Home of the Queen, Spice Girls and Fish n' Chips--London is one of the most famous cities in the world for so many reasons!
Population: 8.6 million
Known as: The Big Smoke
Climate: Temperate Climate
Currency: British Pounds (GBP)
Official Language(s): English
London has 3 airports; Heathrow (24 km away), London City (9.5 Km away) and London Biggin Hill (17 Km away). Heathrow is the main international airport in the city. London City is also an international airport, however the destinations are limited. London Biggin Hill is used for business aviation as well as general aviation.
London has so many options to get you to the city centre from the airport. From Heathrow you can take a coach bus which is about an hour. This option costs around £10 ($17 CAD). The Heathrow Connect takes about 30 minutes and leaves from terminal 1 and 2. The price of the connect is dependent on what zone you are going to. The Heathrow Express is the most efficient option, taking a mere 15 minutes to Paddington Station. Tickets range from £22-30 ($38-52 CAD) depending on the peak time. The most cost efficient way would be the London Underground, however the journey time is about 60 minutes. To Central London the cost would be about £6 ($10 CAD).
From London City Airport you can take the tube (aka Underground). The fare depend on where you are coming from and whether or not you have an Oyster Card, which is London's metro card. The Docklands Light Railway (DLR) is another option. Fares are the same as the Tube, however the DLR only serves parts of East London and South East London and connects to the Tube.
Pretty much everywhere is London is easily accessible by Tube. You can even get a subway map that shows you which stop to get off at for attractions. Walking is always a great option but attractions are a lot further apart than they may look on a map. The tram (red double decker bus) is also a great way to get around the city and it only costs £1.50 ($).
What to See
When you think of London, you most likely think of the Queen, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, London Bridge or The London Eye. Of course those are places you need to see for yourself, but there are tons of other attractions that are as popular but more interesting than the ones mentioned above. First of all, London Bridge is the most underwhelming bridge I have ever seen! I get London Bridge has a lot of history, but I was very disappointed to find out it is now just a regular bridge.
London is an expensive city, so when you find free attractions you should definitely add them to your list. Sky Garden is one of those places. Why pay to go up the Shard or The London Eye, when you can get an equally as nice view for FREE! After you visit Sky Garden take a stroll around Leadenhall Market. Harry Potter fans will surely recognize this market, although it looks a bit different. Also, check out the Ruins of St. Dunstan in the East, a former church destroyed in WWII and is now a beautiful public garden. Depending on the season, check out Little Venice. You can take a walk or boat ride along the canal or sit at the waterside cafes or pubs.
If you are around near the Christmas holidays, check out the lights on Oxford Street, Carnaby Street and Regent Street. Oxford is also a great street to shop on!
What to Eat & Drink
Being Canadian, I've had my fair share of English food. There are so many foods that I grew up eating and didn't realize were English. Some popular dishes include Fish n' Chips, Yorkshire pudding, crumpets, meat pies, scones, Shepherd's pie, Mince pie etc.
Other foods to try:
Where to Stay
London is an expensive city but if you are on a budget you can find a lot of affordable places, like hostels, Bed and Breakfasts or Airbnb. If you are travelling with a pet then check out All in the Rooms. They have a list of great areas and hotels to stay in that are very pet friendly!
If you are looking for somewhere with lots of action, Soho would be your best bet. Soho has a lot of bars, clubs, theatres, restaurants, etc. The area is always very lively. SoHostel is a great option if you are a budget traveller.
Victoria is another great area. It is close to major attractions like Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. County Hall is another area that is close to major attractions and has budget hotels/hostels. Some attractions close by include London Eye and Westminster Abbey.
Paris-- In under 3 hours on the train you can end up n Paris. Paris is always a great idea! From museums, to old French architecture, Paris has something that everyone will like. Plus, who doesn't love starring at the Eiffel Tower?!
Brussels-- You can get to the Belgian city of Brussels from London in about 2 hours by train. Brussels has so much to offer, other than chocolate.
Amsterdam-- The bustling city of Amsterdam is only a 5 hour train ride from London's city centre. Here you can walk along the iconic canals, visit the Van Gogh museum or rent a bike and cycle around the city.
Scotland-- Sharing a landmass with England makes Scotland such an easy destination to visit. From London, Scotland is only a 4.5 hour journey by train.