L O N D O N
- Did You Know -
London was not always called London. Before settling in on the name ‘London’, it had a series of names – Londonium, Ludenwic, and Ludenburg!
1. The Language
First on our list of facts about London is the cultural diversity. As one of the most diverse cities in the world, London houses over 8 million residents, who collectively speak over 300 languages, including Bengali, Gujarati, Punjabi, Cantonese, Mandarin, Hokkien and of course English.
2. Big Ben
Big Ben is arguably London’s most famous landmark. Surprisingly, it is actually meant to go by the name ‘The Clock Tower’, while ‘Big Ben’ is the name of the bell. Feel free to bore your friends and family with that fact if you ever do a tour of London.
3. Jack The Ripper
The identity of Jack the Ripper, London’s most notorious serial killer, has never been discovered. Authorities at the time and ‘mystery solvers’ since the killings have suspected a number of different people, however, including Prince Albert, Lewis Carroll and Queen Victoria’s doctor; Sir William Gull.
4. The Tower Of London
Charles II ordered six ravens to be placed in the Tower of London to protect it. Apparently, six ravens are still kept in the tower today and they must remain there at all times due to superstitious reasons. For extra measures, each raven has a wing clipped, they even have a spare raven handy in case one flies away.
As well as the 300 languages spoken in London, the amount of museums in the capital adds to the culture of this city. London boasts over 170 museums, from the massive British Museum, London’s most popular tourist attraction, to the tiny Fan Museum in Greenwich.
LONDON: An Electric metropolis city!
London is one of the most diverse and cosmopolitan cities in the world and is located in the southeast of England. England is also part of the United Kingdom alongside Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. London is the largest city in the UK, by density and by population. It is approximately 600 square miles (1500 square kilometers) and has a population of approximately 8.6 million.
The City of London is the most historical part of London and was founded in AD50 by the Roman Empire as the settlement of Londinium. Today, it's home to some of London's top attractions, including the Tower of London, Tower Bridge and St. Paul's Cathedral, as well as modern skyscrapers such as The Gherkin "The Walkie-Talkie" (20 Fenchurch Street), and the "The Cheesegrater" (122 Leadenhall Street).
There are so many things to do in London! Stay in some of the country's grandest hotels, visit many of the worlds top attractions and enjoy some of the best theatres in the West End. Join in one of the exciting London events happening throughout the year, or take a tour to help guide you through the city’s hidden gems. London is the perfect place to visit all year round, with seasonal events coming one after the other due to the climate being one of the mildest in the UK. In autumn and winter, take in a museum or art gallery, or head to one of London's many pop-up ice rinks over the Christmas period. Spring and summer are perfect for enjoying the outdoors at one of the many wonderful parks or indulging in a drink in the sun at a rooftop bar. However, take note that London weather can be quite unpredictable so layering your clothing or bringing a light jacket is a good idea.
See top attractions and explore lesser-known areas of the city on many great London sightseeing tours. From bus tours to walking tours, to Thames river cruises, to bike tours, sightseeing in London is varied and full of interesting possibilities.
When You Are Tired Of London, You Are Tired Of Life!
From eating in a pub to choosing a trendy restaurant, London doesn’t lack places to put hunger at bay. London is a multi-cultural city and food follows the trend. You can find pretty much any ethnic cuisine you can think about but if you are after British fare. Here are a few samples.
Full English Breakfast
Start the day properly: eggs, sausages, bacon, fried bread, mushrooms, baked beans, grilled tomatoes. If you’re really brave try the black pudding (fried blood sausage). It’s all about the finest local ingredients right down to the juicy tomatoes and the restaurant Roast, in the heart of Borough Market, excels at this. It’s so good, make sure to book a table for breakfast otherwise you may not get in.
Fish & Chips
Just about every visitor to London seeks out a fish and chip shop or "chippy" as the Brits call them. The first fish and chips shop is thought to have been established in the Jewish quarter in the East End of London in the mid 19th century and some still serve the best fish and chips found anywhere. The Golden Hind in Marylebone has passed its 100th birthday and still tops the list for serving this staple food as it should be; fresh, crisp, and don’t forget the side of delicious mushy peas!
Pie & Mash
Classic British pie and mash shops can still be found around the city serving this comfort food in the traditional environment of chequered tiles and wooden booths. Try jellied eel or parsley liquor if you are feeling extra adventurous but you probably have to grow up with these local delicacies to truly appreciate them! For a truly gourmet pie selection, look no further than The Ginger Pig. The Ginger Pig use fresh, naturally reared meat from their farm in Yorkshire, topped with handmade butter pastry. With various locations around London, the Ginger Pig is easy to find.
The Sunday Roast
All respectable pubs enhance their Sunday lunch menu with a choice of roast beef, pork, chicken or lamb, with all the trimmings including roast potatoes, vegetables, plenty of gravy, and Yorkshire puddings. Hixter offers the ultimate Sunday roast experience brought to you by British food champion and legendary chef Mark Hix. Here you can share a whole roast chicken or a large cut of perfectly cooked beef and supplement it with Bloody Marys or Buck’s Fizz.
High tea is about as British as it gets, and the atmosphere of the Thames Foyer at The Savoy is second to none. Relax on an opulent velvet sofa bathed in natural light from the Edwardian glass dome, as a pianist plays in the background. Take your choice from more than 25 types of tea, poured for you into a bone china teacup through a silver tea strainer.
Prepare to gorge yourself on delicate finger sandwiches, mini scones with clotted cream and jam, and a bewildering array of exquisitely crafted fruity and chocolatey pastries and cakes. High Teas is something that everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime!
The London eye
The London Eye was built to celebrate the year 2000 and was immediately a resounding success. As the highest cantilevered observation wheel in the world, it is impossible to picture London’s skyline without it. It’s hardly any surprise that tourists arrive in the thousands to climb on to see all of London's glory at its best. The ovular pods each carry a maximum of 25 people to a height of 135 meters and the wait can be quite lengthy to get on but before you know it, you’re halfway into the sky and taking in the breathtaking views of the Thames and greater London.
Before actually boarding the London Eye, tourists view a brief 4D film in County Hall which contains a series of dazzling aerial shots of the capital. The pods themselves are spacious enough giving everyone the ability to move around to find a decent view. On a clear day, you can even see Windsor Castle in the distance on this thirty-minute ride. The ride is smooth and steady, so any age will enjoy the trip and the Eye is also entirely wheelchair accessible.
The popularity of the London Eye has drawn other attractions to the same stretch of the South Bank including County Hall which is a pleasure palace that houses a hotel, the Sea Life London Aquarium, the London Dungeon, and Shrek’s Adventure London. Close by, Jubilee Gardens offers a chance for young families to stroll and picnic, and the London Eye Pier directly below the wheel is a great place to join one of the riverboat services that stop at several points between Westminster and Greenwich. The convenient location also gives easy access to other attractions throughout London.
excursions & tours
Stonehedge, Windsor Castle & Bath
Duration: 11 hours
Discover Stonehenge, Windsor Castle and Bath on this day trip from London. Leave the city behind you and travel by air-conditioned coach to Windsor Castle, home of the British Royal Family for the last 900 years. Visit St George's Chapel and the State Apartments with your tour guide before travelling out to Salisbury, where the ancient rock formations of Stonehenge await. Continue on to the beautiful Georgian city of Bath, visit the Roman Baths and enjoy a panoramic tour with your guide before returning to London.
Warner Bros. Studio - Harry Potter
Duration: 7 hours
Immerse yourself in the magic and mystery of Harry Potter™ with a 7-hour behind-the-scenes experience at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London - the Making of Harry Potter. Enjoy round-trip transportation by luxury coach from London Victoria, and spend roughly four hours exploring the spellbinding film sets independently. See the Gothic grandeur of the Ministry of Magic, walk Diagon Alley, snap photos at iconic locations such as Platform 9 ¾ and the Hogwarts Express, and admire intricate costumes and props used in the movies.
London In One Day!
Duration: 9 hours
Get to know London in one day on this sight-packed, full-day tour with a guide. Travelling by air-conditioned coach, see top London attractions such as Big Ben and Westminster Abbey, and enjoy fast-track entry and a guided tour of St Paul's Cathedral. Watch the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, and then visit the Tower of London. Break for a pub lunch, and receive a ticket for a Thames River sightseeing cruise to use after your tour or another day. For a bird's-eye view of the city, upgrade to include an open-date ticket for the London Eye.
Downton Abbey & Oxford Tour
Duration: 10 hours
Visit Oxford and top Downton Abbey filming locations on this day trip from London. Start the day with a walking tour of Oxford and its famous university buildings, and then continue to the Cotswolds’ village of Bampton, which is also known as Downton village in the award-winning British TV series. Visit the magnificent Highclere Castle, known in the show as Downton Abbey, in Hampshire. Upgrade to include a signed copy of “Entertaining at The Real Downtown Abbey” book written by Lady Carnarvon.
Tower Of London & Crown Jewels
Duration: 1 day
Bypass the long lines at the Tower of London and make the most of your tour through this dark and infamous complex. View the remarkable Crown Jewels and visit the White Tower, Traitors’ Gate and Tower Green, where Anne Boleyn met her grisly end. Choose to explore on your own or follow a ‘Beefeater’ guard on a guided walk. An audio tour is also available for an additional fee.
London Eye Fast Track Ticket
Duration: 30 minutes
Experience one of London’s must-see attractions with this skip-the-line London Eye ticket. Bypass the long queue and enjoy priority access and boarding for a standard flight in a shared capsule. Then admire panoramic views over the Thames River, Big Ben and other landmarks on your 30-minute flight. Your ticket includes interactive Samsung Galaxy Tab-powered guides and admission to the London Eye 4D Experience, an immersive journey that brings London alive through 3D film and multi-sensory effects.
How to avoid scams while in London
London is one of the world's most visited cities. It's home to world-class cultural attractions, amazing architecture, a buzzing dining scene, and shops galore. It's dynamic, enchanting and exciting but with a population of 8.7 million, it can also be daunting, confusing, busy and loud.
In global terms, London is a very safe city. There are far more dangerous places to visit when it comes to crime rates and security issues but as with any major capital city, it's inevitable that scam artists and criminals prey on tourists. We've highlighted some common Londontravel scams to be aware of ahead of a trip but the best advice is to be wise, to be wary and to be prepared. Oh, and follow your gut; if something doesn't feel right, chances are it isn't.
In an emergency, contact the police, the ambulance service or the fire department on 999. To report a non-urgent crime, contact the local police station by calling 101 from within the UK.
Pickpockets target London's busiest areas, which means that you should always stay alert when using the city's public transport system, especially when traveling by tubeand when passing through major train stations.
The stations with the highest rates of pickpocketing in London are King's Cross St Pancras, Oxford Circus, Victoria, Liverpool Street, and Stratford. Pickpockets will often use diversion and distraction techniques like asking for directions, deliberately dropping coins or causing a commotion.
When responding or reacting, just be aware of your surroundings and keep your valuables out of sight. Remember to zip up bags and backpacks and carry bags in front of you. Don't flaunt your jewelry and keep your money safely concealed.
Moped-Riding Phone And Bag Snatchers
Thieves have caught on to the fact that they can be far more productive on two wheels than on two feet, and street robbery by gangs riding mopeds is an increasing problem in London.
Thieves tend to target people who are on their cell phones or who are carrying bags close to the curb. Many attacks take place in central London in broad daylight. Try to stay away from the curb and don't wield your phone around in the middle of the street.
Carry bags across your body rather than on your arm or dangling down from your hand. It's easy to get distracted when you're looking at your smartphone. Try to plan ahead when it comes to directions or step back from the road when looking for on-the-go information.
People Asking for Money in The StreetIf you're approached in the street by someone with a lengthy story and a request for a specific amount of money (which they'll promise to return at some point), chances are it's a scam.
Locals are often fooled by this trick too but more often than not, these scammers will try and guilt-trip tourists into handing over cash. It's best to politely decline their request and encourage them to contact the police if it's a real emergency.
Don't rule out stopping to help someone in need of genuine assistance but just be wary of what's being said and if it sounds a little too contrived and polished, it's probably because it's not the first time the story has been told.
A group of guys will typically lay down three cups (or lids or bottle caps or shells), hide a small object underneath one of them and then mix them up before asking someone in the crowd to keep their eye on the prize. An accomplice will usually 'win' a few rounds before an unwitting tourist tries their luck.
The game is always rigged and there are often a few people planted in the audience to distract the player to make it harder to win. It's best to walk on by without stopping to see what's going on. There are far more entertaining things to see and do in London.
Receiving "Free" GiftsIf you're presented with a "free" gift in the street (usually a bunch of heathers, a rose, a bracelet, a toy or similar) you'll be expected to pay for it. If you accept the gift, you'll be told that it will bring you luck, and it's highly likely that you'll be hassled into handing over money for it.
Try not to make eye contact with people that wave these kinds of objects in your face and politely walk ahead. There are plenty of genuinely free things to do in London instead.
Common British Sayings
It should come as no surprise that the people in the homeland of William Shakespeare and Winston Churchill have a way with words. England, after all, is the birthplace of the English language, and no one uses it better. In particular, the British make great use of idioms, or sayings, that convey more than the surface meaning of their words.
As playwright George Bernard Shaw famously put it, "The United States and Great Britain are two countries separated by a common language," so you can be forgiven for not always following what a Brit means. Let's get up to speed with some of the most common British sayings below.
Going to see a man about a dog: This phrase isn't meant to be taken literally, but rather used as an excuse for leaving the room or otherwise getting out of someone's company. Though it may have originally referred to settling a dog-racing bet, it's more likely today to be said as an excuse to go to the bathroom - or to conceal a trip to the pub for a quick pint.
Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun: Originally from a song by playwright Noel Coward, this line has been adopted into common usage in the UK. The song pointed out cultural differences between the British and their subjects in the colonies when the British refused to adapt to local customs - even if it meant a wicked sunburn out in the fierce heat. Today it can still refer to a stubborn refusal to changes one's ways or the British love of sun worshipping on their "summer holiday."
He lost the plot: On the surface this seems to mean that someone has lost sight of an argument or the point they were making, but in practice it's more about losing one's cool or good judgment. It's commonly heard in sporting situations when an athlete blows a play or when someone starts a fight.
I haven't done/heard that in donkey's years: This phrase means that something hasn't happened in a very long time, especially when referring to something that's been out of style - or at least out of sight - for ages. It's not clear whether the phrase comes from a belief in the longevity of donkeys or is a watered down version of "donkey's ears," which are quite long themselves.
You've thrown a spanner in the works: "Spanner" is a British word for a wrench, so this is similar to the American phrase about throwing a monkey wrench into something - that is, ruining plans unexpectedly. The "works" can be visualized as a system of gears that would be locked up if someone threw a wrench in them to keep them from turning as they should.
The dog's bollocks: This is akin to the 1920s slang saying about something being "the bees' knees" - meaning that it's the best. No one's really sure why talking about a dog's privates is a compliment, but not all sayings make logical sense.
Bob's your uncle!: This is an exclamation used after giving instructions or when something has been successfully completed. It can mean "and there you have it," "it's all good," or "simple as that." It can also mean that someone has it made. This meaning has a political history, referring to when Prime Minister Robert Cecil appointed his nephew to an important position, but the satire about nepotism has faded over time.
He can talk the hind legs off a donkey: The Brits seems to have a thing for donkeys! In this case, this describes someone who's extremely chatty. The phrase is mostly silly, but it's worth remembering that donkeys are known for being ornery, so those particular hind legs probably put up a fight!
I'm off to Bedfordshire: Though Bedfordshire is a real place in Southern England, this phrase really just means someone is heading to bed. The fun comes from the pun on the word "bed."
It's brass monkeys outside!: This is a contraction of "it's cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey," meaning it's really cold out. Like the saying about raining cats and dogs, it doesn't make literal sense. In context, it serves as a vivid intensifier. Imagine it being said by someone shivering, and the meaning is clear, if absurd.
Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves: This is advice about being careful with money, dating back to the early 18th century. The idea is that you should watch how you spend small amounts of money. It's easy to think those lattes won't add up, but they do. Watch the small stuff, and you'll easily have pounds (the UK currency) saved up in no time.
Add another string to your bow: This means acquiring a new skill to help you find a job or otherwise succeed in life. It could also mean to have an additional resource or backup plan. The saying refers to when archers carried a spare bowstring in case the first one broke. You will also hear the variation "having a second string to your bow."
That went down a treat: This means that something was very enjoyable. It's most often used to refer to food, which makes the visual more powerful: Imagine gulping down a delicious dessert, and you get the idea. It's easy to do it because you like it.
He popped his clogs: Like the American equivalent of kicking the bucket, this phrase is a slangy, irreverent way to say that someone has died. Its origin is uncertain but the underlying image is of slipping out of your shoes, which are connected to the earth in a physical way, unlike your spirit after death.
I've got the hump: This is a very British way of expressing annoyance without actually talking about feelings. It makes light of a situation, and it's usually used for minor irritations rather than anything seriously upsetting.