London, the capital city of the United Kingdom is the most populous city in Europe. It is a city located at the center of the world and a world in one city as you see people from different parts of the world in London. There is a diverse culture and about 230 languages are spoken in London. Modern London stands on river Thames, which is the only river that crosses the city from the south-west to the east.
Getting to London
London is well-connected with five major airports namely: London City, London Gatwick, London Heathrow, London Luton and London Stansted, and high-speed Eurostar rail link. More than 50 countries are within a three-hour flight distance from London. After arriving to any of these airports, it’s worth getting a Visitor Oyster Card. According to your days of stay in London, top-up the Oyster card with £20 (for 1-2 days), £30 (3-4 days) or £50 (a week). And if you finish your balance in your Oyster then you can top up at any tube station or shops across London. If you do not get your Visitor Oyster Card, then you can buy an Oyster card.
From the airport, you have lots of option to travel to your lodge. You can choose among Coach, Train, Taxi/Uber, Tube, Car Hire, etc. The train services are available for London Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports. You can either do the ticket online in advance or use you pay-as-you-go with your Oyster card. You can also take Tube from London Heathrow or Docklands Light Railway (DLR) from London City airport.
If you plan to visit London by the ferry then you can travel by England’s East, South and South East coasts. London is located just a few hours’ drive from these coasts and is easily reached by road from the major ports. And also, there is train services into London’s Victoria station from Dover and Newhaven while from Harwich you can get to Liverpool Street Station. Other than ferry you can even take Eurostar to travel through the Channel Tunnel linking continental Europe and Central London.
Places to See Around in London
Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, National Gallery
Buckingham Palace is the iconic London residence of Her Majesty the Queen. From Victoria train station or Charring Cross station, it will take you just 10 minutes’ walk to reach the Palace. If you come via Charring Cross station, then it will be best for you to see other attractions on the way to the palace as well. Just exiting the station, you will be able to see the Trafalgar Square which is a symbol of the ‘Battle of Trafalgar’ where British became victorious over France and Spain. The square has been used for community gatherings and political demonstrations, anti-war protests and campaign against climate change. The other interest of visit in that area would be the ‘National Gallery’. The Gallery houses a collection of over 2300 paintings dating from mid-thirteenth century to 1900. The entry to the Gallery is free of charge so you can drop in to see the historical paintings.
House Guards Parade
Then moving from the Gallery, we will proceed to see the ‘House Guards Parade’. This is the site of the annual ceremonies of Trooping the Colour which commemorates the monarch’s official birthday and happens annually on a Saturday in June where the Queen travels down ‘The Mall’ from Buckingham Palace in a royal procession with an escort of Household Cavalry (troops mounted on horse or horse guards). After this another 10-minute walk, will reach us the Buckingham Palace. You can explore the Palace with tickets during its summer opening period or just make a tour outside of the palace. You can also drop in ‘The Queen’s Gallery Shop’ if you want to buy gift items inspired by the royal palaces and the works of art in Royal Collection. You can also make a walk to the park nearby or you can then proceed to other London attraction.
Big Ben and London Eye
From the palace, the next sight would be the ‘House of the Parliament’ or the ‘Big Ben’. In another 10-minute you will be able to see the iconic ‘Big Ben’. Then crossing the Westminster bridge, you will come across the London Eye. This is a giant Ferris wheel on the South Bank of the River Thames in London and is Europe’s tallest Ferris wheel. It provides the highest public viewing point just second to ‘The Shard’. It cost around £25-30 to see London from the giant Ferris wheel in two 30-minute rotations and it would be worth the experience to get in to the wheel.
Then a few minute walk from the London Eye, board a bus to the next attraction, ‘The Tower Bridge’. This bridge has become the iconic symbol of London and if you leave London without seeing this attraction then you will miss one of the great experience. Here you can step inside the most famous bridge in the world and explore its iconic structure, spectacular views and glass floor, modern exhibitions and magnificent Victorian Engine rooms. The price to for the ticket to see all these is just £9 for adult and £4 for children. There are even special family tickets which would be much cheaper to purchase.
You can then walk towards the Tower of London, which is officially Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and a castle located on the north bank of the River Thames. The Tower of London has played a prominent role in the English history. It was besieged several times, and controlling it has been important to controlling the country. If you want to access to the Tower and the Crown Jewels display, exhibitions including Coins and Kings and Line of Kings then the tickets cost about £25 for adult and £12 for children.
View from ‘The Shard’
You can then visit the Shard, London’s highest viewing platform and the only place to take in over 1000 years of the capital’s history at once. You can see all of London from the incredible height, even higher than the London Eye. If you book the ticket in advance it would cost £5 cheaper than buying the ticket on the day at £30.95.
King’s Cross Station
If you are a Harry Potter fan, then it’s not worth to miss the visit to the famous King’s Cross station which is just few stations away from London Bridge tube station. You can take the tube from London Bridge and stop and King’s Cross for the view of the famous platform where Harry and his Hogwarts’s friends used to board the train from.
Some General Information
London is an expensive city and if you are on an economic budget plan than avoid using Black Cabs and take Uber instead. Although if you’re a good navigator you can find your own way and can visit all these places in a single day. If not, you can relax your travel and visit in time at your pace. It would be better if you could download an app ‘City Mapper’ in your mobile. You can navigate your ways in London very easily if you have this app. And most importantly carry a battery back-up for your mobile phone and a camera to capture the beautiful experience in London.