London is a world-class city and the heart of British politics, culture and commerce. Its history stretches back thousands of years, and remnants of this fascinating past can still be found across the capital – from the Tower of London, a gruesome site of Medieval torture, to the majestic Buckingham Palace.
A captivating mix of old and new, London is also renowned for its creativity, innovation and originality in art, theatre, music, design and cuisine. It is home to countless art galleries and museums, including the Tate Modern, National Gallery and British Museum, which possesses some of the world's finest treasures. And best of all, entry to most of these museums and galleries is free!
To catch all the 'big-hitters' in one go, you can't beat a walk along the River Thames. Strolling from Tower Bridge to the Houses of Parliament you'll pass the Tower of London, Shakespeare's Globe, Tate Modern, the Southbank Centre, the National Theatre, the London Eye, the SEA LIFE London Aquarium and London Dungeon. In addition to these world famous attractions, there are many more to discover during your stay.
The West End is the place to go to see London's top theatre shows and musicals. Alongside classics including Les Misérables, Phantom of the Opera and The Woman in Black, you will find hit contemporary shows, such as Billy Elliot, The Lion King and Thriller – Live. Don't forget to explore the many off-West End venues too, such as the National Theatre, The Old Vic and (during the summer months) Regent's Park Open Air Theatre.
In the West End you will also find some of London's top shopping destinations, from Oxford Street to Seven Dials. Different neighbourhoods are known for other unique opportunities for shopping: Notting Hill is renowned for its antiques and Portobello Market, Greenwich has an excellent arts and crafts markets, while Westfield London City and Westfield Stratford are the city's most famous malls.
If you would rather save money than spend it, the eight Royal Parks are well worth a visit – and a great spot for a picnic. Visit Greenwich Park to drop in on the Royal Observatory, walk through Kensington Gardens to see Kensington Palace, take a paddle on the Hyde Park boating lake, see Buckingham Palace from scenic St James's Park, spot deer at Richmond Park and Bushy Park, and meet the animals at London Zoo, which lies within Regent's Park.
Along the way indulge your taste buds with delicious food at one of London's many restaurants, gastropubs and pop-up eateries. You can eat food prepared by a celebrity chef, discover modern British cuisine, or eat food from anywhere in the world – be it Indian, Chinese, Persian, Greek, Italian or Lebanese. Top off your perfect day with a fancy cocktail, excellent wine or locally brewed beer at a top London pub or bar – and maybe a boogie at one of the capital's buzzing nightspots and clubs.
The British Museum
One of the biggest and finest museums in the world, the British Museum is home to some of the most treasured historical artefacts in existence. The extensive exhibition include the Rosetta Stone, Assyrian treasures, the Egyptian mummies and the museum's spectacular, light-filled Great Court. A new restaurant has recently been opened in the Great Court; an ideal spot for afternoon tea under the magnificent roof. There are also free tours and guides to take advantage of at the museum.
Madame Tussauds London
With more than 300 wax figures, the Marvel Super Heroes 4D movie experience and Spirit of London Taxi Ride, there's plenty to entertain at Madame Tussauds London. The uncannily lifelike wax figures of famous (and infamous) individuals from throughout history are, of course, the highlight, with everyone from Johnny Depp and One Direction to The Queen and Muhammad Ali making an appearance.
Ministry of Sound
Converted from an old bus station in the 90s, the Ministry of Sound is a legend on London's club scene - and an international brand too. Located close to Elephant & Castle, south of Waterloo, the club boasts five rooms, four bars, a VIP lounge, a courtyard area and what's said to be the world’s best sound system.
Good to know
Public Transport - Bus
London's bus network stretches right across the capital, and provides a frequent and accessible service. If you're using an Oyster card, a single trip costs £1.40 – you simply 'tap in' when you get on the bus – and there is a daily cap of £4.40 if you're using only bus and tram services. A single bus fare is £2.40 is you're paying with cash. Seven-day, one-month and annual bus passes are also available. To navigate your way around the network, pick up a Central London Bus Guide from travel information centres at larger Tube stations or use Transport for London's online Journey Planner. A reduced service of night buses operates throughout the night, with most routes passing through Trafalgar Square. All children under 16 travel for free (with a photo card, though 5-15 year olds need to show a proof-of-age photo card. Freedom Passes allow disabled and older passengers to travel for free.
Electrical appliances are connected to the UK mains supply using a three-pin plug, which slots into a wall socket. This socket can be turned on and off, unlike in many other countries.
The average voltage of a UK power socket is 230v or slightly higher, so check the voltage of your device before plugging it in. Voltage adaptors and convertors are available from London airports and high-street electrical chains such as Argos or Curry's.
Power sockets are available at many coffee shops with WiFi and on some overland trains. Need to charge your mobile? Download the 'find-a-chargebox' iPhone app to find your nearest ChargeBox.