Your ultimate guide to

London

From the shadowy pubs where Dickens and Shakespeare drank to some of the most avant-garde structures on the planet, London’s appeal is as broad as the time frames its architecture spans. In fact, there are as many attractions in London as there are colourful characters in its eclectic streets.

 

Sure you might still be able to see the wall the Romans built around the city and stroll among the medieval cloisters of Westminster Abbey, but you can also rub shoulders with the supermodels of tomorrow at the best clubs in London and discover a thriving creative scene in gritty areas such as Peckham.

 

So where to start when planning your British adventure?

 

Here are our picks of the best things to do in London.

Best Time to Visit London

If you’re looking for mild temperatures, June to August are the best months for your trip and the calendar is packed with iconic sports events such as Wimbledon, Henley and Ascot. However, sunshine is never guaranteed and this is when the local schools are on their holidays, meaning top London attractions are at their busiest.

The shoulder season months of April, May, September and October often have low rainfall and mild temperatures. The parks look particularly pretty at these times of year.

There are plenty of things to do in London in winter and hotels often drop their prices in January and February, so this is when you’re most likely to snag a bargain. However, the build up to Christmas is always magical, when thousands of lights twinkle above Oxford Street and pubs are filled with the sound of impromptu carol singing.

How to Visit London

For the first time it is possible to fly directly to London thanks to Qantas’ new flight from Perth. You can fly to London Heathrow and London Gatwick from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide with a single stop.

Once you’re in the city, the best way to explore is by tube and paying by Oyster card is much cheaper and more efficient than buying individual tickets. For more practical tips on navigating London, check out our handy travel advice page.

Best things to see in London

A casual stroll through London can feel like an immersive history lesson.

Does watching the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace appeal, or seeing a play in Shakespeare’s globe theatre? Becoming acquainted with the city’s gruesome past at the London Dungeon is one of the top London attractions for families, while a visit to the V&A museum will reveal hordes of treasure, including a collection of Alexander McQueen’s rarest designs.
Whatever lights your fire, you won’t be short of memorable things to see in London. And the best part? Many of London’s top attractions are free.

London’s best tourist attractions

Although it’s now dwarfed by Tower Bridge and the shiny skyscrapers of The City, the Tower of London still looms large among London’s top tourist attractions. Look out for the crown jewels, mysterious ravens and Beefeater guards in their bear-skin hats. Other unmissable sights include the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. Find a more detailed list of London’s must visit historic buildings here. 

Central London is jam packed with free cultural attractions. Check out the Tate Modern and the Saatchi Gallery for contemporary art, the Natural History Museum for dinosaur fossils and Sir John Soane’s Museum to get a sense of London life in the 19th century.

Tours & Packages London

With so many iconic London attractions to choose from, it can be tricky to know what to prioritise. Fortunately there are any number of tours on offer, from food trails to ghost tours. Find our round-up of the best tours in London here. 

A free walking tour is a fantastic way of getting under the city’s skin without breaking the bank. Try a spine-tingling night tour around Jack the Ripper’s old haunts, raise a glass to The Beatles’ Soho and head underground to explore the ancient sewer network, one of the best secret attractions in London. Undiscovered London has a great selection.
Don’t fancy all that walking? A double decker bus tour of all London’s most famous landmarks is an absolute must for first timers. Opt for The Classic Tour to ride in style in an original 1960s double-decker bus.

If time is on your side, escape the Big Smoke with a day tour from London. The beautiful university cities of Oxford and Cambridge, majestic Windsor Castle and idyllic villages of The Cotswolds are all within easy striking distance.

And of course, anyone with an interest in history can’t miss out on a visit to the sacred pagan sight of Stonehenge. The world’s most famous prehistoric monument has mystified scholars for generations…

Top Things to do in London

One of the world’s most visited cities, London has something to appeal to everyone, no matter how diverse your interests.

Got a penchant for punk? Explore Camden Market, where mohawks are as common as corgis in Buckingham Palace. Interested in literature? Stroll around Gordon Square, once home to the rakish Bloomsbury Set.

If the weather is good, one of the best things to do in London is explore its many green spaces. Stroll through Richmond Park spotting the deer or look for the Peter Pan statue, which is tucked away in a romantic grove in Kensington Gardens. Find a full list of London’s best parks, gardens and heaths here.

Shopping hot spots in London

From Europe’s biggest designers to one off boutiques and epic flea markets, London has a shop to suit every budget.

Perhaps the most famous shop is Harrods, an Aladdin’s cave of luxury goods, although Liberty of London is generally considered more chic by locals as they source one off products from the Orient and support young British designers.

Discover more of London’s best shopping haunts with our handy guide.

Where to stay in London

There are as many places to stay in London as there were sequins on Kate Middleton’s wedding dress (and believe us, that’s a lot!)

Does an atmospheric townhouse with a wood burning fire take your fancy, or a cutting edge design hotel? How about a palatial five-star residence overlooking a royal park? Or a historic pub with a handful of cozy bedrooms?

Wherever you go, you’re guaranteed a warm British welcome. And a full English every morning, naturally.

Best Hotels in London

From princely to party-loving and everything in between, England’s grand old capital has a hotel to suit every personality. But which are the best places to stay in London?
With their decadent interiors and lavish service, The Savoy and The Wellesley ooze luxury, while you can’t beat the views from the Shangri La at The Shard, which boasts the highest infinity pool in Europe.

For period charm and funky detailing, opt for one of the best boutique hotels in London. The Portobello Hotel has four poster beds and serious rock’n’roll credentials (supermodel Kate Moss and actor Johnny Depp famously bathed in champagne in room No 16), while The Zetter Townhouse combines fashionably eccentric furniture with an excellent location.

Best areas to stay in London

You’ve survived the flight and navigated the journey into the city. Where should you put down roots?

The best area to stay in London depends on what sort of holiday you’re after. Looking for luxury? Stick to Chelsea, Knightsbridge and Mayfair. After a taste of authentic London with an arty vibe? Try Camberwell, Hoxton and Clerkenwell. And of course, Shoreditch and Soho boast many of the best bars in London.

Take the overground a few stops out of the hectic centre and you’ll begin to discover London’s villages. These residential pockets of calm typically boast tapestries of green spaces, pretty townhouses and independent shops, making them an ideal place to stay for those who prefer to take life a little slower. A few of our favourite are star-studded Primrose Hill, Hampstead and Dulwich.

Click here for a full guide of the best areas to stay in London by neighbourhood.

Best hostels in London

Meet like-minded travellers and keep your holiday spending at a minimum by checking into one of the best hostels in London.

Forget creaky bunks and limited facilities. The SoHostel in Soho has serious cool credentials and even offers a pamper room, complete with hairdryers and Hollywood mirrors. For easy access to Camden’s live music events, a stay at the Generator Hostel is a must.

Top Restaurants and Cafes in London

The pace of life in London is frenetic and new restaurants pop up everyday. Get planning your trip with our list of the London restaurants you need to be eating at right now.

With more than 300 languages spoken in the city, it’s no surprise that London’s restaurant scene has a distinctly international flavour, but you’ll find plenty of classic British favourites too…
Read on for our tastiest recommendations.

Best pubs in London

Interestingly, some of the best restaurants in London are actually in pubs. Menus are normally locally sourced and focused on British favourites such as fish and chips, bangers and mash and fish pie.

The Eagle in Farringdon pioneered the gastropub movement and its menu changes daily, while The Duke of Cambridge only uses organic ingredients.

Of course, there are plenty of pubs that are all about the booze and the atmosphere. Pull up a stool in the cellar of Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese on Fleet Street and you’ll feel as if you’ve travelled back to the 16th century. With its Victorian facade and literary connections, The Dog and Duck in Soho has to be one of the best pubs in London.

Best High Tea in London

The fact that Londoners like tea is an understatement… The average local knocks it back like water. But High Tea, complete with scones, champagne and dainty finger sandwiches is a little more special.

For a first timer, taking tea in The Ritz’s glorious pink-and-gold salon is a must, while Claridge’s version is deservedly world famous. The Rosewood takes a more contemporary approach by drawing inspiration from some of the biggest names in modern art. Pop art-inspired pastry anyone?

In terms of newer offerings, Instagram-famous Sketch in Oxford Circus has got to be a hot contender for the best High Tea in all of London – perhaps even the UK! Besides having incredible finger sandwiches, sweet treats, an infinite tea menu, Victoria sponge cake and champagne on arrival – the room is also quite literally completely pink. The chairs, the decor – it’s a little like falling down Alice’s rabbit hole. And the caviar with soft-boiled ‘egg’? Too amazing to even comprehend. This place is a must for a first time or seasoned London traveller.

Best Bars in London

If there’s one thing Londoners love it’s a tipple. From craft cocktails to micro-breweries, you’re bound to find something to get excited about at the best bars in London.
Tucked above a restaurant in Soho, The Blind Pig specialises in sophisticated serves inspired by children’s literature. Oriole boasts glamorous interiors and sumptuous drinks to match, while Mr. Fogg’s Residence oozes quirky charm.