London is the capital of the United Kingdom and, at the same time, one of the most visited cities in the world. It is a cosmopolitan city, full of fun, culture, color … in short, a place capable of surprising everyone. In recent years, thanks to the rise of cheap flights, it has become a perfect holiday destination.
Below you have an index with all the points that we are going to deal with in this article.
Prior to your arrival, our advice is that you spend a few days preparing the trip to London. Keep in mind that it is one of the most visited and tourist European cities in the world.
Although we can also use a travel agency to plan it, we currently have many resources to organize the trip on our own: cheap flights, English language diffusion, Internet… Below we show you a summary of everything you need to know before travel.
London, capital of the United Kingdom, is a cosmopolitan city, center of various cultural fields and one of the great capitals of the world. In total, today the number of inhabitants reaches 9 million and the official language is British English.
Over the centuries, London has gone through different times that have marked the current situation of the city. However, the history of London is marked by 5 main historical facts:
- Londinium: This is the name that the Romans established in 50 A.D., considered the official historical moment in which London and the City were founded.
- Of the sceatta to the pound sterling: the sceatta it was the currency of exchange during the years 730-745 AD, considered the origin of the current pound sterling.
- Elizabethan era: the reign of Queen Elizabeth I lasted 45 years (1558-1603), period considered as the golden age of English history due to the rebirth experienced by English literature. In 1558 the first map of London was created and the city became the first market worldwide thanks to the creation of the Royal Exchange.
- English culture boom: Georgian times also marked a before and after in the culture of London. The first English-language monolingual dictionary was published, Handel composed The Messiah and Aquatic Music, etc.
- Olimpic games 2012: this year is known by many as the year of London due to the celebration of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, which lasted 29 days. The Diamond Jubilee of Queen Isabell II also took place in honor of her 60 years of reign.
Despite being part of the European Union, the United Kingdom maintains the official pound sterling (monetary symbol: £).
The current situation in London stands out for maintaining stable economic levels. In fact, London is defined as one of the world's leading economies and the city that dominates the global economy of the United Kingdom.
Culture and customs
London is the capital of the United Kingdom and is located in England, one of the four nations that make up this country. The English culture can get to distract a lot from that of other European countries such as Spain in terms of gastronomy, customs, ways of greeting, folklore, customs, etc.
One of the most characteristic data of the British is the custom of having tea at 5 in the afternoon (Five o’clock tea in English).
On the other hand, the English are very sports fans in general, and rugby, football and cricket in particular, the latter considered the English sport par excellence, nowadays become an Indian custom as well.
The English spend several hours in the school to the subject of physical education and in the university there are sports teams for almost all kinds of sports.
On the other hand, the British in general stand out for being quite disciplined and in favor of more or less reserved behavior. Thus, the most common way to greet each other in England is through a handshake both to say goodbye and to introduce yourself.
It is a gesture used in all kinds of contexts, from the moment we have just met someone to business meetings and formal meetings. It is used between men and women interchangeably.
London is in the United Kingdom and, as such, is a country that is in Europe and, in turn, is part of the EU. In spite of this, the United Kingdom is not part of the Schengen Area and therefore has its own visa policy.
For this reason, the main requirements for entering England will depend fundamentally on two variables: whether we come from an EU member country or not. Whatever our case, it is essential to always be properly documented with the passport and / or the identity card.
Citizens belonging to a member country of the European Economic Area (EEA) are exempt from visas and can only access with their valid passport or national identity document.
On the other hand, a distinction is made between non-member countries that are exempt from visas and those that necessarily require visas.
For detailed information on visas, requirements, documentation and other information of interest to travel to London, we recommend you visit the following article: Visa and documentation to travel to London.
Climate and temperature
Many are those who claim that you can get to experience all 4 seasons in the same day in London.
This is due to its geographical location in London and the weather of London type temperate oceanic. This also influences the average temperature of the entire southern area of Great Britain, which never reaches very extreme values, even in summer.
However, London winters are usually cold, with an average temperature between −4 ° C and 14 ° C. It is unusual for snow, although frosts can occur in some suburbs, especially between the months of November and March. In summer, however, the average temperature does not usually exceed 20 ° C.
It should be noted that London usually has an average temperature about 5 ° C higher than the surrounding area.
This occurs because the urban area surrounding the city causes the so-called "heat island effect", that is, heat accumulates due to the presence of heat absorbing materials in the infrastructure.
Although many tourists prefer to visit the British capital in summer because of the better temperatures and the fact that you can enjoy more hours of sun, traveling in winter can also have its advantages.
Now, whatever time you travel in, it is absolutely recommended that you do not miss a oilskin or K-way in your suitcase, since it can start raining at any time.
How to get
The great importance of London worldwide makes it a city perfectly connected to virtually any country in the world.
Although the most common is to choose the airplane Since it is usually the fastest way and the one that allows us to save travel time, it is also possible to travel by train, car and boat if we come from a country located in Europe.
Similarly, Latin American travelers can find a large number of direct flights from their main capitals. London has four main airports throughout the city:
- Heathrow Airport
- Gatwick Airport
- Luton Airport
- Stansted Airport
As we said, if you choose to arrive in London by plane, you should know that there is a wide range of low cost airlines that offer really amazing prices and adapted to all types of pockets.
If we book in advance, we can easily find round-trip flights for € 50 or less. The main airlines that offer cheap flights from Spain to London are easyJet, Ryanair, Vueling and Iberia Express.
Those tourists who are in Europe, can travel to London by train via the line Eurostar, which leaves from Paris (France) up to 12 times a day and takes 2 hours and 30 minutes to reach London.
This train also departs from Brussels. To arrive from Spain, the only way is to travel first to Paris and from there take the Eurostar. However, the price is about € 200 per trip and more than 15 hours of travel.
If you want to reach London by car, the only possibility is to travel first to France, specifically to Calais, and from there take the Eurotunnel to Dover.
It is a little recommended option, since you should know that in the UK you drive on the left, unlike in Spain, and it is also much easier to move by public transport.
Finally, there is the possibility of arriving in London by boat thanks to the company Brittany Ferries, which has three sea routes between Spain and England:
It is recommended to choose one of the two routes with destination Portsmouth, since it is only 120 km away from London and, in addition, the connections are very simple.
English cuisine has been taking shape in response not only to its climate, but also based on its history and the influence of other European and Asian cultures. It has also incorporated the famous fast food or fast food brought from the USA as well as the famous take away.
Although originally the use of spices was not common in English cuisine, it is currently strongly twinned with the indian cuisine after the coexistence of many years
For this reason, numerous can be found take away and restaurants where you can taste Indian food. On the other hand, ingredients such as cereals (especially oatmeal) and legumes such as peas are very common.
In London you can also find a wide range of cheeses with certificate of denomination of origin. As examples of this we can list the following types:
- Cheddar cheese
- Dorset blue cheese
- Bonchester cheese
- Shropshire blue
- Blue buxton
Another widely consumed product is meat and vegetable empanadas, especially Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding, the latter considered the national dish of Great Britain.
In London the consumption of mussels with vinegar and the cake of eels and lamb with mint sauce is also frequent, not forgetting the famous fish & chips.
In addition, since it is a cosmopolitan city, you can find products from other regions, such as the haggis, one of the typical dishes of Scotland.
On the other hand, the quintessential London dessert is the apple pie, an apple pie that is served hot. Also banana muffins with cinnamon, summer pudding, English custard or custard or the berry cake with cream with some of the most famous desserts of the British capital.
At the time of taking the famous english tea, it is common to accompany it with the raisins of Cornwall and Crumbles. Tea is the most consumed non-alcoholic beverage, especially the Earl Gray.
Although it is not exactly economical, getting around London by public transport is the best option. For example, a single metro ticket costs £ 4.90 or, what is the same, € 6.30.
As we see, it is a large difference compared to other European capitals such as Madrid, where the price can vary from 1.50 to 2.00 euros depending on the area for which we will not move.
The main means of transport within London are, at the top of the list, the subway, followed by the bus, the taxi and the rental bicycles.
He London subway It has a total of 11 different lines, which makes its network one of the largest in the world. Our recommendation is to use it to move around the city, especially if you are going to travel long distances.
As for the bus, although it is true that it is not precisely the fastest means of transport, many tourists choose it as a way to get around London because it is a nice way to get around the city while enjoying the views of the city. city.
In addition, London's red buses are one of the most emblematic and representative symbols of the city. On the other hand, moving by taxi is fast and much more comfortable, but you should know that celebrities Black cabs They are the most expensive in Europe.
Like many other European capitals, London has its own public system of bicycle rental, popularly known as Boris Bikes.
This nickname is because it was Boris Johnson who promoted its implementation in June 2010. Although it is still expanding, it already covers all of London's zone 1 and part of zone 2, with more than 6,000 bicycles available.
First of all, you should know that staying in London is quite expensive. Finding a good hotel at an affordable price is a bit complicated, although you can always resort to some tricks such as preparing the trip in advance, looking for offers, etc. It is also advisable to know first what are the best areas or to know if there are dangerous areas in London.
A first option if you are looking for an affordable price are the famous Bed & Breakfast (literally, Bed + Breakfast), a very typical type of accommodation also in Edinburgh (Scotland).
These are traditional houses that offer accommodation to tourists in a family environment where, in many cases, the owners live there. In fact, many existing hotels currently have, in reality, the category of B&B.
If you prefer a more intimate place, you can choose either between a hotel or between an apartment. As we said, the price of London hotels is usually high, especially if you want to sleep in a decent hotel in the city center.
In this case, the price per night would be around 90 pounds. The tourist apartmentsOn the other hand, they have been acquiring more fame in recent years and are becoming an alternative to hotels.
Finally, in London you can also find hostels and hostels, but their prices are also quite high. So, for example, booking a bed in a shared room can cost you between 15 and 20 pounds per night.
There are also so-called hostels, more frequented by young people. Among the most famous, we highlight Picadilly Backpackers, The Generator and Globetrotter Inn.
What to visit
London is one of the largest cities in the world, so we could say that there are endless places and tourist attractions that can not be missing in your list of places to visit.
Logically, this will depend on the length of your stay and the pre-established budget, depending on which we will have to make a more or less extensive selection. In any case, there are 10 main points that should not be missing in your list and that we show you below:
- British museum: Free entry, in it you will find the main works of humanity from prehistory to modern times throughout the planet. To see the special exhibitions, you will have to book tickets.
- Big ben: It is probably the most representative building in London. It is the clock tower of the Palace of Westminster. Its official name is, since 2012, Elizabeth Tower in honor of the diamond jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, which took place that year.
- London Eye: The Coca-Cola London Eye is perhaps the most representative icon of London. It is the tallest ferris wheel in the world, with a total of 32 capsules that fit about 25 people. The duration is 30 min and tickets can be purchased from £ 20.70.
- Tate Modern: is the national museum of Great Britain of modern and contemporary art. Located on the banks of the Thames, its unique appearance is due to the fact that it was previously a power plant. Admission is free.
- National Gallery: Located in the famous Trafalgar Square, you will find European paintings from the 12th to the 19th century. You can find works by Van Gogh, da Vinci, Constable, Renoir, Stubbs, Botticelli …
- Museum of Natural History: In addition to the permanent exhibition of dinosaurs, there is a collection of the largest, tallest and, in general, most curious animals in the world.
- Southbank center: This is a cultural center located on the South Bank of the River Thames where you will find various cultural events, including music, art and dance shows, among others.
- The Victoria and Albert Museum: The Victoria and Alberto Museum is a tribute to more than 3,000 years of design and art in which you can see impressive artifacts from around the world: from paintings, furniture and textile items to sculptures and goldsmiths, among many others.
- Tower of London: This 900-year-old building is one of the most famous in the world. The ticket can be purchased from £ 22.
- Science Museum: at Science museum You can experience the greatest scientific advances of the last 300 years, including the impressive IMAX cinema. Although admission is free, it is advisable to reserve a ticket to see the special exhibitions.
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