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Travel Tips for London - A Capital City for All Seasons

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From its museums, stately monuments, and parks to its riverside sights and vibrant nightlife, London is a city that caters to all visitors. Beyond the historic hub of central London, the city sprawls for miles on both sides of the Thames and encompasses many residential boroughs that form distinct villages in the metropolitan whole.

Best time to travel

 

London’s climate is temperate year round, with temperatures ranging from the low 30-degrees Fahrenheit in winter to the upper 70s in summer. It can rain at any time of year, with peak rainfall in November and August. In early spring, the parks and gardens come to life, and open-air events start to fill the calendar. Spring and summer are peak tourist times, and hotel and flight prices rise accordingly. September is an ideal time to visit, as the weather is still mild and many free festivals are in full swing.

Not to miss

 

London is a treasure trove for art lovers, offering world-famous museums like the National Gallery, British Museum, and Tate Modern, plus many smaller museums and galleries. Theater buffs will want to head to the West End for top plays and musicals. You can relax and recharge in the city’s 8 Royal Parks, while Kew Gardens and Greenwich merit a whole day’s visit. On the South Bank of the Thames you'll find a lively outdoor scene with cafés and street performers, as well as the London Eye with its panoramic aerial views.

 

Getting around

 

The 11 lines of London’s extensive Underground system are easy to navigate. The bus network is excellent too, and reaches the most far-flung parts of the city. An Oyster card is a must - it lets you travel on public transport with discounted rates and without the hassle of queuing for tickets. London’s black cabs are metered, or you can get a licensed minicab with fixed rates for your journey. From Heathrow Airport, you can catch the Heathrow Express train which gets you to Paddington Station in 15 minutes.

 

Cuisine

 

Once known for culinary blandness, London has evolved into a world-class dining destination. Reflecting the city’s multiethnic diversity, you'll find Indian, Japanese, and Middle Eastern restaurants, among countless others, as well as places serving hearty English staples like fish ’n’ chips and roast beef with Yorkshire pudding. The traditional full English breakfast and afternoon “high tea” are both meals in their own right. Most eateries offer vegetarian options and there are plenty of vegetarian-only restaurants too. You’ll never be far from a London pub, where you can enjoy alcoholic drinks any time of day. Most pubs serve food too.

 

Customs and etiquette

 

Good manners and politeness are highly valued by the British, and you can't say “please,” “thank you,” and “sorry” too often. Patience and stoicism are part of the national character, and orderly queuing is an ingrained custom. Tipping is voluntary but always appreciated - 10% is the norm in restaurants, and in taxis it’s fine to round up the fare. Driving in the UK is on the left side of the road, so remember to look both ways before you cross.

 

Fast facts

 

  • Population: 8.6 million
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  • Spoken languages: English, Polish, Bengali, Gujarati, French, Urdu, Arabic (over 300 languages are spoken in London)
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  • Electrical: 220-240 volts, 50 Hz, plug type G
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  • Phone calling code: +44 20
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  • Emergency number: 004