London Guide

London is a vast multicultural city and the Capital of England UK founded by the Romans in AD50 known as Londinium. It has 32 boroughs, with the regional authority based at City Hall just by Tower Bridge. It's a vibrant place with lots of historical buildings, theatres and museums to explore.

The climate is temperate marine which means a steady temperature, but summers can be wet although generally not too cold because of the number of buildings that keep the day time heat.

About London, England UK

London is a large capital city of England UK and speaks one main language. The city of London is the traditional "Square Mile" where the stock exchange is based, but in recent years much of the financial district has moved out to Canary Wharf.

Key Statistics

  • England population: 51,092,000
  • London population: 8,173,941 in the city (Metro area: 13,842,667)
  • Males: 4,033,289 Females: 4,140,652
  • Languages Spoken: English
  • City size: 12.331 square miles, 157,215 hectares
  • Country size: 1,015/square miles
  • Currency: UK Sterling/ GB Pounds (GBP)

Sources: Eurostat 2011 census

The oldest tube or metro system which covers hundreds of miles underground serves most of the London area. It's cheap, fast and easy to get to all the main areas. The electronic ticketing system uses either a pre-paid "Oyster Card" system or pay with your direct debit card with higher charges. The traditional red buses (known as Routemasters) are all around the city and can be another exciting way to move from place to place. There are sightseeing buses which offer guided tours with commentary so you can see all the famous places and buildings and get some history while you're travelling.

Where is London?

London is located in the south east of England on the Thames river and is surrounded by the M25 motorway and has excellent road, rail and air links to the rest of the UK, Europe and the World.

London is made up of many regions, and the most popular are Fulham, Hackney, Islington, Battersea, Brixton, Hammersmith, Clapham, Hampstead, Putney, Holborn and Oxford Street for the famous shops.

London Map

Below is a map of the surrounding areas in Brussels. The airport is located on the outskirts of the city but is only a 20-minute drive into town.

Map of London

Things to see and do in London

  • A boat trip along the Thames - hop on at Parliament Square and go east towards Greenwich and Canary Wharf
  • Oxford Street and Bond Street for shopping
  • Harrods in Knightsbridge to get lost inside this mammoth department store (be sure to visit the pet shop and jewellery floors)
  • Buckingham Palace - The Queen's home is at the end of the Mall. A nice walk from Trafalgar Square you can visit inside during the Summer months for about £8. Nearest tube: Charing Cross for Trafalgar Square; Victoria for Buckingham Palace.
  • Museums - Along Exhibition Road in West London are three must see museums. The Science Museum for all thing science, the Natural History Museum for looking at the past and the Victoria and Albert Museum for looking back at British Life. All these are free of charge to enter all year round. The nearest tube is South Kensington or get off at Knightsbridge, visit Harrods, then walk down Brompton Road for about 1/2 mile.
  • The London Eye - Right in the centre of London is the London Eye - the largest observation wheel there is. You can see Windsor in the West and Canary Wharf in the East. The trip takes about 30 minutes and is open all year round. A must do trip. Nearest tube is Westminster - just walk over Westminster Bridge to the other side of the river.
  • Explore Covent Garden where there are many cafes and boutique shops.
  • Take in a theatre show - most theatres are located along Shaftsbury Avenue and all the major shows will be on.
  • Brick Lane market in the east end.
  • Regents Park Zoo as well as other parks such as Green Park, St. James Park and Hyde Park.
  • Afternoon tea at the Ritz and other hotels such as Claridges, the Mandarin Oriental or the Dorchester Hotel.
  • Parliament Square which has the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, the bell of the Elizabeth Tower.

Things to do and see outside of London

Because of where the capital city is there are many things to do and see just outside of London. Perhaps the most popular is a visit to Windsor Castle where the Queen stays when she is not in London. The castle is in excellent condition, and you can view the Queens apartments and the doll house collection.

Heathrow and Gatwick Airports

The main London airport is called Heathrow located on the west side of London approximately 16 miles from the centre. A taxi ride will take at least 40 minutes to get into the city and costs upwards of £60 whereas there is the slower but much cheaper tube system located under the airport or the Heathrow Express overground train which costs about £20 one way and takes 15 minutes.

Heathrow serves most of the UK, Europe and the rest of the World and is a modern if hectic airport with most facilities. Normally you will pay a little extra to fly in and out of Heathrow rather than other airports.

Gatwick airport is located south west of London about 60 miles from the city. You can drive in (a taxi will cost too much) or get the Gatwick Express which takes about 30 minutes. Gatwick, although named a London airport is mostly for charter/ holiday flight traffic.

Both airports have hotels close by if you need to stay the night before a flight - but book early because these can be very expensive.

London Hotels

Hotels in London are very expensive, and the rooms can be tiny and of poor decorative state if you are staying in a cheap budget hotel. The rooms are expensive during the week because of business customers and in the summer because of tourism. It's best if you can stay in one of the Branded hotels because you know you'll get a clean room.

There's a chain called Premier Inn which offers cheaper accommodation as well as Holiday Inn in Kensington which is just outside near Harrods. Other chains include Hilton, Sofitel, Marriot and Thistle which all offer excellent value for money.