London, United Kingdom
Round 10 & Round 11
London, the capital of England, is renowned as the city that never sleeps making it the perfect place to visit for those who like to get out and about. As well as a history spanning two millennia, it has remained fresh and energetic and boasts a rich collection of art, architecture and heritage alongside modern skyscrapers, lush parks and quiet Victorian streets. It’s also incredibly diverse with almost 300 languages spoken and as many different cultures, helping it become at the forefront for arts, entertainment, fashion, education and finance. The city also boasts some of the most iconic landmarks in Europe from Buckingham Palace and Madame Tussauds to Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.
With five international airports along with the Eurostar and Channel Tunnel, London is easily accessible. The main international and domestic airport is Heathrow lying to the west of the city and is well serviced by the underground (Piccadilly line), Heathrow Express and regular buses and taxis. Stansted, Gatwick, Luton and City airports are also no more than an hour outside of the city with many low-cost airlines offering cheap, regular flights in and out of the UK.
For those travelling from Europe than the Eurostar and Channel Tunnel make for easy crossings of the English Channel with journeys between Paris and London by train taking as little as two and a half hours.
London has one of the best public transport systems in Europe with quick, easy access across the city via a number of different means so there’s no need to rent a car. The Underground, commonly known as the tube, is by far the best way to get around and is divided into six zones, although zones one and two cover most of the city centre. Fares are reasonably priced but can be made even cheaper by purchasing an Oyster pre-paid travel card available at the majority of stations and local stores. The city is also well served by public buses and river taxis or you can rent a bicycle or simply explore the city on foot!
Where to stay
London welcomes every type of tourist, whether you want to stay in a 5 Star hotel, a cosy little Bed & Breakfast or a cheap backpackers’ hostel, there’s something for everyone. Try and head for one of the numerous eco-friendly hotels in the city such as the Old Aldwych in Covent Garden. If you want to experience a true ‘sustainable trip’, you should definitely try a green-certified Bed & Breakfast such as the Roost in Queen’s Park.
For a good quality mid-range hotel then established brands such as Travelodge, Holiday Inn and Premier Inn have sites all over the city, or for those on a tighter budget there’s an array of backpacker accommodation around the King’s Cross area. Meanwhile, if you intend to splash out then be sure to head for the exclusive Park Lane or Mayfair areas.
What to do
Tours & attractions – London is bursting with things to see and do making it hard to know where to start. Some of the most popular though include the London Eye, Madam Tussauds, London Zoo, Westminster Palace, the Tower of London and St Paul’s Cathedral. Of course that’s not forgetting the Queen’s official residence Buckingham Palace or the iconic Big Ben. One of the best ways to see as much as possible is to take a river cruise along the Thames to soak up the sights.
Theatre & musicals – Booking a show, musical or play in the West End is also recommended, especially the Royal Opera House. It’s best to book far in advance to ensure you get to see the show you want but for those who are flexible, last minute tickets (and bargains) can be found from the many ticket offices in the area.
Shopping – Oxford Street, Savile Row, Harrods are just a few of the many top shopping destinations London has to offer. As one of the fashion capitals of the world, visitors are spoilt for choice when it comes to shopping. At the same time, you can also enjoy visiting one of London’s many markets or even Europe’s largest urban shopping centre, Westfield.
Landscape – One of the best things about London is its abundance of open spaces allowing you to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. Hyde Park, St James’s Park, Kensington Gardens, Hampstead Heath and many more are well worth a visit if you get time.
Museums & galleries – As well as having some of the best museums and galleries, many of them are also admission free giving visitors no excuse not to enjoy the delights of the Tate Modern, the National Gallery or the Natural History and Science Museums. You can also enjoy the largest single-run arts centre in the world, the Southbank Centre followed by a walk along the Thames.
Eating out / Night life
With London being such a diverse city, it’s no wonder its cuisine is equally as varied, along with its many bars and night spots. Many areas are famed for certain cuisines or types of bar so it’s best to decide what you fancy eating before heading out. For instance, for those who fancy Chinese food should head to Chinatown located near Leicester Square.
If, however, you’re looking for inspiration then head to areas such as Soho where there’s an array of restaurants and bars. Alternatively try Covent Garden where you’ll find one of the oldest restaurants The Rules serving traditional British cuisine. For those wishing to indulge themselves then there’s plenty of gourmet restaurants including Michel Roux’s 2* Michelin restaurant at La Gravoche. There’s also an eco-friendly eatery to try in King’s Cross called Acorn House. Meanwhile, if it’s night life you’re after then Shoreditch, Brixton and Camden are all popular spots with live music, comedy and dancing available until the early hours.
London has a temperate oceanic climate with cold winters and warm summers, with an average temperature of around 24°C/75°F from July to September. Sadly, the weather can be quite unpredictable with high chances of rain so be sure to pack an umbrella!
Destination Guide courtesy of FIA Formula E website.