The British capital is so big, and the places to visit so varied, that you need at least 4 days to get to know it and enjoy everything it has to offer. We've put together a London travel guide with the most popular attractions you can't leave your holiday without visiting!
- What to visit in London?
- Shopping in London
- What do we eat in the Royal City?
London is a safe city to walk around, but of course, as in any large metropolis, it's good to know what to see and which areas to avoid. You can get anywhere with a rental car; if you can manage to drive right-hand drive. But you should know that parking can often be hard to find and quite expensive depending on the area you are in.
Much easier would be to use public transport like most Londoners, which is very well laid out. You can travel by bus, tube and tram with ease. You should know that London is divided into 9 zones, 1-2 being the central ones, and the more the number, the greater the distance from the centre.
Revolut Card vs Local Cards
If you have a Revolut contactless card, then this is the best option for travelling by public transport in London. Attention! Use the same payment card for the entire journey.
There is also the local card option, the Oyster Card, but you have to pay a £5 fee that can be recovered at the end, however, the rates are the same on both the Oyster Card and Revolut. Having the Revolut card you can use it instead of the Oyster, so you don't have to worry about paying the activation fee, topping up or running a balance on it.
The biggest benefit of public transport in London is that there is a set maximum amount that if exceeded, you can travel without paying, i.e. for free. For example, if you have travelled so much one day that you have spent about £8, the next journeys on the same day will be free. If you want to get to as many attractions as possible that are within walking distance of each other, this is a convenient option! In addition, buses and trams no longer accept cash, so the Oyster Card is convenient and easy to use.
The maximum daily ceiling is given according to the zones and can be consulted here -> https://tfl.gov.uk/fares/find-fares/tube-and-rail-fares/caps-and-travelcard-prices?intcmp=54720
By the way, Google Maps is probably the best way to know which line/direction to take, as it combines all possible options and uses live public transport walking.
From the airport in London
The cheapest and most convenient option is the bus transfer National Express. If you buy your bus tickets online, from the website, you will have priority. If you don't, you'll queue for tickets at the airport, and on the bus, only if there's room after the online ticket holders get on, otherwise you'll have to wait for the next one.
If you book online and are late with your flight, not arriving on time, no problem, just know that you can postpone your booking. We postponed it by an hour because it was full at customs after we landed. We postponed it while standing in line at customs! It's worth mentioning that we landed on Luton Airport in London.
The transfer from the airport to central London took about 1h30m.
It's best to try to stay in central London, preferably Westminster not only to be close to the sights, but also to feel safer. You can find many hotels with standard European prices as well as hostels with very affordable prices.
London is best visited in spring to summer and also during the winter holidays. We went between 11-14 June, but the cheapest accommodation prices are in October-November and March-April. Summer would be a bit to avoid because it is very crowded. And don't forget to bring an umbrella, remember you're in England and it can rain at any time of the year.
For accommodation, we recommend Caring Hotel, where we stayed, located close to Paddington tube station, but also close to the huge Hyde Park where Kensignton Palace with its beautiful gardens is located. A great place to start your holiday in London.
London Pass is a card that allows you to visit 90 attractions without paying admission. The card costs around £70/adult day or £125/adult 4 days. If you want to avoid queues and visit as many attractions as possible, it can be a beneficial option, helping you to save money. For example, a £123 3-day London Pass will save you £80 if you have visited 9 attractions at the standard price of £203, but it depends on what you are interested in visiting. We preferred to buy tickets individually at each attraction, so we didn't opt for this London Pass. The reason being simple, we didn't want to visit all the attractions in the London pass so we made our own programme.
What to visit in London?
Buckingham Palace, London
Being in the Queen's city, of course, in typical style when visiting London, you pay a visit to the Buckingham Palace. It was built in the 18th century in neoclassical style and is the main residence of the royal family. Access to the interior is allowed for 10 weeks in summer - between 22 July and 2 October (in 2022) in certain rooms, but also on certain important days in winter and spring. Admission costs £30/adult, £19.50/adult aged 18-24, £16.50/child aged 5-17, and under 5s free.
If you get there at 11am, you'll see the daily changing of the guards, a palace tradition that has been faithfully preserved for decades. You'd better be there around 10:30 to catch a good seat to see this event. Be aware, however, that the changing of the guard does not take place in bad weather. The nearest tube stations are Victoria, Green Park and Hyde Park Corner.
National History Museum, London
Another must-visit attraction that is absolutely free is National Museum of History. The museum is located in London, in South Kensington and is divided into 4 areas, so you might want to set aside 1 full day just for that. Besides hundreds of years old fossils from dinosaurs, rare gorillas, birds and meteorites, an example of an active volcano and much more, the museum also offers many green spaces where you can admire all kinds of plant species and cafes where you can have lunch with your family.
London Eye and Big Ben
London Eye and Big Ben are two other sights not to be missed when you go to London and they are close to each other. At the London Eye (11:00-18:00, approx. £32) you need to be patient as there is always a long queue, but the view of London is worth the wait. Our recommendation is to buy tickets for the London Eye online as they are 10% cheaper. We have attached a link at the end.
Victoria and Albert Museum
Victoria and Albert Museum is located in the Brompton area and is one of the largest decorative art museums in the world. Admission is free, and we recommend spending at least 1 hour in this impressive place. It is open from 10am to 5.45pm, and on Fridays the opening hours for visitors are 10am to 10pm.
Saint Paul Cathedral
Saint Paul Cathedral is the largest in the whole of London and the second largest in the UK. Situated on Ludgate Hill, the Cathedral has captured great moments in history such as Winston Churchill's funeral and Prince Charles' wedding to Diana. The Cathedral is open Monday to Saturday from 8:30am (Wednesday - 10am) to 4:30pm. Admission for adults is £18 (purchase link at the end) and for children £7.70. This price can be used for a single ticket, but it can also be used to visit the Cathedral as many times as you like in a year, should you return to London. With the London Pass you have free access to the Cathedral.
Kensington Palace is one of the 17th century royal residences. At the moment it is the residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, but you can visit some of the King's and Queen's Halls, the gardens, and sometimes there are exhibitions. Access to the gardens is free, but the admission ticket for adults is £20 and £10 for children. The palace is open Wednesday to Sunday from 10am to 6pm. At the end of the article you will find a direct link to purchase tickets. The London Pass gives you free access to Kensington Palace.
Walking through Hyde Park to the palace will be really relaxing and we really recommend you to explore the park as much as you can, enjoying nature at its best. In the park you will find Princess Diana's fountain, Kensington Palace, the beloved and extremely friendly squirrels and the beautiful palace gardens.
Royal Botanical Gardens
Botanical Gardens Regale is located in the south-west of London and is among the most beautiful in the whole of the UK. With various collections of plants, the approximately 120 acres are elegantly and gracefully landscaped, reminiscent of the old days of dukes and duchesses. Admission per adult is £15, 17 to 25 year olds pay £7.50 and under 17s are free. You can buy tickets online (link at the end) and you can visit the venue every day (except Christmas) between 10-18. After 15:30, ticket prices drop almost in half for adults, but remember that the last group of visitors enters at 17:30. With the London Pass you get free entry.
Westminster Abbey is located right in the centre of London and is famous for the royal weddings held here. In addition, important historical figures such as George II and Mary Queen of Scots are buried here. Built in Gothic style, the church was opened in 1269. Admission costs £25/adult, £11/people aged 6-17 and £22/students and over 65s. Tickets can be purchased from the official website. (link at the end) Admission is free with the London Pass.
Madame Tussauds Wax Museum
Wax Museum is a London must-see, home to the waxworks of celebrities such as Angelina Jolie, Leonardo DiCaprio and many others. Made almost identical to the real thing, the museum is located in the Marylebone Road area. Spend at least an hour here. Tickets can be purchased from the official website (online is cheaper) and start at £33/adult, and there are packages for families. It is open daily from 10-15pm.
Tower Bridge crosses the Thames River and is over 200 m long. It is built in neo-Gothic style. In the late 1800s when it was built, it was considered one of the most spectacular bridges in the world. It has remained a symbol of London and is well worth climbing the towers, with the most enjoyable experience of getting there being by boat via Uber Boat (from £4.80/adult directly from the app). Tickets cost around £11/adult and £6/child aged 5-15. You can purchase tickets from the official website (link at the end) and the location can be visited between 9:30am-6pm, with the last entry at 5pm. Have you purchased the London Pass? Then you have free access to Tower Bridge.
The Royal Observatory in London (Greenwich Observatory)
Greenwich Observatory is about 20 minutes from the centre, but is an impressive tourist attraction because it separates the eastern and western hemispheres. This is where our planet's first meridian lies. It is located in Royal Park, and the walk from the beginning of the park to the Observatory is definitely a pleasant one. You can buy tickets directly from the official website https://www.rmg.co.uk/royal-observatory or on the spot. (£16/adult over 25, £8/child aged 4-15 and £10/person under 25)
Shopping in London
In London you can do some of the best shopping when it comes to prices. There are plenty of shopping malls and shopping centres but the most famous are Oxford and Wembley; numerous designer stores and more await you with exceptional prices and considerable discounts throughout the year. You can spend hours in these locations, especially as after a shopping session you can relax and dine at one of the many restaurants.
What do we eat in the Royal City?
London is quite expensive and if you don't know where to eat you can overspend. You can find Michellin star restaurants in London and if your budget allows it's worth it to enjoy some exceptional food.
Otherwise, in classic English style, you can head to a pub where the atmosphere is rowdy but very friendly and you can enjoy a real fish and chips.
In addition to this iconic dish you also have to taste the famous Shepherd's pie, pieces of lamb mixed with beef and slow cooked vegetables, topped with mashed potatoes and then put in the oven. All of these should be "washed" with a specific English lagger.
Try the traditional British breakfast at Kennington Lane Cafe about 2 km from Westminster Abbey with prices between £8-12 for English breakfast. Or try it at Regency Cafe about 1 km from Westminster Abbey with popular breakfasts starting from about £5.
For lunch or dinner, we recommend The Golden Chippy in the Greenwich area with prices between 3-15 pounds for English food or the PUB The Prince of Wales in the Kennington area with prices ranging from £3 to £15.
London is one of the busiest cities, so you'll never run out of things to do and you'll always find something to visit. Whether you're drawn to a lesser-known place or want to hit the most recognisable attractions, it's worth spending at least 4 days here.