I travel continuously, and I see many cities, but there is nowhere like London.” Norman Foster Click To Tweet
A tendency has been emerging from the tourism market. Short Weekend London Breaks are taken by working couples into cities, in the British Isles, and weekend break destinations that are popular include London, the Lake District, Cardiff, Dublin and Edinburgh. So, if you are are looking for a Weekend UK Break then you should totally consider starting with London.
London is one of the most visited places in the world, attracting tourists for its wonderful heritage, beautiful architecture and the charm of the royalty. I would even add the weather, as I believe that the city shows a variety of beauty according to the forecast. Nevertheless, rain and the gloomy sky is most associated with the city so you must see London to experience it.
On one hand, if you are visiting during gorgeous sunny days your encounter with the English culture might be one similar to other European cities as the bright skies tend to bring out the smile in all of us.
On the other hand, if visiting on a gloomy rainy day is what makes it a unique experience as I find that the rain brings out the beauty of the city architecture.
At the end of the day is about luck and your preference. But remember, no matter the weather, London is one of the best cities to visit, at least once in your lifetime. Choose a Weekend London Break to unwind and have an unforgettable experience.A bad day in London is still better than a good day anywhere else.” Unknown Click To Tweet
When and Why Visit London?
Although you may visit London all year round due to its mild weather, the optimum time is during summer, because the days are longer and the sky tends to be clearer for you to enjoy the wonderful vistas that the city has to offer, especially a great panorama from the London Eye.
London is a multicultural place with wonderful people of diverse ethnicity, a place with a wide variety of landmarks as a result of its long history that is a thousand years old. Also, some might say that London is the best city on the planet for shopping and the tourist websites highlight the experience as amazing.
There are many beautiful gardens and museums that are free to enter and the Thames River it’s a beautiful landscape and in itself beautiful to walk along with it for miles, being the longest river in England, and the second-longest in the United Kingdom, after the River Severn.
There are so many Things To Do In London. As mentioned earlier there are a number of the nicest gardens and parks that you could visit e.g. Hyde Park, Battersea Park, Green Park, Greenwich Park, Hampstead Park, Holland Park and more. London’s concept is it made up as is well illustrated by the renowned North of London suburb of Hampstead Garden Suburbs.
Then you have many free museums to select from, and you must see, for example:
- Museum of London to get accustomed to the city’s evolution from the prehistoric time to the current days.
- British Museum exhibits the history of humankind, hosting a great collection of worldwide artefacts.
- Natural History Museum displays captivating display from the natural world.
- Science Museum where you can experience the wonders of science via interactive displays.
- Victoria and Albert Museum where you can admire an amazing collection of art and design via fashion, jewellery, photography, sculpture, etc.
- National Gallery hosts a large collection of fascinating paintings dating from the Middle Ages to the modern days. Or you can visit Tate Modern for a view of the modern and contemporary art, as well as taking advantage of the spectacular view of the River Thames from the gallery’s café.
- Madame Tussauds and Sherlock Holmes Museum. They charge a fee admission – check before visiting.
- Bank of England, the Guards, Fashion Textile, Museum of Garden History, Imperial War Museum, National Maritime Museum, Royal Air Force Museum, British Library and a lot of others.
Furthermore, the architecture and the city’s landscape is one of the most admired in the world, with the most iconic feature of London being the Big Ben’s Tower and the Westminster Building. So, you must visit these places in London, even if it’s for the only couple of minutes.
Few feet away there is the Westminster Abbey which is a standing witness of the great history of the English Heritage. The Abbey is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and there is an admission fee for the visit.
Over the river from the Big Ben, to the left is the London Eye, which on a clear day can offer you a great panoramic view of the entire city, being able to see as far as the Windsor Castle, which is around 25 miles (40 km) away.
You might wonder: how big is the London Eye? to be able to have such a great panoramic view of the city. Well, the wheel’s diameter is120 metres (394 ft) the whole structure is 135 metres (443 ft) tall. So, pretty big, making it one of the must-see things in London.
Also, Oxford Circus, Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square are ideal places to see and they draw millions of visitors every year. Piccadilly Circus is a rather an untidy place using a lot of traffic otherwise it is definitely that the central hub of London’s West End and an absolute popular meeting place. These places are great to be visited at dusk as the city lights will give an even more attractive look.
One more place where one must go to is the Palace of Westminster that is the crux of the English Government and is directly responsible for His Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
Many Diplomats Celebrities live in the St. John’s Wood area that is located at the top of the West End and is the most beautiful residential area north of Baker Street. Therefore, if the time permits are worth a stroll around the neighbourhood.
To have a very good view of the City Of London attempt a Duck Tour on the river and the road since you’ll be transported in an amphibious vehicle! And it’s easily the top way to travel by road and also to navigate along the river Thames as well.
London is also famous for its exceptional historic buildings like Whitehall, Admiralty Arch, Queen Victoria Memorial, Wellington Arch, Bunhill Fields, Convent Garden and also Duke of York’s Column and also much more.
For shopping try Carnaby Street, Charing Cross Road, Knightsbridge, Mayfair, Kensington and also Oxford Street.
Hopefully, now you have your answer as to Why Visit London and looking forward to your amazing city break.
There is no better way to view London than to walk the city streets, viewing landmarks, structure, landscape and the buildings. A much better way is one could overlook.
Here are a number of the popular London walks:
- Harry Potter London Tour. The Harry Potter series of books of the J K Rowling has captured the thinking of young and old around the world. Now the places can be viewed by visitors to London where the Harry Potter movies were created from Westminster Station into the Diagon Alley, Gringotts Bank, The Ministry of Magic and Platform 9 in King’s Cross Station. This tour is enjoyable as a self-guided walk covering all areas about London and is excellent for all the family.
- Charles Dickens Tour London is steeped in Charles Dickens and history writer has a part in history.
You can see houses and places belonging to the people who knew him. You will see the house of his friend John Forster and business adviser and the house where Ellen Ternan lived. It is considered that Ellen could have become the inspiration behind Estella in Great Expectations.
- Jack the Ripper Tour. The terror created in 1888 on the streets of London by Jack the Ripper. His murderous effort reigned from 31 August to 9 Nov, 12 weeks of horror. This walk covers the streets in which Jack once walked and in which the mutilated bodies of his victims were found. The Whitechapel Murders will never be forgotten.
- William Shakespeare Tour. Go back in time, into the Elizabethan era using the William Shakespeare tour which covers the banks of the River Thames into the original Globe Playhouse and the oldest Gothic church in London in which Shakespeare’s youngest brother is buried.
To find London’s hidden secrets using an individual or group of the superb London Walking Tours. You’ll see the city in a totally new light.
Self Guided Walking Tour Recommendation“When exploring London, you will come across lots of excitement by chance, so try to take everything in rather than just rushing around to all of the major tourist haunts.” Richard Branson Click To Tweet
Start at the Hide Park (if you prefer a longer walk) or Green Park (short walk) and head towards Buckingham Palace. Aim for the Changing guard’s event which happens every other day, starting with Monday, at 11 am. However, it is wise to check before as time might change.
The ceremony lasts 45 minutes and usually is crowded around the Palace so it makes it difficult to see unless you stay and wait few hours in front of the gates so you will be in the front line of the view. Personally, I prefer watching the Guards and Bands arriving as you can have a great view of them along The Mall from the Wellington Barracks (around 10.45am) to the Buckingham Palace (11 am).
Enjoy a lovely stroll through the St. James’s Park stopping for a snack and a coffee and pleasing your eyes with the variety of birds, swan and ducks around the pond. Go on to the footbridge at the half of the pond to get a beautiful shot of the Buckingham Palace in the distance behind the trees.
At the end of the park, you can see and explore Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms if you are interested in, or continue on the Great George St (which is a continuation of the Birdcage Walk) towards the Parliament Square, Westminster Abbey, Palace of Westminster and the Big Ben Tower. Around here is a perfect spot to immortalize the experience by catching a photo shot with the iconic red double-decker bus, the red telephone cabin and at least one of the buildings mentioned earlier.
Cross the bridge and again on the right-hand side, by the river is a perfect spot for photos with the Palace of Westminster building and the Big Ben as a whole.
On the left side of the bridge continue along the river and enjoy the promenade with its art and crafts, street food and street music and dance. Take a ride in the London eye (if the time permits as the waiting time is quite long) especially if it’s a clear day and enjoy the panoramic view of gorgeous London.
Once you have reached the Millennium Foot Bridge you can cross over the river to visit St Paul’s Cathedral, one of the most iconic buildings in the city.
Halfway on the bridge if you look towards your right you can have a clear shot of the Tower Bridge. Otherwise, you can continue along the river towards the Tower Bridge, cross it over to reach the Tower of London and have a quick look at it.
If you skip going to the Tower of London, once you have visited the cathedral you can take the Ludgate Hill street, continuing on the Fleet Street and then Strand seeking the Covent Garden, in the West End, which is an amazing place for luxury shopping and fine dining. From here you can aim towards the Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus which are both best to explore at dusk or at night for its amazing city lights.
West End is London’s main area for theatre and entertainment so aim to finish your days here relaxing and enjoying the culture of London.
Although the perfect way to explore the city is by foot, and while it can be manageable it is also very tiring, therefore you can always use the city transportation (which is amazing and very well organized) to cut corners if you are time constrain or feel like it is too much walking. For example, you can take the bus or the tube from St Paul’s Cathedral to the Covent Garden. If you are choosing the bus then you can still admire the buildings and the statues you have had seen if walking.
Some London Tips: It is a good idea to purchase a day travel card as it covers buses, trains and tubes within the city border and can facilitate coverage of a great area in a short time. For example, using public transport can help you dash through museums places in different areas of the city. Also, is it a good idea to consult London tours map online prior to exploring the city to give you an idea of the various activities and locations of the places you want to see. You may also download for free maps with central London or purchase them.
Travelling to London is relatively easy and you can choose from a number of options. You might choose to travel by train from anywhere, whether possible direct, or with some changes to one of the city’s train station, or you can opt from a variety of bus operators such as National Express or MegaBus.
If you rather use your personal car, take in consideration that there is a congestion charge to enter the Centre of London that must be paid upfront or you may look for parking spaces outside this congestion zone and use the public transport or go on foot to the desired places.
I tend to park at the Westfield Mall car park in the White City as has a reasonable daily fee and is very close to the tube station as well as next to the Notting Hill Gate from where is easy walking distance to the Hyde Park and further to the Buckingham Palace. The walking distance from the Westfield Car Park (White City) to the Palace is roughly 1 hour and 15 minutes.
London City Accommodations And Restaurants
London is among the most popular and visited destinations in Europe by tourists. Accommodations prices in a city such as London provide quality criteria like any other destinations for tourist around the world. It’s therefore very easy for travellers who have a little spending budget to find top quality inexpensive hotels and restaurants.
It is well known that tourists or travellers not only want to find affordable spending budget accommodation and inexpensive hotels but additionally are aiming for good value for their resources. So as to have money left visiting parks, visiting zoos, theatres and nightlife, the idea of a budget is to save on accommodation and hotel expenses.
When choosing hotels in London, the main element should be the location, depending on the reason you are there, such as business, pleasure or both. Many of the hotels in London are near the city centre but there are also other hotels in London border neighbourhoods.
They’re also close to public transportation choices like bus stations or the train stations. Visitors are guaranteed a warm welcome. These hotels have staff that boasts about London, can make recommendations and may give instructions and advice on transport.
Most of the accommodations are well-appointed, comfortable and attractive. Guests have a chance to use the leisure centre that has amenities such as a putting green, a solarium, dart boards and table.
Most of the hotels offer guest rooms, with a broad range of beds and room sizes. Guest rooms have a TV, phone, and a private bathroom and with a shower.
The hotels also have a wide range of conference rooms with internet and video conferencing capabilities. There is also a wide range of conference events like round table lunches, coffees or dinners.
The hotels are usually clustered around tourist attractions and other major events locations, such as stadiums. For instance, there are over 40 hotels around the Emirates stadium.
Many hotel resorts in London are in proximity of the most famous attractions for tourists such as: the Big Ben, which is one of London’s very recognized landmark, the HMS Belfast, which is a big ship used throughout world war II, House of Parliament situated at Westminster in the centre of London, Hyde Park and theatres, the British Museum that showcases drawings and paintings, the Science Museum, the Tower of London located along the River Thames, and the London Zoo, one of other attractions.
Popular restaurants around hotels in London are:
- Artisan Restaurant, offering European and Italian cuisines
- Indigo, specializing in Japanese and Asian cuisines
- Langtry Restaurant, providing a combination of seasonal ingredients and innovative cooking
- Pissarro’s that is situated along the River Thames and provides entertainment for both adults and kids.
Shopping in London
Regardless of the location, it is possible for people living already in London to take weekend breaks within the city because weekend deals are now offered by London hotels. Should you opt to have a weekend break in London, do not be overwhelmed by the range of alternatives that are available to you.
You may focus on one action. Shopping, for instance, is a favourite pastime for visitors, particularly at the run-up into Christmas; London is home into tens of thousands of stores distinctive into the city, in addition to big flagship shops of retail chains offering much greater than in their regional outlets. So, shopping is a must-do thing in London.
Predictably visitors in London will visit Oxford Street where the major high street retailers of the UK have their flagship stores; Oxford Street is home to a number of retailers and department stores.
Shopping malls for people on weekend breaks in London comprise Knightsbridge, which is home to the renowned Harrods, and Bond Street is seen as the style centre of the UK. Nevertheless, if you are searching to shopping with a difference, visit Camden Town. Readily available on the Northern Line of the London Underground, Camden Town is home into a range of markets that focus on food, clothing and books, among other retail items.
Visit The Lock Market each Saturday and Sunday for a range of shops selling music and clothing.
The Stables Market is also a favourite with buyers in Camden, comprising hundreds of stalls that sell everything from antiques into fetish clothes, and a range of art pieces from around the globe. If you are searching for alternative clothing, then The Stables Market is the place to go into when you are in London and ensure you do not overlook The Black Rose and Cyberdog.
If you are tired following a hard day’s shopping and wish to unwind, there are so many bars and eateries in Camden which you may enjoy. Have a look at the Jazz Cafe, or The Underworld’s alternative club night on a Friday night. Popular bars in Camden comprise The World’s End, Devonshire Arms and the Barfly, among the best venues to live music in North London. So if you are thinking of taking a weekend break in London, there is no need for you to be overwhelmed by the choice – just select an area of London that you’d most like to spend some time in, or pick a single action and enjoy London’s diversity to the fullest.
And lastly but not least, as mentioned earlier, consider the Covent Garden for luxury fashion and beauty stores.
A short history of how structure homes styles changed in London.
- Baroque architecture 1600-1750
Most of the Baroque style buildings in London were destroyed by the Great Fire in 1666. St Paul’s cathedral was one of them and the current one was rebuilt by Christopher Wren and although have had retained few Baroque features (Baroque towers) it also combined it with medieval style and Renaissance trends.
- Georgian and Regency Architecture (1714-1830)
The Georgian Style reshaped the capital. Houses were constructed to make a profit and properties were constructed in one go. They focused on constructing London’s estates such as the Bedford Estate and the Grosvenor Estate. The most famous Georgian style house in London is 10 Downing Street.
Along with being a period, the Regency style left a mark. The element is your stucco front, urns, and porticos, directly referencing Greco Ancient Rome architecture and structures. Areas such as the roads and Belgravia surrounding Regents Park display samples of London’s Regency architecture.
- Victorian Architecture (1837–1901)
Although retaining some of the classical Georgian features, the Victorian style is heavily influenced by the renaissance and the Gothic revival movement, using delicately traditional balusters or wrought iron scrollwork.
The Victoria period also brought the addition of housing. The Style reflects the economic and political situation London experienced during the surge of the English Empire and the Industrial Revolution. The prosperity reflects in the taste of building architecture. The bourgeoisie which was experiencing a rise in wealth for the very first time has houses with access to sanitation.
- Edwardian Architecture (1901 to 1918)
The Edwardian style was influenced by the Georgian, Baroque and the Arts and Crafts movements.
The Edwardians managed to construct their houses on leafier plots of land contrary to the Victorian and Georgian house production and it came with larger halls, spacious gardens and houses with elaborate, stylized sculptural accents. Pilasters and the trends which were to half-clad of the property exterior in timber or subdivide windows into smaller sq panes so as to create an aesthetic appeal. Art Deco was adopted most enthusiastically by modern companies and those seeking to promote their modernity and forward-thinking attitude.
Increasing population and completion of new railway lines gave rise to the suburbs such as Hampstead Heath, Dulwich, Blackheath and Richmond and most of the Edwardian architecture can be seen in these areas.
Whether you are interested in architecture, arts, outdoor, shopping or sightseeing there is something to do in London no matter the interests and tastes. Consider the tips in London mentioned throughout the article to help you plan your visit.
The main tourist attractions are quite in close proximity to one another so it is recommended to visit them on foot so you will not only enjoy their view but also absorb the cities culture and its people, witnessing a day or more of the locals day and routine.
When visiting London, you can go shopping, buy souvenirs or you can just unwind and watch the sights. Whether is a day, weekend break or a longer visit the experience will be unique and unforgettable so plan your getaway as soon as possible and explore the city in your own unique way.
If you have any, I mean ANY questions about London drop your questions below and I will be happy to answer your questions.
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Until next time,
Oana and Paula