One of Europe's largest cities
With a population of over 8 million made up of 280 nationalities, spread over 600 square miles, London is an iconic multi-cultural, economic and educational city. With such historic significance, striking architecture, cultural prominence, sporting interest and economic clout, London will always be a must visit destination.
With that in mind, here is a quick guide for first time visitors from Holiday Inn Express London Hammersmith.
You've seen the postcards – Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, The London Eye, Trafalgar Square...we could go on forever. There is so much to see so it is no surprise that London is Europe's most visited city, attracting over 14million international tourists every year.
If you're short on time, we can recommend a stroll along the bank of the Thames between Tower Bridge and Westminster Bridge to see some of the highlights in one trip. During which you'll be able to marvel over Tower Bridge itself, the Tower of London and the Shard. Just a few minutes further you'll find the Tate Modern, St. Paul's Cathedral and the London Eye. Before too long you will have reached the famous Houses of Parliament and of course Big Ben.
For more sight-seeing ideas - have a look at our 'Not to Miss List'
Museums - If you feel like taking advantage of the wealth of museums in London you can be happy in the knowledge that a most are indeed free admission. Such museums include; The National Gallery, the Science Museum, the Natural History Museum and the popular British Museum.
Parks - Weather permitting; London has some fantastic outdoor spaces to relax in. Hyde Park is perhaps the most well-known. During the summer months, Hyde Park is host to a range of events including the BBC 'Proms in the Park'. Green Park which is situated in front of Buckingham Palace, Greenwich Park and St. James Park are all lovely places to spend a nice day outside.
London taxis - An icon in themselves, the London taxi, known as a 'black cab' are the quickest, most direct form of transport to explore the city. Black cab drivers are made to pass extensive exams before being allowed to ferry passengers around London and as such they know every possible route and location. So don't be worried about being taken the 'long way round' or them getting lost. However, they can be quite expensive and in times of heavy traffic you might be better suited choosing another way around the city.
London Underground - A cheap, easy way to get around the whole of the city, the 'tube' as its referred to, is a fixture of modern London life. Claustrophobia warning, at peak times the tube will become cramped however there is no better way to be 'acquainted' with Londoners. If busy, the tube is not ideal to use when travelling with a lot of luggage.
Remember - When using the escalators - Always stand on the right!
Oyster Cards – At a cost of just over £5, an Off-Peak travel card for Zones 1 and 2 would be enough for any short-term London visit. Oyster Cards allow you to travel on London's public transport network (Buses, Underground, Over-land Rail) without having to buy separate tickets for your journey. It works as a pay-as-you-go card that you can top up at tube stations, newsagents and online.
The big red bus - If you feel like you'd like to avoid a walk, buses are a handy way to see the sights with routes 15 and 19 taking in most of the sites.
A white bus stop sign means that the bus will stop at these stops automatically.
A red bus stop sign means that the bus will only stop when people want on or off. You will have to stick out your arm when your bus approaches to let the driver know you want to get on. If you want to get off, ring the bell once to let the driver know.
Winter (December - February)
As with most of the UK, winter is rather cold in London with the average temperature around 5°C.
Spring (March - May)
Spring is an unpredictable time in London, so the best advice is to pack for the rain and cold as well as some pleasant weather. Average temperature is around 10°C, climbing to 15°C in May.
Summer (June – August)
Summer in London can provide lovely summer sunshine, weeks of chilly rain downpours or a mix of both. Average temperatures in recent years have hovered around 20°C. You may get lucky as sometimes the temperature will reach 30°C however some days it may sink to lows of 13°C.
Autumn (August – November)
You can expect nice weather in August and September for London, with average temperatures of 15°C to 20°C. As October and November approach rainfall will increase and waterproofs will be needed.
In the UK, we use pound sterling (£). Some European countries have employed the Euro (€) however unless goods or services are priced by both £s and €s, Euro's will not be accepted as means of payment.
1pound (£) = 100 pence (p).
Our coins are;
Silver for - 5p, 10p, 20p and 50p
Gold - £1, £2
Blue - £5
Brown - £10
Purple - £20
Red - £50
Tipping - Tipping in most places isn't required but it is advised to leave at least 10% to show appreciation for good service in restaurants and taxis. Some restaurants however will automatically add a tip to the final price of the bill.
Pick-pockets - As with most big cities, London does suffer from pick-pockets. Typically they operate on the busier streets and on the tube. Try to keep your wallet / purse close to you, making full use of zipped pockets and not stuffed behind you in your bag.
If you do have bag try and wear it across your body, secure the zips and hold on to it tight in case of an attempted bag snatch. It's always advisable to wrap bag straps around your arm or chair leg when sitting down for a coffee.
Don't get stuck, accidents do happen and valuables can be lost or left behind. Take photocopies of important documents such as your passport, hotel details, travel card, itinerary etc.