Coming to experience one of the world’s most exciting capitals? Welcome! You’re going to love it. Let us give you some top insider tips to help you plan your London visit...
1. Meet the royals
Okay, so you might not be able to actually meet the royal family but you can get pretty close. Visit Kensington Palace, the official London residence of Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge, or step inside Buckingham Palace in the summer when Queen Elizabeth’s sumptuous State Rooms are open to the public.
Stroll in one of the resplendent Royal Parks, open year-round, such as Hyde Park which has a memorial fountain for Diana Princess of Wales. For something related to the royals by name only, take a seat in the vintage Prince Charles Cinema, Leicester Square. For more, see our blog about royal things to do.
2. Explore amazing free museums
Other highlights include the V&A - the world-famous arts and design museum, the Imperial War Museum and the Museum of London. They’re all so good you won’t want to wait for a rainy day to visit.
3. Eat at some of the best restaurants in the world
The capital has more Michelin-starred restaurants than you can shake a knife and fork at. For starters, go for a meal at a Gordon Ramsay restaurant. The British celebrity chef has 14 different restaurants in London, from classic dining at The Savoy Grill on The Strand to the more playful Maze on Grosvenor Square, and modern French at Pétrus.
His restaurants have been awarded 16 Michelin stars in total, with his signature - Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in Chelsea - boasting a mind-blowing 3.
4. Shop yourself silly
London is legendary for its amazing shopping. From high-end department stores like Fortnum & Mason and luxury toy store Hamley's to the popular Vintage Kilo Sales in East London and Brick Lane Market, where you’re sure to find something to suit your individual style.
And boy wizard fans: head to historic Leadenhall Market where magical shopping street Diagon Alley was set in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Take the Harry Potter Walking Tour for more filming hotspots.
5.Watch a show at one of London’s 230 theatres
Londoners love a night out at the theatre, and we’re sure you will too. Especially with the huge variety on offer, from West End musicals to cutting-edge productions at the National Theatre. And don’t forget Britain’s bard, who started it all - make sure you see one of his plays at Shakespeare’s Globe on the South Bank. You can get a guided tour, too.
6. Have a pint in a traditional London pub
Fancy a pint? Chances are, someone will ask you this during your visit. Luckily, in London you’re never far from a traditional pub. Try Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese on Fleet Street, an atmospheric old tavern dating back to the 16th century. You can feel the history, with its low-lit vaulted cellars and wood panelling. Many famous writers are said to have been regulars, including Alfred Tennyson, Charles Dickens and Mark Twain. For a proper introduction, try the Drink London! pub walk.
7. Find London’s more unusual things to do
Yes, we’ve got Big Ben, the Tower of London and the London Eye. They are all magnificent (and the London Pass will cover many of them). But head off the beaten track and you’ll escape the crowds and enjoy your own unique experience.
Heard of Highgate Cemetery? The ivy-covered Victorian burial ground in North London has an ethereal beauty you’ll find captivating.Want to light up the night? Head to Gods Own Junkyard in East London for an eye-popping collection of neon and fairground signs. And be sure to visit The Rolling Scones cafe while you’re there...
8. Enjoy the best afternoon teas anywhere
London doesn’t do afternoon tea by halves: from impeccably presented salmon sandwiches at The Ritz to the best clotted cream scones at Claridge's. And then there’s the unconventional ones, like the Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea at Sanderson’s, and the Afternoon Tea Bus Tour that takes place on a traditional London bus!
There are even afternoon teas that don’t involve tea at all, like this sweet treat with cocktails we tried at Oxo Tower restaurant.
9. Don’t miss late-night London
London really comes alive at night so make sure you sample some of its famous nightlife, from its underground dive bars to more glamorous burlesque bars. You can sip craft cocktails in 19th-century gin palaces re-imagined by 21st-century hipsters.
You can hop aboard the See London by Night bus, dine at secret supper clubs, get into stylish guest-list only clubs or stay out till sunrise at the city’s incredible gay clubs. Whatever you seek in Britain’s crazy, colourful capital you will definitely find.
10. Experience the magic of a London Christmas
Come to London at Christmas and you’ll feel as though you’re in Love Actually! There’s twinkling lights everywhere, magical window displays at shops like Liberty, ice-skating at Somerset House and festive markets serving hot mulled wine. And make sure you visit Winter Wonderland and Charles Dickens House by candlelight.
Getting around London
For getting around London, make like the locals and pick up an Oyster Card. For day trips, a BritRail London Plus Pass might come in handy. And if you’re looking to explore even further afield in Britain, check out our 6 amazingly easy ways to get to Scotland for inspiration on how to travel via plane, train and bus.