The first time I visited London was also my first trip ever to Europe 7 years ago. At that time, I treated it as my first and last time in this city. I remember trying to do all the touristy things and soaking everything in thinking I was never going to return again. Have you ever done the same thing? It’s kind of funny to think back and see myself ticking off the boxes of touristy things to see and do. Now, I appreciate more than that. The food, culture, art, people… In this London City Guide, I have put together tips of things to avoid, where to stay, go and what to eat all in one place. Additionally, I have also included a map that marks out all the places I have mentioned in this London City Guide, make sure to scroll till the end and pin any images on here to save for later!
TIPS + THINGS TO AVOID
Although the United Kingdom is in Europe, the local currency is in pounds. You cannot pay in Euros, however cash and cards are widely accepted in convenient stores and restaurants.
2. London Airports
It is helpful to know that there are five airports in London: London City, London Gatwick, London Heathrow, London Luton and London Stansted. If you ever book a connecting flight between any of these airports, make sure to allow sufficient time for plane delays and transfer times. Heathrow and London City are the closest ones to central London.
3. Airport Security
From my personal experience, going through security check in London can be very strict. They require you to take out all liquids in your carry-on (within 100ml) and place them in one plastic bag they provide before scanning. Although this is sufficient for most people, I had a bit of a struggle fitting all my skincare and makeup products in a plastic bag. Make sure to pack small doses of liquids if you decide to place them in your carry-on, even if that means re-filling your favourite products into a smaller bottle.
4. Getting Around
Public transportation in London is very convenient and accessible within the city. For convenience, download the CityMapper App. This is like google maps but better- it combines all of the city’s transportation allowing you to compare prices and travel duration in real time.
5. Rush Hour
Rush hour in central London can be insane, if you happen to travel to the airport with the tube during this time, make sure to give yourself more time than expected. The entrances into the tube can be temporarily blocked to avoid underground congestion.
6. Oyster Card
The easiest way to get around the city is with the Visitor Oyster card and pay with the top-up system as you explore the city. This option is cheaper than getting a day TravelCard as there is a price cap on the Visitor Oyster card. A single journey around central London on the Tube costs £2.40. Here is the breakdown on the maximum cost for unlimited journeys in London by zones:
- Zones 1 to 6 – £12.50
- Zones 1 to 4 – £9.80
- Zones 1 to 6 – £12.50
WHERE TO STAY
$- HK$ 400-1000 $$- HK$1000-2000 $$$- HK$2000 and above
The Mandrake $$$
This eclectic stylish hotel is located in the heart of London. One of the main features is its stunning outdoor garden that immediately transports you to a tropical paradise. It’s hard to imagine that something so spectacular exists in the centre of the bustling city! Even if you don’t stay here, it’s worth a visit during cocktail hours on the terrace or bar full of the hotel owner’s display of travel trinkets and collection.
Just down the road from The Mandrake Hotel is The London Edition, this is the first hotel establishment from The Edition Hotel brand that now has properties all around the globe. I personally love the hospitality it has to offer and the attention to detail, the staff service really went above and beyond my expectations.
For those traveling in groups, look no further! This two double bedroom, open plan living area, large kitchen and beautiful conservatory comfortably fits 5 people. This is the perfect home away from home with cafes and buses that can be easily reached to get into the city centre.
Centrally located full of cafes, bars, famous nightclubs, music venues and the world famous Camden Market along with beautiful parks and Primrose Hill. This affordable yet stylish Airbnb flat is richly decorated with works from the Airbnb host who is a Textile Artist.
For those traveling on a wallet friendly budget but want to be in the centre of it all, this is the perfect place to stay! Located right next to the British Museum, this hostel has a very homey vibe with breakfast for £1 (and sometimes dinner) served to all guests. It’s also a wonderful way to make some friends for the solo travellers out there!
WHERE TO EAT
$- HK$ 400-1000 $$- HK$1000-2000 $$$- HK$2000 and above
It’s not a visit to London without some afternoon tea, and what better way to do this than with a fantastic view of the city from 35 floors above. Although the price of £60 per person may be a little steep for some, the three tiers of treats are refillable with different teas to try from. The service and staff were impeccable, making you feel very comfortable and well taken care of.
Experience the taste of Italy through the newly launched menu at the lounge or out on the terrace on a lovely summer’s day. My personal favourite was the Fregola with baby octopus in Nduja sauce and Scottish lobster salad with beet and blackberries. Also, don’t forget the dessert at the end where they bring a dessert sample for you to look at to ease your indecisive mind like myself!
For those seeking authentic Asian cuisine with a twist, Wun’s Tearoom & Bar is the perfect place to indulge in all it’s Asian goodness. The basement floor is set up like a speakeasy lounge diner and bar with the newly renovated old Hong Kong café style on the ground floor. The Eggplant clay pot rice, lacey dumpling and the Kombucha were among my favourites!
With multiple branches around Europe, it’s no surprise there are two opened in London. This Brazilian Japanese inspired restaurant brought back a lot of memories from my trip in Brazil that first sparked the travel bug in me! Highly recommend trying their pastel de queijo and maki sushi dishes!
We stumbled upon this place in search for dinner the night we arrived in London. Wahaca has great Mexican food with Latino music to groove to. I got their Wagyu beef tortilla and it was delish! Don’t forget to visit their bathroom downstairs which was nothing like I’ve seen before!
WHAT TO DO
Visit Victoria & Albert Museum
One of the best things I love about London is the fact that most museums have FREE entry. The V&A is no exception, with an abundance of art work, cultural and historical artefacts, it is the world’s largest museum of applied and decorative arts and design.
Sat- Thursday 10am-5:45pm
Visit The National Gallery
Located in Trafalgar Square, this art museum consists of over 2,300 paintings dating from the mid-13th century to 1900. If you are an art lover or interested in seeing paintings from different artists, this is a great place to spend a rainy afternoon indoors.
Sat- Thursday 10am-6pm
Watch a musical
My personal favourites are “Wicked” and “Aladdin”. There are so many great musicals to watch in London, you are literally spoilt for choices! You can purchase tickets in advance online, try to get deals by entering the lottery on the musical’s respective pages or queue up before the ticket office opens to get same-day ticket for as little as £5 (For The Matilda Musical).
Box offices opening hours for different musicals vary, but usually range from 10am-10:30am. Check online to make sure before you queue up, its advised to be there at least 1 hour before it opens as there are limited tickets at discounted prices.
Visit Hyde Park
For a more relaxing day, head to one of the largest parks in central London. This is where you can do as little or as much as you like. Recreational activities such as swimming, cricket, football, boating, tennis and even horseback riding are available in the park (with a fee). You may also be able to spot royal guards marching around during your visit. Make sure to check out the park’s website for any new events of happens during your stay in London.
Opening Hours: Everyday 5am-12am (Midnight)
Visit Notting Hill
Lined with vibrant colourful houses, this trendy neighbourhood is a go-to Instagram spot for those visiting London. What’s more is you can also partake in the annual Notting Hill Carnival filled with parades along Europe’s biggest street festival during august.
Visit Covent Garden Market
During different days of the week, this elegant piazza has vendors setting up stores selling handmade items in fashion, lifestyle and craft. There are also fresh produce and food you can buy along the way if you’re feeling peckish.
Shop at Seven Dials
This seven street intersection is an amazing place to shop with all streets packed with boutique stores in fashion, beauty, crafts, lifestyle and more. There is also a diverse selection of cuisines to choose from the many restaurants and cafes that line up street.
All Places Mentioned in London City Marked Here:
The things to do and see in London are endless! I would recommend spending at least a week to make it a leisure trip in the city. If you have more time, you can also do day trips out of the city to Brighton, Bath or Oxford.
If you enjoyed reading this, you may also like my other travel guides here!