Currency: Pound Sterling
Time Zone: GMT
Tipping: 10 to 12% is usual for hotels with 10 to 15% being usual for restaurants. In each case, it is not necessarily added to the bill. If a service charge has already been added, no further tip is required.
There are very few places in the world that can combine history, style and culture at the same time but London is definitely one of them. You'll be transported back in time on many of our coach trips to London as each street and place has a tale to tell with its stunning architecture, from the soaring limestone peaks of the Houses of Parliament to the magnificent dome of St Paul's Cathedral and the wonderful exterior of the Tower of London.
For the ultimate of views, head to London's South Bank and book a flight on the London Eye. If it's a clear day you may be able to see as far as Windsor Castle from the top so grab your binoculars and see what else you can spot during your flight. Another attraction stealing the limelight is The Shard which pierces the sky at 1,016ft and offers visitors the chance to admire the city from a different perspective from the View From The Shard viewing platform. For a view with a difference, head to Greenwich where you can walk across the O2 arena or take a cable car across the River Thames!
One of London's many highlights is its connection with Royalty and you cannot leave the city without visiting Buckingham Palace – the home of The Royal Family. If you're lucky enough to be in London during July and August, you'll have the opportunity to go inside the Palace and see the magnificent State Rooms. The Summer Opening of Buckingham Palace is a popular event which tends to sell out quite quickly so you are advised to book tickets as soon as you can to avoid disappointment.
If you want to get away from it all with the girls, London weekend breaks are perfect as there's something for everyone in the capital. For relaxation, book yourself into a spa hotel and enjoy the available treatments. However, if you're looking to dance and have a good time, hit the bars and clubs of Leicester Square, Soho or Mayfair. London theatre breaks are a fabulous alternative too with a show available to suit all tastes whether you're looking for comedy, romance or spine-tingling thrillers. Shopaholics will fall in love with London where you can find High Street stores mingling with designer boutiques along Oxford Street, Bond Street and for the ultimate shopping experience visit Westfield Stratford. Looking for a bargain? Check out the street markets along Notting Hill and Portobello Road.
London doesn't fail to impress if you're on the look-out for culture and it needn't cost too much either. There are a number of museums within your reach where admission is free so if you have children who love dinosaurs take them to the Natural History Museum or let them experiment to their heart's content with interactive displays at the Science Museum. For the adults, soak up the art world on your London tour with a visit to the National Gallery and new Tate Modern.
Whether you're enjoying theatre breaks in London, gazing across the skyline from the Oxo Tower on the South Bank or strolling through Hyde Park, there is no doubt that you are visiting one of the greatest cities on earth!
Things to do
Being the capital city there are many great attractions to visit and explore in London that we're hard pushed to know where to start! Here are some top things to do when you arrive.
Located on the River Thames, the London Eye is possibly the most prominent landmark, recognisable to people from around the world. Your 'flight' takes around 30 minutes, in which time you'll complete a full rotation and take in the sights of London - on a clear day you will be able to see for miles and miles. This attraction is also popular at night time, giving visitors the chance to see London lit up before them.
The West End is famous worldwide as having one of the best theatre scenes. With so many long standing productions like We Will Rock You, Wicked, Mamma Mia, The Lion King and Les Miserables and newer productions like Viva Forever, multi award-winning Matilda the Musical and The Book of Mormon, you are sure to find something to please everyone in your party!
No trip to London would be complete without a visit to Covent Garden with its abundance of shops, street entertainers, restaurants and cafes. If you're exploring Covent Garden and arrive via the Underground be sure to take the lift, as there are no escalators in the station and there are a lot of stairs to reach the top!
Located near the Tower of London, Tower Bridge is one of the most recognisable bridges which crosses the River Thames from North London to South London. Constructed in the late 1800’s the bridge was constructed to open to allow oversized River Traffic to pass through. During the London 2012 Olympics the Bridge proudly displayed the Olympic Rings and was featured in the Opening Ceremony coverage.
Tips & Advice
To help you have an enjoyable holiday in London, take a look at these useful tips and advice provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO):
Health and Travel Insurance
British Citizens are advised by some of our tour operators to have travel insurance before going on a tour or holiday, even if it happens to be in your country of residence. As a British citizen you will be entitled to free emergency health care on the NHS.
If you are visiting England from outside the United Kingdom and fall ill or are involved in an accident and are from any member of the European Economic Area or Switzerland, you can obtain free or reduced cost treatment with The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Comprehensive travel insurance is advised for all other nationals planning on visiting England.
If you need to contact the emergency services whilst in England simply dial 999 or 112 to ask for an ambulance.
Most destinations are generally trouble-free, however as with all places that you are not familiar with, keep an eye on your belongings and if necessary lock them away somewhere safe back at your hotel if possible. Keep an eye on everyone in your party and do not go off with people you do not know. Buy your own drinks and keep sight of them at all times. Be aware of your surroundings and don't venture off on your own.
Local Laws and Customs
Queuing is a British Institution - jump a queue at your own risk!
Drug offences will carry penalties in the UK, so avoid getting involved with anything whilst in England. Please note the narcotic plant Khat/Qat is legal in the UK, but is not in a majority of other countries so never try to export this when leaving the UK.
If you are visiting from outside of the United Kingdom, it is wise to check customs requirements before you travel. If you are planning to bring alcohol, tobacco or souvenirs into the country, you need to be familiar with the UK's custom laws. For those people coming to the UK from the EU, you are allowed to bring an unlimited amount of most goods for your own use without paying tax or duty.
However, if you are travelling to the UK from outside of the EU, you are given an allowance of how much alcohol, tobacco, perfume, souvenirs and other goods. If you go above this allowance you may have to pay tax or duty. It is worth checking the HM Revenues and Customs website before you travel.
When travelling between the UK, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man in most cases an official form of identification such as a Driver's License will be ok. However, some airlines will insist you show a passport so check before you travel.
If you are travelling to England from Australia, Canada or the USA, you must have a valid passport for at least three months beyond the length of your stay. EU nationals need to have either a valid passport or identity card.
Visas for the UK are not required by those travelling from Australia, Canada, USA or EU for stays of up to six months.
Any other nationality looking to visit the UK must contact the local embassy to check visa requirements.
To find out more about visiting London, check out their official tourism website at visitlondon.com