Shakespeare, Dickens, and Chaucer, plus an ever-growing list of fictional characters from Oliver Twist to Harry Potter, have imbued London with a literary dimension unlike any other city on earth.
Nearly every portion of London, first founded by Romans in 50 AD, has a story to tell. From Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey, history permeates almost every corner of the city.
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Take a ride in the ultra-modern London Eye observation wheel for a bird’s-eye view of the metropolis below. Keep your eyes on the changing times as you watch Big Ben, at the Palace of Westminster, count away the hours of your delightful London holiday.
Observe the colorful changing of the guards at royal Buckingham Palace. Walk amid bustling Trafalgar Square and visit the impressive National Gallery, with its extensive art collection ranging from the mid-13th to early 20th centuries.
Chat up the locals while feasting on bangers and mash, or fish and chips, at a local pub. Spend entertaining evenings attending Shakespearean plays at the renowned Globe Theatre or something a bit more modern in London’s famous West End. Finish with a nightcap at a jazz club or friendly local pub for the perfect London vacation.
What To Do
Buckingham Palace is proof that no matter how much things change in London, some things remain royally the same. Visit Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London on the River Thames.
Tour the Houses of Parliament, including the 1000-year-old Westminster Hall, to see where British rule is made.
Watch Big Ben count down the hours of your London holiday. Visit the gothic Westminster Abbey, founded more than a millennium ago.
Stop and take a break with afternoon tea, a beloved British tradition, accompanied by a delicious assortment of finger sandwiches, scones, and pastries.
See what’s happening in the art scene today at the Tate Modern. Rise above it all with a ride on the London Eye as it rotates high above this fascinating city on the Thames.
Explore the city from a different perspective, on a walking tour highlighting the filming locations of the Harry Potter movies. Travel a little further afield to the Warner Brothers Studios in Leavesden for an immersive experience into the fantastic world of Harry Potter.
What To See
Visit the stately Kensington Palace, home to Prince Charles and Princess Diana, and now the residence of Prince William and Princess Kate.
Watch Shakespeare’s plays come to life at the Globe Theatre on the lively south bank of the Thames.
View some of the world’s most prized works of art at the National Gallery and Tate Modern, and priceless artifacts at the British Museum.
Shop and dine along renowned Park Lane and Oxford Street in the Westminster area of London. Visit the legendary department store, Harrods, for upscale fashions and more on Brompton Road in Knightsbridge, London.
There’s plenty to do in London after the sun goes down. The West-End offers a dizzying array of theatres and clubs. Head south to Bermondsey to experience a host of creative dining options. From rooftop hotspots to basement bars, edgy Shoreditch in the east delivers thrills galore for the young and the young at heart.
London with Kids
Go on a Harry Potter studio tour at Warner Bros. just outside the city.
Discover what’s new and unusual in science and history at the Museum of Natural History and the famous Science Museum, where inquisitive kids and adults alike will find plenty of hands-on activities.
Off the Beaten Path
Visit the regal Windsor Castle along the Thames in southeast London, long-time residence of the British Royal Family.
Visit the Poet’s Corner in Hyde Park, where poets, protestors and historical figures such as Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, and George Orwell have spoken their minds for centuries.
Travel further back to prehistoric times in Stonehenge, with its illustrious circle of standing stones weighing more than twenty-five tons. Merely two hours from London, this mysterious monument and World Heritage Site is believed by some to be a portal to other worlds. This solar timepiece is a testament to man’s ingenuity.
Explore the lovely town of Bath in southwest England, home to verdant hills, bubbling hot springs and stunning 18th-century Georgian architecture.
Food and Drink
Certain foods spring to mind when thinking about London cuisine, such as fish and chips (fried cod and fries, traditionally wrapped in newspaper), or bangers and mash (sausages and mashed potatoes).
One of the city’s largest Indian communities can be found in West London. You’ll discover a smorgasbord of authentic Indian cuisine from Punjabi-grilled meats to tangy tamarind chutney throughout the city. In fact, chicken tikka masala, a mainstay on Indian restaurant menus worldwide, is rumored to have been invented here. Try the Anglo-Indian curried rice dish called kedgeree with hard-boiled egg and parsley atop flaky white fish.
For a more elegant ritual, enjoy a traditional afternoon tea, complete with dainty tea sandwiches, warm scones with clotted cream, and refreshing sweet teas.
Finish any meal with a tried and true English favorite, sticky toffee pudding soaked in sweet toffee sauce.
When to Go
Summer remains London’s peak season when long days offer vacationers the chance to see so much of this charming city by sunlight.
Spring and autumn are cool, while winter is cold and sometimes snowy.
Average winter temperatures from December through March are just above freezing, around 37 F. By contrast, the summer months are virtually balmy, nearing 70 F. Spring and fall range from around 55 F to 65 F.