A holiday in London: what to know before you go!
London is one of the most attractive and famous cities in the world, with world-class restaurants and bars, fantastic hotels, an unparalleled music scene, and some incredibly rich history. The city boasts many famous sights that everyone should at least once in their life. See the iconic red double-decker buses and black taxi cabs. Take in historical wonders and beautiful architecture such as Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament. Step back in time at the Tower of London, and awe at the impressive view from The Shard. Shop in the major flagship stores of Oxford Street and the prestigious Harrods department store, or browse the fashion, food and curiosities of Portobello Road, Camden Town, or Shoreditch. London is the idyllic urban escape; let us share with you our tips to ensure your holidays in London are extraordinary.
When to visit London on holiday?
The weather in the UK is known for being, shall we say, unpredictable. The climate in South East England, and more specifically in London, produces cool wet winters and temperate wet summers. But when is the best time to avoid a rainy day? There is generally less rainfall in summer, although the months which see the least rainfall are April and March. That said, London can be visited all year round, Hyde Park under the summer sun is fantastic, but the city is also very well-adapted for wetter and colder weather.
Winter and the Christmas season
In winter, the Christmas season starts in mid-November. Enchanting Christmas lights, markets and entertainment can be found all over. The unique atmosphere of this time of year will make you feel right out of the famous film Love Actually. In December, be sure not to miss the Winter Wonderland funfair in Hyde Park and the majestic fir tree in Trafalgar Square, the Christmas lights on Carnaby Street or in Covent Garden, or why not the Harry Potter studios, which are equally adorned with festive decorations. Even if you don't spend your entire Christmas holidays, just a weekend in London is the perfect opportunity to do a little shopping and bring back some unique presents for your loved ones! It's worth noting that November and December are the rainiest times of the year. During the grey days (and often wet) days there are many options available, such as visiting the countless museums and galleries across the city, or enjoying a traditional afternoon tea.
A mild spring and autumn
Late spring and early autumn are an excellent compromise for a pleasant getaway in London. The weather in April and May, and September and October, provides favourable conditions for exploring the UK capital. If visiting outside to school holidays, then visitors can (re)discover London in a slightly quieter atmosphere. From the end of the summer, the Totally Thames Festival takes place on the banks of the Thames. At the end of October, Halloween brings the streets to life and is the ideal time to enjoy a ghost or Jack the Ripper tour. In spring, the city's fabulous parks burst with colour and in Hyde Park, the scent of flowers wafts through the air.
Summer can offer up a perfect combination of sightseeing and good weather. The months of June and August have average temperatures of around 17 degrees Celsius, making it possible to enjoy long, sunny days. Numerous outdoor events such as music festivals, the Wimbledon tournament, or open-air cinemas invite you to experience unique moments in the fresh air. In August, Kids Week takes place. For every adult ticket purchased at full price in the city's shows, a child is given free ticket, a perfect outing for the whole family. If you're a fan of the English monarchy, then Buckingham Palace usually opens its doors to visitors in late July and in September. This beautiful time of year is perfect for strolling through the capital's gardens and enjoying a picnic in the park. It's also a great time to enjoy the views while you sip a drink on one of the city's rooftop bars. Be sure to take some fantastic photos of your cosmopolitan getaway!
Where to eat and drink with style in London?
When it comes to food, Britain has had a bad rep in the past. However, traditional British cuisine, when done right, can be spectacular. There are plenty of places to try quality, authentic Britsh dishes in London, and being the cultural melting pot that it is (no pun intended), visitors to London will also find restaurants serving food from all across the globe. Not only that, but the British capital is also home to some of the trendiest, creative, avant-garde, and award-winning restaurants in the world. Whether its a gourmet tasting menu, a traditional Fish & Chips, or a hearty steak and ale pie in a cosy gastro-pub, food lovers will find plenty of indulgence. Also not to be missed is an authentic full English breakfast, or a traditional afternoon tea, with scones and clotted cream.
Just a handful of London's must-visit restaurants:
- Quo Vadis. A historic Soho restaurant with a history and a timeless atmosphere, it serves excellent seasonal, regional British fare, with a menu created by Chef Jeremy Lee and his team.
26-29 Dean Street, London W1D 3LL
- Holborn Dining Room. This grand British brasserie, found in the heart of London, serves up seasonal and locally sourced British cuisine with a twist in a vibrant and bustling dining salon.
252 High Holborn, London WC1V 7EN
- Sketch is a fabulous gourmet restaurant which has been awarded with 3 stars. Its legendary design transports you into a unique world where art is infused in the walls, the floors, and in the food itself. The restaurant's menu holds many surprises. Chef's recommendation? The lobster with turmeric.
Sketch Restaurant, 9 Conduit Street London W1S2XG
- Poppies Fish & Chips. Try a traditional Fish and Chips at one of these restaurants in this award-winning London chain. Its vintage décor will takes you back in time.
6-8 Hanbury St, London E1 6QR, UK
- Prêt-à-Portea: Afternoon Tea at The Berkeley: enjoy an authentic afternoon tea with a contemporary fashion twist, each season, Head Pastry Chef Mourad Khia, takes inspiration from the latest catwalk.
Wilton Place, London SW1X 7RL
And in the other hand, some of London's best bars:
- Swift Soho. It's in a classy and elegant setting that this bar welcomes you, along with excellent quality of service and unique cocktails.
12 Old Compton Street, London W1D 4TQ
- Punch Room. A soulful tune, a punchy cocktail, an exotic atmosphere, welcome to the sumptuous Punch Room. This is the ideal place to end a day's sightseeing in style.
10 Berners Street, London W1T 3NP
- Duck and Waffle. With stunning views of the capital, the Duck and Waffle is found on the 40th floor of the Heron Tower. Sip on your drink while you watch both Tower Bridge and The Shard light up.
Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate
- Cahoots. Enjoy afternoon tea & cocktails served in a unique Soho setting. This 1940's-style speakeasy, set in a disused World War II bomb shelter which has been styled as an abandoned underground station.
13 Kingly Court, Carnaby, London W1B 5PW
- The Churchill Arms. This historic pub in Notting Hill is famed for its sublime and unique flowery façade. This bar was once frequented by Winston Churchill's paternal grandparentsa and is an atypical and cosy setting to enjoy a drink.
19 Kensington Church Street, London W8 7LN
What to do on holiday in London?
Whether you are in London for a short term stay or long term stay, there is so much to do or see you will never run out of things to fill your time. From sublime Victorian architecture to stunning modern structures, the UK capital has a rich history and is full of wonders. So, hop on a red double decker bus and start exploring! But where to start? Let us try to give you some inspiration:
What are the most beautiful parks in London?
Open-air concerts, royal gardens, boat rides, picnics, and colourful flower shows, as one of the capitals with the most green spaces in the world, London's parks are full of treasures!
- As the largest park in central London, Hyde Park is a real gem, comprising 350 acres of green space including 400 trees and a large lake. Enjoy beautiful walks, skating, cycling, sunbathing, or boating on the Serpentine lake, among many other activities. At Speakers' Corner, watch the eccentrics step up to give speeches and hold public debates. Many events, especially concerts or fairs are held in Hyde Park throughout the year, but especiall in summer.
- Originally part of Hyde Park, take a stroll through the 265 acres of the beautiful Kensington Gardens, the setting for Kensington Palace, the birthplace of Queen Victoria. The park offers a tranquil landscape with numerous cultural landmarks.
- The Regent's Park comprises large open spaces with tree-lined pathways, formal gardens, and the London Zoo. This royal park has a wide range of activities available, including an Open Air Theatre, and many cafes and restaurants.
- Enjoy a sunny afternoon at St. James's Park, located in Westminster, surrounded by famous landmarks like Buckingham Palace, Clarence House, St James's Palace. You can also come here to see the Horse Guards Parade take place.
- Victoria Park, also known as the 'People's Park', is located in Tower Hamlets. It aspires to be the place to be, and is known for hosting various outdoor music festivals in the summer. With two lakes, a boating pond, the V&A children's playground, nature trails, and sports grounds there's not much more you could ask for.
- Battersea Park has it all; Thames views, The Pump House art gallery, pedalos on the lake, walled gardens, an adventure playground (with climbing structures, slides and high climbing nets and an area for younger children), a family-run zoo, and Battersea Dogs & Cats Home... this list goes on!
What are the best museums in London?Whether you're interests lie in history, the royal family, science, or whether you are a lover of art, London promises to delight. The city is some to countless museums and galleries of all kinds, and there are a wide range both permanent and temporary exhibitions to choose from at any given time. From the great classic and world-renowned institutions to the smaller original museums and unique collections, London has a treasure trove of cultural activities that are not to be missed!
- The famous British Museum. This museum traces the history of mankind from its inception to the present day. Travel the world and see internationally renowned works such as the Parthénon sculptures.
Great Russell St, London WC1B 3DG, UK
- The Tate Modern, on the banks of the Thames River, is dedicated to contemporary art. It is the largest and most impressive museum of modern art in the world, and boasts the wonderful works of artists such as Mark Rothko, Frida Kahlo or Kandinsky. Enjoy a delicious meal on the terrace of the museum's restaurant and contemplate the exceptional view over the river.
Bankside, London SE1 9TG, UK
- The Tower of London, built by William the Conqueror, this sublime place is home to the British Crown jewels and the Chapel of St John. A walk along its ramparts invites you on a journey through the centuries.
London EC3N 4AB, UK
- Madame Tussauds. Are you looking forward to meeting your favourite celebrity? Here, your wish is granted! This famous waxworks displays life-size statues of famous celebrities and iconic historical figures. Take a photo with the Royal Family, or Daniel Craig.
Marylebone Rd, London NW1 5LR, UK
- The Victoria & Albert Museum, founded in 1852 by Prince Albert, this museum exhibits all types of ancient objects from around the globe. Paintings, sculptures, furniture or textiles, this fabulous place is full of wonders. See a replica of the Trajan Column or the Ardabil carpet.
Cromwell Rd, London SW7 2RL, UK
What are the sights to see in London?
If the walls of London could speak, they would have a long story to tell, from the world-famous squares like Piccadilly Circus or Trafalgar Square, to majestic royal palaces like Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace, to outstanding religious structures like Saint Paul's Cathedral and Westminster Abbey. Here are some of the sights not to be missed:
- The Shard, this striking skyscraper is the tallest building in London, and in all of Western Europe, and its panoramic views of the city are truly impressive.
- Tower Bridge, famous the world over, is a true symbol of the English capital, and its glass floor is spectacular. Overlooking the Thames River since 1894, crossing this bridge is an unforgettable moment.
- Buckingham Palace, the official residence of the King Charles III, successor to the late Queen Elisabeth II. This prestigious building hosts state audiences and banquets. A popular sight throughout the year is the Changing of the Guard.
- The London Eye, originally meant to be temporary, this soon became an iconic landmark that was made permanent. From the top of this splendid ferris wheel, it is a a unique setting from while to take in a delightful view of the city's skyline.
- Westminster Abbey, this an extraordinary and architecturally impressive church has a rich history and is of course best known as the site of the coronation for the royals. Visit the inside and the Coronation Seat can be seen on display.
- Big Ben, another one of London's world-recognisable symbols. Big Ben is actually the nickname for the great bell inside the Great Clock of Westminster. At night the clock lights up along with the adjecent Houses of Parliament, and is a spectacular sight, best taken in from across the river.
- Harrods. The shop's iconic facade has a pronounced Victorian style and as night falls, the building sparkles and beckons. Inside, London’s most famous department store boasts extravagant décor.
What are some lesser known must-do activities in London?
London has many iconic attractions, but if your want to make your holidays in London a little different, what are some more unique and unusual attractions available? Get off the beaten track and immerse yourself in the whimsical side of the English capital:
- Take part in a silent disco on the Thames River. Set out on a disco-boat and take in the city skyline to music.
- God's Own Junkyard welcomes you with its psychedelic collection neon lights and vintage signs, se inside an unassuming warehouse. Part gallery, part workshop, part boutique, part café, it is a truly unique pit stop.
Unit 12, Ravenswood Industrial Estate, Shernhall St, London E17 9HQ
- Combine a visit to the second and antiques market of Portabello Road with a visit to the Electric Cinema, one of the oldest working film theatres in Britain. Enjoy a movie in the comfort of the red armchairs, a luxurious, romantic and cosy setting.
191 Portobello Road, Notting Hill, London W11 2ED
- Harry Potter Studio Tour, dive into the magical world Harry Potter with an incredible visit to the iconic film sets and the get behind the scenes with backstage access.
Watford WD25 7LR
- A tour of the city as Agent 007. With music from the James Bond film series in your ears, experience the thrill of an adventure on a high-speed boat. The mission? To cover the London.
- The Ballie Ballerson, an atypical bar in the capital. Recapture your childhood âme and swim in the happiness of a pool à balls to disco music. Welcome to the world of Peter Pan.
What are the most beautiful areas of London?Many of London neighbourhoods are home to singular and wonderful character, colourful, lively, and steeped in history. Here are some of the areas we recommend:
- Notting Hill, pleasant and beautiful, this romantic neighbourhood invites you to take a stroll through its colourful Victorian houses, Portobello Market, and browse the many small boutiques that make this place unique.
- Covent Garden, a beautiful area full of trendy and lively pubs and restaurants along with Covent Garden Market.
- Soho, known for its buzzing and bohemian atmosphere and culture the area is full of theatres, restaurants and bars. In particular, visit colourful and charming Carnaby Street, full of shops, the street is entirely pedestrianised.
- Westminster, home to some of London's most iconic landmarks, such as the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey.
- Kensington, an affluent district full of grand townhouses, shops and museums, and is home to Holland Park and Kensington Palace.
- Camden Town. With its distinctive alternative vibe, this neighbourhood is famous for its Camden Town Market, quirky shop fronts, live music venues and street performers. Browse the variety of fashion and curiosities, then delight your senses at the food market. Take a stroll along the Regent's Canal and soak up the special canal-side atmosphere.
- Shoreditch, is a trendy neighbourhood in East London. It boasts an astounding array of cool bars and restaurants, and is a hub for London's arts community. You'll also find designer shops, small art galleries, stylish hotels, and numerous rooftop bars.
Where to sleep on holiday in London?In order for any holiday to be a success, you need the perfect place to lay your head. VeryChic has carefully selected the best addresses for you. Here is an idea of the hotels available in London and the types of offers we provide:
- The prestigious five-star Roseate House London, just steps from Hyde Park, features 48 luxurious rooms and suites within the walls of 3 Victorian houses.
- The sublime four-star Melia White House Hotel, a stylish hotel just off Regent's Park and Oxford Street.
- The charming four-star Novotel London Tower Bridge, refined design in East London, with views of Tower Bridge.