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 flights, has become a perfect vacation destination.
Below you have an index with all the points that we are going to deal with in this article.
Before your arrival, our advice is to spend a few days preparing the trip to London. Keep in mind that it is one of the most visited and touristic 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: flights, dissemination of the English language, Internet ... Here is a summary of everything you need to know before traveling.
London, the capital of the United Kingdom, is a cosmopolitan city, the 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.
Throughout the centuries, London has gone through different times that have marked the current situation of the city. However, the london history It is marked by 5 main historical events:
- Londinium- This is the name that the Romans established in 50 AD, considered the official historical moment when London and the City were founded.
- From the almost complete sceatta to pound sterling: the sceatta 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), a period considered the golden age of English history due to the rebirth that English literature experienced. In 1558 the first london map and the city became the first market in the world thanks to the creation of the Royal Exchange.
- Rise of English culture: The Georgian era also marked a before and after in the culture of London. The first monolingual dictionary of the English language was published, Handel composed The Messiah and Aquatic Music, etc.
- 2012 Olympics: 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-year reign.
Despite being part of the European Union, the United Kingdom maintains the British pound (currency symbol: £) as its official currency.
La current London situation It stands out for staying at stable economic levels. In fact, London is defined as being one of the world's leading economies and the city that dominates the UK's global economy.
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. English culture can be very different from that of other European countries such as Spain in terms of gastronomy, customs, ways of greeting each other, 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, currently becoming a indian custom also.
The English spend several hours at school on physical education and at 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 a more or less reserved behavior. Thus, the way to greet each other in England more common 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 just met someone to business meetings and formal encounters. It is used between men and women interchangeably.
London is located in the UK and as such is a country that is located in Europe and in turn is part of the EU. Despite this, the UK is not part of the Schengen area and therefore has its own visa policy.
For this reason, the main requirements to enter England will depend fundamentally on two variables: if we come from a 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 visa and can access only with their valid passport or national identity document.
On the other hand, a distinction is made between non-member countries that are visa-exempt and those that require a mandatory visa.
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 the 4 seasons in the same day in London.
This is due to its geographical location in London and the london weather type temperate oceanic. This also influences the average temperature of the entire southern part of Great Britain, which never reaches very extreme values, not even in summer.
However, the london winters they are usually cold, with an average temperature of between −4 ° C and 14 ° C. It is not usual for it to 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 always has an average temperature about 5 ° C higher than that of the surroundings.
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 infrastructures.
Although many tourists prefer to visit the British capital in summer due to the better temperatures and the fact that you can enjoy more hours of sunshine, traveling in winter can also have its advantages.
Now, whatever the time you travel, it is absolutely recommended that you do not miss a oilskin o K-way in your suitcase, since it can start to rain at any moment.
The great importance of London worldwide makes it a city perfectly communicated with practically any country in the world.
Although the most common is to choose the plane Since it is usually the fastest means 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:
Those tourists who are in Europe, can travel to London by train using the line Eurostar, which starts from Paris (France) up to 12 times a day and takes 2 hours and 30 minutes to get to London.
This train also leaves from Brussels. To get there from Spain, the only way is to travel first to Paris and from there take the Eurostar. However, the price is about € 200 each way and more than 15 hours of travel.
If you want to get to 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 highly recommended option, since you should know that in the United Kingdom you drive on the left, unlike in Spain, and it is also much easier to get around by public transport.
Finally, there is the possibility of reaching London by boat thanks to the company Brittany Ferries, which has three maritime routes between Spain and England:
It is recommended to choose one of the two routes to Portsmouth, since it is only 120 km away from London and, in addition, the connections are very simple.
La english gastronomy It 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 o fast food brought from the USA, as well as the famous takeaways.
Although originally in the english kitchen The use of spices was not common, currently it is strongly twinned with the indian cuisine after living together for many years
For this reason, you can find numerous takeaways and restaurants where you can taste Indian food. On the other hand, ingredients such as cereals (especially oats) and legumes such as peas are very common.
In London you can also find a wide range of cheese with certificate of designation of origin. As examples of this we can list the following types:
- Cheddar cheese
- dorset blue cheese
- bonchester cheese
- shropshire blue
- buxton blue
Another widely consumed product is meat and vegetable patties, 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 eel and lamb tart with mint sauce is also frequent, without 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 typical Scottish dishes.
On the other hand, the quintessential London dessert is apple pie, an apple pie served hot. Also the banana muffins with cinnamon, the summer pudding, the English custard or custard or the berry cake with cream with some of the most famous desserts in the British capital.
When it comes to taking the famous english tea, It is common to accompany it with Cornish raisins and Crumbles. Tea is the most widely consumed non-alcoholic beverage, especially Earl Gray.
Although it is not exactly cheap, getting around London by public transport is the best option. For example, a single metro ticket costs £ 4,90 or, which is the same, € 6,30.
As we can see, this 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 through which we are not going to move.
The main means of transport within London are, at the top of the list, the tube, followed by the bus, taxi and rental bikes.
El London subway It has a total of 11 different lines, which makes its network one of the most extensive 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 exactly 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 red buses They are one of the most emblematic and representative symbols of the city. On the other hand, getting around by taxi is fast and much more comfortable, but you should know that famous people 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 due to the fact that 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 bikes 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 first know which are the best areas or to know if there are dangerous areas in London.
A first option if what you are looking for is 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 in it. In fact, many hotels that exist today are actually B&B.
If you prefer a more intimate place, you can choose either a hotel or 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 center of the city.
In this case, the price per night would be around £ 90. The tourist apartments, on the other hand, they have become more famous 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, reserving a bed in a shared room can cost you between 15 and 20 pounds per night.
There are also the so-called hostels, more frequented by young people. Among the most famous, we highlight Piccadilly Backpackers, The generator y Globetrotters Inn.
What to visit
London is one of the largest cities in the world, so we could say that there are endless corners and points of tourist interest that cannot be missing from your list of places to visit.
Logically, this will depend on the duration of your stay and the pre-established budget, based 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 from 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 need to reserve tickets.
- Big Ben: 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 the Queen isabel 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 in which about 25 people can fit. 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 station. Admission is free.
- National Gallery- Located in the famous Trafalgar Square, you will find European paintings from the XNUMXth to the XNUMXth century. You can find works by Van Gogh, da Vinci, Constable, Renoir, Stubbs, Botticelli ...
- Museum of Natural History: in addition to the permanent dinosaur exhibition, there is a collection of the largest, tallest and, in general, most curious animals in the world.
- Southbank Center: it 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 Albert 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 textiles to sculptures and goldsmiths, among many others.
- Tower of London: This 900-year-old building is one of the most famous in the world. Tickets can be purchased from £ 22.
- Museum of Science: 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 tickets to see the special exhibitions.
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