around Seven Dials, chains include Adidas Originals, All Saints, Carhartt, Fred Perry, G Star Raw and Stussy. For shoes head for Neal Street. Also the London Transport Museum whose gift shop has some of the best souvenirs in the city (old maps, vintage Tube posters, etc.). London's second Apple Store is located here as well. (Tube: Covent Garden)
  • Charing Cross Road (near Covent Garden). A book lover's haven! New, second-hand, antiquarian and specialist. (Tube: Tottenham Court Road, Charing Cross)
  • Denmark Street (at the north end of Charing Cross Road near Tottenham Court Road station). Also known as Tin-Pan Alley, this is a music lover's paradise with an amazing array of music shops, bars and clubs in one short street. (Tube: Tottenham Court Road)
  • Soho. Offers alternative music and clothes. Now home to Chappell of Bond Street's historic music shop. (Tube: Oxford Circus)
  • Camden Town. Alternative clothing and other alternative shopping, popular with teenagers and young adults. Has the headquarters for Cyberdog - a large shop which sells clothing and accessories for the club and rave scene. Camden Lock Market is also worth a visit to see independent artists plying their wares. (Tube: Camden Town)
  • Chelsea. The King's Road is noted for fashion, homeware and children's clothing. On Wednesday many stores close late. (Tube: South Kensington)
  • Knightsbridge. Department stores include the world famous Harrods (includes a food hall) and Harvey Nichols. On Wednesday many stores close late. (Tube: Knightsbridge)
  • Beauchamp Place. Shop where royalty and celebrities shop! One of the world's most unique and famous streets. Over the years it has developed a strong reputation as one of London’s most fashionable and distinctive streets, housing some of the best known names in London fashion, interspersed with trendy restaurants, jewellers and speciality shops including the world famous trademark Fortuny. (Tube: Knightsbridge)
  • Westminster. Some of the world's most famous shirts are made on Jermyn Street. Savile Row is home to some of the world's best men's bespoke tailors including Henry Poole, Gieves & Hawkes, H. Huntsman & Sons, Dege & Skinner and many others (Tube: Westminster)
  • Westfield London in Shepherd's Bush is one of the two largest shopping mall complexes in Greater London. This was the first Westfield to be built and spurred regeneration of the local area. It is served by both the London Overground and Underground. It is easiest to get here via public transport, but there is reasonable car parking space available. (Tube: Shepherd's Bush)
  • Westfield Stratford City in Stratford is a large shopping mall complex very similar to Westfield London in Shepherd's Bush, but located on the edge of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. There is ample car parking and you can also park here to access the Park itself. This Westfield is easier to access by car due to its close proximity to the A12 road. (Tube / DLR: Stratford)

Markets

Borough Market is a great food market, offering fruit, vegetables, cheese, bread, meat, fish, and so on, much of it organic. The market opens Th-Sa. For market shopping, it's best to go in the morning, or after 14:00, since it starts to get very crowded by around 11:30 when the lunch crowd comes in. Lunch here is good though because there are many stalls that offer fresh made fast food on the spot; from ostrich burgers to falafel, most tastes are catered for. (Tube: London Bridge) Old Spitalfields Market is an excellent market for clothes from up-and-coming designers, records, housewares, food, and all things trendy. Find it at 65 Brushfield St, E1 6AA (straight down Bell Lane past 66-68 and keep walking). Visit 66/68 Bell Lane nearby to see a wealthy merchants house, rumour has it John Lennon once played on the roof of this building with Yoko Ono. (Tube: Liverpool Street) Also be sure to check out Brick Lane Market, Greenwich Market and Portobello Road Market.

Airports

Tax-free shops in airports are not strong in variety, prices are equal to London, and they close rather early as well. Shop listings at airport web sites can help to plan your tax-free shopping. In the evening allow an extra half hour as closing hours are not always strictly respected. Many big department stores in central London have an information booth where they can give you the paperwork needed to reclaim tax on purchases made at the store when you get to the airport.

Practical

London, like the rest of the UK, uses the British Pound Sterling. Retail prices for most items, with a few exceptions, always include VAT . Visa and MasterCard/Maestro are the two most commonly-accepted debit/credit cards, although most large shops will also accept American Express. If your card does not have a microchip (for Chip & PIN) some machines (for instance, at Tube stations) will be unable to read your card. Some shops may ask you for additional identification, especially in relation to high value items, or items that are under age-related restrictions. Most shops no longer accept personal cheques. Contactless or NFC-enabled VISA and MasterCard cards can also be used for purchases of usually up to £20 in lieu of Chip & Pin, even on London Underground fare gates and buses. £50 notes are not often used in everyday transactions and most shops will not accept them. When exchanging money at a bureau de change make sure to ask for £5, £10 and £20 notes only. The Bank of England's guide to bank notes may be of use.

Eat

It is a huge task for a visitor to find the "right place" to eat in London - with the "right atmosphere", at the "right price" - largely because, as in any big city, there are literally thousands of venues from which to choose, ranging from fast food joints, pubs, and mainstream chains all the way up to some of the most exclusive restaurants in the world which attract the kind of clientele that don't need to ask the price. Sorting the good from the bad isn't easy, but London has something to accommodate all budgets and tastes. Following is a rough guide to what you might get, should you fancy eating out:

  • Up to £5 - you can get a good English pub or cafeteria breakfast with a rack of bacon, beans in tomato sauce, egg, sausage, orange juice and coffee or tea. Most pubs stop this offer at 11:00, but there are literally hundreds of backstreet cafes which will serve this sort of food all day. Most supermarket chains offer a "meal deal", consisting of a sandwich, a drink and a bag of crisps or fruit for £3 together, while buying the sandwich only can be the same price. If you are going to be on a budget for several days, the supermarkets are a good option.
  • £7 - will buy you a couple of sandwiches and a soft drink, some takeaway fish and chips, or a fast food meal. There are also a number of mostly Chinese restaurants which serve an all you can eat buffet for around this price. These are dotted about the West End and it is well worth asking a member of public or a shopkeeper where the nearest one is. These restaurants make much of their revenue on drinks although these are usually still moderately priced. The food while not being of the finest standard is usually very tasty and the range of dishes available is excellent. There are literally thousands of so-called takeaways in London and are a cheap alternative to a restaurant meal. Check with your hotel management if they allow food deliveries before ordering in. Most takeaways will offer some form of (usually very limited) seating, but not all do.
  • £6-10 - will get you a good pub meal and drink or a good Chinese/Indian/Italian/Thai/Vietnamese buffet. Be aware that many pubs have a buy-one-get-one-free offer, and you can either order two main dishes for yourself or bring a friend.
  • £15 - some more expensive French, Mediterranean and international restaurants do cheaper two or three course lunch menus.
  • £25 - offers you a lot more choice. You can have a good meal, half a bottle of wine and change for the tube home. There are plenty of modest restaurants that cater for this bracket.
  • £50 (to almost any amount!) - with more money to spend you can pick some of the city's finer restaurants. It may be a famous chef (like Michel Roux, Jr or Gordon Ramsay) or simply a place that prides itself on using the finest ingredients. Worth the splurge to impress a special someone. Note that these establishments often need to be booked well in advance, and most will enforce a dress code of some sort, like Rules of Covent Garden, the oldest restaurant still extant.
Prices inevitably become inflated at venues closest to major tourist attractions - beware the so-called tourist traps. The worst tourist trap food, in the opinion of many Londoners, is served at the various steak houses (Angus Steak House, Aberdeen Steak House etc. - they are all dotted around the West End and near the main train stations). Londoners wouldn't dream of eating here - you shouldn't either! Notorious areas for inflated menu prices trading on travellers' gullibility and lack of knowledge are the streets around the British Museum, Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus. Even the major fast food chains charge a premium in their West End outlets - so watch out. Pubs in the touristy areas of London are usually a poor choice for food although there are some brilliant "gastro-pubs" hidden away. In general avoid all pubs that have graphic-designed and printed menus - it's people's experiences in these kind of places that gives Britain a bad name for food! Look around you - see any locals tucking in? No? - then you shouldn't either. The other rule to follow when avoiding poor food is the same as in any other part of Europe - is the menu available in multiple languages? If yes then start running! In the suburbs, the cost of eating out is reduced drastically. Particularly in large ethnic communities, there is a competitive market which stands to benefit the consumer. In East London for example, the vast number of chicken shops means that a deal for 2 pieces of chicken, chips (fries) and a drink shouldn't cost you more than £3 especially on Brick Lane. Brick Lane is also known for being home to London's version of the beigel (spelt "bagel" in the United States and Canada, but pronounced the same way), with Brick Lane Beigel Bake and Britain's First & Best Beigel Shop being among the sole remnants of what was once a thriving Jewish community in the neighbourhood. Another good (and cheap) lunch option is a chicken or lamb doner (gyro) at many outlets throughout the city, though meat quality is often poor. For more authentic Cockney food, try pie and mash, which originates from the working-class in the East End. Usually minced beef and cold water pastry pie served with mashed potato, mushy peas and "liquor" gravy, it tastes a lot better than it sounds. Some of the best pie houses are M. Manze in Peckham or F. Cooke in Hackney Broadway Market. Water Souchet and London Particular (green-pea and ham) are classic Cockney soups, though hard to find on menus. For those game, jellied eels, pickled-cockles and whelks are all traditional London seafood. Central London's Borough Market offers wholesale produce as well as individual stalls that sell small bites and drinks for a casual and cheap meal. Kappacasein Dairy has a popular stand in the market famous for their grilled cheese which has earned the praise of Giada De Laurentiis and Ruth Reichl. Tipping may also be different than what you're used to. All meals include the 20% VAT tax and some places include a service fee (10-12%). The general rule is to leave a tip for table service, unless there's already a service charge added or unless the service has been notably poor. The amount tipped is generally in the region of 10%, but if there's a figure between 10 - 15% which would leave the bill at a conveniently round total, many would consider it polite to tip this amount. Tipping for counter service, or any other form of service, is unusual - but some choose to do so if a tips container is provided.

Restaurant streets

While central London is full of restaurants and cafes it is useful for the visitor to be aware that there are some areas where the majority of diners are Londoners, rather than tourists, and in general you will get a much more pleasant, better value, and less crowded eating experience than you will find in the West End. These places are best visited in the evenings. Clapham Junction is not just a train station - but also home to many good restaurants and bars, in particular on Lavender Hill and Battersea Rise. Drummond Street in the Euston area has a fine mix of Indian restaurants - a short walk from Euston railway station. (Tube: Euston) High Street Croydon Croydon is derided by most Londoners, however this suburban gem of a road has at least 30 decent restaurants, including three Argentinians, a South African curryhouse, a couple of fancy modern European brassieres, and just about every other type of cuisine you can think of. (Overground: East Croydon) Kings Street extends on to Chiswick High Road from Hammersmith Tube Station and is one long road of a choice of restaurants at very reasonable prices, some bargain mentions are the Thai restaurants offering 2 course lunch for £7. Nearby Shepherds bush is about a 15 minute walk and is alive with bars and pubs in the evening. (Tube: Hammersmith) Lordship Lane in East Dulwich provides a good selection of European restaurants and a few award winning gastropubs. (train: East Dulwich) Upper Street in Islington has dozens of excellent restaurants, popular with young professionals. (Tube: Highbury & Islington, Angel). Wardour Street, in Soho, is full of nice cafes and restaurants. (Tube: Piccadilly Circus)

Restaurant areas

As one of the world's most cosmopolitan cities, you can find restaurants serving food cuisine from nearly every country, some of it as good as, if not better than in the countries of origin. Indian food in London is especially famous and there is hardly a district without at least one notable Indian restaurant. If you are looking for other particular regional foods these tend to be clustered in certain areas and some examples are:

  • Brick Lane in the East End is famous for Bangladeshi curries.
  • Brixton for African/Caribbean. (Tube: Brixton)
  • Chinatown just off Leicester Square for Chinese. (Tube: Leicester Square)
  • Edgware Road in Marylebone and Paddington is popular for Middle Eastern cuisine. (Tube: Edgware Road, Paddington)
  • Drummond Street (just behind Euston railway station in the London/Camden district) has lots of vegetarian restaurants - mostly Indian. (Tube: Euston)
  • Finsbury Park and nearby areas, for Greek and Turkish. (Tube: Finsbury Park)
  • Golders Green for Jewish fare. (Tube: Golders Green)
  • Kingsland Road for good cheap Vietnamese.
  • Tooting, East Ham, Wembley and Southall for authentic & cheap Indian eateries including South Indian restaurants serving hot pongal, dosas, idlis and other South Indian "tiffin" items.
Other nationalities are equally represented and randomly dotted all over London. It is usually wisest to eat in restaurants on main thoroughfares rather than on quiet backstreets.

Chains

Like other capitals in the world, London has the usual array of fast food outlets. Sandwich shops are the most popular places to buy lunch, and there are a lot of places to choose from including Eat and Pret a Manger. Some Italian-style sandwich shops have a very good reputation and you can identify them easily by looking at the long queues at lunchtime. If all else fails, central London has lots of mini-supermarkets operated by the big British supermarket chains where you can pick up a pre-packed sandwich. Fast food with an Asian flair is easy to find throughout the city, with lots of Busaba Eathai, Wagamama, and Yo! Sushi locations throughout the city. Nando's, a popular pseudo-Portuguese restaurant chain, has spicy peri-peri style grilled chicken. For burgers, GBK (Gourmet Burger Kitchen) has been joined by other franchises such as Byron and Haché.

List of popular chains

Sandwiches

  • Subway. Offers hot and cold sandwiches for takeaway and limited sit-down eating. Store locator on website is a bit iffy but there are multiple central London locations including one at Tower Hill.

Burgers

  • McDonald's. Perhaps the most famous and recognised burger chain in the world. Serves a consistent menu at consistent prices. Locations pretty much everywhere. Some restaurants are open 24 hours a day.
  • Burger King. Another famous burger chain with a similar ethos to McDonalds but fewer locations. The most central one is located in Leicester Square while others are more scattered.
  • Gourmet Burger Kitchen, 0345 450 8937 . This chain is more expensive and with less focus on takeaway. Multiple central London locations. They can also be found in both Westfield London and Westfield Stratford.
  • Five Guys. A recent arrival from the United States. Has multiple London locations but only a few in central London. You have to phone ahead to order takeaway.

Pizza

  • Domino's. A popular takeaway only pizza chain. Multiple locations with fairly big delivery areas.
  • Pizza Express. Very popular sit-down restaurants offering more "gourmet" pizzas in multiple central London locations. They are family friendly as well.
  • Pizza Hut. Offers both takeaway and a few sit-down restaurants. Has seven sit-down restaurants in the central London area.

Others

  • Giraffe. Family friendly sit-down restaurants. Offers a variety of food including brunch, burgers, burritos, and ribs.
  • Wahaca. Sit-down restaurants offering Mexican market food. Multiple central London locations.
  • Zizzi. Sit-down restaurants that serve Italian food. Not many restaurants in central London but there are lots scattered across the city including one at Tower Hill.

Vegetarian and vegan

London has plenty of vegetarian and vegan restaurants many of them championing organic foodstuffs, and a quick search in Google will produce plenty of ideas, so you never have to see a piece of cooked meat all week. If you are dining with carnivorous friends most restaurants will cater for vegetarians and will have at least a couple of dishes on the menu. Indian/Bangladeshi restaurants are generally fruitful, as they have plenty of traditional dishes . There are also many vegetarian Thai buffet places where you can eat fake meat in tooth-achingly sweet sauces for under £5. These can be found on Greek and Old Compton Streets in Soho and Islington High Street. Mildred's is a great veggie restaurant in the back streets of Oxford Circus.

Religious

Due to the mix of cultures and religions, many London restaurants cater well for religious dietary requirements. The most common signs are for Halal and Kosher meat, from burger joints to nice restaurants. There are lots of Halal restaurants and shops all over London including Whitechapel Rd and Brick Lane in the East End, Bayswater, Edgware Rd and Paddington and in many parts of north London. There are plenty of Kosher restaurants in Golders Green, Edgware and Stamford Hill along with some central delis such as on Charing Cross Road.

Convenience stores and supermarkets

Convenience stores such as Tesco Metro, Sainsbury Central/Local, Budgens, Costcutter, SPAR, Co-op as well as privately-run "corner shops" sell pre-made sandwiches, snacks, alcohol, cigarettes, drinks etc. Most are open from 05:00-23:00 although some such as Tesco Metro or convenience stores located at petrol stations may open 24 hours Be aware that Whistlestop convenience stores (located in or around train stations) are notoriously overpriced and should be avoided. If using a petrol-station convenience store late at night (i.e. after 23:00) the store will be locked and you should order and pay through the external service window.

Supermarkets

Although Tesco and Sainsbury's run smaller stores in central London, full-size superstores are rare in the city centre and usually require a 15-20 minute Tube ride to reach them. The closest stores to central London are:

  • The ASDA store close to Crossharbour DLR Station on the Lewisham line. This is about a 15 minute ride from Bank station or at the end of the 135 24-hour bus route.
  • The Tesco in the Surrey Quays shopping mall which is next to Canada Water station on the Jubilee line - again about 10–15 minutes from the centre of town.
  • There are larger Sainsbury's stores in both Whitechapel (the nearest Tube is Whitechapel) and in Camden Town (nearest Tube is Camden Town). Both of these stores are located in Travelcard Zone 2.

Drink

London is home to a great many pubs, bars and nightclubs. The online city guide View London and the weekly magazine Time Out tell what's going in London's night life, as well as cultural events in general.

Pubs & bars

London is an expensive place and your drink is likely to cost more than its equivalent elsewhere in the United Kingdom. Expect to pay around £4 for a pint of lager or Guinness in an average pub, but be aware that as with restaurants, pubs close to major tourist attractions cash in on travellers' gullibility so be on your guard for the tourist traps where higher prices are not unheard of. Despite this however it is still possible to find a sub-£3 pint in central London - it takes some determination. If you're looking to save money and meet travellers then pub crawls are guided tours that run nightly in central London. You'll save the ticket price on the savings you get from discounted drink deals and what you would have spent on club entry. The "1 Big Night Out" pub crawl is the biggest operator and starts from near Leicester square underground station. Many local pubs, especially those run by chains like Wetherspoons and Scream tend to be more reasonably priced with good drink promotions on weekday nights and during the day. As with the rest of the UK, chain pubs abound which Londoners tend to avoid like the plague. A good place to get cheap beer is at any one of the Sam Smith pubs found across Central London, including Soho and the City. In the Bloomsbury area, check out The Court (near the north end of Tottenham Court Road) and The Rocket (Euston Road). Both are fairly cheap to drink at, given that they cater for students of the adjacent University College London. Directly opposite the British Library is The Euston Flyer, popular with locals and commuters alike given its close proximity to St Pancras International railway station. Classier bars and pubs can be much more expensive. However, the cost of alcohol drops significantly the further away you go from the centre (though be aware that West London tends to be an exception, with prices pretty much the same as the centre). For a more reasonably priced (but brilliant) cocktail bar than you'll find in the central and West End areas Lost Society in Clapham situated on Lavender Hill, cocktails here cost around £7-8 each. Two historic London breweries are Young's and Fullers. Young's was founded in Wandsworth in 1831 (but has recently relocated to Bedford) and nowadays it boasts 123 pubs in central London alone. The Founder's Arms just next to the Tate Modern on the river embankment itself, is one of the brewery's most well known establishments with a great view of the River Thames. Fullers was founded a bit later in 1845 at Chiswick (where you can take a most enjoyable tour of the brewery, including beer-tasting) and the jewel in its crown is probably the Grade I listed Old Bank Of England on Fleet Street, thanks to its breath-taking interiors. Fuller's flagship beer is the famous 'London Pride', however to try a truly authentic Cockney pint, ask at bars if they serve a seldom seen now Porter, a dark style of beer originating in London in the 18th Century, similar but less heavy then a Stout. For a different taste, try a gin and tonic. It's hard to say which pub in London is truly the oldest but it's easy to find contenders for the title. Many pubs were destroyed in the Great Fire of London – indeed, Samuel Pepys supposedly watched the disaster from the comfort of the Anchor in Borough. Pubs were rebuilt on sites that claimed to have been working pubs since the 13th century. Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese in Fleet Street is on the site of an old monastery and its cellar dates back to the 13th century. The Princess Louise and Citty of York are two lovely pubs close by, along High Holborn with interesting decor; as is the Jerusalem Tavern of Farringdon, a converted Georgian coffee shop, which sells the Norfolk beer, St. Peters. The Royal Oak of Borough, is another pub which is the only representative of an out-of-town brewery in London, that of Harvey's of Lewes. The food is fantastic as is the atmosphere. Those interested in London's historic and literary connections can't miss The Spaniard's Inn in Hampstead. Dick Turpin is said to have been born here; John Keats and Charles Dickens both drank here; it's mentioned in Dickens' The Pickwick Papers and Bram Stoker's Dracula. The Goose at Catford, was reputedly a favourite hole of Karl Marx. For the best view in the city, try pubs on the banks of the Thames. The South Bank has lots of good bars with plenty of iconic bridges and buildings in sight the cocktail bar in the OXO tower is a secret that most tourists walk by everyday. Heading towards Bermondsey, pub crowds become a little less touristy. If you're after gastropubs, you may like to visit London's first, The Eagle, in Clerkenwell, established in 1991. You can also try Time Out's favourite newcomer, The Princess Victoria on Uxbridge Road, Shepherd's Bush. The "Bermondsey Beer mile" is home to many craft breweries which are open in the middle of the day most Saturdays. Situated under the railway arches on lines going to London Bridge, these quaint breweries are home to high quality beer at cheap to average London prices (~£2.00 per half). Best places include Kernel Brewery and Brew by Numbers. Wine buffs can enjoy the famous Davys wine bars that dot the city. The company, established in 1870, import wines and own over thirty bars in the centre. Other big names in wine include the Michelin-starred Cellar Gascon and Vinoteca, both in Smithfield. For a posh wine tasting experience, there is Vinopolis by Borough Market, though a tour price will be as eye-watering as the produce sampled. Big hotels, such as The Langham, The Dorchester and The Ritz, and upmarket clubs around Leicester Square and Soho are reliable bets for a date at the bar. The Connaught Hotel in Mayfair-Marylebone boasts its house bar, plus the Time Out favourite, The Coburg. Still in Mayfair, The Polo Bar at The Westbury is very intimate. You can rely on most up-and-running bars to offer a short cocktail menu and there are also bars that position themselves as cocktail specialists.

Nightclubs

Nightlife is an integral part of London life and there are countless nightclubs in and around Central London with music to suit even the most eclectic of tastes. Districts in London tend to specialize to different types of music. The Farringdon/Hoxton/Shoreditch area has many clubs playing drum and bass, techno, house and trance music and is home to the superclub Fabric. The clubs in this area are often home to the world's top DJs and attracts a lively, hip and friendly crowd. Big name drum and bass, house and techno DJs also appear at clubs scattered around Kings Cross Elephant (Ministry of Sound, Corsica Studios), Southwark (Cable), Whitechapel (Rhythm Factory), and at mixed nights at the Vauxhall clubs (see below). Nights are also hosted in disused Hackney warehouses or south London car parks. The area around Mayfair is home to the more upmarket clubs in London. This area attracts a rather more showy crowd who love to flaunt what they have and is a must go to celebrity spot. Beware that drinks are ridiculously expensive and many clubs operate a guestlist-only policy. Music played here is often of the commercial chart, funky house, hip hop and R&B genre. Notable clubs include China White, Luxx, Maddox, Jalouse, Funky Buddha, Whisky Mist, Mahiki, No 5 Cavendish Square, Embassy, Vendome and Maya. Nightclubs around the Leicester Square area hold the same music policy, but are rather more accessible, with numerous club and pub crawl promoters scattered around the area offering deals on entry. Notable clubs are Cafe De Paris, 1 Big Night Out pub crawl, Penthouse, Sound, Tiger Tiger, Zoo bar and Ruby Blue. The Camden area is home to clubs which play Indie, metal and rock music and notably the Electric Ballroom, the world famous Koko (Fridays) and Underworld, however be aware that Camden clubs are mostly shut (or empty) on the weekdays. In South London, London's Afro-Caribbean centre Brixton is home to numerous venues with all kinds of music, including a particular presence in reggae, ska, afrobeat, hiphop, and dubstep. In recent years more venues have opened in Peckham and New Cross.

Gay and lesbian

London has a vibrant gay environment with countless bars, clubs and events in almost every district in the city. The nucleus of London's gay scene is undoubtedly Old Compton St and the surrounding area in Soho but over the last couple of years Vauxhall has seen a boom in Gay venues. You will find that many areas, particularly in Camden Town and Shoreditch, that straight bars will have a mixed clientele. To find out what is going on during your visit, you can check:

  • qxmagazine.com. A weekly magazine that comprehensively covers the London gay scene with handy night by night listings available on-line and in print
  • Boyz Magazine. Which is published fortnightly and is freely available at most London gay venues, and contains listings of everything that is happening in all the major clubs in London and the South East.
Gay Pride is held every year in June with parade and street parties. The choice of places to go sometimes seem to be unmanageable.
  • London Gay and Lesbian Switchboard, +44 20 7837 7324. This voluntary service has been operating since 1974 and as well as providing counselling they offer an incredibly thorough information service about Gay events, accommodation and businesses in London.

Connect

Wi-Fi access

London is unfortunately not noted for free public wifi access - although the number of hotspots is continuing to grow.

  • O2 Free Hotspots. O2 offers free WiFi around London's busiest streets including parts of Oxford- and Regents Street. Click on the link to see the map. Free.
  • Online-4-Free.com. One of the most promising for traveller-frequented areas, a service that provides blanket coverage along the banks of the River Thames (and some surrounding streets) from Millbank down to Greenwich Pier, and a small 'cloud' in Holborn - the free service asks only that you view a short advertisement every half hour to get 256 kbit/s (higher rates and ad-free come at a small charge). Free.
  • Tate Modern. Offering for a trial period free wi-fi internet access.
  • British Library. Offers free internet access throughout the library with registration.
  • Royal Festival Hall at Southbank Centre. Offers free unencrypted wi-fi throughout the building without registration.
  • Apple Store Regent St. The Apple Store on Regent St offers free wifi and has a theatre at the back of the first floor where you can sit and spend an hour or two.
  • The Tube. Virgin Media offers wifi access at a number of tube stations. Some mobile phone networks offer free access, otherwise you have to pay.
  • Free wifi is also available in many cafes, and the following chain outlets: McDonald's, Pret A Manger, JD Wetherspoon pubs, Costa Coffee, Caffe Nero, Starbucks.

Stay safe

In an emergency, telephone "999" . This number connects to Police, Ambulance and Fire/Rescue services. You will be asked which of these three services you require before being connected to the relevant operator.

Crime

Like many big cities, London has a variety of social problems, especially begging, drug abuse and theft . London has the oldest police force in the world, The Metropolitan Police Service, and on the whole, London is a safe place to visit and explore. Alongside the regular Police, there are over 4,000 Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) that provide a highly visible presence on the streets and can deal with low-level crime. Normal precautions for the safe keeping of your personal possessions, as you would in any other city, are suggested. The Metropolitan Police have placed significant resources in combating street level crime. Working in conjunction with borough councils, they have brought the level of theft and pickpocketing in major retail areas in London to a manageable level. Street gang culture is a growing problem in London as with many other cities in England. While most groups of youngsters are not likely to present any danger to tourists, some people feel the need to be slightly more vigilant in certain areas, especially certain outer suburbs.

Main precautions to take

Keep valuables out of sight: Many crimes are opportunistic - a lot of mobile phones are snatched from restaurant tables. By keeping items such as cash and mobile phones out of sight theft can easily be prevented. Don't flash your cash unnecessarily! Keep bags zipped up and close to your body: If your bag is hanging open it's like putting up a flashing neon sign saying "Steal from me!" Use zips and inside pockets to secure items wherever possible. Never leave valuables such as mobile phones, wallets or travel documents in an outside section of your bag. Be aware of your surroundings: Before using your mobile phone have a look around you. Put your back against something solid such as a wall or window so you can't be approached from behind. Constantly look around you even if you are in a busy area. Don't walk and talk/text!

Late at night

If you're planning to go out late at night and are worried about safety try to frequent crowded areas such as the West End. There are always plenty of people on the street, even at 04:00. Generally, outside central London, the South, and East suburban areas are considered more dangerous, notably Brixton, Peckham and Hackney, although some parts of North-West London such as Harlesden and northern Camden are also known trouble spots. The main problem right throughout London to various degrees is drunken behaviour, particularly on Friday and Saturday nights and after football matches. Loud and rowdy behaviour is to be expected and fights and acts of aggression also occur. If you are harassed, it is best to simply ignore and walk away from those concerned. Trouble spots can be expected around popular drinking locations such as Soho and in various suburban centres.

Scams and cons

London has a large number of con artists around, all trying to convince you to hand over your money one way or another. Cup and ball game: This is perhaps the most common scam and is frequently seen on the busier pedestrian bridges such as Westminster Bridge. A person will lay out a mat with three cups on it. They will pretend to hide a ball under one of the cups, move the cups around, and then ask you to place a bet on where the ball-containing cup has landed. There is no ball - the con artist will have spirited it away! This con always has people acting as lookouts in the crowd and they will pretend to win every now and again so it looks like the game is winnable. Also beware if you are just stopping to watch as you could be pick-pocketed! The best defence is to walk straight past these events and not engage at all. If you have a mobile phone/cellphone that works in the UK you can phone the police on 101 and report them, but it is advised to move away to do this as you may be harassed by the con artist or their lookouts if they overhear you. Overzealous street performers: Most street performers are happy to just do their thing, let you watch, and then you can throw them a few coins if you liked the show. However, some street performers will actively grab and harass passers-by in order to get attention and money. They may forcefully pose with you and ask you to take a photograph and then demand money for the photo opportunity. They may also take this opportunity while you're distracted to pick-pocket you. Don't engage with any street performer who is pushy or forceful - try and walk away, or call out "Get off me!" or "No!" and draw attention to yourself if you can't escape easily. Again, you can report these street performers on the 101 number as above. Tissue sellers on trains: Beggars will get onto a train and place tissues on the seats with a note begging for money. They want you to feel pity for them and buy the tissues. This is an organised scam and the money goes towards criminal enterprises. If you see this happening on a train don't buy the tissues and ignore anyone who asks you for money for them. If you're above ground you can text the British Transport Police on 61016 to report it. "Clip joint": 'Every night, Soho presents a particular danger: the "clip joint". The usual targets of these establishments are lone male tourists. Usually, an attractive woman will casually befriend the victim and recommend a local bar or even a club that has a "show". The establishment will be near-desolate, and, even if the victim has only a drink or two, the bill will run to hundreds of pounds. If payment is not immediately provided, the bouncers will lock the "patrons" inside and take it by force or take them to an ATM and stand over them while they extract the cash. To be safe, if a woman you just met suggests you a place, try to recommend a different bar. If she insists on hers then walk away and do not listen to her suggestions. Sometimes this con trick takes place when someone is lured into a private club with the promise of something perhaps more than a drink (like a 'private show' or sex for a small amount of money). A 'hostess fee' will appear on the bill for several hundred pounds, even though there has been nothing more than polite conversation. "Stress tests": If anyone offers you a free "stress test", they are likely trying to recruit you into the Church of Scientology. The best option is to walk away or just say "No thank you" politely, as people are commonly harassed into giving personal details. Needing money for phone/train tickets/the bus/et al.: A man or woman will approach you asking for money for public transport. They will claim that they have lost their Travelcard or that it has been damaged somehow. Most people upon losing their Travelcard will seek aid at a train station and not approach random strangers! Another variant of this scam exists wherein a man or woman will ask for change so they can make a call at a phone box (this is a frequent scam in the Shoreditch area). Occasionally a man with a very convincing fake gash on his arm will ask for money so that he can get to hospital (strangely refusing the offer of you calling an ambulance, as you would do for most injured people in the street). Ticket machine scam: One of the most popular scams in London, is the ticket machine scam : while buying a ticket at a train station someone will approach you and act as if they want to help you buy the right ticket. In reality they will wait until your money is in the machine, then lean across, cancel the transaction and pocket your cash. Say "No thanks" politely - you know what ticket you want to buy! Selling/asking for a donation for "lucky heather": This scam, usually operated by women, involves someone handing you "lucky heather" (a small flower usually wrapped in foil) and then either trying to sell it to you or asking for a monetary donation. They will come up with a vague charity ("money for sick children", "money for orphaned babies", and so on) and show you a purse full of supposed "donations". If you are handed one of these flowers either hand it back or drop it on the ground and leave. Be aware that you if you take the flower and leave without "donating" you could be chased and harassed by the people involved in the scam. This scam has been seen in Chinatown around the time of Chinese New Year.

Street Collections

Although not illegal as such, London is a known hotspot for charity collectors, some of whom can be extremely persuasive in trying to obtain a donation; therefore they have earned the name "charity muggers" or "chuggers". If you do not want to donate, be polite but forceful, and under no circumstances provide any form of bank details. A number of larger charities ask their collectors to have specific and verifiable identification.

Transport

Don't take illegal minicabs . Minicabs are not allowed to ply for trade on the street and any minicab doing this should be avoided. Travelling on the lower deck of a night bus is generally safer, as there are more passengers around, and you are visible to the bus driver. If you have been the victim of crime on the railways or the London Underground you should report the crime as soon as possible to the British Transport Police, who have an office in most major train and Tube stations. Or if you have been a victim of crime in the City of London you should report the crime to the City of London Police. Elsewhere, you should report your crime as normal to the Metropolitan Police. If you've lost an item on the Underground, Overground or Docklands Light Railway, in a licensed black cab or on a red London bus you should contact the TfL Lost Property Office (Tube: Baker Street) as soon as possible. In respect of other rail and coach services, the relevant service operator should be contacted.

Stay healthy

The UK's National Health Service will provide emergency treatment for anyone in the UK, irrespective of whether they reside in the UK, but if you are not UK resident you will be expected to make a contribution (up to the entire cost) towards such treatment. The UK Government has, as of 2015, announced it intends to start charging for the use of the NHS (including emergency treatment) by visitors from outside the EU, to reduce the impact of so-called "health tourism". You can find NHS services near you here.

Emergencies

For a serious medical emergency dial 999 or 112 and ask for an ambulance. These numbers are free of charge from any telephone. As emergency response is prioritised in London, do not be concerned if the telephone operator asks you for details about the nature of the emergency. Depending on the urgency an ambulance will probably be dispatched while you are talking to the operator so don't be worried about wasting time. The operator will also be able to reassure you and offer you advice on how to help the patient until the ambulance arrives. You should also try to have an address or general location of the patient before you call as this will help to save time. Please also try to stay with the patient even if you do not know them. London's ambulance coverage is excellent with highly trained and friendly staff. For instances of major trauma there is also London's Air Ambulance, two helicopters that can deliver an advanced trauma team within minutes to anywhere in London. At night the helicopters do not fly and a rapid response car is dispatched instead. Emergencies can also be dealt with at most NHS hospitals with an A & E (Accident & Emergency) department. In A & E, be prepared to wait for a long time (the average is 4 hours) during busy periods before being given treatment if your medical complaint is not too serious. For less serious problems, try a GP's ("General Practitioner", or family doctor) surgery, Urgent Care Centre, or a high-street pharmacist.

Major hospitals

Major A & E hospitals in London are:

  • Central Middlesex Hospital, Acton Ln, Park Royal, NW10 7NS
  • Charing Cross Hospital, Fulham Palace Rd, Hammersmith, W6 8RF
  • Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, 369 Fulham Rd, Chelsea, SW10 9TR
  • Greenwich District Hospital, Vanbrugh Hill, SE10 9HE
  • Guy's Hospital, St. Thomas St, Bankside, SE1 9RT
  • Homerton University Hospital, Homerton Row, Homerton, E9 6SR
  • King's College Hospital, Denmark Hill, SE5 9RS
  • Lewisham Hospital, High St, SE13 6LH
  • Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Stadium Road, Woolwich, SE18 4QH
  • Queen Mary's Hospital, Roehampton Ln, SW15 5PN
  • Royal Free Hospital, 23 East Heath Rd, Hampstead, NW3 1DU
  • The Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel, Tower Hamlets, E1 1BB
  • St. Marys NHS Trust, Praed St, Paddington, W2 1NY
  • St. Thomas' Hospital, Lambeth Palace Rd, South Bank, SE1 7EH
  • University College London Hospitals NHS Trust, 25 Grafton Way, Bloomsbury, WC1E 6DB
  • Whittington Hospital, Highgate Hill, Archway, N19 5NF

General medical advice

For advice on non-emergency medical problems, you can ring the 24 hour NHS Direct service on 111. Treatment for non-emergency conditions, or for hospital admissions resulting from emergencies, is normally free for people holding a European Health Insurance card issued by most European governments, or certain other countries listed here. In the absence of such a card you would be well advised to get private travel health insurance. At large organised events, and in many theatre productions, basic medical assistance and first aid is provided through the support of organisations such as St John Ambulance or the stewards for the event.

Pharmacies

London is well catered for in terms of pharmacies with chains like Lloyds Pharmacy and Boots having a number of branches. Most large supermarkets also have pharmacy counters, although these do not stock some of the stronger remedies.

Private healthcare

London is also home to some of the most renowned - and most expensive - private medical treatment facilities, the most notable of which being the host of private consultants and surgeons on Harley Street in Marylebone.

Cope

Embassies and High Commissions

NOTE: A number of countries have a consulate for their consular services for issuing visas, passports, notary services, etc. in a different location than the main embassy/high commission chancery so check their website or call them before going to the embassy.

  • Afghanistan Afghanistan, 31 Princes Gate, SW7 1QQ, +44 20 7589-8891.
  • Albania Albania, 33 St. George's Dr, SW1V 4DG, +44 20 7828-8897.
  • Algeria Algeria, 54 Holland Pk, W11 3RS, +44 20 7221-7800.
  • Andorra Andorra, 63 Westover Rd, SW18 2RF, +44 20 8874-4806.
  • Angola Angola, 22 Dorset St, W1U 6QY, +44 20 7299-9850.
  • Antigua and Barbuda Antigua & Barbuda, 45 Crawford Pl, W1H 4LP, +44 20 7258-0070.
  • Argentina Argentina, 65 Brook St, W1K 4AH, +44 20 7318-1300.
  • Armenia Armenia, 25A Cheniston Gdns, W8 6TG, +44 20 7938-5435.
  • Australia Australia, Australia House Strand, WC2B 4LA, +44 20 7379-4334.
  • Austria Austria, 18 Belgrave Mews W, SW1X 8HU, +44 20 7344-3250.
  • Azerbaijan Azerbaijan, 4 Kensington Ct, W8 5DL, +44 20 7938-3412.
  • the Bahamas Bahamas, 10 Chesterfield St, W1J 5JL, +44 20 7408-4488.
  • Bahrain Bahrain, 30 Belgrave Sq, SW1X 8QB, +44 20 7201-9170.
  • Bangladesh Bangladesh, 28 Queens Gate, SW7 5JA, +44 20 7584-0081, +44 20 7584-0084.
  • Barbados Barbados, 1 Great Russell St, WC1B 3ND, +44 20 7631-4975.
  • Belarus Belarus, 6 Kensington Ct, W8 5DL, +44 20 7937-3288.
  • Belgium Belgium, 17 Grosvenor Cres, SW1X 7EE, +44 20 7470-3700.
  • Belize Belize, 3F 45 Crawford Pl, W1H 4LP, +44 20 7723-3603.
  • Benin Benin, 87 Ave Victor Hugo, 75116 Paris, +331 45 009882.
  • Bhutan Bhutan, Windacres, Warren Rd, Guildford, GU1 3HG, +44 1483 538189.
  • Bolivia Bolivia, 106 Eaton Sq, SW1W 9AD, +44 20 7235-4255.
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia and Herzegovina, 5-7 Lexham Gdns, W8 5JJ, +44 20 7373-0867.
  • Botswana Botswana, 6 Stratford Pl, W1C 1AY, +44 20 7499-0031.
  • Brazil Brazil, 32 Green St, WlK 7AT, +44 20 7499-0877.
  • Brunei Brunei, 19/20 Belgrave Sq, SW1X 8PG, +44 20 7581-0521.
  • Bulgaria Bulgaria, 186-188 Queen's Gate, SW7 5HL, +44 20 7584-9433.
  • Cambodia Cambodia, 64 Brondesbury Pk, NW6 7AT, +44 20 8451-7850.
  • Cameroon Cameroon, 84 Holland Pk, W11 3SB, +44 20 7727-0771.
  • Canada Canada, 1 Grosvenor Sq, W1K 4AB, +44 20 7258-6600.
  • Chile Chile, 37-41 Old Queen St, SW1H 9JA, +44 20 7222-2361.
  • China China, 49-51 Portland Pl, W1B 1JL, +44 220 7299-4049.
  • Taiwan Republic of China, 50 Grosvenor Gardens, SW1W 0EB, +44 20 7881-2650.
  • Colombia Colombia, 3 Hans Cres, SW1X 0LN, +44 20 7589-9177.
  • the Democratic Republic of the Congo Congo (Democratic Rep), 281 Gray's Inn Rd, WC1X 8QF, +44 20 7278-9825.
  • Costa Rica Costa Rica, 14 Lancaster Gate, W2 3LH, +44 20 7706-8844.
  • Cote d'Ivoire Cote D'Ivoire, 2 Upper Belgrave St, SW1X 8BJ, +44 20 7235-6991.
  • Croatia Croatia, 21 Conway St, W1T 6BN, +44 20 7387 202.
  • Cuba Cuba, 167 High Holborn, WC1V 6PA, +44 20 7240-2488.
  • Cyprus Cyprus, 13 St James's Sq, SW1Y 4LB, +44 20 7321-4100.
  • the Czech Republic Czech Republic, 26 Kensington Palace Gdns, W8 4QY, +44 20 7243-1115.
  • Denmark Denmark, 55 Sloane St, SW1X 9SR, +44 20 7333-0200.
  • Dominica Dominica, 1 Collingham Gdns, SW5 0HW, +44 20 7370-5194.
  • Dominican Republic Dominican Republic, 139 Inverness Ter, W2 6JF, +44 20 7727-7091.
  • Ecuador Ecuador, 3 Hans Cres, SW1X 0LS, +44 20 7584-8084.
  • Egypt Egypt, 26 South Street, W1K 1DW, +44 20 7499-3304. 9AM - 17:30PM.
  • El Salvador El Salvador, 8 Dorset Sq, NW1 6PU, +44 20 7224-9800.
  • Equatorial Guinea Equatorial Guinea, 13 Park Pl, SW1A 1LP, +44 20 7499-6867.
  • Eritrea Eritrea, 96 White Lion St, N1 9PF, +44 20 7713-0096.
  • Estonia Estonia, 16 Hyde Park Gate, SW7 5DG, +44 20 7589-3428.
  • Ethiopia Ethiopia, 17 Princes Gate, SW7 1PZ, +44 20 7589-7212.
  • Fiji Fiji, 34 Hyde Park Gate, SW7 5DN, +44 20 7584-3661.
  • Finland Finland, 38 Chesham Pl, SW1X 8HW, +44 20 7838-6200.
  • France France, 58 Knightsbridge, SW1X 7JT, +44 20 7073-1000.
  • Gabon Gabon, 27 Elvaston Pl, SW7 5NL, +44 20 7823-9986.
  • Gambia Gambia, 57 Kensington Ct, W8 5DG, +44 20 7937-6316.
  • Georgia Georgia, 4 Russell Gdns, W14 8EZ, +44 20 7348-1941.
  • Germany Germany, 23 Belgrave Sq, SW1X 8PZ, +44 20 7824-1300.
  • Ghana Ghana, 13 Belgrave Sq, SW1X 8PS, +44 20 7201-5900.
  • Greece Greece, 1A Holland Pk, W11 3TP, +44 20 7229-3850.
  • Grenada Grenada, The Chapel, Archel Rd, W14 9QH, +44 20 7385-4415.
  • Guatemala Guatemala, 13A Fawcett St, SW10 9HN, +44 20 7351-3042.
  • Guinea Guinea, 258 Belsize Rd, NW6 4BT, +44 20 7316-1861.
  • Guyana Guyana, 3 Palace Court Bayswater Rd, W2 4LP, +44 20 7229-7684.
  • the Vatican City Holy See, 54 Parkside, SW19 5NE, +44 20 8944-7189.
  • Honduras Honduras, 115 Gloucester Pl, W1U 6JT, +44 20 7486-4880.
  • Hungary Hungary, 35 Eaton Pl, SW1X 8BY, +44 20 7201-3440.
  • Iceland Iceland, 2A Hans St, SW1X 0JE, +44 20 7259-3999.
  • India India, India House Aldwych, WC2B 4NA, +44 20 7836-8484.
  • Indonesia Indonesia, 38 Grosvenor Sq, W1K 2HW, +44 20 7499-7661.
  • Iran Iran, 16 Prince's Gate, SW7 1PT, +44 20 7225-3000.
  • Iraq Iraq, 4 Elvaston Pl, SW7 5QH, +44 20 7594-0180.
  • Ireland Ireland, 17 Grosvenor Pl, SW1X 7HR, +44 20 7235-2171.
  • Israel Israel, 2 Palace Green Kensington, W8 4QB, +44 20 7957-9500.
  • Italy Italy, 14 Three Kings Yard Davies St, W1K 4EH, +44 20 7312-2200.
  • Jamaica Jamaica, 1-2 Prince Consort Rd, SW7 2BZ, +44 20 7823-9911.
  • Japan Japan, 101-104 Piccadilly, W1J 7JT, +44 20 7465-6500.
  • Jordan Jordan, 6 Upper Phillimore Gdns, W8 7HA, +44 20 7937-3685.
  • Kazakhstan Kazakhstan, 33 Thurloe Sq, SW7 2SD, +44 20 7581-4646.
  • Kenya Kenya, 45 Portland Pl, W1B 1AS, +44 20 7636-2371.
  • Kosovo Kosovo, 100 Pall Mall, SW1 5NQ, +44 20 7659-6140.
  • Kuwait Kuwait, 2 Albert Gate, SW1X 7JU, +44 20 7590-3400.
  • Kyrgyzstan Kyrgyzstan, 119 Crawford St, W1U 6BJ, +44 20 7935-1462.
  • Latvia Latvia, 45 Nottingham Place, W1U 5LY, +44 20 7312-0040.
  • Lebanon Lebanon, 21 Palace Gdns Mews, W8 4RB, +44 20 7229-7265.
  • Lesotho Lesotho, 7 Chesham Pl, SW1X 8HN, +44 20 7235-5686.
  • Liberia Liberia, 23 Fitzroy Sq, W1T 6EW, +44 20 7388-5489.
  • Libya Libya, 15 Knightsbridge, SW1X 7LY, +44 20 7201-8280.
  • Lithuania Lithuania, 84 Gloucester Pl, W1U 6AU, +44 20 7486-6401.
  • Luxembourg Luxembourg, 27 Wilton Crescent, SW1X 8SD, +44 20 7235-6961.
  • Macedonia Macedonia, 75-83 Buckingham Gate, SW1E 6PE, +44 20 7976-0535.
  • Madagascar Madagascar, 10 Hallam St, W1W 6JE, +44 20 3008-4550.
  • Malawi Malawi, 70 Winnington Rd, N2 0TX, +44 20 8455-5624.
  • Malaysia Malaysia, 45 Belgrave Sq, SW1X 8QT, +44 20 7235-8033.
  • Maldives Maldives, 22 Nottingham Pl, W1U 5NJ, +44 20 7224-2135.
  • Malta Malta, 36-38 Piccadilly, W1J OLE, +44 20 7292-4800.
  • Mauritius Mauritius, 32/33 Elvaston Pl, SW7 5NW, +44 20 7581-0294.
  • Mexico Mexico, 16 St. George St, W1S 1FD, +44 20 7499-8586.
  • Moldova Moldova, 5 Dolphin Sq, Edensor Rd, W4 2ST, +44 20 8995-6818.
  • Mongolia Mongolia, 7 Kensington Ct, W8 5DL, +44 20 7937-0150.
  • Montenegro Montenegro, 11-12 Waterloo Pl, SW1Y 4AU, +44 20 7863-8806.
  • Morocco Morocco, 97 Praed St, W2 1NT, +44 20 7581-5001.
  • Mozambique Mozambique, 21 Fitzroy Sq, W1T 6EL, +44 20 7383-3800.
  • Myanmar Myanmar, 19a Charles St, W1J 5DX, +44 20 7499-4340.
  • Namibia Namibia, 6 Chandos St, W1G 9LU, +44 20 7636-6244.
  • Nepal Nepal, 12a Kensington Palace Gdns, W8 4QU, +44 20 7229-1594.
  • the Netherlands Netherlands, 38 Hyde Park Gate, SW7 5DP, +44 20 7590-3200.
  • New Zealand New Zealand, 80 Haymarket, SW1Y 4TQ, +44 20 7930-8422.
  • Nicaragua Nicaragua, 58-60 Kensington Church St, W8 4DP, +44 20 7938-2373.
  • Nigeria Nigeria, 9 Northumberland Ave, WC2N 5BX, +44 20 7839-1244.
  • Norway Norway, 25 Belgrave Sq, SW1X 8QD, +44 20 7591-5500.
  • Oman Oman, 167 Queens Gate, SW7 5HE, +44 20 7225-0001.
  • Pakistan Pakistan, 35-36 Lowndes Square, SW1X 9JN, +44 20 7664-9200.
  • Palestine Palestine, 5 Galena Road, W6 0LT, +44 20 8563-0008.
  • Panama Panama, 40 Hertford St, W1J 7SH, +44 20 7493-4646.
  • Papua New Guinea Papua New Guinea, 14 Waterloo Pl, SW1Y 4AR, +44 20 7930-0922.
  • Paraguay Paraguay, 344 Kensington High St, W14 8NS, +44 20 7610-4180.
  • Peru Peru, 52 Sloane St, SW1X 9SP, +44 20 7235-1917.
  • the Philippines Philippines, 6-8 Suffolk St, SW1Y 4HG, +44 20 7451-1800.
  • Poland Poland, 47 Portland Pl, W1B 1JH, +44 20 7291-3520.
  • Portugal Portugal, 11 Belgrave Sq, SW1X 8PP, +44 20 7235-5331.
  • Qatar Qatar, 1 South Audley St, W1K 1NB, +44 20 7493-2200.
  • Romania Romania, 4 Palace Green, W8 4QD, +44 20 7937-9666.
  • Russia Russia, 13 Kensington Palace Gdns, W8 4QX, +44 20 7229-2666.
  • Rwanda Rwanda, 20-122 Seymour Place, W1H 1NR, +44 20 7224-9832.
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Kitts and Nevis, 10 Kensington Ct, W8 5DL, +44 20 7937-9718.
  • Saint Lucia Saint Lucia, 1 Collingham Gdns, SW5 0HW, +44 20 7370-7123.
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Saint Vincent/Grenadines, 10 Kensington Ct, W8 5DL, +44 20 7460-1256.
  • Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia, 30 Charles St, W1J 5DZ, +44 20 7917-3000.
  • Senegal Senegal, 39 Marloes Rd, W8 6LA, +44 20 7938-4048.
  • Serbia Serbia, 28 Belgrave Sq, SW1X 8QB, +44 20 7235 9049.
  • Seychelles Seychelles, 111 Baker St, W1U 6RR, +44 20 7935-7770.
  • Sierra Leone Sierra Leone, 41 Eagle St, WC1R 4TL, +44 20 7404-0140.
  • Singapore Singapore, 9 Wilton Crescent, SW1X 8SP, +44 20 7235-8315.
  • Slovakia Slovakia, 25 Kensington Palace Gdns, +44 20 7313-6470.
  • Slovenia Slovenia, 10 Little College St, SW1P 3SH, +44 20 7222-5700.
  • South Africa South Africa, Trafalgar Sq, WC2N 5DP, +44 20 7451-7299.
  • Spain Spain, 39 Chesham Pl, SW1X 8SB, +44 20 7235-5555.
  • Sri Lanka Sri Lanka, 13 Hyde Park Gdns, W2 2LU, +44 20 7262-1841.
  • Sudan Sudan, 3 Cleveland Row, SW1A 1DD, +44 20 783-8080.
  • Swaziland Swaziland, 20 Buckingham Gate, SW1E 6LB, +44 20 7630-6611.
  • Sweden Sweden, 11 Montagu Pl, W1H 2AL, +44 20 7917-6400.
  • Switzerland Switzerland, 16/18 Montagu, Pl W1H 2BQ, +44 20 7616-6000.
  • Syria Syria, 8 Belgrave Sq, SW1X 8PH, +44 20 7245-9012.
  • Tajikistan Tajikistan, 27 Hammersmith Grove, W6 ONE, +44 20 8600-2520.
  • Tanzania Tanzania, 3 Stratford Pl, W1C 1AS, +44 20 7569-1470.
  • Thailand Thailand, 29-30 Queen's Gate, SW7 5JB, +44 20 7589-2944.
  • Tonga Tonga, 36 Molyneux Street, W1H 5BQ, +44 20 7724-5828.
  • Trinidad and Tobago Trinidad and Tobago, 42 Belgrave Sq, SW1X 8NT, +44 20 7245-9351.
  • Tunisia Tunisia, 29 Prince's Gate, SW7 1QG, +44 20 7584-8117.
  • Turkey Turkey, 43 Belgrave Sq, SW1X 8PA, +44 20 7393-0202.
  • Turkmenistan Turkmenistan, 14-17 Wells St, W1T 3PD, +44 20 7255-1071.
  • Uganda Uganda, 58-59 Trafalgar Sq, WC2N 5DX, +44 20 7839-5783.
  • Ukraine Ukraine, 60 Holland Pk, W11 3SJ, +44 20 7727-6312.
  • the United Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates, 30 Princes Gate, SW7 1PT, +44 20 7581-1281.
  • the United States United States, 24 Grosvenor Sq, W1A 2LQ, +44 20 7499-9000.
  • Uruguay Uruguay, 125 Kensington High St, W8 5SF, +44 20 7937-4170.
  • Uzbekistan Uzbekistan, 41 Holland Pk, W11 3RP, +44 20 7229-7679.
  • Venezuela Venezuela, 1 Cromwell Rd, SW7 2HW, +44 20 7584-4206.
  • Vietnam Vietnam, 12-14 Victoria Rd, W8 5RD, +44 20 7937-1912.
  • Yemen Yemen, 57 Cromwell Rd, SW7 2ED, +44 20 7584-6607.
  • Zambia Zambia, 2 Palace Gate, W8 5NG, +44 20 7589-6655.
  • Zimbabwe Zimbabwe, 429 Strand, WC2R 0JR, +44 20 7836-7755.

Go next

  • Aylesbury - Historic market town, 35 miles north-west of London.
  • Bath. Roman relics, rich in Georgian architecture and makes an easy day trip from Paddington station.
  • Berkhamsted - Historic market town, features the ruined castle of William the Conqueror, canal-side pubs and Ashridge Forest.
  • Birmingham. Boasts many events, pubs and clubs, and shopping opportunities. Trains can take as little as 85 minutes from Euston or Marylebone or a coach from Victoria takes 3 hours.
  • Bournemouth. Large beach resort on the edge of the New Forest, with seven miles of golden sand. Only a two hour ride on the train from Waterloo station.
  • Brighton. Fashionable beach town about 90 km (55 mi) south. Less than an hour by train from Victoria station.
  • Brussels (Belgium) Only 2 hours via Eurostar from St. Pancras Station.
  • Canterbury. Site of the foremost cathedral in England, constructed during the 12th-15th centuries.
  • Eastbourne. A leafy, seaside resort town, of 'timeless' Victorian architecture, with a lovely pier and bandstand. Famous for Beachy Head chalk cliffs, popular viewing platform and suicide spot!
  • Hastings. Seaside town, famous for the Battle of 1066.
  • Hemel Hempstead. 30 miles north of London, a small town dating back to the 8th century. Also home to the UK's largest indoor ski slope.
  • Henley-on-Thames. About 55 km (35 mi) west of London, a quaint and typical English town, great for walks by, and aquatic activities on, the Thames. Home to the famous boating Regatta in Summer
  • Lewes. Delightful mid-Sussex town, with a picturesque brewery and the famous Guy Fawkes festival in November.
  • Lille (France). Only 1 hour 20 minutes via Eurostar from St. Pancras Station.
  • Manchester. If you have time it is worth visiting Britain's other great cities and Manchester has very much to offer. Manchester can be reached in around 2 hours by train and is about 320 km (200 mi) to the north. It is the second most visited city in England (after London).
  • Maidstone, county town of Kent, known as the Garden of England.
  • Margate and Ramsgate, twin seaside resorts of the Isle of Thanet in Kent.
  • Paris (France). Only 2 hours via Eurostar from St. Pancras station.
  • Medway Towns. Has a strong naval history in Chatham Dockyards, with medieval attractions like Rochester Cathedral and Castle. Has a strong literary connection with Charles Dickens, you can visit his museum and a former residence.
  • Oxford and Cambridge. The university cities make for ideal days out of London.
  • Portsmouth. Home of the Royal Navy and of real interest to nautical enthusiasts. Also offers access to the Isle of Wight.
  • Shrewsbury. A very traditional town full of medieval black and white timber-framed buildings along winding, steep, narrow streets set on the River Severn easily reached by taking the train (change at Wolverhampton or Crewe) from Euston.
  • St Albans. Small, quaint "cathedral city" just north of metropolitan London. Easily accessed from J22 on the M25 motorway or about 30 minutes on the train out of Farringdon station.
  • Stonehenge. Among the most famous landmarks in England. The mysterious stone ring was built thousands of years ago, today it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can get there by a guided bus tour or by train (1 hr 30) to the nearby city Salisbury, where you can also visit the 13th-century cathedral with the highest spire in the country.
  • South Downs and North Downs National Parks offer beautiful, rolling chalk hills for a day's stroll or longer hikes.
  • Southend-on-Sea. An Essex seaside town with pebble and sand beaches, fairground rides, arcades, and the longest pier in the world. Make sure to grab yourself a delicious Rossi ice cream - a local delicacy since 1932 - while you're there! Only 40 minutes by train from Fenchurch Street station.
  • Shaftesbury. One of the oldest and highest towns in Britain. This small Dorset town has been described as "beautiful" by visitors.
  • Winchester. Former capital of England and attractive "cathedral city" with lots to see. About an hour away by train from Waterloo.
  • Windsor. Nearby Thames-side town with magnificent castle and Royal residence located only one hour by train outside of London. Makes for a very easy day trip.
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