London Destination Guide
Didn’t think time travel was possible? It is in London. Staunchly proud and wonderfully diverse, London is a city where you can travel back to the 12th century at the Tower of London, or catch a glimpse of the future at the Science Museum.
The British capital also lives passionately in the present, setting trends in everything from food to fashion, music and more. As home to eight million, royalty included, London constantly buzzes with energy and excitement. On any given night you can catch a West End show, a soccer (football) game, a gallery opening or simply make friends in the local pub. Such is the life in London, a city of endless possibilities.
- Country: England
- Currency: British Pound (GBP)
- Visas: Australians do not require a visa.
- Tipping: Service is often included in restaurant bills. When it’s not, tips of 10% to 15% are appreciated.
- Electricity: UK outlets run on 250V. You'll need a Type G adaptor.
London is a leading global city with all the associated trappings, delights and sights. Built on Medieval foundations and cut by the iconic River Thames, London is these days home to more than eight million people with around 300 different languages spoken.
London is an epicentre for British history and culture that effortlessly spans the line between old world charm and ultra-modern sophistication. Feel the roots of its storied past in such historic landmarks as the Tower of London and Westminster Abbey, or look to the future of fashion and food in Oxford Street and the West End.
With all that’s going on, London tourism continues to be a stalwart of the local economy. A thriving capital of culture, trade, finance, politics, fashion and food, the city comprises 32 boroughs, all of which have a distinctive character. Linked by five international airports, getting cheap flights to London has never been easier.
Take in the London views from...
The iconic London Eye
Towering ArcelorMittal Orbit
The Shard's observation deck
Things to do in London are innumerable, but here's a quick selection of the picks. If you’re on a quick trip make sure to ride the London Eye, climb to the top of St Paul's Cathedral dome, marvel at Westminster Abbey, and grab discounted theatre tickets in Covent Garden for same-night shows.
If greener pastures and family fun are what you seek, London offers it up in spades. There are more than 300 museums and galleries scattered throughout the city. From the tourism hub of Piccadilly Square to the edgy nightlife of Dalston, London is a playground for all ages.
London’s not the cheapest city in the world but you can still make the most of your pounds with a free visit to the British Museum and the city's grand parks and gardens. Once you've caught the Tube in the wrong direction – at least once – and had afternoon tea at The Ritz, you’ll have a good idea of what London is all about!
See London for free at...
- National Portrait Gallery
- The Tate galleries
- Houses of Parliament
Straddling the gamut of traditional English pubs, 'greasy spoons', Michelin-star restaurants and street food stalls, you can really find anything you fancy in London. Some areas are known for a certain food – Brick Lane is a classic place to find a fine curry and Finsbury Park will dish up great Greek, but London restaurants number in the tens of thousands, with every borough home to its own gems.
With many of the world’s top chefs calling London home, if you want to have a meal cooked by a famous star, you’ve come to the right place. Though not always in the kitchen, celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay runs his rule over Restaurant Gordon Ramsay on Royal Hospital Road, while Jaime Oliver is the mastermind behind Fifteen.
Famous for his Middle-Eastern cooking, Yotam Ottolenghi has a flagship cafe called Ottolenghi in Islington and all-day restaurant in Soho called Nopi. For something closer to home, New Zealand celebrity chef and cookbook author Peter Gordon shows off his skills at Kopapa in Covent Garden.
Enjoy a pint at...
- The Mayflower along Thames Path
- Young, refreshing Greenwich Union
- The Heights over central London
London accommodation options are as vast as the city itself. The heart of the West End has many 4- and 5-star hotels and their tariffs reflect their (tourist-primed) location.
At the other end of the spectrum, hostels are plentiful – Earls Court is a popular Aussie haunt – and mid-range options can sometimes be secured by either booking well in advance or via last-minute deals.
Bed and breakfasts are often tucked into historic buildings and serviced apartments may be a more suitable self-catering option if you're travelling with family.
Choose to base your stay in...
- West End if you want to be central
- South West London for classic hotels
- East London for design hotels
Markets, luxury goods, vintage fashion, quirky boutiques, high-end department stores, food, toys, crafts and electronics – if the world makes it, London sells it somewhere! London shopping can be pleasurable or mayhem, depending on when and where you go.
Harrods and Fortnum & Mason are synonymous with established finery; a handful of well-known markets are at Portobello Road, Camden, Greenwich and Borough. West End has more than 300 shops and the footpaths of Oxford Street are almost permanently swell with bargain-hunting throngs seeking out big brand stores.
King's Road, Saville Row, Carnaby Street and Mayfair are also distinctive shopping areas, while the most fashion-forward boutiques can be found in East London in and around Brick Lane.
London’s best record stores...
- Rough Trade, East London
- Sister Ray, Soho
- Sounds of the Universe, Soho
London like a Local
If you're going to be in London for more than a few days, it's worth getting an Oyster card. This is a pass enabling travel across the public transport network that you can top up as you need to. Keep it in your wallet and just swipe the card over the yellow readers at transport access points.
London is increasingly becoming a foodie haven. Many locals have their favourite restaurant and aren't shy about making reservations months in advance so if you find somewhere you'd love to eat – book it. It's easier to cancel than regret not making the call. Do some research beforehand to avoid a faux pas on the ground too. For example, you won't get to Leeds Castle by catching a train to Leeds. It's in Maidstone, Kent.
Get off the tourist trail at...
- Chelsea Psychic Garden
- Eltham Palace, Greenwich
- Wellcome Collection
Temperature (max C)
J 7, F 7, M 9, A 11, M 14, J 16, J 19, A 19, S 17, O 13, N 10, D 7
Rainfall (max mm)
J 55, F 41, M 41, A 44, M 50, J 45, J 45, A 50, S 49, O 67, N 60, D 55