London, UK | Cruise port of call | CruiseBe
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London, UK

(*cruise tour)

London, UK

Noisy, vibrant and truly multicultural, London is a megalopolis of people, ideas and frenetic energy. The capital and largest city of the United Kingdom, it is also the largest city in Western Europe and the European Union. Situated on the

River Thames

in South-East England, Greater London has an official population of a little over 8 million, but the estimate of between 12 and 14 million people in the greater metropolitan area better reflects its size and importance. Considered one of the world's leading "global cities", London remains an international capital of culture, music, education, fashion, politics, finance and trade. Among international tourists, London is the most-visited city in the world.

Samuel Johnson

When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life;... Read more

London, UK

Noisy, vibrant and truly multicultural, London is a megalopolis of people, ideas and frenetic energy. The capital and largest city of the United Kingdom, it is also the largest city in Western Europe and the European Union. Situated on the

River Thames

in South-East England, Greater London has an official population of a little over 8 million, but the estimate of between 12 and 14 million people in the greater metropolitan area better reflects its size and importance. Considered one of the world's leading "global cities", London remains an international capital of culture, music, education, fashion, politics, finance and trade. Among international tourists, London is the most-visited city in the world.

Samuel Johnson

When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford

The City and Westminster

If you ask a Londoner where the centre of London is, you are likely to get a wry smile. This is because historically London was two cities: a commercial city and a separate government capital.

The commercial capital was the City of London. This had a dense population and all the other pre-requisites of a medieval city: walls, a castle (The Tower of London), a

cathedral (St Pauls)

, a semi-independent City government, a port and a bridge across which all trade was routed so Londoners could make money (London Bridge). About an hour upstream (on foot or by boat) around a bend in the river was the government capital (Westminster). This had a church for crowning the monarch (Westminster Abbey) and palaces. As each palace was replaced by a larger one, the previous one was used for government, first the Palace of Westminster (better known as the Houses of Parliament), then Whitehall, then

Buckingham Palace

. The two were linked by a road called The "Strand", old English for riverbank.

London grew both west and east. The land to the west of the City (part of the parish of Westminster) was prime farming land (Covent Garden and Soho for example) and made good building land. The land to the east was flat, marshy and cheap, good for cheap housing and industry, and later for docks. Also the wind blows 3 days out of 4 from west to east, and the Thames (into which the sewage went) flows from west to east. So the West End was up-wind and up-market, the East End was where people worked for a living.

Modern-day London in these terms is a two-centre city, with the area in between known confusingly as the West End.

Tourist information centres

Since the closure of the Britain and London Visitor Centre in December 2011 due to cost-cutting by the government, London has no centrally located tourist information centre.

The City of London Information Centre, as the last remaining information centre in any of the Central London boroughs, is now the only impartial, face-to-face source of tourist information in Central London. It is located in St. Paul's Churchyard, next to St. Paul's Cathedral, and is open every day other than Christmas Day and Boxing Day, from 09.30-17.30 Monday to Saturday, and 10.00-16.00 on Sunday.

There is no office for tourist information for the whole of the UK nor for the whole of England.

Text is available under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0

London, UK: Port Information

Larger vessels dock at Port Tilbury (Essex) on River Thames. From there, one can get to Tower Bridge on a river bus. It will take about 50 minutes.

Smaller ships can dock at Greenwich Pier on Thames River. One can use a bus, river bus, light railway, London Underground to get to the city center.

It is planned to open London City Cruise Port, a cruise terminal for the medium-sized liners right in the center of the city.

Besides, one can visit London on a cruise tour when sailing from/to Southampton. It takes approximately 80 minutes by train to get to London. A train station is about a 5-minute ride from the port.

Another doorstep to London is the port of Dover situated 125 km (78 miles) from London. Port transfer offered by your cruise company is definitely the easiest way to get to The Big Smoke. Besides, one can use a private transfer, take a bus, a train or a taxi. 

Harwich, another cruise port located close to London, is about 145 km (90 miles) from the city. One can take a train or a private transfer by car/bus. It takes about 2 hours to get to London.

Get around London, UK

London has one of the most comprehensive public transport systems in the world. Despite residents' perpetual (and sometimes justified) grumbling about unreliability, public transport is often the best option for getting anywhere for visitors and residents alike.

In central London use a combination of the transport options listed below - and check your map! In many cases, you can easily walk from one place to another or use the buses. Be a Londoner and only use the Tube as a way of traveling longer distances. You're here to see London - you can't see it underground!

Transport for London (TfL) is a government organization responsible for all public transport. Their website contains maps plus an excellent journey planner. TfL publishes a useful 'coping guide' specially designed for travelers who wish to use public transport during their visit to London. This can be downloaded in PDF format and printed as an 18-page brochure. TfL also offers a 24-hour travel information line, charged at premium rate: tel +44 843 222 1234 (or text 60835) for suggestions on getting from A to B, and for up to the minute information on how services are running. Fortunately for visitors (and indeed residents) there is a single ticketing system, Oyster, which enables travelers to switch between modes of transport on one ticket.

The main travel options in summary are:

Central London

  • By bus: This is the cheapest and usually the best way to get around London as a tourist: on the Underground, you won't see anything! Traveling by bus is one of the most cost-effective ways of getting around. Buses are also wheelchair and pram/buggy-accessible. As of 6 July 2014, you can no longer buy cash single tickets on the bus. Instead, you will need to pay with an Oyster, a contactless credit/debit card, or buy a pre-paid Travelcard at a station.
  • By Tube / Underground: 11 color-coded lines cover the central area and suburbs, run by TfL. Be aware that in the morning and evening peaks on weekdays the Underground is very busy, especially the Circle and Central lines. You can often get to your destination in an alternative way; check the Bakerloo, Victoria and Piccadilly lines. Large parts of the Underground are also inaccessible to wheelchairs and parents with prams/buggies so you may want to consider taking the bus instead. Signs can be seen to be vague, especially if you are unfamiliar with what compass point direction (e.g. northbound) you're traveling in, as these are most often given rather than destinations. A person new to the Tube can become very frustrated trying to work out where a particular connection at a particular station is found. Even regular travelers will tell you they can become confused when going to unfamiliar stations. Just be patient and realize mistakes can be made and you can recover. Each station is staffed by at least two personnel at all times who can advise you on your route and full system maps are on the walls of every platform and ticket office. Additionally, on every platform, there are individual line maps showing all the stations served by trains calling at that platform.
  • By Docklands Light Railway (DLR): An automatic metro system running from the City to East London via the Docklands, providing links with London City Airport, Canary Wharf, Stratford (for Westfield Stratford City and the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park), Greenwich and the ExCel Exhibition Centre. This is part of the TfL fare system so you must always remember to touch your Oyster card in at the start and out at the end of your journey.
  • By foot: In central London, tube stations are close together (especially Leicester Square and Covent Garden). Walking to the next station often takes under 5 minutes, and is more scenic than using the tube. The street layout is confusing, so a street map is essential (many underground stations have central London maps). Ask a local if you get stuck.
  • By boat: Commuter ferries and pleasure cruises along the River Thames. Some (but not all) services accept Oyster cards: special fares apply, so check before you set out.
  • Airport Express: Express rail services run to Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Luton airports (tickets are generally sold at a premium), privately run and not part of the TfL network.
  • By bicycle: There are hire bicycles (known to Londoners as "Boris bikes") operated by TfL available for pick up in Central and East London. You will need a credit or debit card with a PIN. If you bring your own bike, there are plenty of cycle lanes and traffic is normally considerate.

Suburban London

  • By tram (Tramlink): A tram service that operates only in southern suburbs around Wimbledon and Croydon.
  • By Overground: Orange-colored lines circling the northern suburbs; connecting Stratford (for Westfield Stratford City and the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park) with Richmond Upon Thames. At Highbury and Islington it is possible to connect to Croydon and Crystal Palace in South London via the East End. There is also an interchange for Barking in East London at Gospal Oak and a line connecting Euston Station with Watford Junction in Hertfordshire. Another line runs from Willesden Junction in North West London to Clapham Junction in the south via Shepherd's Bush (for Westfield). At Clapham Junction you can connect with mainline trains to Brighton, Gatwick Airport, Southampton and other points south. Part of TfL's network.
  • By National Rail: A complex network of suburban rail services, privately run and not part of the TfL network, although all operators now accept Oyster payments within greater London only. Watch out, though: if you want to travel further afield, you will need to buy a separate paper ticket before you get on the train, or you may be charged a Penalty Fare or prosecuted.

Using your credit card as ticket

On buses, trains and the Tube, you can use your credit card, debit card, or prepaid card as a ticket, if the card was issued in the UK and if it supports contactless payment. Your card supports contactless payment if it has a symbol of three waves on it. When you enter a station or get on the bus, you just touch the card against the yellow validation reader, as if it were an Oyster card. The price is the same as with an Oyster card (see below). The price per day is automatically capped at the price of a day ticket. You also avoid the (sometimes very long) queues at ticket machines. The same card cannot be used by two or more different passengers.

Oyster card

Oyster is a contactless electronic smartcard run by Transport for London. Unless you have a contactless credit card (see above), Oyster is the most cost-effective option if you plan to be in London for any more than a couple of days, or if you intend to make return visits to the city: the savings quickly recover the initial purchase cost. You can "top up" an Oyster card with electronic funds. This money is then deducted according to where you travel. The cost of a single trip using the Oyster card is considerably less than buying a single paper ticket with cash. Prices vary depending on distance traveled, whether by bus or tube and on the time of day. You can also add various electronic seven-day, 1 month and longer-period Travelcards onto an Oyster, and the card is simply validated each time you use it.

The deposit is fully refundable if you hand it in at any staffed Tube station's ticket office, and you will also get any pay-as-you-go credit refunded. If you have less than £10 credit on your card, you can claim an instant refund of the credit and deposit at some ticket machines after 48 hours of purchase of your Oyster card. However, your Oyster card, and the credit on it, never expires, so keep it around in case you return to London. Be prepared to give your signature on receipts or even show ID for refunds over a few pounds.

Oyster is valid on all red London buses, and almost all trains in London: a list of destinations is available on the London Tube and Rail Services map. Oyster is not valid on buses or trains outside London: if you need to travel beyond the stations on the map, you will have to pay for a paper ticket. (If you do not, you may be liable for a penalty fare or prosecution!) Oyster is also not accepted on long-distance coaches, nor on tour buses, charter buses or on the community bus route 812 in Islington.

Also, Oyster can not be used on:

  • the Heathrow Express;
  • the Heathrow Connect, beyond Hayes and Harlington;
  • High Speed One trains between St. Pancras International and Stratford International.

If you have a National Railcard, such as the 16-25 Railcard or the Senior Railcard, you can register this with your Oyster card at a Tube ticket office to receive substantial discounts on your off-peak pay-as-you-go fares.

Using your Oyster

When using your Oyster card to travel, make sure the reader is displaying an orange light, then place it flat against the reader. Listen carefully for a single beep, and watch for a green light: if this happens, it means your card has been accepted, and you can proceed. If you hear two beeps and see a red light, this means your card has not been accepted. Take the card off the reader, wait for the orange light, and try again; if this continues to happen, ask for help from a member of staff.

When getting on any kind of train, such as the Tube, the DLR or the London Overground, simply touch your Oyster card on the yellow circular reader at the start and end of your journey. At stations with ticket gates, these readers will be on the right-hand side of the gates; at stations without gates, they will be on free-standing cabinets. Always make sure you touch in at the start, and out at the end of your journey! If you do not, the system has no way of knowing where you have traveled, and you will be charged the maximum fare.

Usually, you will not need to touch your Oyster card on a reader when changing trains. However, some stations have pink Oyster "route validators" on the platforms: if you are getting off one train and getting onto another at one of these stations, touch your Oyster on the pink reader so that the system charges you the right fare for the route you have taken. There are a few other situations where you might need to touch out when changing trains: always ask a member of railway staff if you are in doubt.

When using a London bus, you only touch in once, when getting on the bus. Most buses have their Oyster reader on the ticket machine next to the driver. Some buses have Oyster readers on poles next to the middle and rear doors. You don't need to touch out when you get off the bus - if you do, you will be charged twice.

Some buses on routes 9 and 15 in central London are operated by heritage Routemasters. These buses have only one entrance, at the back, and are operated by conductors. Simply take your seat on the bus, and have your Oyster card ready: the conductor will take your card and scan it with a hand-held ticket machine.

When using a tram, simply touch your Oyster card on the reader on the tram platform before you get on a tram.

  • Don't try to insert your Oyster card into the slot at the ticket gates! Touch it flat against the yellow reader, and wait for a single beep and a green light.
  • On the Docklands Light Railway (DLR), and on some Overground and National Rail stations in the outlying parts of the city, there are no entry or exit gates (except at interchanges with the Tube like Bank or Stratford.) You have to be sure to touch your Oyster card on the readers (which are clearly signposted) as you enter and leave. Failure to do this when you begin a journey is regarded as fare dodging, and if you are caught you could be charged a Penalty Fare or prosecuted. Equally, failing to touch out when you leave a station will result in you being overcharged for your journey.
  • You should always keep your Oyster card separately from your wallet with your bank cards, cash, identity documents, etc. This is because if you take your wallet out to touch in at busy stations it makes you a prime target for pickpockets. It also means that if your wallet is stolen you will lose your means of travel as well as your money! Always keep your wallet in a secure inside pocket or a closed bag, and keep your Oyster card in a separate pocket. (If you buy your Oyster from a Tube station, it will usually come in a wallet of its own.)
  • You should also be very careful if you have contactless credit or debit cards or RFID identity cards from your employer, as these can interfere with your Oyster if you keep them in the same wallet. This usually results in an error message but may mean you get charged the full fare from your contactless credit or debit card instead.
  • Be careful standing near the readers on some buses - they are often quite sensitive and may read your card from several centimeters away, even if you did not intend this.
  • Try not to keep your Oyster in your back pocket. Not only does this make it easy to pickpocket but it also means it is likely to crack or bend when you sit down.

Pay-as-you-go (PrePay)

You can top up your Oyster card with cash at any Tube station ticket machine or ticket office (you can use a credit card if it has a PIN number) with Oyster pay-as-you-go, also known as PrePay. Money is then deducted from your Oyster card each time you travel. When traveling by train, the fare is calculated based on where you started and ended your journey. Pay-as-you-go is much cheaper than paying by cash for each journey. Bus fares are flat and you will be charged the same fare every time you get on the bus, regardless of whether you're getting off after one stop or going right to the end of the route.

The amount of Oyster credit deducted from your card in one day is capped at the cost of the equivalent day Travelcard for the journeys you have made. This means that on a day-to-day basis, you will always get the best fares when using Oyster pay-as-you-go.

Don't forget: when traveling by train, make sure you touch your Oyster in and out at the start and end of each journey, or you will be charged extra!


A Travelcard gives you unlimited travel on trains within the relevant zones, and unlimited travel on all red London buses, even outside the zones of your Travelcard. You can have your Travelcard loaded onto your Oyster, or you can have it as a paper ticket. For periods longer than 7 days, you will usually need to register your Oyster card or provide some form of photographic I.D. Please note that, especially for the Zone 1-2 tickets, the paper Day Travelcard is substantially more expensive than the maximum Oyster fare. Therefore, an Oyster card will generally offer much better value.

If you are using Oyster and travel beyond the zones of your Travelcard, you will be charged an extension fare from your pay-as-you-go credit when you touch out at your destination. If you are using a paper Travelcard and need to travel beyond your zones, you should get off at the boundary of your last valid zone and buy a ticket for the rest of your journey: if you do not, you will be charged a penalty fare and may be prosecuted!


The London Underground has connections to all terminals at Heathrow (including Terminals 4 & 5) and most major London rail termini, with the exception of Fenchurch Street. A number of interchange hubs are also served (such as Farringdon, Elephant & Castle, Harrow & Wealdstone, and Stratford).

By foot

London is a surprisingly compact city, making it a walker's delight. In many instances, walking is the quickest method of transport between two points.

Because Britain drives on the left hand side of the road, for most foreign visitors it can be all too easy to forget that traffic will come at you from the opposite direction than you are used to when crossing a street - for this reason remember to look right when you cross the road. If you are using a pedestrian crossing, don't think it's safe to risk it, even if you can't see any traffic coming: always wait for the green man to appear, and then cross quickly and carefully.

Particularly on Central London's busiest streets, it is easy to spot native Londoners as they weave in and out of the large crowds at fast speed; tourists who cannot stand out. Make sure you're aware of your surroundings when in London—Londoners are usually very considerate, but a group of tourists standing in the middle of the pavement can be a major annoyance! Try standing to the side of busy pavements and footpaths, especially if you're with a group.

Walking alternatives to the Tube

In some instances, it can be more pleasant or faster to walk your intended route instead of taking the Tube. Walking to another Tube station can also help you to avoid crowds. By looking at a map you'll notice that some central London Tube stations are very close to each other.

  • Leicester Square station - Covent Garden station: Come out of the station with the Hippodrome casino behind you. Cross Charing Cross Road and walk up Cranbourn Street. Walk straight over at the junction and continue onto Long Acre. Walk straight up Long Acre to arrive at Covent Garden station. Approximate walking time: 5 minutes
  • Embankment station - Waterloo station: Come out of the station onto Victoria Embankment, walk up the stairs and head across the River Thames using the Hungerford Bridge. At the other end of the bridge keep walking straight and away from the River Thames. Follow the railway line. You will come to some blue metal work and a walkway underneath the railway line called Sutton Walk. Follow this, cross the road and Waterloo station is ahead of you. Approximate walking time: 15 minutes
  • Westminster station - Waterloo station: Come out of the station and head across the River Thames using Westminster Bridge. Keep heading straight until you come to a junction. Turn left and walk down York Road. Stay on York Road until you come to a railway bridge. Waterloo station will be on your right. Approximate walking time: 15 minutes
  • Green Park station - Hyde Park Corner station: Come out of Green Park station onto the road. This is Piccadilly. Walk west along Piccadilly following the edge of Green Park. When you come to a roundabout head straight across it. Hyde Park and Hyde Park Corner station will be on your right. Approximate walking time: 10 minutes
Oxford Circus station

Oxford Circus station can become extremely busy on weekday evenings and if convenient it is worth walking to other Tube stations.

  • Oxford Circus station - Bond Street station: Head west along Oxford Street from the road junction. You should see the London College of Fashion and BHS. Keep walking west and you will come to Bond Street station. Approximate walking time: 10 minutes
  • Oxford Circus station - Tottenham Court Road station: At the road junction head east along Oxford Street heading past Topshop. Keep walking past H&M and McDonalds and you will eventually see a skyscraper - this is Centre Point. Keep heading straight and Tottenham Court Road station is on the road junction here. Approximate walking time: 25 minutes

By Tube / London Underground

The London Underground, known popularly as The Tube due to its tube-like tunnels drilled through the London clay, is a network of 11 lines which criss-cross London in one of the largest underground rail networks in the world. It was also the first, with the oldest section of the Hammersmith & City Line, originally opened as the Metropolitan Railway, dating back to 1863. The Tube is an easy method of transport even for new visitors to London and is equivalent to subway and metro systems in other world cities.

The routes operated by the London Underground fall into 2 broad types: the older "sub-surface" lines, encompassing the Metropolitan, District, Circle and Hammersmith & City lines, date from the nineteenth century. The other, newer (a term used loosely here) "deep level" routes, were largely constructed in the early- to mid-twentieth century. The differences are that the sub-surface lines are usually accessed by walking down a short set of stairs, whereas the deep-level lines are accessed by a complicated network of escalators or lifts. It is the deep lines which are served by the iconic tube-shaped trains which, despite their small size, can only just fit through the tunnels. Each line has stations with interesting architectural and artistic features typical of the era they were opened. As you travel around the network, look out for Victorian finery, Edwardian glazed tiles, smooth Art Deco symmetry and striking modern masterpieces.

Although not strictly part of the London Underground, the zonal fare system includes: The Docklands Light Railway (or "DLR", a local transit system in the Docklands area using computer-operated "driverless" trains), Croydon Tramlink routes, and the London Overground (which is operated as part of the National Rail network). Some national rail stations are also assigned a zone, for Oyster cards. Those that don't accept Oyster.


Travel on the tube system will always require the purchase of a ticket or the use of an Oyster card if you have one; fare evasion is treated as a serious matter.

Almost all stations have automatic ticket barriers. If you pay by Oyster card, just tap your card against the yellow pad to open the barriers (both upon entrance and exit). If you have a paper ticket, insert it face-up into the slot on the front of the machine, and remove it from the top to enter the station. If you have a single-ticket it will be retained at the exit gate. If you have luggage or if your ticket is rejected there is normally a staffed gate as well. Paper tickets can be purchased from vending machines in the station lobby. There are two types of machine: the older machines that have buttons for different fare levels and accept only coins and the new touchscreen machines that have instructions in multiple languages, offer a greater choice of ticket and accept bills and credit/debit cards (note that if your card has no embedded microchip, you cannot use these machines and you must pay at the ticket counter).


Tube maps are freely available from any station, most tourist offices and are prominently displayed in stations and in the back of most diaries. The LRTS map also shows national rail & is on a poster at most tube stations. The Tube is made up of 11 lines each bearing a traditional name and a standard color on the Tube map. To plan your trip on the Tube work out first which station is closest to your starting point and which is closest to your destination. You can change between lines at interchange stations (providing you stay within the zones shown on your ticket). Since the Tube map is well designed it is very easy to work out how to get between any two stations, and since each station is clearly signed it is easy to work out when to exit your train. Visitors should be aware, however, that the Tube map is a diagram and not a scaled map, making it misleading for determining the relative distance between stations as it makes central stations appear further apart and somewhat out of place - the most distant reaches of the Metropolitan Line, for example, are almost 60 km (40 mi) from the centre of the city.

In central London, taking the Tube for just one stop can be a waste of time; Londoners joke about the tourists who use the Tube to travel between Leicester Square and Covent Garden stations, a journey which can take over 10 minutes on the Tube, despite the two stations being only a couple of minute's walk apart. This is especially true since the walk from a Tube station entrance to the platform at some central stations can be extensive. The Tube map also gives no information on London's extensive bus and rail network.

Trains run from around 05:30 to about 01:00. They are usually the fastest way to travel in London, the only problem being the relative expense, and that they can get extremely crowded during rush hours (07:30-10:00 and 16:30-19:00). On warm days take a bottle of water with you as there is no air conditioning on most of the trains (only the Circle, Metropolitan, District, and Hammersmith & City lines have air conditioned trains). Also note that engineering works usually take place during weekends or in the evening. Contact TfL, especially if you plan to travel on a Saturday or a Sunday when entire lines may be shut down.

All lines are identified by name (e.g. Circle line, Central line, Piccadilly line). Many lines have multiple branches rather than running point-to-point so always check the train's destination (which is shown on the front of the train and the platform indicator screens, and will be broadcast on the train's PA). Some branches run as shuttles and require a transfer onto the 'main line'.

Note that the Northern line has two separate routes through the city centre which split at Euston and rejoin at Kennington. One (officially called the Charing Cross Branch) runs through the West End serving Leicester Square, Charing Cross and Waterloo, while the other route runs via the City of London (officially called the Bank branch but also referred to as the City branch) with major stops at King's Cross St Pancras and Bank. Despite the confusing layout of the line, it is fairly easy to work out which way your train is going; for example a northbound Northern line train to Edgware along the Charing Cross branch will be displayed on the indicator as "Edgware via ChX" and the on-board PA will announce "This train terminates at Edgware via Charing Cross".

Finally, note that direction signs for the platforms indicate the geographical direction of the line, not the last stop of the line. It is always advisable to carry a pocket Tube Map to help you with this.


Be considerate of your fellow passengers as best you can.

Although the doors on some Tube trains have buttons, they have been disconnected from the electricity & don't do anything. Pushing a button will only mark you out as a tourist. If the train pulls into the station and the doors don't open immediately then wait for a few seconds - the driver undershot the station and will need to drive the train forward a short distance.

Crime and accidents

Crime levels on the Tube systems are comparable but typically lower than many other subway systems, and traveler advice about watching luggage and valuables is reasonable. Owing to a heightened security climate, and a history of political violence targeting the Tube, unattended baggage may be treated as a suspect or explosive device and may be destroyed. Lost items (if not destroyed) will end up at the London Underground Lost Property Office (Tube: Baker Street).

The Tube system is covered by an extensive CCTV system, although it is not advised to be reliant on this fact when traveling.

The London Underground considers its safety record to be a matter of professional honor, major accidents being incredibly rare. Front-line staff are well trained for emergencies and will follow well-rehearsed procedures. In addition, front line staff is generally appreciative of traveler vigilance, if concerns are politely expressed. If you notice something that concerns you please speak to a member of staff or a British Transport Police officer.


Although there is no specific bylaw barring casual photography, owing to the increased threat from terrorism, some front-line staff can be nervous about the intent and nature of photographers. If you are visiting a station for the sole purpose of photography, or you plan to be in the station for some time, you should let a member of front-line staff know your intentions. At busy stations, you should take care not to cause an obstruction. Under no circumstances should direct photography of security critical equipment (such as CCTV cameras) be taken, and it is advised to ask before photographing front-line staff. Flash photography is explicitly prohibited on safety grounds, as it could distract safety-critical personnel.

Large scale or commercial photography or filming requires a specific permit which can be obtained through TfL.

By bus

London's iconic red buses are recognized the world over, even if the traditional Routemaster buses, with an open rear platform and on-board conductor to collect fares, have mostly been phased out. These still run on the central section of route 15 daily between about 09:30 and 18:30, every 15 minutes.

Buses are generally quicker than taking the Tube for shorter (less than a couple of stops on the Tube) trips, and out of central London, you're likely to be closer to a bus stop than a Tube station. Most buses in London are very frequent (at least every ten minutes.) Buses are usually accessible for buggies and wheelchairs. Buses also have a flat rate fare which stays the same no matter how far you travel (you will need to pay the fare again if you board a different bus).

Using the bus

Over 5 million bus trips are made each weekday; with over 700 different bus routes you are never far from a bus. Each bus stop has a sign listing the routes that stop there. Bus routes are identified by numbers and sometimes letters. For example, route 8 runs between Oxford Circus and Bow Church, via Liverpool Street and Bethnal Green. It is not possible to buy tickets for cash on the bus so you must have a valid Travelcard, Oyster card or contactless credit or debit card before you get on. Alternatively, tickets may be purchased from most newsagents in London, or from ticket machines at certain central London stops.

Buses have very clear blinds on the front, with their route number and their destination. When you see your bus approaching, signal clearly to the driver that you intend to get on their bus: the way to do this is to stick your hand out, with an open palm. The driver will indicate and pull into the stop.

Most buses have two doors. Form an orderly queue at the front door: when you reach the driver, touch your Oyster or contactless card on the reader, or show them your Travelcard or pass. Some buses are worked by the 'New Routemaster': you can get on this bus at any of its three doors, as long as you touch in your Oyster or contactless card as soon as you board. Some buses on routes 15 over the central section from Trafalgar Square to Tower Hill are run by the original heritage Routemasters: simply take a seat on the bus, and wait for the conductor to come round to scan your Oyster card. Always wait for people to get out of the bus before you enter.

Hold on tight - especially if you can't find a seat! Buses can accelerate and brake very fast so always grab hold of one of the handrails.

Most buses have a system called iBus fitted: this announces the bus's destination at every stop, and announces the stops and nearby landmarks, both with an announcer's voice and on a screen at the front of the bus. Keep a close eye on this, because this will tell you where you need to get off. The screen may also display the current time, but this will disappear when someone pushes stop or is sometimes hidden behind gaffa tape (reason unknown). On Routemasters, the conductor will usually make announcements.

When you are nearing your stop, press one of the red "STOP" buttons on the handrails once only. You'll hear a bell or a buzzer, and the words "Bus Stopping" will appear on the iBus screen, replacing the clock. Hold on tight until the bus has stopped, and then get off the bus using the middle or rear door once it has opened.

If you're traveling on a heritage Routemaster, there are only two bell-pushers: alternatively, there is a cord hanging from the ceiling on the lower deck which you can pull to ring the bell. Be very careful only to ring it once: two bells is the signal the conductor uses to tell the driver to continue past the next stop!

Finally, always watch out for moving traffic when you get off the bus, especially if you are on a bus with an open platform at the back (a Routemaster or a New Bus for London) Don't try to get off the bus until it has stopped, or is moving very slowly, and always be careful of cyclists and pedestrians.

  • Watch out for pickpockets! If you think you have been pickpocketed, always call out to the driver and other passengers. If you realize you have been pickpocketed after you've left the bus, call 101 (the police non-emergency number).
  • If you are taking a pram/buggy with you, you must be prepared to fold it and carry your child if the bus is crowded or if a wheelchair user needs to get on the bus.
  • Smoking and drinking alcohol is not allowed on buses. Non-alcoholic drinks and most food is fine, but be considerate: fast food is often smelly and leaves a mess. Be especially careful if you have a hot drink.
  • Don't stand on the upper deck of the bus or on the stairs. This is dangerous and you can fall and hurt yourself very badly. If you need to stand when the bus is busy, move downstairs.
  • Don't obstruct the aisle or the gangway with luggage.
  • Don't speak to the driver or try to get their attention when the bus is moving unless it is an emergency.
  • Some buses terminate early and don't run the full length of the route. Always check the destination blind on the front of the bus, and if in doubt, ask the driver or the conductor. Drivers will usually announce a change in the bus's destination - but not always!
  • You should always signal to the driver very clearly with your hand if you want the bus to stop, especially at quieter bus stops. The driver might drive past the stop if no one does this and no one on the bus is getting off.
  • If your bus terminates early (e.g. destination Trafalgar Square but terminates at Aldwych) and you have paid using Oyster or contactless debit/credit card, ask the driver for a continuation ticket (sometimes called a transfer ticket.) This will allow you to board another bus of the same route number to reach your destination without paying again.

Bus route maps


Children aged 10 and under travel for free on the bus when accompanied by an adult. Children between the ages of 11 and 15 must touch in using a special kind of Oyster card called a Zip card, yet journeys are still free. If they do not have a Zip card they must pay the full fare using an adult Oyster or contactless card. 16-18 Student Oyster cards (only available to students studying in London) go up to age 18 and journeys are still free. Residents of England who have an ENCTS free bus pass (for the elderly or disabled) also get free travel: simply show your pass to the driver or conductor.

Night buses

Standard bus services run from around 06:00-00:30. Around half past midnight, the network changes to the vast night bus network of well over 100 routes stretching all over the city. There are two types of night buses: 24-hour routes and N-prefixed routes.

24-hour services keep the same number as during the day and will run exactly the same route, such as the number 88, for example. N-prefixed routes are generally very similar to their day-route but may take a slightly different route or are extended to serve areas that are further out. For example, the 29 bus goes from Trafalgar Square to Wood Green during the day; however, the N29 bus goes from Trafalgar Square to Wood Green and then continues to Enfield.

Night buses run at a 30 minute frequency at minimum, with many routes at much higher frequencies up to every 5 minutes.

Prices stay the same, and daily travelcards are valid until 04:29 the day after they were issued, so can be used on night buses. Most bus stops will have night bus maps with all the buses to and from that local area on it, although it is good to check on the TfL website beforehand, which also has all those maps easily available.

While Britons on public transport are normally a model of reserve, those using night buses have a bit of a reputation for loud and rowdy behavior. This is mainly because passengers are often people who have been having a good time in central London's clubs and bars; particularly true on buses leaving central London between 01:00 and 03:00. While the buses are normally quite safe, if this is a concern for you, consider taking a pre-booked minicab instead, or failing that sit or stand on the lower deck of the buses nearer the driver. Always call out to the driver if you are pickpocketed, threatened or attacked.


Docklands Light Railway (DLR) is a dedicated light rail network operating in East London, connecting with the Tube network at Bank, Tower Gateway (close to Tower Hill station), Canning Town, Heron Quays (close to Canary Wharf Tube station), and Stratford. As the trains operate automatically, it can be quite exciting - especially for children - to sit at the front and look out through the window, whilst feeling as though one is driving the train oneself. The DLR also runs above ground on much of its route, and travels through many scenic parts of London, including the Docklands area where most of London's skyscrapers are located. Apart from the trains looking very different and running slightly less frequently than the Tube, visitors may as well treat the two systems as one system.

Unlike on the Tube, most DLR stations do not have ticket gates (except for Bank and Stratford). Also, unlike the Tube, you do need to push the buttons to open the doors. You can top up an Oyster card, buy a Travelcard or buy a paper ticket (at a substantial premium) from the ticket machines at the station. (Most stations are unstaffed, so if you want to pay by cash, make sure you have plenty of change!) As there are no gates, when traveling by Oyster you must always remember to touch in at the start of your journey and touch out at the end. Even if you are changing to the Underground at Canary Wharf/Heron Quays, you must still touch in/out at the DLR station: the system will recognize that you have made an interchange between the two stations and treat it as part of the same journey.

The DLR can be a little confusing as the routes are not easily distinguished. Generally trains run on the following routes:

  • Bank - Canary Wharf - Greenwich - Lewisham;
  • Stratford - Poplar - Canary Wharf - Greenwich - Lewisham;
  • Bank - Poplar - Canning Town - London City Airport - Woolwich Arsenal;
  • Tower Gateway - Poplar - Canning Town - Royal Victoria - Custom House (for ExCeL) - Beckton;
  • Stratford International - Stratford - West Ham - Canning Town (then on to Beckton via Custom House, or on to Woolwich Arsenal via London City Airport)

Check the displays on the platform, which will show you the destination and the wait for the next three trains, and also check the destination displays on the front and side of the train and listen for announcements. At busy times, some trains do not run the full length of the route. Take the first train, listen for announcements, and change where necessary.

Beware Canning Town station as it is very busy, and the line divides into two sections - one heading to Woolwich Arsenal and the other heading to Beckton. The Woolwich Arsenal branch will take you to London City Airport and the Beckton branch will take you to Custom House for ExCel. Always check the destination on the front of the train before getting on; especially at off-peak times, if you get on the wrong branch then the return train could take several minutes!

By train

The British railway system is known as National Rail (although some older signs still refer to it as "British Rail"). London's suburban rail services are operated by several private companies under tightly-written government contracts and mostly run in the south of the city, away from the main tourist sights. Only one line (Thameslink) runs through central London - on a north-south axis between London Bridge or Blackfriars stations, and the underground level of St Pancras main line station. There is no one central station - instead, there are twelve mainline stations dotted around the edge of the central area, and most are connected by the Circle line (except Euston, Fenchurch St and those South of the river like Waterloo and London Bridge).

Most visitors will not need to use National Rail services except for a few specific destinations such as Wimbledon, Hampton Court, Kew Gardens (Kew Bridge station), Windsor Castle, Greenwich, or the airports, or indeed if they are intending to visit other destinations in the UK. It's important to know that the quickest route between two stations is often a combination of the Tube as well as National Rail trains. For instance, if you are going from central London to Wimbledon, it will usually be much quicker to go to Waterloo and take the first Wimbledon train (around fifteen minutes, maximum) rather than take the District line, which can take up to 45 minutes.

Your pay-as-you-go Oyster card is valid in London zones 1-6, but not beyond, so be careful—if you want to travel beyond, you will need to buy a paper ticket from the ticket office at the station. If you travel beyond the London zones with no valid ticket, you will be charged a Penalty Fare, you will have to buy another ticket for the remainder of your journey, and you will also be charged the maximum Oyster fare because you didn't touch out. This adds up to a lot, so be careful and make sure you plan your journey! If in doubt, ask at the ticket office.

There are express trains to Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports. Tickets are often sold at a substantial premium, so you may want to consider taking the slightly slower 'stopping' services instead. Don't forget: Oyster cards are not valid to the main airports, except for London City Airport and to Heathrow when traveling by Tube.

Don't throw your ticket away until you're out of the station at your destination! Many stations have ticket gates which you will need to put your ticket through to exit; also, you need to retain all the parts of your ticket throughout your journey, as a member of railway staff may need to see it.

By Overground

In common parlance, Londoners may refer to traveling by "overground" (or "overland"), meaning going by National Rail (as opposed to going by Underground). However, only one service is officially called Overground - London Overground is a Transport for London rail service. It is operated and promoted just like the Underground, with the logo like the Tube (except orange) on stations and full acceptance of Oyster cards throughout. Trains will usually run every fifteen minutes or less.

London Overground consists of seven separate routes, forming a loose outer orbital with 'corners' at Clapham Junction, Surrey Quays, Highbury & Islington and Willesden Junction. These routes are:

  • West London Line: Clapham Junction - Willesden Junction - trains continue to Stratford as North London line trains at peak times;
  • North London Line: Richmond - Willesden Junction - Gospel Oak - Highbury and Islington - Stratford;
  • Watford DC Line: Euston - Willesden Junction - Wembley Central - Watford Junction;
  • Gospel Oak to Barking Line: Gospel Oak - Barking;
  • East London Line: Highbury & Islington - Shoreditch High Street - Whitechapel - New Cross Gate - West Croydon/Crystal Palace;
  • East London Line: Dalston Junction - Shoreditch High Street - Whitechapel - New Cross;
  • South London Line: Clapham Junction - Peckham Rye - Surrey Quays (continues as East London line)

Most London Overground lines use Class 378 Capitalstars: spacious, air-conditioned trains in a distinctive orange livery. These trains have plenty of seating and standing room, and big windows allowing for great "urban scenic" views. The GOBLIN line uses Class 172 Turbostars. These trains are similar to the capitalstars but are smaller and use a diesel bus engine rather than being electric.

London Overground appears on the Tube map as an orange line, usually with a gap in the middle. At many stations (Whitechapel, for instance) trains leaving from the same platform will go to different destinations, so listen carefully for announcements and always check the destination on the front of the train. The Overground can be a great way to avoid changing trains in central London by skirting around the centre. It's also well-connected: you can frequently change for Underground trains, other Overground destinations, or for mainline National Rail services from Stratford, Clapham Junction and Watford Junction.

By tram (Tramlink)

Tramlink, opened in 2000, is the first tram system to operate in London since 1952. South London is poorly served by the Tube and lacks east-west National Rail services so the network connects Wimbledon in South West London to Beckenham in South East London and New Addington, a large housing estate in South Croydon. The network is centred on Croydon, where it runs on street-level tracks around the Croydon Loop.

Route 3 (Wimbledon to New Addington - green on the Tramlink map) is the most frequent service, running every 7 or 8 minutes Monday to Saturday daytime and every 15 minutes at all other times. Beckenham is served by Routes 1 and 2 (yellow and red on the Tramlink map), which terminate at Elmers End and Beckenham Junction respectively. Both services travel around the Loop via West Croydon and run every 10 minutes Monday to Saturday daytime and every 30 minutes at all other times. Between Arena and Sandilands, these two services serve the same stops.

By bicycle

Due to the expense of other forms of transport and the compactness of central London, cycling is a tempting option. Excellent free cycle maps can be obtained from your local tube stations, bike shop, or ordered online.

London now offers a city-wide bicycle hire scheme known as Santander Cycles, operated by Transport for London. For an hourly charge, bicycles may be hired from automated hire stations around the city. The bikes, all colored a distinctive bright blue, can be unlocked and ridden around the city with a credit card and must be returned to another hire station by locking the bike into the rack.

Despite recent improvements, London remains a relatively hostile environment for cyclists. The kind of contiguous cycle lane network found in many other European cities does not exist. The safest option is to stick to minor residential roads where traffic can be surprisingly calm outside rush hours.

Most major roads in London will have a bus lane which is restricted to buses, taxis and bicycles.

Cycle-lanes exist in London with both on-road and off-road routes. The network is not comprehensive, and on the road, lanes vary in quality (normally between one and two metres wide). Cycle superhighways (major cycle routes) are painted blue other cycle lanes are green or red; however, some are indicated just with n stenciled image of a bike on the road. If the line between the traffic lane is solid cars may not use it as it is a mandatory cycle lane. A dashed line indicates a recommended cycle lane and motorists may make use of this road space, but it is recommended they don't. Many improvements have been made for cyclists in the city over the last few years, Noticeably, there are many new signposted cycle routes and new cycle lanes as well as a review of junctions considered dangerous for cycling. A new network of "Cycle super-highways" has recently been launched: these are indicated by bright blue-painted tarmac. Motor vehicles often park on cycle lanes, rendering them unusable.

Normally a cyclist should keep to the left of the lane when cycling on a road with traffic, to allow faster-moving traffic to overtake. However, it is legal for a cycle to dominate a lane by maintaining a central road position like any other vehicle. This will make you unpopular with any traffic behind you but it is recommended in London on approach to right-hand turns at junctions. Making a right-hand turn from the normal left-position means crossing the lane of traffic, which may often ignore you and any turn signals you might have been using, leading to near misses and even collisions.

The towpaths in North London along the Grand Union Canal and Regent's Canal as well as in London's parks and greenways provide traffic-free cycle path in the capital. The Grand Union canal connects Paddington to Camden and the Regent's Canal connects Camden to Islington, Mile End and Limehouse in East London. It takes about 30-40 min to cycle from Paddington station to Islington along the towpaths.

Care should be taken lock your bike properly as many areas, some surprisingly busy, attract cycle thieves while chaining a bicycle to a railing which appears to be private property can occasionally lead to said bike being removed.

Taking bikes on trains is very limited in London due to overcrowding. Non-folding bikes can be taken only on limited sections of The Tube network, mostly only on the above-ground sections outside peak hours. For this reason, folding bicycles are becoming increasingly popular. There is a map showing this on the Transport for London website. Most National Rail operators allow bicycles outside peak hours also.

Critical Mass London is a cycling advocacy group which meets for regular rides through central London at 18:00 on the last Friday of each month. Rides start from the southern end of Waterloo Bridge.

The London Cycling Campaign is an advocacy group for London cyclists. With active local groups in most of the city's boroughs, it is recognized by the local and regional government as the leading voice for cycling in the capital.

By taxi

London has two types of taxis: the famous black cab, and so-called minicabs. Black cabs are the only ones licensed to "ply for hire" (i.e. pick people up off the street), while minicabs are more accurately described as "private hire vehicles" and need to be pre-booked.

The famous black cab of London (not always black!) can be hailed from the kerb or found at one of the many designated taxi ranks. It is possible to book black cabs by phone, for a fee, but if you are in central London it will usually be quicker to hail one from the street. Their amber TAXI light will be on if they are available. Drivers must pass a rigorous exam of central London's streets, known as 'The Knowledge', to be licensed to drive a black cab. This means they can supposedly navigate you to almost any London street without reference to a map. They are a cheap transport option if there are five passengers as they do not charge extras, and many view them as an essential experience for any visitor to London. Black cabs charge by distance and by the minute and are non-smoking. Tipping is not mandatory in either taxis or minicabs, despite some drivers' expectations - use your discretion. If you like the service you may tip. If the ride has been uncomfortable or unsafe, or if the driver was rude, don't. Most Londoners will simply round up to the nearest pound.

Taxis are required by law to take you wherever you choose (within Greater London) if their TAXI light is on when you hail them. However, some, especially older drivers, dislike leaving the centre of the town, or going south of the River Thames. A good way to combat being left at the side of the curb is to open the back door, or even get into the cab, before stating your destination.

Minicabs are normal cars which are licensed hire vehicles that you need to book by phone or at a minicab office. They generally charge a fixed fare for a journey, best agreed before you get in the car. Minicabs are usually cheaper than black cabs, although this is not necessarily the case for short journeys. Licensed minicabs display a Transport For London (TfL) License - usually in the front window. One of the features of the license plate is a blue version of the famous London Transport "roundel". A list of licensed minicab operators can be found at TfL Cabwise.

Uber is available in London and generally charge cheaper fares than black cabs, although higher "surge" prices are charged at times of high demand. Vehicles can only be booked via the smartphone app.

Some areas in London are poorly serviced by black cabs, particularly late at night. This has led to a large number of illegal minicabs operating - just opportunistic people, with a car, looking to make some fast money. Some of these operators can be fairly aggressive in their attempts to find customers, and it's now barely possible to walk late at night through any part of London with a modicum of nightlife without being approached. These illegal cars are also regularly unsafe: a number of women are assaulted every week by illegal minicab operators (11 per month) and there is also a risk of robbery. You should avoid minicabs touting for business off the street and either take a black cab, book a licensed minicab by telephone, or take a night bus. Always remember: if it's not licensed and it's not pre-booked, it's just a stranger's car. Never get into an un-booked minicab.

TfL operate a service called Cabwise, which will determine your location and provide three local, licensed cab numbers. If you have an iPhone or an Android smartphone, you can use the Cabwise application (search your platform's app store) or text CAB to 60835 (be careful - this might not work from some phones!) You can also use an app such as Hailo, which allows you to summon a black cab to your location and will provide a map and approximate wait time for your taxi to arrive. Most railway stations will also be able to provide a list of good local cab firms (many will display this outside the station, even after the last train of the night has gone.)

By car

Londoners who drive will normally take public transport in the centre; follow their example. Unless you have a disability, there is no good reason whatsoever to drive a car in central London.

Car drivers should be aware that driving into central London on weekdays during daylight hours incurs a hefty charge, with very few exemptions (note that rental cars also attract the charge). Cameras and mobile units record and identify the number plates and registration details of all vehicles entering the charging zone with high accuracy. Numerous payment options exist: by phone, on-line, at convenience stores displaying the red 'C' logo in the window and by voucher. Failure to pay the charge by midnight the next charging day (take note!) incurs a hefty automatic fine.

Despite the Congestion Charge, London - like most major cities - continues to experience traffic snarls. These are, of course, worse on weekdays during peak commuting hours (i.e. between 07:30-09:30 and 16:00-19:00). At these times public transport (and especially the Tube) usually offers the best alternative for speed and reduced hassle. Driving in Central London is a slow, frustrating, expensive and often unnecessary activity. There are many sorts of automatic enforcement cameras and it is difficult (and expensive) to park. A good tip is, that outside advertised restriction hours, parking on a single yellow line is permissible. Parking on a red line or a double yellow line is never permissible and heavily enforced. Find and read the parking restrictions carefully! Parking during weekdays and on Saturday can also mean considerable expense in parking fees - fees and restrictions are ignored at your extreme financial peril - issuing fines, clamping and towing vehicles (without warning!) has become a veritable new industry for borough councils staffed by armies of traffic wardens.

For the disabled driving can be much more convenient than using public transport. If disabled and a resident of a member state of the EU then two cars can be permanently registered, for free, for the congestion charge.

Motorcycles and scooters are fairly common in London as they can pass stationary cars, can usually be parked for free and are exempt from congestion-charging. Scooters and bikes with automatic transmission are much more preferable - a manually-geared racing bike is completely impractical unless you have excellent clutch-control (although it has to be said you will see plenty of them being ridden aggressively by motorcycle couriers and locals as it can be the fastest way to get around!) Likewise to bicycles, car-drivers can show disregard to anyone on two wheels and larger vehicles have an unwritten priority so take care when crossing junctions. Crash helmets are mandatory. Parking for bikes is usually free - there are designated motorcycle-parking areas on some side-streets and some multi-level parking lots will have bike parking on the ground level.

By boat

London is now starting to follow the example of cities such as Sydney and Bangkok by promoting a network of river bus and pleasure cruise services along the River Thames. London River Services (part of Transport for London) manages regular commuter boats and a network of piers all along the river and publishes timetables and river maps similar to the famous tube map. While boat travel may be slower and a little more expensive than tube travel, it offers an extremely pleasant way to cross the city with unrivaled views of the London skyline - Big Ben, St Paul's Cathedral, the Tower of London, etc. Sailing under Tower Bridge is an unforgettable experience.

Boats are operated by private companies and they have a separate ticketing system from the rest of London transport; however, if you have a Travelcard you get a 33% discount on most boat tickets. Many boat operators offer their own one-day ticket - ask at the pier kiosks. Generally, tickets from one boat company are not valid on other operators' services. Oyster cards can be used as payment for the 'Clipper'-styled commuter services but not for tour boats.

By skate

Inline skating on roads and pavements (sidewalks) is completely legal, except in the "square-mile" of the City of London. Roads are not the greatest but easily skateable. Central London drivers are more used to skaters than those in the outskirts.

By cable car

The Emirates Air Line is London's newest form of transportation (constructed in 2012). It consists of a cable car that runs across the River Thames in East London and connects the Greenwich Peninsula on the south bank (near The O2) and the Royal Docks on the north bank (near the ExCeL Exhibition Centre). The Greenwich Peninsula terminal connects to the North Greenwich Tube station on the Jubilee line and the Royal Docks terminal connects to the Royal Victoria DLR station. Although it is part of the TfL network and uses Oyster cards, the Air Line sees more frequent use by tourists than by commuters.

Keep in mind if you are traveling to The O2 that the Emirates Air Line service finishes much earlier than the Tube and DLR. If the event you are attending is finishing late then you should have an alternative mode of transport to get back across the river.

What to see in London, UK

London is a huge city, so all individual listings are in the appropriate district articles and only an overview is presented here.


  • Buckingham Palace. The official London residence of the Queen, in Westminster. Open for tours during the summer months only, but a must-see sight even if you don't go in. (Tube: Green Park)
  • London Eye. The world's third largest observation wheel, situated on the South Bank of the Thames with magnificent views over London. (Tube: Waterloo)
  • Marble Arch is a white Carrara marble monument designed by John Nash. It is located in the middle of a huge traffic island at one of the busiest intersections in central London where Oxford St meets Park Lane in Mayfair. (Tube: Marble Arch)
  • Piccadilly Circus is one of the most photographed sights in London. The Shaftesbury Memorial, topped by the statue of Anteros (now popularly identified as Eros), stands proudly in the middle of Piccadilly Circus while the north-eastern side is dominated by a huge, iconic neon hoarding. Occasionally there will be scaffolding or hoarding around the Eros statue in order to protect it during times when large crowds are anticipated. (Tube: Piccadilly Circus))
  • St Paul's Cathedral, also in the City, is Sir Christopher Wren's great accomplishment, built after the 1666 Great Fire of London - the great dome is still seated in majesty over The City. A section of the dome has such good acoustics that it forms a "Whispering Gallery". There is also a viewing area that offers views of the surrounding area including the Millennium Bridge that lies nearby. (Tube: St Pauls)
  • Tower Bridge. The iconic 19th-century bridge located by the Tower of London near the City. It is decorated with high towers featuring a drawbridge. The public is allowed access to the interior of the bridge via the Tower Bridge Exhibition, tickets for which can be purchased on the website or at the bridge. (Tube: Tower Hill)
  • Tower of London. Situated just south-east of the City, is London's original royal fortress by the Thames. It is over 900 years old, contains the Crown Jewels, guarded by Beefeaters, and is a World Heritage site. It is also considered by many to be the most haunted building in the world. If you are interested in that sort of thing it's definitely somewhere worth visiting. Sometimes there are guided ghost walks of the building. You can even have a good meal in one of the buildings on the property. (Tube: Tower Hill)
  • Trafalgar Square. Home of Nelson's Column and the lions, and once a safe haven for London's pigeons until the recent introduction of hired birds of prey. The "Fourth plinth" has featured a succession of artworks since 1999. Overlooked by the National Gallery, it's the nearest London has to a "centre", and has recently been pedestrianized. (Tube: Charing Cross)
  • Westminster Abbey and the Palace of Westminster, including the Queen Elizabeth II Tower (the clock tower commonly known as the name of its bell, Big Ben) and the Houses of Parliament, in Westminster. The seat of the United Kingdom parliament and World Heritage site, as well as setting for royal coronations since 1066, most recently that of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. The Palace of Westminster is open to the public only for viewing parliamentary debates, tours of the building are available in July – August when Parliament is away on summer recess. Westminster Abbey also has a restaurant and a café that both serve good food. (Tube: Westminster)
  • 30 St Mary Axe or The Gherkin, a peculiarly-shaped 180 m (590 ft) building in the City. There is no public access to the building itself but it can be viewed from the roads and small paved areas directly in front of and behind the building. Please note that security guards can be overzealous in this area and you may be asked to move on or stop taking photographs if you are doing so (although this may seem overbearing, it is private land and they can ask you to leave if they wish). Commanding views of this building can also be obtained from public roads near the site such as Leadenhall Street. Of minor interest to history fans is an inscription on Bury Street dedicated to a young Roman girl who was found buried here by archaeologists in 1995. Her remains were moved to the Museum of London while the Gherkin was being constructed, and were reburied in 2007 at the original site.
  • The Shard, e-mail: 1 April - 31 October 10:00 - 22:00, 1 November - 31 March 10:00 - 19:00. A futuristic triangular skyscraper that dominates the London skyline and is currently the tallest building in the EU. There is a viewing deck on the 72nd floor that is open to the public, tickets for which must be booked via the website. There are also restaurants and the expensive luxury hotel Shangri-La on the lower floors.

Museums and galleries

Central London hosts an outstanding collection of world-class museums and galleries, several of truly iconic status.

Even better, London is unique among global capitals in that the majority of the museums have no entrance charges, allowing visitors to make multiple visits with ease. Special or temporary exhibitions, of course, may attract an admission charge.

London museums and galleries with no general admission charge (free entry!) include:

  • British Museum (Tube: Holborn)—a treasure trove of world cultures from across the ages, on a par with the Paris Louvre and New York's Metropolitan Museum
  • National Gallery (Tube: Charing Cross)—houses the national collection of paintings in the Western European tradition from the 13th to the 19th centuries
  • National Portrait Gallery (Tube: Charing Cross)
  • Victoria and Albert Museum (Tube: South Kensington)
  • Natural History Museum (Tube: South Kensington)
  • Science Museum (Tube: South Kensington)
  • Tate Modern (Tube: Southwark, Blackfriars)
  • Tate Britain (Tube: Pimlico)
  • Wallace Collection (Tube: Marble Arch)

and most museums in Greenwich.

Aside from these world famous establishments, there is an almost unbelievable number of minor museums in London covering a very diverse range of subjects. The British Government lists over 240 genuine museums in the city.

Notable smaller museums


The 'green lungs' of London are the many parks, great and small, scattered throughout the city including Hyde Park, St James Park and Regent's Park. Most of the larger parks have their origins in royal estates and hunting grounds and are still owned by the Crown, despite their public access.

  • Regent's Park is a wonderful open park in the northern part of central London. (Tube: Camden Town, Regent's Park)
  • St James's Park has charming and romantic gardens ideal for picnics and for strolling around. St. James's Park is situated between Buckingham Palace on the west and Horse Guards Parade on the east.
  • Hampstead Heath is a huge open green space in north central London. Not a tended park a such and is remarkably wild for a metropolitan city location. The views from the Parliament Hill area of the heath south over the city are quite stunning. (Tube: Hampstead, Overground: Hampstead Heath, Gospel Oak)
  • Richmond Park also is a huge green space but has a thriving deer population that is culled in the spring. Excellent place for cycling. (Tube: Richmond then Bus:371)
  • Bushy Park, near to Hampton Court Palace, is the second-largest park in London. More low-key than its larger cousin, Richmond Park, it too has a large deer population. Bushy Park contains numerous ponds, bridleways, two allotments, and at its northern edge, the National Physical Laboratory.

Blue Plaques

English Heritage runs the Blue Plaques programme in London. Blue Plaques celebrate great figures of the past and the buildings that they inhabited. These are among the most familiar features of the capital’s streetscape and adorn the façades of buildings across the city. Since the first plaque was erected in 1867, the number has grown steadily and there are now more than 800. Recipients are as diverse as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Sigmund Freud, Charles de Gaulle, Jimi Hendrix and Karl Marx. Look out for these around the city.

London Pass

Whereas some London museums offer free entry, some other top London attractions are ridiculously expensive. For example, Westminster Abbey and the Tower. These prices can be sometimes mitigated by a purchase of London Pass, which needs to be done at the London Pass website. The pass comes in several varieties and gives access to over 60 attractions, including both Westminster Abbey and the Tower. The best strategy, if one wants to visit several expensive high-profile attractions, is to buy a day pass and to try visiting all of them in the same day. This obviously requires some advanced planning.

What to do in London, UK

To make the most of the city's tremendous cultural offerings (performing arts, museums, exhibitions, clubs, eateries and numerous others), visitors will do well to pick up a copy of a cultural magazine like Time Out London (available at most corner shops and newsagents) which gives detailed information and critiques on what's around town including show times and current attractions. The website also has major shows listed. There is also a Time Out iPhone/iPod app available although the print version tends to be more detailed.

Live music

London is one of the best cities in the world for concerts, spanning from new musical trends to well-known bands. Between huge concert facilities and small pubs, there are hundreds of venues that organize and promote live music every week. Many concerts, especially in smaller or less known places are free, so there is plenty of choice even for tourists on a budget.

London has long been a launchpad for alternative movements, from the mods of the 60s, punks of the 70s, new romantics of the 80s, the Britpop scene of the 90s and in recent years the indie rock movement spearheaded by The Libertines and their ilk. It has one of the world's most lively live music scenes: any band heading a British, European or World tour will play London, not to mention the local talent. London's music scene is incredibly diverse, covering all genres of music from electro-jazz to death-metal, and all sizes of bands, from the U2s and Rolling Stones of the world to one man bands who disband after their first gig. This diversity is reflected in prices.

London has hundreds of venues spread out over the city and the best way to know what's going on where is to browse online ticket agencies, Music Magazine's gig directories and individual bands' MySpace pages. A few areas which have higher concentrations of pubs and venues than others. Kilburn in North West London has long been known as an Irish area; though their numbers have somewhat declined, a visit to a local pub will show their influence remains today. Kilburn's The Good Ship is a favorite place for young aspiring bands to try to get a foot off the ground, due to its inclusive policies and fair payment system. Good for those who would like to see bands "before they were big."

One of the easiest to use and most comprehensive listings websites is "LondonEars".


The West End, especially the areas concentrated around Leicester Square, Covent Garden, Shaftesbury Avenue and Haymarket, is one of the world's premier destinations for theatre, including musical theatre. Covent Garden has the only Actor sponsored school in the city called the Actors Centre which also gave way to the London Acting Network, a London acting community support group. In the centre of Leicester Square there is an official half-price TKTS booth. For up-to-date listings see the weekly magazine Time Out or check the official London theatreland site.

The South Bank is another area well known for world-class theatre and is home to both the National Theatre and the Globe Theatre, the latter of which is London's only thatched building and an attraction in itself. London's theatre scene outside of these two main districts is known as "the Fringe". Several of the larger and more established fringe theatres are an excellent way to see top-quality productions of plays that may well transfer to the West End, but at lower than West End prices. The most significant of these are:

  • The Royal Court (Nearest Tube is Sloane Square). This theatre specializes in new writing, and recent productions that have transferred to great acclaim include 'Enron' by Lucy Prebble and 'Jerusalem' by Jez Butterworth, which had long runs in both the West End and on Broadway.
  • The Menier Chocolate Factory (Short walk from London Bridge station). This small theatre adjacent to Borough Market has done spectacularly well with revivals of musicals, including 'Sunday in the park with George' and 'A Little Night Music' both by Stephen Sondheim and which had runs in both the West End and Broadway.
  • The Lyric Theatre (Short walk from Hammersmith Tube station), e-mail: Not to be confused with its West End namesake this fascinating theatre comprises a Victorian interior transplanted into a modern office building. It offers a mix of modern interpretations of Shakespeare, musicals (Sprink Awakenings was a notable success) and plays that reflect the multicultural nature of its location, in particular serving the Asian and Afro-Caribbean populations of West London.

Other things to do

  • Changing the Guard, Buckingham Palace SW1A 1AA. Buckingham Palace: alternate days 11:30 (except daily May-Jul). Horse Guards Arch: M-Sa 11:00, Su 10:00. The 45 min ceremony which occurs every morning outside Buckingham palace often features Guards regiments with bearskins and red tunics together with military bands. All these soldiers are fighting troops and there will be times when other regiments mount the guard at Buckingham Palace while units are deployed on active service overseas. In Whitehall, cavalry of the Household division on horseback and foot make the formal changeover between the previous guards on duty and the new guards at Horse Guards Parade. The Household division has guarded the royal family since 1660 and continue to do so today.
  • Take a walk through London's Royal Parks. A good walk would start at Paddington station, and head through Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park, Green Park (passing Buckingham Palace) and St James Park before crossing Trafalgar Square and the River Thames to the South Bank and Waterloo Station. At a strolling pace, this walk would take half a day, with plenty of places to stop, sit, drink, eat en route.
  • Watch a film. As well as the world-famous blockbuster cinemas in the West End, London has a large number of superb art house cinemas. In the summer months, there are often outdoor screenings at various venues, such as Somerset House and in some of the large parks.
  • Watch football. Take in a home match of one of the city's 15+ professional football clubs for a true experience of a lifetime as you see the passion of the "World's Game" in its mother country. London will have five clubs in the top Premier League in the upcoming 2015–16 season—Arsenal, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Tottenham Hotspur, and West Ham United. A level down, in the Football League Championship, finds Brentford, Charlton Athletic, Fulham, and Queens Park Rangers (QPR). Five other clubs are in lower levels of the professional league system—Millwall in Football League One; and AFC Wimbledon, Barnet, Dagenham & Redbridge and Leyton Orient in Football League Two. Many of the bigger clubs will require booking in advance, sometimes many months ahead, but smaller clubs allow you to simply turn up on match day and pay at the gate. You will be able to find a ticket to a quality football match on any Saturday during the season.
  • Wimbledon. Wimbledon is the oldest tennis tournament in the world and is widely considered the most prestigious. Naturally, it is a regular feature on the Tennis calendar. London goes "tennis crazy" for two weeks when the competition commences in late June and early July. One of the greatest traditions is to eat Strawberries and Cream with sugar. (Tube:Southfields)
  • Open House London Weekend. Explore many of the city's most interesting buildings during the London Open House Weekend - usually held on the third weekend of September. During this single weekend, several hundred buildings which are not normally open to the public are opened up. See website for details of buildings opening in any given year - some buildings have to be pre-booked in advance - book early for the popular ones!
  • Winter skating. London has a number of outdoor ice rinks that open in the winter months. Considered by some to be somewhat overpriced and overcrowded, they nonetheless have multiplied in recent years, easing congestion and increasing competition.
  • Summer skating. In summer (and also in winter, for the more dedicated) there is also a thriving roller skating (on inline and traditional "quad" skates) scene in London, catering to many disciplines including street hockey, freestyle slalom, dance, general recreational skating (including three weekly marshalled group street skates) and speed skating. This mostly centres around Hyde Park (on the Serpentine Road) and Kensington Gardens (by the Albert Memorial). See the district articles for Mayfair-Marylebone and South West London.
  • Tours. If you don't feel like splashing out on one of the commercial bus tours, you can make your own bus tour by buying an Oyster card and spending some time riding around London on the top deck of standard London buses. Of course, you don't get the open air or the commentary, but the views are very similar. You will likely get lost but that is half the fun; if it worries you go for a commercial tour. One tour, for instance, can be obtained from The London Pass. There is a website for this company. Essentially what it does is sell a 24-hour ticket to use the company's buses to see the essential sites of London and a boat tour on the Thames (with the same ticket) provides a river tour of some of metropolitan London. Taking a tour like this is a good way to spend much of a first day in London, so you can decide what you want to see up close later. Other commercial tours offer similar services.
  • Spitalfields Markets, 65 Brushfield St London E1 6AA (Straight down Bell Lane past 66-68 and keep walking). Visit the thriving old Spitalfields markets which were the original London fruit markets. They have a daily market selling amazing vintage odds and ends and new fresh clothes! Visit 66/68 Bell Lane nearby to see a wealthy merchants house, rumor has it John Lennon once played on the roof of this building with Yoko Ono.
  • For a guided tour of London check out The Literary London Walking Tour - an interesting, informative and funny walk through London and its literary hotspots of the past and present. Meet local writers and poets and listen to them perform their works.
  • Insider London delivers a range of unique alternative London walking tours. Tours include London Street Art, London Underground, Sustainable Architecture, Death and Debauchery and bespoke tours.
  • NFL international series. NFL (American Football) games held in Wembley stadium. Usually held on Sunday evenings or afternoons between October and December of each year.​

What to eat and drink in London, UK


It is a huge task for a visitor to find the "right place" to eat in London - with the "right atmosphere", at the "right price" - largely because, as in any big city, there are literally thousands of venues from which to choose, ranging from fast food joints, pubs, and mainstream chains all the way up to some of the most exclusive restaurants in the world which attract the kind of clientele that doesn't need to ask the price. Sorting the good from the bad isn't easy, but London has something to accommodate all budgets and tastes.

Following is a rough guide to what you might get, should you fancy eating out:

You can get a good English pub or cafeteria breakfast with a rack of bacon, beans in tomato sauce, egg, sausage, orange juice and coffee or tea. Most pubs stop this offer at 11:00, but there are literally hundreds of backstreet cafes (colloquially known as "greasy spoons") which will serve this sort of food all day. Most supermarket chains offer a "meal deal", consisting of a sandwich, a drink and a bag of crisps or fruit while buying the sandwich only can be the same price. If you are going to be on a budget for several days, the supermarkets are a good option.

There are a number of mostly Chinese restaurants which serve an all you can eat buffet for a certain price. These are dotted about the West End and it is well worth asking a member of public or a shopkeeper where the nearest one is. These restaurants make much of their revenue on drinks although these are usually still moderately priced. The food while not being of the finest standard is usually very tasty and the range of dishes available is excellent. There are literally thousands of so-called takeaways in London and are a cheap alternative to a restaurant meal.

Be aware that many pubs have a buy-one-get-one-free offer, and you can either order two main dishes for yourself or bring a friend.

Some expensive French, Mediterranean and international restaurants do cheaper two or three-course lunch menus.

With more money to spend you can pick some of the city's finer restaurants. It may be a famous chef (like Michel Roux, Jr or Gordon Ramsay) or simply a place that prides itself on using the finest ingredients. Worth the splurge to impress a special someone. Note that these establishments often need to be booked well in advance, and most will enforce a dress code of some sort, like Rules of Covent Garden, the oldest restaurant still extant.

Prices inevitably become inflated at venues closest to major tourist attractions - beware the so-called tourist traps. The worst tourist trap food, in the opinion of many Londoners, is served at the various steak houses (Angus Steak House, Aberdeen Steak House etc. - they are all dotted around the West End and near the main train stations). Londoners wouldn't dream of eating here - you shouldn't either! Notorious areas for inflated menu prices trading on travelers' gullibility and lack of knowledge are the streets around the British Museum, Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus. Even the major fast food chains charge a premium in their West End outlets - so watch out.

Pubs in the touristy areas of London are usually a poor choice for food although there are some brilliant "gastro-pubs" hidden away. In general, avoid all pubs that have graphic-designed and printed menus - it's people's experiences in this kind of places that gives Britain a bad name for food! Look around you - see any locals tucking in? No? - then you shouldn't either. The other rule to follow when avoiding poor food is the same as in any other part of Europe - is the menu available in multiple languages? If yes then start running!

In the suburbs, the cost of eating out is reduced drastically. Particularly in large ethnic communities, there is a competitive market which stands to benefit the consumer. In East London for example, there is a vast number of chicken shops. Brick Lane is also known for being home to London's version of the beigel (spelt "bagel" in the United States and Canada, but pronounced the same way), with Brick Lane Beigel Bake and Britain's First & Best Beigel Shop being among the sole remnants of what was once a thriving Jewish community in the neighbourhood. Another good (and cheap) lunch option is a chicken or lamb doner (gyro) at many outlets throughout the city, though meat quality is often poor.

For more authentic Cockney food, try pie and mash, which originates from the working-class in the East End. Usually minced beef and cold water pastry pie served with mashed potato, mushy peas and "liquor" gravy, it tastes a lot better than it sounds. Some of the best pie houses are M. Manze in Peckham or F. Cooke in Hackney Broadway Market. Water Souchet and London Particular (green-pea and ham) are classic Cockney soups, though hard to find on menus. For those game, jellied eels, pickled-cockles and whelks are all traditional London seafood.

Central London's Borough Market offers wholesale produce as well as individual stalls that sell small bites and drinks for a casual and cheap meal. Kappacasein Dairy has a popular stand in the market famous for their grilled cheese which has earned the praise of Giada De Laurentiis and Ruth Reichl.

Tipping may also be different than what you're used to. All meals include the 20% VAT tax and some places include a service fee (10-12%). The general rule is to leave a tip for table service, unless there's already a service charge added or unless the service has been notably poor. The amount tipped is generally in the region of 10%, but if there's a figure between 10 - 15% which would leave the bill at a conveniently round total, many would consider it polite to tip this amount. Tipping for counter service, or any other form of service, is unusual - but some choose to do so if a tips container is provided.

Restaurant streets

While central London is full of restaurants and cafes it is useful for the visitor to be aware that there are some areas where the majority of diners are Londoners, rather than tourists, and in general you will get a much more pleasant, better value, and less crowded eating experience than you will find in the West End. These places are best visited in the evenings.

Clapham Junction is not just a train station - but also home to many good restaurants and bars, in particular on Lavender Hill and Battersea Rise. (Overground: Clapham Junction)

Drummond Street in the Euston area has a fine mix of Indian restaurants - a short walk from Euston railway station. (Tube: Euston)

High Street Croydon - Croydon is derided by most Londoners, however, this suburban gem of a road has at least 30 decent restaurants, including three Argentinians, a South African curryhouse, a couple of fancy modern European brassieres, and just about every other type of cuisine you can think of. (Overground: East Croydon)

Kings Street extends on to Chiswick High Road from Hammersmith Tube Station and is one long road of a choice of restaurants at very reasonable prices, some bargain mentions are the Thai restaurants. Nearby Shepherds bush is about a 15-minute walk and is alive with bars and pubs in the evening. (Tube: Hammersmith)

Lordship Lane in East Dulwich provides a good selection of European restaurants and a few award-winning gastropubs. (train: East Dulwich)

Upper Street in Islington has dozens of excellent restaurants, popular with young professionals. (Tube: Highbury & Islington, Angel).

Wardour Street, in Soho, is full of nice cafes and restaurants. (Tube: Piccadilly Circus)

Restaurant areas

As one of the world's most cosmopolitan cities, you can find restaurants serving food cuisine from nearly every country, some of it as good as, if not better than in the countries of origin.

Indian food in London is especially famous and there is hardly a district without at least one notable Indian restaurant.

If you are looking for other particular regional foods these tend to be clustered in certain areas and some examples are:

  • Brick Lane in the East End is famous for Bangladeshi curries. (Overground: Shoreditch High Street)
  • Brixton for African/Caribbean. (Tube: Brixton)
  • Chinatown just off Leicester Square for Chinese. (Tube: Leicester Square)
  • Edgware Road in Marylebone and Paddington is popular for Middle Eastern cuisine. (Tube: Edgware Road, Paddington)
  • Drummond Street (just behind Euston railway station in the London/Camden district) has lots of vegetarian restaurants - mostly Indian. (Tube: Euston)
  • Finsbury Park and nearby areas, for Greek and Turkish. (Tube: Finsbury Park)
  • Golders Green for Jewish fare. (Tube: Golders Green)
  • Kingsland Road for good cheap Vietnamese.
  • Tooting, East Ham, Wembley and Southall for authentic & cheap Indian eateries including South Indian restaurants serving hot pongal, dosas, idlis and other South Indian "tiffin" items.

Other nationalities are equally represented and randomly dotted all over London. It is usually wisest to eat in restaurants on main thoroughfares rather than on quiet backstreets.


Like other capitals in the world, London has the usual array of fast food outlets. Sandwich shops are the most popular places to buy lunch, and there are a lot of places to choose from including Eat and Pret a Manger. Some Italian-style sandwich shops have a very good reputation and you can identify them easily by looking at the long queues at lunchtime. If all else fails, central London has lots of mini-supermarkets operated by the big British supermarket chains (e.g., Sainsbury's, Tesco) where you can pick up a pre-packed sandwich.

Fast food with an Asian flair is easy to find throughout the city, with lots of Busaba Eathai, Wagamama, and Yo! Sushi locations throughout the city. Nando's, a popular pseudo-Portuguese restaurant chain, has spicy peri-peri style grilled chicken. For burgers, GBK (Gourmet Burger Kitchen) has been joined by other franchises such as Byron and Haché.

List of popular chains

  • Subway. Offers hot and cold sandwiches for takeaway and limited sit-down eating. Store locator on website is a bit iffy but there are multiple central London locations including one at Tower Hill.
  • McDonald's. Perhaps the most famous and recognized burger chain in the world. Serves a consistent menu at consistent prices. Locations pretty much everywhere. Some restaurants are open 24 hours a day.
  • Burger King. Another famous burger chain with a similar ethos to McDonalds but fewer locations. The most central one is located in Leicester Square while others are more scattered.
  • Gourmet Burger Kitchen, ☎ 0345 450 8937NOCC, e-mail: This chain is more expensive and with less focus on takeaway. Multiple central London locations. They can also be found in both Westfield London and Westfield Stratford.
  • Five Guys. A recent arrival from the United States. Has multiple London locations but only a few in central London. You have to phone ahead to order takeaway.
  • Domino's. A popular takeaway only pizza chain. Multiple locations with fairly big delivery areas.
  • Pizza Express. Very popular sit-down restaurants offering more "gourmet" pizzas (but not too gourmet) in multiple central London locations. They are family friendly as well.
  • Pizza Hut. Offers both takeaway and a few sit-down restaurants. Has seven sit-down restaurants in the central London area.
  • Giraffe. Family-friendly sit-down restaurants. Offers a variety of food including brunch, burgers, burritos, and ribs.
  • Wahaca. Sit-down restaurants offering Mexican market food. Multiple central London locations.
  • Zizzi. Sit-down restaurants that serve Italian food. Not many restaurants in central London but there are lots scattered across the city including one at Tower Hill.

Vegetarian and vegan

London has plenty of vegetarian and vegan restaurants many of them championing organic foodstuffs, and a quick search in Google will produce plenty of ideas, so you never have to see a piece of cooked meat all week.

If you are dining with carnivorous friends most restaurants will cater for vegetarians and will have at least a couple of dishes on the menu. Indian/Bangladeshi restaurants are generally fruitful, as they have plenty of traditional dishes (good Indian/Bangladeshi options can be found in the Brick Lane area of Spitalfields or further afield in East Ham, Tooting Broadway and Southall. These also tend to be very cheap eats with authentically prepared dishes with a true local ambience).

Mildred's is a great veggie restaurant in the back streets of Oxford Circus.


Due to the mix of cultures and religions, many London restaurants cater well for religious dietary requirements. The most common signs are for Halal and Kosher meat, from burger joints to nice restaurants. There are lots of Halal restaurants and shops all over London including Whitechapel Rd and Brick Lane in the East End, Bayswater, Edgware Rd and Paddington and in many parts of north London. There are plenty of Kosher restaurants in Golders Green, Edgware and Stamford Hill along with some central delis such as on Charing Cross Road.

Convenience stores and supermarkets

Convenience stores such as Tesco Metro, Sainsbury Central/Local, Budgens, Costcutter, SPAR, Co-op as well as privately-run "corner shops" sell pre-made sandwiches, snacks, alcohol, cigarettes, drinks etc. Most are open from 05:00-23:00 although some such as Tesco Metro or convenience stores located at petrol stations may open 24 hours (although some will stop selling alcohol after a certain time) Be aware that Whistlestop convenience stores (located in or around train stations) are notoriously overpriced and should be avoided.

If using a petrol-station convenience store late at night (i.e. after 23:00) the store will be locked and you should order and pay through the external service window.


Although Tesco and Sainsbury's run smaller stores in central London, full-size superstores (including Morrisons and ASDA) are rare in the city centre and usually require a 15-20 minute Tube ride to reach them. The closest stores to central London are:

  • The ASDA store close to Crossharbour DLR Station on the Lewisham line. This is about a 15-minute ride from Bank station or at the end of the 135 24-hour bus route.
  • The Tesco in the Surrey Quays shopping mall which is next to Canada Water station on the Jubilee line - again about 10–15 minutes from the centre of town.
  • There are larger Sainsbury's stores in both Whitechapel (the nearest Tube is Whitechapel) and in Camden Town (nearest Tube is Camden Town). Both of these stores are located in Travelcard Zone 2.


London is home to a great many pubs, bars and nightclubs. The online city guide View London and the weekly magazine Time Out tell what's going in London's nightlife, as well as cultural events in general.

Pubs & bars

London is an expensive place and your drink is likely to cost more than its equivalent elsewhere in the United Kingdom. If you're looking to save money and meet travelers then pub crawls are guided tours that run nightly in central London. You'll save the ticket price on the savings you get from discounted drink deals and what you would have spent on club entry. The "1 Big Night Out" pub crawl is the biggest operator and starts from near Leicester square underground station.

Many local pubs, especially those run by chains like Wetherspoons and Scream tend to be more reasonably priced with good drink promotions on weekday nights and during the day. As with the rest of the UK, chain pubs abound which Londoners tend to avoid like the plague. A good place to get cheap beer is at any one of the Sam Smith pubs found across Central London, including Soho and the City.

In the Bloomsbury area, check out The Court (near the north end of Tottenham Court Road) and The Rocket (Euston Road). Both are fairly cheap to drink at given that they cater for students of the adjacent University College London. Directly opposite the British Library is The Euston Flyer, popular with locals and commuters alike given its close proximity to St Pancras International railway station.

Classier bars and pubs can be much more expensive. However, the cost of alcohol drops significantly the further away you go from the centre (though be aware that West London tends to be an exception, with prices pretty much the same as the centre). For a more reasonably priced (but brilliant) cocktail bar than you'll find in the central and West End areas Lost Society in Clapham situated on Lavender Hill.

Two historic London breweries are Young's and Fullers. Young's was founded in Wandsworth in 1831 (but has recently relocated to Bedford) and nowadays it boasts 123 pubs in central London alone. The Founder's Arms just next to the Tate Modern on the river embankment itself is one of the brewery's most well-known establishments with a great view of the River Thames. Fullers was founded a bit later in 1845 at Chiswick (where you can take a most enjoyable tour of the brewery, including beer-tasting) and the jewel in its crown is probably the Grade I listed Old Bank Of England on Fleet Street, thanks to its breath-taking interiors. Fuller's flagship beer is the famous 'London Pride', however, to try a truly authentic Cockney pint, ask at bars if they serve a seldom seen now Porter, a dark style of beer originating in London in the 18th Century, similar but less heavy then a Stout. For a different taste, try a gin and tonic.

It's hard to say which pub in London is truly the oldest but it's easy to find contenders for the title. Many pubs were destroyed in the Great Fire of London – indeed, Samuel Pepys supposedly watched the disaster from the comfort of the Anchor in Borough. Pubs were rebuilt on sites that claimed to have been working pubs since the 13th century. Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese in Fleet Street is on the site of an old monastery and its cellar dates back to the 13th century. The Princess Louise and Citty of York are two lovely pubs close by, along High Holborn with interesting decor; as is the Jerusalem Tavern of Farringdon, a converted Georgian coffee shop, which sells the Norfolk beer, St. Peters. The Royal Oak of Borough, is another pub which is the only representative of an out-of-town brewery in London, that of Harvey's of Lewes. The food is fantastic as is the atmosphere. Those interested in London's historic and literary connections can't miss The Spaniard's Inn in Hampstead. Dick Turpin is said to have been born here; John Keats and Charles Dickens both drank here; it's mentioned in Dickens' The Pickwick Papers and Bram Stoker's Dracula. The Goose at Catford was reputedly a favorite hole of Karl Marx.

For the best view in the city, try pubs on the banks of the Thames. The South Bank has lots of good bars with plenty of iconic bridges and buildings in sight the cocktail bar in the OXO tower is a secret that most tourists walk by everyday. Heading towards Bermondsey, pub crowds become a little less touristy.

If you're after gastropubs, you may like to visit London's first, The Eagle, in Clerkenwell, established in 1991. You can also try Time Out's favorite newcomer, The Princess Victoria on Uxbridge Road, Shepherd's Bush.

The "Bermondsey Beer mile" is home to many craft breweries which are open in the middle of the day most Saturdays. Situated under the railway arches on lines going to London Bridge, these quaint breweries are home to high-quality beer at cheap to average London prices. Best places include Kernel Brewery and Brew by Numbers.

Wine buffs can enjoy the famous Davys wine bars that dot the city. The company, established in 1870, import wines and own over thirty bars in the centre. Other big names in wine include the Michelin-starred Cellar Gascon and Vinoteca, both in Smithfield. For a posh wine tasting experience, there is Vinopolis by Borough Market, though a tour price will be as eye-watering as the produce sampled.

Big hotels, such as The Langham, The Dorchester and The Ritz, and upmarket clubs around Leicester Square and Soho are reliable bets for a date at the bar. The Connaught Hotel in Mayfair-Marylebone boasts its house bar, plus the Time Out favorite, The Coburg. Still in Mayfair, The Polo Bar at The Westbury is very intimate.

You can rely on most up-and-running bars to offer a short cocktail menu and there are also bars that position themselves as cocktail specialists.


Nightlife is an integral part of London life and there are countless nightclubs in and around Central London with music to suit even the most eclectic of tastes. Districts in London tend to specialize in different types of music.

The Farringdon/Hoxton/Shoreditch area has many clubs playing drum and bass, techno, house and trance music and is home to the superclub Fabric. The clubs in this area are often home to the world's top DJ's and attracts a lively, hip and friendly crowd. Big name drum and bass, house and techno DJs also appear at clubs scattered around Kings Cross (Egg, Scala), Elephant (Ministry of Sound, Corsica Studios), Southwark (Cable), Whitechapel (Rhythm Factory), and at mixed nights at the Vauxhall clubs (see below). Nights are also hosted in disused Hackney warehouses or south London car parks.

The area around Mayfair is home to the more upmarket clubs in London. This area attracts a rather more showy crowd who love to flaunt what they have and is a must go to celebrity spot. Beware that drinks are ridiculously expensive and many clubs operate a guestlist-only policy. Music played here is often of the commercial chart, funky house, hip hop and R&B genre. Notable clubs include China White, Luxx, Maddox, Jalouse, Funky Buddha, Whisky Mist, Mahiki, No 5 Cavendish Square, Embassy, Vendome and Maya.

Nightclubs around the Leicester Square area hold the same music policy but are rather more accessible, with numerous club and pub crawl promoters scattered around the area offering deals on entry. Notable clubs are Cafe De Paris, 1 Big Night Out pub crawl, Penthouse, Sound, Tiger Tiger, Zoo bar and Ruby Blue.

The Camden area is home to clubs which play Indie, metal and rock music and notably the Electric Ballroom, the world famous Koko (Fridays) and Underworld, however, be aware that Camden clubs are mostly shut (or empty) on the weekdays.

In South London, London's Afro-Caribbean centre Brixton is home to numerous venues with all kinds of music, including a particular presence in reggae, ska, afrobeat, hip-hop, and dubstep. In recent years more venues have opened in Peckham and New Cross.

Gay and lesbian

London has a vibrant gay environment with countless bars, clubs and events in almost every district in the city.

The nucleus of London's gay scene is undoubtedly Old Compton St and the surrounding area in Soho but over the last couple of years, Vauxhall has seen a boom in Gay venues. You will find that many areas, particularly in Camden Town and Shoreditch, that straight bars will have a mixed clientele. To find out what is going on during your visit, you can check:

  • A weekly magazine that comprehensively covers the London gay scene with handy night by night listings available on-line and in print
  • Boyz Magazine. Which is published fortnightly and is freely available at most London gay venues, and contains listings of everything that is happening in all the major clubs in London and the South East.

Gay Pride is held every year in June with a parade and street parties. The choice of places to go sometimes seem to be unmanageable.

  • London Gay and Lesbian Switchboard (LLGS), ☎ +44 20 7837 7324, e-mail: This voluntary service has been operating since 1974 and as well as providing counseling they offer an incredibly thorough information service about Gay events, accommodation and businesses in London.​

Shopping in London, UK

London is one of the world's most fashion conscious cities, which explains the abundance of clothing shops from the flagship stores of Oxford Street to the tiny boutiques of Brick Lane.

Though not particularly known for bargain shopping, nearly anything you could possibly want to buy is available in London. In Central London, the main shopping district is the West End (Bond Street, Covent Garden, Oxford Street and Regent Street). On Thursdays many West End stores close later than normal (19:00-20:00).

  • Oxford Street. Main shopping street, home to flagship branches of all the major British high street retailers in one go including Selfridges, John Lewis (includes a food hall), Marks & Spencer and other department stores. It is best to shop here in the morning as the street becomes increasingly busy during the day. (Tube: Oxford Circus)
  • Regent Street (between Oxford Circus and Piccadilly Circus). Includes such gems as Hamleys, considered to be London's flagship toy store spread out on seven levels, and the London Apple Store. (Tube: Oxford Circus, Piccadilly Circus)
  • Bond Street. Some of the world's most luxurious designer stores such as Cartier, D&G, Jimmy Choo, Louis Vuitton and Versace. (Tube: Bond Street)
  • Tottenham Court Road. Contains some of the world's most luxurious designer interior stores such as Heals, whilst the southern end is famous for its large concentration of hi-fi, computer and electronics stores. (Tube: Tottenham Court Road, Goodge Street)
  • Covent Garden. Fashionable area home to quaint outlets and relatively expensive designer stores. Around Seven Dials, chains include Adidas Originals, All Saints, Carhartt, Fred Perry, G Star Raw and Stussy. For shoes, head for Neal Street. Also, the London Transport Museum whose gift shop has some of the best souvenirs in the city (old maps, vintage Tube posters, etc.). London's second Apple Store is located here as well. (Tube: Covent Garden)
  • Charing Cross Road (near Covent Garden). A book lover's haven! New, second-hand, antiquarian and specialist. (Tube: Tottenham Court Road, Charing Cross)
  • Denmark Street (at the north end of Charing Cross Road near Tottenham Court Road station). Also known as Tin-Pan Alley, this is a music lover's paradise with an amazing array of music shops, bars and clubs in one short street. (Tube: Tottenham Court Road)
  • Soho. Offers alternative music and clothes. Now home to Chappell of Bond Street's historic music shop. (Tube: Oxford Circus)
  • Camden Town. Alternative clothing and other alternative shopping, popular with teenagers and young adults. Has the headquarters for Cyberdog - a large shop which sells clothing and accessories for the club and rave scene. Camden Lock Market is also worth a visit to see independent artists plying their wares. (Tube: Camden Town)
  • Chelsea. The King's Road is noted for fashion, homeware and children's clothing. On Wednesday many stores close late. (Tube: South Kensington)
  • Knightsbridge. Department stores include the world famous Harrods (includes a food hall) and Harvey Nichols. On Wednesday many stores close late. (Tube: Knightsbridge)
  • Beauchamp Place. Shop where royalty and celebrities shop! One of the world's most unique and famous streets. Over the years it has developed a strong reputation as one of London’s most fashionable and distinctive streets, housing some of the best-known names in London fashion, interspersed with trendy restaurants, jewelers and specialty shops including the world famous trademark Fortuny. (Tube: Knightsbridge)
  • Westminster. Some of the world's most famous shirts are made on Jermyn Street. Savile Row is home to some of the world's best men's bespoke tailors including Henry Poole, Gieves & Hawkes, H. Huntsman & Sons, Dege & Skinner and many others (Tube: Westminster)
  • Westfield London in Shepherd's Bush is one of the two largest shopping mall complexes in Greater London. This was the first Westfield to be built and spurred regeneration of the local area. It is served by both the London Overground and Underground. It is easiest to get here via public transport, but there is reasonable car parking space available. (Tube: Shepherd's Bush)
  • Westfield Stratford City in Stratford is a large shopping mall complex very similar to Westfield London in Shepherd's Bush but located on the edge of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. There is ample car parking and you can also park here to access the Park itself. This Westfield is easier to access by car due to its close proximity to the A12 road. (Tube / DLR: Stratford)


Borough Market is a great (if expensive) food market, offering fruit, vegetables, cheese, bread, meat, fish, and so on, much of it organic. The market opens Th-Sa. For market shopping, it's best to go in the morning, or after 14:00, since it starts to get very crowded by around 11:30 when the lunch crowd comes in. Lunch here is good though because there are many stalls that offer fresh made fast food on the spot; from ostrich burgers to falafel, most tastes are catered for. (Tube: London Bridge)

Old Spitalfields Market is an excellent market for clothes from up-and-coming designers, records, housewares, food, and all things trendy. Find it at 65 Brushfield St, E1 6AA (straight down Bell Lane past 66-68 and keep walking). Visit 66/68 Bell Lane nearby to see a wealthy merchants house, rumor has it John Lennon once played on the roof of this building with Yoko Ono. (Tube: Liverpool Street)

Also be sure to check out Brick Lane Market, Greenwich Market and Portobello Road Market.


Tax-free shops in airports are not strong in variety, prices are equal to London, and they close rather early as well. Shop listings at airport websites can help to plan your tax-free (vs traditional) shopping. In the evening allow an extra half hour as closing hours are not always strictly respected.

Many big department stores in central London have an information booth where they can give you the paperwork needed to reclaim tax on purchases made at the store when you get to the airport.


London, like the rest of the UK, uses the British Pound Sterling.

Retail prices for most items, with a few exceptions, always include VAT (at 20%). Visa and MasterCard/Maestro are the two most commonly-accepted debit/credit cards, although most large shops will also accept American Express. If your card does not have a microchip (for Chip & PIN) some machines (for instance, at Tube stations) will be unable to read your card. Some shops may ask you for additional identification, especially in relation to high-value items, or items that are under age-related restrictions. Most shops no longer accept personal cheques. Contactless or NFC-enabled VISA and MasterCard cards can also be used for purchases of usually up to £20 in lieu of Chip & Pin, even on London Underground fare gates and buses.

£50 notes are not often used in everyday transactions and most shops will not accept them. When exchanging money at a bureau de change make sure to ask for £5, £10 and £20 notes only. The Bank of England's guide to bank notes may be of use.

Safety in London, UK

In an emergency, telephone "999" (or "112"). This number connects to Police, Ambulance and Fire/Rescue services. You will be asked which of these three services you require before being connected to the relevant operator.

Like many big cities, London has a variety of social problems, especially begging, drug abuse and theft (mobile phones are a favorite, often snatched by fast-moving cyclists). A Traditional 'Blue Lamp' outside a Police Station in London has the oldest police force in the world, The Metropolitan Police Service, and on the whole, London is a safe place to visit and explore. Alongside the regular Police, there are over 4,000 Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) that provide a highly visible presence on the streets and can deal with low-level crime. Normal precautions for the safe keeping of your personal possessions, as you would in any other city, are suggested.
The Metropolitan Police have placed significant resources in combating street level crime. Working in conjunction with borough councils, they have brought the level of theft and pickpocketing in major retail areas in London to a manageable level. Pickpocketing in London is in general not as rampant as in other major European cities, though it still pays to be vigilant and take the usual precautions in securing your valuables.

Street gang culture is a growing problem in London as with many other cities in England. While most groups of youngsters are not likely to present any danger to tourists, some people feel the need to be slightly more vigilant in certain areas, especially certain outer suburbs. Violent crime is in general not common and typically occurs in impoverished neighborhoods that tourists are unlikely to wander into by accident.

Main precautions to take
Keep valuables out of sight: Many crimes are opportunistic - a lot of mobile phones are snatched from restaurant tables. By keeping items such as cash and mobile phones out of sight theft can easily be prevented. Don't flash your cash unnecessarily!
Keep bags zipped up and close to your body: If your bag is hanging open it's like putting up a flashing neon sign saying "Steal from me!" Use zips and inside pockets to secure items wherever possible. Never leave valuables such as mobile phones, wallets or travel documents in an outside section of your bag.
Be aware of your surroundings: Before using your mobile phone have a look around you. Put your back against something solid such as a wall or window so you can't be approached from behind. Constantly look around you even if you are in a busy area. Don't walk and talk/text!

Late at night
If you're planning to go out late at night and are worried about safety try to frequent crowded areas such as the West End. There are always plenty of people on the street, even at 04:00. Generally, outside central London, the South, and East suburban areas are considered more dangerous, notably Brixton, Peckham and Hackney, although some parts of North-West London such as Harlesden and northern Camden are also known trouble spots.
The main problem right throughout London to various degrees is drunken behavior, particularly on Friday and Saturday nights and after football matches. Loud and rowdy behavior is to be expected and fights and acts of aggression also occur. If you are harassed, it is best to simply ignore and walk away from those concerned. Trouble spots can be expected around popular drinking locations such as Soho and in various suburban centres.

Scams and cons
London has a large number of con artists around, all trying to convince you to hand over your money one way or another. In general, you should never give cash or your bank/credit card detail to people on the street no matter how genuine they seem.
Cup and ball game: This variant of a scam dating back into antiquity is perhaps the most common and is frequently seen on the busier pedestrian bridges such as Westminster Bridge. A person will lay out a mat with three cups on it. They will pretend to hide a ball under one of the cups, move the cups around, and then ask you to place a bet on where the ball-containing cup has landed. There is no ball - the con artist will have spirited it away! This con always has people acting as lookouts in the crowd and they will pretend to win every now and again so it looks like the game is winnable. Also, beware if you are just stopping to watch as you could be pick-pocketed! The best defense is to walk straight past these events and not engage at all. If you have a mobile phone/cellphone that works in the UK you can phone the police on 101 (the non-emergency equivalent to 999) and report them, but it is advised to move away to do this as you may be harassed by the con artist or their lookouts if they overhear you.

Overzealous street performers: Most street performers are happy to just do their thing, let you watch, and then you can throw them a few coins if you liked the show. However, some street performers will actively grab and harass passers-by in order to get attention and money. They may forcefully pose with you and ask you to take a photograph and then demand money for the photo opportunity. They may also take this opportunity while you're distracted to pick-pocket you. Don't engage with any street performer who is pushy or forceful - try and walk away, or call out "Get off me!" or "No!" and draw attention to yourself if you can't escape easily. Again, you can report these bogus street performers on the 101 number as above.

Tissue sellers on trains: Beggars will get onto a train and place tissues on the seats with a note begging for money. They want you to feel pity for them and buy the tissues, but this is an organized scam and the money goes towards criminal enterprises. If you see this happening on a train don't buy the tissues and ignore anyone who asks you for money for them. If you're above ground you can text the British Transport Police on 61016 to report it.

"Clip joint": 'Every night, Soho presents a particular danger: the "clip joint". The usual targets of these establishments are lone male tourists. Usually, an attractive woman will casually befriend the victim and recommend a local bar or even a club that has a "show". The establishment will be near-desolate, and, even if the victim has only a drink or two, the bill will run to hundreds of pounds. If payment is not immediately provided, the bouncers will lock the "patrons" inside and take it by force or take them to an ATM and stand over them while they extract the cash. To be safe, if a woman you just met suggests you a place, try to recommend a different bar. If she insists on hers then walk away and do not listen to her suggestions. Sometimes this con trick takes place when someone is lured into a private club with the promise of something perhaps more than a drink (like a 'private show' or sex for a small amount of money). A 'hostess fee' will appear on the bill for several hundred pounds, even though there has been nothing more than polite conversation.

"Stress tests": If anyone offers you a free "stress test", they are likely trying to recruit you into the Church of Scientology. The best option is to walk away or just say "No thank you" politely, as people are commonly harassed into giving personal details.

Needing money for phone/train tickets/the bus/et al.: A man or woman will approach you asking for money for public transport. They will claim that they have lost their Travelcard or that it has been damaged somehow. Most people upon losing their Travelcard will seek aid at a train station and not approach random strangers! Another variant of this scam exists wherein a man or woman will ask for change so they can make a call at a phone box (this is a frequent scam in the Shoreditch area). Occasionally a person with a very convincing fake gash on their arm or head will ask for money so that they can get a taxi to hospital (strangely refusing the offer of you calling an ambulance for them, as you would do for most injured people in the street).

Ticket machine scam: One of the most popular scams in London is the ticket machine scam: While buying a ticket at a train station someone will approach you and act as if they want to help you buy the right ticket. In reality, they will wait until your money is in the machine, then lean across, cancel the transaction and pocket your cash. Say "No thanks" politely - you know what ticket you want to buy!

Selling/asking for a donation for "lucky heather": This scam, usually operated by women, involves someone handing you "lucky heather" (a small flower usually wrapped in foil) and then either trying to sell it to you or asking for a monetary donation. They will come up with a vague charity ("money for sick children", "money for orphaned babies", and so on) and show you a purse full of supposed "donations". If you are handed one of these flowers either hand it back or drop it on the ground and leave. Be aware that you if you take the flower and leave without "donating" you could be chased and harassed by the people involved in the scam. This scam has been seen in Chinatown around the time of Chinese New Year.

Street collections
Although not illegal, London is a known hotspot for charity collectors, some of whom can be extremely persuasive in trying to obtain a donation; therefore they have earned the name "charity muggers" or "chuggers". If you do not want to donate, be polite but forceful, and under no circumstances provide any form of bank details. Larger charities ask their collectors to have specific and verifiable identification.

Don't take illegal minicabs (see Get around for details). Minicabs are not allowed to ply for trade on the street and any minicab doing this should be avoided.
Traveling on the lower deck of a night bus is generally safer, as there are more passengers around, and you are visible to the bus driver.
If you have been the victim of crime on the railways or the London Underground you should report the crime as soon as possible to the British Transport Police, who have an office in most major train and Tube stations. Or if you have been a victim of crime in the City of London you should report the crime to the City of London Police. Elsewhere, you should report your crime as normal to the Metropolitan Police.
If you've lost an item on the Underground, Overground or Docklands Light Railway, in a licensed black cab or on a red London bus you should contact the TfL Lost Property Office (Tube: Baker Street) as soon as possible. In respect of other rail and coach services, the relevant service operator should be contacted.

Stay healthy

The UK's National Health Service (NHS) will provide emergency treatment for anyone in the UK, irrespective of whether they reside in the UK, but if you are not UK resident you will be expected to make a contribution (up to the entire cost) towards such treatment, Travel insurance is essential.
You can find NHS services near you here.

For a serious medical emergency (unconsciousness, stroke, heart attack, heavy bleeding, broken bones, etc.) dial 999 or 112 and ask for an ambulance. These numbers are free of charge from any telephone. When you call, the operator will ask for details about the patient(s) and your location. As emergency response is prioritized in London the operator needs to know what resources they need to use and how quickly you need help.
London's ambulance coverage is excellent with highly trained and friendly staff. For instances of major trauma, there is also London's Air Ambulance, two helicopters that can deliver an advanced trauma team within minutes to anywhere in London. At night the helicopters do not fly and a rapid response car is dispatched instead.

General medical advice
For advice on non-emergency medical problems, you can ring the 24 hour NHS Direct service on 111.
Treatment for non-emergency conditions, or for hospital admissions resulting from emergencies, is normally free for people holding a European Health Insurance card (EHIC) issued by most European governments, or certain other countries listed here. In the absence of such a card, you would be well advised to get private travel health insurance.
At large organized events, and in many theatre productions, basic medical assistance and first aid are provided through the support of organizations such as St John Ambulance or the stewards for the event.

Pharmacies (often referred to as chemists) are found across London, with chains such as Lloyds Pharmacy and Boots being prevalent. Many independent pharmacies also exist. Most large supermarkets also have pharmacy counters, although these do not stock some of the stronger remedies. Unlike other European countries, pharmacies are often not marked by prominent neon 'green cross' signs.
Pharmacists are also able to offer advice on many health problems and recommend medicines that might help. For certain remedies (for example stronger painkillers) you may have to ask at the counter, as for regulatory reasons these can only be sold by pharmacists under strict protocols. Don't be alarmed if the pharmacist asks some basic diagnostic questions, or for ID.

Private healthcare
If you need to see a GP but either don't have time to or can't register with an NHS GP, a new service called DocTap exists in which you can book with a 15-minute appointment with a private GP in one of the service's central London clinics.
London is also home to some of the most renowned - and most expensive - private medical treatment facilities, the most notable of which being the host of private consultants and surgeons on Harley Street in Marylebone.

Language spoken in London, UK

English is the official language. 


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