London Travel Guide
A city of Roman origins, London is one of the world’s top travel destinations and the epitome of British soul with its famous black cabs, red double-decker buses and the iconic buildings such as the Westminster, the Tower Bridge and, more recently, the London Eye, whose silhouette reflects itself in the murky waters of the Thames.
When to visit London
London can be discovered at any time of the year, but the best periods are from April to May and from September to October, when the weather is not too changeable and the queues for the museums are shorter. Summer is the peak season: the days are long, the festivals abound, but the city is crammed by visitors. In spring and autumn, the weather is cooler but the city is beautiful. Winter is cold but quiet, but you will certainly enjoy the white layer of snow.
Places to see and things to do in London
The official residence of the British monarchy and the most famous royal residence, the Buckingham Palace was built in 1703 for John Sheffield, Duke of Buckingham. A part of the palace is open to the public, and can be visited daily from August to September. You will discover within its luxurious décor, the lounges where the queen receives diplomats, foreign dignitaries and other personalities. The building contains a wonderful collection of paintings and art objects. The rooms are filled with 18th century French furniture and portraits of the various kings and queens of England. When the Queen is in the palace, its presence is indicated by a flag. Do not miss the changing of the guard that takes place at 11.30 in the forecourt.
With its village atmosphere, Notting Hill is a very nice neighborhood. Walking through the charming streets in the direction of Kensington Gardens and Kensington Palace, the area, where Queen Victoria was born and grew up. These gardens opened to the public in 1842 stretch on 111 hectares, joining Hyde Park at the Serpentine Gallery – a former kiosk that houses temporary exhibitions.
If you want to see London and its monuments from the sky, hop in famous Ferris wheel built on the bank of the Thames – the London Eye. Avoid gray days, if possible!
Museums to visit in London
London is home to top notch museums, and to many of them the entrance is free of charge. Right in the center of London, you will find the National Gallery – a pictorial art museum dating from before 1900, housing one of the most important and noteworthy art collections in the world.
With 5 million visitors a year, the British Museum is one of London’s most popular attraction. You could spend your life wandering through the vast collection of ancient works without making it around. It gives a wonderful overview of the richness of ancient civilizations.
The Londoners’ favorite museum, Tate Modern has an exceptional location at the foot of the Thames. Located in the former Bankside Power Station, this gallery of art displays jauntily its modernity. The access to the permanent collection is free, but it is recommended to take the ramp leading to the Turbine Hall, where the remarkable exhibitions pushing the conceptual boundaries and will satisfy the most discerning art lovers.
Shopping in London
London is a great shopping destination, but not a cheap one. Harrods, Fortnum and Mason, Harvey Nichols (the temple of haute couture) deserve a look, be it just for sightseeing purposes. Do not miss Oxford Street and Regent Street, especially in December, when they are adorned with thousands of lights. On Sunday morning, have a stroll in one of London’s markets (Portobello Road Market and Spitalfields Market, in particular).