June 29, 2017

London Travel Guide

Just as France has Paris and America has New York City, England is known for the city of London. Identifiable throughout the world as one of the most fashionable places to shop, it’s also home to some of the best theatrical plays. London has much to offer the tourist seeking excitement. No matter what your interests, they can be found here.

 

Running roughly west to east, the Thames River divides the city. Most of the major sites are located on the North Bank. While the Thames is spanned by numerous bridges, the two most famous are London Bridge and Tower Bridge. Often confused with one another, they are each unique in their own way. However, with its two Gothic towers symbolizing Old Victorian London, Tower Bridge is the more beautiful of the two.

 

Since London is a city that covers more than 600 square miles, it’s best to break it down into Five Neighborhoods. These would be: The City, Westminster, The West End, The South Bank, and The Residential Neighborhoods to the west.

 

“The City,” as it’s referred to by Londoners, is one square mile on the northern bank of the Thames. It became the birthplace of London when the Romans built a walled community there 2,000 years ago. Its most famous attractions are the Tower of London, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and Tower Bridge. Be sure to take a tour of the Tower of London to see the world’s best known collection of precious objects often referred to as “The Crown Jewels.”

 

Since the 11th century, the area of Westminster has been the center of political and religious power in England. Westminster Abbey is appropriately named London’s oldest and most important church. It has long been the burial place of British Monarchs as well as the setting for many coronations and royal weddings. Just across the street you’ll find the Palace of Westminster. Most commonly referred to as the Houses of Parliament, its most famous feature is the huge clock tower known as Big Ben. A frequent misconception, however, is that Ben is the name of the clock when in reality, it is the name of the bell hanging inside the clock. Buckingham Palace can also be found in the neighborhood of Westminster. Built in 1705, it has been the London accommodation for the royal family since 1837.

 

The West End is London’s heart and the place where everything happens in the city. It’s here where you’ll find some of the best restaurants, shops, bars, and clubs. Trafalgar Square is where immense rallies and marches take place and is also a very popular hangout for tourists. The two areas of Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square have been popular meeting spots for centuries. With their large neon signs lighting up the evening sky, it stays crowded until the early morning.

 

The South Bank, which was once a run-down, generally ignored part of London, is now home to some of the city’s hottest real estate. Now a thriving arts and cultural center, it’s where you’ll find many of the city’s museums. The most popular attraction here is the London Eye. Built by British Airways in 1999, it’s the world’s highest observational wheel. The large, closed capsules provide sightseers with wonderful views of the city and some great photo opps for Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament just across the river.

 

The Residential Neighborhoods to the West – although lacking major tourist sites – are composed of many shopping streets and enticing restaurants. The neighborhoods of Mayfair, South Kensington, Notting Hill, Chelsea, and Belgravia are home to some of the city’s most wealthy citizens.

 

There is so much to see in London, a lot will depend on the time available to explore. I would definitely try to check out the sites I’ve previously mentioned. They are the most popular and what people think of when the topic of London arises. Of the many museums, the best one to see is the British Museum. As the oldest public museum in the world, it’s made up of 94 galleries which cover 2.5 miles of floor space  Another site worth checking out is Hyde Park. At more than 600 acres, it’s the largest in the city and was once the hunting grounds for Henry VIII. At the center is a huge, man-made lake and in the Northeast corner of the park, you’ll find Speaker’s Corner. It is here in the early afternoon on Sundays where you can watch the different religions that make up London verbally battle each other in the hopes of convincing the other side that their views are correct.

 

One of the best ways to see a lot in a short amount of time is to take a city tour. With so many available to the public, you are bound to find one that will fit into your schedule. However, if you want to sight see on your own, there is no better way than taking advantage of the Underground subway. “The Tube” as it’s called in London is rather expensive when compared to other large city subway systems but does provides easy access to all parts of the city.

 

London is a definitely worth a visit. It wealth of history and entertainment will keep you busy for days. As an American, it’s also nice to be able to see some of Europe without the language barrier. Whether you are there for a week or just a day, it’s a city with much to offer and has always been one of my favorite places to stroll and explore on foot.

 

 

 

——————–London Travel Guide——————–

 

When to Go

London is very popular year-round. Your best chance for good weather ,however, is the summer months of July and August. But as you may have guessed, it’s also when you’ll encounter the biggest crowds.

 

What to See
– Big Ben and Parliament
– Westminster Abbey
– Buckingham Palace
– Tower Bridge
– London Eye
– Tower of London
– St Paul’s Cathedral
– Hyde Park
– Piccadilly Circus
– Trafalgar Square

 

What to Eat
There are many types of cuisine found in London. You’ll find ethnic restaurants located throughout the city. However, dining in London can be very expensive so check out the menu beforehand. If you’re on a budget, you can find some tasty “Pub Grub”. Many pubs serve the traditional classics such as Fish-and-Chips, Shepherd’s Pie, or Bangers and Mash (sausages and mashed potatoes) at a very good price.

 

What to Drink
There are many different types of delicious tea. Although the British aren’t known for their beer, you can still find some good ones. Try a Newcastle or Bass Pale Ale.

 

What to Buy
Britain is famous for its country clothing such as wool, cotton, and tweed. Other goods include antiques, soaps, porcelain, and teas. To add to your London experience, be sure to check out the seven floored Harrods. With a million square feet of retail space, it’s London’s most famous department store.

 

Language
English

 

Currency
Pound Sterling

 

Tipping
Many restaurants will add a service charge to the bill, but if not a 10%-15% tip is expected.

 

 

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