London is the UK’s biggest city, a fantastic and frenetic metropolis teeming with people of all races, creeds and walks of life. Here the old contrasts spectacularly with the new, offering some of the world’s most famous sights and an unrivalled nightlife. Our very own Chadd Andre shares some tips on things to see and do in this city:
Having lived in the Greater London area during University, and having had countless visits to this great city over the years, I can tell you there is a lot to take in here. If you have any downtime while you’re on the ground, the massive (and free!) National Gallery right at Trafalgar Square is a must.
Even if you are not an art lover, you will definitely find some respect for the impressive collection they hold here, from Renaissance to Impressionist, before and beyond. If you’re into history and the monarchy, be sure to check out the Tower of London, on the same grounds where the original Roman settlement of Londinium first appeared more than a thousand years ago (with some ruins to prove it). Today the now former Royal Palace is a standing museum of time having played a prominent role at the centre of English history. It also currently showcases the notable Crown Jewels. Beyond the specific sights, if you want to just relax and take in the atmosphere, I would definitely recommend a visit to Covent Garden. Great for people watching, buskers and other live street performances.
Once you’ve worked up an appetite, ensure you get to know some locals at a neighbourhood pub. There’s no shortage of great dining options in London, but here you can often find some pretty tasty and more affordable fare and of course some very thirstquenching libations.
If you’re in the West-End in those early evening hours, hopefully you’ve secured tickets to one of the dozens of musicals or live theatre performances littering the area. When you come out of the theatre, Piccadilly Circus will be brightly lit to welcome you to a very vibrant London nightlife scene, if that’s your thing.
If you ever have a few dollars you want to throw around, head up to Oxford Street to see the city’s main shopping street. My favourite store of mayhem is Primark. You will literally need to buy a new suitcase to bring home all the cheap goods you find interesting there. But don’t worry, that new suitcase will probably only cost you the equivalent of $15-$20!! As they say in life, you only get what you pay for, but I find overall, the quality of the goods still represent an incredible value.
One personal recommendation I have for you, as easy as the Tube is to use (aka London Underground, or subway as we call it here at home), make sure you walk around. Unless you need to travel more than two stops away, it can not only take the same amount of time to walk by the time you get in and out of the system, but it will also help you get your bearings with the city and figure your way around. The first time I ever visited London, I was 14 years old on a high school band trip – remember that one time in band camp? Not quite. But I did take the Tube absolutely everywhere. Because of all the twists and turns between entering the station house and getting on the train and back above ground again, my sense of direction was absolutely useless, for which I felt absolutely frustrated. On subsequent visits to the city, by walking around I was able to stitch together the bigger picture of all the neighbourhoods that had remained in my mind as isolated pockets of experience from one Tube stop to another.
Depending on the amount of time you have to spend in the area, you may want to consider seeing some sights a bit further afield, such as a day trip to Stonehenge, to the SW of the city, or to the south coast beachside ‘resort’ town of Brighton, only an hour by direct train from London Victoria. And don’t forget, Paris is only 2.5 hours away by Eurostar and the infamous ‘Chunnel’!
Chadd Andre is the Operations Leader for Corporate Traveller in Western Canada. For more information about travelling to London, talk to one of our Travel Managers who would be happy to answer your questions and assist you in your travel needs by calling 1-877-525-4292.