London Travel Guide
The ultimate guide to the coolest things to do and see in London, England
Describing London in a few words is a difficult thing because the city has so-so-much to offer that it wouldn’t really be fair. Great restaurants in the East End and Chinatown, outstanding – and donation-based or even free – art in many museums and galleries, great spectacles from West End musicals to alternative venues inside bars and pubs. London is an experience because of its architecture (both modern and old), its history (both past and contemporary) and it’s definitely one of my favorite places in the world. Start here with my basic London travel tips, or jump down below to read my latest London travel blogs.
When to Visit
London is crowded and full of life every single day of the year. While some museums are relatively empty and you can enjoy the art, others are crowded with thousands and thousands of tourists, especially in special occasions (right, Tate Modern!). If you visit during the summer, you will have a great time in the many parks and you can enjoy (book in advance) a play by Shakespeare right at The Globe. Rain is always expected in London, and often you will have some fog, but be ready for cold temperatures during the winter times.
Cool Things To Do
Tate Modern – With a recent expansion and located next to the Thames with a lovely view of Saint Paul’s Cathedral, the Tate Modern is a must. Contemporary art includes big names of the art world like Rothko or Picasso, but also lesser-known and emerging artists from all over the world. The new tower offers a great view of London from above. Check the souvenir stores for the amazing collection of clothes, books and postcards with great art.
Brick Lane Market – With its many trendy businesses and shops and its great street art, the area around Brick Lane in the East End comes to live every weekend with a market that is simply delicious. From Argentinian empanadas, Japanese sweets and the traditional Indian food, the Brick Lane Market is great for street food. The salted beef bagel at Beigel Bake is as famous as the Queen of England.
Hyde Park – With a couple of lakes and great green spaces, Hyde Park is perfect for a walk, jogging or simply to have a picnic during the summer days. Every Sunday, the park is the point of encounter of the Speaker’s Corner (near the beautiful Marble Arch), where people reunite to discuss on the spot both trivial and philosophical matters. It is told that George Orwell liked to come here on Sundays to take part in the debates.
Few cities on this planet offer the diversity of tours that you can find in London. They have practically everything. Harry Potter tours, ghost tour, food tours, street art tour, architecture tours, London by boat tour and many more. Check out this selection of tours in London.
LGBT – Gay London Travel Guide
London is gay all year and people here are open and generally respect any sexual preference or gender identity—benefits of a large, diverse, international, cosmopolitan city. There are lots of gay venues, gay hotels, saunas, theaters, shops and the scene is always active and in constant change. However, there are a few alternative things you should know:
King’s Head Theater – This small pub is the perfect place for a beer near Angel Station, not only because of the atmosphere, but because it hosts a theater with gay-themed plays. “F*cking Men” and “5 Guys Chilling” are among the plays performed during the last months. When I visited, instead of getting paper tickets to enter the venue, they gave me condoms.
Old Compton Street – The area around the Old Compton Street in London could be considered the heart of gay London. Located next to both Chinatown and Soho, near Picadilly, the streets have all we need: gay shops and bookstores, great restaurants for romantic dinners and fast food for the after-party, cocktail bars and club and coffee shops. Gay friendly-hotels like the Z Hotel Soho or The Hoxton are located in the area.
The Glory – This pub and drag venue is great and diverse and fun. Located in Kingsland Road, you can enjoy a lip-sync battle or simply dance to the tunes of DJs. Beer is cheap and the atmosphere is welcoming, and you will be amazed at the diversity of faces, accents and fashion styles. Read more about The Glory here.
More gay travel resources here.
London Hotel Deals
Choosing accommodation in London is a nightmare, unless, well… if you’re rich. But for normal folks who are struggling, you need to think about price, services and – most important – location. Because London is huge and commuting always takes time, try to stay close to the areas you want to visit. These are some of the deals for hotels and hostels in London. I’ve found using Booking.com or Agoda.com can be useful for finding last-minute deals.
Looking for hostel recommendations in London? The Broke Backpacker has a blog on London’s best hostels.
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