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London

London

London is the capital of England, and is a rich and cultural city. Its historical heritage is omnipresent: museums and very famous buildings are everywhere. The Thames is home to many restaurants, bars, and museums, as well as the London Eye, which is a kind of giant Ferris wheel so you can enjoy a panoramic view over the entire city. an unrivalled nightlife. For those up for something more thrilling than dinner and the theatre, London has a vast number of bars and nightclubs catering to all tastes.

Guestlist : Our London partner will advise you on the best parties around and will help you access more than 20 clubs for free.


Information & Facts

Climate

The climate of London is temperate, with modest daily high temperatures during summer (apart from the odd heat wave) and winter lows that seldom fall below freezing. Rainfall is fairly regular, but most often in the form of drizzle, occurring throughout the year. Snow occurs sometimes in winter but rarely settles more than a few millimetres deep.

Eating Out

A melting pot of cultures, eating out in London is an international affair. Renowned for its curries, there are hundreds of Indian restaurants to choose from, from upmarket Mayfair to the trendy Brick Lane. Head to Chinatown in Soho for Chinese, or Brixton for African or Caribbean.

A city synonymous with celebrity big name chefs like Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay, visitors to the city can also sample some of the country's finest cuisine, but at a price. For a special gourmet evening out head to Mayfair, Covent Garden, Soho or Chelsea, but expect to pay. For the ultimate English experience, traditional fish and chips are the order of the day. Get it wrapped up for take away and head to the nearest park for a greasy snack. If the weather is doing its usual thing then head to a cosy gastropub instead and sample some heart-warming English fare like the world-famous fish and chips.

Eating out in London is expensive but a lunchtime sandwich and soft drink shouldn't cost more than £5 and an evening meal at a standard restaurant, excluding drinks, can be had for £10.

For a comprehensive list of London restaurants check out www.london-eating.co.uk

Getting around

London's legendary Tube network remains the quickest and easiest way to get around the city, though it is best avoided during rush hour. The famous red buses are a more pleasant, if slower, way to get around. One-, three-, and seven-day Travelcards are good options for tourists; they can be used on buses and the underground and can be bought at any newsagent. Oyster cards, a reusable, discounted, pay-as-you-go option, are now available to overseas visitors, but they must be purchased beforehand online or from overseas travel agents. The ubiquitous black cabs are excellent but very expensive; minicabs are cheaper but must be ordered in advance. Illegal minicabs tout for business around London's theatres and nightspots; they are often the only option late at night but should not be taken by single women or those who don't know the way home. London's main attractions are fairly close to one another; many are situated along the River Thames, and if the weather is nice, walking or taking a riverboat are good options. Driving is not a good option in central London, as parking is difficult to find and very expensive, and those who park illegally are faced with steep fines at best. A 'congestion charge' is also payable by those driving into central London from Monday to Friday between 7am and 6.30pm. However, driving is the only option for those wanting to explore the countryside. Car rental companies require the driver to be over 25, have a full driving license, and hold a credit card. For more information, visit www.tfl.gov.uk

Kids attractions

London is a great city to explore with children. On a clear day, take the kids for a ride on one of the hop-on hop-off topless buses; the constantly changing scenery is exciting and it'll save a lot of energy trying to walk the streets with small children in tow. The bus tickets also allow a Thames River boat ride past such sights as Westminster, Big Ben, the London Eye and Tower Bridge. Kids will be delighted at the amount there is to spot along the way. While obvious holiday attractions for kids in London include the London Eye, Big Ben and the delightfully tacky and gruesome London Dungeon, there are also an assortment of parks, museums and shows to keep children happy. Whether children are interested in nature and science or arts and crafts, London is a child's paradise. Madame Tussaud's is fun and children will love discovering the famous wax sculptures. Don't miss taking the kids to the world-renowned Hamley's Toy Shop for a shopping experience to remember. London may be synonymous with cold, rainy weather but is still a year-round holiday destination. It is at its best during spring (April to June), when the days are warm, and the flowers are blooming.

Language

English is the official language, though visitors will be astonished by the variety of regional accents.

Money

The currency is the pound (GBP), which is divided into 100 pence. ATMs are available in all towns and Visa, MasterCard and American Express are widely accepted; visitors with other cards should check with their credit card companies in advance. Foreign currency can be exchanged at bureaux de change and large hotels, however better exchange rates are likely to be found at banks. Travellers cheques are accepted in all areas frequented by tourists; they are best taken in Pounds Sterling to avoid additional charges.

Night life

The nightlife in London is second to none with something for everyone and for just about every kind of occasion, from the pulsating dance floors of some of the world's most famous clubs to the more chilled out and intimate music lounges and bars.

Hardcore party animals wanting to strut their stuff will love the clubbing scene, complete with well known local and international DJs, while the countless bars and cosy independent theatres featuring local and international live music acts that will blow your mind. Live music in London is the best in the world, and on any given night there will be an international or local band playing in more than one of the venues around this pulsating metropolis.

The West End in particular is home to many bars, clubs and restaurants, and Soho is one of the trendiest and coolest places to drink. This is also where most of London's gay bars and clubs can be found. The perpetually cool Notting Hill and Portobello Road areas still draw large crowds and local areas, such as Camden and Angel up north and Clapham and Brixton down south, boast some fantastic pubs and bars, all with their own unique flavour.

Those in the mood for a quiet drink and some conversation should head down to one of the many tradition English pubs scattered around this cosmopolitan city, where they can enjoy some of the finest ales, stouts, ciders, and malt whiskies in the world. Although, many of London's bars these days have clubs and dance floors inside them, transforming them into miniature nightclubs and ushering in a new era of the phrase 'heading down to the pub'.

The West End is also known as 'Theatreland' and those in the mood for a Broadway-style theatre shows should head down to the Lyceum Theatre or the Queen's Theatre to catch a show or musical. And while you're in the area, culture lovers can enjoy an evening at Covent Garden watching the Royal Opera or the Royal Ballet, while lovers of classical music can head to the Albert Hall.

There is also plenty of fringe theatre outside of the West End with young professionals and amateurs performing anything from classic plays to cabaret. Common fringe venues include fully kitted cosy theatres to cramped rooms above some of the city's local pubs. Other non-commercial theatres include the world-renowned National Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Globe Theatre and the Old Vic.

Shopping

London is not just a European shopping destination, but a global one. The city has fantastic fashion stores, with famous brands lurking around every corner. Visit the renowned Oxford and Regent streets for big brands like Gap, Zara, Topshop, H&M and United Colours of Benetton. Don't be put off by their loud exteriors; some shops are actually quite affordable. For music lovers head to Virgin or HMV where you might even spot a famous musician as publicity performances are often held at these stores.

Renowned for its markets, Camden in North London has become one of the fourth most visited sights in London. A haven for punks, Goths and other alternative sub cultures the myriad of stalls and shops sell outrageous retro outfits, colourful accessories and modern party outfits that really have to be seen to be believed.

For an enjoyable weekend outing, Portobello Market is a gem (look out for the Farmers Market in the vicinity). Made famous by the romantic Hollywood film Notting Hill, there are many attractive coffee shops, independent retailers and cheap stalls selling clothing, jewellery and music to explore.

If you are a foodie then head to the Borough Market adjacent to London Bridge. Dedicated to gastronomy, visitors can sample homemade pâté, buy fresh cherries, olive oil, sweet cakes and the likes. General groceries can be bought at one of the major English supermarket chains such as Tesco, Marks and Spencer, Waitrose and Sainsbury's.

Sightseeing

With iconic attractions such as the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and Tower Bridge, visitors to this eclectic city will be kept busy with the multitude of sights to explore. Visit the stoic lions on Trafalgar Square, be bowled over by the grand interior of St Paul's Cathedral, or take a stroll through St James Park and watch the famous changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, and you still haven't scratched the surface of London's attractions.

Venturing more into the heart of the West End, follow the crowds to the bright montage of lights and billboards at Piccadilly Circus and from there take in Chinatown, Soho and Covent Garden. For those with an appreciation for history and the natural world, the superb British Museum and Natural History Museum in South Kensington are a must on any London vacation. The south bank of the Thames draws visitors with the London Eye, the London Aquarium and the über-cool Tate Modern.

An easy and pleasurable way to see the major sights is on one of the London's red buses or, weather permitting, on foot. Many visitors use the underground to travel the short distances from sight to sight, missing the opportunity to gain a better picture of this vibrant city. A boat tour down the river Thames is also a great way to view some major sights and to learn more about the central role this river has played in London life, or just relax while you ponder what next to see and do in London.

Time

Local time in the United Kingdom is GMT (GMT +1 from last Sunday in March to Saturday before last Sunday in October).

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